Wednesday, December 31, 2008

新年明けましておめでとうございます

平成21年始まりました。Happy new year!

Right now, all over Japan, people are crowding up to temples and shrines, throwing money and praying for the new year. Here, the weather is a combination of rain, snow, and thunder, and I'm staying home.

In this year's 紅白歌合戦, the white team won with about 2/3 of the vote. There was a nice medley of music from Studio Ghibli films near the beginning, with full orchestra and chorus conducted by Joe Hisaishi himself.

The Red-White Song Contest is an annual year-end tradition, broadcast on NHK for the past 59 years. It's about four hours long, and there's a break in the middle for a five minute news break. At 11:45, after the contest (and a chorus of 蛍の光, AKA Auld Lang Syne), NHK broadcasts live footage from shrines and temples around the country. Right now, they're showing a picture of some people on a snowy mountain, setting up torches in the shape of a word: 希. Ki, Hope.

Here's hoping that this year is better than the last. G'night, all.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A year's worth of statistics

A little over a year ago, I put that little map dealie over on the side of the blog. Now at the one year point, the map resets itself, so most of the dots have disappeared. However, I did grab screenshots of the map before it reset.


(click for full size)

That's about 7000 page views for the year. Not a lot by "popular website" standards, of course, but a heck of a lot more than I had originally expected.

Hello, everyone!

The service I use for the map has upgraded...now they include a list of countries and hits on the statistics page. Apparently, one visitor's IP address resolves to Europe (EU). Hm. Is there an ISP that covers the entire continent?

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

メリークリスマス

Two Japanese Christmas traditions, both examples of successful marketing [citation needed]:
  1. Christmas cake. It has become customary among many people in Japan to spend Christmas with a loved one, sharing a meal and a special cake. Christmas in Japan, marketed to lovers.
  2. Kentucky Christmas. Many families in Japan sit and partake of a large take-out meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas. KFC provides several different Christmas set meals, most of which include a couple of sides (higher quality than the usual slaw/potatoes/biscuit), and the aforementioned cake. Prices start at around USD$50.
How am I spending Christmas? Working. Then sitting around at home. Maybe this weekend I'll go and buy a couple presents for myself...

I received my gifts from my parents a few weeks ago. Shoes and slacks. If I were a kid, I'd be annoyed...but as a big guy in Japan, that's the perfect gift -- two things I can't buy for myself here!

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I couldn't tell you why...

I got a letter from St. Olaf today, advertising the fifteen-year reunion of my class. Whoo hoo...

Of course, it was also a fund raising letter. They've done away with the "personalized" letters from a few years back, the ones which proved that the fund raising co-ordinators for my class didn't have an effing clue who I was. (Hint #1: "Dear Bob...")

This time, it's in an odd flowchart form -- "The black and gold thread that binds us together across the years". Yeesh.

Now this sentence:
If each of us donates $150, only $12.50 a month (less than you spend at Starbucks), we can achieve a significant class gift.
...for some reason rubbed me the wrong way. For one thing, I haven't been to a Starbucks in several years. For another thing, if I had a hundred fifty bucks to spare at the moment, I've got more pressing matters to spend it on...

...hmm...

*Rob starts searching apartment for ¥13,500 worth of crap to take to the used store*

Odd note 1: my spell checker knows "effing".
Note two: Filled my gas tank yesterday for ¥100/liter. That's still $4.21 per gallon, though.

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