Yakitate!! Japan

Yakitate!! Japan I honestly can’t remember what made me pick up my first copy of Yakitate!! Japan. It’s got two of the things I generally can’t stand in manga: a specialized story and gags. Tons of gags. Puns and extreme reactions everywhere. In fact, that’s one of the hallmarks of YJ.

By specialized story, I mean that it’s all about one thing. There are plenty of manga like that in Japan, too, and they’re mostly sports manga. Shounen manga has Prince of Tennis, shoujo manga has Crimson Hero. Meanwhile, I prefer seinen titles like Afterschool Charisma and sweet josei ones like Bunny Drop. And if none of those words make sense to you, don’t worry. The gist of it is that I like stories that are character-driven, and YJ is about one thing: bread.

The story is fairly simple. Kazuma Azuma is a 16 year old kid (they’re always sixteen years old) who wants to make a bread that Japanese people like better than rice, and that can be seen as Japan’s national bread. To do that, he goes to Tokyo to gets himself a job at Pantasia, the biggest bakery chain in Japan. Starting with his very first day, he ends up in bread-making contest after bread-making contest in an attempt to create the ultimate bread and save Pantasia from the rival bakery St. Pierre. He’s also got the “Hands of the Sun,” warm hands that are ideal for baking and that are often responsible for his ability to create amazing breads.

There’s a lot of information about bread in this manga. Not just passing facts, either, there are detailed explanations of methods of baking right down to the temperature of the oven. Of course there are also all manner of wacky, strange breads being made by Azuma and his rivals, which often leads to the outrageous reactions and puns.

Let me just say that the localization team really knocked it out of the park with this one. I’ve watched some of the anime (of course there’s an anime. And it’s hilarious.) and hearing the original lines to compare them with the ones in the translation it’s obvious that they worked their butts off to make it work. Example: in the original they use the word umai, which means “delicious.” But they use uma, the character for horse, as the base because he’s talking about making a bread that a horse would eat. The translated version goes with “mare-velous,” which keeps the spirit of the joke.

Yakitate!! Japan isn’t for everyone. Mister E took one look at the back of it and said “Yeah, I’m never reading this.” But if you like goofy shounen manga with genuinely likeable characters, you could do a lot worse. As for me, I’m totally trying the recipe for making bread in a rice cooker that’s at the end of volume 2. Fermentation, here I come!

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And It Goes On

Remember how I was excited about my car being back in my hands? I still remember that feeling of joy and spices, however brief it was.

Why brief? Because all last week there was a light, lingering smell of gas in my car. I attributed it to leftover gas smell from when The Dad and Mister E replaced the fuel pump. But when we were on our way to the store after taking our walk on the trails, I stopped to get gas. When I filled the tank halfway, the smell got much worse and when I went out to go to the gym the next morning it was almost unbearable. Fumes, children, so many fumes.

Since The Dad was the chief engineer on the ‘Fix Geekerella’s Ride’ Project, I called him up and asked the big question. “Are you sure you two fixed it properly?” I didn’t phrase it quite like that but it was close. His advice was to have us pull out the backseat again and look at the fuel pump.

We did as he said and discovered that the fuel pump was indeed not sitting in there properly. About half the tabs on the pump assembly weren’t under the retaining ring and it was popped slightly up. This was where the fumes from the gas were coming from. The Dad swore up and down that when they put it in, it was completely sealed and that Mister E should just pop off the retaining ring, re-seat it and have done with it.

Mister E was not down with this plan. In spite of the unlimited potential contained in the tools in his mom’s husband V’s garage, he was not confident enough with his mechanical aptitude to fix it without The Dad around to help him. Our only other option was to take it back to the mechanic, because The Dad was certain that they had taken the fuel pump out to look at it and hadn’t put it back in properly. With this in mind, we took it back to them yesterday and once again left my sad little beater sitting in the lot.

They called me up a little bit ago and confirmed that yes, the fuel pump was not seated in there correctly and that was the cause of the fumes. “Tell me something I don’t know,” I said, being half-asleep from being up half the night watching Yakitate!! Japan. “It’s going to cost $95 to take it out, put in a new gasket and reinstall the fuel pump,” replied the mechanic. Dang.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how pleased with this new development The Dad is. Telling you that he wants them to save the old gasket for him to look at when he comes down here should give you an idea of how the conversation went. But since he doesn’t want me to die from inhalation of gas fumes he told me he’d take care of it.

So tomorrow I should have a working car again. I know, I know, I’ve said this before. It should actually be done this afternoon, but I probably won’t have the money in my account until tomorrow so it’ll have to sit at the shop until I can get there with the $95, which will likely involve me riding the bus. And in case you’ve never been to Lamesville, that’s a whole different situation than riding the bus in Chicago.

I’ll keep you posted. I might even tell you more about Yakitate!! Japan.

The Waiting Period

There is no waiting period for buying a firearm in Texas, yet the state feels it is in my best interest to make me wait a month after I sign two consent forms to get sterilized. Am I the only one who thinks this is a little unfair?

The saga of my attempt to keep my oven bun-free actually started several years ago when I tried to get an IUD placed. It was a horrible experience and one that seems to have been unique to me, because I have a number of friends with the same IUD who had no problem with their insertion whatsoever. For me it was horribly painful, and the doctor told me I had an uncooperative cervix that refused to dilate. I did some research and discovered the Essure procedure, at which point I decided that I didn’t want to take any chances and that permanent sterilization was the way for me to go.

Unfortunately, the doctors didn’t see it my way. Despite my willingness to sign forms, despite my assurances that I had done my research, they said they wouldn’t do the procedure because I was “too young” (29) and I “wasn’t married.”

Well now I’m older – by the time I’m able to have the procedure I’ll have turned 34 – and I am married to someone who doesn’t want kids either. Take that, stupid doctors in Wisconsin. My procedure is even covered under the Texas Women’s Health Program, which apparently feels that if I want to get sterilized I should go right ahead and do it to save them money on feeding and clothing low-income kids. But not too quickly, obviously. Whatever. I’ll wait.

Here’s how things went down. I went for my annual lady exam last week and told the female doctor – Dr. C – that I wanted permanent birth control. She looked at my list of health problems and said I was making a smart choice and that she loves the Essure procedure but she doesn’t do them herself. So she referred me to another doctor – Dr. G – who specializes in fertility. Since he was also on the TWHP, I said sure and went off on a merry adventure across town to his office.

Once I found his office (how many OB-GYNs does one medical building need, anyway?!), I filled out some more forms and finally met Dr. G. He was a really nice guy who was very sympathetic to my experience with the IUD fiasco, and told me I have two options. He can either try to do it while I’m awake and probably fail, or I can have anesthesia in an operating room and not remember anything about it.

Because I am a person who would rather go to sleep, bypass any unpleasantness, and wake up in time for tacos, I told him I was completely fine with anesthesia. In fact, I thanked him profusely.

So after a few forms were signed and I was told that I’d have to wait 30 days before they could do my procedure, I was informed that in a month I would be heading to the ambulatory surgery clinic to finally, finally make the world a little bit more child-free. That was it. No arguments, no “you’ll want babies someday” talk, no asking for a letter from my shrink saying I’m in my right mind. Maybe because Dr. G is a fertility doctor he knows that people pretty much come to him with their minds made up, whether it’s to have a baby in spite of long odds or to keep from having babies ever. I’m just happy that he was a nice, caring guy who took my needs into account and didn’t try to push an agenda on me.

Best thing? Mister E has already promised me those tacos.

Texas Recommendation: Thundercloud Subs

If you don’t eat meat, you often have to deal with some less-than-stellar food options when you eat out. If you’re vegan, the options narrow even further. Unless you’re going to a restaurant that specifically caters to the meatless eater, you’ll probably end up ordering a plate of sides. Not at Thundercloud Subs!

Even though you can get a vegetarian sub at places like Subway, they tend to be pretty unimpressive. Rather than go for anything special, it feels like they added to the menu as an afterthought, and the result is a sandwich that is basically just their regular fare minus the meat. It’s boring and sad.

By comparison, Thundercloud’s Veggie Delite is packed with goodies. You can choose cream cheese or hummus for your protein (both are delicious), and it’s also got avocado, olives, and sprouts in addition to their usual toppings and special Thundersauce. It’s an actual menu choice, not something you have to settle for. Also, all their nutrition information is posted online so you know what you’re getting into. They also offer a hot sub with a meatless chick’n patty if that’s more your speed!

Also, all of their nice, soft bread is vegan. So if you choose hummus instead of cream cheese, you have a healthy vegan option that doesn’t taste like they just swept all the leftover toppings onto a roll. Some of their locations even offer gluten-free bread! And they’re local if you live in South/Central Texas, so you can feel better about eating there as opposed to a national chain.

They’re also quite reasonable when it comes to the price. Most of their subs are less than $5, with some of them as low as $3.49, depending on the weekly specials. All in all, it’s a great place to eat if you’re in the mood for a sandwich and don’t want to be stuck with a load of sides again.

I meant to write this last week when we ate there but I didn’t get around to it. But tomorrow is Round Two at the Social Security office, so we’re going to eat there again. This time I’ll probably get hummus (last week it was cream cheese), and Mister E has his eye on the pastrami. Good times.

I’ll Show You

My 15 year old cat let me know that she needed to use the computer again, so it’s another guest post by Mima. Enjoy.
– Geekerella

By now, the woman I call “Mom” has discovered my displeasure. It’s unendingly hilarious to watch her desperately search the living room for the source of the smell while her video game is paused on the screen, getting more and more frantic as the battle music plays on repeat. I like that music, so it’s an extra bonus for me.

You may be wondering why I chose the couch to serve as my litter box when we have two perfectly clean boxes in a comfortable location. Perhaps you don’t have cats. That’s not a problem we have in this house. And it is that lack of a problem that has made me move from my warm spot on the recliner to voice my opinion on the matter.

You see, I overheard Mom and Dad talking the other day and it seems we’re getting another cat. Apparently they have a friend whose daughter is moving and can’t take the cat because her mother is allergic. I heard them talking about it in their most serious voices, the kind you hear when both people are concerned that the other might be upset by whatever they’re saying. Nothing good ever comes of those voices.

I could care less about this cat’s situation. I’m very sorry that her human can’t keep her anymore – I was dumped in a parking lot when someone decided they didn’t want me, so I really do feel for her there. I just don’t understand why she has to come and live in my house. No, wait, I do know why.

Because Mom and Dad are suckers.

There is always the possibility that this won’t be as horrible as I’m thinking. Mom tells me that she’s 10 years old, which hopefully means that she wouldn’t behave like my youngest brother and sister. I can’t get a minute’s rest when those two are after each other because it usually means that I’m going to be harassed at some point. All I know is that there’s going to be one more face trying to shove itself in my bowl of kibble and I’m not happy.

I will keep you updated on the situation as it happens, probably while Mom is scrubbing the couch.