Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Nothing to see here


I'd like to watch a movie, a very specific one in fact: "Chronicles of Narnia; th Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", but I can't... hence the sigh.

When I was working at Rhythm & Hues (a movie special effects company), I got to see it come to life while watching the render queue during the night shift. Often I would check everything on the queue, seeing scenes in various phases of completion: plain footage with the actors wearing green leggings where the goat-legs hoofs would go, lighting added, color enhanced, compositing done... really fascinating stuff. sometimes I would even see amusing 'bloopers' the animators would run as tests. Once I saw a scene where Aslan, lion christ-figure, stepped out of the tent wearing pink leather pumps! ^_^

We as a studio had a lot riding on that film because we always had to work on crappy movies, like Riddick and Garfield and Scooby-doo. The effects were always great, but those movies didn't give us much in the way of bragging rights. Finally we got the 'Lord of the Rings' quality movie we've been waiting for, and I've been waiting a year to see it in the theaters! ..Cue Kyra moving to Japan, and add another 1/4 of a year to that. Crap.

LLW already came out in America... and I'm STUCK HERE where it doesn't come out until MARCH!! Also, if you thought movies were expensive back home, here ticket prices are usually $18 for general admission. Ugh I swear, this is a terrible place to live for movie fans. The only movies I've seen while I've been here are 'Corpse Bride' (gotta love Tim Burton!), the new 'Harry Potter' flick, and 'Batman Begins'. I wanted to see Charlie and the Chocolate factory, but I couldn't convince myself it was worth $18 to see, and decided to wait until it comes out on dvd.

So what IS out in the theaters? Let's see. As of today, I have my choice of:

  • Harry Potter (which I've seen)
  • 'Mr & Mrs Smith'
  • 'Chicken Little'
  • 'Arashii no yoru ni'. This is an animed film about a sheep who befriended a wolf. It is also unfortunately made for audiences whose age I could count on one hand.
  • 'Yamato' (think the Titanic, where instead of a cruise ship, the Titanic was the biggest, bestest battleship of WW2).
  • and 'Memoirs of a Geisha' (titled SAYURI here).
I kind of want to see Sayuri, but not in Japan, watching everyone cringe at the burbank-studio filmed, entirely-in english, Hollywood version of a geisha world. I've been asking people what they thought about it, some people were interested in seeing japan through western eyes, some were utterly horrified at the thought of chinese actresses playing the geisha ^^;;
Incedentally, I saw Kill Bill here, you could almost feel the pain of the audience when Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu 'spoke' Japanese. There there, you poor souls... but now you know how I feel when you say 'makudonarudo' for McDonalds! ~_~

Oh, right, the holidays! Hope everyone had a nice time! I did ^_^ however it's impossible to get a real christmas tree here, I really miss them. :( But I got a big box of presents and candy from my parents (god bless'em) and had a nice roast chicken dinner complete with a 'Christmas Cake' and a bit of bubbly with the in-laws. ^^ yum! .. it was the first time I was given a bowl of white rice to go with roast chicken. This is a terrible place for Atkins, you simply can't escape the ever present bowl of rice.

So what's a christmas cake, you ask? Sneaky cake companies and bakeries invented a 'christmas tradition' of having a sponge cake covered with whipped cream and strawberries. They really caught on here, being delicious, kind of fancy, and not too hard on the budget. Most people make them themselves from a kit. Think of them as a gingerbread house only a bit more edible.
More neighborhoods have been getting festive with lights on their houses! I made a bunch of gingerbread cookies and gave the ones that escaped my belly to the neighbors. Not much you can do with our tiny microwave/ conventional oven combo as it only goes up to 200 C, but I've discovered you can make a damn good cookie. ^^ If you have.. the skills, that is. ^_-
I'm going to Nagano (the mountains) to get snowed in. I mean.. visit the Shinkai Shrine! There is a temple where Takeshi's grandparents live that has their last name. We're going there to check it out ..I mean, pray, or something. What should I pray for? Perhaps world peace, or a winning lottery ticket. ..but seeing as the temperature is in the negatives up there, I'll probably end up praying for all of my toes and fingers to remain free of frostbite. ^_^;;

Happy 2006 everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A December to Remember

No, sorry, not that memorable, actually. I just can't think of a title.
"No more rhyming, and I mean it!" "Anybody want a peanut?" (arrghh horrible ^^)

If you want to see those with actual grace and prose with rhyming and so forth, you might want to check out the Poetry Archive. You can download videos of famous poets reading their works, which can add meaning and life to your favorite poetry. That, and you can visit my grandmother's site: Jane Blue which I am plugging because
1. She's a professional poet, and
2. I made the site.

Anyways, it's that special time of year. That's right, it's the time of the year we try to avoid department stores as much as possible to keep the annoying holiday jingles out of our heads. I actually like christmas carols, provided they are classical sounding and are played within 2 weeks of christmas. Unfortunately, I heard a "Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer Cha-cha-cha" today when I was eating lunch, and I nearly had to use the emergency fire escape.

Hm, haven't posted any pictures in awhile! I have a bunch saved up for ya.

Office building lights lit up in a christmas tree pattern! An alternate theory is the people in those exactly those seats simply happened to be working overtime ^_~ I think PETA would have a cow...
Last month we went to Nagano for one last time before it becomes unbearably cold. (At least, until ski season ^^) The scenery was gorgeous. I lived in LA too long.. colorful leaves were like a whole new world! ^^ Here's a waterfall we saw (Takeshi is fishing below ^^) We also went mushroom hunting. We only knew of three types that were safe, and here's one of them. Doesn't it look tasty?
Found this at a smoothie stand near where I normally have lunch. It's the best engrish I've seen in awhile. Transcript: "Refresh touching all the way!" ^_~ I never put this up, did I? I actually found a kabocha! It's a japanese pumpkin, dark green in color. I carved it and lit it up for halloween. Boy were the neighbors impressed!
This year I'm sending out new years cards, as is the Japanese tradition. If you would like one and you haven't sent me your address recently(for wedding invitations ^^), please email me at kyraweaver(at)hotmail(dot)com because...

We wish you a merry christmas, and a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Company Quirks

I'm having a lot of fun working at a Japanese company. I've been learning a lot of new vocabulary, meeting new people, and learning ever-new ways to massacre the english language. I'm a bit ashamed to say it, but even my own company logo is: "For Better Tomorrow". *sigh*. I've been delicately skirting the topic, trying to find a good time to bring it up, but I can never seem to find the right time. Takeshi suggested bringing it up at the company sponsored drinking party, which seems like a very good idea.

The new vocabulary itself isn't that exciting. What is interesting is if you look at the individual characters that make up a word. These characters all have their own meaning, just as the entymological roots of an english word helps to understand that word's full meaning. Hidden among my 200 boring business words were some true gems:

  • bo-nen-kai
    (the company's year end party = 忘年会) means "forget - year - meeting". ie, get so drunk you forget all of the bad things that happened that year.
  • chu-niku
    red ink pad = you use it for your name stamp. shu is 朱, red or bloody, and niku = 肉, meat.(like yakiniku). bloody meat! Niiiice!

Speaking of vocabulary and such...a lot of my Japanese friends can speak english, because genius loves company ^_~. But if you're planning on coming to Japan, don't count on people speaking english, because mostly they can't. Reading and writing, however, the general population is fairly proficient at, because they have all memorized several thousand nouns, and can't pronounce any of them.
The company president is one of those people who have a very large vocabulary, but absolutely no sense of grammar. When I had an interview, he was trying to explain my contract to me. Showing off his skills, he decided to explain it to me in English, by which I mean nouns only. The rest of the monologue (verbs, adjectives, articles) was in Japanese. Imagine you're on the other side of the table of someone saying:
"sono *payday* ha *month* no *end* dakara hayaku *put* wo shite kudasai".
Me: "ah.......*snicker(coughcoughcough)*........hai!"
By the end of the conversation he was very concerned over my health, since I appeared very cold. I couldn't come out and say my apparent shivers were me trembling with effort to supress my laughter..amazingly enough, I was hired despite my ..ill-health. ^_~;;

Now, you would think that since I found a job, it means that the dreadful interview phase is over, right? I did it! I passed! right?? Haha, sorry, maybe next time, sucker! My company is a contracting firm, so they supply programmers to big companies that don't have enough in-house programmers. So, I'm at the end of my training phase and am being shuttled off to interviews! It's pretty stressful, but at least my boss thinks rather highly of me. On the phone I sometimes hear him: "we have a staff member here who knows java and perl, she's american but can speak japanese well." and then, when he runs out of things to say about me, he'll bring up random things. "She likes website design, and uses photoshop." Then, if that fails to impress, he'll bring up the kicker: " She also has a brown belt in judo, hahaha!"

I've had two interviews in the last week, which are very stressful. Actually the interviews aren't that bad, it's the day before that's bad, since my boss is visibly nervous for me and makes me practice what I'm going to say about a million times. I can understand his concern, since I'm not a native speaker, but it doesn't help my nerves any when he makes me recite everything in front of everyone in the room!!
Ah well. So far they haven't gone too badly, and at least I'm not that stressed. After all, I'm employed and am being paid to do this, which is nicer than before! But sometimes I think the interview could have gone better. For instance, take today's interview.

Interviewer: "So I see you have some experience with online applications. Do you think you could write technical specification documents for them?"
Me:"Well, I have a bit of experience in technical documents, I developed an e-learning system with a six person team, we had to write use cases and draw UML diagrams" <== (this was part of my prepared speech)
Interviewer: "ah. but you have no experience writing up spec sheets, I see. That would be a main part of your job here."
Me: "that's true, but... (pause, gears grinding while trying to think of something good in japanese)"um... I am a very fast learner?"
My boss: "yes! see! she's only 23, and has lived here only half a year, but she's already at this level!"
interviewer: ".....Hm."
My boss: "Did I mention she has a brown belt in judo?"
everyone: "Ha ha ha........ (big anime sweatdrop)"

Another funny thing happened. I got my insurance card, which is good beause Takeshi ordered me not to get hit by a car or get a bad fever before getting it, so now I can get ill with a clear conscience. Anyways, my co-worker (maybe I should say 'senpai' because he's definitely higher on the totem pole) brought me my card, and started making his way back to his seat. I studied it for a few seconds, and made a small chortling noise. "*srk* Wha?..." "Is something the matter?" "Um.... um... my card, it says 'male' on it." Suddenly suspicious, I whipped out my retirement pension workbook that had been given to me earlier. Also male. My sempai didn't believe me until he saw it. Apparently there was a small mixup in the HR office... but I am definitely female! So what if I'm a programmer.. and do judo.. and am not a fan of fasion magazines or makeup... wait, I am a girl, right? *sniff* Of course this was the source of no end of merriment for Takeshi, who declared "I have such a cute little husband!" haha, laugh it up. Chump. ^^
For the record I would like to thank to my sempai, who is shy about speaking english but has very good pronunciation and speaks it much better than the boss. (He was the one who suggested changing "online children's study game" to "e-learning system", which sounds infinitely cooler!)

In other news, on a completely different topic, the bug trees survived the meeting! I walked past and they are still up. I asked a girl out walking her dog about their welfare, and she said the trees have been spared...for now. *cue sinister music*
Wedding planning is coming along! For news, check the wedding blog (

That's enough blogging for now. 'till next time!
(your definitely female friend)