Sunday, June 17, 2007

Keeping up with the ... Takahashi's

Keeping up with the “blog” thing is tough. When I feel a rush of great thoughts coming to me, I am not in any way able to take notes. Would I look out of place if I utilized the voice record function on my phone and just dictated as I walk? And what is a blog anyway? I still don’t know what makes this form of writing, broadcasting, posting, publishing, whatever you want to call it, any different than creating a webpage. Or am I behind the times? I suppose I will really show my lack of keeping up with the Takahashi's (come on, I am in Japan, no Jones' here...) if I mention my sentiments for internet sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Talk about keeping up with the Jones’s… why are people so concerned with how many contacts/friends are in their network? Since when did friendship become a contest of numbers? What about quality?

So why am I doing it? I wanted to be able to share more of my day-to-day thoughts on what goes on around me. I realize that many of my friends and family will never have the chance to experience some of the sights and sounds that I do, so I hope that by sharing a little of my world, you gain a small sense of much bigger place. And, with any luck, it will also become clear that my seemingly rock-star-life-abroad is not always so, and you will understand why your domestic bliss and suburban sprawl seem just as glam to me.

Anyway, back to my own feeble attempts at “blogging”. One of my favorite leisure time activities is reading the newspaper. Not the online edition, but the hot-off-the-press kind that has that unique newsprint smell and leaves your hands smudgy. It is filled with local advertising fliers and magazine inserts and the weather is on the back page. When I am traveling, I love perusing the paper to get the local take on the news. What are the natives fretting about? Where do they rank the US generated scandals? Is the weather listed on the back page? How lengthy is the sports section? Are there any good advice columns or horoscopes which I can lead my life by? I seem to have collected a number of news clippings which provide food for thought and now it is time to pass along a few of the more entertaining/provocative/just plain nutty international headlines.

A real-live, Thomas Crown Affair-esque heist occured just down the street from our hotel in Tokyo. In Ginza, one of the most posh shopping districts in Tokyo, two men walked into the jewelry store during midday, sprayed the shopkeepers, picked the locked of the case, and within 30 seconds, made off with a diamond tiara and a diamond necklace, both valued at more than 2.5 million yen.

If Bush thinks his ratings in the polls have dropped, Japanese Prime Minister Abe of the LDP (liberal may be part of the party name, but they are actually a conservative party) might have something to strive for. In a recent poll, Abe's support rate is less than 30%, with many younger voters especially dissatisfied with his politics. Several recent scandals haven't aided his sinking reputation, including the suicide of the Agricultural Minister and another man linked to bid-rigging, a computer snafu which leaked personal data determing that many soon-to-be pensioners have not been accurately tracked in the system, and his weak showing at the G8 conference in Germany. I wonder what the former Prime Minister Koizumi is up to anyway?

And my final thought for the day - follow this link to learn more about this man's deep appreciation of the Arabic alphabet and his talent for calligraphy:

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