Welcome Back Update

Well hello there. Sorry for the time off, but its been a great holiday weekend and I’m finally all back caught up with the regular schedule. A quick update for family and friends. Let’s go!

So classes have started again in earnest. Our schedule is pretty much non-stop until December 15th. This ending session will be different as we will have three finals in a row, a departure from our previous staggered schedule of classes. We are also beginning what I feel to be the most challenging module of the curriculum thusfar, International Finance. Spot rates and exchange market futures are all fun. Just as I am submitting tuition to Waseda in Japanese Yen, I learn precisely how that transaction actually works – quite interesting.

This past week marked an entrance into traditional Americana cuisine experience, my first Thanksgiving turkey. I had the assistance and leadership of my lovely girlfriend and her father’s excellent brined-turkey recipe to guide me through the experience. With a couple of friends, we managed to put the turkey down along with some friends for what made a great evening. Earlier in the day, I was also able to teleconference up to my family in the North, to enjoy a spot of turkey with them remotely. It just wasn’t the same over the blocky H.264 encoded transmission though.

Thanksgiving Crew

Two days of this week were dedicated to hunting down the much coveted Nintendo Wii. Alex and I were up bright and early at 3:30am on Friday morning to wait outside of Toys R Us, only to learn that they didn’t have any. The following 2 hours were series of disappointments (being just one and two slots short of the line at Gamestop). Alex did manage to get a Wii later in the weekend as he tackled Best Buy into submission.

The remainder of the week was spend with Linda traveling up to Charlotte, checking out the Discovery Place museum and science center, going to some fancy dinners, relaxing, and catching up on some Nintendo DS Lite titles. It was nice to finally spend some time with her. I truly feel like we have settled into the dynamic of our relationship and it feels great, even with the overseas distance of studying abroad. I’m lucky to have found someone who understands me so well.


So, after all the excitement, I’m left with a sore throat, feeling a bit under the weather but hopeful I’ll recover soon, and overall satisfied – satisfied that this stage of graduate school will soon be over, I shall soon be heading back up north for a nice work week and the holidays, soon to head over to Europe for a nice vacation, dedicating time to the study of Japanese, and soon to take a much needed long night of rest.

Mata ne!

Brief Statistics

A few brief statistics from my life right now:

  • Number of countries conversed with today: 6
  • Number of team groups I am currently in: 4
  • Number of exams/quizzes due this week/next: 4
  • Number of times I’ve eaten dinner at home in the last seven days: 1
  • Number of times I’ve missed breakfast in the last seven days: 7

Busy and boring, the worst combination.

Apple Advertisements, What Gives?


Are you confused?

So first there was the news that Justin Long was no longer making Apple commercials. Next, I had discovered that there were equally compelling commercials using the same schtick for Japan. Following this, I posted some borish comments on the topic. Then, I read another article today claiming that the long-man himself is denying it. Whatever, I’m so confused, and yet I don’t care. I still like the Japanese commercials better.

But in all this, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if this guy were in the Japanese commercials. Would he be confused? Would he brush it off? Would he try to talk to the hot Japanese camera girl again?

So to add to the confusion, here is a little ditty done I did with Final Cut Pro while taking a study break, just for each and every one of you. Enjoy.


134 Free Academic Podcasts

A few months ago, I wrote a post on free education resources online. Today, I continue that post a bit as I ran across an interesting blog post that lists 134 Free Academic Podcasts. There are free courses on everything from Air Traffic Control to World Religions. Truly, this makes me wish I had more time to spend learning.

Unfortunately though, this list does not contain anything Japan-related lessons at this point but I will keep my eye out. In the meantime, here are my two favorite Japanese-related academic podcasts.

  • JapanesePod101.com – Free online audio lessons in Japanese. Highly recommended.
  • JapanConsidered.org – Brush up on your Japanese politics with this highly educational podcast from the University of South Carolina.


Japanese “Get a Mac” Ads


Nearly all white background, check. Smug hipster guy with a cool hair style, check. Hands in the pocket, check. Suit for the PC-guy, check. Unzipped sweatshirt, check. Kitschy piano vamp in the background, check.

Just as Apple is discontinuing the infamous cool Mac-guy versus unhip PC-guy, they are now using this same advertising slant in its Japanese marketing campaigns. The Japanese Apple videos are nearly identical, with the absence of Justin Long and John Hodgman.

I wish Apple would have quit while they were ahead with the success of this ad campaign. Over a dozen of these does seem to be a bit overbearing. People can quickly relate to the PC guy. “Hey, that guy cut me in line at Starbucks!” “Oh, its ok. He has a Mac.” I can’t say blame folks who feel this way as the repercussions of this brand-building exercise is being felt here.

Continue reading “Japanese “Get a Mac” Ads”

Hikikomori Video


My del.icio.us crawling for videos of Japan picked up something interesting today – a well shot mini-documentary on the social-withdrawal phenomena of Hikikomori. I’m not adding this as a video podcast episode since this is not original material, but definitely check it out. Hikikomori video.

I have to agree with one of the skateboarder interviewees with the thought that, in some ways, everyone is otaku. I have plenty of friends who I would consider business-otaku. I think I am music-otaku, or perhaps even photography-otaku. If not for the great shots of Japan at night, the video is well worth the guy rocking out on drums at the end. Give it a watch if you are in mellow mood.