An overly self-consicious thought on a conversation…

Posted on September 22, 2010

I’ve started school again, and as such, I am now conversing regularly with a very different sort of person than I usually do at work.  One conversation in particular has been banging around in my head.  Let me describe it and let me know what you think, as I’m sure we all have these.

(Note: Some useful assumed knowledge: Maki and I lived in Nara, which is next to Osaka.  Both are in the Kansai area.  Tokyo is in the Kanto area)

Basically, Maki and I met a person for the first time.  He sensed she was Japanese and asked her, in Japanese, where she was from.  Maki answered.  He then went on to chat a bit about Japan, mentioning that he had lived there many years ago in Tokyo.  We mentioned our 2+ years of residence together after university.

That was awkward, as Maki later told me his Japanese was similar to her grandparent’s generation.  But that is not the really intersting part.  Here is the important confusion that I keep analysing:

I chimed in, saying that we liked living in Nara, since it was really just a suburb of Osaka.  I then immediately thought that there is a good comparison between Nara being like a suburb of Osaka, and likely most of the Kanto area being like a suburb to Tokyo.  I said “Oh, well I guess that would be a similar thing to the Kanto area as well”, all the while doing that head nod thing, trying to impart without a doubt that I was referring to him.

He then responded something like “No, that would be the Kansai area, right.”  He used the kind of “right” that teachers use when correcting a mistaken student.  I just said “ahhhh, sure, right” and decided to move on to some other part of the conversation, rather than correct him and possibly causing the situation to get even more uncomfortable.

This is what is in my head:

Here are the facts this intelligent middle-aged man has about me at this point: 1) I am married to someone who grew up in the Kansai area, 2) I lived in the Kansai area for 2+ years, 3) I made some point about Osaka and Nara, then made a comparison to the Kanto area, 4) I was making obvious head and hand gestures of some sort, indicating some reference to him.

So, taking it in that I am married to a Kansai local(1) and have lived there(2), his first and immediate assumption is that I have no idea what that area is called, and have confused it with the only other area in Japan that is more well known?  Also, by making a comparison(3), he assumed that I was comparing Osaka and Nara to the Kansai area, of which they are a part of?  Does that even make sense?  Finally, when gesturing that I was referring to him(4), did he assume I was looking for approval of my terminology, instead of assuming that I was referring to him, who had just previously mentioned he was from the Kanto area?

To me,  I’m confused as to how the brain was able to make all of those communication errors so quickly.  One defence on his part is to claim that my utterance was confusing, and leading, having just mentioned Osaka and Nara.  But I fail to understand how “this is likely similar in Kanto” can realistically be misleading.  Even if it is misleading in some strange universe, then how does it make any sense that I was comparing something to itself?  Keep in mind I was introduced as a fellow philosopher.

The conclusion that I have come to, is that this person has a firm belief that: he has a much much much higher and more complete understanding of Japan than I do; even if he has never been to the Kansai area, and even though (1) and (2).  I would think that belief would have to be strong to respond the way he did, given any one of those 4 points above.  It also seems to follow that the belief would have to be ever more strong to somehow process all 4 points and still miss the mark horribly.

Let me know your thoughts, but it’s these types of glimpses into someone’s beliefs and thought processes that usually help me formulate a first impression of someone’s character.  Ever since then, a few days ago, I’ve been extra careful how I converse with people for the first time.

Sorry for the rant.  Being back in philosophy classes has turned on that part of my brain, and I am more aware of these things happening now, and have likely bored most of you to death.  If this was interesting, comment or email me.  I’m interested in your take.

Courtney

Inception Cat…

Posted on September 06, 2010

What’s new.

Posted on August 27, 2010

So it’s that time of year again: phone time.  I rarely enter into a phone contract, especially one of those popular 3-year deals here in Canada.  However, last year, Virgin Mobile, my provider, offered me free mobile Internet for as long as I signed a contract for.  I went for a year, feeling that would be about long enough before I would want to make a phone change.  That decision has worked out well, as Sasktel just released 3G service in Saskatchewan.  This means that I can now use any of the new phones all over the province, such as the iPhone 4 and it’s competitors.

I scoured the interwebs for the latest offerings.  In Canada, the best three smartphones come down to an HTC, Apple, and Samsung.  The Apple iPhone 4 is great.  It has a brilliant screen, 2 cameras, and a quick processor.  HTC makes the HTC Desire, which runs Google’s Android OS, has a nice camera, okay screen, and fast processor.  Samsung makes the Galaxy S, which has a screen that nearly matches the iPhone, 2 cameras, and uses Android.  In the end, the choice for me came down to the iPhone 4 and the Galaxy S.  I chose the Galaxy, because it is more customizable with Android, as well as the replaceable battery, and the lighter weight.  I’m also excited that it acts as a portable wireless internet access point.

I can’t wait to pick it up next week.  It should be fun to play with.  One of my goals is to see if I can use a bluetooth keyboard to take notes this semester.  Speaking of which, I start my MA classes in a couple weeks.

On another note, Maki and I were out downtown today, and when I left the parking lot, I paid via the cashier on the way out.  She told me it was $2.  I looked through my wallet, and all I had was a $20 bill.  I gave that to her, which unbeknownst to me at the time, was akin to a personal insult.  “Ugh!  Are you SURE you don’t have TWO dollars?”  When did this kind of service become acceptable?  It’s like you get punished for being a patron.  At the airport, don’t go asking the airline staff a question, and don’t even think about having an issue with the bank.  I think I’m getting old…

Oh, and Maki is pregnant.

Summer Vacation & Back to School

Posted on August 07, 2010

Well, this marks the last summer vacation before I head back to school – after a six year break.  I’ll be doing my Masters in Philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan.  Although I’m nervous and looking forward to it, I am also a bit apprehensive, given the public perception of my chosen academic path:

The Philosophy Section

The Philosophy Section

This was taken at the used bookstore near Clear Lake, where I’ve been vacationing this week.  At least the Philosophy books were sitting above the UFO books…

So far, this past month has been busy with mostly work, mixed in with a couple reunions.  The reunions are always fun, and this year was interesting, as a whole new generation arrived.  There were babies everywhere, much to the enjoyment of Grandma  D and my mom.

Having gone canoing, bike riding, mini golfing, and swimming, I’m looking forward to a relaxing week of work next week.  I hope you are all enjoying our last few days of summer as much as I am!

Hey, is it raining?

Posted on July 11, 2010

Well the big story this year in the prairies is the rain.  It’s a sad day for insurance companies here but the ducks are loving it.  “Let’s see, just close my eyes and land! – *sploosh*”  I’m at the family reunion today (the first of 2 this summer) and the valley here is a good example of the state of things.  There is a dam in the river here to protect the valley, and it has overflowed.  It’s been a couple weeks of ongoing water from the dam, with no sign of it ending.  The bridge over the river in the valley is now a couple feet above water.  Here are a few shots Maki and I took today while driving around looking at the spectacle…

Spillway at the dam.

Spillway at the dam. Normally the water is below some concrete walls, and this spillway is dry and not a raging river like in this photo.

Spillway at the dam.  Normally the water is below some concrete walls, and this spillway is dry and not a raging river like in this photo.

Lake side of spillway.

Lake side of spillway.

Lake side of spillway.  Normally the lake level is lower than some concrete walls, which are now completely overrun.

Spillway flooding the valley.

Spillway flooding the valley.

Here is a shot of the spillway flooding the valley.

Maki and I were talking about how different this is than in Japan.  There, they have flooding mostly taken care of.  I now understand why they have the concrete rivers all through the cities.

Level with the bridge.

Level with the bridge.

On the left you can see the bridge, and on the right you can see how the river is so high it’s halfway up to some trees that are on fields next to what used to be the river banks.

Well, other than the rain, Maki and I are keeping busy.  Maki is still working as a project accountant as the accounts receivable person at an engineering company in the city.  I’m assuming she is meeting all her deadlines, due to the emails I get all day “IM BOOOOOOOORED”.

I’m doing well.  I left the engineering company that Maki, dad and I were working at.  Maki is still there, but dad and I now work for an engineering company on assignment at CAMECO.  So, I officially work for Schappert Associates Ltd. now, which is nice.  We made an arrangement whereby I can work for dad at CAMECO in the fall part time, so that I can afford to live while attending my masters program at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.  That should take me about 12 months to do.  Hopefully after that, I can become a supervisor at the gas station, or maybe even go for a PhD.

Maki and I had the honour of attending Jason and Shelley’s wedding a couple weeks ago, and I was happily performing groomsman duty.  It’s always fun to hang out with Sean and Jason, and I can’t wait for Sean and Amber’s wedding next year.  I’m sure Amber can’t wait either haha.

In other news, I saw the A-Team movie this week, and I highly recommend it to anyone who liked the TV show.

I hope you are all having a great summer, and look forward to visiting many of you!  Feel free to let me know how you are doing 🙂

Courtney

Summer is here, so the automobile takes over my life.

Posted on May 22, 2010

First, I should close the furniature drama.  Our headboard was damaged on the back, but it doesn’t appear to be visible or structural.  As such, we’ve just assembled it and left it.  The new bed frame we received appears to be okay, despite some installation issues.  The replacement dresser we received was damaged severely on the top section.  Being discontinued, Ashley was offering no means of repair or replacement.  I managed to convince the manager of the local store to exchange their display dresser for ours.  That was met with the following “we will do this, but your warranty is now void”.  So if there was any change I’d ever shop at Ashley Furniature again, that sealed to deal, lol!  NEVER.

At least we have a bedroom set now, so we’ve put the fiasco behind us.  Done.

Now that summer has arrived, my focus turns from depressing thoughts of snow-drowning to tire smoke, asphault, and supercharger whine.  First up, is the “WHAAAAAAT????” as Maki calls it.  I call it my pocket bike:

A 47CC toy, approximately 38 inches long and 23 inches high.  These things are cheap, which is a good thing.  The first time I got it running, some car buddies tried it out an prompty wrecked it twice.  Kids.  All the parts are in the twenty dollar range, so no real harm done.  I have to admit that I do enjoy driving around town with my full face helmet on.  It gets some awesome reactions.

I’ve been working long hours, so I haven’t had the energy to work on the car as often as I’d like.  But, I did volunteer to help out a friend who built and drives a mini stock circle track racecar.  I’m the crew.  Here are a few shots from last night.

This is a shot from within the pit area where I stayed.

This is the car my friend and his friend built together this winter to race this summer.

Here is my friend Dave with the car.  Him and his friend change driving duties from race to race.  Dave drove last night and was able to get the car running almost competativley.  Once they sort or their ignition issues (car randomly turns itself off) they should do well this season.

This is the car’s owner and the team’s other driver, Colin.

It looks like this summer should fly by fast, which is a bit sad.  Hopefully I remember my camera to catch most of the hijinks.  I have yet to dust off the model rocket – man so much to do!  Anyway, it’s off to Regina for some paintballing this weekend.

I hope you are all having a fun summer as well.  If not, just come for a visit 🙂

“Sir, your replacement furniature is ready for pickup”

Posted on April 29, 2010

Here is a brand new headboard, wee!

The dresser was damaged, and the proof is apparent...

That is all for now!  Stay tuned……

Making up for last year, summer comes a bit early.

Posted on April 20, 2010

Thank goodness summer came a bit early for us this year.  Last year, we had snow in May and nothing really nice the rest of the year.

And now – something you have all dreamed about as little kids:

MY OWN SLUSHIE MACHIIIIIINE!!!!1111@@@^^!!!

What the pad is this thing?

Posted on April 15, 2010

What is the iPad?  Is it a laptop replacement?  A smartphone replacement?  Perhaps it is something in between?  But, if it’s something in between, what the heck is that – a useless laptop, or a clunky massive smartphone…….that can’t make phone calls?

Well, let’s take a look at this and see if we can’t figure it out.  I think we need to know the answers to these questions first, before we can think about the more important question: Do I want one?

So, what the pad is this thing.  Apple calls it a tablet – now that’s a tough pill to swallow……….. sorry.  A tablet is supposed to be any portable computer that uses a screen interface, using such things as a stylus or your pizza-greased fingers.  Tablets can come in different forms, and the iPad would be classified as a slate, because it uses the screen as its keyboard.

So it’s a slate tablet.  We now know it’s not a laptop, or even a “netbook”.  wow.  So why would anyone want such a thing?  We have netbooks and iPhones.  Apparently, Steve Jobs doesn’t like netbooks – because they are underpowered laptops.  How many reporters at the unveiling were thinking in their heads “isn’t a tablet an underpowered laptop – that doesn’t even have a keyboard?”  The answer is yes.  Yes, the iPad will be an underpowered laptop with no external keyboard.  (“will” be, because we Canadians don’t have it yet, and the version we will soon have doesn’t yet have a cell connection)  Yet why, why Steve, do people still want these….pads?

Well, Steve has claimed in the unveiling of his 9.7″ pad, that it does certain things better than a smartphone, and certain other things better than a netbook or laptop.  Let’s see.

iPads are more expensive than netbooks (and smartphones).  Many netbooks offer beautiful 10″ screens.  The iPad has a touch interface.  Most netbooks don’t have a touch screen, and those that do, don’t have the software to complete the user experience the way the iPad does.

I think we stumbled on the major difference.  Although the iPad has many limitations over a well-optioned netbook, it does have that user experience.  Netbooks are usually found in two categories:  Windows, or Linux.  If you bathe somewhat regulary, or if you consider the command line interface to be passe, you likely will choose a Windows-based netbook.  Windows netbooks have a problem though; they run on Windows.  Welcome to the world of constant updates, viruses, cluttered screens and menues, slow performance, and all on a machine with less cajones to deal with it all.

The iPad runs on Apple software.  Software that has been written for the very hardware it uses.  This allows Apple to design the user experience itself.  With Windows, or even Linux, they are designed to run on almost anything you want to buy and build yourself.  Since the iPad is locked in, both in harware and software, the entire experience is controlled.  What’s the result?  An environment where getting a virus is unheard of (much like a smartphone), there are no background programs eating memory, and the touch screen interface has been detailed and perfected without compromise.

Doesn’t the iPhone already do this?  Well, yes it does.  The main difference I see is that this iPad is large enough to be used as an e-reader or watch movies without neck and eye cramps.  There are a lot of deficiencies, however, that make me wonder if I am wanting to give up the compact nature of an iPhone just for a bigger screen.  I have a laptop that does all of the movie stuff quite well, in fact.  It also has an HDMI output, and USB outputs for my DVD drive and other devices; which the iPad does not have.

So, in the end, the iPad is in fact a “slate tablet” with a locked-in software and harware environment.  It has a great user experience, as a direct result of controlling the operating system and hardware.  However, the iPad will force netbook lovers to give up a traditional keyboard, webcam, USB / HDMI ports, and possibly some horsepower, etc.

So, for this generation of the iPad, we need to choose between the user experience of the iPad and the full features of a netbook.  There doesn’t seem to be a device around that has combined those two things.  So for some, that may mean that a netbook and an iPad makes sense; this way you get the best of both worlds.  For me, I’m still on the fence.  I demand more out of my technology.  I want the user experience AND the features in one device.  I know it’s possible, and I will wait until that day comes.

This leads into a small rant about Apple.  The more I learn about Apple, the more it becomes obvious that they are not the friendly teddy bears that the Mac vs. PC commercials would have us believe.  What I’m getting at is that Steve Jobs and the Apple-bots are purposely phasing their devices to maximize profits, at the expense of consumers getting a more superior product.  Apple can squeeze a camera on the back of an iPod nano, but there is no room on the iPad?  Really?  No connections for disc drives, flash drives or HD TVs?  Never done this before on say, a Macbook?  It’s obvious to me that these things will eventually make their way into an iPad or iPad-like device from Apple.  What bothers me is the way we are expected to buy every version as it comes out.

But I guess I don’t HAVE to buy one now.  I just have to wait until a feature-rich iPad comes out.  Then I can re-assess the differences between current netbooks (or tablets) and Apple offerings.  How about you?

Another “new” blog….

Posted on April 13, 2010

Well, I’ve started the transition from my own meager attempt at programming to an official WordPress blog.  It’s time I got on the train.

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