Weill in Japan Jason Weill Web Productions
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first sunday

weill in japan: day 05

Today was the first day that I didn't leave home from waking until sleep, but at the same time I didn't feel constrained at all. After finishing my job application test, I was able to get on-line at home and finally push some files. Working on dial-up speeds with dozens of hops to U.S. servers makes matters hard, but it beats having no connectivity at all. Interestingly, many public and for-rent Internet terminals say "No web-based e-mail" since I suppose that people spend way too much time there. I don't fault the operators, since messaging remains the most time-consuming activity that people feel compelled to do on the web now.

In Japan, Winnie the Pooh is called "Kuma the Pooh," where "Kuma" is Japanese for "Bear." That's not the only name change that takes place: I was trying to explain that the movie "The Negotiator" doesn't star Eddie Murphy despite the fact that the newspaper said so. On TV, the movie "Negotiator" started with Eddie Murphy, and the English-language title "Metro." I watched bits of it with the English-language soundtrack option.

Japan loves food, but also loves its beverages. Although vending machines are everywhere, they mostly sell beverages. I still haven't seen a candy vending machine here, although candy is still sold at convenience stores and kiosks on train station platforms. Today I was first introduced to the wonders of Japanese beer, since my host father loves the stuff. It's not bad. Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi beer are all available in the U.S. as well as Japan, although the American versions are usually made in the states by Anheuser-Busch or Miller. Today I was also introduced to the extremely simple but satisfying snack of soybeans (edamame) with beer. Good stuff.

Even if I go all the way to Japan, I can't escape being called upon to help people with their computers. Today I helped my host father defragment his hard drive. Trying to explain the concept of defragmentation is hard enough in English, but I was able to get through it in semi-Japanese just as well. Most technical Japanese consists of loanwords from English -- "defrag" is "defuragu" for instance -- so it takes a certain amount of basic technical knowledge to get by.

Today was a quiet day, but on the plus side I was able to get through it without a nap in between. I also took care of my laundry, a good thing: tomorrow would have been the last day of my all-too-short six-day laundry cycle here. The washer is a little confusing to use, since I have to manually transfer everything over to a separate bin for the spin cycle, but the dryer is American-made with English controls. I have to plug the dryer in and only run it on the low-heat "delicate" setting because of the extremely unsafe position where it is mounted. Most Japanese families do not have dryers, opting instead to hang wet clothes outside, according to my host mother. I prefer the dryer during this rainy season.

The seven broadcast TV stations that we receive here put out an impressive amount of original programming. There's variety shows, sports, and a lot of educational programming that runs non-stop. Contrast that with American broadcast TV channels, which show reruns of old sitcoms and movies during the average Sunday afternoon.

Week zero is in the books. Tomorrow, the real fun begins as classes officially get underway.