Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Symbolism and the Modernized world

Thank god for this symbol:

I used to think "What the heck does that have to do with power? What am I buying here, some strange masonic machine?"

But now I realize. It doesn't matter. Sure, there's an interesting history to it (You can start here) What matters is that the symbol is the same everywhere. And it is.

What a wonder of modern life that is. What a relief to the traveler. It's the same if I buy a Camera in Kabul or a Computer in Kitanakano. I could buy a stereo in Shanghi or a TV in Toronto. That would be the symbol. There are other symbols like it that generally have the same meaning. Sleep. Percent. Bright.

The problem (and the negative that brought me to this positive joy) is that not all symbols are the same everywhere, especially when dealing with things that, unlike cameras, are not sold all over the world. Take, for example, the modernized Japanese home we are living in. A lot of things here are operated by button.

Buttons like these:

The Air Conditioner/Heater controls

The toilet controls (my sincere apologies to anyone who didn't want to see that)

The Washing Machine Controls

The bath controls.

And the oven controls.

With the result that, when I am turning on the bath, I'm never quite sure if I'm turning on the water, or heating the tub to a degree that, when I step inside of it, I will be doing the one-legged rain dance for a few hours.

 I don't know whether I'm telling the washing machine to fertilize my clothes or paint them blue.

So here's to standardization.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A White Christmas (Morning)

Now this is more like it. I've been away from white Christmases (Christmasi? Christmapodes?) for far far too long.

The view out our current front door: (click for full-size pics)

 Playing with the zoom on the camera Grace let me get for Christmas. Our old one was burning through two AA batteries every time we turned it on. Literally.

I really only notice them in the pictures, but power lines really are ubiquitous in Japan.

Chestnut fields we helped to harvest.

 The variety of trees at the farm.

Snow on Bamboo.

 The garden of our next-door neighbors.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A thought for Friday

I have the feeling God had the Japanese invent the Kotatsu for the same reason he gave the Scots Scotch. That is, simply, to keep them from taking over the world (though nothing about them trying...)

Funny verbal fact: Scotch is a capitonym (a word that has different meanings based on whether or not it is capitalisized). When Scotch is capitalized, it can refer to the people group or to the drink. When it is not capitalized, it is a verb meaning "to destroy".

Thus one may say with little exaggeration that God created Scotch to scotch the Scotch.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Apparently, how the Japanese Multiply

Catching up on some blogs. This is curious:

I haven't seen it done here, but I could believe it, and it's worth checking out.

Any one feel like making sure it works?

Have you seen this?

You probably have, because it's all over the internet (and in about two dozen of my google reader recommended items).

This makes me suspect that the travelling Grace and I are doing requires a certain bravery resourcefulness, and possibly foolishness that will soon be rare.


A thought for the day, and a quote

A thought for Sunday:
Even in a country where the wonders of a strange and alien world surround you, a day of rest is necessary and wonderful.

Japanese proverb:
A man in love mistakes a pimple for a dimple.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quick Notes

France (and Europe) for that matter seriously needs to fix its train system. The proliferation of private train companies makes figuring out the actual cost (and availability) of any train ride insanely difficult (added to the fact that they want to redirect me to the more-expensive english site which, by the way, since I am in Japan, WON'T DISPLAY ENGLISH.)

I would definitely take this as an example of private competition being worse than government-run monopoly. These are way, way, way worse than Amtrak or any of the JR subsidiaries.

We plan on trying this trip without a rail pass, for a number of reasons - rail passes (especially in France) have reservation surcharges these days.

We should come out about even in terms of ticket prices, if not a little ahead. It will be interesting to find out.

Visited Matsumoto yesterday. That was awesome. Pictures to come.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Feedback time!

My word (great BBC show, by the way) but it's been a long time since I've posted.

The disadvantage of being busy is that one rarely has the time to write about it as often as one would like...

So I'm wondering - I always hated the "I had _____ for lunch today" blogs, but would people enjoy some more scattered, diary-like entries? I can manage those in random times better than I can the longer posts.

Unfortunately, they would mostly contain exclamations of everyday sorts, like:

I can see the texture of the paper in the paper windows. The light is perfect.

Japanese houses are not built for fireplaces. I now understand why western fireplaces are backed with brick.

Stuff like that.

I really do mean to add more pictures, and will keep up with the more philosophical posts, but right now, time is short (though the next couple weeks (farming has a christmas slowdown... as opposed to rush) may allow more time to post.

Let me know if you want more of the incidentals. I will try to make them interesting, but they may sometimes just turn out:

Watching Japanese paint dry is... just like watching Stateside paint dry! Who knew!?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good to know

Found out yesterday:

Australians don't call them "drug stores" - and they seem confused and offended when you suggest they would like to know where one is.

Yet another country we are separated from by a common language.