Interview: 12th February at the Embassy

Caw blimey, it’s all happening. Just got a letter from the embassy – interview on the 12th February for the post of CIR. I called them a few minutes ago to confirm that I would like to attend. No problems there. Then, about 30 seconds later my Skype phone rings – it’s the Embassy. “We […]

Giving up the mobile habit

As you can seen, my mobile phone is quite an old model, requiring a cable and long extension lead My phone’s battery is flat, and my charger is in Sheffield. Perhaps this is what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve long struggled with mobile phones. They give people the ability to jump into your life at […]

Getting married in Japan

I’ve been trying to find out more about marriage in Japan. After a while I found the well-hidden homepage of Koshigaya city, our local ward office (town hall). They have a great translation engine on that site. Here’s some choice extracts: “Please cooperate and donate blood of love” “news pack … is rare with this […]

The cost of marriage

Talking to *Twinkle* this afternoon via Skype, we got on to the subject of marriage, or more specifically, our wedding. We’ve been thinking of marrying in the UK first (in July), and they getting our new family register sorted in Japan when we get back there. Today however, I spoke to a couple of local […]

The Family Archives

Recently, I’ve been fortunate to have the use of a very high-quality negative scanner. Thinking that I had time on my hands/ in a bid to make my procrastination productive, I decided to make use of this opportunity, and scan in a bunch of negatives that I’ve had in storage for 14 years. The original […]

The Japanese employment system

Having just spent three hours writing eighteen 3 essays (18 A4 pages) on Work and Society in Japan, I don’t feel too inclined to write another on the subject, but I do want to mention how studying the subject has influenced my take on Japan. Until I started revising for this topic, my view of […]

90 minutes to blast-off

When I find myself in this kind of situation (surrounded by notes, attempting to remember basic essay outlines for an exam due to start in just under 90 minutes), I find it relaxing to remember that I only need to Pass. Despite what my ego says.

Colour spaces

Sorry to go on about this, but just LOOK what Firefox (left) does to my colours! Safari (right) shows the true colours in all their glory (I understand that Internet Explorer is also unable to read color spaces and so will mimic Firefox). Does anyone know of any plugin to get Firefox to read color […]

Welcoming the oldies into the information age

I think this is probably one of the most intense periods of my life to date, in terms of stress-inducing events (excluding those times full of events connected with relationships of course). A 3500 word essay. 3 x 3 hour written exams. One interview exam. One speech contest final. One (possible) interview at the embassy. […]

A series of fortunate events

Digging around in my recently-resurrected computer bag today, I rediscovered the safe place I’d put my engagement ring last November. I was pretty dismayed when I couldn’t find it back then, and spent quite a while asking around in the places I’d been, but to no avail. But I was sure I hadn’t ‘lost’ it, […]

We’re diamonds, covered in horse shit, with a layer of nail polish on top

Something funny happened to my lock jaw a couple of weeks back. It had steadily been getting worse, to the extent that I couldn’t eat things like apples that required wide mouth-opening. Then, one morning, I woke up, and found that that side of my jaw was really painful, as if it had been through […]

I’ll Be Dead Soon

This video dates back to 2005, but it’s only today that I found out about it. It’s the first time I’ve heard Apple CEO Steve Jobs talk about himself, and found it pretty relevant. Quotes I like from this: ‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help […]

Scag and Twatface Wilksy

Ha. I just love that film. The Bourne Ultimatum. Love it. I love the technology. I Love his cunning planning, and I love the way the baddies are made to pay for their crime at the end. It would be fantastic if that sort of thing happened in real life, and people like Bush and […]

Wig sees me through my first exam

That was gooood. In the league tables of non-panicky exams, I think that was number 1. I don’t think there was a single moment when I thought “Crikey O’riley, what on Earth does that mean?!” Hmmmm, I am very happy to declare it a success. Not based on outcome, because we won’t know that until […]

Audiobooks Rock!

Wow. Audiobooks really are amazing. I signed up to again the other day. If you take out a 14.99 subscription, they give you two free audiobooks (no matter what the price) in addition to the two that you’re entitled to with that deal. So I ended up with 4, which together would cost £60 […]

Incident on the line

I’m back in Sheffield …for the next 48 hours. We weren’t far out of Hereford this afternoon when the train came to a halt at a signal. We must have been waiting for about five minutes when suddenly, the chap in front of me got up, kicked open the emergency door release, jumped out onto […]

Revision Resistence

It’s been a good day. The intention was to spend it revising for Monday’s big exam. As it happened, I only got started at at 7pm in the end. I don’t know what it is, but I’m putting up more resistance to this Japanese language exam than any up till now. I have no reason […]

A most extraordinary experience

I’ve just had the most extraordinary experience. Completely unexpected. Looking back at it now almost makes me laugh. A while ago, I met up with a friend who was having a very difficult time. They had been made redundant, the victim of a personality assassination campaign carried out by an individual (their boss) who felt […]


Nothing like a bit of air pollution… Listening to that Heathrow Airport worker on the BBC earlier today, my hair all stood on end, and tears came to my eyes. He was reporting a brief conversation he’d had with the pilot of the flight that crash-landed at the airport this afternoon. The pilot had described […]

3500 words later…

Everytime I see this photo I like it more. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps the blue of the tarmac in the evening sun. It doesn’t look so good in Internet Explorer or Firefox (Safari being the only web browser to read the color profile correctly … I think) Everytime I see this photo […]

Hollow Sheep

That’s what it is. More Hollow Sheep pictures in this month’s photo album. ‘Hollow Sheep’ is a part of TDM Death Series

Advice to the living, by the dying

What would you do if today was your last day on Earth? BBC Radio 4:Advice to the Living People who only have a short time left to live give advice to the rest of us about what matters and what doesn’t, and about enjoying every moment. Article here. Downloadable as a podcast from Or […]

Big views

This is what I miss when in Japan – the English Welsh countryside. Not the floods though (note River Monnow that has burst its banks in foreground). And Skirrid. The mini-mountain that we lost Toby-dog’s blue lead on about 17 years ago. Never found it. The famine is slowly moving on. I’ve managed to write […]

Another reason to go Mac

Introducing, MacBook Air. The world’s thinnest Laptop. And sexiest.“There’s a few things we’ve done on the environmental side. It’s enclosed in a fully aluminum case – it’s easily recycled, highly desirable by recyclers. It’s our first mercury and arsenic-free display. All of the circuit boards are bromide and PVC free. We’re very happy about that […]


I’m just about to embark upon the writing of what may well be the final essay of my degree (that is, apart from those written in exams and my dissertation). It’s a jolly subject – death in China. With an ever-increasing amount of death around me as friends age and cancer springs up all over […]

A Year in Japan – Episode 13 Out Now!

As usual, I seem to have exceeded my monthly bandwidth allowance, thus you can’t download episode 13 via iTunesfrom the usual place until February. Instead, you can download it manually here: MP3 / M4a Oh yeah, it’s full of wigness, at least after the first 37 minutes it is. Most of it was recorded in […]

I’m 30

Hmmm, well 27 minutes into my thirties, I don’t feel that different. Last time I had a birthday like this, I was, er, 20. I can’t have changed much since then. Let’s check shall we? Twenty-year old Joseph does look a bit young I suppose. A little on the innocent side. Mind you, that’s hardly […]

Speech contest: It’s all in the mind

I promised myself I’d learn that speech before I turned 30. I’ve done it, with 52 minutes to spare. Now I have twenty days to perfect it. Whilst the learning of the actual words is of course vital, I also need to put some thought into how I’m going to deal with the psychological side […]

Let it snow Let it snow Let it snow

Did I mention? I’m on retreat at the Welsh Garden Project. It snowed yesterday. I love snow. It’s really soft and gentle and white, a bit like Andrex. Not so useful in the bathroom though.

God revisited

2007 saw me trying to implement a number of changes in my thinking, with what I feel has been considerable success. I’m happier now than I have ever been (and this despite my love being in Japan and all that that entails… ;-p ) One of those changes was to start to Let Go. I […]

My 30th Birthday

This lunchtime I was reminded that this coming Sunday, I celebrate my 30th Birthday. Perhaps ‘celebrate’ is too strong a word, as the day will probably be spent writing an essay about famine. I’ve never been one to be that fussed about birthdays, at least, not my own birthdays. I think it started as a […]

The Great Leap Forward

Today I’ve been reading about Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which took place between 1958 and 1961. Mao’s drive for rapid modernisation was a catastrophic disaster, resulting in over 30 million deaths and untold hardship. The majority of the victims died of hunger, as famine ravaged the country. However, this famine was entirely man-made: as […]

Stanley. He moos when he’s happy.

Stanley was born in a field in Southern Herefordshire in early 2008. He has qualifications in IT, double glazing and logs. Application forms available upon request. Every week, he meets Mr. Mouse. Mr. Mouse is an Underground Cheese Dealer. Due to the ban on cows consuming dairy products, Stanley has to meet him in secret. […]

Love on a bridge

I saw this girl on a bridge above the Thames the other day, and instantly fell passionately in love with her. Just can’t get her out of my head

The Crack

If you go down to the Tate Modern today you’re sure of a big surprise. If you go down to the Tate Modern today you’re barely believe your eyes. For every crack that ever there was will gather there for certain because today’s the day the national crack-in-the-floor is sti~ll there. Here, the legendary chasm […]

New Year with *Twinkle*

Ne. I think if there’s one thing that really makes me feel truly grateful to be alive in this wonderful world, it is the love that *Twinkle* has brought into my life. I feel we have a strong purpose in being together that goes far beyond our everyday human lives. It is so delightful to […]