Pokemon Whoa!

The Japanese police are as worried as I am.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve walked through New York City at night and during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and through London on New Year’s Eve and never been bumped into. In Japan, I’ve been hit several times by people with odd senses of personal space and/or bad depth perception and have been hit by bicycles a few times.

This was in the pre-smartphone era. Now we have Pokemon Go and I am afraid.

The Japanese are already, um, inattentive when it comes to walking and using smartphones (and, in some cases, cycling and using smartphones). Pokemon Go could lead to the apocalypse and it’s best I stay in doors.

Having observed the results in other countries, the Japanese police have issued “Don’t Be a Moron” warnings to Japanese Pokemon fans now that Pokemon Go has been released.

The first injury happened almost immediately and even the company I work for has issued a warning. I’ve heard reports of people almost being hit by cars and of people slipping on escalators. There’s also some concern that the somber area around the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome could become a Pokemon hunting area.

I’m personally waiting for the first reports of people falling off train platforms and of people trespassing on the Imperial Palace grounds to get some rare creature.

Fast Faster, No Really, Faster

It’s become clear that I need a business model that involves more than refreshing a website.

Thanks to a regular customer, I discovered that tonight there’d be more Jellyfish inks available from the store where I buy and resell ink. The trouble, is, I couldn’t be there at the time the sales launched.

By the time I managed to get the computer and refresh the page, sales were going so fast for some of the flavors that the three bottles I put in my shopping cart somehow went before I could pay for them. I tried buying a few complete sets but when I went to check out I realized I only had four flavors.

As a result, I ended up buying none, especially as I was doing most of this on spec with no actual buyers lined up. I’m hoping I can pick some up from the actual store, but given that all that happened in only 15 minutes, I don’t have much hope there will be anything available in the store.

That said, any chance to sneak down to the store and look around is time well spent, even if they don’t have any ink. Lately, even their unloved inks (i.e. the flavors they always seem to have in stock) have been selling out.

But at Least it was Cool

It wasn’t cool that I had to go, but at least it was cool.

Too bad it was raining.

In order to justify having lower middle management at the company I work for, my now immediate manager holds periodic meetings where we all go “yep, this is boring” while my lower middle management manager goes “Yep, I survive for another round!”.

To do this, we all have to travel to the main office where the final five of us working at private schools learn new information about the company. Fortunately, it was a pleasant 22 Celsius (71.6 Fahrenheit) which made the trip pleasant, but that cool weather brought rain so it was a trade off.

Oddly, there was some interesting information at the meeting: our assistant manager is now our manager; there are new forms to fill out and they are all on line; the company has changed names again: four times now? Five? It’s all confusing. The nature of our contracts has changed which could be good or bad three years from now.

The trouble is all this could have been delivered via email. The problem with that is the company I work for tends to not like to leave a paper trail.

Now, we don’t have to meet again until January or so. That meeting will be boring and useless too, but at least there’s a chance it will be cancelled by a snow day.

Early in the Phase

Because school only recently let out and I have to work tomorrow (er, today at the time of this writing) I’m still not sure what day it is.

For all I know, I may have missed the meeting.

Part of the problem is that, except for Sundays, tomorrow, and the coming House Arrest phase of the summer, there isn’t much for me to do. The other part of the problem is it’s really easy to establish a bad habit where nothing much gets done.

I’ve been trying to use the time to finish some unfinished projects but, of course, I came up with an idea for another one which I started working on which, of course, defeats one of my goals for the summer (finishing unfinished projects).

The other goal is to get out ahead of this blog by readying a few reviews in anticipation of a trip to the in-laws.

Unfortunately, there have been complications in the form of us babysitting for a neighbor which throws off a plan to exercise in the afternoon and then take a short nap before continuing work on the unfinished project.

Still, I’ve got better habits established. Just barely, though. I’ll see if I can ruin them completely by the end of the week.

High Tech Low Tech No Tech Go Tech

My daughters used to shoot my face, so I’m not too surprised by the Pokemon Go phenomenon. I’m also only a little surprised it hasn’t been released in Japan yet.

As a rule, whenever you read a writer going on about “the Japanese special relationship to technology” or about how Japan is 20 minutes in the future when it comes to technology you can be assured of a couple things:

1) The writer is full of crap.
2) The writer never left Tokyo.
3) the writer never took a local train, only bullet trains or the Tokyo metro and had local help to do it.
4) the writer didn’t try to use WiFi outside the hotel or had a pocket WiFi system.
5) the writer went to a game center.
6) the writer is merely recycling cliches because everyone knows about the special relationship and the writer can’t think of anything else to write about.
7) See number one.

In fact, except for a brief spurt of being out in front with cellphone technology in the pre-iPhone days, Japan usually lags behind in technology use. Government offices still use fax machines and forms have to filled out by hand in triplicate; the school where I work still uses OCR cards for final marks; and until very recently, the train system still required multiple paper tickets for travel, even on the bullet trains. (Actually, it still does, but the system is getting more streamlined.)

The only place the Japanese get out in front of the West is with game technology. A few years ago, our daughters’ Nintendo 3DS systems could take my picture and put it into a game that let the girls chase multiple versions of my face around our apartment and shoot my faces out of the sky and off the bookshelves. My face had monster expressions, including open mouthed roars when the “boss” version of my face showed up.

(Note: as much fun as this “shoot daddy” game was, it was kind of creepy in retrospect.)

However, Pokemon Go will only hit Japan tomorrow (as of this writing) and from what I’ve heard they are expecting a huge, internet breaking response. (Keep in mind, Japan has broken Twitter before, and is a good place to test servers.) (Also, invest in McDonald’s Japan because they are the first sponsor.)

Because no one swarms on to a fad like the Japanese, I don’t fully understand why they didn’t test the system here first. Perhaps Nintendo didn’t think it would catch on here and wanted to attract some attention overseas, counting on the Japanese tendency to want to copy the West’s fads to build interest here.

Either way, McDonald’s restaurants could get crazy soon. I also expect to hear stories of people falling on train tracks.

Stationery of The Year: ISOT 27

The only thing that interested me was the stapler. The rest made me think I should be a member of the committee.

Every year at the International Stationery & Office Products Fair Tokyo (note: link now getting ready for next year) a select group of five people choose new products for the “Grand Prix” or top products of the year. The two main categories are “Functionality” and “Design”. Last year’s winners included Suito Cleaning Paper and an expensive tape measure.

This year’s nominees, and winners, were, for the most part, unimpressive.

The Lihit Lab standing pen case had potential but suffered from being silicon, which made it slippery. It also requires two hands to use. To open you had to unzip it, then you pushed it on the desk and a center tube  pushed the pens and pencils up.  When you went to close the case, you had to pull the tube down. I told them it would be really cool if I could squeeze it to open it and then squeeze back after standing it up.

The paper products weren’t that interesting. The “Design” Grand Prix winner featured Japanese manuscript paper printed with color unique enough that people apparently use it for wrapping paper. It’s not that useful, though, unless you write manuscripts in Japanese or wrap presents.

The Knoxbrain LUFT is a more traditional sized Traveler’s notebook (no surprise as Knoxbrain is owned by DESIGNPHIL which owns Traveler’s) It uses ring clips which makes it a thin Filofax. It was nice looking but was nothing special.

I liked the white board brush, but it’s more of a specialty item than something useful to the general public.

The lighted hanko/chop is interesting, and I like that all you have to do is touch the bottom section with your finger to turn on the light,but it’s more for people worried about getting things perfect than for the general public.

The ruler pen thing was well made, and reasonably priced, but not something I’d ever need.

I liked the bookends. The colors were great and they had a brushed texture that was cool. I’ll look for them in the future.

My favorite thing was the stapler. It’s made by Max, who also make an impressive small stapler capable of binding 40 pages with no problems. Th award nominee is the size of a thick USB thumb drive and designed to be carried loose in a pencil case. It handles 10-15 pages with only two fingers. I liked it enough I ordered one after I got home.

My only complaint about the small stapler was the name. Never call your product “gimmick” (says the man who calls his blog Mere Blather).


You Don’t Have to Stay and I Can Sent You Away

Six hours is a long time and I only had to get mad once. Well, I only had to get mad openly once. I was actually angry for quite a while.

Today I taught a six hour workshop for students interested in going to universities in the USA. Although I teach at the same school almost every Sunday, today’s students, for various complicated reasons, were not my regular students. Today’s class I only see once a month.

Because of that, I couldn’t remember all their names, they couldn’t remember mine, and they felt the need to test me. One guy, especially, liked to quietly speak Japanese (which is forbidden on the floor where we teach). Another student is low level and is attending for reasons I don’t know. She made me mad by not doing anything except copy the instructions to an activity as if that was her writing.

Eventually, towards the end of the class, I chose to get angry. (Note: sometimes getting angry is a choice; sometimes it’s just blind rage.)

I told them if they wanted to talk and snicker when I was talking they could leave. If they didn’t want to be there, they didn’t have to stay. I also told them that if they didn’t stop talking and snickering when I was talking I’d make them leave.

After that, things got better and they did a lot of work. Well, all but that one. But she’s only my problem once a month.

Getting Through the Last Day

I felt relaxed and calm and was thinking about playing a game. That’s when I started panicking.

The school where I work scheduled final marks for today. This involves turning in Optical Character Recognition forms written in pencil and waiting until the marks are printed and then checking them for mistakes. However, since we finished classes yesterday, all members of the foreign staff turned their marks in yesterday. This meant we didn’t have to arrive at work until around 4:00.

Of course, this let me get relaxed and distracted which meant I had period fits of “holy crap, don’t forget to go to work. Am I missing work right now?”

Soon after I arrived at the school, the printouts arrived and the head of the department confirmed yesterday’s mistake. I checked everything and went down to the computer room to correct my mistake, which involved writing a “T” one space too far to the left. (No. Really. That was the mistake.) The funny part is, it wasn’t even my class. It was the class I’d accepted a bribe to mark.

After that, I had to fill in the “class switcher” form which transferred students from my JHS 1 class to a different class. This should have been painless, but the form is, how should I say “unintuitive “. As I filled out the form, I did resist the urge to send my bad student down, even though he had a fairly decent score.

I’ll probably regret that next autumn.

A Tale of Fires and Buses

I put out a fire after being thrown under a bus. Then things got weird.

The last day of classes is strange.

I arrived at the school where I work to discover a battery charger for a video camera on my desk. Its presence was apparently my fault. A colleague with a knee-jerk tendency to blame his fellow foreign staff for problems suggested that I look in my desk for something I never touched. (As if I were stupid enough to not realize that something might be in my desk or not. I suspect he used to work for a computer company’s customer service center, but that’s a future post.)

Even after I pointed out that different brands of cameras were involved, he still acted as is I didn’t know my Canon cameras from my Sony cameras.

In his defense, I took some time to recreate various situations as if I were Benedict Cumberbatch retreating to a mind palace and worked out that the problem was not my problem. I returned the battery charger to the place from whence it came–with a story that explained everything– and will wait further blame.

After that, I realized that a colleague had made mistakes on her final marks forms. (She has bribed me with rare cheesecake Oreo cookies to check her final marks.) It took a few minutes to fix the mistake, but I suspect I made a mistake myself. Luckily, I’ll be around tomorrow to fix the mistakes.

Hopefully, I won’t have to deal with a battery charger. Unfortunately, the Oreo cookies are already gone.


Too Much and Everything

Despite yesterday’s predictions, I did manage to get stuff done. Most of it, though, involved consumption.

I was hoping for bad weather as I often let that make my go/no go decisions for me, but the weather people, to a person, described the weather with their arms out to their sides, puzzled looks and “yes, really, probably, your guess is as good as mine”. The only thing they agreed on was that it would be hot and humid. (In their defense, it was.)

I shortened my planned trip, although I did have to go to a couple banks because “pay day” and then did some shopping. I also ate too much at lunch. (More on that in a future review.) Then I did shopping for healthier snacks. (I’ll write more about that this in a couple weeks but the preview is I’ve recently begun slipping on snacks. My weight hasn’t gone up, but I can feel the physical difference with the sudden rush of sugar.)

After getting home, I turned on the air conditioner and sat down and did very little. She who Must Be Obeyed came home and pointed out it was raining and that it was my fault. (Actually, not noticing it, because the windows were closed because the AC was on was my fault, according to her, anyway.) Then, to remind me of life in Kansas, the weather decided to cycle through different seasons: it was sunny, rainy, sunny again, then dark and ominous.

While it was dark and ominous, SWMBO drove me to the post office to mail ink.

After we got, back, it changed to dark and scary, but when the rain came, it wasn’t that hard. In fact, we were very lucky most of the bad weather missed us.

Tokyo, however,  was apparently hit by at least three of the Biblical plagues, with “nasty rain” being the main one. Yes, that’s a Biblical plague. Look it up.