Lauren In Tokyo

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Down for a week with the flu

It all started with a little muscle pain in my shoulder last Friday. I figured I had just hauled my bag around with me too much and was hurting from my general lack of exercise.

Saturday I felt the muscle pain spread all through my back from the top of my neck down to my kidneys. It's a heavy bag, so I wasn't concerned about the pain. I took Julian to swimming practice in the morning, so that also gave more credence to the sore muscle theory.

Sunday, I could barely wake up. Everywhere hurt. I was planning on going to the Japan Flower and Garden show at Makuhari Messe, but I couldn't stay awake for more than half an hour at a time. Aches and pains and chills left me huddled under my blankets while everyone else fumed about not being able to go. They ought to have gone. It sounds like a pretty cool show.

I figured by Monday that I would have reached a point where I was over the flu and could go to work. That plan fell apart when I was unable to eat anything for breakfast and the fevers were still high. I went to the doctor instead.

It turns out that I caught the Type A flu sometime last week. Probably on Friday when I was traveling all around on the trains, but it's difficult to pinpoint a specific encounter.

So doctor's orders: Stay inside and away from work for 4 days.

Today is the last day of that staying inside. I'm feeling much better, but I still have pains in some joints. I'm taking Tamiflu to mitigate some of the symptoms, but they still hit me pretty hard. Also, Tamiflu seems to have some bad press here in Japan due to inconclusive links between Tamiflu and strange behaviors and nightmares. Most of this Tamiflu "epidemic" is due to the over-prescription of drugs in Japanese medicine and to a tendency towards hypochondria. But that's not really relevant to my flu, in any case.

Hopefully I can get in to work tomorrow. I think I'm okay, but I took a short walk today and was exhausted when I got home. I will probably pick up some sports drink and carry it with me tomorrow, just in case.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Kirin The Gold

Kirin Brewery, makers of Kirin Ichiban and other delightful (and not so delightful) beers, is introducing a new brew called The Gold on March 20th. I have a six-pack of pre-release samples!

My wife loves to fill out send-away contest entries and has a knack for winning them. The catch for her is that she only ever wins when she enters for someone else. She almost never wins anything when entering in her own name. So when we bought a case of beer a while back, she sent in the attached postcard to see if we could win an iPod.

We didn't win an iPod. But we did win this six pack of Kirin The Gold. I shared a couple cans with her father last night and was pleasantly surprised.

The typical Japanese beer sharpness is not the main taste like it is with Asahi Super Dry. It is a mellow taste with lots of hoppiness and great depth. The brewers didn't seem too worried about making the aftertaste disappear, so the beer lingers in the mouth longer than most other Japanese beers do. If I had to describe the beer in one word, I would have to call it "full". There is no holding back on the taste of any one flavor, so everything comes through with great clarity yet no taste clashes with any other.

I'm no beer reviewer, so the above paragraph probably doesn't mean very much to beer drinkers. The bottomline is that it is a good beer and a good alternative to the watered-down, tasteless, throat-burning swill that is typically served.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What I'm reading sidebar item

I just added a "What I'm reading" sidebar item on the right hand side. Since I'm riding the train for 3 hours a day, I get the luxury of indulging myself with books.

The sidebar item is an affiliate link, so if you buy the item I'm linking to I will get a couple pennies. I'll try to keep the link updated in real time with my current readings. This is probably the last time I'll ever mention the Amazon sidebar item. I'm not trying to beat anyone over the head with it.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I just received the first of two packages of books from I ordered from the American this time because the price difference, even with shipping charges taken into account, made the overseas option more attractive than ordering it directly from

If there's anything that I feel is a weakness in's business, it is the lack of substantial discounts that has come to separate from the rest of the brick and mortar bookselling industry. While the prices listed by are generally lower than the same book at Maruzen, it is not sufficiently low enough to make buying online the more attractive option. Going to the bookstore and holding the book in your hand is still a very pleasant psychic experience. Having the books delivered to your door is perhaps the primary selling point for

The other problem with is that they simply don't have the inventory of foreign (American, for me) books that I would like. A book that may be out of stock on will probably not even be listed on The selection is limited to what is currently selling well, and anything outside the mainstream may be left out altogether.

So buying from this time (my first time) I got 6 books. The savings more than make up for the shipping fees, and now that I have a purchase on record with them, I can participate more fully in the website.

The only trouble I have now is that I need to figure out which of these books to read first!

3 more seconds of fame

A while back, Julian and I were asked to come down for a filming of some baby "手遊び" (hand play) for an educational DVD. After Julian threw up on me during the shoot, I was sure that we were not going to be included in the final DVD.

We didn't get cut! We are on there for a whole 3 seconds. Julian looking quite ill, and I looking like I just got out of a sauna. I'm surprised we were in there at all.

The video itself doesn't seem to be anything special. The producers seem to have wanted to use a lot of English in the video, but for whatever reason the English is all broken and misspelled.

The day we went for shooting, it rained a lot. Inside the studio, the lights were heating the room to well over 80 degrees (F). Julian wasn't feeling so hot since the morning, and the rough play we had to do in front of the camera made him even more queasy. Finally he threw up on set. On me. Then we went back to the green room and he threw up again. After that, we went home. It wasn't the best of experiences.