Monday, 29 June 2009

Wet Days

| 3 persons flung their shoes
Thanks to the rain, I couldn't finish my jogging course. Now, here I am, wet from the rain, and sticky from the sweat.

I thought I could push on till I finished the 10-km course. But when the rain got heavier, I started getting worried. Several possibilities flashed through my mind.

The first one, of course, was that the rain'd stop soon and I'd complete the run, get a shower and have a good night's sleep. That was pretty optimistic but unfortunately, was unlikely considering that it's the rainy season.

So, that brought me to the second possibility - I push on, the drizzle turns into a downpour and I get screwed. Should I get stranded 10km away from home, catching a cab would be a sound choice. I have, uh, 105 yen in my left pocket. But I was quite sure 105 yen couldn't even pay for the minimum fare. Nor could it get me a train ride or a bus ride. No, nothing more than a bottle of sports drink from the 100 yen shop, which was exactly what it was intended for.

Which means, in the worst case scenario, I might have to seek shelter under a bridge till the rain subsided. And that could be anytime between tomorrow morning and next Monday. So, not willing to take any chances, I turned back halfway. By the time I got home, I was soaked till the underwear. I assure you it's as bad as, if not worse than soggy socks.

Speaking of the rainy season, the weather's almost unpredictable. You check the weather report in the morning, which says it's going to be sunny. So off you go without an umbrella. Then at night when you're on your way home, lo and behold, the heaven pours down! That's exactly what happened to me two weeks ago - caught in heavy downpour while cycling home, without an umbrella, and worse, with the laptop in the backpack.

Oh well, can't blame the weatherman, can we? Weather forecast is afterall, a tricky business; it can never be as accurate as tarot card reading.

However, yesterday, something bizarre happened in the news - the weatherman apologized for the inaccurate weather forecast he made the day before. Oh come on, we all know that if you want a 100% accurate weather forecast, you don't listen to the weatherman, you go to a gypsy fortune-teller. What's there to apologize? If weather forecasts are always accurate, no one's going to get caught in the rain without an umbrella. God shouldn't be denied the pleasure of screwing up a few midgets once in a while.

During the rainy season, doing the laundry can't be any harder. Now that you know the weatherman can't be completely trusted, you're basically left with only one alternative, the Chinese almanac. Yeah, the kind of calendar superstitious Chinese old ladies consult to pick an auspicious day to clean the bathroom or to dye the hair. Some days are just not meant for doing laundry; you have to live with it.

Ah, and I'm quite sure it's written somewhere that you can skip classes during rainy days...

Friday, 26 June 2009

MJ's Legacy

| 0 persons flung their shoes
Waking up in the morning can be as challenging as climbing Mt Fuji, especially for people like me whose brain takes an eternity to start up. That's why I keep my remote control just next to my pillow; the morning news gives me a jump-start.

The first time I switched on the TV this morning, it was reported in the news that Michael Jackson was sent to the hospital - no details. Still groggy from my sleep, I squinted my eyes to take a look at the time. 6.33. Jeez. I decided it was still early and went back to sleep.

The next time I woke up was at 8, when the alarm rang. Switched on the TV again and this time, there was an update on MJ's news.

He's just died.

Whoa! Talk about getting a jump-start in the morning! The crappiest news last night was about the recovery of Colonel Sanders from a river in Osaka. (See: Curse of the Colonel) I wouldn't bat an eyelid if they reported in the morning that the North Koreans tested another missle. But MJ's death? Now, that's very sudden. In fact, in a small skit we're going to make in a lesson next week, there'll be a brief reference to MJ.

I remember that back when I was about 7 years old, there was a music concert and we sang "We Are the World" as the ending song. I didn't know it's MJ's song until very much later, but the fact that it's one of the songs that was part of my childhood gives it a big significance.

I'm not particularly a fan of MJ but he's the King of Pop who once rocked the world after all. As a child, he endured the abuses by his father and rose to become a star. (To an African-American, that's a big feat.) His career reached its peak in the late 80's/early 90's, when he was dubbed the King of Pop. Unfortunately, fame turned him into a spoilt super star, and later, his reputation was seriously marred by the child molestation allegations.

It's a pity we won't see him making his comeback in his scheduled London tour the world has been looking forward to. Now, when we talk about MJ, it's going to be like when our fathers talk about Elvis Presley. I feel so old already. I mean, he's one of the people who defined the world we grew up in. And now he's gone.

But one thing for sure is, his albums are going to sell like hotcakes once more. MJ's music will live on.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Black Pepper Chicken

| 0 persons flung their shoes
The Budding Chef: Black Pepper Chicken
Amazingly, this dish can be prepared under 30 minutes and it's so simple that you'll never fail. There're only a few points to keep in mind:
  • Do not use breast meat. It's not meant for frying.
  • Do not be stingy with corn starch. Coat meat sufficiently.
  • You don't need to deep-fry the meat. Use oil sparingly but make sure the meat is evenly fried.
  • Forget about following the recipe step-by-step. Unless if you're cooking for guests, it's all about personal preferences so be your own judge!

1. Ingredients
Chicken thigh
Green pepper / paprika

2. Sauce
Soy sauce
Oyster sauce
Lots of black pepper
Lots of white pepper

1. Cut meat into appropriate size and coat with cornstarch.
2. Deep-fry until golden brown.
3. Mix ingredients for sauce according to personal preference. Set aside.
4. Leave chicken on paper towel to dry.
5. Stir-fry green pepper and onion. Remove from pan.
6. Heat prepared sauce, add meat and finally the green pepper and the onion.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Hi, We're Mormons, Not Hippies

| 5 persons flung their shoes
Hi, we're mormons, we love everyone. That's why we came all the way to Japan to do what we enjoy doing the most: talking to people about god and saving souls. I'm sure the Japanese love us too, because we have blonde hair and blue eyes and a sexy American accent.

You've probably met some of us, I'm sure. Because we're practically everywhere. Sometimes, we go knocking at doors but most of the time, you see us loitering walking around in the neighbourhood, greeting random strangers.

Many people are silly enough to mistake us as hippies, but give me a break, dude. Of all things, hippies? The hippies who believe in the power of marijuana? Come on, those people are gay. And God made it clear that He has a distaste for gay people. Hippies don't go to heaven, only mormons do. In fact, according to South Park, Catholics and Protestants go to hell. (It is also perhaps worth noting that Saddam Hussein was sent to heaven.)

I can never understand why the hippies concern themselves so much with environmental issues. I mean, who really believe we can stop global warming? We all know it's karma that's heating up the earth. Historical records show that global warming was nonexistent until after the Hindus and the Buddhists invented karma.

Global warming or not, there's nothing more important than the salvation of your soul. But eating crackers, drinking red wine and confessing your sins can only get you halfway to heaven. Let's not forget about donating to our church. We need money to send our missionaries to Alaska to convert the eskimos before the hippies get to them.

God-defying hippies, they're a wicked bunch. Isn't it surprising that in the world today, there're still people who don't believe in god? Mao Zedong, Isaac Asimov, Francis Bacon, Carl Sagan, Douglas Adams, Steven Weinberg, Richard Dawkins, Eleanor Ann Arroway, and probably Spock and Doctor Who... Their names are synonymous to god-defying hippies who practise satanism part-time.

But let's not be lax. These hippies are closer to you than you might think. Take this episode I encountered the other day, for instance. Paul and I were dilly-dallying walking around in the neighbourhood, harrassing greeting friendly Japanese when we met this foreign guy from some third-world African country called Malaysia. Alas, little did we know he was a heretic until he declared that he was an "atheist".

Oh, it took me sometime before my brain registered the meaning of the blasphemous word. While I thought all these heretics were all wiped out alongside the witches during the Spanish inquisition, here was one, standing right in front of me! It's so hard to tell a hippy from his looks nowadays. They don't wear voodoo trinkets anymore.

Recomposing myself, I tried to maintain my friendly smile. God gave me a chance to convert a heretic. I knew I could not afford to screw it up.

"Hmm... An atheist, huh?" I rubbed my chin, still recovering from the shock. "Do you believe that the universe was formed in a bang? So... Do you believe in money? Do you believe in love? In family?"

"I suppose you're asking me if I believe in the power of money, the importance of love and family. But let me clarify. I think you got me wrong. Being an atheist means I do not believe in the existence of god. Whether I believe in the belief in god is another question."

He was also quick to add, "I'm guessing that you're from the church down the street and the next thing you're going to do is to invite me to drop by."

Whoa, you'd think that people who don't believe in God are actually stupid but this one is brighter than your stereotypical type from the catalog!

"You're right. Our church is currently opening its doors to people so that they can see for themselves what we're doing." You know, some people have these strange ideas that we worship big stone statues, burn offerings and sing karaoke in the church. But that's not what we do. "What we're doing is seeking peace and happiness through God."

"Some people find peace and happiness in a bowl of ramen," the guy quipped. "Peace and happiness can be as simple as that. You don't have to resort to religion to lead a fulfilling life."

That was the most ridiculous thing I've heard. This guy must be high on coke.

"I believe only in God. Nothing you say is going to change that. I believe that when I die, I'll go to heaven. There, I'll meet our saviour Jesus Christ and we'll have a long chat," I explained. "So, are you coming to our church? If you do, we can talk more about it."

"No offense but, sorry, I'll pass."

Cool. At least Paul and I didn't have to waste our time. I'd rather try my luck with other less adamant people. It's not like we have all day to waste. We're not hippies who have nothing better to do than talking to random strangers. We're mormons. We're entrusted with the holy duty to remind people of God.

Oh, we give free English lessons at our church too. Join us any time you want.

God bless you.

*This post is partly fictional.

False Conviction

| 1 persons flung their shoes
In the world of CSI and Bones, there's no unsolved crime, no bad guy goes unpunished. But unfortunately, in the real world, that's not how things work.

Imagine suddenly being taken away by the police for an interrogation, where you're forced to make a confession on a crime you've not committed. Then before you know what happened, you're chucked into a prison to spend the rest of your life there.

That actually happened to a guy from Tochigi. He was "convicted" of the murder of a 4-year-old girl. The 62-year-old was released yesterday, after DNA tests came back with a negative result. It's more than good to be a free man again after spending the last 18 years in prison for false charges.

18 freaking years of life, gone. So many things can happen in 18 years' time. 18 years ago, George Bush Senior was the president of the United States. 18 years ago, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. And 18 years ago, we couldn't tell apart simian DNA from that of a homo sapien's.

The chances of a coincidental match back then was about 1 to 700, which was considerably high. That was how the man got convicted. But what's more unacceptable is that during the investigation, the man was roughed up and coerced to make a confession.

The press conference was in the news the other day. During the session, the man appeared calm but when he spoke about the forced confession, he couldn't hold back his anger.

"The police will not be forgiven." For a man who has lost 18 years of freedom, that can be naturally understood. He has lost much, including his parents who passed away while he was in prison.

It's scary to know that when we're expecting law enforcers to protect us, innocent men are actually convicted of false charges. Who knows how many others are there? And it can happen to just about anyone.

News articles:
DNA test findings lead to lifer's release
『警察、検察許せぬ』 釈放の菅家さん 語気強め捜査批判
足利事件:菅家さん「謝って」 記者へ手紙