Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Eulogy: The Tragic Life (and Death?!) of Mobile Man

This is the new reality. Gaijin for Life has lost its means of generating original photography and video footage. Keitai Cinema has lost its principal asset. The only course now open to this organization is salvaging stockpiled media, pirating, and relying on the dubious literary talent of its sole member.

Today’s article should be full of quaint photos of barefoot children splashing through local rice paddies partially obscured by the maritime mists rolling off the Tsugaru Straight; but its not. There should be a new Keitai Cinema production in the works entitled Children of the Rice: Hebiura Elementary’s Agrarian Outing; but there’s not. Instead, we are left face to face with the tragic story of one man’s cell phone and how it perished in the wilderness of Aomori far, far away from its industrial birthplace. This is that story.

I first christened my cell phone “Mobile Man” a few days ago, when it yet again demonstrated a remarkable facility for survival. I initially intended to call it MIK (My Indestructible Keitai) Endurance, but that is beside the point. It was a beautiful sunny day, so although I didn’t leave work until five o’clock I decided to take to the mountains and climb Hiuchi-dake. Being short of time, I drove up the gravel road leading to the mountain, and since I was impatient I accidentally stopped Thumper somewhere short of the target and hiked up the wrong mountain. The summit was completely obscured by trees and brush, so I found it necessary to climb the biggest tree at the highest point in order to confirm that I was indeed on the wrong mountain. I also wanted to get some photos of the magnificent view I was sure would open up before me once I got above the tree canopy. About forty feet up, my cell phone fell out of my pocket and bounced from branch to branch until the sound of its decent faded out of my range of hearing. Afraid that darkness would overtake me before I located it I immediately followed it down the tree (at a slower rate). Fortunately I sited it lying open on the dirt trail before my feet even touched the ground. It appeared to be unharmed . . .

. . . so I took a picture of the tree as a memorial to Mobile Man’s durability. Little did I imagine that Mobile Man’s thwarted destiny would overtake him just a few short days later. The following photos turned out to be the last clear view Mobile Man had of this world.

Inset: A close up of 1) Hakodate-yama, 2) Cape Oma, 3) Kazamaura Village hamlets Ikokuma and Hebiura, and 4) for the optically blessed, Kazamaura’s two wind turbines. The body of water is the Tsugaru Straight, separating Aomori from Hokkaido.

This is an artist's rendition of what happened to Mobile Man yesterday when I went rice planting with Hebiura Elementary School. Like most artistic renderings, it contains many inaccuracies. The event actually took place before the rice planting began, just as the kids were starting their usual “We shall work harder” opening ceremony. And Mobile Man did not fall into the rice paddy itself—it actually fell (some would say “was dropped by its owner”) onto the hard packed gravel road before bouncing into an irrigation ditch next to the rice paddy. I desperately fished around in the cold, deep irrigation ditch for what felt like a minute (the spectators claimed it was only about twenty-seconds) until I found it, but by that time Mobile Man had lost all its vital signs. For the rest of the afternoon, Mobile Man lay in pieces on my oyaji-towel while I joined the kids in the mud with baskets full of rice plants.

Later that evening, this is the first thing Mobile Man saw when it finally regained conciousness after hours of blow drier treatment. Would Mobile Man live again unscathed?

Alas, no. This is what the world looks like to Mobile Man now. His retina appears to be damaged, and all attempts to get him focused on a subject result only in a feeble grinding noise and failure.

This is a difficult time of reflection and tactical planning at Gaijin for Life. It is a time to cut losses, deflect blame, and consider all possible courses of action. The following is Gaijin for Life’s preliminary list of courses open:
1) Take Mobile Man back to the cell phone shop whence he came and see if the one year warranty I got for him is worth anything.
2) See if it’s possible to end my Vodafone service, and then try to sign up with a different credit card and under a slightly different version of my name. If successful, this would enable me to get a new V602SH for 1 yen (I originally paid 28,000 yen last August, when it was still a new model) or the newer V902SH (which can be used overseas) for about 6,000 yen.
3) Buy a V902SH for its full price of 35,000 yen.
4) Dump Vodafone for real and get a new customer’s special deal on whatever DoCoMo phone has the very best camera and video features.
5) Abandon my niche genras of cell phone photography and Keitai Cinema and just get a real camera and a weeney teeney cell phone used only for phone calls. (Oh, wait, in that case I could just keep Mobile Man since its only problem in the first place is an inability to focus on images.)
6) Give up blogging, cell phones, and cameras altogether and take up knitting.