※ Japan Is The Best Kind Of World Cup Killer

Japan Is The Best Kind Of World Cup Killer:

Japan held two teams’ fates in its hands coming into Thursday’s final round of Group E matches in the World Cup. Sort of funnily, neither of them was its opponent on the day, Spain.

The match day set up like this: Japan entered the day second in the group, with three points, thanks to its shock win over Germany on the group’s first match day. Spain led the group with four points, and with passage through to the round of 16 all but guaranteed by its plus-6 goal differential. Costa Rica’s third-place position felt like last place, owing to a horrible goal differential and the safe assumption that Los Ticos‘ opponents on the day, Germany, would flatten them; Germany’s fourth-place position felt like second, despite the team coming into the day on a single lonely point, at least in large part because it is Germany.

Which part of Japan in the World Cup are you not on board with, assuming you’re not? They play a fast match, their fans clean up after themselves in the stands, and they leave thoughtful things in their locker room after the match for the folks who clean them.

I was in Japan for the last World Cup. They took me from 0 interest in futbol to 100 fast. It was great and I love it and I miss it.

I’m not there, but I’m here and have a soul. Strap me to the Japan World Cup rocket!

The Flip Side

I’m landed in Atlanta.
“It’s cold, but not cold,” I’m told. It is the same weather I left 12+ hours ago.
A few notes for Delta:

  • the A350 is a miserable airplane for the flyer, especially compared to the 747 it “replaced”;
  • the A350 needs many more bathrooms;
  • swapping out the first beverage service for a “signature cocktail” doesn’t work;
  • whatever you’re doing with the food, please stop;
  • and how is an international flight “short handed”?

For all that griping, my flight did the two things I expect from all airplane travel – I landed safely and I exited the plane in one piece.


I’m sitting at a small restaurant next to gate 22 in Narita Airport’s Terminal 1. The queue to board the flight before mine is impressive in its length and orderliness. The beer is cold if airport-pricy. The seat is soft if not exactly comfortable. There is no power, so I will shift to another outlet-sporting spot as soon as it frees up.
Why am I here? After three years of living in Japan I am heading back the States.
Let me pause here while I do some light repacking and grab another bi-ru.
Back. New seat with power. Charging. I dropped my multiport charger somewhere along the way. The more valuable power cord that accompanies it is still in my possession, so yea! I’m repacked for boarding the plane and taking my seat. I got headphone and my snack/meal replacement on deck. I need to get some water for my packable bottle and I’m good until Atlanta.
My residency ends today. My visa expires. I’m still with IBM Japan, just doing so from the US. Turns out there is a client meeting in the US next week, so my going now lines up well with that. I have little time to relax before I hit the road again, and then travel the week after that as well. I sent the request to the travel team while I wait to find out the approvals process for this.
I nodded off on the drive to Narita. My buddy Tetsuya very kindly drove me from Shinjuku to the airport after a lovely pork ramen lunch. Our conversation was fun, but we hit a lull and I … just closed … my eyes … for zzzzzzz. Tets showed up to my place early, while I was going to meet the property manager for the walk thru and key hand-off. I was packed, had a cart to help me cart 5(!) bags down, and just needed to drop some trash off in the garbage room. I signed in a few spots, paid for my trash tickets as some pieces were bigger than 30cm, and then thanked the entire staff for all of their help. It is not an exaggeration to say my stay would not have been as successful without the concierge staff.
I think my charger might be at security. Or in Niheiさん’s car. His vehicle, like Youqing’s car, is an older model without all of the modern bells and whistles. Sure, some things don’t work any more – automatic door locks and window controls, as examples. They are not core to the function of the car. It was a great help that Tetsuya drove me. I can’t imagine – correction, choose not to imagine – having to navigate Shinjuku Station with five (!) bags.
1.5 of my five bags, roughly 25% of my storage capacity, consists of presents – to me and from me. Everyone was so generous and great and friendly in Japan. I made a lot of friends, and I am grateful for them. I’m more than a bit humbled by the experiences of the last three weeks, let alone the last three years. What a great group of friends, inside of IBM and out. Like Youqing, for example.
We hadn’t seen each other for several weeks. I went to Okinawa, she and her family went to Nikko. I got busy and stressed with relocation and thus had a hard time making time. Last weekend was aborted due to illness (mine), so Saturday after the last bit of furniture that I sold was carted off, she came over and laid claim to the best of what was left.
As an aside, the advantage of buying good quality furniture – even for only three years – is that when you go to sell there is a market. Buying was way cheaper than renting, and people paid me to haul it away when I was done with it. Any money I made was a bonus, not the objective of the exercise. Search for “sunk cost” if you want a deeper dive.
Youqing took me to a BOOKOFF in Kawasaki, far enough outside of Tokyo that it has actual space to walk around. She was planning to sell some old Nerf kit from her boys as well as some clothes, but ended up saving the fun quotient for the next big garage sale where she lives. I got ¥710 for my remaining IKEA furniture, had to take back some home appliances, and I got ¥16,000 for my Dell 27″ monitor! That is almost what I paid for it, so basically I ended up borrowing it for three years. While we waited for our appraisals we walked across the street to an inexpensive, poorly serviced, but high quality merry-go-round sushi place in a mall. The grilled salmon with mayonnaise melted in the mouth and the fatty tuna was both tender and delicious. We had a great time before heading back to the BOOKOFF in the brisk chill of mid November.
Which reminds me, I no longer have a winter coat. It is about -10ºC in Chattanooga compared to Tokyo, so I will need to address this before long – especially with the Boston work trip on the early horizon. I kept my thermal underwear and one sweater. I have boots, my cool-as-in-awesome hiking boots. I had to donate my Been Boots as I have no room in my bags. The Thinsulate was wearing a bit thin, so planning for a new pair is worthwhile.
I really don’t want to add to my kit if I can avoid it unless it’s an upgrade where I can swap something else out or have a critical need. I already bowed to emotion and joy sparking for my books, which I shipped on the slow boat at a cost that exceeds what I spent in acquiring the books. They do spark joy for me. Some movies and CDs I’d bought did, too, but I ripped them. A good thing, as I had no space for them.
That’s it for now, this stream of nonsense account of the last little bit. See you on the flip side.


I’ll be 😆 tomorrow when #Tokyo starts up again from the Summer holiday. Also, this is a test of quill.

Will I be able to reach out and touch planes?

New Haneda flight paths over residential areas to begin in March 2020 in bid to boost capacity ahead of Olympics:

The government on Thursday announced a date for the introduction of new flight paths over Tokyo to increase capacity at Haneda airport in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics.
On March 29, planes will be able for the first time to descend and climb over densely populated Shibuya, Shinjuku and Shinagawa wards in central Tokyo.
The change could have a large impact on residents. Current approach and departure paths pass only over Tokyo Bay and aircraft are at high altitude when they cross built-up areas. […]
Sensitive to the impact on residents, the ministry drew up measures to minimise noise. These include revising the angle of approach when landing and bringing planes in more steeply.
It also addressed the potential problem of objects falling from aircraft and held briefing sessions with residents.

Yikes! If my assignment in Japan extends, my house hunting will definitely take this into account. My building is tall and I’m on the top floor, so really not looking forward to this.
Thank goodness I’ll be able to judge things in advance:

Trials of the new routes will take place later this month, when the government will use a small aircraft to fly the paths and check airport facilities. Tests with a passenger plane will begin in late January.


(Via Japan Times latest articles)

1,022 Nouns

Significant Digits For Tuesday, July 30, 2019:

Chaser, a Border collie known as the world’s smartest dog, has died of natural causes at the age of 15. Chaser’s owner, a psychology professor named John Pilley, used “800 cloth animal toys, 116 balls, 26 Frisbees and an assortment of plastic items” to teach Chaser 1,022 nouns. Chaser is also said to have understood sentences including a prepositional object, verb and direct object. Rest in peace. I’m gonna go figure out how many nouns I know. [The New York Times]

(Via Features – FiveThirtyEight)
Not feeling great about my progress learning Japanese for some reason. /me looks for a Shinjuku store that sells cloth animal toys, balls, Frisbees, and assorted plastic items.