Category Archives: Random

Long Day, With Videos and Ink

Just a short one today.

The day started with me filming videos and using my iPod Touch for the first time as a camera thanks to me leaving my phone at home. The videos are mostly to scare the students into taking it seriously and to torture them after with the sounds of their voices and the way they actually look on camera.

It will also show some of them how boring they were.

The two classes after the videos were second year junior high school classes. The higher level class was terrible and the lower level class was pretty good. All I did was explain the exam (or in the case of the higher level class, stop explaining the exam because no one was listening). I also handed out a review sheet. The problem with the lower level class is there were a few students who just talked and others who just smiled because they didn’t know what they were supposed to do.

After I got home, I packed three boxes of ink into a bag and walked them to the post office. This isn’t that far of a walk (2.2 km/1.4 miles round trip) but even though it was fairly cool it was muggy and I’d spent a lot of energy at work.

I did some minor work after that. Emphasis on minor.

Day of the Doomed

It started badly but ended well and at least one person was ecstatic. Another has given up.

A fellow pen addict has returned to Japan and I got the chance to hang out with him. The plan was for me to meet him at a pen fair at Ito-Ya in Ginza where I planned to buy a new nib for my Nakaya or have the old one repaired.

However, just past the point when it would have been practical to turn around and go back, I realized I’d left the pen on the variety room desk.

That shortened the visit to the pen show as there was no real reason to be there. I met my friend and we then went to Euro-Box to look at vintage pens but has been the case in every previous trip, it was closed.

This means my friend has given up on ever seeing the place. Such is the nature of doom.

We then went on a wild goose chase–led by me–through the red light district of Shinjuku looking for a building that doesn’t exist. (Long story involving maps, identical names, and doom induced stupidity.)

Later, at Kingdom Note, whilst we were waiting for a spot at the counter to open up, we were approached by a Chinese woman who expressed that being at Kingdom Note and buying ink and pens was her dream come true. We were happy for her, but our problems were just beginning.

We went to the store in Shibuya that we thought we’d find in Shinjuku to buy a few trinkets. However, there was an odd delay involving a trinket with no price tag attached. That led us into Shibuya on a Saturday night trying to find a quiet place to have a drink.

Every place we found was closed or crowded. This led us to an izakaya called, in English, “the Stupid Son”. We chose it because it had empty chairs, It filled up quickly though.

It turned out that the food was pretty good and the beer reasonably priced. We suddenly felt less doomed.

Necessary But Not as Planned

Today’s plans were much different than what happened, but what happened was necessary.

The plan was to sort the posts from this bit of blather into something resembling a book and then to work on the final exam for high school second year students.

Instead, because, well, because, I ended up organizing and reorganizing emergency kits and even managed to assemble a get-home bag to take to the school where I work. This started because I’ve been wanting to do this for some time and because I had a bag tucked away in a drawer and I suddenly decided to dig it out of its storage place. That’s when plans changed.

Once the bag was out of the drawer it started a cascade of cleaning and organizing. The bag had stuff in it, but a lot of it was old and needed to be updated. This is the good news, as it means that six years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami it hasn’t been needed.

Of course, a lot of it was crap, too. A shocking amount of it fell under the “at the time seemed like a good idea” concept. Also, the bag had originally been organized as a “get home from Tokyo during a disaster” bag and that meant it had a lot of fire-making and cooking related items that I most likely won’t need to walk home the seven miles from work.

Instead, I decided to turn it into a large first aid kit with a few emergency items, including flashlights, water, and multi-tools.

This required lots more extra work than I thought it would and led to me reassembling first aid kits for other bags. It also led to a couple trips to the internet to order replacements for things.

Somewhere in there I sharpened a couple knives and figured out in which order I’m going to eat the outdated emergency food.


Mostly Prep for Another Day

This was one of those days where I did parts of several projects but didn’t actually finish anything. This means I have a head start on lots of stuff.

I took pictures of a notebook, then cut up that notebook and passed the remainder to our youngest. However, I couldn’t be bothered to write the review.

I also tossed out brochures from last year’s ISOT. They formed the bottom layer of a pile that got slowly chipped away and eliminated today. I still have the pens and random souvenirs, but the next ISOT is in three weeks and I need room for the next batch of stuff I won’t look at more than once.

Tomorrow’s project is to write a couple reviews and try to organize the 1210+ bits of blather on this site into something resembling a book.

I also have to post ink that’s for sale and decide what to do with an old bag that’s suppose to be a second bug out bag.

In the end I’ll probably just end up playing tanks. Or watching other people play.


The Law of Diminishing Electronic Returns

No matter how you look at it, despite a lot of energy spent on my part, today was a wasted day.

I set about trying to figure out how to upgrade an old Android tablet and get a writing program working on Linux. The results were mixed.

The Linux project actually went well, eventually, and then it didn’t. I finally figure out how to install WINE, which in classic Linux tradition stands for the tautological “WINE Is Not an Emulator” (This makes more sense when you realize that Linux is actually GNU/Linux and that GNU stands for “GNU is not Unix.)

WINE lets me run Windows programs on Linux. After some tinkering I got the writing program running. The problem is that although I could open a new project, I couldn’t open the old one. After much fiddling and restarting, I finally gave up and checked to see if things were working as they should on Windows.

They were, with no trouble at all, and that means I have to decide if I want to spend more energy on making things work or if I should just give up and try a different program.

This is representative of my only problem with Linux: although it’s free, it represents a new hobby. You have to decide you want to understand it and have to want to work with it. Even the easy to use distributions such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint are great right up until something goes wrong and you have to learn how to learn how to fix it. For example, I started using it at work back in 2006 and liked it a lot. Then the school where I work got a new printer that wasn’t compatible with Linux. I never did manage to make things work and gave up on Linux for a while.

As for the tablet, once She Who Must Be Obeyed and I remembered the PIN (long story almost resulting in divorce, sort of) I was able to get things working. The trouble is, the plan to root it and install new software hit the snag that 1) the tablet is made by an obscure Indonesian manufacturer which means 2) most information about it is in Indonesian which means 3) I’m not sure what’s compatible with it.

At this point, I’m trying to decide if trashing it might not be more worthwhile than playing with it. I already have enough hobbies, Linux, for example.

On the other hand, if I’m just going to throw it out, I might as well see how badly I can ruin it before I do. That might be kind of fun.

Playing with Old Stuff

After last week’s adventure with an old computer, I thought that today I’d play with more old stuff.

Electronics tend to gather the way old, unread books do. They represent the triumph of hope over schedule. I intend to read the books, someday, and I tend to use/modify the old electronics but there are other things in the way, usually other books and other electronics. And other hobbies.

First I messed with the old computer for a while, and managed to avoid swearing at anything. Tomorrow, though, I’ll try to make some software work on it and I suspect our girls will learn some new words.

I also decided to play with an old tablet computer that I bought for She Who Must Be Obeyed a few years ago. My plan was to win her over the same way I won her over to digital cameras: introduce a cheap but useful one into her life and let her see the benefits. It turned out, though, to be a bad choice. The tablet was cheap and proved to be hard to use and she didn’t use it more than a couple days before abandoning it.

I kept it with plans to jailbreak it as a way to practice jailbreaking such things. Instead, it’s waited in a drawer for a long time. I’ll play with it tomorrow and see if it’s worth playing with more. If I can remember the pass code.

There’s also another tablet that I might get to play with, too. After the initial failure I bought a better one but it was barely taken out of the box. In fact, I think our oldest used it the most after we took her tablet away.

I’ll need to learn the pass code to that one, too.  I’ll have to ask our oldest about that.



Lost in Transition

Well, crap.

I wrote some stuff to write about here but the notes are somewhere else. If I were smart I’d write them from memory, but, well. Yeah.

Part of the problem of transitioning from one system to another is confusing notes (see yesterday’s post) and stuff ending up in places you don’t usually have stuff.

The funny part is, I was planning to write about the transition and the new system.

Part of what I’m doing is minimalizing the things I carry at work. Stuff I would normally drag with me after I used it at my desk, got left on my desk when I went to class. Then it got left on my desk when I came home.

The tease, then, is a new bag, an old new pen case and several pens being moved to new homes and new purposes. I’ll get in to more details in a future post–assuming I don’t forget my notes again.

Past Me Sucks

Any careful consideration of the matter can only reach the conclusion that past me sucks.

More specifically, past me likes writing incoherent notes but only about my second year junior high school students, not about other classes. This leaves present me to think that past me is trolling present me and enjoys seeing present me scratching my head and trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be teaching.

This wouldn’t bother present me that much except that two weeks in a row past me has left notes that didn’t make any sense, and this despite an effort by past present me to figure out what was going on last week. This usually means that present me does an impromptu book check to see what pages students have actually completed.

Today, though, as my students were working, present me figured out what the notes meant. It seems that past me, at some point, decided it was more efficient to record notes by date rather than by lesson plan. This happened because of various holidays and other days off leading to a jumbled mess of lessons that put one class way ahead of the others. In the lesson record this manifested as seemingly random dates that now hopefully make sense.

Now that the confusing mystery has been solved, I hope that future present me appreciates was present me accomplished when he becomes past me.

Other Kinds of Notebooks and Other Kinds of Stuff

I set out to do some prewriting about notebooks for this bit of blather, but distracted myself by installing a new operating system on my notebook computer.

That was not my intent, but after a few technical snags trying to install it into a partition, I finally said a few choice swear words, I finally decided to just to do a full install. That took a lot of time, and a few heavy sighs, but i’m pleased that it’s all working now.

However, as I approached the end of the install, She Who Must Be Obeyed decided it was time to Summer-ize our apartment, which is what we’d reserved the day to do before SWMBO started doing something else.

Summer-izing involves swapping the heater for the fans and hiding away the winter blankets. This requires clearing out the space in front of the variety room variety closet, removing stuff, putting stuff back, and swapping out dehumidifiers. Then everything has to be put back.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have any extra dehumidifiers and SWMBO had to run get some. This left the variety room looking like something out of a TV show about hoarders. Eventually we got everything swapped and restored, and even threw away an old suitcase that hadn’t held up well under long term storage.

The house is summer-ized now. Which of course means that tonight is unseasonably cold.

Working on the Weekend

Last week I did school work on Sunday; this week I did it on Saturday. I clearly don’t understand what weekends are for.

Part of the problem is at the school where I work we are forced to use Japanese language laptop computers. This isn’t that big of a problem except the keyboards are different, making it slightly more difficult to type and the word processing programs are loaded up with clip art, making it more difficult to make decent looking worksheets.

As such, I’ve been doing some of the work at home where I can play with my own toys.

Eventually, when I have my days of house arrest, I’ll revise it and use it to fill an actual “work” day.

In the past I’d have done all this on my own laptop at the school where I work, but our personal computers are still banned from the system.

Next week, I shouldn’t have much work to do. The trouble is, though, if I work on weekends now, it frees up time during the summer. I think I’d rather have more time off then, even if I’m still technically under house arrest.