Monday, August 16, 2010

Great So Far and Getting Better

I bought myself a chair. My back is feeling better but I find I still like to write sitting on the foam pad with the PC on my lap. The chair is a nice break from the floor and is great to sit in while reading on the net, watching television programs (I’ve got this solved to a degree) and eating.

The purchase of the chair was an interesting process. My friend from La Rochelle restaurant knew of a used everything store where I would be able to buy a chair. I’d found a good chair in a furniture store near Kichijoji station that cost about $100 but I waited until my friend took me to the second hand store. We met at a corner that was about a 30 minute walk from my apartment. We had Skyped to setup the meeting and while Skyping he checked on Google Map to find the meeting place and then sent me the link. The next thing you know we are cruising virtually through Mitaka figuring out where to meet and which route I would use to walk there.

We met on time and then started walking to the store but again a local resident got confused by the streets and we walked too far. We asked for instructions from a passing couple then headed in a new direction. More walking in the hot early evening sun. We stopped at a vending machine and I bought Aquarius drinks for 110 yen each. Cooled down slightly we made our way to the Police Box (small buildings that house about 3 police officers) and asked for directions again. This time we headed back in the direction we had just come from but on a different street that angled off slightly. We found the store and there the first thing we saw sitting outside the store on the sidewalk was a chair with wheels but no arms. I sat in it and it felt right so we tried to find the price. It was 100 yen! Yes, about A DOLLAR and less than the drinks from the vending machine had cost. My friend told me that all second hand goods in Japan are cheap and if you are willing to have used items you can get by on a lot less money.

We went inside the to see if there were other chairs because I wanted one with arm rests but they didn’t have any. However we did look around and I spotted a shelf full of irons. My apartment doesn’t have one and for my girlfriend, if there isn’t an iron anywhere we go she expects little yellow oxygen masks to fall out of the ceiling. The iron was 800 yen. The place had golf clubs, surf boards, refrigerators, televisions, dinning room sets and thousands of other things.

We got the sales clerk to confirm the price of the chair and asked why it was so cheap. He said they go to houses and make deals to buy everything and sometimes they get these office chairs. Other times they buy a few items and the seller gives them the chairs if they’ll just haul it away.

So, I buy the chair and the next thing to do is get it back to the apartment. My friend has his bike but that’s not going to work because the chair is quite heavy so we look for a taxi. The neighborhood we are in isn’t very busy and it took a while before a taxi went by. We loaded up the chair and I said goodbye to my friend. The cab fare was 1,100 yen. It cost more than the items I’d gone to purchase.

While I was walking to meet my friend I walked past a Honda Used Car dealership. There were a number of great looking cars sitting in the lot and most had a price tag in the window. They appeared to be one or two year old Hondas and cost around $18,000 dollars. I don’t know much about Hondas but I think they are the top car for maintaining their value so I would think that a used Honda would cost most than that in America. I didn’t catch the model of the vehicles though.

I also passed a motorcycle dealership. I didn’t notice the make but I saw some small scooters that were priced around $1,700 dollars. They looked knew and I thought that was pretty cheap transportation. You don’t see many scooters on the streets here; most of the people ride bicycles.

We looked at the price of bikes in the secondhand store and I could have bought one for about $70. It looked in pretty good shape but I’m a little unwilling to get into the bicycle scene. My apartment has no place to park a bicycle and most people ride their bicycles on the sidewalks which are very thin. When two bikes have to pass each other it gets a little crowded and as a pedestrian you have to keep your head on a swivel to see what’s up ahead and coming from behind. The bicycles are amazingly silent. Add to that the fact that the telephone poles are in the middle of the sidewalk and it can get a little crazy if you have bikes coming at you from both directions and the meeting point is going to be near a telephone pole.

I asked my friend why they didn’t ride on the streets and he said it was too dangerous. The streets are very narrow and that was one of the reasons why I was reluctant to get a bike but seeing the congestion that can occur on the sidewalks makes me even more reluctant.

With the chair situation solved I also made some improvements on the internet television front. First, the Arizona Cardinals had their first exhibition football game so we did a trial run on using Skype to watch the game. It worked fine. The camera on my girlfriend’s note book is a little hot so there was a slight brightness issue. The other issue was the sound. In order for me to hear the commentary the volume had to be so loud that we couldn’t talk. In some households I’m sure that is the preferred situation.

I watched the first half of a poorly played game and then my girlfriend wanted to do something else so we hung up and I checked the net for a satellite broadcast. I went to Note that there is no .com at the end. I tried that combo first but the page stated that the website domain name was for sale for 2 million dollars. The guy who registered the name also said that he was serious and wouldn’t negotiate. I guess Justin.Tv got big before they thought to register the most common style of site name and this other guy is trying to get rich based on the creativity of somebody else’s mind.

At any rate, Justin.Tv has a number of live feeds for all kinds of events. I don’t know how legal it is but the games are being broadcast on the public airways and users get to watch them for free so it seems okay. I found the game I was looking for and was able to watch the second half. There was a slight glitch with the first guy that was re-broadcasting but there were other links that could be used.

The next day I was Skyping with my brother and he was watching the local team play a football game and when we finished I found that game on Justin.Tv as well.

Justin.Tv also has movies and television shows plus a lot of other types of entertainments so you may want to check it out. You don’t have to set up an account and it’s free. Some of the re-broadcasters load up on advertising around the screen and they aren’t very considerate about the distraction that the advertising causes but you can always look for another re-broadcaster.

Things are settling in here now. The editing on my next novel is moving along at a good pace and I should have it off to my editor sooner than expected. I’m more comfortable in the apartment and I’m staying fairly busy. I really haven’t had time to watch television and in all honesty I’m not missing it.

For some interesting links to things Japanese please check out my author page on my publisher’s website,

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