30 June 2010

English-Japanese translations

Today (June 30; yes, this is very late) was the same as yesterday, except instead of basketball I had class. Lunch was the same, dinner was the same. Loved them.

For everyone's benefit and particularly for those coming to Japan, here is some useful info on how to translate between English and Japanese.

Firstly, I use http://translate.google.com for English to Kanji and Romaji, and Kanji/Hiragana/Katakana to English.  It also translates full websites; just enter the website's URL (or address) in the input box.

I use http://www.dicts.info/2/english-japanese_romaji.php for English-to-Romaji and vice versa.

Then I use this for Romaji to Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji: http://www.cs.technion.ac.il/~danken/kanjidic.html.

And lastly I use http://nihongo.j-talk.com/kanji/ for Kanji to Romaji and English.

I suggest you to consult different dictionaries because sometimes they give different meanings.  I do.

I haven't tried http://alc.co.jp.

29 June 2010

Long, long distance

Buzy day today.  Even got to the "office" early.  Anyways, I had Adobong Pork Chop with salad greens and tomatoes for lunch, and...  Salmon, Carrots, and Tomatoes (all grilled) for dinner! :-)  I also played basketball today, losing 2 out of 3 games.  For some reason it was difficult to make a shot today.  Too tired?

Anyways, so I'm in Japan, and Mara, my love, is in the Philippines.  How do we keep in touch????

Thank God for the Internet and 3G phones, there are so many ways to.

First up, there is Skype.  So whenever we're both free (usually most of the week), we make it a point to video chat, usually in the evenings but also sometimes on weekend or holiday daytime.  So that's FREE voice calls, FREE video calls, and FREE messaging (chatting) usually in the evenings.

Before leaving the Philippines, I applied for bill rebates from my Philippines-based cellphone company, Globe.  So I'm paying just around 60% of the usual monthly rate (or around 85% of my usual monthly bill).  That's a little leverage for emergency calls and texts I need to make.

I have roaming on my Globe phone with FREE incoming texts anytime, any day.  Mara texts me there when she's at locations without internet access.  It costs her just the same as when she texts me while I'm in the Philippines.

Then there is Chikka.  FREE outgoing texts to the Philippines, anytime, any day.  Though I think there's a daily limit of 20 or 25 outgoing texts per day.  And, the person you're texting has to reply to your Chikka text at least once.  (It would cost Mara P2.50 for texts to my Chikka account.)  Now, I can only access Chikka where there is internet access - so it's usually at the school, and usually only on weekdays and some weekend/holiday evenings.  Another catch is, sometimes the Chikka service acts up, and so I am not able to send FREE texts.  For emergency purposes, for example if my roaming Globe phone loses connection, Mara can text to my Chikka at a cost though.  Chikka also works as an internet messaging (IM, like YM) service, so Mara can send me FREE messages via Chikka.

Then there is Globe's Muzta service.

Basically if you're on roaming, you pay very expensive charges for outgoing texts (25 pesos per text?), outgoing calls (60 pesos per minute?), and incoming calls (60 pesos per minute?).  So Mara doesn't call me there, except again for emergency purposes.

If Mara instead needs to call me, she calls me on my Muzta instead.  Muzta is a "softphone" - you get a virtual mobile number as if you have a cellphone and as if you're in the Philippines.  The rates to and from Muzta cellphones are the same as those for Globe prepaid phones.  Muzta works like Skype for phone calls.  So it's basically computer software that uses the internet.  Now the problem again is, no internet, no Muzta.  No computer, no Muzta.  The good thing about this though is, it's FREE incoming calls (for me; regular rates for Mara) for as long as my computer is on, my Muzta software is running, and I have an internet connection.  I've had some problems with connecting to Muzta's servers, or making calls sometimes.  Also, if my Muzta is offline, I don't think I can receive texts from Mara even when I go back online already.

Of course, there's e-mail, there's Facebook, and so on.  They're not real-time though, but good enough.  We used to use Yahoo! Messenger, but Skype is just way better for video and voice calls over the internet.

By the way, there's also Jumblo which gives me practically the same rates (very slightly cheaper only) as Muzta for outgoing phone calls (more expensive for outgoing texts though).  The good thing about Jumblo is when you load up, you get FREE calls to certain countries.  Like, with Jumblo I get free calls to any phone in the US, Japan landlines (anywhere in Japan!), and a lot of other countries.  The bad thing though is, you don't have a true phone number, so no incoming calls for you.  You would need to pay extra to get your own phone number.

And, I also have a Japan-based phone, from Softbank.  So it's incoming calls actually from anywhere in the world, anytime, any day.  But it will cost Mara maybe 20 pesos per minute.

So in summary, here's how they compare, somewhat.

1. Mara and me both in the Philippines
incoming texts - Globe - FREE
outgoing texts - Globe - 1 peso per text
incoming calls - Globe - FREE
outgoing calls - Globe - 6.50 pesos per minute

2. Me in Japan, using roaming
incoming texts - Globe - FREE
outgoing texts - Globe - 25 pesos per text
incoming calls - Globe - 60 pesos per minute
outgoing calls - Globe - 60 pesos per minute

3. Me in Japan, using all cheap methods
incoming texts - Globe or Muzta - FREE
outgoing texts - Chikka - FREE
incoming calls - Muzta or Skype - FREE (6.50 pesos per minute for Mara to Muzta)
outgoing calls - Skype - FREE

4. Me in Japan, 2nd choice options
incoming texts - Chikka - FREE (2.50 peso per text for Mara)
outgoing texts - Muzta - 1 peso per text
incoming calls - Softbank - FREE (20 pesos per minute for Mara)
outgoing calls - Muzta or Jumblo - 6.50 pesos per minute

Unless otherwise indicated, the costs for Mara would be the same as in #1.  The #3 set certainly beats the roaming (#2)!  Even #4 is better than #2!

28 June 2010


Today was soooooooo hot.  Daytime high was 34 degrees, the highest it has been since I came here.  Did I mention yesterday was very hot as well?  Particularly last night.  Daytime high yesterday was 31, and nighttime low was 25, the highest it has been since I came here.  Very much like Manila in March or April.  It was uncomfortable in the apartment even late last night, because it tends to trap the heat inside - which is good for winter when the temperature could be close to freezing.  Anyways, you could really feel the heat indoors; I had my aircon on last night as well as through this morning.  The exhaust fan couldn't handle it anymore.  And as expected here to the west of a large body of water (i.e. the Pacific Ocean), just as in the Philippines, when it's hot, it becomes rain.  It is really rainy season now.  And now I can't imagine how hot it could be when "summer" really arrives; i.e. around mid-July.

For lunch, I had my "Kinilaw" pork and Adobong Kang-Kong.  The Kinilaw pork, although I've drained it already of a lot of oil/fat, it still is a little fatty and so I needed to heat it a bit and not eat it straight from the fridge to melt some of the solidified oil/fat.  The Adobong Kang-Kong was too salty (too much soy sauce, or not enough water).  For dinner, I had my Adobong Pork Chop.  As expected, the meat in Adobong Pork Chop is not as tasty compared to when you use the cut that is best for Adobo.  But it was good nonetheless.  Ate it with my usual salad greens and tomatoes.

Other than that, today is a busy day.  There's a (mathematical) problem related to my upcoming experiments that I'm having a little trouble with.  I hope to resolve it tonight or anytime soon!

27 June 2010

No sun Sunday

Well it did shine for a very little while actually.  But today is generally one of those "rainy season" days.  But it's not like pouring rain, but instead it was very Asian - very shy rain.  In the exact same 1 square meter area, there is only one drop every minute.  So technically you don't need an umbrella.

I was in Tokyo when the sun first shone today.  I went to the church in Meguro to attend the 12 noon mass.  A one way trip from my apartment to Meguro takes an hour and 50 minutes.  Before going home, I went around the Shinjuku area and took pictures of the two most prominent buildings there: the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, and the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower.  I also went to Bic Camera, the electronics store, and was able to try the new iPhone 4 and iPad.

One of the things I did today was withdraw from the bank, via the ATM.  Guess what.  There's an "overtime charge," apparently because it's Sunday today.  Overtime charge????  Who's doing overtime?????  Well, I guess Japan is still very much Asian.  Any opportunities to earn money, they will grab.  I mean, of course, that's a good thing to do, from a business-owner perspective.  Like in renting apartments, aside from paying the rent and a 2-months deposit, you usually would have to pay a non-refundable 2-months' worth of "gratitude payment" (or what they call "key money") to the landlord and when you leave, you may need to pay a fee to have your apartment "cleaned" and ready for occupancy by the next tenant.  I mean, in other countries, the rent (as well as the deposit) is supposed to cover all that already.

Another thing I did today was... to finally try eating at Denny's here.  As I mentioned before, there are two Denny's branches here in Atsugi alone.  Pretty surprising.  The Denny's closer to the Hon-Atsugi station is on the 2nd floor of a 3-storey building; a.k.a. a building with no elevators or escalators.  Anyways, from what I can understand from the sign, this Denny's store is open 24 hours!  So I come in, and as expected, the interiors are very Western, much like the Denny's stores I've visited in California.  Then I sit down, look at the menu and...  It's a Japanese menu!  Of course the text is in Japanese, this is Japan anyway.  But the items on the menu are all Japanese (or Japanese-style) food!  I was really craving for some Amerika-no tabemono (American food), though I wasn't sure yet what exactly.  Anyways, I ordered the suteiku (steak, Japanese-style), but it was "sold out," the waitress said in English.  So I asked what's a similar dish, and so she pointed to another kind of suteiku, but this time instead of one big slab of meat, it's pre-sliced already.  Anyways, fyi, Japanese-style steak usually comes on a sizzling plate and with onions and "sauce."  The price, is expensive, though for the ambiance, it wasn't so bad.  I've eaten at a hole-in-the-wall Japanese steak place before, and their prices are my reference point.

And that's about it for my day.  Hi, mom!  Don't worry, I'm fine. :-)

26 June 2010


It's the usual Saturday.  Almost.  Woke up, did my laundry - three batches, two colors and one whites - because I do my laundry only once every two weeks.  Went to school for lunch at the cafeteria - Torikatsu with salad, and side veggies and miso soup, and "L" size bowl of rice.  Then Saturday seminar where one PhD student and one researcher make presentations.  Then off to do grocery shopping.  Then cooking for the week.

This time I cooked 3 dishes - Pork Kinilaw (or "Sisig"), Pork Adobo, and... Adobong.......... "Water Spinach" (saucy version)...  a.k.a. "Swamp Cabbage" (not-so-saucy version), a.k.a. Kang-Kong (Pinoy/Chinese version)! :-D  Almost an all-pork show, wasn't it?  Anyways, for the Pork Kinilaw, I think I overcooked the pork, but anyways, it looks like it will taste great.  I'm supposed to have grilled pork, but my supposedly stove-top griller worked more like a frying pan than a griller!  So instead it somewhat fried the 6 pieces of pork chops I was "grilling" in its own fat & oil.  Would you believe that those 6 pieces of pork chops gave me about a little over half a cup of oil???  And I didn't put any oil beforehand!  Yikes, imagine if you just cooked that much pork directly, you wouldn't have removed all that oil...  And cholesterol!  The pork chops I cut into very small pieces of course, after "grilling."

Anyways, for the Pork Adobo, this time I used pork chops again!  Actually I bought 1.5kg of pork chops.  For the Adobo, I intended to chop up the pork first before cooking but...  I was feeling a little lazy so I decided to make it a Pork Chop Adobo instead.  I guess Pork Chop Adobo is for lazy people!  Hahaha.

And then the Kang-Kong.  Actually as we speak, it is still cooking, but it is looking and smelling good already.  My first time to cook Adobong Kang-Kong.  Actually, when I bought it I wasn't sure if it was Kang-Kong.  Then I was feeling lazy again and I didn't chop up garlic anymore for this Adobo.  Instead I used garlic flakes/powder, which I think works out well for this dish.

And that, my friend, is a usual Saturday. :-D

25 June 2010

No class!

Class was cancelled today!  Our professor has a speaking engagement in Tokyo and he had to catch the 11:25am bus from TPU to Hon-Atsugi.  And our class was supposed to start at 11:00am.  We wouldn't have time for any relevant lecture so we will just meet again next week and most probably extend into August (end of semester is in end of July).

Anyways, other than, I was a little busy today.  I had the groove, the momentum, and I capitalized.  Also played basketball with "betting."  Of the "relevant" games, the two teams won one game each (both with scores of 15-13), and so no one won the betting.

Lunch was at the by-the-pound cafeteria, and dinner was the last of my Nilagang Baboy and Pinoy food for the week.  Tomorrow is laundry, seminar, grocery, and cooking day.  Sunday is Tokyo day.  :-)

24 June 2010


Ho hum.  I did wake up early though and got to the office early.  Everyone was surprised.  I was too.  Nope, no early classes today.  I just woke up really early, and not with any lack of sleep.  Anyways, same-same.  Busy-busy.  Nilaga lunch and Tinola dinner.  One more batch of Nilaga and that's the end of my Pinoy food for the week; that's the end of my week again!  Nihongo class was... normal.  Sleepy during class, probably because of the weather.  Daytime high was 30 degrees.  But in the evening it was still quite cool for my standards.  We finished all Hiragana characters (syllabication characters for Japanese words; versus the symbolic Kanji/Chinese characters) already and next week we will start with Katakana characters (syllabication characters for borrowed words, such as "sen-ta" for center, or "ba-ga" for burger, or "pasokon" for personal computer, or "aipodu" for iPod, or "eakon" for aircon, "basu" for bus, "gasu" for gas, "poteto" for french fries, "kora" for Coca-Cola, "banana" for banana, "kohi" for coffee, "miruku" for milk, "teburu" for table, "kizzu" for kids, "setto" for set meals or value meals, "pen" for pen, "pan" for bread, "Firipin" for Philippines, and so on).  And that's about it for today. :-D

23 June 2010

Basketball for boys

I woke up very late today, around 10:40am, and my class was at 11:00!  I only had time to brush my teeth and wash my face and off I was.  Other than that, and basketball, and no more of those bugging bugs, it is practically the same as yesterday.

I did have adobo (with leafy greens and tomatoes) for lunch instead of dinner, and tinola for dinner instead of lunch.

Basketball wasn't so competitive; we had 2 relatively novice players with us so we played just light, which was just right for me and my knee.  As in I didn't exert much effort at all.  Still I was making shots from long distance!

And so, we could safely say, today is a boring day.  I hope Nihongo class tomorrow is interesting!

22 June 2010


Nothing much interesting happened this Tuesday...  Except for the attack of the small green flying bugs!

Anyways, I had my tinolang manok for lunch and adobo for dinner.  The tinola was better, tastier than the nilagang baboy I had yesterday, but it's just not the same old tinola from back home, which has green papaya and sili leaves.  But, it's not bad.  I still love it.  Better than nothing, definitely.  Thank you, Lord.  Now, the adobo is better than my previous one - less vinegar.  But actually it doesn't look at all like adobo because I think I put too much tomatoes.  My mom says to put two tomatoes so I did just that but I think tomatoes here are larger than the usual tomatoes back home.  One other difference from this version to the last is this time, I used liempo, or pork belly.  Actually when I bought it, it was one big piece and I had to cut it up and it was the first time I ever cut up meat!  Anyways, one other thing with liempo is that the fatty parts are intertwined with the meaty parts, so it was a little difficult to separate them (because I usually don't eat the fatty parts).  But I really loved my adobo.  Went well with my fresh greens and tomatoes salad - no need for bacon bits or dressing.  The adobo sauce was more than a sufficient alternative.

Anyways, those small, green flying bugs - they were all over the place, on the 3rd floor of our building where we students have our offices.  When I looked out the floor-to-ceiling glass window in the evening, I thought they were rain drops.  Can you imagine rain drops on your glass window?  They're that small, and that plenty.  Well they are generally just there but a few, maybe 10%, are able to fly into our corridor and occassionally when someone opens our room door, into our work area!  Anyways, it felt like something big and bad was coming that's why these bugs are retreating here.  Apparently...  Rain was coming.  Not so bad.

All these different bugs you can find here, they all are bugging me; I don't like them.  But I guess they are harmless; I haven't had any bites or illnesses or what.  But whenever I see one I try to send them to heaven right away, especially what looks like a mosquito.  I'm most afraid of mosquitos because of their potential to carry diseases like dengue!

21 June 2010

Tired, but Thankful

Still tired from basketball and from my "walks" yesterday.  Woke up so late, I only had a light breakfast for lunch.  And then dinner.  So just one full meal for the day.  Also I was sleep very early so I went home relatively early, hoping to catch Mara via Skype or Chikka or Jumblo.  But no, internet was down at home. :-(

Anyways during the day, I wasn't so productive most likely due to my physical state.  For dinner I had my nilagang baboy - looks great with cabbage (or is it lettuce?) and pechay (or Chinese cabbage; bok choi / pak choi in Chinese)...  But it didn't have enough salt.  It was fine though; I still finished my dish.  Less salt I guess is better.  Two more servings of nilaga to go for the week.

20 June 2010

O tanjoubi desu

Kyo wa boku no tanjoubi desu.  Today's my birthday!  And almost everything I planned to do today, I was able to do. As well as some that I didn't plan to do.  I planned on having lunch at Denny's but because I was running late for mass, I didn't push through with it.  Instead I thought of having a quick "snack" of Whopper Jr - but I regret not getting a Whopper instead which was just 80 yen more expensive (610 vs 690 yen meal set cost).  Anyways, I am thankful that the English mass here in Atsugi is on the 3rd Sunday of each month - very near my birthday week and in fact today, exactly on my birthday.

After mass I went to get a haircut at the Hon-Atsugi station's "QB cuts" - 1000 yen for 10 minutes.  For just 500 pesos (1000 yen, $10), you get a no-frills haircut in 10 minutes.  It's the cheapest haircut you can get anywhere in Japan, or at least in or around Tokyo.  Actually, the haircut itself takes 10 minutes, but the wait takes a long time.  I was the 8th in line when I got there which meant around a 20 minute or so wait.  One of my fellow students said he tried getting a haircut there, but the girl who cut his hair only told him "study Japanese first."  I was afraid of being told the same thing, so I came prepared.  I brought with me a picture of me with the haircut I wanted.  Midway through the haircut, it was looking good, just as I had hoped, and even better.  But I think the girl haircutter was trying to even up the haircut (but my head surface isn't even) and so in the end, it ended up a little shorter than what I had hoped for.  That's what you get for only 500 pesos / 1000 yen / $10.

Right after mass I went back to Atsugi Trellis where I left my bicycle earlier, and did some grocery shopping. Total bill was over 5000 yen.  I bought me a pizza, another Japanese-style one, with shrimp, sliced tomatoes, onions, and... eggs!  I ate it for dinner.  Nice.  While I was eating I was also cooking.  I prepared 3 dishes: nilagang baboy, tinolang manok, and adobong baboy.  For the tinola, the usual ingredient is green papaya, but I can't find any so an alternative would have been to use sayote or chayote.  I wasn't sure what it looked like, and I wasn't sure if there were any here and what is its Japanese name, but I found something that didn't look like cucumber and so I thought it might be sayote.  While slicing it I thought, oh no, this looks like cucumber.  But after cooking, it looked like sayote!  The tinola looks like the real thing...  Hopefully it tastes like the real thing.  One other ingredient that I wasn't able to use was chili plant leaves (dahon ng sili) so I settled with using chili itself.  For the nilaga, I had so much veggies!  Which is a good thing of course.  But this time, I used tanlad (lemon grass) instead of onions.  Midway through the boiling, I thought, "oh no, is this beef I bought, and not pork???"  But anyway, it looks more like pork than beef.  Great!  Although, I wouldn't have minded if I bought beef instead.  The adobo looks great as well.

This day was so packed and I was so tired, I didn't have time to pass by school anymore.  But I am very thankful for a new year in my life, and for all the blessings that have come and are to come my way.

19 June 2010


Knees are hurting from too much basketball yesterday.  Or is it too much winning?  Hehe.

Anyways, the usual Saturday today.  Lunch at the cafeteria.  Saturday seminar.  A little bit of work.  Dinner at home.

I had "curry," Japanese-style for lunch.  It is basically Tonkatsu in a Japanese-style curry sauce, which had some beef in it!  This is one curry that most Indians won't be able to eat.

Overcast day the whole day today but no rain.  Generally cool but it became as warm as 29 degrees, maybe.  Humid.

For dinner, I didn't have any cooked food anymore.  My knee needed the rest so I thought I could do with what I have at home.  I remembered I have tuna and instant noodles.  Then I looked into my freezer and I have a 12-piece siomai pack, ready to be microwaved!  And instant pizza.  And takoyaki hemispheres (they're not ball-shaped).  So I had one pizza (maybe it's 6" in diameter).  6 takoyaki balls.  12 pieces siomai.  And a partridge in a pear tree.  Err, rice.  Siomais were dipped in Kikkoman, of course.

Anyways, a world record is set today.  I've been in a foreign country the longest now.  My previous stint here in Japan was from April 15 to June 17.  This time I arrived here April 16 and well, it's June 19 now.  My stint in Singapore was only for a month...  Oh wait, I was in the US for more than two months, around Christmas and New Year's Eve of 2000!  But actually I don't count the US as a foreign country, not when I lived with relatives and ate Filipino food quite regularly.  In Singapore, I ate Filipino food almost everyday because there was a Filipino restaurant very near the office I went to.  And I always had Filipino company.

Anyways, last night, I arrived back at the office to see a bottle of Pocari Sweat waiting for me on my desk.  It was my "prize" for winning in basketball.  More like, for betting actually.  Today, one of the students raised another small betting game - and 8 of us happily obliged for 50 yen apiece.  We had to "guess" what will be the final outcome of the Holland-Japan World Cup match.  I bet 2-0 in favor of Holland.  Two of us actually did.  So if I won, I had to share the 400 yen ($4) pot with someone else.  Big money, eh?  Well, for risking 50 yen, I could buy three 110 yen drinks from the vendo by winning!  Anyways, 2-0 was the lowest "guess" for Holland.  The highest "guess" was 5-0 for Holland.  One guy bet 1-0 for Japan.  Two bet 3-0 for Holland, one bet 3-1 for Holland, and another bet 4-0 for Holland.  Guess where the guy who bet 1-0 for Japan is from.  Anyways, Holland was leading 1-0 midway through the second half and I was so hoping they score another goal.  And...  No, they didn't.  So no one won the "betting."  I guess the pot moves on to the next game.

One new discovery I made is that with installation of certain software, I can access my work PC from home or any other place where I have a computer and internet connection.  Yup, I have internet access now from home, although it is a little bit choppy because I connect only via wifi.  If you're interested to do the same thing, assuming your work network doesn't have a firewall installed, check out logmein.com.  Free and very useful.  I hope it stays free forever!

Anyways, I am so looking forward to tomorrow. :-D

18 June 2010

Let's Go Lakers!

Today as many of you and my friends know is Game 7 of the NBA Finals.  Of course, it's also the World Cup, but I'm not a big fan of soccer as much as I am of basketball.  Anyways, I got to the office early enough, because I woke up quite early enough.  But, I had class!  So I missed most of Game 7.  But I was able to see what was happening the last minute and a half from NBA.com.  Whew!  The players didn't seem as ecstatic typical of NBA Champions, particularly "first-time" champions.  The way I see it, the Lakers really did pour out a lot of hard work this season, and it all paid off.  The championship wasn't given to them.  I don't know what Boston's reasons for losing this year - they certainly had their reasons why they weren't able to make this rematch with the Lakers last year.  Of course, the Lakers had some reasons why they lost two years ago to the Celtics: an inexperienced "new team" that includes Pau Gasol and an injured Derek Fisher.  But come on, Boston has four All-Stars: Garnett, Allen, Pierce, and Wallace versus LA's 2, Kobe and Gasol.  My opinion is, actually I never believed in these four Boston All-Stars: they can only win with 3 other All-Stars with them.  Now faced against just two quality All-Stars in Kobe and Gasol, they can't repeat.  I guess this Boston loss now somehow has proven my initial hypothesis.  Instead, the Lakers go for back-to-back at home in Games 6 and 7, and as NBA "World" Champions in 2009 and 2010.  Then again, maybe 4 is a bad number for All-Stars in your team.  Remember when the Lakers can't win with Shaq, Kobe, Malone and Payton on the team?  Then again, Boston's 4 players, plus Rondo, played very well compared to the Lakers' failed 4-All-Star team.

Okay, so I love basketball.  And this isn't supposed to be a basketball blog.  But I don't have a basketball blog, so pardon the rain of opinions.  I am just so happy today because of the Lakers' win.  They so deserve it.  I hope they stay healthy enough for a three-peat.  And that Phil Jackson stays one more year.  I am a Phil Jackson fan and I am very happy as well for the other Lakers players: Gasol, Odom, Bynum, Fisher, Vujacic, Brown, Artest, Farmar, and yep, Luuuuuuuuuuuke (Walton).  Actually I thought Trevor Ariza was better than Artest, because he was a better scorer and was a good enough defender.  But I am happy for Artest.  Phil Jackson knows what he is doing.  What the hell do I know?  I wonder if having a Dennis Rodman type of player on the team is a part of his strategy.  Maybe it is.

One other "win" that I see here is by Kobe in what I think is an unspoken, "who is better, Kobe or Shaq?" cold war.  Kobe now has one more Championship ring without Shaq, than Shaq without Kobe.  Well, of course Shaq is much older than Kobe so that might be a reason enough.  I just hate that people said years ago that Kobe can't win without Shaq.  Well, it's always a long road to the top of the mountain.

Anyways, there was class today.  Then I had lunch at the by-the-pound cafeteria.  Then a little bit of work.  Then...  Basketball!  Man was I smokin' hot today.  I'm not braggin' man - I am just gladly surprised about it. Maybe lucky?  Or maybe inspired by the Lakers' victory?  By the way, most of my relatives in the US - mostly based or was based in California, have been Lakers fans since the Show Time 80's.  This is the reason why I am a Lakers fan myself.  Actually Golden State should be my team because it's my "home team," me having stayed in Berkeley (just adjacent to Oakland) a number of times during my childhood days.  But the Lakers is my sentimental favorite.

Anyways.  We played a total of 4 games.  One was 3-on-2 and our team of 2 won that easily.  The next game was up to 15 and it was a close game that we lost.  The next game was up to 10, but after our team routed the other team 10-0 quite quickly (in ten minutes?), we decided the game should be up to 15.  I think we ended up 15-0!  It was very surprising.  The guy from Korea, the best baller among us, wasn't 100% well and so it had some effect on his game play (though he was still in his usual "who can stop that guy?" mode).  But for some reason, I was making a lot of outside shots!  Ah, I remember my glory days in basketball.  I'm lovin' it!  Only difference now though is that I just can't jump (that high) anymore!  I can't even touch the ring anymore.  I am too heavy now.  I should work on my jumping.

Anyways, after taking a little rest, I took a shower at the gym and went straight home to have dinner.  I had leftover Adobo (one piece of Pork) and Hainanese Chicken (now turned into Chicken Adobo).  It wasn't enough so I opened up a can of tuna.  Well, that's at least ~400 pesos and 15 minutes saved than if I had to go to the convenience store for dinner.  I feel good.  I feel like being more productive!  Actually, I usually feel more productive after basketball!

17 June 2010


I had trouble sleeping last night (Wednesday night) and then today I had two classes.  Lunch was "Chikin katsu" with lots of side veggies and miso soup at the 1st cafeteria.  Right after class, I decided to go home, eat dinner first then go back to the office.  When I got home, I realized I don't have rice anymore.  So I cooked rice.  The rice takes a long time to cook.  Then I fell asleep!  For four hours maybe.  I ate my dinner - the last of my Sinigang - at past 10pm already.  I didn't return anymore to the office because it was already so late.  Fortunately, I was able to access the internet and made a Skype call to Mara. :-)  I slept a little late again, but not that late.  Today was hot again, but it rained in the evening.  Actually since I woke up so late, I went to my 1st class without taking a shower yet.  And so when I got home after my 2nd (Nihongo) class, I took a shower.  That probably also contributed to my falling asleep.  The nice "bed weather" (rainy) also contributed to my falling asleep.  Sleep is good. :-)

16 June 2010


Yesterday I said the rain here was like a spray of mist.  It was not so late in the evening.  It was like tropical rain, very strong downpour.  But when I woke up this morning it was a sunshining, clear sky.

Guess what that results in.  Yup.

You get a lot of the rain water collected on the ground, heated up and turned into moisture.  Humidity.  And ye not from humid countries know what humidity can do.

Yup.  It was certainly very hot today.  The weather stations report that the daytime high was 31 degrees.  But when I walked around at around 2pm, I held my thermometer up to measure the heat because it didn't feel like just 31 degrees.  It felt more like 36 degrees, like it showed on my thermometer!  I worked up a sweat just walking towards school.

In the afternoon at around 4pm the sun was still hot of course, but the winds were blowing and they were cooler and so it wasn't that uncomfortable, particularly when you are in the shade.

Anyways, busy day as usual.  Lunch was Sinigang.  And dinner was Adobo.  Adobo was okay.  The vinegar isn't that strong, but maybe the meat was more of my concern; I didn't boil it well enough so that it becomes really soft and tender.  But it wasn't bad.  Next time I have to choose better, leaner cuts unlike this chunky/cubic cut that I got.  I think I will do Adobo again this weekend. :-)

15 June 2010

Summer is near...

They say that seasons here in Japan are so well defined.  So there's the start of spring with the blooming of the cherry blossoms in early April (or earlier, depending on how far south you are).  Then there's the rainy month from ~June 15 (i.e. today) to ~July 15.  Then "summer."  Hot & humid summer.

This rainy month itself means a rise in humidity, although to me it is still cool & comfortable.  But, the forecast temperatures for the next 5 days have highs in the upper 20s (possibly going above 30 degrees) and lows still above 20 degrees!  This is the first time since I got here when the lows are above 20 degrees.  It's Manila-in-February weather, sans the rain.  Actually the rain itself isn't like the tropical rain usually from thunderstorms that we experience back in the Philippines.  No, none of those heavy drops that could hurt your eye if you look straight up.  The rain here is like a spray of mist.  You walk 5 minutes in the rain and you won't be soaking wet just yet.  When it rains and people here need to ride their bicycles, they hold their umbrellas while cycling.

Anyways, lunch was the last of my yummy Postek and those yummy caramelized onions.  I hit the jackpot this time with the Postek, though it's not as great with lemon instead of tropical lemon (or is it tropical lime?), a.k.a. kalamansi.  And the last of my romaine lettuce and the usual cherry tomatoes, Italian dressing, and bacon bits.  Dinner was Sinigang.  Yummy Sinigang.  It was really good.  I love kang kong in the Sinigang.  I put too much Sinigang mix though and it would probably be a little too sour for others, but for me, I loved it.  I just really love Sinigang.  In between lunch and dinner, is the usual study, study, study, but we also played basketball.  We had drinks at stake for our last game, which we won.  That evens up the score; a few games ago, we lost the "betting."

For breakfast, you wouldn't believe what I had.  Guess what.  Clue: there's peanut butter...  In a sandwich...  ....of crackers.....  Any idea?  It's Magic Flakes peanut butter sandwich crackers!  Imported from the Philippines, I guess.  The makers of Magic Flakes, Jack n' Jill, as far as I know is owned by Universal Robina Corporation, the same guys that brought us the 85-peso store, Saizen, and Mini Stop, which are both from Japan.  The Magic Flakes packaging has its very recognizable logo but otherwise, most other characters are in Japanese.  I bought these - 8 mini-packs in one pack - at the 100-yen store.  That gives me like 7 peso breakfast.  Cool!  Other stuff I bought at the 100-yen store includes this Nestle Bono, which I think is similar to Oreo cookies.  We'll see.

Jaa ne.

14 June 2010


That's supposedly the Japanese pronunciation/adaptation of "bowling," but anyways I intended it to mean... boring!  It's the usual day.  Study, study, study.  And it's rainy the whole day today.  Temperature range is from 18 to 23 degrees.  A little cool for me.

The good things about today: received a postcard and a birthday greeting card from Mara, didn't spend a yen today because I ate my Hainanese chicken and half of my Postek for lunch and dinner respectively, both with rice as well as with my usual salad of romaine lettuce, italian dressing, cherry tomatoes, and bacon-flavored bits.  And that's about it.

13 June 2010


Today was a gloomy, overcast-all-day day. No rain until around 10pm though.  High was 27 degrees.  The high for the past two days was 29 degrees.  Today felt like Tagaytay, whereas a month or two ago it felt like Baguio.  I was just in a shirt (and undershirt) the whole day, even outdoors, and even during the evening.

Lunch today was the Hainanese chicken I prepared yesterday.  So it's not great.  But it's not bad.  Ate it with oyster sauce and ginger, romaine lettuce and tomatoes with Italian dressing and bacon-flavored bits, and chicken soup - the one I cooked the chicken in.  The soup tastes really good.  With some other vegetable in lieu of young papaya, I could've had Tinolang Manok instead!

Anyways, one of the things I did today was... cook!  Again!

I was prepared to cook Pork Adobo, having bought all necessary ingredients already. The only problem was I haven't ever cooked Adobo before, and I didn't have any idea how to cook it.   I searched the internet and here were my candidate recipes:

I have to mention I like what the first link above says:  "There are as many adobo recipes as there are Filipinos. Maybe more. I certainly have more than one."  That is so true.  I know at least of these varieties:

Regular Pork Adobo - dark and salty
Regular Chicken & Pork Adobo
Light (Chicken &) Pork Adobo - not so salty
Pork Adobo Flakes
Adobo with Gata - a little spicy, with coconut milk
Pampanga-style Adobo - uses tomatoes
Mindanao-style Adobo (i.e. with ginger)
"Italian" Adobo - actually this is my mom's recipe; it has a special secret ingredient that I won't share just yet right now :-D

Basically I like my mom's Adobo recipe the most.  So I thought instead of having to decide from among those thousands of Adobo recipes available out there on the internet which to use, I decided to ask my mom for her recipe.  And I was surprised it was much simpler to do than all those other recipes I found.  The finished product: looks like the real thing.  Almost.  My mom usually uses the liempo (belly?) part and in relatively small portions.  The pork I bought are sized for stew or Nilaga.  And, well actually my mom's recipe all says that almost every ingredient is proportioned "to taste."  I think I put too much vinegar.  We'll see tomorrow.  Many have said that Adobo tastes better the day after (i.e. let it sit overnight first) anyway.  And well, this is a world record - it's my very first Adobo attempt!  :-D

Anyways, I also cooked Sinigang na Baboy.  That's the 2nd time now since coming here, the 3rd time here in Japan (the 1st time being back in 2005), and the 3rd time all time (as in I haven't ever cooked Sinigang while in the Philippines).  This time around I cooked 1 kg of pork.  And guess what.  My pot was too small.  So before putting the remaining veggies (kang kong) in I transfered everything to my wok pan first.

Yup, kang kong.  Or water spinach.  Or swamp cabbage.  I bought them yesterday, and I wasn't sure if it was kang kong that I bought!  I've never ever seen uncooked kang kong (or I've seen them but never really noticed/memorized how they look like).  But when the cooking process was over, my Sinigang looks exactly like my mother's.  And the vegetable that I wasn't sure if it was kang kong or not, looked like cooked kang kong inside the Sinigang.  Amen!  I'm excited to taste this batch of Sinigang.

So I have Postek good for two meals.  Hainanese chicken, good for one more meal.  Sinigang, good for maybe three meals.  And Adobo, maybe good for just one meal.  So overall, if I eat Filipino food for lunch and dinner, I'm covered until Thursday lunch! :-)

12 June 2010

Happy Independence Day!

...to all our Filipino compatriots (what a word) all over the world and in the Philippines. :-D

Woke up rather late - 11am.  Then I had lunch at the regular cafeteria and had bah-gah to poteto to chikin (burger, fries, and (fried) chicken) with side veggies, miso soup, and then pineapple for dessert.  Then seminar at 2pm.  Ended quite early compared to the previous ones.  Then I went to Atsugi Trellis for groceries.  My total grocery bill was 5000 yen!  But now I have stuff to cook sinigang again, postek again, adobong baboy, and Hainanese chicken.  Yup, Hainanese chicken, baby!

Then I got home and cooked.  Well, just the Hainanese chicken and the postek.  For dinner though, I had my last serving of picadillo and I attempted an okonomiyaki with it using my last two eggs (yikes!) which were set to expire tomorrow.  The eggs here have machine-stamped expiration dates on them!  Anyways, I failed in my okonomiyaki attempt.  I didn't know what it turned out to be.  But it is still food to be thankful for, of course. :-)  Oh and my last picadillo didn't have enough flavor (i.e. salt) and so...  Well it wasn't bad, considering it was only intended to fill my stomach, after I already had a plate of mixed sushi.  I bought sushi at the supah (supermarket/grocery), 10 pieces with maybe 4 different kinds of fish, an egg sushi, shrimp sushi, octopus or squid sushi and I don't know what else.  But it was yum-my.  With the wasabi of course.

At the supermarket, it was my first time to see what I think was wasabi in its raw form - Japanese horse radish.  Interesting.

Anyways, the Hainanese chicken I prepared didn't look like the Hainanese chicken I eat at restaurants. :-(  One difference is that I didn't buy whole chicken, but instead bought and cooked chicken breasts.  That makes a big difference.  But I hope it tastes great.  I might still buy cucumber for garnishing.  By the way, I followed the recipe here: http://chinesefood.about.com/od/poultryreceo/r/hainanchicken.htm.

One of the ingredients was sesame oil.  Coincidentally last Thursday's Nihongo class, sensei taught us what sesame is in Japanese, and then I asked what sesame oil is in Japanese because I already knew I needed to buy some.  But alas, I forgot the Japanese word for it and so I had to ask.  Unfortunately I left my English-Japanese dictionary (on my Palm TX) at home.  Fortunately, I bought my Japan-based cellphone which includes a very convenient English-Japanese dictionary!  And so I looked up sesame oil, but there was only an entry for sesame.  They understand what "oil" means anyway.  I showed some employee the Japanese characters for sesame and he said "goma no oil" meaning "oil of sesame."  I said yes.  Checking now, sesame oil is actually goma abura in Japanese.  Anyways, he gave me a bottle and I wasn't sure if it was correct...   But alas, it turned out to be sesame oil indeed.  Indeed, indeed.

Gosh I'm tired already.  And tomorrow is going to be a long day as well.  I still have stuff to buy at the grocery.  Oh and it's Open Campus here in TPU tomorrow.  Yup, on a Sunday.  And oh yeah, I also did the laundry today.  Another 3 batches (2 colors, 1 whites).  Something gave in in my washing machine during washing of one batch of colors - the lint collector - and so there was lint scattered all around the cotton clothes.  I had to wave them off of the clothes before I hung the clothes.

Amunip-amunip-amunip.  That's all folks! :-D

11 June 2010

What a day

It was packed.  Class at 11.  Welcome/Farewell lunch at 12:30 for new PhD students and new researchers, and for the short-term researcher who is leaving soon.  PIZZA!  Pizza Hut pizza to be exact.  There were four flavors, carefully chosen to suit the diets of our Indian friends who don't eat pork or beef.  One is vegetarian pizza.  One is like a chicken teriyaki pizza.  One is a seafood pizza (I thought there was some tuna there, and definitely there was shrimp and squid).  One is a shrimp and crab pizza.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.  Both seafood pizzas had broccoli, by the way.  I had at least 5 slices of pizza, but maybe I had 6.  Or 7.  Let's just say, maybe 6. :-D

Aside from pizza, there were plenty of side dishes, I don't know if ordered also from Pizza Hut but maybe not.  There was fried chicken, sausages, burgers, calamari, shrimp, meat balls, chicken nuggets, some veggies and some desserts (mostly candies and cookies).

By the way, I made the mistake (and I think people noticed) of pointing to something with my chopsticks!  Yikes, that is a no-no.  Of course they understand that I "don't know" of such customs, but, actually I know!  And I forgot.  Well, it's not something embedded in my psyche just yet.

After lunch, I had to go to the post office in downtown Atsugi to encash the postal money order I received.  I learned there were two post office branches in downtown Atsugi!  So I was hoping the first one I was going to can process my PMO!  And so it was.

When I got there, there was some problem - mostly between me not being able to speak Nihongo so much, and the guy attending to me not being able to speak English so much.  Fortunately, he had an English-Japanese dictionary and so we were able to communicate.  Apparently he was telling me that because there was a blank field in the PMO, the guy he was talking to on the telephone still had to "investigate."  So finally he told me that it was okay, I just need to write down the missing info.  And then he asked for some proof or certificate.  So I gave him my "gaijin" card, gaijin meaning "foreigner/non-Japanese" but literally it means "outsider/not from here/doesn't belong here?"  Officially the card is called "alien registration card."  Anyways, it was a good thing my address is listed on the card.  I don't usually bring my passport anymore, where I have my address listed as well.  Anyways, the next thing he asked me to do was to copy this sentence that was all in Kanji (Chinese characters).  He asked me to do it by showing me the Japanese word for "to imitate" from his dictionary.  I didn't know what the Kanji sentence meant but what the heck, I just copied it onto my PMO.  After copying, I asked him if what I wrote was okay.  He read it and said it was good.  Cool, I wrote Kanji!  I just didn't know what actually I wrote.  Anyways, after that, everything was fine.  The guy was saying sorry that he made me wait and stuff, by showing me the Japanese word for "to wait" in his dictionary, and by saying "gomenasai" which means "sorry (I did something wrong)."  But yeah, I left TPU maybe 2:30pm.  Got back to TPU a little past 5pm.  Imagine that.  But it's all worth it.  I can really buy a bicycle now, because the cash I have is, by my estimate, good only until my first "paycheck".  But still I don't plan to buy a bicycle just yet - I'll use this bicycle I was able to borrow until I need to return it already.

Then upon arriving at TPU, I went up 3 floors to get my things then went to the gym to play basketball.  We played 3-on-3 this time.  Me, the Korean PhD student, the two Chinese PhD students, and then with us was the more senior Korean researcher.  And then we saw a Japanese guy (probably still an undergraduate) playing in the other court and so we invited him.  It was Korea versus China with imports.  The Korean team had the Japanese guy as import.  The China team had me as import.  As if.  :-D  Anyways, we played two games up to 15 points each, and if I remember correctly, I think we won both games. :-D  My winning shot for the 2nd game was from an alley hoop pass.  Alley... hoop! :-D

And then, Picadillo for dinner.  Ah, I love Pinoy food the most.  Wonderful day, wonderful day.  Thank God for this Friday!

Weather-wise it is great also - 27 degrees max and it is still around 22 degrees at a little past 11pm!  One of the guys said today is going to be the last good day.  Rainy season will (probably) start tomorrow, as it usually does in the middle of June, and will last until middle of July.  Then summer.  Hot & humid summer.  To tell you the truth I'm looking forward to summer.  But I don't know, I can't imagine it yet, how hot it can be here. What I can't imagine further is winter!  I can't imagine how cold it will be.  And what snow fall would be like!  But, I can't wait for these experiences.  And to share these experiences with Mara, soon enough.  :-)

10 June 2010


This day is the usual Thursday.  2 classes, 1 is Nihongo class.  I had lunch this time at the other cafeteria, the first one where you order by dish, not by the pound.  Well actually you can order a lot as well, but my bill was just 608 yen, much less than my usual 800 yen (minimum 700 yen, maximum 950 yen) at the by-the-pound cafeteria.  Not as much though, not as full, but fulfilling none the less.  Thank God for the blessings.

At Nihongo class, we learned how to read the calendar.  Not as straight forward as in English, but okay, something new learned today.

Then this evening, at 6:40pm, the PhD students and a few of the researchers met up at the TPU front gate to go to this restaurant, for the farewell dinner for the short-term researcher from Italy, Francesca-san.  The restaurant is Dohton-Bori, an Okonomiyaki restaurant.  It is just 10 minutes by bicycle from TPU.  There were 17 of us who went there.  Basically it's like "barbecue" or hot pot style where you cook the food yourselves on the table.  I thought it would be like one big table for all 17 of us, but we were split into so many tables with 4 people max per table.  Anyways everyone had a multi-course meal.  On our table, we were 4 very hungry men.  We had 3 kinds of okonomiyaki, then we had this... mokyujiyaki?  And yakisoba.  And gyoza and...  fried rice (forgot what it's called), similar to chao fan (Chinese fried rice).  Anyways, the fried rice was black fried rice - it had squid ink.  Felt like the Spanish paella.  The okonomiyaki is basically like omelet.  Two nights ago we visisted one of our Indian fellow students and he was preparing dinner, which was also much like omelet - lots of onions, and garlic sauteed although they mix it with the rice before serving.  Anyways, everything tasted good at Dohton-Bori.  Even the biiru. :-D  Total bill per person on our table: ~2500 yen.  That's 1500 yen for the biiru! :-(

Anyways, daytime high today was 29 degrees!  I love it!  Others found it too warm, so they turned up the air-conditioning - which was too cold for me.  I wonder when will I get used to the cooler weather.

09 June 2010

Basketball, and then some

Woke up the usual time. Got to class just in time. Left class to go back home for the last of my Nilagang Baboy for lunch. Got back to the office around 2pm. Then guess what. The short-term researcher had some snacks to share for everyone! The invites were sent around 2am (so I was sleeping already), and since I wasn't able to check my mail early enough, I missed it! Well, no, not really. There was still some leftovers and it was pretty good.

Anyways, I played basketball though I was a little cautious because of my knee's condition. It turned out that not exerting so much effort helped - my shooting from long range was greatly improved!  We won 1 of the 2 games, and almost won the other game.  It was 29 points going for 30, and the other team was just 22 or 23...  but we still lost!  But it was a good game.  Competition is heating up.  We've got bruises and all that each - I have my knee, and another guy got hit a number of times in places you don't hit...  But it was fun.

During class, the discussion was about improving indoor thermal comfort by natural and mechanical ventilation as well as air-conditioning and therefore contributing to work productivity.  But the professor cited a report where it shows that the Japanese are working as much hours as the Americans - longer than many Europeans and Canadians - but among the group (US, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Canada), Japan has the lowest work productivity.  He mentioned that he spent a year in the US and he noticed that people were at the office only from 9am-5pm from Monday to Friday, and sometimes they would work 9am-7pm but only from Monday to Thursday.  The professor is puzzled about this, what could be one reason why the Japanese have a low productivity and yet work more hours, and so he started a discussion during class.  I shared what I think but the professor believes it has to do with the "system," i.e. that in the US there's a hierarchical-system who gives out instructions to everyone, so everyone tends to focus on their individual tasks while in Japan it's a "flat" system where everyone gathers regularly and discuss with each other to determine what to do and stuff.  So those "discussions" part take up a lot of time.  He also mentioned that typically Japanese people, particularly here at the university, would go home at 9pm (work hours officially start at 9:30am), and cited examples of people staying at their office 4 days a week every week!  Anyways, as somewhat of a homework, he asked us to think of how we can be productive during our PhD stint here and graduate in 3 years.

Now I've been a little bit surprised about all this, just a little bit.  Japan?  Low productivity rate?  Well, they are creative and innovative.  And as I always say, there's a reason why "creative" or "innovative" is spelled differently from "productive."  There's a difference.  Before this morning's lecture, one of my Filipino friends who I've met up with in Meguro after Sunday mass twice now, a former PhD student here in Japan himself and now working for a French company here in Japan still, told me how some Japanese guys tend to relax during regular hours then do most of their work after regular hours - when they're paid overtime.  Sounded so familiar.  Same case in the Philippines - well, depending on who's above and where people are from.  Right here at the office, I am able to observe at least one Japanese guy who on regular occasions I would see playing an online game or watching some movie!

I personally think it's all about attitude and "culture".  And it's difficult to teach attitude; no, not to adults.  To toddlers, sure.  And definitely, it's difficult to change culture.  As someone in charge, the best you can do is to try to motivate.  If you have the privilege, you should choose your men well.  Read Jim Collins' Good to Great, and that other book of his.

Anyways, I think having a "no-overtime policy" works; i.e. encourage work-life balance.  And encourage task accomplishments only during the specified working hours.  No ifs, no buts.  But this requires good managers.  Like if you have a bad manager who always says yes to the client's requests, overtime almost becomes always necessary.  Of you might have a bad manager who, after you've done Task A, will ask you to do Task B and Task C, only to say later that Task A is sufficient and no need for Tasks B and C.  An engineering-related good thing about this "no-overtime policy" is you save energy!  And therefore cut down on costs!  Of course, one downside here is, again if you have bad managers, you might be forced to work at home - so actually the company's costs are only transferred to you.  Blessed are you who have good managers.

I don't know why but for some reason haven't Japanese heard of the 8x5 (8 hours per day, 5 days a week) working hours limit for good health?

Another engineering-related thing that I haven't observed here is that no one's regulating the temperature!  In the Philippines, the building code says that the standard temperature for air-conditioned offices should be between 23 and 26 degrees.  Here, everyone's uncomfortable already at those temperatures!  Except me!  Anyway, what happens is the air-conditioner is on and yet we have the windows and doors open!  Again, because people have control over the windows and doors and stuff.  There has to be a standard agreed to by everyone.  Again, energy and cost savings are the drivers here.  Okay, so maybe 23~26 degrees is not applicable here.  So let's set it to 20 or a maximum 23 degrees.  Anyways, in the Philippines, I've had experiences with having officemates who feel that 26 degrees is so cold already!  So they put the temperature up to 27 or 28 degrees.  UNCOMFORTABLE, man!  Come on, I can't take off my clothes to become comfortable.  Meanwhile, they can put on some jackets or what so that we can have 26 degree temperature.  And that's the maximum as per the building code, i.e. the law!

Anyways, another experience I have is having high ceilings and generally spacious working areas (of course, not too spacious) helps in work productivity.  Here at our office, if we all extend our arms outward, we'd be touching each other.  Cleanliness is one other thing.  Because of smaller working areas here, you would tend to not see which areas need cleaning and stuff.  I wonder how the indoor air quality levels are here.  That affects health - including mental - and the ability to be productive.

Anyways, speaking of health, I haven't been feeling so well since Saturday.  As I've been mentioning, there's my knee which is still not yet 100% but it's better now (heck, I played basketball with it).  But there was something I was not able to do last Saturday morning because again we were asked to be at the bus meeting place at 9am "or else" and yet we left at 9:30am.  And starting Sunday I've been doing that once a day but I think there's still something that needs to go, but it just doesn't go!  It is so annoying.  I also wonder why this is so when I eat lots of fiber everyday anyway.  To tell you the truth, this is affecting my productivity.  And my general well-being.  Oh well, this too shall pass.

08 June 2010

Busy But

Usual day except...  Yesterday afternoon we ordered a wireless router online (via Amazon.co.jp) and they said the estimated arrival date is Wednesday.  We were surprised it arrived this morning!  And so we tried to hook it up to one of our fellow students' internet connection at his apartment and voila, we are able to access the internet from our own apartments nearby.  Unfortunately the distance plus the presence of so many walls significantly affects the wireless signal strength.  Our fellow student's apartment is on the first floor, and I'm 3 units to his right, one the 2nd floor of another building!  But to me it's better than nothing.  Now I can check e-mail and stuff (and send texts and maybe make phone calls) with just 1/10 the number of steps going to "my office" in school.  "Office" is the term everyone uses here to refer to our room of cubicles and desks and personal computers assigned to us.  When other people hear the word "office", they ask, "Office???  I thought you were there to study or to do research????"  What else would you call a place where you are assigned a desk and a computer?  Besides, we're doing school work and research work anyway! :-D

By the way, yesterday I received international money order from my mom sent through by my Tita Ondet in the US.  So this morning I went to the post office to have it encashed and... well they can't encash it, not at that branch.  It's just a small branch here in suburban/rural Atsugi.  They suggested I try the one near (urban/downtown) Hon-Atsugi.  Oh well.  The money could wait a little.  But it's good to know I have some extra to spend now.  I do have enough to cover for my expenses until my next "salary" (or "allowance") arrives which is not until June 21st.  13 days to go.

Anyway, if there's any other good to cooking, it's that I am able to delay my expenses a bit (i.e. the gas bill arrives later).  I am able to save now - I have less expenses, but as I said I will be paying more for the utilities later than if I were not cooking.  Then again, I really like eating Filipino food.  :-D

Oh and I had two trips to the post office area actually.  The first time I just went and tried to recall where it was by memory.  I failed!  Before going the second time around, I asked around and checked Google maps.  Bingo. :-D

07 June 2010

Road to Recovery

The right knee is better now...  probably because I slept it out a bit: I woke up at 11:30am.  Then I had Nilagang Baboy for brunch/lunch at home, and Postek and Salad for dinner.  No expenses for me today!  Other than that I've been in front of the computer the whole day, trying to work on my numerical simulation.  Hopefully tomorrow my knee is back to 99%, but today definitely I still cannot play basketball with it.

06 June 2010

On the seventh day...

What a week.  My knee is still far below 100%.  But anyways, I had an all-Pinoy food day today.  Tapsilog for late brunch (or, "lunch" for short).  I realized though that I didn't cook the tapa well - I mean, I overdid them on one side! :(  Instead of worrying about just heart disease (with all that cholesterol), it also brought along some carcinogens with it.  Yikes.  One of the pitfalls of non-stick pans.  But hey, I ain't throwing my "wok pan" away.  My eggs looked better this time around because of it! :-D

And for dinner was...  Postek Tagalog (or Pork Steak), and some (Romaine?) lettuce, cherry tomatoes, Italian dressing (my favorite), and bacon-flavored bits (nope, not Bacos - but it's McCormick :-D).

Corpus Christi feast day...  And that's all for today, folks...

05 June 2010

Hakone! and Filipino Food

As mentioned today's trip was to start at 9am sharp, or else they can leave without you.  So that meant the latest I should leave home is 8:30am.  Thank God I woke up to my alarm at around 7:15am, and was ready to go at a little past 8:00am.

So I decided to go with the other PhD students who are going there by bike.  Yikes!  After Friday's intense basketball (it was a total of 45 points, not 40 as I previously mentioned) game, I regret having to do this, except for the sort of bonding with the other students.  Anyways, as mentioned before, going to Hon-Atsugi station from TPU or my apartment is not a problem because it is downhill.  Going back was the problem - you're tired from whatever you did and then it is uphill.  Of course we just walk the bike, but still it's more effort.

The good news though is, I saved 260 pesos (around $5.20) today by riding the bike, for a 4 km (3 mile) total round trip journey.  Yay!

Anyways, we got to the meeting place at 8:40am - better early than late, of course.  And then the organizers told us that we were leaving at 9:30am because they had to wait for someone.  What?  I thought the idea was to leave at 9:00am sharp and that we won't wait for latecomers?  Oh well.  Not everyone is on time; nope, not in Japan.

Actually because we left late we had very little time to go around by ourselves around Hakone later during our "free time."

We got there around 10:30am and the first activity was doing this traditional "wood curving" (that's what it said on our invitation letter - not "wood carving" and not pottery as I said in an earlier blog post)...  Actually the more appropriate term is wood mosaic pattern making, I think called YosegiZaiku.  So we have these different colored wood tiles, from different types of wood, and they are either diamond-shaped or triangular (each being one-half of the diamond-shaped ones), and then you make a pattern, for beginners it's usually to make a coaster (one you put your beer mug on) or something.  Interesting.   Then once you've decided on your pattern, you glue your tiles together and then clean it up with wet tissues and sandpaper and voila.  For more advanced wood mosaic pattern makers, or whatever they're called, they make box decorations and stuff.  Check this out: http://ginkgraph.net/articles/products/hakone-yosegi-zaiku.html.  The boxes themselves are way too expensive (like many things here).  The cheapest, smallest one would be more than 2000 yen ($20, PhP 1000).

Anyways, right after that was barbecue lunch!  Basically there's this big basket of food - veggies and meat - and we were to cook them on the hot plate.  It is practically like fried, more than grilled - we used oil a lot.  But basically we all ate a lot.  Two or three in our group do not eat beef, so they only ate the lamb and shrimp (probably there was just one shrimp per person), and then one doesn't eat pork.  And so I had lots of beef and pork.  Ehehehe.  And veggies, of course.  There was pumpkin, eggplant, and lots and lots of cabbage.  There was also soba - by "barbecuing" it, of course it became yakisoba.  Yum.  There was one palmful of rice for each of us, but it didn't matter. :-D

Anyways, right after lunch, we all went outside and noticed there were stilts which many of tried to maneuver but it was more difficult than it looked!  Then after that at around 2:05pm there was this part called "Communication class."  And, well within our own groups, we tried to practice communication.  YUP.  One of the organizers warned us saying something like, "We will have this communication class because the Japanese are not very good at communicating their opinion, so if you have something bad to say don't say it." So...  Anyways, it would be great if we were mixed with the other groups.  Anyways, our group were the only graduate students.  The rest are freshmen college students.  Half of them are Chinese and half of them are Korean.  There was this one guy from Malaysia and I think at least one girl from Taiwan, but the guy is Chinese-Malaysian and they both speak Mandarin as well.  Other nationalities there include 1 Filipino/me, 2 Indians, 1 Bangladeshi/Bengal, and 1 Italian - all from our group.

Anyways, the first activity was talking more about our own names.  Well, okay, it was interesting to hear of the other guys' names' origin.  Of course I told them "Aquino" is a Spanish word, which I think means "hero," and that it is quite common in the Philippines - we now have 2 presidents with the same name.

The second activity was to pick 3 letters from our names, and then write some phrases which could be good advice for maintaining good interpersonal relationships.  One local suggested "Wake up early everyday."  Yup, that is very important for good relationships.  Wake up early.

And then next activity was bouncing a newspaper (crumpled) ball on a newspaper "net" which we control ourselves.  Very fun.  Yup, very very fun.  Anyways, we had very little time to go around Lake Ashi (or Ashinoko).  We were near the northern tip and, well the lake is huge and we were not able to explore much of it.  Actually to do that, it would be nice to take a boat ride or this duck-shaped, pedal-driven gondola.

By the way, the official title of the trip is "2010 Foreign Students cultural exchange workshop."

Anyways, I think we got back to Hon-Atsugi around 6pm.  We got our bikes and made a pit stop at Atsugi Trellis.  I bought me a "wok pan" - sort of an in-between a wok and a frying pan.  Worked well for me.

I got home maybe around 7pm.  And started boiling the pork at around 7:30pm.  I finished cooking at 10:30pm.  "It took that long????" you might ask.  Yup, it took that long to cook 4 dishes.

I made Nilagang Baboy, Postek Tagalog (hehe, I just invented that word for Pork Steak, to parallel with Bistek Tagalog for Beef Steak), Picadillo, and Taplog (Tapa and Itlog - no sinangag).  I also cooked rice, of course.  Anyways, I was so full from the tabehodai (eat-all-you-can) barbecue lunch, I wasn't yet so hungry until I finished cooking.  I just had one small pizza (frozen) for dinner.  After cleaning up, I slept right away.  I didn't pass by the school at all this day.  I was so dead tired, and my knee is feeling it the most.

04 June 2010


Usual Friday (with 1 class, and playing basketball) except...

I had something that tasted like squid.  Frozen dinner.  Ate them with rice of course, and side veggies.

Basketball was very exhausting today.  Usually we'd do two games, maybe one game up to 20 points, the next game up to 10 points (total of 30 points).  Or three games, usually one game up to 15, the next up to 10 each (total of 35 points).  But today we did two games, one up to 30 points, the next up to 10 points.  Very tired now.  Anyways, my teammate and I won the first game.  But the 2nd game mattered more, because 140 yen was on the line for each of us (140 yen being the cost of one 500 mL PET bottle of Pocari Sweat, one of my favorite Japanese drinks, which I find more thirst quenching than Gatorade!).  Unfortunately I was so tired already, and we lost.  

Have to sleep early tonight because tomorrow I have to be up early, we're going to this TPU-organized trip to Hakone for the foreigner students.  We're leaving from Hon-Atsugi station at 9am.  So, I have to take the 8:30am bus at the latest.  The bus ride is 20 minutes, plus there's some walking, and of course a little bit of waiting, and contingency.  But I have to be ready to go by 8am, ideally.  Now my problem is, my normal getting-up time here is 9am!  Yikes!

Anyways, Hakone is famous for...  its "onsens" - hot spring public baths with everyone in the nude - men separate from women, of course (I don't plan on going to one, not in Japan, or other nude-only places)...  for Lake Ashi(noko)...  There's a cable ride called "Hakone Ropeway" that goes down from one of the hills/mountains there...  and depending on where you are and the weather, you might have good views of Mt Fuji!  There's also I think one famous shrine/temple (there's a difference).  And more.  But nature is more of the attraction at Hakone.  We only have one major activity on the intinerary tomorrow: to learn how to make traditional Japanese pottery!  (Actually we'll be making some traditional Japanese coasters.)  I don't know what else we can and will do tomorrow.  We'll see.  But first things first, I have to wake up early!  

Until then...

03 June 2010


Usual Thursday day (with 2 classes, including Nihongo class) except...

I had what I think was Gyoza for dinner - the one I wasn't able to eat last week.  Ate them with rice of course, and dipped in "soyu" (Japanese for soy sauce).  I started steaming them immediately upon waking up.

02 June 2010


Far away I am
But you are not, for my heart
beats your voice always

A haiku for you, my dear. :-*

Anyways, today I was able to prepare (finally!) the draft manuscript of my Professor for submission to a certain journal.  Actually he already has a paper ready, with two versions: one presented in 2006 and the other in 2008; both published in unrefereed conferences - and so now he would like to publish to a refereed journal.  So actually the effort wasn't that much on my part.  It just took me practically one (long) whole day.

Other than that mini-accomplishment (next step for that is a discussion meeting with the Professor), today is a usual Wednesday.  Lunch by-the-pound.  Basketball.  Picadillo dinner.  Nothing new.

Oh, in basketball, one of the more senior Korean researchers joined us and so we played 2 on 3 basketball.  Of 3 games we played, I won in 2!  Yay!  :-)

01 June 2010

Milestone 1: Finished... 17 more to go?

Today marked the first milestone I had to accomplish for my stay here in Japan as a PhD student.  At 4:45pm I was scheduled to discuss with the Professor about my intended thesis topic.  Actually at 4pm there was someone scheduled to meet with him and they took a little time so we started late.  And then we took some time so the one meeting him next to me started even more late.  And the one next.

Anyways, in summary this is what happened.  I thought of doing research, say let's call it Research A.  So I presented it to the Professor and then he said, no do Research B instead.

Failed?  Of course not.  Success?  Obviously not.  I sort of expected that one possible outcome of our discussion was that my idea would get rejected and so I had to look for other ideas.  And so it happened.  But actually, I also think that depending on the results of Research B I would end up doing Research A in the end.

Basically now I need to do some numerical modeling (by hand for the theoretical part, and using software to be able to repeat the process particularly for more complicated systems), and also to design a physical experiment.  Those two, the professor said, are equal to two papers.  The professor also reminded me that we have to submit two journal articles - hopefully those two papers could become my journal articles.  Anyway, the professor also said that, after completing those two things, we could probably come up with another thing to do depending on the outcome.

But first things first, I need to define exactly what I need to do so that I can prepare a schedule of activities.  And then I should come up with a design for the experiment so that the necessary materials can be fabricated.

Busy bee, see!

Anyway, right after the discussion I felt that a celebration was in order.  So I played basketball.  Yay!  But we lost badly on the first game (maybe 20-13?  I forgot), and we were winning in the 2nd game but it was still too early (4-2? I forgot) and someone was going to use the gym already.

Anyways, that was "Milestone #1," and I'm assuming every 2 months I need to come up with something and so I think with 36 months here (3 years), I have 17 more milestones to accomplish.  Good luck with that.  Actually, the next thing I need to do is prepare the Professor's journal article.

Today when I woke up, guess what was the first thing I did.

I fried my overnight-marinated beef tapa!  It smelled great, and tasted great.  One problem though is with so much sugar in the tapa marinate, there was a lot of burnt sugar left in the frying pan.  Oops, actually I don't have a frying pan yet.  Ehehehe.  I just used the same pot I cooked the Picadillo in.  :-D  I plan to buy a real frying pan...   Definitely within this week.  And that flat tool you use for picking up fried food.  What is it called?  I also plan to buy a stove-top grill.  My next project: Pork Kinilaw.

Anyways, I also fried me a couple of eggs, together with rice - to complete my Tapsilog (TAPa, SInaing, and itLOG).  I think this is the first time in a very, very long time again (or maybe first time ever) that I tried to make sunny-side-up fried eggs.  I thought it was easy enough to do, but no!  My fried eggs looked so novice.  Maybe I should settle with scrambled eggs next time.  Much easier!  I think I had the fire too hot.  Actually I also thought that the egg will cook fast.  It's not like that apparently.  Maybe the non-use of a frying pan also contributed to my failure to perfecting the fried eggs.  Anyway, eggs are eggs, and together with the beef tapa, and the rice (which was almost like fried rice because the tapa and eggs rested on it), they all tasted great.  Thank God for Filipino food.

Initially I was contemplating on taking the tapsilog for breakfast but I was going to arrive a little late in school if I did.  So I packed it for dinner, with the intention of eating lunch again at the by-the-pound cafeteria.  Time flew fast and it was 1:20pm already - I might not get to that cafeteria in time (they close at 1:30pm).  So I had tapsilog for lunch.

And then I had sinigang for dinner.  Yummy.

Picadillo last night, tapsilog for lunch, then sinigang tonight.  Pinoy food trifecta!  Three straight Pinoy meals.  I love it.

I'm excited now for my Nilagang Baboy, Pork Steak, and Pork Kinilaw.  Yikes, I'm gonna become a porkupine!  I should learn how to cook Tinola.  What other Pinoy food can I prepare that is not pork-based?  Actually for chicken and fish, I like them best fried.  Maybe instead of frying, I could grill some chicken and fish.  Maybe I could have Chicken Inasal! :-D