Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The trials and tribulations of a two-wheeled existence

Little bit of a bike problem tonight, not fun at all. I found out this evening that Yoshiko and Tomomi were meeting at Cafe Praktica for dinner and decided to stop on by for a bite to eat after work. After a lovely meal with Matt and the girls, we all hopped on our bikes and parted ways. Since I was rolling right on by the post office, (there's a bike pump for public use there) I decided I may as well top off the tires in the bike, something which was well overdue.

As I started to inflate the rear tire, I heard a strange "spluttttt" sound followed by rushing air. Not good. Turns out the tire's valve popped out into two different pieces and I was unable to find the second piece in the dark. D'oh! Ended up walking the bike to work, locking it up and then walking home. Such are the problems one encounters when at the mercy of two rubber tubes and a couple of spokes. Granted, this issue is nothing compared to the mechanical complexities I've had to deal with back in my gas-powered vehicle days. I only hope someone can give me a hand tomorrow with the old guy who runs the bike shop nearby. While I've got the bike in for service, I'll have him do a tuneup and such, make sure everything is running smoothly and allow me to finally get the top gears going on this bike.

Made an interesting discovery today. As you may have noticed, the Japanese are big on using English on everything from Starbucks coffee cups to hair salons, just for the sake of being "cool". Well today, I went to a book store looking for a book of Sudoku puzzles (addictive little buggers) only to determine that our use of the word "Sudoku" for such puzzles may be just for the "coolness" factor of thinking we are playing a Japanese numbers game.

After trying to find the book by myself, I finally pulled out the rusty Japanese and asked "Sudoku no hon arimasuka?" (Sudoku book do you have?) and got a strange look from the book store lady. She went off to discuss what this strange foreigner was asking for with some of the other staff and they finally led me off to the English books section and offered me a book with an "is this what you're looking for" kinda look. One glance at the advanced mathematics puzzles enclosed and I vehemently made it known that this wasn't it. With gestures, I was able to communicate that the puzzles I wanted are smaller, and that seemed to get them going. I was taken to a back area and shown to a small section of the Sudoku I know and love. After thanking everyone who helped, I paid and was on my way. When I arrived at the office, I asked for a reading of the cover (since I have been lazy with my hiragana learning and haven't looked at more than the first 5 characters) and was told it was "Numpure". This is japanese-english for "number play" I guess. So basically, both Japan and the West play the same game. Japan uses an English name for it and we use a Japanese name for it. Quite interesting.

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