David Chart's Japan Diary

October 11th 2005

Life is definitely settling into a routine. This is a good thing; I get a lot more work done when settled into a routine, and getting more work done is important to little things like 'having money for food' and 'keeping a roof over my head'. It is still the case that it takes me quite a long time to get started on writing when I have to sit down and think about what, exactly, I'm going to write. I need to continue my plan to get things sketched out in advance, as that should get things started more quickly. Of course, the problem there is time: the time that I spend getting my mind into gear and working out what to write is time that I can't spend planning out the next project. It is, however, moving in the right direction, which should mean more time saved on the next project, which in turn frees up more time for advance planning. I'm hoping for a virtuous circle here. Life may or may not cooperate.

Talking of life, the process of sorting the flat out continues. We now have a wireless LAN, which means that Yuriko can work at the table in the living room. She quite likes working there, which is good, as it means we don't need to work out how to fit another desk into the office. There's going to be quite enough trouble working out how to fit all the books that are being shipped from England into it.

We finally managed to order curtains yesterday. The bedroom is the only room with curtains at the moment, and they're left over from the room I was in in Tokyo, so they're the wrong colour and too long. The new ones should be delivered in about a fortnight, which will mean curtains in both the bedroom and living room. I'm not sure that the office will need curtains; while I'm in there, I want the light so that I can work, and it's north facing (more or less), which means there's not much problem with glare. At night, I'm not there, and it's not closely overlooked, so unless there are some very strange people willing to invest in binoculars to watch me working, the lack of curtains is not an issue. (It is true that there are some very strange people in Japan. I am not over-concerned, however. It isn't possible to read the screen through the window, so that's not a problem.)

Yesterday was a national holiday (Physical Education Day), and since Monday is normally the second day of my weekend, Yuriko and I were both free. That enabled us to go out together, which was nice. First, we went to a piano recital given by the cousin of one of my language students. It was Brahms and Chopin, and very pleasant. The main Chopin piece was the Piano Sonata Number 3, which I like. I found that I enjoyed the second half, which was Chopin, more than the first, which was Brahms. That's a little strange, as on the whole I would say that I prefer Brahms to Chopin. I can think of two possible explanations.

First, it may be that I prefer Brahms's orchestral work, but when it comes to piano pieces, I prefer Chopin. This is quite plausible, as all the Brahms pieces I really like are orchestral or choral/orchestral. The other possibility is that I enjoy concerts more when I know the music. The Brahms pieces were all pieces I didn't know in advance, while I did know the Chopin. That slightly cuts against the naive expectation that hearing something new is better, but I'm not at all sure that that applies to music. Music doesn't become boring when you know what will happen next, after all. Certainly, it felt like part of the pleasure of the Chopin was due to the fact that I knew it. If that's the case, it's worth knowing; CDs are a better way to discover new music (cheaper, too), and then go to concerts of familiar things that I like.

On the way back from the concert we went to Shibuya to go shopping. We went to McDonalds for a meal, because Yuriko wanted to try the egg burgers they were advertising. The slogan is slightly odd. It's 'pawaa no chikara'. 'Pawaa' is the Japanesification of 'power'; it's quite commonly used with that meaning. 'Chikara' is the Japanese for 'power'. 'no' means 'of'. So, 'The power of power'. Huh? Yuriko found it a bit strange, too.

After visiting Tokyu Hands to buy curtains, we went to the Apple Store Shibuya to get an AirMac Extreme base station. This is the item called an AirPort Extreme Base Station in the rest of the world; I'm assuming that there was a trademark clash in Japan. The Apple Store is, as they all are, well designed. The shop assistant did fail to properly explain the function of the ports on the base station to me, but that may have been due to his trying to do it in halting English.

I also got to see an iPod Nano in the flesh, as it were. Ooh, that's a nice piece of technology. If I didn't already have an iPod Shuffle, I'd be really tempted. As it is, the fact that the Nano is twice the price means that I won't be getting myself one in the foreseeable future. That should mean that I can get the iPod Pico, with more disk space than my laptop, in a package... actually, probably the same size as the Nano, since the size of the Nano is basically set by the screen and controls, and you wouldn't want them much smaller.

On the way out, Yuriko pointed out that the store is across the road from a church. The church has a white, modernist facade, with a large cross. The Apple Store has a white, modernist facade with a large apple. The apple glows. The cross doesn't. So, is Apple a religion? I'm fairly sure that people have made suggestions along those lines. It was an interesting juxtaposition.