Partying in the virual world

29 10 2008

I have been hanging out from time to time on 2nd life. For those you do not know what it is it is a virtual world on the computer. It has everything that the real world has, housing, job, oceans, mountains, countries, cars, boats, etc. Well ok not everything, no Politicians, or killing. Other than that is is pretty amazing. You can be anyone or anything you want to be and you can fly… sweet!

A friend of mine in Kobe Japan, teaches english classes there. On certain days it is kind of a open conversation meeting were we met on the beach, by a fire a chat. Today one of the ladies held a Halloween party in her space on some island I think.

It was fun, music dancing, they even did a theater play and afterwards they were fireworks. All in all pretty cool. People where there from France, Japan, Canada, USA, Australia and other places. Another time we went to a live on-line musical concert.

Almost daily I get invites to go to some sailing race and to come meditate at the Shaolin temple. Amazing, I love technolgy. Ok, Scotty beam me up!

Security Officer Zen in da house

29 10 2008

Today was the day I went for training so I could recieve a state security officer card. I never thought I would be going down this path. My Otousan was a Security Officer, he was ex-military. I thought that is what it took to be one, not that I wanted to be. “Back in the day” ( slang term meaning once upon a time or years ago) when I needed work I would look for a gas station job, or something in management. Gas station job are no more for the most part & I do not want to sit behind a cash register, they get robbed. Management is far behind me know and these days most if any available are in sales. I suck at sales! You really need a ceratin personality to do that. My opinions are limited. Another thing that got me by in days of old was doing some club gigs, with a band. That is also not happening right now. Sailing jobs… I still have a couple up coming , but for the most part the season is over until March.

So the Security field seems to be the way to go. I always see ads for Security personnel. I see it like actors taking jobs as waiters, to survive one can usually find one. Anyway…

Off I went to the Bart Station for the train into Oakland for training, as the sun broke the dark rest of night. It was chilly cold, it took me the whole walk to the station to get warmed up in the cloudy early morning air.

I got there with plenty of time to get my finger prints and other stuff taken care of before class. From there I went down to the class room to wait The two people handing things were nice enough, later I find out that they are the instructors and the owners. There were about 7 of us in the class. Four of the guys were from Africa, one Asian, another guy I’m not sure where from, and myself. One of the African guys was loud and friendly, everyone else was quiet and reserved. All seemed to be in the 30-40 yr old range. I sat, listened and observed.

The class started and the instructor gave the run down or what was going to be happening and some basic guide lines. Then went into an introduction of himself, and from there everyone else. The Asian guy sitting next to me, says my name is Toyota. Ehh I thought, Nihonjin, sugoi. I checked out his name on his paper it was a real Japanese name not, Eddie Toyota or something Japanese American. Hmm Omoshiruii I thought, I’m surprised.

The class went on, it was pretty straight forward. We had a manual we went through it, then answered the question with the instructor. At the end of that we had a test. An open book test, and the instructor went through the answers with us. Oh I thought this is a piece of cake. Then we broke for lunch.

During the first break, I asked the Japanese guy, Anata wa Nihon jin deska? hai he replied shocked. Then said something in reply like. Ohh, you speak Japanese!!, I am 3rd generation, but born in Malaysia. Then he said something else I did not get, so I said I only speak some Japanese I am still studying. From there we spoke a bit in Japalish. We ran into each other later at lunch in the Mens room. We spoke in japanese about what I was doing , going for lunch, I said, no lunch for me. I only eat breakfast and dinner.

After lunch we got into the second part of the class. The first part was about making and arrest and the duties of a security guard and the like. The second part was about Terrorist and WOMD ( Weapons of Mass Destruction). The instructor said, most of you will not be dealing with this kind of things, but it is good to know things to be aware of while on the job. You never know what or when you will come across something. Before 9/11 this was only one paper of stuff information on terrorist, now it is a video and a whole section in the book/manual.

I hope to never run into that kind of situation, but there was some interesting info there and helpful to be aware of anyway in the dangerous age we live in. Afterward another test following the same format. Then we were done Yatta!! It was now almost 8 hours later from when we started. We were given a talk about job opportunities in the field, told how long before we should expect our license from the Golden State of California, given our class completion certificate and sent home with congratulations. Yatta!

I stopped again at the looo downstairs and was heading out to my favorite veggie restaurant for a snack to take home ofr LZ and I for dinner. I again run into Toyota-san, in the hall time. He asked me about answers to the last test, they had given him a copy to take home to study, but he did nto get the answers. Daijoubu, I say I remember them, and wrote them down. He asked me if I was going home now. I said to get soem food then home, He suggest we go together for some food. Ok, I say and off we go.

We had a pleasant chat at the restaurant. We spoke of Japan, America, Jobs, the Economy, the new rise of open racist attitudes here, and some guy talk and other stuff. He had spent time in Osaka and was familiar with Kobe. It was a nice visit. I felt comfortable with him. He use to work as a sushi chief but due to the economy was having trouble finding work so a friend was doing some security work and so he needed to work and was taking this path as well.

We walked to the downtown Oakland Bart station together and took different trains from there, I went East , he went West and said we should stay in touch. I did not expect to make a new friend out of this. He is younger than LZ and I, but a nice guy. One never knows what the tide will bring, ne!

Violent morning…and jamming afternoon

27 10 2008

I have not been too motivated these days. I really need something positive to get me going. Not going to happen seems like, I’ll need to find it in me to do it. I had planned on getting a sail in today, instead I spent the morning in front of the computer reading on the internet about these three guys sailing from Chicago to Berkeley in a small boat. Also watching the History channel’s Gangland series.

Having grown up in Philly for the most part I am familiar with gangs and the gang life. However that was back in the day. We settled most things then with fists, knives, banister post, car antennas, bottles, etc. It was common to settle things with what we called a fair one. Which meant that you went toe to toe in a fair hand fight with the person you had a problem with. It was not uncommon though to get jumped by several people. I find the reports and stories on the Gangland show amazing and scary. These people have no honor, no regard for anything. It is all about guns, drugs, and money. Things are settle with guns and multiple shootings. So shocking how life has changed for the worse in the streets. Gangland shows the way it is. I knew it was bad, but did not REALLY know, now I know. I’m so glad not to be a kid growing up in the inner city these days. What a country, no wonder we here in the states rate so low on the quality of life scale and high on the most dangerous places to live. I understand why many Canadians are fearful to be in the states. If they saw this show in Japan no one would come here to visit.

Late afternoon I got my bum in gear and started out to the marina. It was too late for a sail but I still could do some misc chores. I packed up some things and headed out the door. I got to the car unlocked the door when I heard it…

Music was coming from the clubhouse. There was a moment of weighing the choices. Do I keep going to the boat and do sailor stuff or…

Do I go Jam. Today the musican won, he’s alive! I went in to the club-house, chatted with the group for bit, then went and got my gear. I needed the change of chi & I had yet to play my new bass with a group yet. I did the recording session ( the cd is ready for sale), but nothing live yet today was the day. I spent the rest of the afternoon jamming some blues and light jazz. Nice. It is confirmed that I really like my new Bass. I still need to figure out the sound adjustments, that will take a little time to test for the prefect adjustment for MY sound. I look forward to doing some live gigs. Maybe the band will get something going. I do have some time these days to put in energy into practice since sailing season is done and Zen practice I will only go to one every couple of months. Well we’ll see what the tide brings.

A Scouting Party

26 10 2008

When LZ and I first got married and just before that we moved…A LOT within a 6 – 7 month period we moved about 4 times. Not fun! We did the roommate thing with some people, which was horrible and then got our own place, then finally purchased our condo. Now we are moving again. I had hoped we would be here until we packed up to go to Nihon. This being part of our retirement package. However the universe has other plans…

We went out today on a beautiful Northern Ca autumn day to scout out the area to which we plan on relocating.

This for me is a big deal in a way. Having come to Northern Ca in 1986 I have been in this area the whole time. The Force seems to say it is time to go. Other than LZ’s job there is no reason for us to stay in this immediate area. She feels she can transfer to another branch at some point near our new grounds as there are two stores of the same company there.

The City of Alameda is a fairly diverse little city located on an island next to Oakland. On the other side one can see San Francisco.

It has a several nice parks I found out today, which is good to know I can have a place to teach my Kung Fu class if need be. It also has a fairly large parks and recreation dept, maybe I can teach via their organization. On the Oakland side, which is separated by the Estuary, a large and busy shipping and boating center, there are many marinas. On the S.F side there is one fairly large marina which we spent last year’s Halloween party in with our sailing club.

Overall the city of Alameda is nice, it has big city convences with a small town feel. It is also close to Berkeley, S.F. & Oakland. We went by the area that has a large amount of nice, clean apts which overlook the Bay. LZ got very excited at the thought of having a Bay view. I remained reserved, reminding her that 1- We have no idea when we are going to move yet. Yes sometime within the next 6 months most likely 2- There may not be a place available that has a bay view. It would indeed be nice, but we have to wait and see. No matter she was still Jazzed. 🙂

It is good to have something to look forward to on these shadow filled days. It would indeed be very cool to have a view of the Bay and have a patio facing the water. I asked the I-Ching about a move to Alameda… it replied…Nourishing. When consulted about keeping our condo it said…Traveling. If you do not know about the I-ching I will not go into explaining, but think on the names.

After our tour of Alameda city we head over to Geta in the Piedmont district of Oakland for Japanese food. Such a cozy little place it is like being in Japan.

It was our treat for the weekend. A filling and Oishii meal cost us $30.00 for two. $15.00 ea is pretty good!

We had breakfast at home and no lunch, so it was not like we over did it for the day. We returned home contented, full and looking forward to a pleasant relocation. Nice!

Ch ch ch ch Changes…

22 10 2008
Photo by H@ru

Photo by H@ru

I use to like that song by David Bowie, I said I had weird musical taste. It is one of those life theme songs that go through your head when things are happening in your life, well at least mine.

The last few days I have been in front of the computer, reorganizing, seeing where we are and making some kind of game plan. At least an outline of action. It feels better when one has some type of direction, even though it is not really in our hands how it works out. Like losing about 2/3 of our retirement was not in my outline, so much for not working all my life. It just seems off to me, that the people who caused this financial melt down get a bail out, but we the workers get yet another shaft. Life is suffering the Buddhist say, we are living then, validation complete. Kind of like pinching one’s self to see if you are dreaming.

I am going into training for a security guard license next week. There seems to be always work in that field. Not what I want out of life but, it is better than starving. I’m not having any luck elsewhere. It will give us some income and once things turn around it will still be helpful for some extra money. Not hard work, the pay is reasonable. I will not work where I need to carry a gun, but some martial skills maybe be a plus.

Speaking of Martial arts, I have no idea what I will do about my Kung Fu class and students once we move. Two of my students live closer to there than here, so it will not matter to them about the move as long as there are classes.  I guess I will need to do it old school style and teach in the park same as many teachers in S.F. Or get a spot with a YMCA or P&R dept. Maybe I’ll even pickup a couple more students. It could be a good thing.

Next in Nov. ( day before the election, yeaaa, finally over) is my graphic class, well actually it is a HMTL/CSS class. That will help my graphic job hunt. That class will end about the same time as my unemployment money does. So having some P/T work from being a guard will help until sailng season starts and I get some teaching classes. Interesting times…

LZ has already been researching places and areas on Alameda Island for us to move to. She has said that it was a dream of hers to live there before we left for Nihon. This is the reason why I picked that location, so she is pleased about that moving part. I told her to calm down since we do not know when we will need to move. In two months or 6 months, unknown yet. I just hope we can get a place with enough sun & space to grow some veggies.

Everything is pretty unknown these days, all we can do is batten down the hatches and enjoy the Autumn. I hope to get some sailing in before I have to put the boat up for storage.

“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.”

*photo from*

Here we go round again…

19 10 2008

“Back to where we started , …here we go round again…

Back to where we started, come on an do it again…”

…The Kinks

I was always a strange kid, I had a board range of musical taste. One of my Favorite groups from the old days is the Kinks. Great Band! The above is from one of their songs, I think it was called Do It Again.

Anywho so what does this have to do with anything. We’ll everything has to do with something…

I was walking into  a county building the other day and seeing the Country Education Program sign gave me flash backs.

The job hunt has not been going well. A while back I figured I should up grade my web skill that will help finding work, that I could afford. There are more of those …graphic designer with web skills ads…out there than for one that mostly does hard-copy work. So I looked into training. When I first started into the Graphic field I started my training under a country program., Then on to college for a couple of degrees. Now I’m back enrolling in the program once again, &  out of work. The difference this time I am looking to upgrade my skills. Seeing the sign in front of the building, as I am going in for a orientation class sends me back. So much time has past, so much work and effort, and here back to where I started…It could be depressing… depending how you look at it…

Here we go round again…

Anyway I start in Nov.

I have come to terms with us needing to let our condo go. Over the next couple of months, as our home goes up for sale we will be packing, reducing and battening down the hatches to ride out the current life storm …It could be depressing… depending how you look at it…

Here we go round again…

“Anyway this is where that “timing , perspective, who you know” thing comes in…We will be moving closer to the Bay at some point, perhaps sooner… perhaps later.

…This could be a the right path…

Closer to a better sailing area,

Closer to chances to practice on the”Bay and blu water”

Closer to more opportunities for work.. and my current work

Closer to more comfortable temps for LZ in the Summer.

Closer to Nihon and the Launch off site…

Closer to most of the places we usually go…

Closer to Simplifying our lives… so we can leave…

So-o -o  It could be a good thing… depending how you look at it…†

Omiyage おみやげ

14 10 2008

Omiyage is a tradition among Japanese where if you go traveling when you come back you bring a gift from there. Or if you come to visit from someplace else you bring a gift from whee you come from, there is other forms but basically if comes down to giving or sending a gift. When LZ went to Nihon to visit she took only a few select Omiyages because of our cash flow. When she came back she brought a few for me that the family had sent. I was not expecting anything so it was a nice surprise.

LZ also brought back a couple of small items we wanted from there as well for the house. The last time we were there we wanted some Mackerel Sushi to bring home. Meeting up with some people at the airport we forgot. LZ brought some home this time. Ohshiiiiii!!

There were about 8 in the box , we had 6 for dinner. I had the other for lunch

She also picked up a couple of traditional Wooden Sake cups, Sake Masu they are made for drink Tarusake ( the big barrel sake) they are also used at home for special occasions . She also brought back a large bottle of Bishonen ( Jousen grade) sake.As you drink the Sake you get this sweet woody aroma.

Okaasan sent me this CD by a modern Japanese group called ZiPang. I had found them on Myspace and wanted the CD, to have it sent over from Amazon would have cost over 60.OO !! Outrageous!!. We order it on-line and sent to Osaka as a local purchase much much cheaper. LZ brought it back with her, Okaasan gave it to me as an Omiyage. It is a nice mix of traditional Japanese instrument and modern instrument in a Jazz style. It is very nice, although not exactly what was sampled on their MySpace page which had a more Afro/Japanese Funk blend sound. I was a little disappointed. but only a bit because it is still a cool CD

On my favorite things to eat are Umeboshi, Japanese Plums. They also make sweet Plum wine from these. They are salty, sour and sweet at the same time when prepared as something to eat. They are considered healthy to eat in Japan. Many Americans do like not them at all. I love them. LZ was shocked when she found out I like them. My cousin also likes them, she is weird like me. I really really love the honey one. They are less salty and have a nicer flavor. LZ found a small package of low salt honey Umeboshi for me. I had a real taste of japan meal that night after she came back. Mackerel Shushi, Umeboshi, Bishonen Sake from Sake Masu cups. All I would have needed was a deep Japanese bath tub to bathe I would have been in heaven.

The other Omiyage was from my talented &  cute sister-in-law and her husband.I very nice Black lacquered and traditional art designed Phone book!

Nice eh! Lucky me !

LZ had also brought a few items for herself that never made it, basiclly some packaged Japanese meals, however the airport customs people took them, because they had in the dried soup power chicken or meat. Huh?!?! what the heck! We are the ones with Mad cow and bird flu problems on our exports grrrr That cost us $15.00!! Plus they broke the suitcase strap and did not even say sorry. How rude!! God bless America we sure need it!

Fire in the hole…

13 10 2008

I was suppose to pickup LZ from the airport today. I went to get an oil change and brake check early in the morning before going to the airport. My plan was to come back home and put the dishes away and vacuum before heading out. I pulled into the parking lot and there were some guys working on repairing the gate which is broken much of the time. However this time I heard someone hit it, according to LZ.

Usually I go to the back side of the unit and up the stairs to our place. Today I felt I should through the side entrance and past the pool. As I walked into the garden area I got hit by a big cloud of smoke, that smelled like plastic or rubber. I looked for some one working like trimming something, because I could hear popping and cracking noises. The cloud lifted and I looked up to see, smoke coming from and open patio door on the 3rd floor. Still hearing noises I looked to see if someone was doing a BBQ and got carried away. Nothing, Hmmm. I head to the stair well and zip up to the 3rd floor. There are a couple of people there, one is on the phone, she says something to me, about is there a fire?  We could hear the smoke alarm going off in one unit. Another woman walked past the unit and said something also, I did not get. I asked has anyone called the fire dept? they look unsure and kind of said no. I’ll call I said and went down stairs out of the smoke.

I raised the fire dept just as the building manager came on the scene. He said I called, but I still stayed on the phone with the dispach. Shortly after the Phone and fire dept showed up. Another resident and I held the door while they rushed in.

I heard the manger say there is someone in the unit. A short time later they brought out an older man who had been burnt but was still alive. His hair burnt off and clothes almost gone.

They ruhed him to the hospital. The manager said they had been concerned about him being alone away. He did not hear well. The story I got was he put somehting on the stove, fell asleep and did not hear the smoke alarm.

They crews made everyone leave the building while they put out the fire. This was my second time going through this here in this building. It was also on the same side of the building as before. When an older lady left a candle burning in her closet so she could see, as there are no light installed in them.

I installed a light myself in ours for that very reason. Scary!!  Perhaps it is good that we need to give up our unit and move. I wonder if that side of the building has bad Feng Shui. This is the second fire there and I have heard about tennet problems on that side as well. Our side of the unit is very peaceful. Yokatta!!

I went to the airport to pickup LZ, the street was still full of fire trucks and such. We stopped for lunch at Geta the Japanese place sicne I was not sure how long it would take for them to clean up and give the ok to go back in. Last time they made many people wait a long time, because of the smoke. This time they got the fire sooner, although it smelt bad and toxic. Our unit is on the far side away, I slipped in before going to the airport, grabbed my camera and opened the windows to air out.

Once we returned all was back to normal. Thank the Great Spirit it was not worse!

Sitting here in limbo…

8 10 2008

Limbo lower now…

Sitting here in limbo waiting for the call to come… That song keeps playing in my head. I have changed the words a bit but, it is the idea not the words so much and the main phrase “sitting here in limbo” That is how I feel. I had an interview on Friday for a job that would be right up my alley. I was feeling good and like, ah finally the blessing has come thank God!  More so since the way it came about. It was effort trying to maintain being centered about it. Non-attached. The inner conflict, should I be non-attached, or claim it as my blessing and be thankful on being pulled from the abyss. Doing the weekend I went out so I would not stay at home thinking…

Be happy my time has come, or be calm and unattached so I will not be disappointed.

Have faith that this is for me,

Have patience that something better is coming if this is not “it”

Be happy anyway at least I got the interview, so I do have some working merit, this was just practice.

So many things running through the monkey mind. Monday after breakfast I got the strong feeling, nope this is not going to happen. Yet I had trouble sleeping on Monday night, thinking maybe the call will come on Tuesday.  I read somewhere about part of being Buddhist is giving up hope and letting the Universe work. There was a different wording for Christians, meaning the same thing.

So here I am sitting in limbo, but continuing to prepare for yes or no, just being ready…
Today I am down at the Boat so I will not jump every time the phone rings… or think about how it is not.
It will be good to know one way or another. It is kind of like waiting for your test results for a major exam or if you caught Aids except I do not even know when the grading is taking place. At least with an Aids test you know you have to wait two weeks.
I would love to be able to call LZ in Nihon and say.Yokatta, Watashiwa, Nihon ni ikimasen, Lucky I did not go to Nihon this time &  Yatta attarashi shigoto  ( new job)!! You can relax and celebrate, Banzaii!. However, for now it is going through the hardest part, the wait for yes or no…Sitting here in Limbo waiting for the call to come…

Snapping Tiger, Floating Dragons

6 10 2008

7:00 am on Sunday, I was soooo sleepy…

Sat. night I was up late, jamming with myself. Figuring out how to work with eJam, which is an on-line service that allows musicians all over the world to play with each other. I hooked up my equipment and was playing with writing a test song. I was getting into it so ended up staying up much later than I should have needing to get up early on Sunday.

I had been staying in most of the week, doing this n that, reading, computer, web setup, even a freelance design job I had picked up. Other than I couple of short runs and the interview I was dormant. Therefore I was set on going to the Dragon boat races on Treasure island. Not so much that I was so into the races, but I wanted to get out, take some pictures, be around a few people, not sit home and think.

At 7:00 am I turned over looked at the clock and figure out I could go for another 30 min of sleep, which ended up being another hour. Oh well. Not like I needed to be there I finally arrived at 10:30 to the race. That gave me about 1 hour, since I had planned on going to Zen/Chan practice.

Treasure Island is a former military base on a small island across from San Francisco. The race scene was pretty crowed with people, but not to the point it was uncomfortable. It was like being at a Chinese festival.

Lots of booths and stands. There was a Chen Tai Ji Demo, there was also a couple playing traditional Chinese instruments Which I catch on my way out. I did not get to listen for long as I was on the move by that time.

So for the races, I was able to get a spot right near the finish line. I could have gone right up to the line but I like the spot I had. I got to watch about 3 or 4 races.

There were a lot of teams there from all over, even a team from Hong Kong. I had seen lots of practice groups over in the estuary while I’ve been giving sailing classes, but never sat and watch one.

They are pretty fast considering they are just man powered. As with any sport it is more fun when you know a team or someone in the race.

Still it was good for me to be out, sitting in the sun by the water watching the race and taking pictures, not sitting home thinking about, If and when I was going to here something about the interview.

Surround by all the Chinese language I got a sense for not being in Northern Ca but overseas somewhere, like Singapore. There was a bit of excitement during the race when one of the boats almost crashed into another, missing by fraction. Then heads off directly towards another, it was wild.

Next stop was some 40 min away. So I headed back across the Bay Bridge to Fremont for Chan/Zen practice.

I got there right on time to the center. Today talk besides meditation was on purifying chi and how important that is to understand that just having strong chi or energy is not always good. It needs to be purified Chi. It is impossible to avoid bad chi in this world and our society unless you go live in a cave, alone, in the mountains, or an Island. What makes our practice different from most others is that with our sitting we purity not only our chi, but others there by helping not just ourselves but those around us. This is on of the reason why sitting Zazen with others is so helpful to our spirit. It was good to sit with my spiritual family today and in a space of positive Chi. I needed the spirit lift.

After leaving the group I stopped at Whole Foods for a little shopping. I ran into an old Kung Fu workout sister. It was good to see her, even though we were not that close when she was training, but she was ok. Most people thought of her as a dragon lady, but since I was her senior, I did not get afficted as they did. What is weird is not seeing someone for a long time then they ask , so how are things… You have that moment of, should I say how things are really are, or do the Oh, I’m fine talk, because people do not really want to hear how you really are. Then there is the thought that one should sound positive, and be positive in your thoughts. All that flashes through one’s mind before saying, I’m good. 🙂