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Browsing Posts published in July, 2006

Next stop: Tokyo

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I’m back in St. Louis now, after an exciting 2 days of a process I’d like to call “Tetris with Anthony’s stuff,” where I had to manipulate the placement of my furniture and personal belongings first into my parents van and then into my car, so that everything will fit without having to throw it away. I did fairly well, in the end only having to throw away my kitchen trashcan, giving away some toys and stuff, and selling my bed, a magazine rack, and a table that you can hide secrets in. The process overall was not too bad, although I just slept about 12 hours to try and compensate for the lack of sleep and rest that I had over the moving process. I drove back to St. Louis yesterday, leaving Bloomington forever (kind of), and had a fine drive until just before the Illinois-Missouri border, when I drove directly into a HUGE storm system, complete with lightning strikes every few seconds, torrential rains, and wind so strong I could feel my loaded car swaying to the right. But I lived.

I’ll write some more over the next few days, perhaps as I’m waiting in airports or sitting on an airplane next to an old man or fat woman. It’s always one of those, and they always want to talk to you. I’m sorry, but unless you happen to be a movie star or a really hot chick, I probably don’t want to talk to a complete stranger. Especially if this is for a 12 hour flight to Tokyo. I’ve remedied this over the years, mainly by sleeping for the entire flight, which I seem to be able to do when no one else can. My other trick, if I don’t fall asleep immediately upon sitting in my airplane seat near the window, is to make myself look as angry, big, and dirty as possible. How do I do this, exactly? It’s hard to describe, but you wear a big jacket, puff our your chest and shoulders, have your bag open and looking like you’re a pain in the butt, and you have an angry look on your face. Hopefully, if there is enough free seating on the plane, this will cause people to not want to sit next to you, because who wants to sit next to a disgruntled guy who looks like he’ll be a pain in the butt to sit next to? But I digress.

After wasting pretty much my entire morning sleeping, eating lunch, and watching News Radio with my brother, I figure I’m going to go to the store and get supplies for the trip. I need to buy a few more dress shirts, and some random stuff at Target, then I should be ready to go for tomorrow. That is, of course, except for packing, which I will most likely not start until around 3AM, since I have to leave my house around 4:30 or 5AM to make it to the airport and leave on my 7:40AM flight. Believe it or not, I’ll be happy once I get to the airplane, because I’ll be able to rest and relax for a good few hours, before landing in Tokyo, partying with the JET kids who are there for 1 night overlap with me, then having to knuckle down and figure out this whole baby bottle thing. I have a feeling this 2 week trip to Tokyo will be busier than I thought.

Goodbye Ashton

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Went to check out Ashton yesterday. After a few years of the usual campus politics and paperwork, they finally got to tearing the place down. Here are some demolition pictures of the old IUSTV office. Also notice that people had already broken into the demolition area to graffiti the walls. Here are some pictures; I’ll try and note what part of the former office you’re looking at, for any IUSTV-related people reading this. These pictures weren’t necessarily taken by me, since I would never trespass into a dangerous demolition zone…

If you were standing in the conference room looking towards the control room:
conference room

If you looked towards the exec cubicles and front windows (yes, there is no wall):
cubicles

“Mr. B” is standing in the conference room where the TV was:
Mr. B

“Mr. A” is standing where the old bathroom used to be. That smell is finally gone!

Who knows how many hours I spent in this building over the past few years. Goodbye old office.

I received a weird e-mail the other day, from “Neateye” [nitaigouranga@aol.com]. Not your everyday spam. It was so weird and random that I’ve decided to share it with you.

Call out Gouranga be happy!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga

That which brings the highest happiness…

Gouraiger!To be honest, the only reason I didn’t instantly delete it like most spam is that I misread it and thought it said “Gouraiger,” which would be the evil rangers from the Japanese Power Ranger show Hurricanger a few years back. That’s them on the right there. Since my brain had already switched into the mode that “this must be something Japanese related,” I thought it was maybe someone I knew, sending something weird. It wasn’t. Brian, who was at my apartment, had no clue either. Time to do some investigating.

Turns out, after doing some hard core research (by which I mean Google and thus Wikipedia), I found out this is some kind of non-intrusive religious group’s e-mail and calling card. Something called Hare Kirishna? Anyways, I just wanted to remind everyone that I also received a few Jesus-related text messages when I was at Target back in the Fall, so apparently these religious fanatics are trying to take advantage of technology all over the place. Either that or they’re targeting me just to get mentioned on my blog.

Holding down the B button

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I don’t know exactly how to describe my current state of being, although it could be likened to the end of a Mario level where the music starts speeding up, yet you’re only at the beginning of the stage because you accidentally got up to use the can and forgot to press pause. It’s a feeling of realizing time is quickly running out, you still have a lot to do, and while you’re pretty sure you’ll get to the flagpole, you wish you had more time on the clock to enjoy the level. That sounds about right. I realized this past weekend that I now have less than 2 weeks in Bloomington. It’s not like before where I have to go back to St. Louis for a weekend, only to return to my apartment to lay on the futon and watch TV for hours on end. I literally have less than 2 weeks to have all my stuff packed into boxes ready to be hauled off. Then after that, I have less than 48 hours to pack up my stuff to head to Tokyo for 2 weeks of hanging out in the baby aisles of Japanese department stores. I’ll be honest, I don’t really want to leave Bloomington, at least not just yet.

But I must!

It feels kind of strange to be getting ready to leave Bloomington, because I’ve been here for roughly 4 years and have gotten used to living here. I’ve gotten comfortable to things here. College was a good few years; I feel like I got a good deal accomplished while finishing up my schoolwork, and also met a ton of people along the way. A small percentage of these people that are friends, I’ll be in touch with probably until I’m old and grey, but aside from that there are a lot of people I’ll never talk to ever again. But that’s like anytime you move on from something. I guess the closest I’ve ever had to this was leaving high school life behind to come to college, and then on a smaller scale, leaving Japan after living there for a semester at IES. It’s not like I’m feeling all sappy or anything stupid like that, because I’m really not, but it’s definitely weird to be moving on to the next stage of life. Working a real full-time job, leaving the country for a while to work said job and whatever other jobs I end up working along the way, things are going to be different from here on out. I think you all understand, and I hope so, because I don’t know how else to describe it.

I have about a week and a half to pack up all my stuff, get ready to go to Japan for two weeks, wrap up my work at IUSTV, work on baby bottle research, and say goodbye to the people around Bloomington. I also feel like there are things around Bloomington that I should do just to say I did it, within the 4 years of being here, like going to the Upland Brewery, Oliver Winery, and maybe even going up to Indy for something other than the airport. There’s a chance I’ll come back to visit sometime in August, but that’s not for sure and even then it will just be a visit and not really a return to business as usual. From August 14-September 7 I’ll be packing and taking care of stuff back home, then off to Japan for probably more than a year. I need to get out of my recent summer routine of being really lazy and relaxed everyday, because there really is a decent amount to do. I’ll have some more deep thoughts like these as the next few weeks unfold.

Next Conan’s hint

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I’m the only one who is going to find this awesome (probably), but it looks like for the 10th anniversary of the Detective Conan (名探偵コナン) TV anime series in Japan, this fall Yomiuri TV is starting to air a live-action drama based on the series. It looks like it’s going to be a prologue to the anime/manga, before Kudou gets shrunk into Conan. Should still be pretty sweet.

Official site:
http://www.ytv.co.jp/conan_drama/index_set.html

Yahoo! News article:
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20060712-00000056-sph-ent

Yes I am a nerd.

Unneeded extravagance

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Call it unnecessary. Call it compulsive. Call it way expensive. No matter what you call it, I gave in to the fad on Saturday. I went ahead and bought an iPod, those things that so many of you already have. I’d been thinking about getting one of these things for quite a while, a few years even. Up to now, my portable music solution was a MiniDisc player. Since some of you are probably thinking to yourself “what is a MiniDisc?,” it’s the format after CDs that was introduced to the US from Japan, but never really caught on here. They’re available, just I’ll bet you don’t have one in your house. Anyway, I went with that a few years back because I was able to get a good deal on eBay, and to be honest, it worked pretty good and served me well for a few years. It was nice because I could transfer MP3s to it from my computer, although since it was an American Sony model it couldn’t display Japanese text, and also I had to use the crappy Sony proprietary software. I used my MD player mainly for those long train commutes in Japan, etc. Here at school in the states, I didn’t really need a portable music player since I drive most places and/or just listen to music on my computer at home.

I figured since Japan’s mass-transit system, longer commute times, and lack of a car are sneaking back up on me very soon, it might be worth picking up a new music player. iPod time, right? But it’s so freaking expensive! Also the batteries gave lots of people problems, as apparent by the huge class-action lawsuit we all heard about. Regardless, I saw it at Best Buy last Thursday, and I didn’t realize how thin the current model actually is. Pretty sweet. So really, cost and the concern of the warranty or battery were the main things holding me back. As I tend to do before a major purchase like this, I thought about it back and forth in my mind, followed up by trying to dig up a lot of info online about reviews, prices. etc. I stumbled upon a pretty interesting bit of information about Costco, the large warehouse club store that is pretty much like Sam’s Club. St. Louis got a Costco about 4 years ago, so I had known what it was. Up to now, however, my main interaction with the chain was the Makuhari branch, where I once witnessed a Japanese man cover his pizza in every condiment available, including mayonnaise and chopped onions. I never really thought about buying a major electronic gizmo (or anything besides pizza and sushi) there. The thing about Costco that I found out was that they offer a 100% guarantee on everything they sell, with the exception of computers which only have 6 months. But still, everything?! Including iPods! This means, according to what I read, that I could probably buy an iPod there, and if there were any problems or if I decided I just didn’t want it, I could take it back with the receipt and return it very easily. Or better yet, take it back in a few years when the current 5th generation iPods are obsolete and exchange it for a shiny new model. Sound a bit too good to be true? Apparently a lot of people are doing that with a much more expensive item, HD TVs. Cnet has a good article about this (link).

I decided that this would probably be worth it. Worse comes to worse, I try it out for a bit and if I don’t like it, I can take it back after the Japan trip in August and get my money back. I called Costco to make sure they had iPods in stock, and they did. The guy on the phone said he wasn’t allowed to quote prices on the phone, but the nearest electronics store down the road sells them for 10 dollars more, plus at Costco you have a lifetime guarantee. Bingo. He said the magic words. Went to Costco with my dad, who has a membership card (note: me and Seth both used my dad’s old Costco card for over a year in Japan). I got the 30GB black iPod with video (I think they all have video now), and I do have to say, it is a sweet piece of machine. I even double-checked with the cashier girl, who confirmed that everything in the store but computers have a lifetime guarantee. Even the other employee who was helping her check out didn’t know about this policy. The 100% guarantee even works on car batteries! I don’t understand that, because it seems too good to be true, but apparently that’s how they do business. They must keep it kind of hush-hush too, if an employee didn’t even know about it.

I was reading online that Costco sets up agreements with the manufacturers to let them send back old stuff, which makes sense because otherwise Costco would have gone out of business a long time ago with this policy. But anyway, the iPod cost me $289.99 before tax, which is cheaper than Best Buy and even the Apple online store. Expensive as balls, but with this whole lifetime guarantee thing not so bad I guess. I can have the newest iPod forever! I can bring this thing back whenever I want! Keep in mind that at Best Buy, you can purchase the optional extended warranty, which costs $60 and is only good for 3 years. I’ll take the lifetime option for -$10, thank you very much.

The iPod is pretty sweet. It’s very slim and shiny black and silver, although fingerprints and stuff show up really easily. It comes with the trademark white iPod earbuds, which I won’t be using because I don’t want to necessarily look like an iPod owner when I’m outside, although Japan doesn’t have the mugging problem that New York did (article). Also I’d rather use my Sony earbuds, which are better sounding and are black to match the player. The thing, obviously, syncs up perfectly with iTunes, and I was able to put all of my music on there with just a few clicks. Disappointingly, I also realized that I only have just over 10 gigs of music on my computer. I thought for sure I had more. Thank god I don’t pay for music. I mean….I buy CDs all the time… uhh.. Video encoding is pretty easy with this Videora program I read about on Lifehacker (link), and it looks pretty sweet on the glossy screen of the iPod. Battery life for watching video is about 2.5 hours apparently, in comparison to the 13 hours you get when just listening to music, so I’ll most likely just use this thing for music when I’m on planes or trains in Japan. Having the video and photo ability is pretty nice though, and if nothing else it will give me stuff to show off to people.

it's so shiny
This entry has gotten way longer than I planned. I’m going to go watch more of Frasier season 8 and get to sleep. Japan in about 22 days!

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