Monday, November 27, 2006


This chapter introduces the time that Grace saw Mt. Fuji (if she was paying attention) and discovered that she could fly. Also, I have decided that this photo should be the photo on which I should test the powers of Gimp. I propose to draw forth from the darkness a baby and a man looking at the airplane sitting in bright sunlight.

Unlike her mother, Grace seems to enjoy flying or, at the very least, to be indifferent to it. After coolly observing the ground recede as we took off (what else could she do? I was pressing her face against the window) she settled down for a quiet talk with the little blue thingy that the stewardesses gave her.

As we were flying to Osaka, we passed Mr. Fuji on the way.

Actually, this is what it really looked like when not viewed through our Handycam's optical zoom. Where's Fuji?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Screenshot of my Ubuntu Desktop

Today's photo is a screenshot of my desktop in Ubuntu because, unlike my cellphone photos, I can upload it to blogger right-side-up. I am eagerly anticipating that "the Gimp" will solve all of my cellphone photo woes here in Ubuntuland, but upon our initial introduction I discovered that Gimp is a formidable friend. It makes even a seemingly simple operation like rotating an image feel like learning calculus. Nevertheless, now that I am posting a successful blog entry from within Ubuntu, I feel that my migration from Windows is complete. Perhaps I will celebrate by popping in my GParted live CD and making my Windows partition a little smaller. And perhaps I will celebrate in that way with each new Ubuntu release. I just learned how to use GParted so I'm apt to abuse it in this way through overuse. And since I am an immature amateur who is totally new to Linux, there's a part of me that wants to shout out, "Hey, look at me everybody, I'm using Linux! Aren't I nerdy?!" However, since there appears to be no Ubuntu logo screensaver installed by default, and since I still haven't figured out Gimp well enough to superimpose an Ubuntu logo onto my desktop image (I did try) my dignity is being spared the consequences of such rash exhibitionism. Besides, nobody around here would notice anyway.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lately . . .

. . . I need to be careful when I drink water. Otherwise, someone shoves it in my face.

In Which I Perform a Successful Surgery On My Laptop and Thereby Complete “Phase Two”

Digging In

One of Averatec’s 3200 series’ weaknesses is a faulty power connector resulting from a sloppy step in their manufacturing process. After about a year and a half, most of them begin to suffer from a bad power connection. Unfortunately, this takes place right around the time that the battery wears out. The result is spontaneous shutdowns. I had been living with this problem for over half a year. On a number of occasions I began to take my laptop apart to see what the matter was, but I always gave up when I couldn’t pull the back cover off after removing all the screws (there’s another secret screw hidden under the keyboard). A few weeks ago, in desperation, I tried prying a something-or-other inside the what-chama-call-it a little outward so as to hold the doohickey that plugs into the laptop a little tighter. It improved things slightly, but I still needed to twist the doohickey around a little to get a connection and place the cord just so and be very careful not bump anything or else I would be looking at a dead screen before I could say “Averatec rots.” However, with the commencement of my "seasonal computer elective” I made a special effort to type “Averatec 3200 bad power connection” into Google and immediately came upon a thread in an Averatec owners’ forum that dealt precisely with the problems I was faced with. If you own an Averatec 3200 that is behaving in a similar fashion my blog is useless to you. Go here. It has photos and everything. It will show and tell you step by step how to take an Averatec 3200 apart and fix its power connector.

I Can’t Be a Fancy Sort of Nerd Who Does Cool Things Like Write Code and Customize Software, But I’m Thinking of Doing A Little Something On the Mechanical Side Like Cutting the Front Panel Where the Touch Pad Is and Putting Some Sort of Hinge On It and Drilling Holes in the Side to Expose the Latches So That I Can Lift It Up without Removing All the Screws

This is where the problem lies. In order to get to it, you have to take the entire laptop apart. There are three thingy-ma-jigs that should be soldered but aren't. I had never soldered anything before but I had watched my father do it when I was a kid. So I soldered the three thingys with the soldering iron I borrowed from him last time he came up to Kazamaura.

Success! My Power Connector Problem is Solved! I Forgot to Replace the Hidden Screw Under the Keyboard but, Oh Well . . . .

Incidentally I have also completed phases 1 & 3 of my “fourfold project” but since I am still in the tinkering stage with my Ubuntu and having difficulty with uploading photos to Blogger without them being tipped over on their sides, today’s post was compiled in and uploaded from Windows and does not include a screenshot of my new Ubuntu desktop.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yes, I have installed Ubuntu . . .

And while I love it, I can't seem to upload photos to blogger right side up anymore. Full story to follow . . . .

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Tunnel of Smelly Feet

In my old regiment we had what we called The Tunnel of Love. Two sofas in the officer's mess would be tipped over on their sides to make a "tunnel" and two teams of junior officers would start at opposite ends and attempt to battle their way through in gladiatorial fashion while the senior officers held the couches down with their big bellies. It was not a pastime for the claustrophobic. On a visit to one of my elementary schools last week I encountered a longer, darker, smellier tunnel. It was made out of cardboard and masking tape and smelled of glue and stale body odor. Naturally I was invited to play tag inside of it but I only made it through once before succumbing to nausea.

I spent the rest of the noon hour grabbing feet through the ever increasing number of tears in the system and tickling them.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Different Kind of Gardening . . .

My Digital Garden (Averatec 3220 H1-01)
Lying beside it are some of my "tools": my new portable hard disk, my 256MB memory stick, and the little blue card reader that I use to transfer photos and videos from Mobileman II to my laptop.

My Digital Garden, Closed (Duh!)

I am currently focusing on three areas of study in my life: Theology, Japanese, and Gardening. However, my gardening for the year is over so I am thinking of substituting it with computer studies during the winter months. One might think that there is no reason for me to stop my study and research of gardening just because it is winter, and such a person would be absolutely right. But I really want to increase my knowledge of computers, so I am declaring my third subject to be a seasonal elective. I hereby declare my computer elective to be in season.

Besides my laptop is, in a sense, a digital garden. I use it to grow blogs, home movies, photo albums, emails, lesson plans and many other kinds of digital produce. I also try to keep it free of digital weeds like viruses, ad-ware, slack etc. And just as I favour organic methods in gardening, my desire is to favour freeware and open source, free and freely redistributable software. I don’t really understand all of those terms 100% but I’m trying.

Now, I really like my laptop, but just as I enjoy rearranging my furniture, I also enjoy rearranging my laptop's software and hardware. Here is my fourfold project with which I hope to begin my seasonal elective:

1: Back up my computer using my new 80GB portable hard drive and the Acronis True Image LE software that came with it. First, though, I need to figure out whether I want to partition my hard drive before doing so, and I need to figure out what is and isn’t possible using my portable HD. The instructions are all in Japanese. (It’s a Buffalo HD-PHGU2/UC in case anyone out there is feeling extremely helpful).

2: Disassemble my laptop and repair the power connector (fortunately I have found extremely detailed instructions on how to do so, complete with photos, on an Averatec owners’ forum).

3: Erase my entire hard drive and install Ubuntu (When my free Ubuntu installation CD arrives). I could, of course, take the more conservative approach of choosing to have Ubuntu's installer automatically resize my Windows partition and create an Ubuntu partition out of the free space. However, I can be an extreme person sometimes, like the time I chose to be homeless in Whitehorse, Yukon in January, and I like fresh starts.

4: Find the cheapest way to purchase a new battery (Averatec 3000 Series Product# SA2305017000), a 1GB memory card (DDR333, PC2700 SO-DIMM), and a new optical drive (the same Multi-Format DVD ± Burner as used in new Averatec 3200 series laptops, since my current one can’t burn DVDs).

If you, the reader, have anything wise to say to me regarding my fourfold plan, please do, before I do anything rash. In Engrish, “Ret’s gardening with me.”

The Bunny, The Bunny, Oooh I Ate the Bunny! ♪♫

The Rabbit’s on the Fire, the Bear’s in the Pot (but why does this rabbit meat look like squid guts?)

We are sometimes invited to eat dinner at the Muraguchis. I have written about the Muraguchis quite a few times but most recently Mr. Muraguchi featured in Monkey Wars Episode I. Last night he phoned my keitai (the same one I use to film Keitai Cinema, none other than Mobileman II) and invited us over because he had received a gift of bear and rabbit meat from Akita. We went. The bear tasted fine. In fact, it didn’t really taste at all because it was in a stew. No one seemed too excited about the rabbit, though. I finally took the initiative and started grilling it while everyone was running around getting this and that. The rabbit began to char, but everyone studiously ignored it. When I was a kid my parents tried many ingenious ways to trick me into eating our rabbits because we had so many of them. And they had every right to do so since I was always going on about wanting to hunt and eat rabbits. But once faced with the reality of rabbit flesh, I always lost my appetite. So you can see what a great and magnanimous effort of mine it was to start eating the rabbit yesterday. But in spite of my best efforts to set a good example, no one followed my lead and we ended up grilling pork cutlets instead.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


We Apologize for the Long Wait

4 min 15 sec
For an enhanced viewing experience (one in which you can read the subtitles) click on the "Google Video" button in the bottom right corner, then click on the "Go to Google Video" box that pops up.

The Changing Face of Higher Education

Grandpa Elliot and Grace (in Ajigasawa, Japan) Helping Aunty Sarah (at university in Manitoba, Canada) with an Essay

When I went to college there may have been an Internet, but I had never heard of it. In fact, the only computers I had ever seen had black screens with green text. They confused me. When I transferred to a four year college after my second year, I chose the school that accepted hand-written applications. I didn't have access to a typewriter, word processor or computer. Well, maybe I did, but I didn't know how to use them so it wouldn't have made any difference. Sister #4, on the other hand, grew up with computers and the internet. She applied for college online. And now that her first essays are due, she is able to enlist the advice and assistance of parents and siblings by means of email, MSN Messenger and Skype. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had had internet during high school and my first two years of college?

RooTube 9:

If Canadians Are So Smart, Then Why Can't They Read Half of What's Written in Their Own Passports?

51 sec

Grace Clutching Her New Canadian Passport

I am not sure what children of "mixed marriages" are called in other countries, but here in Japan they are called "Half." I suppose that this is an implied reference to such a person's half that is lacking--that portion of them that is not Japanese. As for myself, when I was a kid growing up in Japan I always called them "half-n-halfs" but everyone thought I was talking about coffee. Now that I have a daughter who falls into the category under discussion, I use the term "Double." No one else does, but that must be because they are all under some sort of misconception. My daughter has two citizenships, a double portion of genetic diversity, and will soon speak two languages and carry two passports. That sounds like 1 times 2 to me, not 1 divided by 2.

Monday, November 06, 2006

RooTube on Bearwatch:

Don't Poo Poo the Pooh Bears

2 min 57 sec

Harvest Time

A Garden with a View: Namely, the school Garden, a tree line, the Straits of Tsugaru and beyond, Hokkaido

I suppose it is time to update everyone on the ignominious history of my garden in its latter days. From my—was it sixteen?—earth mounds I gathered two gourds of the squash variety. They were both wormy. The corn was trampled by the beasts of the field and picked clean by the birds of the air. I am surprised that they bothered. There wasn’t much there to trample or pick at. I had given up on the beans early on, but one day the school’s cleaning lady brought me a little paper box that she had made out of newspaper inserts. It was full of what she claimed were my beans which she had found scattered over the face of the earth. I suspect that this worthy woman also hoed my garden for me, not discriminating between my rows and the school’s rows. I am embarrassed.

I was VERY embarrassed the day I discovered that someone had cleaned up for me the mess that was once my Three Sisters garden. It was, no doubt, the cleaning lady. I think she feels sorry for us since she often brings my wife vegetables from the school’s garden, and sometimes from her own. I am embarrassed.

On a happy note, my daikon patch turned out nicely. The cleaning lady probably kept it weeded for me. She also came and told my wife that I had done a good job on my daikon and that I should probably think about digging them up soon. I was embarrassed.

So I dug them up.