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Levar Burton

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I don’t read books. OK that’s not totally true, but I was thinking just now about how I very rarely read books these days. I used to read a lot of books, but now I can’t remember the last time I actually read a full one from start to finish, excluding textbooks or other study materials like the ones I used for JLPT a few weeks ago. It might have been as long ago as the spring, maaaaybe the early summer, when I went to the Chiba library last. I’m not including comic books or magazines in this either, although I read a lot of those, in both English and Japanese.

So I don’t read books, but I still read a lot. About 90% of what I read now is on a computer screen, either being news, personal and professional blogs, or other stuff you read online that is of another genre altogether. I live by Google Reader, and on average probably read at least 50 articles or entries a day. Sure a lot of them are short, but it adds up! I skim the headlines of around 4 or 500 entries a day, judging by the “unread item count” that Reader shows me whenever I log on. I go through everything fairly quickly, read or star the entries that most interest me, then mark everything else as read, allowing me to keep track of what’s new the next time I get on. (Am I using Reader wrong? Is there a way to mark stuff as not new, but not read?)

Anyway where I’ve been trying to get to after the previous 2 paragraphs of mental diarrhea is this: is not reading books bad? Sure I’m reading stuff, but what benefits do bound stacks of paper have versus images on a computer screen? I suppose I don’t read novels so much, either on paper or digitally. I don’t read things that are that long. Wait – maybe that’s what the difference is. Has my attention span shrunk so much by technology that I’d rather stare at stuff on my screen* than flip through pieces of paper? Digital stuff is so much more convenient and portable. And I know there are a lot of pretentious uppities out there who will say I’m less intelligent for not reading books, but these are the same people who read goth novels with no real value other than to look emo and boring at Starbucks. No thanks.

Just some random thoughts. I think I’m going to try and read more in ’09. Maybe that will be my resolution of sorts. But right now I need to get some sleeeeep. Get to da choppa!

*like you are doing at this very moment

au one Mail – awesome idea

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I ended up going to bed a lot later than planned last night, even after spending the entire evening in my apartment taking care of random tasks that I’d been putting off for too long. I burned some TV series off my external HD to clear space, filled out a Yodobashi credit card app, organized some bills I need to pay, did some laundry, and downloaded Megaman 9. I even cleaned up my apartment a bit and hauled a whole bag of trash downstairs. It felt like I had accomplished a lot.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking for a little bit* that I need to get a new phone, since my old faithful Sony Ericsson W43S is getting a little worn out and can’t even do the simplest things like watch TV, view MS Word documents, or give me a root canal – which are all standards for the current generation of Japanese ultra-phones. Yes, after only using my phone for 2 years it has already been outdated more times than I would like to mention, with new features popping up on the market every day. A few months ago the iPhone came out here in Japan, and despite its awesomeness +5 appeal in the US, in Japan it sucks and I don’t even know anyone that has one. No, wait, there was one guy at my office who has one but he seemed to only be interested in listening to the radio. This entry isn’t about the iPhone, but yeah, compared to any typical Japanese handset the only thing Apple’s magic device has going for it is the touch-screen. There are so many features missing (even compared to my old-ass phone) that most people aren’t interested.

Oh yeah, so speaking of phones. When browsing the au (my carrier) catalog for information about current phone models and pricing plans, I leaned about this recent service called au one Mail. After following the easy instructions on my phone, I was all set up and simply amazed at what it does. It seems that au has partnered with Google to give au users a special Gmail account. The interface is just a rebranded Gmail, giving you an @auone.jp e-mail address that you can access from your PC or phone. But the best thing is that this new account can automatically keep a copy of every sent and received mail from your keitai. And since it’s Gmail, you have several gigs of space forever, and the ridiculously sweet search capabilities. This was exactly what I always wanted.
Click the pic for a bigger screenshot.

au oneメール最高だ!

If anyone else here on au wants help on how to set this up, let me know. It’s definitely nice to know that you can have an automatic backup of all the e-mails you send on your phone.

*about a year and a half

To infinity and beyond

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I set my work computer’s Firefox start page as Wikipedia, so I usually read a few random articles on the main page to start my day off (as opposed to actual work). The first one I read today was about China’s space flight this week. On the page they had an image of the China National Space Administration’s logo:

CNSA logo from Wikipedia

Is it just me, or is this pretty much exactly the same as this one? See:

Star Trek badge

Yes, while I realize that in both cases it’s supposed to look like a plane/spacecraft, you still have to wonder if the CNSA, established in 1993, didn’t have some huge Star Trek nerd designing their logo.

I guess we’d just have to ask Captain Jon Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise.

Packing again

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Today was a fairly busy day. Hit up the Lumbini Indian buffet with Blanchard, then did more shopping for gifts to take home. I’ve spent more this week on other people than I would usually spend on myself in a whole week or two. Ran some more errands all afternoon, then headed to Makuhari. Saw Miyoko who’s working at some shop that sells funky Christmas hats and clothing for miniature dogs, then went to Hana no Mae with Andy. That kid is mad sweet. For real. It’s actually hard to explain, but the guy is just awesome.

Right now I’m supposed to be packing, but I’ve spent a long time tonight sitting around watching Iron Chef episodes. And speaking of Iron Chef, I randomly checked Iron Chef Sakai’s blog (he is a pretty hardcore blogger) and saw a picture of him at the gym. It’s pretty surprising. I guess you don’t think about an Iron Chef pumping iron.

I need to be at Narita around noon, so I’ll probably leave my place at 10 or 10:30. Not packed at all yet, but I’ve got piles of stuff on my floor waiting to be Tetris-ized into my suitcase. Will be in St. Louis for X-Mas and all that. If you’re around, hit me up.

再び参上

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I’m back online. My new apartment was supposed to be wired for the B-Flet’s fiber internet, but there were too many people using it, so NTT had to install a second fiber pipe into the building. That was finished actually about 2 weeks ago, but then it took another 2 weeks for them to send a guy to my apartment to do the “construction” and installation. It was pretty disappointing having to wait that extra time considering the “installation” involved the guy taking a VDSL modem out of its box, plugging in 3 cables, and giving me a receipt. Ah, Japan.

So a lot has happened over the past few weeks. There’s too much for me to write everything in this blog post, and also it’s about 3AM and I want to go to bed. Expect me to blog a lot over the next few days to cover it all. This really isn’t for you, but mainly for me. I’ll try to keep it mildly entertaining so feel free to read when you’re bored, at work, or bored at work. Quick summary though: I finished my job at AEON, am considering a trip to the US in mid October, love my sweet new apartment, had a mini-reunion here in Chiba, and am already getting kind of bored with being unemployed. It’s almost too easy having this much freedom. I’ll have to start seriously looking for a real job, real soon. In the meantime the part-time work will keep me somewhat busy and not completely income-less.

Note: Originally I was thinking of titling this post Slim Shady but then I came to my senses and remembered how much I hate Eminem.

4 more days until Golden Week

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…and I’m looking forward to it more and more every time I think about it. Not that I have any specific plans over break, but I’m just looking forward to having 9 days of complete and utter freedom. I haven’t had a vacation like this since winter break, about 4 months ago, so it will be a welcome period of relaxation. Work seemed to go by fairly quickly on Tuesday, since in every class I can ask the students what their plans are for Golden Week, and could also think to myself about how I will have a whole week to sleep in, hang out, explore Tokyo, play video games, and sleep some more.

In other news, my mama-chari bike arrived last Thursday morning and it has been a nice addition to my arsenal. On Sunday the weather was great so I biked and shopped for around 5 or 6 hours. There is a surprising amount of stuff in Ichihara. I found some rice fields, a 24-hour McDonalds, about 5 video game shops, and even saw some random clothing shop called “Stock Market” that had a cigar store Indian standing in front of the building. Very random.

After several weeks of weekend research, and a rampage of comparing cameras this past week, I decided on a new digital camera to buy. Since I’ve had my current one since Freshman year of college, and it’s 3.3 megapixels, kind of bulky, and the buttons are starting to lose responsiveness, I figured it was about time to upgrade. I decided on the Casio Zoom EXLIM EX-Z1050, a 10.1 megapixel compact behemoth that should last me quite a long time. Kakaku.com, a Japanese price comparison site, actually found some really good deals but I decided to pay a little more for the reliability and safety of Amazon.co.jp. In the end I didn’t have to pay that much more, and the thing should arrive here by the weekend. I also found a high-speed 1GB SD card for around 2000 yen (like $17USD). I do miss Ben’s Bargains, but I’ll have to start exploring more Japanese websites for cheap buys. The new camera will be just in time to take pictures of my lazy adventures during Golden Week.

I feel like there was more I wanted to write about, but I need to get some sleep now. Golden Week soon!!!

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