Khaos

Archive for August, 2007

Problems With Texture

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I have always had problems eating some foods because of their texture. Lately I have been craving eggs and bacon and thought that I would be able to eat this in the hotel I’m currently staying at in London. But I can only eat eggs that are cooked a certain way. Yesterday I decided to order hard boiled eggs with my breakfast but when these arrived they were soft and runny. That actually made me feel ill. I didn’t complain because there was no way to fix it: once I’d been given the runny eggs I lost my appetite, so bringing me another breakfast just wouldn’t help.

This morning I thought I’d order scrambled eggs as the chef can see these and should be able to tell if they are hard or sort. I again ordered hard eggs but when they arrived the eggs were sitting in a big soft mushy pile on my plate. This was even worse than the boiled eggs as I couldn’t see anything but them on the plate. And it’s not just that my concept of hard and soft are strange as the man sitting at the table next to me had been served hard scrambled eggs that I would have had no problems eating. The only hard thing on my plate was the back bacon which had obviously been left for too long under a kitchen warmer.

I really wish I didn’t have this problem with texture. If I don’t like the taste of something (sprouts, for example) I can have them on my plate and just not eat them; but if it’s something that has a texture I can’t cope: once I’ve seen it I can barely eat anything. I see something like mashed potatoes on my plate and the thought of eating them makes me feel physically sick and, not surprisingly, I lose my appetite.

I have always been this way though I was much worse as a child. My mum took me to the doctors once because I would eat nothing but custard. The doctor told her that if I wanted to eat custard then she should let me eat custard. He believed that eventually I would start to eat other things – and he was right.

Cooling Down in Jiyugaoka

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Our new air conditioner arrived today. I was so pleased I practically jumped up and down and clapped Japanese style. I was talking to Ohata-sensei about how difficult it was to sleep at night and she asked why we hadn’t moved our bed into the living room. This never occurred to us. I would find it strange to have the bed in the same room as the sofa, TV and dining table but it really would have made sleeping much easier. But tonight I will get to sleep in a cool room.

I am hoping the heat wave in Japan ends soon. There have been quite a few heat related deaths. I thought that the heat would mostly affect the elderly but some people in their 30’s have died in the past week. I have been saddened by the news as many of the deaths seemed to be avoidable: a man out jogging who died of heat stroke; a child who collapsed and died after practising baseball for three hours; a toddler left in a van by nursery staff.

I try not to spend too much time outside during the day and don’t really walk to anywhere further than the local supermarket or the train station. Tony tells me he likes there to be lots of light but I’m really glad that the sun goes down here early in the evening.

Determining Gender from Transcripts of Phone Calls

Monday, August 13th, 2007

I was reading a paper [pdf] that showed that it is possible, with an accuracy of around 93%, to work out the gender of a person taking part in a phone call from a transcript of the call. If the call is between people of the same gender then almost 100% accuracy is reached. I already know that men and woman use different words when they are communicating but I was curious about the specific differences.

The paper showed that in phone calls the most characteristic feature for males are swear words and that for females they are family oriented words. Men are likely to say “dude” in male to male conversations (this was a study based on American English) and women say “cute”. I am missing something though when it comes to the female conversations as I can’t think why women would use the word “refunding” and I have to assume that the use of the words “coupons” and “crafts” is American-centric. Either that or I’m the one having strange phone conversations.

More Bugs

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

I’ve caught a bug. Or maybe it would be better to say that the bug has caught me as I’ve been sick now for days. I thought last night that I was getting better but I was much worse today. I had to run out of the room during my Japanese lesson this morning. Which surprised my teacher as I was reading a story about tea at the time and I had to stop mid sentence. My teacher is worried about me now as she thinks I’m not adjusting well to the climate here. She is encouraging me to eat sour plums and to drink hot water. I haven’t been able to eat much of anything but I wouldn’t think of eating sour plums when my stomach is so delicate.

So Maybe I Do Scream

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Last night I walked into the bathroom and bent down to pick up some laundry. This huge, horrible, cockroach jumped out of the pile of towels and I dropped whatever I was holding and screamed. I must have sounded terrified as Marty nearly dropped my laptop in his haste to come to my rescue. I managed to hurt my left foot whilst jumping around trying to avoid the cockroach.

I was talking to Ohata-sensei about insects today and she told me that my home was very natural. She also said that if I can see 1 cockroach there are probably another 20 in hiding. And she told me that they like books!

Bugs

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

In a recent post Marc mentioned that I probably live somewhere that has real insects. We do have insects. All the windows and the doors of the balcony have screens that are supposed to keep the insects out. But still we seem to have quite a few of them living inside the apartment with us.

I arrived home one night with Rachel and when we turned on the light a large cockroach skittered across the floor. It was horrible. We were both too wussy to actually kill it. I trapped in under my bodhrán and left it for Marty to deal with when he got home. Rachel didn’t have much luck with insects. She went to get something out of her bag one morning and screamed. It was crawling with little black ants. The bottom of the bag was full of fox’s glacier mints and these must have attracted the ants. Christine took the bag out onto the balcony and removed everything from it while Rachel and I cowered in the living room glancing out from time to time to see if she was finished yet. Since then we’ve had an ant problem. I don’t really mind one or two ants but I can’t cope if there are hundreds of these in the one place. We’ve managed to find out where they are getting in and Marty has promised to sort this out.

The mosquitoes are hard to see as they are so small. But the bites are really easy to see – especially on my arms as they swell into big read lumps. I’ve been trying to find a way to become less attractive to mosquitoes but I’m not sure that any of the methods I’ve read to do this actually work. I don’t want to cover myself in chemicals so I’ve been taking vitamin B and eating more garlic. If nothing else the local men should find me less attractive.

Thankfully the cicadas all still seem to be outside. They are so loud that sometimes they manage to drown out the drills on the building site beside the apartment. When it gets dark it almost sounds as if an army of these have gathered outside the apartment and they are getting ready to attack. But so far they just make a lot of noise.

The other bug we have isn’t an insect. I don’t usually mind spiders but these ones have managed to make me scream on a couple of occasions. Well, maybe not scream but I’ve made that yipping noise that women can make if you startle them. The spiders jump. If you happen to walk near one it jumps and I keep thinking that it’s going to jump on me. Marty thinks they are cute and likes to watch them jump. I’ve checked and they aren’t dangerous so I suppose I’ll just have to get used to them. Actually one of the problems with the bugs is that Marty seems to like all of these apart from the mosquitoes. I’m worried that his solution to the ant problem might be to cultivate them and have an ant farm in the living room.