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Browsing Posts published in October, 2007

Back and Lagged in Japan

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Got back to Japan on Sunday night around 9PM, after the flight was delayed almost 3 hours due to a typhoon they had in Japan Saturday night local time. LA and St Louis were both pretty awesome; it was a nice vacation from…living in Japan? Haha. Either way it was great. I feel like I’m recharged and ready to find a real job.

Actual physical recharged-ness will come later, since I’m also completely jet lagged and off schedule. I seemed to be fine on Monday, waking up in the morning, working in the evening, etc. I was completely beat though, passed out for a few hours, woke up, and spent pretty much all of Tuesday either falling asleep or watching The Office, which I’m glad I started watching because it’s amazing. I’ve been up now since 3AM, and am debating whether or not to go back to sleep or to shower and go find some breakfast.

I’ll write some wrap ups from my American adventure later this week. I started my Monday and Wednesday evening teaching job, and also have some other work this week. It’s good to be back, although my apartment seemed extra small after being in the States for almost 2 weeks.

Hamburger Scamburger

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new iPodI got the new iPod “classic.” Some of you may remember from two summers ago when I bought the 30GB iPod from Costco, planning to one day take advantage of their liberal return policy in another scheme. And guess what, I did it, and it worked. 作戦大成功!

I suppose my old iPod worked all right, but it did freeze up a few times over the past year, so I felt it was valid to call Costco out on their guarantee. Also, the new iPod has much better stats, so I think the upgrade was a pretty good move. Since Costco has since (intelligently) revamped their return policy on major electronics to just 90 days, I no longer have a lifetime warranty. However, since Apple only comes out with new iPods about once every two or three years, I figure it was worth it while I was in town. I’m set until the next next iPod comes out and I’m tempted again to have the newest toy. The new 6th generation iPod that I have is 80GB compared to the old 30GB I had, and battery life is like double from before. The new interface is a lot more colorful, using album art and stuff, and the menus are overall just better organized. Thank you Costco for the free upgrade.

Take that Costco.The return process was pretty simple. I put everything back in the original box and went to the service desk. They asked what was wrong with it, I said “Uh, I think the hard drive is corrupt or something,” and they called over their expert, which was a high school-age looking guy who I guess was in charge of their electronics department. As he inspected my iPod box to make sure everything was there, he dropped the iPod onto the concrete floor. “That sure isn’t going to help!” he said. Yeah ace. So either way I knew right there I was golden and would be getting a new iPod. They gave me all my money back, and I was able to go get the new model.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the price had dropped since my original purchase? So I returned my old iPod, got a brand spanking new one, and also made $50 out of the deal. Works for me.

P.o.S.

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Visit to St. Louis has been great so far. I’ve got to hang out with the fam a lot, ate a lot of good food, saw a lot of old friends, and did some scamming (I’ll post about that next). All in all an excellent vacation. I’m heading to LA tomorrow afternoon and will be there until the end of the week.

Before coming back for this trip, I had to bust out theold cell phone that I used in the US. I was worried when the phone wouldn’t even power on with the AC adapter plugged in, but after over a full day of charging, it was able to at least turn on. It’s always quite a shock going from using a Japanese phone (keitai) for a long time back to an American one, because of technology differences, standards, etc. In short, American phones are crap compared to ones in Japan for the most part. I am also going to include Blackberrys and anything that has a tiny QWERTY keyboard on it, because I think those just look ridiculous and can’t be justifiably functional. Just learn how to type using the numeric pad! It’s not like you’re going to be doing any two-handed touch typing with your oversized PDA phone. I think your average 14-year old Japanese kid can input a lot faster on a standard numeric pad than a businessman with a Blackberry QWERTY. I don’t even need T9 and I will dominate with a numeric pad. But I digress.

my two phones

My American phone (right), which I bought in November 2005, is a Sony Ericsson Z520a. It has a 4x digital zoom VGA camera and a screen that is around 1.6×1.25″ (4×3 cm). In contrast, my Japanese phone (left) which I bought in September 2007, is also a Sony Ericsson, a W43S. It has a 2 Megapixel camera and a screen that is around 2.6×1.5″ (6.5×3.5 cm). Both phones have features like address book, calendar, alarms, text messaging, and of course calling. My Japanese phone can also browse the real internet, send real e-mails, has GPS navigation, is an IC-chip based train pass and digital wallet, TV remote, and music player. My American phone might actually be able to use a web browser, but it’s not very good or even fast and I think I’d have to pay more.

Here’s a look at the phones opened up:

Open Up

So while yeah, my American phone does all the basic stuff, I feel a bit like I’m stepping back into the stone age. I never thought about how much time I killed in Japan browsing the web on my phone. One advantage that my US phone does have over the Japanese one is ease in making your own MP3 ringtones. With the US one, I could just use any file I want to. The Japanese one is a bit more protected and complicated, which kind of sucks.

Oh, and let’s also quickly look at the difference in pictures taken by the phones. I took a picture of my stupid bobblehead guy, using each phone’s maximum resolution. The difference is pretty obvious. It’s even more apparent if you look at the raw images. The Japanese phone is super tall because it can take wide photos. Raw Japanese. Raw American.

The raws give you an even better idea of how crappy the American one is

It’s too bad the US market will always be behind Japanese or other countries’ phone markets because people aren’t as willing to pay to upgrade their handsets as often or adopt new technologies. And yes, since I’ve had my Japanese W43s for over a year, I’m already thinking of buying a new model.

スタバ

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Went out to dinner last night with my Dad and brother, got home around 9, and almost immediately fell asleep until 6:30AM. Ah, jet lag.

Being home has been nice so far. Things are a lot less different than I for some reason thought they would be, with no reverse culture shock or any garbage like that. The only thing that is noticeably different so far is food-related. Of course I’ve been eating some awesome food that I can’t get back in Japan, but it’s more the little things. For example, when I was in LA waiting for my connecting flight, I went to Starbucks to get a coffee. At Japanese Starbucks, I’ll usually get the medium, which is called a Tall*. Thus, the standard sizes from small to large in Japan are Short, Tall, Grande. In the US, everything is shifted up from this, meaning that the standard sizes at Starbucks in the US are Tall, Grande, Venti. Since Starbucks is of course American, I should say the Japanese sizes are shifted down. Whatever. I almost laughed at this woman who ordered a Venti something-Frappuchino milkshake-thing which looked to be about as tall as her head and covered in whipped cream. It’s interesting to see how these shifts accomidate the local markets, like how a medium US t-shirt is a Japanese large, or how “super spicy” curry in Japan can taste like thick V8. Welcome back to America.

*I had to sit here for a little bit and think about what the Starbucks size names are. I’m a bit ashamed that I could remember them.

I wish Saved by the Bell was on

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This whole not-having-much-to-do thing is really throwing my sleep schedule off. I might as well be back to 2 summers ago when I was in Bloomington having not much to do. After a midnight shopping trip to Don Quixote, the randomest chain of department-type store in Japan, I’ve managed to somehow make it to 7AM. Probably not the best idea. I don’t even know what I do when I stay up this late. Tonight I guess it was a combination of writing a long blog in Japanese on mixi, passively watching 2 movies, hooking up my external HD, and taking care of e-mail.

Now here’s my dilemma. I have the Pelican Express guy coming sometime between 9AM and 12 to pick up a package: the Gyao equipment I was accidentally sent even though NTT was supposed to cancel my contract with them. I need them to pick this thing up today, because if they don’t, I could potentially get charged for a month of Gyao TV service that I’m not going to use. So I could go to sleep and hope that the doorbell/intercom would wake me up, or I could just struggle and stay up until the guy comes. I’m thinking I might not wake up if I fall asleep, but I could also potentially have another 5 hours to have to stay awake when I’m already feeling tired.

Homecoming

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If memory serves me right, the last time I was in the United States was September 8, 2006. That was nearly 13 months ago! I’ve bummed all around the Kanto area, been attacked by deer in Nara, went to a penis festival, ate snake in Hong Kong, and struggled with the language barrier in Korea, but I haven’t stepped foot in my home country in over a year. But guess what? It’s time to return for a visit. That’s right, I’m coming to the US !

And pretty soon, actually.

I only have general plans so far, but mostly it will be a lot of hanging out, seeing people, and eating American food. I will be flying into the US, going first to St. Louis, on Monday, October 15. Then, on either the 23rd or 24th, I’ll head to Los Angeles to stay until Saturday the 27th. I’ll be stateside for almost 2 weeks, so if anyone wants to meet up when I’m in either of those cities, let me know. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be visiting Indiana or anywhere else, but I should be visiting again around Christmas time so hopefully I can then.

My cell phone number will be the same as my old US one, if you haven’t deleted me yet. E-mail or message me if you need it though.

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