“Pink dot” Caramel Banana Pancakes, I should not have eaten you.

I woke up this morning, my last full day in Japan, with the realization that I’d really accomplished everything I’d set out to do while here, I was running a little low on cash, and I should find a cheap way to get some breakfast and kill the morning.

My hotel is in easy walking range of Tokyo Tower, so what’s what I went with.

I’ve visited the tower probably half a dozen times before, of course, it’s a beloved tourist attraction even if it loses its ooh and ahh factor pretty quickly.  You get to go up quite high and look out across Tokyo, and on a clear day you can even catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, 97km away.

Today was not a clear day.  I could barely make out the Shinjuku Metropolitan Government Building, and that’s 6km away.

Anyway, before I went up, I went to the food court and found that there is a business called “Pink dot” (no relation to the failed mid-90s delivery service I am sure) that sells both pancakes and waffles, which are recognized as breakfast food by every country on this little blue planet of ours.

I will, however, admit that the manner in which Pink dot prepares their breakfast-appropriate food items is a little more…cake, than pancake.

Case in point, the “Caramel Banana Pancakes”, which I selected as the item on the menu that least resembled a giant sundae:

There were pancakes!  Three of them! A fairly generous serving of pancake!

With the pancakes came a mountain of whipped cream.  From slight color and consistency differences, it looks like the mountain was made of two kinds of whipped cream, though I could not begin to tell you the difference.  There was a scoop of banana-flavored ice cream lest the whipped cream not adequately fulfill your cream needs, some slices of banana, powdered sugar, and caramel sauce poured and/or drizzled over the entire thing.

There was enough sugar here to keep a small child – or a fully-grown man who should have known better – on a sugar high for HOURS, is what I’m getting at, and the bottle of syrup perched on the tray as if to say “just in case you’ve lost all sense of human dignity, add some extra sugar” really just added to the entire affect.

Look.

I’ve had plenty of Belgian waffles over the years, and there is always the depressing point where you run out of whipped cream and yet there is a solid quarter of the waffle left. These were decidedly the other way around.

Oh, and they only cost about six bucks.  Japan really is a pretty reasonably-priced place to visit.

For extra “oh, hell, let’s just see what my body can still handle”: while I was making my way through the plate full of sugary excess, I noticed an advertising sign for something even WORSE for me, and I decided that I would need to come back and eat it for lunch.  More on that tomorrow.

 

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No Hoots Given

A couple of years ago, I spent two weeks in China, more-or-less evenly divided between Beijing and Shanghai.

I really don’t have a lot of positive things to say about the country, as a result. There was no sense of being a guest, rather I felt mostly like a wallet on legs that the locals did their very best to extract the contents of, frequently by offering me the services of young women for what would have been – sorry, ladies – a very short time indeed.

I do, however, have a very high opinion of the China-based branches of the “Hooters” restaurant chain, one of the few places I could go and find people that would talk to me in English and not try to sell me time with any of the staff.  Working at Hooters in China is apparently seen as a good way to get in lots of English conversation practice, and the majority of the wait staff that I spoke with had aspirations towards hotel management or international business and really wanted to chat. And chat. And make me stand up and sing songs.

This is where I should probably mention that I have scored a solid INTJ on every Myers-Briggs exam I have ever taken. I am scientifically proven to be an introvert, and singing “row, row, row your boat” in the middle of a restaurant full of other diners is a bloody master’s exam in the “how good am I at faking extroversion” class.

I will not at any point deny that the actual appeal of Hooters comes largely from being served by young women in short shorts and low-cut shirts, though – with all apologies – no amount of low cutting could have generated more than the slightest hint of cleavage. On the other hand, there would be loud music every half hour or so and the staff would put on a little dance routine, in which booty shaking was attempted.

Finally, and I admit that just now getting around to the food might not cast me in the proudest of lights, the burgers I had were excellent. They would have been unremarkable-to-good in the context of an American restaurant, but in China that stands out as quite a feat.

So, in the spirit of Scientific Inquiry, and finding myself in Tokyo in a hotel only four stations away from the Tokyo branch of the chain, I decided that I would try it to compare.

I will sum it up; it was All Wrong.

Here I will lead with the food, because they could have at least gotten that right.  I had the “Baja Burger”, described by the menu as being topped with guacamole and pico de gallo and – I will be very clear here – a “Mexican-style” burger.

I pray for the sake of the restaurant that nobody from Mexico ever tries it.

It did have a sort of green paste on it, which might have had avocados as a component, and there was a red paste as well which might have been the pico de gallo, but both were almost completely devoid of any flavor.  They were “green” and “red” and those are the only descriptors I can apply.  The bun was so bereft of any real substance that biting it was akin to chewing foam, and the burger patty… well, it was your typical Japanese burger patty; cooked medium well but without any searing done, and with no texture whatsoever.

So, you say, “a disappointing burger, but what about the customer service?” and I am sorry to report abject failure on that front as well.  I arrived, was seated, had my drink order taken, had my food order taken and food delivered, ate it, sat at the table for a while, and eventually got up and wandered over to the register to ask if they could print out my check and take my money.  The chatty style I would expect from an American or Chinese Hooters was not on display, and there was certainly no sign of periodic dance routine.

The official motto of the chain is “Hooters Makes You Happy”, but I will accept that a true reading is “Hooters: We Don’t Really Like You But We’re Paid To Fake It”. Japan seems to have fallen down on both counts.

As a final insult, because one had to be forthcoming, the bill – when finally produced – included a 10% service charge.

A tip.

In JAPAN.

I paid my Y2376, helped myself to a complimentary Hooters-branded uchiwa on my way out, and called it a lesson learned.

And then I wrote 750 words complaining about it. 🙂

 

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I Caught Roughly 17% Of Them All

Pokémon is probably the most significant series of video games that I’ve never spent more than a few minutes with, but the few times I’ve stumbled into related discussions online it’s been like trying to follow a completely different language.  I kind of filed the series into the same “requires WAY too much commitment” bucket as Eve Online or Street Fighter, and was comfortable leaving it there.

The thing is, though, I kept running into really cute fan art from the latest games, and I had a pair of long plane rides coming up, so I decided that I would give it a go anyway.

It’s for kids, right?  Can’t be that bad.

I chose the “Moon” version of the “Sun/Moon” pair, because it had the more girly-looking beastie on the cover, and it turned out to have been a particularly good idea because of my odd work schedule.  The clock in “Sun” follows the real-time clock on your 3DS, while the “Moon” version is shifted 12 hours.  So, even though I work a swing shift and typically play games in the late evening / wee hours of the morning, it was always sunny and bright in Alola.

Anyway, roughly 25 hours of playtime later, I had become the First Ever Pokémon Trainer Champion for a thinly-disguised version of the Hawaiian Islands, and I’m still not entirely sure what I thought about the whole thing.

I think it’s mostly because there are at LEAST three things going on here.  There’s the “A Plot”, which is “you are small child entrusted with the care and training of lethal animals, go fight your friends until you are the best at it”, there’s the “B plot” where you meet a girl who is in dire but not-terribly-specific danger, and then there’s the multiplayer aspect of the whole thing, which is what I’m given to understand is the actual game in the eyes of many of its fans.

I won’t touch the multiplayer (because I don’t want to get destroyed by 7-year old players who paid more attention to the mechanics), so I’ll only talk about the first two of those.

For the record, the “becoming the Pokémon champion” storyline was bloody dull and seemed to mostly be “go learn all of these mechanics so you can have a fart in a hurricane’s chance in the multiplayer”, but the B plot was really quite fun.

Unfortunately, the B plot is also pretty slow to get going and wraps up FAST once you actually get in to the meat of it.  I don’t know if that’s typical for the series, or if the games even usually have multiple plotlines going on, but I could have spent a little more time with Lillie and Nebby.

Still, if I hit the end credits for any game – especially a JRPG – and am still wanting there to have been more of the game, that’s probably a good sign.  So, 10 points to Gryffindor Game Freak, and I even bought some of your damn merch because of it.

 

Posted in 3DS, videogames | Leave a comment

Time Capsule Password Fun

One of the reasons I have an awful lot of Apple hardware around the house is that it generally works without too much hassle.

Of course, the counterpoint to that is that when it isn’t working, it’s a right pain in the rear end.

Anyway, I noticed earlier today that my sixish-years-old Time Capsule / router wasn’t serving any wireless clients.  I think this has actually been an issue for a while, but they’d all quietly migrated to the WAP in a different room of the house so it had been a pretty quiet failure.  Rebooting the router got me wireless back, but now it wouldn’t pick up an internet connection from the cable modem for some reason.

Eventually, after I’d unplugged and replugged everything a few times, I had an internet connection and wireless clients and everything seemed more-or-less stable… but it also seemed like a good time to get a more modern router.

So I bought a new Time Capsule (“more modern” is relative), and I hooked it up, and for a while it seemed like it was going to be a simple fire-and-forget thing.

Five minutes later, it disappeared from the Airport Utility window and I couldn’t get it back.  I also couldn’t log in to it using the “Other Connections…” option in Airport Utility – that just gave me password failure errors.

It turns out that the router not showing up is known issue related to having a Back to My Mac username and password entered in the TC settings.  The password failure errors were… well, I assumed I’d typed it in wrong.  I later learned that this was not the case.

One of the handy things about the Time Capsule is that you can soft-reset it, which lets you log in with the default password of “public” for the next five minutes.  So I was able to get in and remove the Back to My Mac username, re-enter my device password, etc – and after a little more unplugging and replugging of devices, I seemed to have my network up and running again.

Then I went to set up Time Machine on one of the computers here, and IT kept giving me password failure errors as well.

Let me save you some tedious troubleshooting that followed, and give you the tl;dr version:

The Device Password for a Time Capsule defaults to your WPA key.  My WPA key is 35 characters, by the way.

The maximum length for a Time Capsule device password is 32 characters.  If you have a password over 32 characters, any excess characters are dropped.  The truncated password is then written to your Mac’s keychain, so logging into the device from that Mac will always work.

When trying to log in to the Time Capsule manually – either from the “Other Connections…” option in AU or when entering the device password in Time Machine – the extra characters are NOT truncated, so the entire 35-character password was passed to the Time Capsule, which looked at it and threw back a mismatch.  Because they didn’t match.

I don’t have enough hair to go pulling it out in frustration, but if I COULD get a grip on it, there would be huge tufts scattered around my desk chair right now.

 

 

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I’m not sure that word means what you think it means. 

…though, to be fair, there are so many kinds of “exclusive” these days that I may just not understand the particular way in which Galaga on a Switch is different from Galaga on any of the other systems I have played Galaga on over the years. 

Also: “Museum”

You know what I want? Klax. I don’t think Klax has shown up on an arcade game compilation since the PSP. I can probably emulate it on a watch by now, but I’d pay for a console port. 

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This is for kids, right?

Oh hey, it’s a Pokémon with a bone, guy looks like he came out of the Flintstones.  Cute!

Wait, what?

WHAT

What in the actual hell, Nintendo?

I have no previous exposure to Pokémon outside of seeing the first half-dozen episodes of the anime, but – cock-fighting jokes aside – I did not expect that it actually got quite this dark.

In less grim news, welcome to a newly ad-free baudattitude.  WordPress used to charge $100 a year to remove ads for visitors, and that always struck me as a little nuts.  I’m not making any money off this thing and I get 50 or fewer visitors a day on average, after all.

Turns out, they changed it to about 16 bucks a year to have an ad-free site.  I can swing that a little more easily.

Posted in 3DS, random, videogames | 1 Comment

Getting Swole with Idols

I have some things coming up next month that are going to leave absolutely zero time for games, so I have been ignoring virtually every other project on my “to-do” list in favor of trying to finish Tokyo Mirage Sessions#FE.

It’s kind of embarrassing, because I was getting so much yard work done earlier this summer and I have a Raspberry Pi project that I was full-steam ahead on for a while, and putting a video game ahead of both of those is really hard to justify.  I excuse it because it is a heavily story-driven game and I don’t want to take a couple of weeks off from it and be in a situation where I have to remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.

In retrospect, I really should not have started a 60+ hour JRPG when I did, but it was my last WiiU game and I thought I could power through the main story and keep from getting too distracted by side quests etc.  I was wrong, of course…

It turns out that the “side quests” in TMS#FE aren’t “side quests” by the typical definition.  You CAN ignore them, sure… but if you do that, you are going to be in really awful shape, because the side quests reward a lot of the most useful combat skills.  So that plan sort of fell by the wayside, and I’m doing all of the individual character stories in addition to the main plot, which is a wonderfully bonkers story about the world being invaded by invisible enemies and the small band of idols who are the only people standing in their way.

But, wonderful or not, it has a heck of a lot of talking.  So much talking.  Hour after hour of watching characters talk to each other.  I don’t like to think of myself as being particularly hyperactive, but it was really getting to me.

So.

For a couple of months now, I’ve actually been using the gym at work.  I have to put “actually” in there, because, well, we all have free access to the place, and it’s a very well-provisioned gym, but I had to get over the typical gym inertia where it takes me ages to go in the door for the first time.  Anyway, I’ve actually managed to make a habit out of going in and using some of the machines and weights, which is always the hardest part of any exercise.  I mention this only because it inspired me to actually put a dumbbell set next to the WiiU, and this has been making the constant breaks in gameplay for expository dialogue MUCH more tolerable and making me feel a lot better about myself.

Of course, I can’t exactly get a full-range workout in, so it’s all arm work.  I have the traditional fat-guy legs of steel thing going on, so right now I’m in the less-than flattering state of having good leg definition, starting to have some good arm definition, and everything in between is made of marshmallow fluff.  But, hey, the marshmallow used to start at the waist and go all the way up, so it’s an improvement. 🙂

A side note; I had a bit of sticker shock when getting these.  I had owned a cheap pair of adjustable dumbbells that could only go up to 20 lbs a side and that always made me worry that the plates were going to fall off on my feet, but fixed-weight dumbbells can be super expensive if you get the spiffy rubberized ones etc.  Thankfully, Dick’s Sporting Goods will sell you no-frills hunks of metal for not very much money.

They’re also useful for maintaining a secret identity.

 

Posted in videogames, weight, WiiU | 2 Comments