Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And Speaking of SHOCK...

...or surprise, at any rate...

Web Shot

This is a nice, spooky, nighttime snap of the tangled web community which has sprouted in my backyard. The pale-colored blob you can see in the very center is a female kogane-gumo (related to the black and yellow garden spider of North America and the St. Andrew's Cross spider of Australia) with a body almost the size of my thumb. Her web is surrounded and crossed by at least three other webs woven by males, which are much smaller. I guess you could refer to this as "web dating". (ba-dum BUM). I have to duck under it to get to the raw garbage bin out back or to the storage shed (the building you see in the background). When I first learned of the existence of this web walking right into it (at night, to boot), it was a bit of a shock.

Actually, there have been a number of surprises lately, both good and bad:

The annual Fureai Land poster contest has just been held again. Basically all the kids of all the elementary and junior high schools in our city and several neighboring ones participate. The object is to make a poster dedicated to the Fureai Land Park here in Namegata City. (The park includes some playground equipment, a water park with water slides, a pool, and water guns, a water science museum, a pedal boat dock and sightseeing docks along Lake Kasumigaura, and the famous lookout tower.) Each school then chooses a number of representative works to send to the main contest.

Fureai poster 1

This was my son's contribution. No, it's not the most skilled work of art; my son took a lot of chiding from his mother while he was working on it since he pretty much can't draw to save his life. But it was kind of an interesting idea, being based on the Fureai Land's annual fireworks display. I think the fact that my son used mixed media (his idea), something that was very unusual, got the judges' attention. That little gold rectangle on the lower left corner is an award. Specifically, it is an "academy award" bestowed by a non-profit group that cares for Lake Kasumigaura. Few if any other works from the schools in our area got anything, so it was a pleasant surprise. (In my wife's case, demanding as she is, it was almost cause to faint.)

Fureai poster 2

Here's the proud, little guy. He was pretty blown away by it, too.

Fureai poster 3

This was his older sister's contribution. It's certainly colorful, but... She spent a LOT of time on it, but she didn't get anything (except for being chosen as a representative of her school, which I guess is something). She wasn't very happy.

Fureai poster 4

Here's a shot of my son from the Water Science Museum looking toward the tower that was the centerpiece of his poster. Yes, he was happy...ya think?

This was the most pleasant surprise of the past couple of weeks. I'm not so sure about these, however:

  • Pouring a nice, ice-cold, expensive, premium beer into my favorite, artistically-sculpted beer glass...and having it suddenly shatter, sending the beer (and glass) all over the floor.
  • Having someone from Kashima City Hall call me at Ye Olde Academy and say, "We have a festival coming up on [date] with a live music event. We're unable to fill one half-hour slot starting at 11:30. Can you have your school jazz band perform then?" I replied, "We're committed in the morning on that day, but we could..." "Okay, bye!" interrupted the voice on the other end followed by an abrupt click. (Gee...are we the local space filler?)
  • Having my father-in-law suddenly tell me and my wife that he wants us to make a name and address list for the people he knows that attended my mother-in-law's funeral...all 690+ of them. (He already has a very good mailing list program on his computer, one intended for New Year cards, that I have already shown him how to use three times now using his notes from his computer class! He still insists that he can't do it because he doesn't know how and is too busy [drinking tea] to figure it out.)
  • Double-checking the schedule and seeing that I have plenty of time to return my students' exams and double-check the grading with them...only to find out that there was a change, and I was supposed to have had everything finalized the day before.
  • Suddenly being told that the Kashima Philharmonic (aka "the Titanic, post-iceberg") expects me to store and handle the big mass of promotional fliers and posters for our next concert.
  • Watching the more serious and dedicated members of the Kashima Philharmonic (cue "My Heart Will Go On") suddenly start getting fed up and jumping overboard one by one only about a month and a half before the next concert.
  • Watching oil prices double and then almost halve again...while gasoline prices go up 50% and then come down only about 20%.
  • Watching what almost seemed like the end of the world as we know it (cue R.E.M.) only to see it start bouncing back again...we hope.
Of course, not all the surprises have been sources of stress. The Roland MIDI controller my wife gave me for my anniversary is a nice, fun toy and a very useful tool to use at work!

(A bit different from what I gave her, but oh well.)

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  • Well, congratulations to your son, MM! I love the understated little gold tag. And as usual, it seems you're the go-to guy for anything and everything!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:45 AM  

  • Good job Mini-Minstrel! It would be nice to re-meet your kids. I doubt either of them even remember me.

    Sorry about your special brew glass. Funny thing about how attached we get to those cups, mugs, and glasses. We are still mourning a couple pieces that have broken over the last few years.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 4:26 AM  

  • I surprised to learn that Mothers Cookies went under. Circus Animals, Frosted Oatmeal, Double-Fudge.... are those all going away forever then?

    OMG, if Pepsi went under, I'm not sure what I'd do to replace my daily Mountain Dew!

    By Blogger DewKid, at 5:27 AM  

  • I surprised? I meant "I'm surprised"... PIMF

    By Blogger DewKid, at 5:27 AM  

  • I think you are suffering from a tragedy deficit. This post is not near as gloomy as some of your previous ones.

    Mean while, here in the US, the republicans are about to throw in the towel. God help John McCain.

    Pretty poster.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 7:36 AM  

  • Nikkipolani
    Tell that to my students. ;-)

    Oh, and thanks!

    Yes, it would be nice. Of course, if we ever do link up on video it may be possible.

    That glass in particular had special sentimental value. It was weird, too, because it split clean in half as if on a seam, yet it was advertised as blown glass.

    The Grandma's Cookies plant in Portland burned down when I was in elementary school. Now Mothers Cookies has gone under? What's next, Daughter's Cookies?

    If Pepsi goes, you'll have to change your name. (MnMkid?)

    Are you implying that I'm supposed to be gloomy all the time?

    The Republicans have no business throwing in the towel, since it's their administration that has left the U.S. in such a state (i.e. military spread too thin to be effective, reputation abroad in the sewer, trust pretty much gone, Russia provoked almost to the point of a new Cold War, South America turning against us bit by bit, authoritarianism and enforced conformity replacing democracy, religion replacing science, then there's that whole economy thing...). They have a responsibility to try to fix it.

    Either that or leave it to someone who can...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:05 PM  

  • Your kids inherit some creative talent and drawing skills from you and/or (your wife too), not bad.
    Keep encourage them. Sometimes in the future, their drawings are better than your’s Wirg’s Café & Bar ones. :=]

    Whoa! You dare to snap that giant spider at mid-night? Did you hear some spooky sounds?

    By Blogger PinkPanther, at 6:17 PM  

  • I like how the fireworks look like colorful snowflake cutouts!

    The other day I noticed that the spider web I photographed last week is still there and the spider in the center was *shudder* just as big as yours!

    You are indeed the go-to guy for everything. Guess you're not the shiftless western gaijin eh?

    By Blogger Olivia, at 7:20 AM  

  • Congratulations to both of the artists. Lovely work. Winning isn't everything of course. You do have a busy life.
    Hey, we were watching the McCain/Obama debate today on TV (though what's it got to do with Oz?). It's getting repetitive and boring. It's time they got on with the voting. Such a long time and waste of money. The young guy sounds better to me.

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 2:58 PM  

  • That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes,
    an aeroplane - Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
    Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn,
    world serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs.
    Feed it off an aux speak,, grunt, no, strength,
    The ladder starts to clatter with fear fight down height.
    Wire in a fire, representing seven games, a government for hire and a combat site.
    Left of west and coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck.
    Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered cropped.
    Look at that low playing!
    Fine, then.
    Uh oh, overflow, population, common food, but it'll do.
    Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed dummy with the rapture and the revered and the right - right.
    You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.

    It's the end of the world as we know it.
    It's the end of the world as we know it.
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

    Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign towers.
    Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn.
    Locking in, uniforming, book burning, blood letting.
    Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
    Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down.
    Watch your heel crush, crushed. Uh-oh, this means no fear cavalier.
    Renegade steer clear! A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies.
    Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.

    It's the end of the world as we know it.
    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.
    (I feel fine)

    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.

    The other night I dreamt of knives, continental drift divide. Mountains sit in a line
    Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Brezhnev. Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs.
    Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!
    You symbiotic, patriotic, slam book neck, right? Right.

    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.

    It's the end of the world as we know it.
    It's the end of the world as we know it.
    It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.

    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.

    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
    It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine...

    By Anonymous The Intrepid Adventurer, at 10:02 AM  

  • Congrats to your son. I like the piece. It's vibrant and balanced, cheerful even.

    There is a Chinese saying that goes something like, If the old don't go, the new won't come. This is in reference to the broken beer glass, of course.

    "Web-dating" - cute.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 11:36 AM  

  • Wendy
    You should check out Snabulus' blog for a wonderful and so appropriate take on the debate.

    Intrepid Adventurer
    Why do I feel like I'm losing my religion? What's the frequency, Kenneth? I'll try not to breathe, anyway.

    I guess that means it's time to buy a new artistic beer glass, eh? :-)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:39 AM  

  • Moody, it sounds like the metaphorical roller coaster ride applies to your life of late. Or maybe that's too strong a metaphor for these peaks and valleys. Make that log flume ride.

    I love both of those posters your children made. Congratulations to your son! And I understand your daughter's disappointment.

    Wonder why you're being looked on of late as name compiler, space filler, and flier repository. Maybe you should take those labels off your forehead.

    Gas prices. The economy. Don't get me started, Moody.

    By Blogger San, at 5:11 AM  

  • Pretty cool poster!

    By Blogger QUASAR9, at 1:56 AM  

  • Huh?
    the previous comment got lost in cyberspace
    I was amused by the web dating gag
    Does she just pull twang the web to let the males know which one she wants tonite - I guess the female of the species generally pulls the strings

    By Blogger QUASAR9, at 2:00 AM  

  • ok... what did you give her??

    i like the picture your son did. i think it's very creative and artsy. glad he took an award for it. :)

    the glass mug breaking w/ your beer inside... bummer! :) i hate it when stuff like that happens. waste of such good beer! ;)

    your FIL sounds like he is trying to keep everyone busy. don't know how i'd handle something like that... probably not do it, the stubborn one that i am. that's a lot of ppl! how many does he have on the computer?

    good luck at the music festival. hope the kids do well.... will you have enough time to get from the one place to the other?

    and...the spider web!!! is that the females legs i see?? she looks huge! i'm glad to see you haven't taken it down. a man after my own heart! :)

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 2:03 AM  

  • Quasar9
    Considering how much larger the female is than the male (visible in the photo, especially if you click on the photo, choose "full screen", and zoom in), I'd say hers is the right to be pulling the strings!

    Female kogane-gumo are tough. One tried to build a web between my car and a wall while I was at work. I then hopped in my car, drove all over Kashima on errands, drove for an hour on the expressway each way when I went to COSTCO, and then arrived home to find the spider still firmly attached to my BLUE RAV4's spare tire case and very much alive.

    Um Naief
    What did I give the wife? An arm, a leg, and a couple of vital organs. {8-P

    My FIL is essentially an obsessive workaholic (not to mention a self-obsessed narcissist) who figures whatever is good enough for him is good enough for everybody. He also got a little too accustomed to having people at his beck and call all the time. He figures we have nothing better to do than drop everything and come running every time he suddenly decides out of the blue to do something (i.e. with no advance notice whatsoever; he has said bluntly that he doesn't feel he's under any obligation to give us any warning of anything or to ask about our own plans first. If he decides to do something, obviously it needs to be done and therefore takes precedence over any concerns of ours). (Back when I first moved into this house, he tried to use a similar argument when he ordered something for me without my knowledge and then handed me the bill: "I judged that you need this, so you need it, but since it's yours, it's your responsibility to pay for it!" I told him to go to hell. So my wife paid for it. This sort of thing happened repeatedly till I said that next time I would simply take the item back to the store and return it.)
    (Uncooperative gaijin whipper-snapper...)

    As for the photo, as I said to Quasar9, click on the pic, click on the "full size" link, and then zoom in. The female spider is in the very center of the pic, and she is huge. One of the males is visible about halfway between her and the left edge of the pic.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:40 AM  

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