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» Maniac High -- Part One
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» Doing Kyoto for Under US$40
» Donating Blood in Japan
» Lesbian Japan -- Part One
» Chiba and Saitama -- Tokyo's Dormitory Suburbs
» Akiko in Aoyama
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|my first lesson in clinical trials
| drugs and drugs don't mix
| tokyo japan
| october 16 2007
| mister asia||
TODAY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MY INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD OF CLINICAL TRIALS, and in typical style I made my debut by commiting a whopping faux pas -- by mixing drugs with drugs. I don't know what possessed me to think I could get away with it, but I have learnt my lesson the hard way. This is what happened: last night I got home from my telephone job anxious and excited about my first trip to Kagoshima, Kyushu, scheduled for the following day. It was to be the first of hopefully three trips to the southern tip of Japan (it's the southernmost tip if you exclude Okinawa), and I was going down there to be prodded and pricked by the examining team, to see if I was made of the right mettle, to make it into their medical trial. Since it is a diabetes drug trial, I thought nothing of drinking and smoking pot right up until my screening date -- after all, I reasoned, diabetes is about insulin and blood sugar levels isn't it, not alcohol and THC? (For example, read the report by S.G. Wannamethee, A.G. Shaper, I.J. Perry and K.G.M.M. Alberti from Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK, which concludes: "There is a non-linear relation between alcohol intake and the risk of type II diabetes. Serum insulin and HDL-cholesterol explained a small amount (20%) of the reduction in risk of type II diabetes associated with moderate drinking. The adverse effect of heavy drinking seemed to be partially mediated through its effect on body weight.") Since it seemed to me that drinking can help reduce the risks of developing diabetes, and marijuana was obviously completely unrelated to the disease, I kept on drinking and smoking, right to the end.|
What a fool I was (but I have learnt my lesson now!)
Getting home last night I took a toke from my can in the hermetically sealed bathroom, cracked open a cold one, and decided it would be a good idea to reread all the emails I had received from the clinic concerning my clinical trial. My heart froze when I read these words down at the bottom of one email (strangely I hadn't noticed it before): "Refrain from:
"Exercise, alcohol, and recreational drugs, and pharmaceuticals.
There will be a recreational drug screening."
Errr... how long does marijuana stay in your system anyway?
My clinical trial screening was due to begin in less than 36 hours, and I had a cold beer in my hand, and plenty of hot THC buzzing through my cells! What was I going to do?
BioTrax International, an independent volunteer information, advisory and support group, claims that generally trial volunteers are "are required to abstain from social drugs for a minimum period of 28 days prior to participation in medical trials. Clinics will perform medical tests to confirm this." And according to my agent down in Kawasaki, the Kagoshima clinic would hold tests concentrating, in particular, "on things like cannabis and so on."
My blood ran cold.
A paranoid delusion began to form itself in my mind: the clinic would detect traces or by-traces of marijuana in my body, and report me to the police. The police, who failed to convict me back in May when I was arrested with Maniac High busting out of a Shimokitazawa karaoke box without paying the bill, would seize this opportunity to finally put me away, forever. I quickly hid my stash of choco in a can of green tea. I deleted any recent emails from Maniac, Crystal Meth, and others, even vaguely touching on a drug subcultural theme.
|my 2nd lesson in clinical trials
| think before you drink
| tokyo japan
| november 07 2007
| mister asia||
||FORTUNATELY I DIDN'T GET ARRESTED BY THE COPS DOWN IN KAGOSHIMA OR EVEN KICKED OUT OF THE COMING TRIALS AND BARRED FROM ALL FUTURE EXPERIMENTS, WHICH IS APPARENTLY THE STANDARD PUNISHMENT FOR FAILING A DRUG TEST IN JAPAN. After coming straight with my trials agent and confessing to my recent marijuana transgressions, my agent and the guys in the lab came up with a novel suggestion: simply transfer me to a different group of the trial, and postpone my screening to November 12. "The guys in the lab reckon that will give you enough time, for the THC to get out of your system," my agent said. "So, what do you think: can you keep yourself from huffing and puffing, for a whole month?" (My agent is a Japanese guy who speaks English with a strong Scottish brogue. Kind of a cool guy, as I am slowly discovering. And here I was worried that he would have turned me into the police, if I tested positive in the screening. Talk about paranoia (then again I have cause to be paranoid, after my recent collision with the Japanese law!)) He went on to say: "Of course we wouldn't have turned you in, all our results are confidential. But if you tested positive in the screening you would have been turfed from the trials, and you would get a black mark to your name. You wouldn't be allowed to take part in any future trials." And I am sure I would have died of embarrassment, to fly all the way to the other side of Japan, to have some guys in white coats tell me that I am a drug addict.|
I am just glad I didn't follow Maniac High's advice, which was basically to drink a lot of water (and eat half a Japanese daikon radish), in order to try fool the lab technicians. As if they haven't seen it all before, all the various desperate tricks used by desperate druggies, to influence the test results. When I told my agent Maniac High's scheme for cheating the drug test, he laughed.
So anyway, I have a lump of choco in my apartment and nearly a full month to refrain myself from smoking it, which is actually not that hard for me, so long as I have something to drink. Alcohol is for me far more of a crutch than pot, much as I like getting stoned. I am I guess what you would call a heavy drinker, although that might be set to change in the near future, when I come to appreciate how much money I can save by not drinking. It would be in the order of US$5000 a year, enough to fund me a full month of drinking and riotous behavior in Reykjavik Iceland, or somewhere cool like that. The problem I face today, which was an otherwise excellent Tokyo autumn day, is that with the trial screening less than a week away, the time has come to really bite the bullet, and refrain from drinking as well. They are going to do a liver function test down there in Kagoshima, and several volunteers have already failed, for having by-products of alcohol in their system. It is time to go sober for nearly a whole week -- and maybe for a whole lot longer, maybe forever...
What is a liver function test, and what are some of the things they look for? How can alcohol give you away in a clinical screening environment? Here is one chart I found on the Internet, which describes some of the common liver function indicators, especially in connection to alcohol use (and abuse):
Helpful Hints for Interpreting Liver Function Tests
elevated ALT level (less than 1.5 times normal)
value could be normal for gender, ethnicity or body mass index.
muscle injury or myopathy.
||Laboratory values can appear cholestatic, and symptoms can mimic
elevations of AST and ALT often occur.
level greater than 500 U per L
elevation is unlikely to result from alcohol intake alone.
heavy drinker, consider acetaminophen toxicity.
bile duct stone
Condition can simulate acute hepatitis.
| AST and
ALT become elevated immediately, but elevation of AP and GGT is
| Isolated elevation
of GGT level
situation may be induced by alcohol and aromatic medications, usually with no
actual liver disease.
Isolated elevation of AP level (asymptomatic patient with normal GGT
Consider bone growth or injury, or primary biliary cirrhosis.
rises in late pregnancy.
| Isolated elevation
of unconjugated bilirubin level
Gilbert syndrome or hemolysis.
albumin is most often caused by acute or chronic inflammation, urinary loss,
severe malnutrition or liver disease; it is sometimes caused by
gastrointestinal loss (e.g., colitis or some uncommon small bowel
values are lower in pregnancy.
ammonia values are not necessarily elevated in patients with hepatic
|Determination of blood ammonia levels is most useful in patients with
altered mental status of new onset or unknown origin.
ALT=alanine aminotransferase; AST=aspartate aminotransferase;
AP=alkaline phosphatase; GGT=gamma-glutamyltransferase.
|out of hibernation
| 4 trips in 6 weeks
| tokyo japan
| november 10 2007
| mister asia||
||I HAVE BEEN STUCK IN TOKYO NOW FOR SUCH A LONG AND UNEXPECTED TIME, THAT I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT I AM FINALLY GETTING OUT TOMORROW, FOR A NIGHT AND DAY AT LEAST. Hibernation is probably the aptest word to describe my life since March and April of this year, ever since my monthlong trip to Australia and Vietnam. At that time I felt that I had finally and truly realized my dream of being an International Vagabond, and I could travel the world at will. At the time, I thought my bond with Japan was weakening, and I was ready to move on. Japan had been nothing but stagnation for a long time, and as soon as I hit the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, and found a girlfriend in literally seconds flat, I knew I had found my new Promised Land. After six years of cold racism and repression in Japan, how warm and wonderful Vietnam seemed to me back in March and April when I was there! I was only in the country four days, and I had already found a girlfriend! It took me months and months to rustle up even the slightest action in Japan, and then it invariably fell through. But Vietnam was different, and it was exotic. Returning to my homeland Australia also struck it home to me how far out of the loop I had become in Japan, living a strange life as an alien in an alien land. So, I was elated as I returned to Japan in April: even though it felt sucky going back to the grindstone, I now had the means financially to get out quite often, and travel the world. From the way it looked back in March and April 2007, Japan was a declining influence in my life, and a new era had begun.|
Looking back on my thinking at the time, I can see where I went so wrong. I had a linear plan for the future (gradually lessen my ties with Japan, and build up a new future in Vietnam and other countries.) That was a logical and linear way of planning time, but the trouble is, life and time seldom move in a linear direction for long. Life and time have an unfortunate habit of jerking you sideways, even backwards -- perhaps it is all written in the stars and the non-linear motions of the planets. Far from making small steps to "escaping" Japan and all that I began to hate about the place, mid 2007 only embroiled me deeper in my Japanese life, trapped me in strange and alarming ways. Within a few weeks of returning to the Land of the Rising Sun, I had been convinced (against my better judgment) to moving into the apartment block owned by my crazy Soka Gakkai boss, a guy I had been trying to escape for much of 2006. What a huge leap backwards that had seemed, although it was only a precursor of the calamities and earthquakes to come. A few weeks after moving I got myself arrested, to spend 16 days behind bars in lock-up in western Tokyo, with my man Maniac High. All I wanted to do was escape to greener pastures, but Japan wouldn't let me go! Japan was taking underhanded measures to keep me here -- by force if necessary. What a cruel irony it would have been to do time in a Japanese jail when I didn't even want to be in the country anymore, and had a girlfriend in another realm. But fortunately the police let me go after two weeks in lock-up, and I returned home with a whole new take on life. It has been that new take on life which has carried me forward ever since, into new and amazing experiences.
I have been in hibernation for the past 8 months -- but hibernation is often a time of growth. I can feel how I have grown, how my willpower has been sharpened. I started doing things I never would have normally done, such as going in a Japanese porn movie. I have realized that scoring women isn't as difficult as I used to think, it is just a matter of believing in yourself. All the hard experiences of mid 2007, the destruction of my comfort zones, have led up to this -- the reactivation of the International Vagabondist dream. Tomorrow I am flying down to Kagoshima in the south of Japan, to take part in a medical trial. If things go well at the screening, I will go back to Kagoshima another two times in December, and make up to US$3500. One week after that, I will head over to Vietnam to see my girl. That's four air trips in 6 weeks, which must rank as some kind of personal record, and further proof of the accelerated upswing in my life, which will hopefully really blossom in 2009. This is is the kind of life I always wanted to live!
So, what is there to see in Kagoshima, if I have time to get out of the clinic and go sightseeing? Since drinking and eating are out of the question, what else can I experience? According to Wikipedia: "Kagoshima was the center of the territory of the Shimazu clan of samurai for many centuries. It was a busy political and commercial port city throughout the medieval period and into the Edo period (1603-1867) when it more formally became the capital of the Shimazu's fief, the Satsuma Domain. Satsuma remained one of the most powerful and wealthiest domains in the country throughout the period, and though international trade was banned for much of this period, the city remained quite active and prosperous. It served not only as the political center for Satsuma, but also for the semi-independent vassal kingdom of Ryuku - Ryukyuan traders and emissaries frequented the city, and a special Ryukyuan embassy building was established to help administer relations between the two polities and to house visitors and emissaries. Kagoshima was also a significant center of Christian activity in Japan prior to the imposition of bans against that religion in the late 16th and early 17th centuries."
| subtropical japan
| kagoshima japan
| november 11 2007
| uncloned world||
I GOT THE PLANE DOWN TO THE SOUTHERNMOST TIP OF THE MAIN JAPANESE ISLANDS, KAGOSHIMA ON KYUSHU ISLAND, LAST NIGHT, TO TAKE PART IN THE SCREENING OF THE DIABETES MEDICINE TRIAL. It was my first time to Kyushu, and let it be said, my first visit to subtropical Japan. When I got down there I was surprised by how different it is there, compared with Tokyo. There are, for example, palm trees all over the place.. and they grow sugar cane down there as well, although I didn't see any of that. I saw some tea plantations on the way back to the airport, though. |
And they have palms here! That's so cool!
As Joels Wag Man said concerning the vegetation in this part of the world, on the blog which concerns his part of the blogosphere: "Also the further South (in Kyushu) we got, the more Palm trees we began to see along the road. (There are some Palm Trees up in Oita prefecture, especially around Beppu, but for sheer quantity Miyazaki seems to have us beat)..."
Miss Sin blogs: "we went to kyushu for 5 days and managed to do 3 prefectures (kumamoto, kagoshima & miyazaki), 2 volcanoes (aso & sakurajima), one castle (kumamoto), lots of roses, palm trees & general greenery. lots of ocean too & some mountains. even managed to squeeze in an onsen everyday (finally found the joy of them - sorry j-ster & indigogirl for realising WAY too late!!)..."
Japan Times' Stephen Mansfield repeated the cliche that Kagoshima was the Naples of the East. "There are, to be sure, some obvious similarities: The sweeping city is grandly ranged along Kinko Bay; there is the profusion of palms along its esplanade, its flower-lined pavements and the looming proximity of Sakurajima, the city's very own Vesuvius. But there the comparison ends, and quite rightly, for Kagoshima, with one of the most stunning settings of any city in Japan, has plenty to recommend it in its own right.
"Historically, this semitropical city, geographically distant from the old capital of Edo, enjoyed an unusual degree of independence. Center of the feudal domain of Satsuma, Kagoshima's Shimazu clan ruled Okinawa for almost eight centuries, simultaneously absorbing much of the culture of China and Southeast Asia. The legacy of that contact is evident today in Kagoshima's cuisine, which relies heavily on sweet potatoes rather than rice, and in its typically Okinawan preference for pork dishes. Kagoshima's noted craft traditions, particularly its Satsuma ceramics and fine silk brocades, also reflect an aesthetic of Asian provenance.
"Kagoshima's main attraction is Sanganen Garden, where semitropical plants grow alongside plum trees and bamboo groves. The centerpiece of the garden is a beautiful pond and miniature waterfall where nobles once held poetry-composing parties. The Shimazu family built a detached villa here with a view of the bay and Sakurajima. A nearby gazebo, a gift from Okinawa, is decorated with colorful Chinese tiles.
"Kagoshima is a city of considerable historical importance. It was here that Japan experienced its first contact with Christianity in the person of Francis Xavier, who arrived in Kagoshima on Aug. 15, 1549. On leaving Japan in 1551 he declared, 'These people are a delight." To Xavier the Japanese, a courteous race in full mastery of themselves, were a people "lost in gentility'..."
This weblog is intended to document the media job opportunities in Japan. To be more specific?Cit will tell you where to find media jobs in Tokyo?Cbecause that?fs the place I live and hang out within. What do I mean by ?gmedia jobs?h?Cexactly?H Well?Cto begin with?Cthere are the obvious stereotypical media jobs?Csuch as writing for newspapers and presenting on TV and the like. I recently started working as a restaurant reviewer for a Tokyo magazine and I will give you some information about that in due course. But more importantly?CI want to use this weblog to capture and relate my experiences in the acting and modelling fields. If you know where to find it?Cthere is so much going on here.
So here is where you find it!
If you are also interested in the Icelandic music scene, this site is also for you! It might seem a big leap from working and acting in Japan to chilling in an Icelandic bar, but it is a leap I frequently make. It is all recorded above and below and throughout, if you care to read on!