Journal

 

Saturday
Dec062014

The Future is . . . 

The past ten years or so have really seen remarkable advancements in technology when you think about it. Just off the top of my head, I came up with the following list of products and services which not only did not exist a decade ago, but are for the most part indispensible today.

 

2001 Wikipedia

2003 Skype

2003 IEEE 802.11g, a.k.a. Wi-Fi

2004 iMac G5 with 40 to 500GB. 500GB??? Who would ever need that much storage?

2004 Toyota Prius introduced to US market.

2005 Youtube

2005 Google Maps

2005 Sunnyvale, CA, became first city in the U.S. providing citywide Wi-Fi for free.

2006 Facebook available to the general public

2006 Twitter

2006 Nintendo Wii

2007 iPhone

2007 Google Street View

2010 Instagram

2010 iPad

2011 Siri

2011 Line application

2015 iWatch

 

Makes you wonder what the next ten years will hold. Jetpacks anyone?

Thursday
Dec042014

Pitter-Patter

Feels like Groundhog’s Day today.

 

3:30am

Liam wakes up, crying. We give him a half bottle, not too much because he’ll probably throw it all up. Ten minutes later, he’s asleep again. Figuring I might as well get up and get some work done, I go into the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee.

 

4:00am

I’m at my desk. As I’m writing down my goals for December, one of which is to finish the current version of Rokuban once and for all, I hear the pitter-patter of Liam’s feet.

“What is it?”

“Mama. Mama.”

“Where’s Mama?”

“Mama ne-ne.”

“Mama’s sleeping?”

“Un.” (Yes.)

“Do you want to lie down with Daddy?”

“Un.”

I pick Liam up and take him back to the futon. He insists on lying to my right. That’s where Eoghan usually sleeps and in Liam’s mind it is a position of privilege. I scoot over so that Rieko is on my left, Liam on my right, and Eoghan beyond him.

Before long, Eoghan wakes up, finds his position being usurped by the upstart Liam and begins kicking and pushing. I put Liam back between me and Rieko. After a while, both boys calm down and fall back asleep.

Or so I think. As soon as I sit up, Liam opens his eyes and gives me a look as if to say, “Where the fuck you going?”

I lie back down and rub his back, run my fingers through his hair. Every now and again, he looks to see if I am still there. When he’s finally snoring, I head back to my office.

 

4:30am

My coffee is getting cold. I’m getting cold. The wind is still strong outside. The windows whistle with excitement. I hear the bedroom door slide open, then closed, the hallway door open, steps, then Liam’s voice, “Daddy. Daddy.”

I open the door and find Liam standing there, rubbing his eyes, his hair wild.

“Hold me.”

I pick him up and take him back to the futon. He’s asleep in no time.

 

5:00am

My coffee is cold. I’ve been up for an hour and a half and all I have written is: “Finish Rokuban.”

Pitter-patter.

Sighing, “At this rate, I won’t be finishing anything.”

I pick Liam up and feel his diaper. Full tank. I get a fresh diaper and carry my son back to the bedroom.

The nice thing about Liam is that he is meticulous. He closes doors behind himself, he puts the caps back on the pens when he’s finished, he returns his plates to the kitchen after eating, he throws his diapers in the garbage, he goes to the toilet himself, and when he’s done removes the potty trainer and puts it back in its place. Eoghan, on the other hand, has a habit of tossing everything onto the ground.

So, I change the boy’s diaper and lie down next to him one more time.

“Liam baby.”

That means Liam wants to lie down on Daddy’s chest. He crawls up on top of me, yawns, and falls asleep.

The boy is getting big. In the past few months, he grew about four or five centimeters. As he is lying on my chest, his toes touch my knees and the top of his head is only a few months of growth away from touching my chin. I give that mop of hair of his a kiss, then slowly lower him down.

 

5:30am

I make myself a fresh cup of coffee and head back down the hall.

We managed to get through the night without either of the boys vomiting. This is progress. Now to make some progress on my writing.

 

 

Monday
Dec012014

Bushy Brows

   About a year or so ago I was in the ladies cosmetics section of a department store chasing after my son who had escaped from me when I noticed that all of the models pictured in the large photos above the cosmetics sellers had bushy eyebrows. 

   Not long after that, the young women in my college classes started sporting the new look, for better or worse. 

   "What the hell is going on here," I asked a fashionable woman who works in the aparrel industry.

   She replied that, some people say that similar to the length of skirts, eyebrows are an indicator of the economy. The heavier the eyebrows, the better the economy.

   "Ah, eyebrow-nomics."

Monday
Dec012014

Yakuin-henge

Sunday
Nov302014

Räuchermann

   I was showing a young woman my collection of handmade German Christmas ornaments yesterday.

   “And these two,” I said, pointing mit großem Stolz to a large Nußknacker (nutcracker) and Räuchermann (incense smoker), “I got when I was an exchange student in Germany about twenty, no, thirty years ago.”

   “Oh, so they’re vintage!”

   And then I bludgeoned her with the nutcracker. 

 

Wednesday
Nov262014

The 1% in Japan

   With all the talk in recent years about rising economic inequality in the U.S., I was curious to learn more about what the situation was like in Japan. In researching the issue, I came across an interesting site called heikin shūnyū ("average income", sorry Japanese only) which answers a lot of the questions people have about income and wealth in Japan. I will be translating some of my findings here, so check in on this post from time to time. 

 

  Ten million yen a year

   The first thing that caught my eye was the following:

   "年収1000万円の手取りはいくらかと言いますと、ざっくりですが700~800万となります。ちなみに全体の中で、年収1000万以上もらえる人は全体の3~4%となりかなり少ないです。"

   Take-home pay for someone earning ¥10,000,000 a year (or $84,873 at today's lousy exchange rate) amounts to about ¥7~8,000,000 ($59,000~68,000). Incidentally, only 3-4% earns over ten million yen a year. 3-4% of what is not clarified. I assume it is 3-4% of those who are working and earning an income.

   According to another great site, Trading Economics, the labor force participation rate is 59.9%, giving Japan a workforce of 63,660,000 people. So, if I have calculated correctly, about two million people in Japan earn over 10 million yen a year. That would put them squarely in the top 5%, something I find hard to believe as an income of ¥10,000,000 isn't what I'd call "rich". (See below for the actual stats.)

 

   Bragging Rights

   How much money would you have to earn for you to feel like you're really raking it in? Minna no Koe ("Everyone's Voice") an online opinion survey run, I believe, by DoCoMo, asked this very question. More than 32,000 people took part in the survey and the results are as follows: 

1. Over ¥10 million 48.8%

2. Over ¥8 million 19.3%

3. Over ¥5 million 12.0%

4. Over ¥20 million 6.3%

5. Over ¥100 million 3.9%

   Interestingly, if you look at the answers of those still in their teens, "over ¥5 million a year" drops from third place to sixth and ¥20 million rises to third place. The second most common answer for those in their twenties, however, is "over ¥5 million a year", reflecting perhaps the harsh reality of working life in Japan today.

 

   Who's Making What

   In 2010, 45,520,000 people in Japan received a "salary", the largest portion, or 18.1% (8.23 million people), earning between ¥3,000,000 ~ ¥3,999,999 a year. The next largest group, or 17.6% or wage-earners (about 8 million people) earned between ¥2,000,000 ~ ¥2,999,999.

   Among men, the largest wage group (19.5% of the total) earned between ¥4,000,000 ~ ¥4,999,999. 26.8% of women earned more than ¥1 million and less than ¥2 million.

¥4,000,000 ~ ¥4,999,999 14.3%

¥5,000,000 ~ ¥5,999,999 9.4%

¥7,000,000 ~ ¥7,999,999 3.9%

¥10,000,000 ~ ¥14,999,999 2.8%

¥15,000,000 ~ ¥19,999,999 0.6%

¥2,500,000 ~   0.2%

   Those earning over ¥10,000,000 account for less than 5% of all wage earners, or about 2.27 million people.

 

   "Kakusa Shakai"

   Kakusa Shakai (格差社会, "gap-widening society") is a term you're sure to hear on TV when the discussion is about the economic in Japan. Like America, Japan has seen growing income inequality over the past few decades, though it hasn't been as conspicuous. Rather than go into the reasons for the rise in inequality, I would like to note that as of 2010, there were some 800,000 people who could be counted among the "well-to-do", namely, those earning over ¥20 million a year. By comparison, there were more than 20 million Japanese living in poverty.

   In my next update, I'll try to look more closely into the stats of poverty in Japan.