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Socially Speaking…

19 Oct

The teachings of my parents coupled with painful social experiences through gradeschool made me develop and maintain as truth the idea that everyone, no matter the case, deserves a fair shot to show themselves (their personality) to you before you make any judgements against them.  I try to practice this with every person I meet, I am not 100% all the time, but I’m pretty good at giving everyone the chance I believe they deserve; so when I meet people who so adamantly prejudge others, it always kind of rubs me the wrong way.

I know I’m not going to get along with everyone I meet, but I will let the other person’s (re)actions decide that for me.  I try not to write people off until they act negatively against me personally… even if they have a bit of a reputation for being a mean person or something like that.  People deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Someone said to me last week that they can’t afford to give people the benefit of the doubt, I guess they’ve been burned too many times.  I responded that I can’t afford not to because of my belief that everyone on this planet is the same and deserves the same amount of initial respect.  What they do to gain or lose respect, though, is a completely different matter.

In that same vein of respect, I find that if you acknowledge that you will not become fast-friends with everyone, you should still be able to maintain respect for others.  If you find someone that you do not get on particularly well with, make amends and move on with your life.  Constantly speaking negatively about someone and openly sharing your disdain for same-said person will rapidly make me lose respect for you as a person.

To say things like someone is “not cool” makes me automatically feel like you’re also “not cool” for so simply debasing someone.  Also, to say that someone says “stupid things” however often shows that you don’t often listen to yourself because no one speaks poetry at every utterance; and to me even says that probably say many dumb things yourself.

In the case that you are ever placed in a relatively small community of people who live in the same situation as you, work in the same occupation as you, and are a part of the same employment/exchange program as you it seems unwise and just plain rude to openly and oftenly make negative remarks about people that you must be around weekly.  You never know what ears may hear and how third parties may feel about you and also about the person you despise so much.  In fact, it may even cause people that you do get on well with to lose initial respect and wish to avoid making contact with you in further instances.

It’s sad to say that in conversation with the one who does not give people the benefit of the doubt, they mentioned this type of thing and I said “I can’t really imagine that happening”.  Well, then.

They’re Staring at Me Anyway So… Might as Well!

28 Sep

You don’t have to be in Japan long to realize there are not very many people in any particular area with very dark skin.  Call us what you want: Black, African-American, African, a person of African Descent, or my personal favorite, Chocolate; the fact of the matter is that there are not very many of us in Japan so I guess it’s  bit of a novelty to see someone walking down the street or riding the train looking about 15 shades darker than the average Japanese person.

I don’t have much of a problem with it, in fact, I’ve already become so used to it that on a day-long bike trip around Kyoto I saw a guy who looked African standing on a corner listening to his headphones, waiting for a light.  As we rode past him, I audibly said, “Wow!”  A friend heard me and asked about it… I couldn’t help but laugh as I explained “… now I know how the Japanese people feel!  I really was not expecting that!”  The only sort of issue I have is when people – adults – continue to stare.  I don’t mind the little kids so much, I understand, it might be a completely new experience for them; but for adults, it’s a little like they should have more “home training” than to openly gawk at a person sitting across from them on the train, especially in a city as big as Kobe, which in its history was the first Japanese city to open its ports to Western traders and even had an international community that dates back to the 1850s.  Basically, it should be old hat to see foreigners… dark foreigners even, in their city.

In Kyoto, High School kids wanted a picture with us.

In Kyoto, random High School kids wanted a picture with us.

What I’m trying to say is that they stare.  A lot.  So I have learned that I might as well make the most of it and there’s a new sort of freedom that comes with that.  Back home in the States I have reservations because people only look if you’re being nutty and you feel embarrassed to act a fool and draw attention to yourself.  Here, they’re already staring so it’s like I can do nutty things because it’s not going to draw more attention than I already get on a regular basis… does that make sense?

For example; Friday I was with friends and I was bored of the usual hang-around-all-night-doing-nothing-until-we-have-to-run-for-the-last-train events so I grabbed a couple people and set out to make mischief.  What we really ended up getting into was hanging around several groups of dancers practicing routines in CenterGai after all the shops closed down.  We didn’t have proper speakers or anything, but the six of us danced around, sang songs to create the music to dance to, (unsuccessfully) tried to exchange business cards with any willing salaryman (good try, Andy!), rescued random mice in the JR Kobe train station, and us girls even consoled a love-lorn Japanese guy.

We got tons of stares but it didn’t matter because they’d stare at a mini-gang of gaijin anyway so we just had fun.  So much, in fact, that making mischief may just become a regular part of the weekend.  Bring it on.

Fabric Rant!

4 Oct



…. I work part-time in a fabric store and like it alright, in the quiet mornings, anyway. I love to knit and sew (and craft and paint, etc.) as much as the next person; but by the end of every shift I am ready to throttle most of the customers.

I see the same old quilting/knitting ladies, the same old vinyl or speaker fabric dudes, the same label-illiterates, and the same no-measurement-taking, want-the-cutting-people-to-know-how-big-the-window-is folks week after week. I get so frustrated because it seems like shoppers dog the people at the cutting table like slaves and it’s just not cool at all.

So the following is a list of what fabric and craft shoppers can do to make their shopping experience all the more enjoyable and possibly ease the stress of the good folks assisting you in the store.

Points To Remember While Shopping:

[1] When going to purchase fabric, have all measurements and calculations at the ready (windows, pillows, people). The employees don’t know how big your laundry room window is and you’d probably be offended if we guessed your dress size.

[2] If you have young children, please do not let them run through the store, move merchandise, or scream the entire 30-40 minutes of your visit to the store. It’s understandable if you have an infant, but if you have a toddler, their screaming does not make anyone’s day better. In fact, the employees (and probably some of your fellow shoppers) will want to cause you bodily harm.

[3] Learn to read fabric labels. You will save yourself a lot of time if you can locate the price, the width, the fabric content, and the care instructions.
fabric bolt label
If you can’t figure it out, ask an employee to teach you how to read the label. It’s that whole “teach a man to fish” thing.

[4] When browsing for your fabric it’s perfectly fine to pick up the bolt, feel the fabric, view the size of the repeat, etc. because if you like it, it will become your fabric. What is not okay is for you to a) bring it all the way back to the cutting table and tell us that you don’t want it (especially when there’s already a big pile of fabric that needs to be put back); or b) leave it on top of the shelf, perpendicular (90 degree angle) to the fabric bolts or put it in a completely different and incorrect place than where you got it from. That makes it hard for other people to find when they actually want to buy it. NOTE: This includes the ribbon section!

[5] For the love of all things crafty, don’t abandon shopping carts in the store, especially if it has store items in it. If you took it from the rack, please go and put it back. I found at least four abandoned carts today, and it’s a small store.

[6] When you are ready to get your fabric cut and you come to the cutting table, if no one is there, don’t bang on the counter, snap, or yell at an employee because that’s just plain rude. Realize that the cutting person is probably helping another customer, re-organizing mixed up merchandise, putting back bolts of fabric, and returning abandoned shopping carts to the front of the store. If we didn’t have anything to do, we’d stand around the table and discuss last night’s episode of Heroes, okay? If you need help, say excuse me, or go up to a nearby employee and ask for help.

[7] While your fabric is being cut, DO NOT TOUCH THE MATERIAL! You may think you are helping, but if I needed your help, I would ask for it. You in fact make the job harder because when the fabric is being lined up and you touch it and move it, it has to be measured again. Do not touch it while it is being cut. Don’t hold it down. Don’t smooth it out. You will mess everything up.

[8] Also, be sure to double-check that the bolt you picked up is in the right section and that if there’s a sale, the fabric you have is included in that sale. Remember point #4 about putting fabric in the wrong place? Yeah, that happens and since there’s probably only 1 or 2 employees keeping up the fabric section at any given time, and probably 10 people browsing for fabric, you can see how they may not work fast enough to put everything back in its rightful place before you pick it up. This is also where point #3 comes in really handy: read the label, make sure it’s the same thing as the sale sign.

[9] One more thing while at the cutting table: put the cell phone away. It’s extremely rude to carry on a conversation while executing any kind of transaction with another human being, be it at the grocery store, the bank, the mall, whatever. It says that you don’t have enough respect for the “lowly” employee to give them your full attention. In a more practical sense, you waste time and will cause more errors because the cutter has to sit and wait for a break in your incessant chattering to figure out how much you want cut, if you’re using a coupon, or if you’re even done. I’ve never seen anyone get an emergency call at the table, so put the phone away and show some respect.

That’s about it, but if everyone could follow these tips while shopping, it would make for a better crafting world. I love to sew, and I just love shopping for stuff when everything is in its place and I can find it.

Help people have better days and the vibes will come back to you for sure.

Personal Space Invaders

22 Sep

I don’t know how it is for most other people, but when it comes to my personal comfort in the public space, I need to maintain at least a 2 foot “Space Bubble” at almost all times. There are instances where breaking that 2-ft bubble is okay, like at home, the Bubble is put away because that’s family. At gatherings of friends, the Bubble is put away because I have developed close relationships with these people. In any situation where the aforementioned groups are the dominant population, the Space Bubble is put away.

On the other hand, nearly every instance where I’m thrust into the public space, the Bubble is immediately activated. I don’t like strangers being too close to me, especially if it’s on public transportation. Sure, there are some situations that can’t be helped: A crowded train, bus, or shuttle; a general admission concert with open seating; standing in lines at amusement parks, etc. What I can’t tolerate is when there is ample space surrounding myself and other peaceful citizens and someone chooses to invade that 2-foot Bubble.

Like this morning, I was standing in line for the shuttle stop that takes people from the BART station to campus and this chick obviously did not know the concept because she was bearing down on me like a fat lady on a buttered biscuit. She didn’t notice that I had given the dude in front of me a generous three-foot cushion but her sneakers were literally only a scant 6-8 inches from mine.

She was vicious on maintaining that close proximity too. She was worse than a tailgater at a crowded stoplight. You know the kind: you try to ease forward so they can back up off your rear bumper and every time you ease, they ease, giving you none of the distance you wanted. She was like that. I was trying to scoot forward a little bit and she would be up on me like the shuttle had pulled up or something.

I even tried moving forward a little bit while keeping one of my legs kinda far back so that she would not move forward because my foot was so obviously there…. Didn’t work What made it worse was that she was on the phone with a friend so she was having one of those conversations that seem really dumb to anyone not involved… you know: “ohmigosh, so last night he what?!….who was there?…. and I totally thought she blah blah blah.” The phone conversations that make you want to poke your eyes out.

After three or four eases, though, I finally had to turn around and say, as I scooted forward again, “Stop! You’re in my personal space!” I think I threw her off a bit because she did back off, but I don’t think she fully understood the concept because as the shuttle loaded, she stood just as close in distance, but a little to the side….. what the heck.

If you know somebody who does not know how to honor the Space Bubble, please slap them for me because they were probably the same one breathing all down my neck in the lunch line, or violating the Bubble at the Snack Shop that one day. And tell ‘em they straight up nasty, too.

Sick on Public Transportation? Oh No You Didn’t!

21 Sep

Oh my gosh, don’t ever be sick on public transportation, crowded, even; and just be down with hacking and coughing all over the place making everyone sick. If you’re sick, you better get off the train and get yourself some Ricolah and a SARS mask
SARS mask.

This lady sounded like she was straight up trying to hack up one of those little Total Recall Kuato stomach people. She was banging on her chest and shaking and everything. This one dude’s eyes were super bugged out, like three seats away she was going to cough AIDS onto him; I wish I could’ve gotten a shot on my cell phone. It was priceless.

Anyway, if you get sick, don’t come on the train trying to infect everyone else. You better maintain that cough until you get to your appointed destination and get yourself some ‘Tussin , forreal, cuz flu shots are a government conspiracy. I can’t afford to get sick from your Bird Flu/West Nile/Outbreak virus or whatever you’ve got.

Also, don’t pass the gas and try and blame it on someone else if somebody look at you crazy like this dude. If you have a flatulence problem, you need to keep a steady supply of Bean-O on hand at all times. In fact, you should probably go see a doctor, dude. Get Katie-Couric with it and get a colonic… we don’t need to see it on YouTube or anything, but please do something for your heath; otherwise I’ll have to inform BART as to the cause of their ridership loss.

iPhone Price Cut Still Making Waves

15 Sep

When the bomb dropped last week that Steve Jobs initiated a $200 price cut on the hottest phone since the touchtone, a mere 10 weeks after its initial release, early adopters of the iPhone have been messing their pants they’re so irate. What they haven’t considered is that, obviously, they thought it was worth the 600 quid they paid on the first day.

Here are some lessons we should learn from the iPhone price cut (after the jump)
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