Friday, March 30, 2012

Through vs. Thru

Maybe it’s because of all the text messaging I’ve been doing, but I find the word “through” to be padded out, like an umpire with a chest protector under their blues. It just feels like we’re sticking with a spelling structure that’s overstayed its welcome. Would there be any confusion if we just did away with “through” and replaced it with “thru”? I doubt it; Americans still seem to be able to find their way “through” the drive “thru”. Is this an elaborate ruse perpetuated by the nefarious Auto-Correct? I’m not ruling it out.

The only time Thru vs. Through might be confusing is when used in conjunction with the word “out”, as in “throughout”. When written as “thruout”, it doesn’t read, thus necessitating the aide of a helpful hyphen: “thru-out”.

Let’s look at the PROS and CONS of making a permanent substitution, shall we?

Less confusion with its cousin “though”
Quicker to write, type or text
Reads just like its spoken

Looks weird when standing next to “out”
Seems a bit unfinished, aesthetically

There you have it! My unscientific process has once and for all determined that we, as a society, are thru with through!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Addictive Apps

I got an iPhone*. I know, I'm just as shocked as you are**. But regardless of platform, I've found smartphone apps to be a bit of a crap shoot. When I was in Japan, I thought I would need to use all sorts of translation apps, but it turns out I needed more game apps (to pass the time on the train) than anything else. Also, this topic is probably hi-jacking a potential post by my buddy over at Dan's Nutshell, but he's got other things occupying his time right now. Where am I going with all this?

My recent favorite apps/games (some maybe on the Android platform):
1. LoseIt!--This app lets you set a weight goal and reach it by tracking your daily calories and exercise. There's a robust food library and even a barcode scanner to access nutrition information. And it's free!
2. Delta Airlines--The first and best use of QR codes. Check in as you wait in the security line and use your phone as your boarding pass. Just make sure your phone is fully charged.
3. Jetpack Joyride--A free game that you can play entirely with one finger. Perfect for when you are, um, in disposed.
4. Photo apps--I like Instagram, but don't like that you have to belong to a whole separate network. For the money, free, I like Camera Awesome: same types of filters, but without the network.
5.  G-Strings--This free violin*** tuner is amazing and easy to use. Goodbye tuning fork.
6. Triple Town--This free game is so addictive**** that I had to uninstall it from my phone. Drop dead simple--just match three like items to create one new item--but with uncanny strategy.
7. The Game of Life--this app is not great. And it should have been free. But it does allow for up to four players to play and the engagement level is low, so it's decent for passing the time on a train.

*I should say "bought", but I like to keep you guessing.
**My HTC Hero was fine, except for the battery life ... sucked.
*** Yes, I play the violin.
**** You have been warned.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Apparently healthcare is a passion point of mine, considering I’ve also blogged about it here:

This time the debate isn’t about birth control, but the Obamacare plan. The big question that’s made its way all the way up the Supreme Court steps is, “Can the US government require you to buy health insurance?”

The answer is, “Of course not.”

Everyone, except for the Supreme Court, seems to understand this. Even proponents of the plan talk about this as being an exception to the rule. And opponents of the plan rightly argue that the government could require us to buy all sorts of things, but, strangely, they cite broccoli as that “thing”—as if Americans have ever eaten broccoli that wasn’t deep-fried first.

You see: the government already requires that we buy stuff. Just not DIRECTLY. We collectively buy things, like bullets, roads, buildings and fire trucks, when we pay our taxes*. Therefore, we all own a little bit of everything. That’s not Socialism; that’s collective buying power. That way, if my neighbor’s house burns down, I don’t get upset or jealous that they’re using the fire department and I’m not. I know that if my house catches fire later, I’ll get to reap the fire department’s benefits, too.

This whole flim-flam-fa-doo** in the courts is because politicians are too afraid to just raise taxes to pay for the whole thing. Taxes are political suicide***. But with raised taxes, we’d still be “buying” healthcare, only in the manner to which we’re already accustomed. Instead, we have a genuine healthcare option under disingenuous conditions.

All of it is enough to make us sick, don’t you think?

*If we even PAY our taxes, right Corporate America?
**Yeah, I said it.
***Not covered under any healthcare plans.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Memoirs of a Gaijin

Oh that's nice.

So I went to Japan. And here are six observations:

1. It’s ridiculously clean. No, really. And the funny thing is that there are no public garbage cans, so you’d think there would be a lot of littering, but, no, it’s immaculate everywhere. And they’re big into recycling, so that’s a plus.

2. Those medical masks … a lot of people wear them everywhere. I would put the number at two out of ten people, so 20% of people are wearing them in public at any one time. From what I’ve been told, many people wear them when they feel they are getting sick or feel they are susceptible to getting sick. I wouldn’t be surprise to find out that U.S. insurance companies require them in the workplace soon.

3. The train stations play “I’ve been working on the railroad” when a train is coming. I kid you not. And the trains are incredibly on time and no business men groped me*.

4. You only need to know three phrases: 1. Sumi-ma-sen: excuse me, 2. Konichiwa: hello and 3. Arigato go-zi-mas: thank you.

Real nice.
5. Restaurant menus have pictures of each dish and prices are displayed in roman numerals. It’s pretty much the easiest country in the world to be a foreigner (or gaijin). And the food is delicious, especially if you like seafood. One of the best places was this little dive restaurant that served yakisoba noodles at 900-degrees C.

6. Sumo matches are awesome, giant robots** are real and samurai swords are amazingly intricate. All of these things are true and more. If you’re thinking of going, go now. You won’t regret it. Unless you do. Then it’s your own fault.

*Domo arigato gozimas.
**Specifically: Gigantor

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blogging, road warrior style.

I had the best intentions; I was going to provide thrilling updates to my friends, family and readers as I traveled throughout Japan. Greeting each person each morning would be a fresh set of pictures and even a video blog that detailed my travels and travails. And then reality set in.

1. Wi-fi is great, if you can find it. I didn’t have an international data-roaming plan for my phone, nor was I going to invest in one. Nope, I was going to just jump on Wi-fi networks all around Japan—one of the most wired countries in the world. The only problem: the directions and registration pages were in Japanese.

2. If you login from another country, you must be a hacker. Well, at least the security works on your favorite social networks. I tried Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and, yes, Blogger and all of them asked me to verify my identity. One small problem: I didn’t remember any of the answers to my security questions. Whoops.

3. Editing video is a pain on the road without the proper equipment. Even the best shots can sometimes be compromised by an unexpected train whistle, surprise visit from a deer or a camera battery suddenly dying. And without an easy to use editing option, it’s oftentimes just easier to wait until you get back. Plus, waiting also saves your precious battery life … for taking more photos and video.

4. Sometimes the best solution is to put the camera down. What good are memories if your memory of your vacation is just you trying to capture the memories? Living in the moment and not worrying about “likes” or “retweets” means you can actually experience your vacation before you share it with the world.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Still jet-lag-y.

At the 100 yen store.
I promise to resume my regularly scheduled blogging on Monday. Until then, there's this little purchase.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I mean it this time.

On hiatus until later in the week. Please excuse the delay.

Friday, March 16, 2012

New products.

Adds foam to beer.

Coke Zero Free.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More more.

There were no bees.

There was no eating of this.

There were no mallets or happiness for sale in this machine.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Alter everything about yourself

Every taste for every person.

Every logo is fair game.

Monday, March 12, 2012

And ... we're back.

At the dog park.

On the street. Yes, that's a 40 of alcohol. Breakfast to go?


I was hoping to share my trip as it happened, but that isn't going to happen as frequently as I'd hoped. I'll resume when I have the chance.

Day in the life of the Japanese People as seen by Godzilla

Friday, March 9, 2012


I found this online. Can you say "International Incident"?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Fame, By Daniel Kehlmann

The Premise:
A novel in nine parts, Fame explores what it means to be famous, encounter fame or have a passing interest in it.

The Good:
Much like Sherwood Anderson’s, Winesburg, Ohio, Fame is a collection of short stories that can stand alone or hang together. Kehlmann brings in reoccurring characters in unexpected ways and develops rich personalities with, for the most part, real emotion that result in real consequence. Even the chapters that don’t work that well are still inventive and unpredictable. Also interesting is the fact that he writes from an Austrian perspective—you would think “Fame” would be more of a wholly ownable American conceit. I could tell you more, but that would ruin the fun. Plus, at a breezy 175 pages, it’s a quick read regardless*.

The Bad:
Kehlmann is a versatile writer who can and does shift voices and genres. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a few of the chapters were forced and seemed to go on a bit too long for my tastes.

The Verdict:
Read it. It’s too soon to tell if this will be a book that sticks with me or not, but I appreciate the premise and the depth to which he explores it.

*Honestly, it’s why I was willing to give it a chance. That and back cover used the word "prodigy".

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Textin’ Dirty

I’m only human. And sometimes, like all humans, I’ve sent some regrettable text messages when I’ve been out late at night.
·      “I want to be inside you.” –Sent to the Powell’s Symphony Hall Box Office, 10.2.2011, 2:02 a.m.
·      “Dungeon Master … this is Dragon. Permission to roll the dice?” – Sent to ElfPrincess69, 2.14.2007, 8:01 p.m.
·      “FYI, I’m at a dinner and my elbows are ON THE TABLE!!!” –Sent to my grandmother, 6.23.2009, 5:35 a.m.
·      “I’m not filing a Schedule SE and I’m claiming my laptop as a business expense even though I never even checked my email.” – Sent to my accountant, 4.14.2011, 3:11 a.m.
·      “You the man” –Sent to myself, every morning 2002

Friday, March 2, 2012

Apparently, I’m a big fat jerkface.

A friend of mine* just had a baby. I’m super excited for him and his wife. It’s their first child and I think they’ll be great parents. One problem: they announced the birth on Facebook. Why is that a problem? Worry not, dear readers; I won’t keep you in suspense for long.

Back in the day** people would mail out a physical birth announcement or share the joyous news via an email to friends and family. Most people these days only mail out physical announcements to close family members and select friends, mainly because it’s cost-prohibitive***. And people rarely send out mass email messages anymore because wanna-be stand-up comedian Cousin Ricky had to go and ruin it for everyone with his mildly offensive “reply alls”****. But the advantage of the physical announcement was that you could reply at your leisure, if at all, and, with a mass email, you could reply directly and only to the sender.

The problem with social media sites, like Facebook/Google+/Pinterest/etc., is that I can’t “Like” or comment on anything without also getting a barrage of messages from everyone who comments or hits “like” after me. It’s either all-in or all-out. There isn’t an opt-out option like there should be. And with a major life event, like the birth of an heir or a wedding, it’s a gold rush of congratulations! OMG! Im sooooo happy 4 u!!! Oftentimes from people I’ve never met.

What do I do? Nothing. I don’t comment on anything. I don’t “like” anything. I don’t post anything, unless I’m properly prepared for the influx of alerts from every sector of my social network.

So unless I tell you otherwise, let’s just set my default status to “thrilled”.

*His wife actually, if you want to get technical
**Pre-social networks
***Can you really put a price on your child’s fame?
****To be fair, the baby does look a lot like the milkman

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I found this message scrawled inside a memo pad at a store the other day. Some lovelorn soul* had secretly, and yet publicly, professed their admiration for unsaid girl's aesthetic qualities on a global scale.

*No, that is not my handwriting.