Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I Do What I Want: Christmas Eve Edition

Some of you may not know this, but I do what I want.

Today I saw some trails with "no bikes" signs. "I do what I want," I said to no one in particular, and then continued down the trail on my bike. Never mind that it was muddy and sloppy and filled with dead trees, and actually would have been faster to walk--you see, I do what I want.

Damn, the Oregon coast is really boring and ugly.

If you noticed the little fence in the picture above, it's the Man's way of telling you there's something awesome beyond it. In this case, a wind-swept outcropping of rock that juts out directly over about 800 feet of nothing, and then some pointy rocks and the ocean.

This rock was also hovering over a huge free-fall to certain death, but there was no fence telling me to stay back. So I guess only certain dangerous rock faces are illegal to hang out on or something.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Can Almost Taste the Freedom

Well, my apartment isn't really cleaned. My clothes aren't particularly washed or folded. The garbage is *almost* all taken out. But to be honest, I'll be leaving for America tomorrow and essentially just locking my front door and turning off the water.

My trip is going to be like a submarine- pointlessly long and hard. I've somehow engineered it to absolutely maximize the time in transit and minimize the time at home. I'll leave for Sendai tomorrow, wait around for 8 hours, leave for Tokyo, wait around for 8 hours, leave for America, and then have the hour and a half drive home. Luckily, my incredibly ineptitude in trip planning has aligned perfectly with my incredible ineptitude in shopping, for, you see, I still have my Christmas shopping to do.

And gloriously enough, I have 8 hours to kill in the heart of Sendai's bustling downtown. It's almost like I planned it this way.

I doubt I'll update this blog much while I'm at home. I don't even think I'm bringing my laptop, since I'm trying to hit the ground running and actually do stuff and see people instead of sit around reading reddit and drinking coffee until 2 in the afternoon everyday.

Ah, I can't wait to get some Chipotle into the old bloodstream. Nothing says America like burritos.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Godzilla Method

All the area high schools use this textbook called "New Horizons." The chapter they're currently working on opens with this:

"Which is stronger, Godzilla or King Kong? I think Godzilla is stronger than King Kong. Godzilla is the strongest of all monsters."

Now, if you asked me ten years ago how I thought Japanese people studied English, I probably would have described exactly this.

Now please watch the best drummer in the world:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An Epic Journey Through Sam's Wrongness

Dude, that thing is totally a radar tower. Haven't you ever played Command and Conquer: Red Alert? I think this was the phase in your life where you proclaimed any game other than Bejeweled to be "gay." However, this game clearly shows us what a radar dome looks like:

That being said, this pic of an NOAA radar dome kind of blurs the line. See, it's a radar dome...for...weather observation. So I guess if observatories are usually also radar-equipped, that makes us both geniuses. Except for you.

More importantly, everyone can watch this awesome video Dave sent me, made by a bunch of turds who travel around Asia and write a (wait for it...) blog.

Welcome to Nowhere

When you think of Japan, you think crowded super-dense cities, right? That seems to be generally true, but all that density means that it's still pretty easy to find yourself out in the boonies in this postage-stamp country of 150 million.

Sometimes I ride in a straight line into the mountains until I get confused. Here's some pictures from one such ride. Cue dueling banjos.

This is some forgotten old road or hiking trail or jeep trail. I'm not sure what it is, but I've only seen one other person in the half dozen times I've ridden it. And he said I had pretty lips. Anyway, there's some weird radar tower looking thing in the distance, and I'll try to get there at some point and take better pictures. What is it? Why is it in the middle of nowhere?

I don't know why this big slope has been cleared out of all the brush and trees and things, but there you have it. To the mind of a 23-year-old male, a long uninterrupted grass slope is just screaming for you to do something really stupid and hurt yourself on it. Still trying to think of what that might be. Sledding? Slip n' slide?

This looked like a friendly and symmetrical stretch of singletrack, which it was at first. Then all of a sudden it dropped off into a boulder-filled straight-down descent into the foresty bowels of some godforsaken troll's lair. It was absolutely unrideable. This is what I hate about mountain-biking in Japan. You need a road bike to get up, and a DH bike going the other way.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How the East Was Won

I had my erg race today, and did emphatically hoist my flag of victory in the erg-studded sands of the Tohoku University gymnasium.

I rowed a 6:15, which is what I was hoping for. I kept asking myself "who's Japanese here?" Everyone else was slugging their 2ks out at a stroke rate of like 27 or 28 strokes per minute, while I had it pegged at a feverish "hamster on a crack suppository" 34.

Anyway, the dudes on my team seemed pretty pleased to take home the win for our little club, so that's good.

So here's some pictures of me in my post-university "Uncle Rico" moment (where the washed-up former athlete stuffs himself back into his ill-fitting uniform and tries to recapture that old glory...although this race was against my will and I actually won, so I hope that mitigates the Uncle Rico-ness.)

This is from the part where I haven't started yet--notice the no death-grimace of pain.

I did the entire race barely hanging onto my handle. My fingers are just THAT strong.

Hey, what's the best way to make your 7-year-old hate you? I know! Make him wake up really early on the weekend to go do a 2k in a freezing cold gymnasium.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Erg Stats: Warning, Rowing Nerd Material Ahead

The race in Sendai is this Sunday. I'm officially in my "taper." All that means is that I'm trying to be as rested as possible for the race while still doing enough to stay sharp. It's nice because I'm super busy at the moment, and carving out 2 and a half hours for a workout every morning was tough (1 hour to sit in front of my computer thinking about how much I didn't want to erg, half hour to get ready, 1 hour of actual exercise).

Anyway, this is where I left off before my week of laziness begun:

Best 10K : 34:48, or a 1:44.5 average. This puts me about a month into freshman year of college, fitness-wise.

Best 2k: 6:20 This was a 2k I did by myself with no motivation and no sprint at the end, so that's not too shabby. Hopefully another couple weeks of training and the excitement of being in a race is enough to buy me 4 seconds.

Best 500 workout: 4x500 x2, 30 seconds, all 500s right around 1:33. That's solid, but certainly not spectacular.

So all of this leads me to believe that, provided nothing weird happens, I should be able to go 6:15-6:18, depending on how much the stars align in my favor, and how much I'm able to gut it out at the very end.

Oh, and I checked with the guys on my team. My biggest competition is the lightweight doubles champion of Asia. "Lightweight," meaning I have 60+ pounds on him. So if I lose, I'm a loser. And I'm fat.

Magnificent Nature

I captured an image of a species native to Japan. Here you can see her resting in her natural habitat. Doesn't she look peaceful? At once striking and in perfect harmony with her surroundings. Truly a special moment.