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All over the city (Okinawa day 1)

The day began early. At 06:45 I was up and enjoying a Japanese breakfast. Alright, I think I might have eaten a bowl of unflavored yogurt that may have been cream cheese by how it tasted, but I’m a tourist, I guess I don’t know everything yet.

We took the monorail everywhere and went to a スーパー and got some food. There were other departments but they weren’t open.
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We saw the snake snakes in the sake bottles as well. You can’t make this stuff up, but here’s a photo in case you think I did.

Next we went to lunch. Had とんこつ、a pork dish. It was pretty healthy and cheap.

We visited Shuri Castle later in the day, and got ラメン for dinner. Jet lag started to catch up with me, so I decided I’m going to bed early. Until next time!

I’m through talking the talk…

… it’s time to live it. (Starting out a blog post with lyrics from a Blackalicious song, yep.)

Passenger’s log:

Stardate: 2012年5月14日

5/14, 02:00:
おはよございます!(ーー;)zZz

Find out more, keep on reading! (alert: looooooong)

04:21
At the airport. Nobody is here. Aight.

04:50
On my way to security. Passport, photo ID and boarding pass in hand.

06:48
This flight is supposed to land at 6:53 AM… Why are they serving drinks? Oh wait, time zones.

5/14, 06:00 (-1):
Right-o. Every time a time change occurs I’ll include the date (and time difference if I remember.)

11:36
Boarding! I can’t wait for those in-seat TVs!

12:00
Apparently that’s a first class only feature. Looks like movies will still be played, though we don’t get to choose. Not like I got time to watch TV, gotta sleep. ‘night.

14:48
My first meal is arriving soon. I got 3 choices, though they say it’s limited by what the other passengers chose. Hope it tastes like chicken!

15:11
Nope, outta chicken, but instead I got treated to vegetarian! Quite delicious. They got the rice and the lettuce and the carrots and the strongest, bitterest tea you could imagine. Just how I like it!

15:13
Before you ask me when 15 o’clock is, I’m on 24-hour time. (its standard in some countries too) We haven’t crossed over the international date line yet so I’m sticking with Chicago time since I don’t know where we are right now. I was hoping this plane would have TVs in the back of each seat, but it turns out the 747 is an older model, despite being one of the largest in the fleet. They’ve updated this one with flat-screens, but I was expecting a bit more from a 12 hour flight. Eh, guess I don’t need anything more than a seat and a tray table. And a phone to take notes.

15:25
All the windows in the plane closed in the 2 minutes I was in the lavatory. Guess everyone decided it was time for bed. I wish it felt like bedtime.

15:26
My passport is in my backpack. I saw my passport in my backpack. My passport was verified to be in my backpack. Wait up, I’m going to check once more.

15:27
Yep, everything is here. Can’t check too many times though.

17:00
Well, it’s still light as heck outside. I’d better get used to the idea that today will be the longest “day” I’ve ever physically experienced. Not bad actually. I decided to read “The Stand” for the last hour or so. Glad I’m not the main characters. Also, filled out the customs form.

17:04
It’s been a good flight, and I bet we’ll be landing anytime soon. Any time in the next 8 or 9 hours.

17:06
Any time now.

17:07
I think I’ll go to bed. Nighty night.

17:24
Still working on that sleep.

18:56
Guess I got that sleep. The flight attendant woke me up, and it would have driven me bananas except that she gave me a banana! Snack time! It’s still sunny outside, as it should be.

19:07
Ginger ale is pretty darn good. Good for you, good for your health. At least that’s what the old rumors say. I’m having my third can. They’re pretty good about offering beverages every hour.

19:13
Gotta drink it quick else you’ll be stuck with it until they come around for trash again. 12oz of soda is meant to be enjoyed, not chugged (-。-;

5/15, 09:58 (-10):
Alright, I don’t know where we are, but I’ll assume we’re pretty close to changing time-zones. I know we’ve changed a few, so I’ll go on Tokyo time from now on. It’s now freaking morning. Rise and shine, and I got a full day’s worth of travel ahead of me. Aren’t I lucky! Still on the same plane. To be honest, this is all pretty exciting so I’m not really peeved about it, I’m just getting tired! I got a layover in Narita, then by late at night we’ll be getting into the hotel! I can’t wait. No jet lag yet. Bring it on! (We’ll see if I end up eating those words later.)

10:12
They’ve stopped displaying the airship’s voyage over the telescreen. I may never know where we are unless the captain announces it over the PA or if these in-flight commercials ever cease. How’s that for a different writing style? Meh, back to rambling.

10:16
This is why Twitter is better for microblogging. I guess this is more of a live blog without many photos. A dog is eating a slipper on the inflight entertainment right now.

10:35
Countdown to touchdown: 04:35
Well now, the video monitor is showing GPS data again. Finally! Now I now how long it’ll take. We’re well past Alaska and almost there on the map. Guess “almost there” just means we’re 8 hours in. Least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s saying that it’s the middle of the day rather than 9:38 PM Eastern time. -57 degrees Fahrenheit out there, I’m glad I’m in here (^ ^)

14:32
I awake from a nap to the thought “Are we THERE yet?” also, to a delicious turkey sandwich. Mine eyes be itching with the sting of no sleep in nearly 24 hours, but it’s still sunny out there. Is this day going to end?

14:45
Countdown to touchdown: 1 hour
The captain says they’re experiencing some turbulence and will be turning on the seatbelt sign in 5 minutes. I think he’s being nice in that regard since half the plane is standing up in preparation for landing.

14:53
Countdown to landing: 52 minutes
Eyes are burning, ears are starting to feel the pressure of a 30,000 foot descent, customs form is fully completed, it’s sunny outside. Feels like I’ve got a cold. I’m not as anxious to disembark the plane as I thought I’d be though. My phone has been holding up miraculously through all of this at just under 50% right now. (49% if you must know) Hopefully we’ll be on the ground soon. From how my eyes feel I probably shouldn’t try to take any more easily interrupted naps.

15:03
Starting to sneeze. It’s also time to land. G’bye for now…

16:00
Landed at Narita! Got my bags and went through customs. Their system was down and they had to reboot it. Windows XP, classy. I’m recalling from Chicago like it was a day ago. I guess it really was, though it feels like not. I’m actually pretty energetic right now. Don’t feel tired in the least.

18:32
Went through the Narita Airport and got $80 exchanged to ¥. The exchange rate is better for them than for us.

22:30
No wifi anywhere! I wish I knew if calling voicemail was charged per minute, but I can’t look it up! Am I useless without this phone? I gotta to to bed.

San’ya Blues Impressions and Reaction

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The chronicles of Edward Fowler’s experience in Japan during the 80s and 90s were so interesting that I hardly wanted to put the book down. San’ya Blues makes a lot of important points through the stories within its pages, but the one that stuck with me the most is the trouble with abusing alcohol. The book focuses on poor construction workers (Yama men) who live in the San’ya district of Tokyo, a rundown district that is heavily controlled by gangs, and is known for its less prosperous population. Most of San’ya’s residents are men (many who have left their wives and families or have been disowned by their parents) and are down on their luck. The main source of employment for residents (and transients) in the town is a large gathering, every morning, in which gang-approved recruiters will hire the men for various construction jobs around the city. Work for the young and able-bodied residents is easily found, and pay is relatively high, though wages tend to be spent mostly on alcohol. There is one bank, the Welfare Credit Union, that residents frequent, but many walk around with their life savings in their pocket.

Of all the people Fowler described, a few stories stuck with me the most. In one of them, a man speaks of his childhood. This man grew up with his grandmother, and told of how boys were a lot more valued than girls back in the day, and how his sister died of starvation at age 8 since she wasn’t fed as much or as well as he was, and how she would always be denied requests for food from the grandmother because the grandmother didn’t think she was important. Quite a sad tale, and it sounds a lot like what’s been going on in China over the last few years, where girls are left to die on the streets. The BBC did a report on gender discrimination in China in 2007 and found that as many as 100 million girls are aborted due to gender alone. Japan may have been discriminating against women in the past, but are they still doing it today? Unfortunately, it seems that they’re actually getting worse. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Japan was ranked 101st place in a 2010 gender discrimination report. I wasn’t able to find any instances of malnutrition reported in the last few years, so it sounds like at least the worker’s story won’t repeat itself anytime soon.

A large number of the stories caught my eye due to a common theme: alcohol abuse. Nearly all of the workers were drinking during their interview, and some of them had trouble standing, walking, or doing work due to their addictions. As Fowler noted, there is a lot of money being made in the area, but due to the workers’ love of gambling and drinking, most of it goes to waste. The yakuza run many resturants and control the gambling, and appear to make the most money in the end. When Fowler was visiting with some activists who he met during a city-run workshop about how to improve San’ya, one of them was always unruly and kept interjecting comments and interrupting the conversation. He was so impaired by alcohol that he couldn’t complete simple tasks such as dialing a phone. Another of the men in the room couldn’t stand up due to intoxication and passed out. He didn’t even wake up when a lit cigarette was pressed into his nose. Ouch. If you take away anything from these examples, it would seem that the worst thing you can do if you’re down on your luck is to take to drinking in excess.

The most significant aspect of the stories showcased was how… non-foreign they sounded. It’s easy to stereotype foreigners as all being one way or as having some crazy cultural differences from us, and these stereotypes make it harder to empathize or relate to them. What is shown in these stories is a very large variety of people who all have different upbringings and different stories to tell. If you didn’t know these stories were translated from Japanese, you’d think it was any average American describing his/her troubles, which is exactly the point: we Americans aren’t so unique ourselves. The Japanese people interviewed were just as excited about a foreigner speaking Japanese as we’d be about a Japanese tourist speaking English over here. Some stereotyped Americans just as Americans stereotype them, but the stereotypes aren’t entirely accurate. Once you get past the language barrier, people are quite similar.

Overall, I only wish I had had more time to study the book in-depth, and am planning on re-reading it when I have time to take in any details I might have missed. I highly recommend it.

Making a list and checking it twice

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Travelling to Japan for three weeks is going to be quite the adventure. Hopefully not the kind of adventure where I’m lost in Tokyo and need to rely on my 1 year of Japanese to find my way back to the hotel. ホテルはどこにありますか?Then I’d find out I was standing right outside all along and I just couldn’t read the name of the hotel because it was written in kanji. かんじは難しいとたいへんですよ!

I can’t wait for the flight on Monday! I’ll need to get up at 2:30 AM to arrive at the airport at 4:30, so I wonder why I shouldn’t stay up the whole night. I’ll sleep on the plane anyway! I got 13 long hours to catch up on that lost sleep over the Pacific, though it’s healthy to stand up every hour to stop your feet from swelling up like balloons. In theory, at least.

I’ll be taking along with me my Nintendo 3DS so that I can draw lovely pictures of my trip and post them up to this blog, such as the one above. Alright, its bad art, but get used to red and blue, as those are the only colors the system gives me. I’ll also pack my camera for regular photos, and I might even post some too, granted I don’t get punched in the face like the author of San’ya Blues. (I’ll also try to stear clear of the やくざ!)

Okinawa has never been as economically or technically advanced as Tokyo, but why? Is it catching up these days? The years after the Pacific War were rough and from the research I did this week it would seem that Okinawans have a love-hate relationship with Japan and the US. I’m counting the days till I can see the differences in person, not just through Google Street View. I have a few hypothesies about how life is like over there, but they’re probably pretty inaccurate since I’m sitting in South Carolina rather than roaming the streets myself.

When packing for the trip, as I’ve said it’s important to pack the essentials, but I’d better not gold-plate my suitcase. Bringing unnecessary junk with me just means that I’ll have less space for the return trip, and during the off-evenings I plan to buy! Perhaps a Japanese game or two written in kana so I can practice reading, or maybe a Japanese textbook for grade schoolers so I can brush up on some actual concepts. If I’m to become semi-competent in Japanese without taking any more language classes at Furman, I’ll need to start ASAP and strike while the iron is 暑い!

Anyway, I’m super excited!

JPN-120 Final Project

“In an area known as Greenville, SC, there is a school known as Furman University where all the top-notch trainers attend. There is a class known as Japanese 120, where students utilize their Japanese training and knowledge to create this extra credit skit.”

I tried out a few new techniques in this video, including M-M-M-MULTICAM! Filming multiple takes of the same thing and cutting between ’em is a lot nicer than trying to do everything in one take, wouldn’t you say? Also helps to eliminate errors, though there were some at the time of filming.

The end battle animation was created in PowerPoint since I didn’t have time to mess around with After Effects. There aren’t any sound effects, and I’m aware of that. I could have made this video quite a bit better, but I ran out of time, as most videos tend to do. I’m sad that Final Cut Pro is so crippled since it adopted the iMovie interface (which I hate) but Premiere did a fine job and is looking more and more like FCP 7 used to.

I’m planning on posting more here and continuing with my Let’s Play soon. (Soon meaning when I have time)

Anyway, enjoy! Link is below.

JPN-120 Final Project

Tolerance will not be tolerated.

5hr

Five hour energy is great in bouts, but don’t count on it for daily use. The more of this stuff that I downed during the year, the less it impacted me. I only took it when needed, but I guess during finals I needed quite a bit of it. Caffeine tolerance isn’t good, friends! Sleep is truly the ultimate energy drink! We’re in the process of packing up everything in the house and moving to North Carolina. I’ll be only an hour from school! Zach’s Computer Service is also going to relocate so I’ll be able to make some money. I’d take a computer science class next semester but I can’t because my calculus II class conflicts with everything offered.

 

20 pages of comments on seemslegit! It’s fun to read all of the comments, but even with spam protection and reCAPTCHA checking everyone, I can’t tell if some of the comments are spam or not. Some of the comments I’ve gotten from anonymous authors make me glad that I’ve disabled anonymous uploading and tagging :D

 

>300 communication majors, <10 professors. No wonder I can’t take communication studies classes without being a major.

 

My summers tend not to be as exciting as some people’s summers. I’ve been packing every day, playing games, reading my Kindle, and exercising. As I’ve alluded to before, I’m not much of a party person, and as much as I love working and buying new stuff, the stuff is piling up and I’m getting bored. This is not a sustainable economic model.

 

I went to San Francisco with a good friend the other day and found that the arcade in the Metreon has closed down and is going to be replaced by a Target. Too bad, really… arcades are hard enough to come by these days, and I’m guessing they’re quickly on the way out, especially because their copy of Street Fighter IV was an Xbox 360 connected to an arcade stick that would work for a few minutes as long as you kept feeding in quarters.

 

So, the Wii… U? Another blogger said once that Nintendo’s strategy is to create a console with a funky new control scheme and give it a weird name, then watch as it outsells everyone else. I’m super psyched for the new 3DS titles though. Starfox, remade. Zelda, remade. Virtual console emulation, 3D classics, remade. So many remakes, rereleases, and reiterations of the same stuff. Mario Kart 3D, Super Mario 3D, etc. are new titles just for 3DS though and I’m looking forward to all of it. I’m really just looking forward to the point at which my 3DS stops being so useless when compared to my DS Lite. The L and R buttons on the 3DS work, at least, but the D pad is squeaky at times.

 

 

Oh, and I’ll never be the best at Tetris.

Perhaps I’m immune to it

I should really post sometime in my serious blog about this issue. Perhaps gather some expert opinions before putting pen to paper. Make it an essay-quality post with facts to back it up. But that’s not what I do here on this blog; this is simply my opinion.

I have rarely been in a situation wherein I am peer pressured to do something, and of the times that I have been, I’ve never been successfully pressured into doing anything. In fact, if there’s something I’d rather not do, I’d say that there’s no possible way of getting me to do it short of physically forcing me to do whatever it may be. My stubbornness is a good quality in that I am easily able to avoid potentially bad situations, but it comes at a cost: if you go against the group, you alienate yourself from the group.

The drinking problem is one that faces all universities; safety, education, well-being, student retention, atmosphere, etc. In the beginning, the US government withheld highway funds from states that refused to raise their state drinking age from 18 to 21, and eventually it became almost unanimous: technicalities aside, the age is 21. Does turning 21 give you some sort of knowledge that the 20-and-under crowd just can’t understand? Some scientists say (weasel words, too tired to look up the facts) that the brain isn’t fully developed until age 21, but by observing all the stories of people turning 21 and spending the day binge drinking, I’m not sure that it changes anything for some people.

I would argue that under-21′s are treated as second-class citizens in a sense; banned from a major, major part of world culture. Heck, even most of the world would agree with that, as the US is one of the only countries that has a drinking age that’s set so high. I would also agree that, for our safety, these laws should remain in place (though does it really stop people?)

As for me, I’m part of the 28% who don’t drink in this country. (at least, according to that survey) I guess I’ve just never been interested in alcohol, never curious, never even once. Growing up, I neither saw nor heard too much about drinking except in those education classes that said that it’d kill you no matter what. To quote one of my substitute teachers from middle school, “this stuff is boring, so to make you interested in learning about it they have to scare you to get you to pay attention.” Starting with the very day I was born it feels like I was given an eternal clipboard and pen and quizzed about my use of alcohol, drugs*, and tobacco (*No shoplifting, murder, or skateboarding, kids. Alcohol and tobacco aren’t drugs, they’re their own separate category). I cannot go one semester without getting an email about some drinking survey, and it seems like every quarter I get an email about a drug survey. I’ve never used any illegal drugs (or legal prescription ones that aren’t prescribed to me) and I’ve already discussed my stance on alcohol and my upbringing, so these surveys are as alien to me as is any certain particle of snow in Antarctica. In other words, I do not know alcohol.

I don’t know what people see in it or why they act the way they do while under its influence, and from what I’ve seen (which isn’t a whole lot), it isn’t a lifestyle choice I’m very eager to make. Perhaps when I’m 21, but by then I’ll of course be able to make a more rational, informed decision with my fully developed brain. Others, however, and the vast majority of others that I’ve encountered in my proximity, do see something in drinking, and partake of it quite often. I’m not going to go into the whole debate about legality, as that old horse has been beaten to death too many times (and will receive another round sometime soon if I ever get to posting about this on my serious blog) but tonight, I was around a group in which everyone except a significantly small number of others (who had all drank before) and myself. I believe that they’re still out there somewhere, conversing and laughing, engaging in their hijinks. Perhaps I’m no fun, but I fail to see the fun in sitting around for hours and just talking about nothing. (I also fail to see the point of going to parties, but that’s another story.) Perhaps I simply can’t relate to these people, perhaps I don’t share the same common experiences. Perhaps I don’t share the same interests. Perhaps it’s because I’m sober. Whatever the reason, an invitation was presented to me to partake in their illicit activities. (Wow, that sentence was all Joseph Ducreux up in here) Now, I have a great deal of respect for the people who I was with, because from the second that I said “No,” that was the end of it. No peer pressuring tactics were used. No sense of shame in going against the group was created. No hard feelings were had. In fact, the whole situation played out in opposition to the many situations that I’ve seen in all those pointless education classes. Despite this fact, unspoken pressure still existed, which I’ll attribute to the atmosphere. The groupthink of which everyone was doing it. Solomon Asch would agree with me on this one: had I had any doubt in my mind about my disposition, I may well have given in.

The fact that I didn’t, however, isolated me from the group, and while I remained steadfast in my actions and beliefs and never gave into any type of pressure, nothing was lost nor gained by my actions. Had I chosen to drink, I would say I’d have all to lose and nothing to gain, but I don’t know; I’ve never tried it.

In conclusion, this is exactly 1,000 words I wrote. Why can’t I write like this on important stuff, like my essays?

Outside-type moves have been weakened!

The library is closed today. The library will be closed tomorrow. The library will remain closed during Sunday.

The dining hall is opening in 22 minutes. The dining hall will stay open for 60 minutes. The dining hall will not re-open for another 5 hours.

Easter break is trolling me right now; we weren’t really supposed to stay at school, but many people did.

I found one of my old blogs from middle school on the web today. It was marked as “Private.” I thought that I might want to archive all of the old content from it onto my main blog, but after reading just one post, I quickly realized why I had taken it down from pubic view. In middle school, I must not have been a very good writer (and some of you probably think I still have a long way to go) as all I talk about in my old blog is how much homework I had to do, or the absence of homework. I have about 50 posts in this old blog, and after reading through all of them, I must have really hated my homework. Doing a ctrl+F to search for “work” matched 114 results on the first page. Of course, I had set it up so that all my posts were on a single page to make it seem like I had more content than I did. (Come to think of it, I still do that on my main blog.) Either way, I was apparently a very boring person back in middle school.

Twitter: when you’re too lazy to blog.

Blogging: when you’re too lazy to work.

WordPress is at version 3.1.1 now. Hm…

Anyway, the dining hall is open now. Gotta get over there quick or I’ll starve for the day!

How to: Set up a thin client cluster

For my final project in my CSC-231 computer organization class at Furman University, I had to set up an Ubuntu server to run some services. I’ve always been interested in computer clusters and PXE technology, so I decided to install the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP). In this tutorial, I’ll show how I set up a basic thin client server that provides a NAT for thin clients to tunnel through for internet access.

Continue reading How to: Set up a thin client cluster