Anyway, I have been duly chided for not having updated in Forever, although trying to get something written for yesterday seemed somewhat... self-defeating somehow. I have, however, managed to miss everything involved with March 1 (in my defence there, my internet WAS out for a week around then until I got a good tech to come to the house), Herself's birthday, St. Patrick's day, Rozberk's birthday, the Equinox and Goddess knows what-all's been on my Flist.
May I offer, to start,
Greetings from J-List - Wednesday, April 2, 2008
One concept you encounter quite a lot in Japan is sekinin (seh-kee-neen), meaning responsibility or duty. While the James Clavell cliches of Japanese who are bound by the bushido-esque code of honor aren't very accurate when applied to the country today, I have noticed that the idea of sekinin o toru, or taking responsibility for something, does seem to be an important aspect of the Japanese character. This can take many forms, with one of the most visible being the way students take responsibility for cleaning their own classrooms, including the toilets. Virtually all cleaning in Japanese schools isdone by the students, who must either learn to take pride in their cleaning skills or study in a dirty classroom. The idea of sekinin is important in a business environment, too, and when some new job presents itself to us at here at J-List, I'm always interested in the way our Japanese staff divides the work into logical sections and assigns different parts to each person, so everyone knows who's in charge of what. Having a person's name associated with a job is one way to create a sense of pride,and in restaurants it's common to see a little clipboard hanging in the restroom indicating which employee has last cleaned, so everyone knows who is or isn't doing his job properly if there's a problem. I often wonder whether some of these little innovations might not be imported back to the West?
It'sa day for congratulations in Japan. The mega department store chains Mitsukoshi and Isetan are getting married, formally tying the knot in a merger that should see a combined sales of the two store chains reach $15 billion this year. The news appeals to my history-challenged American brain because Mitsukoshi has been around since 1673, when Takatoshi Mitsui opened a kimono shop in Edo (Tokyo). He brought many innovations to the business world back in those days, introducing the first customer-friendly retail shop with pre-made products sold at clearly labeled prices, an improvement over the then-common custom of making products in a customer's home after an order was received. His lowly shop would eventually blossom into the Mitsui zaibatsu (business conglomerate), involved in everything from shipping to mining and founding Japan's first private bank -- not bad. There's some other happy news in Japan today: in Sapporo a chimpanzee named Gacha has given birth to a baby chimp. The surprising thing is Gacha's advanced age: 41 years old, or over 70 in chimpanzee years. Mother and child are reportedly doing fine.
One of the nice things about living in Japan is the honesty and integrity people here generally possess. A couple weeks ago, some friends and I went to the Park Hyatt in Tokyo to drink in the bar from Lost in Translation, intending to try the whiskey that Bill Murray's character advertised in the film. We accidentally ordered the wrong drink,choosing a $29-per-glass high-end whiskey, but our waiter steered us to the actual drink used in the film, which was only $19 per glass. This impressed me since he could have said nothing and gotten a larger bartab. When fast hikari fiber (fiber optic) Internet finally came to our part of the city, I was so overjoyed I was ready to sign up for the most expensive dedicated line they had. Instead of selling me the costlier service, the NTT salesman talked me out of it, telling methat the standard shared line would be more than fast enough for us -- and he was right. Then there was the time I was shopping for a Minolta camera, the old kind with the silly pre-programmed cards that enabled certain camera effects. I was ready to buy a bunch of these optional cards with the camera, but the salesman at the store shook his head, telling me that they weren't worth the money, losing an additional sale but certainly gaining my trust.
Let's see... ah!
- An animated GIF of Martian clouds passing, 4 frames
- Women. In. SPAAAAAACE!
Nowadays it's not unusual to find a woman at the helm -- leading a corporation, commanding a space shuttle, or even operating a rover on Mars, but it's rare to have a supermajority of women in some technical fields. Thirty women made "herstory" recently when they took charge of operating NASA's Mars rover, Spirit. The all-female team of scientists and engineers planned the event after noticing they were occasionally a supermajority on the rover operations team. They designed an action plan and transmitted all the computer codes for the day's activities, including using the robotic arm to take microscopic images of dust while Spirit was stationed on a slope. Though men still outnumber women in space exploration, the gender mix is changing. Through events like this, women hope to motivate their "sisters" to join them in exploring other worlds.
- Maps, animated and still, of the two rovers' travels. Can you believe it's been over two Martian years for both of them? [GLEE]
Through complex and torturous means (it's a good thing I'm still kinda stuck on eating Japanese rice and edamame, although the dogs don't eat cheap), I have a second computer, a desktop whose name is '17 Tauri' but is called 'Electra' (spelling optional). Because of Elektra, I can bring you a couple pictures from my 'adventures' in Second Life' which are much, much nicer than before:
Surprisingly, the snapshot in Straylight, particularly, isn't as good-looking as the actual view was. I have not analysed this yet, so if anybody wants to toss out theories.... Hm. Thought I had something else, but I must have got distracted.
Dogs: Everybody's OK and doing much better with the housebreaking stuff and the chewing stuff, for the most part. Annie managed to wriggle out of her harness; I refused to chase her, so eventually she got bored or anxious enough to come home on her own. Gemma has found a new way out of the yard, said portal not having been located yet (obviously). If it weren't for cars and utter gits, I wouldn't worry so much about them being out. Sirius is still in his denatured Azkaban until he realises he is NOT in charge of domestic security issues - he decided Sesame needed beating on, and I was pre-tired of cleaning up dogblood, so Cait's been coaching me on this problem I've never had to deal with previously. Meissa's platelets are finally back up to normal range, so cross your fingers, and hope she's finally spayed at the end of the month. D'Argo is itchy. Would you believe just about everybody's grown up already? Sirius is the only one still under two years for sure, as I'm still really vague on Sesame's age.
Still looking for a job. I am bad at this, by which I mean I look at the listings and NOTHING seems to fit, so then I get depressed and everything grinds to a halt.
But my LAST CAR PAYMENT is on the verge of getting mailed, so that's one less worry!
And with that, I think that's enough babble for now.