Concentration Time Redux

In today’s interoffice memo, the official English language nomenclature was revealed: CONCENTRETION TIME.
This filled me with great joy for some truly inexplicable reason, and I was immediately tempted to stab my eyes out with a sharp pencil.
In other news, the supposed 60-year holdouts of the Japanese Imperial Army in the mountains of Mindanao are proving to be more elusive than Yamashita’s gold. (There’s a Leon Uris novel in there somewhere, I know it.)
And now, back to concentretion.


This mom and pop market is a few steps away from my apartment in Juso. Surprisingly, there are no snack bars, porn theatres, soapland related businesses, or negiyaki restaraunts nearby!
The price signs are all drawn in marker on standard A4 paper, and they sell really cheap produce that looks like it was grown in someone’s back yard.
A Lawson convenience store and the Rice Grocery are equidistant from my apartment, but in the end, the Takahashi Rice Market will end up with the larger share of my money because it’s ghetto in a cool sort of way. It’s like a store you might encounter in Gardena or Torrance, back in California.

Amagasaki Train Wreck Followup

By now, everyone is probably familiar with the theory of the rookie driver derailing the train by attempting to speed through the curve, as well as the story of several JR employees going bowling on the night of the accident, but get a load of this:

An obsession with being on time was also seen in the behavior of two JR West drivers who were aboard the derailed train. The drivers, neither of whom was hurt in the accident, left the scene without helping to rescue passengers and headed straight to work.
According to JR West officials, one of the two called his supervisor by cell phone to say he had been on the derailed train. But the supervisor did not instruct him to rescue any of the injured and instead said, “Make sure you’re not late.”
The 27-year-old driver later confessed in writing that he was sorry for doing nothing to help.
“When I think back calmly now, I was irresponsible not only as a JR employee but as a human being,” he said.

But the whole point is that he wasn’t irresponsible as a JR employee, right?
It’s a fairly interesting article, even if it does lay it on a bit thick with the “overpunctual society” line. Yes, “Japanese people should adopt a more relaxed way of living,” but even if they manage to pull this off with some mystical wand of compassion and understanding, it probably won’t magically prevent train derailments for the foreseeable future. Just to be contrary, I offer this: As long as it’s safe, there’s nothing wrong with the trains being on time, guys. Not a goddamn thing. Ah, but the poor drivers get stressed out! They have to pick weeds and greet incoming trains like common peasants! I hear you. Life’s a bitch, ain’t it? It seems that the problem is with the drivers training programs, and to allow JR to ultimately place the blame on society instead of improving their training programs is just plain wrong.
Here’s the link to the full article: Train crash reveals fatal flaw of obsession with punctuality

Adventures in Software Licensing

The girl’s PC died a couple weeks ago so I decided to piece together a new one from a mix of old parts and new, which was both fun and worrying, as always. I was mostly worried about having to buy another copy of Win XP (Professional, because I have bad luck with Home), since I kind of assumed authentication would be denied since the new PC had a new motherboard, chipset, and CPU (went from old SiS chipset/Athlon XP 1800 to Intel 865PE/Celeron 2.4). Hoping for the best, however, I built up the box with as many of the previous components as possible:
2 PC2100 DIMMS
Optical drive
GF Ti300 graphics card
Firewire PCI card
HD with WinXP still installed
I intended to switch out the memory and HD for more recent and appropriate offerings after trying authentication once just for the hell of it. Well, I slapped it all together and fired her up and…. I’ll be damned! My first surprise was that XP started right up and auto-installed a crapload of new drivers, but hasn’t experienced any trouble like I expected – it went straight from one chipset to another without a hitch, adapting to its new nervous system like some cybernetic super-being, whereas I thought it would surely cry foul and curl up like a sniveling little bitch in a corner somewhere.
The second surprise is that authentication worked! It accepted the serial I used on the previous machine and brought an OK back from Microsoft Japan – excellent! So basically, to summarize, Bill Gates made a product that worked much better than I expected -AND- I got to fuck him out of a couple hundred bucks for doing so! (because one IS obligated to purchase a new version of Win XP for every computer they install it on – when your PC dies, so does the license for the OS.)
So. The moral of this story is: The parameters of the much-vaunted “hardware hash” used for Windows XP verification are not all that hard to fool. You can switch mobo, chipset, and CPU without having to make Microsoft richer (I specifically wrote this entry because I couldn’t find one like it a couple weeks ago).

Concentration Time Liveblogging

Wow. Talk about killing the party vibe, dude – the old man ain’t even here today! He wussed out and went on a trip or something, so our protesting stunts are kind of pointless… Yet it’s funny to mock the lauded Concentration Time even in his absence, so the office is a flurry of activity right now.
People are talking loudly on the phones about totally nonsense shit, having group discussions from across the office, and the guy next to me is singing (softly, granted, but still…). I, myself, drank a liter of water during lunch and have gone to the head three times in the past twenty minutes. Just doing my part, you know. Because my ultimate goal is to someday be told to hold it, at which point I will whip it out and shower thee golden, I swear.
By the way, the official length of Concentration Time has already been shortened – it now runs from 1:00 to 2:40PM. It will be interesting to see if my Japanese comrades still show the same audacity tomorrow or whenever the old man gets back. All I know is that I’m having a liter of water with lunch for the foreseeable future; this is too much fun.

Americans in Japan, Rejoice!

They were selling Dr. Pepper at FamilyMart today! We have been waiting for this moment since… well, since the end of the war, I guess. This is truly a milestone in Japanese-American relations, especially since the majority of Japanese think Dr. Pepper tastes like Chinese herbal medicine.
Just in case you were wondering:
Yes, there is a cheesy Flash site to commemorate this great event.
Peppy, ex-Harajuku girl/Dr. Pepper “freak”