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bored to tears

weill in japan: day 20

Tomorrow in class, we're going to watch some grass grow and some paint dry.

Once again, I thought that I had all my homework completed, but I had forgotten one semi-major assignment. The assignment, which I had neglected to put on my To-Do list, was simply to rephrase the assignment as a presentation. Effectively, this consisted of just placing the student's name at the beginning (as a "role play") and parroting the same material that we've been studying for days. How is this supposed to help us with anything? Will there ever be real situations where we're given an article and asked to recite it repeatedly as if it were our own? I don't think any of us is studying to be a news anchorman, so these "skills" are completely worthless.

Everyone in class understands how pointless these drills are, and how little we're actually learning. If this gets any worse, as the current situation suggests, I'll talk with the professors about it. In the meantime, I have my pile of work to sit on and sulk about. All of this underscores that at least for my class, "study" isn't the key word in "study abroad."

sayonara, files

To all those people who say Macs and PCs can co-exist just fine: I've got something to show you.

On Saturday, I bought a FlashDIO USB memory device, with the hopes that I could transport files between my Windows XP laptop, my host family's Windows Me (Japanese) computer, and the computers on campus running Mac OS 9.1/9.2 (Japanese). There are also a large number of Windows 2000 computers on campus, but summer course students aren't permitted to use them. It's a shame, because I now have very good reason to hate the Macs on campus.

I'm no stranger to using, say, a PC-formatted floppy disk or Zip disk with a Mac. The Mac OS handles the files fine most of the time, although it creates annoying extra folders with wonderfully verbose names like "TheVolumeSettingsFolder" on the disks. This time, though, I was dealing with an entirely new device. I loaded my web page updates onto the device, along with a couple of utilities and a report of mine. In case of any problems, I also copied this data to a CD-RW. While in the library, I was able to access the contents of my memory device, although the Microsoft Word documents wouldn't open. I copied versions over from the CD, and they opened fine from there on out. I even downloaded a couple of files from the Internet to the device, hoping to open them at home.

I got home, turned on my laptop, and plugged in the memory device.

EVERY. SINGLE. FILE. WAS. CORRUPTED. Gone, kaput, useless. Even files that I hadn't touched on the Mac were irreparably damaged. After running CHKDSK a few times on the disk, I can now delete the files and start over. All of the file names are there, but the files' contents have shrunken considerably. The two MP3 files that I downloaded onto the disk are now a horrible mishmash of samples reduced to mere fractions of their original size. The minor changes that I made to my Word documents now need to be re-made. Time saved: zero.

I have no choice but to use the Macs on campus for Internet connectivity, so I'll try this again tomorrow -- backing up everything several times over, of course -- and see what happens. If I get corruption again, I have a very light paperweight. These memory devices are supposed to be very easy to use across platforms: a friend of mine has a similar device that he has used since last December across both Windows and Mac platforms. His situation is not perfect either: when removing the device while it was still mounted, having failed to "eject" it, Mac OS X 10.1 displayed its rainbow-colored wait cursor ad infinitum. UNIX-like stability my ass. Windows 2000 and Windows XP merely display cautionary messages when the device is removed before it is unmounted.

With homework forgotten, data lost, and the heat still bearing down on Tokyo, my mood is anything but good. This is likely the second low point of the psychological progression of people going abroad: first initial euphoria, then initial shock, then understanding, then resentment at one's surroundings. I don't think my case fits the mold exactly, but it's nice to look at it that way. Next and final stop: finally understanding and co-existing in one's host culture.

change is good

So tonight I had relatively little homework and a bad mood. The solution? Spend some 5 1/2 hours walking around the tourist-trap neighborhood of Odaiba with my older brother Kei and his friend Sheru. The crowds were very thin as the shops closed early on Monday, but we still had a fun time walking around and seeing all of the vast expanses of shopping, fun activities, and so forth. Odaiba also includes Joypolis, Sega's giant arcade and virtual reality palace, which was closed when we arrived. I must go back there to see it, even though it must be the most expensive arcade in the world.

Odaiba also features a small rendition of the Statue of Liberty, the famous Rainbow Bridge, and Leisure Land.

Leisure Land.

Located in the shadow of the world's second-largest Ferris wheel, Leisure Land is an arcade with everything. Just about every type of video game available, from pachinko to V.R., dancing games, driving games, typing games, photo booths, you name it, they've got it. There's even bowling and karaoke also available. The kicker: Leisure Land is open 24 hours a day. Since the trains don't run all the time, I could seriously see myself wasting a whole night -- and ungodly amounts of money -- at Leisure Land.

The evening ended just after 2:00 AM. I'm tempted to call home just because I can (it's 1:00 PM Monday in New York) but I think I'll try for my 4 1/2 hours of sleep tonight. My mood is improved, but I think that limited sleep and ill-preparedness for class will fix that on Tuesday morning. Good night!