April 30, 2013

Mt. Fuji Motivation

Mt. Fuji is the national symbol of Japan. Its near-perfect symmetry, size and visibility for tens of millions of people in the Tokyo area have turned this still-active volcano into a national icon. It’s the tallest mountain in Japan (3,776 m/12, 289 ft.), is considered a holy site by followers of the Shinto religion, and draws untold thousands of hikers every year to ascend her sides to the top. In short, Fuji-san inspires superlatives like no other mountain in Japan.

For my part, Fuji-san inspires many trips to the men’s room.

You see, like hundreds of millions of other officer workers around the world I fuel my work with regular cups of coffee (coupled with Red Bull or lesser-caffeinated beverages when I want to push the typing envelope). The morning fuel-up is inevitably followed by nature’s call to jettison some ballast, thereafter necessitating regular pit stops at the men’s room in my workplace. That’s the brilliance of the architect of the building: I have an unfettered view of Fuji-san from the entrance to the men’s restroom. That is a perk I share with only a few other hundred thousand or so workers in Japan’s capital region.

The View - the ideal

Does the panorama of Fuji-san lower perceived stress levels or produce higher degrees of job satisfaction? Unknown.

But I do know that the view beats that of any other workplace I’ve been in. In fact, I find the occasional glimpses of Fuji-san inspiring. However, I did get a few snickers from a couple of co-workers who inquired as to why I was taking photos near the men’s john. The things I do for my art!

The View – the reality without zoom…but still quite nice

April 24, 2013

A Fistful of Firsts

Personal Mobility
Recently, Lady E. decided that her bicycle’s training wheels weren’t cool and they had to go. Maybe this was due to peer pressure, I dunno. Prior the onset of winter I’d been irregularly trying to get her upright and stable without trainers, all to no avail. All of a sudden getting rid of the training wheels became a priority for her.
She has made great progress of late and is now pedaling without mishap. This leaves me pleased for her and Naomi slightly freaked because she senses our eldest will soon be zipping along the same streets shared with cars.
I think Elena will soon feel the need for speed. Which means I need “to seek the safety.”

“It’s educational” (See The Pixies, U-Mass )
In a truly important major life milestone, Lady E. has joined the ranks of elementary school kids. Like millions of kids her age across Japan, in early April she began attending a local school. The first day kicked off with a school entrance ceremony, the first class with her teacher, and all her school things crammed into her “randoseru” backpack. It was nice to see her off on this next stage in life. Marina joined the party.

Personal Growth
Other recent major firsts include Elena’s passing down her car seat to M., who ditched her baby seat. Lady E. also lost her first tooth about two months ago. Think she was concerned about the first time she lost a part of her body involving pain and blood? Pssssshaw. She is currently prying out other teeth to get some more of those 500 yen coins that magically appear after a tooth comes out. Yes, the tooth fairy makes stops in Japan when duty calls.

Show Biz
During a lull in bicycle training at a park, we sat down for some drinks. I cajoled the girls into doing some faux commercials for the beverage, saying “I like it.” My plan is to get them into show biz as soon as possible so I can retire early and become a despicable showbiz daddy.
It’s also my way of wedging in some English practice for the Rising Daughters, whose dominant language right now is Japanese.  See their very brief performances below.