31 August 2008

One more day

I'm loving this Sarah Palin thing. Andrew Sullivan has nailed it:
For me, the more I think about it, the more this pick is about McCain's contempt for Obama. He really seems to think that Palin is as qualified as Obama to be president. If he does, it seems to me he has fatally misjudged the abilities of his opponent. As Clinton did.
This is the arrogance and ignorance of the GOP, thinking Palin can be equated to Obama. They are both not white men — see, we can do identity politics too. What would be a better way to attack your inexperienced opponent than appointing your own inexperienced candidate. Try that inexperience line of attack on her — we dare you.

I feel like it's going to be fun to watch though. Biden is going to eat her alive in the debates. I won't press the point because it will be abundantly clear after the haze of 'there's a Republican woman governor?' wears off.

All I want to do is read about this, but I am moving and will be offline for a couple of days in a couple of hours. I'll catch you from Kansai though.

29 August 2008

I can't make it

I really, really, really hate moving. If there is some easier way to do this, next time, I'm doing it.

28 August 2008

£200 to save my life

I finally decided to say, you know what, I'm going to have to just spend the money to make this moving smooth. Put in £200, get some peace.

Get your hand out of my drink!

27 August 2008

New Camera

Today, I closed my bank account and with a load of cash on my hands, I bought a new camera to replace the old one that had to go back to Yoko's university and some traveler's checks. Next up is a fire tonight, but there is no one to come out to the beach with me, so I will burn alone, I suppose.

26 August 2008

Faulkner says

'We may be done with the past, but the past isn't done with us.'


I understand this ad, featuring Obama doing any number of patriotic things, is not for me and is probably a stronger comment on the state of race relations in America then anything else, but seriously, it's like eating apple pie for six days straight then being asked to say the pledge of allegiance while some big brass band plays The Star Spangled Banner. I get it — Obama is not strange.

It's funny, go to the RNC homepage and based on what you see there, can you tell me who the Republican presidential candidate is? I'm still not quite sure, but it's definitely NOT Obama and Obama is definitely not ready to lead and Biden makes a lot of gaffes.

25 August 2008

Solves a problem

I'm not particularly good at solving problems. It's a curse that runs in my family, the curse that causes me to have to go to the home centre store three times just to fix the toilet. The problem gets solved, but it takes three days of Evangelical Christian non-cussing, a lot of 'friggins' and 'communists'. The problems coming from moving have been difficult because it's just me trying to figure out what needs to be done. The chief problem has revolved around me getting our stuff, and my wife and daughter, from the airport to Milton Keynes. I've been working overtime on this one and the only solution seemed to be spending copious amounts of money to rent a van the night we arrived and just haul it all up. The big wind up for all of this was supposed to be that I solved my problem getting my stuff to MK, but while writing this, I got another email saying that, in fact, I had not solved my problem.

This post is dead on the table, unless I start complaining about Japanese banks.

24 August 2008

12 billion light years from the edge

We, the wife and baby and I, are much closer to our own edge. This time next week we will be on a ferry to the south. And before we know it, we will be leaving. Everyone Yoko tells about going to England and today noting that we may go to Holland after we finish, responds in a chorus of いいな〜! which just means, 'That's great!' but also implies that the person hearing the good news wishes the good news was happening to them. This happened a couple of weeks ago when Yoko and I saw some of her students in the cafeteria of her school. These 19 year-old girls broke into a chorus of いいな〜!that would drive anyone crazy. Yoko just smiled, but smiled in a way that said, 'You don't have a clue.'

Yes, going to live abroad is romantic and exciting and full of wonder, but that is only about 10% of it. The other 90% of it is bullshit, trying to move all your things, attaching and detaching and reattaching, finding an apartment, learning the customs, plane tickets, luggage, baby — it goes on and on. People think about living abroad and they see beautiful gardens and high tea and old buildings and the Queen. I was mocking this reaction in the car today, when Yoko said that we all do this about different things. A nice car, for example, she said, that you want, but don't want to do what it takes to get. The world is full of these things that we want, but aren't willing to sacrifice for.

And having a foreign husband or boyfriend is like have a puppy, that is cute at first, but pees on everything and tears up your shoes and grows up to be ugly. The moral of the story, I think, is to know what you want, but to also know what it costs.

23 August 2008

Momma said knock you out!

The GOP ain't know what hit 'em!

More of the same

Fall is here about a month and half early. It's really nice actually, and I expect that it will get really hot again in the next couple of days. But for now, it's really nice. Eight days until we are out of the apartment and on our way to the UK. We're starting to feel it. I'm preparing — packing and backing up photos and hard disk. Here is one of those old photos I backed up on Flickr.

21 August 2008

Some confusion

There's been some misunderstanding...


The best part of living in Milton Keynes is going to be the Redways — bicycles paths all through the city. It looks like you can get anywhere. I think I'm going to be riding about 10 km to work everyday, but that's nothing, if you think about it. Especially if you don't have to stop at all and you don't have to worry about being killed by a car.

20 August 2008

Leroi Moore

The death of Leroi Moore comes as a shock — the Dave Matthews Band represents everything that was right about high school. I saw them twice: Solider Field summer of 2000, Alpine Valley, Summer 2003. At the Alpine Valley show, my maths-literate younger sister almost killed some hippies with the Saturn.

Gift for real hardcore web stalkers

Hey, well since we are moving, I am taking a couple of precautions with my data. My MP3s and my photos are the most important digital data I got. So, in an effort to assure that at least my photos will be safe, I am putting everything (I mean everything) on Flickr. Post these photos brings back good memories as right now I am doing 2005, when I met Yoko. Here are some of them:

19 August 2008

Last English Class/ Going Away party

Party #9: Last English Class

When: Tuesday, August 19th
Where: In an office at Yoko's University
Who: Me and teachers from Yoko's university who I teach twice a month
Backstory: I taught English to about 12 different people at different times at Yoko's university and this class has been my longest running. These women all teach nursing. They are hilarious and they are actually able to have a true conversation class where they actually talk. They are hilarious, sweet women and today, they surprised me with a going away party.
Food: Really good pizza and fried chicken and yakisoba and other great stuff
Things learned: I loved this class. These women were really awesome to me and Yoko and the baby. They made teaching English really fun and I'm really astounded by their love and concern for me and my family. I will miss them heaps.

I am

no longer an English Teacher.

£2 a minute

That was the most expensive three minute phone call I have ever made. Oh, and no, they can't hire a van after 7:00 in the evening. Apologies.

18 August 2008

A last going away party?

Party #8: Japanese friends

When: Monday, August 18th
Where: Japanese 居酒屋 in Bandai
Who: Me, Hiroshi, and Satomi
Backstory: I met Satomi when I first came to Niigata and posted a message on the International Friendship Center board of Niigata about how I was preparing for the Japanese Proficiency test and needed someone to tutor me. We met for about a year (until I started dating Yoko) and she really helped me learn Japanese. Through her, I met Hiroshi, whom I taught English to for a while, and who runs a very stylish hair salon that I sometimes get my haircut at. He is also in a hardcore cover band ('Lunker Killer') that is much, much better than its name. He was at my bachelor party.
Food: Pretty decent bar food
Things learned: I have famously said that I have never met a Japanese person under 30 that I thought I could be friends with. This is an exaggeration of course, but Satomi and Hiroshi are great examples of how cool Japanese folks are in their 30's. It's like the coming out time in life in Japan. To be honest, I don't have many Japanese friends (or people that I am mutually friends with who aren't trying to get something from me or vise-versa), but these are two of my oldest and they are really kind, interesting, thoughtful people that I enjoy being around. I will miss both of them.


In a move sure to make Hezaa sensei proud, I purchased three sweaters at Uniqlo to match my oxfords.

-13 days

Okay, I'm starting to get excited.

The apartment is coming together (or rather, coming apart) nicely. I went around today looking for things that I could deal with right now, and there's nothing left, more or less. Everything is going to go in it's time, but for now, there's not a lot left for me to take out. I also think that I might be able to get our toothbrush fixed, per my earlier entry. Got the cement blocks taken care of. Pretty much everything is done. I got paid. There's nothing else really to do or be done.

17 August 2008

Open Letter

My brother points me to this open letter to Obama on The Nation. I generally don't trust letters signed by Gore Vidal and Phil Donahue, but they seem to have gotten a point. I do think the chances of getting universal healthcare in America are slim to none and I have very little expectation for the Obama presidency, save that I can travel to France without having to pretend I'm Canadian. Still though, their key requests:
§ Withdrawal from Iraq on a fixed timetable.

§ A response to the current economic crisis that reduces the gap between the rich and the rest of us through a more progressive financial and welfare system; public investment to create jobs and repair the country's collapsing infrastructure; fair trade policies; restoration of the freedom to organize unions; and meaningful government enforcement of labor laws and regulation of industry.

§ Universal healthcare.

§ An environmental policy that transforms the economy by shifting billions of dollars from the consumption of fossil fuels to alternative energy sources, creating millions of green jobs.

§ An end to the regime of torture, abuse of civil liberties and unchecked executive power that has flourished in the Bush era.

§ A commitment to the rights of women, including the right to choose abortion and improved access to abortion and reproductive health services.

§ A commitment to improving conditions in urban communities and ending racial inequality, including disparities in education through reform of the No Child Left Behind Act and other measures.

§ An immigration system that treats humanely those attempting to enter the country and provides a path to citizenship for those already here.

§ Reform of the drug laws that incarcerate hundreds of thousands who need help, not jail.

§ Reform of the political process that reduces the influence of money and corporate lobbyists and amplifies the voices of ordinary people.

Beating eight gold medals

Here is how Michael Phelps can one up himself. First, he can fake his death in a mysterious skydiving accident. Then, after the coverage has died down, he can be secluded for several months in Thailand. In 2010, out of the woodwork emerges Michelle Phelps, Michael's long lost sister, promising to avenge Michael's death at the hands of nature by defying nature itself: she will win 9 medals in the 2012 Olympics, in two sports. After she completes this amazing feat, becoming the greatest olympian of all time, it will be revealed that she was in fact Michael Phelps all along.

My response to the Saddleback forum

is a string of expletives. Sullivan nails it:
...the crowd lapped it up. This was a religious forum and the audience responded to affirmations of faith, anecdote and broad, somewhat asinine notions that our job on earth is to "defeat" evil. If that's how you see foreign policy, you're going to love the McCain presidency. So much evil. So little time.

16 August 2008

Good moving news

  1. The place I wanted to stay is available for some of the time I want it. So we have to move twice, but we will get what we need.
  2. My first grant payment will be somewhere around the beginning of October, meaning we are only going to have to live on savings for a couple of weeks.
  3. We packed even more today. The apartment (minus the kitchen) is starting to look more empty.

Wild things I've been saying about the Olympics

Today, I was talking to my sister and I said some pretty dumb things about Olympics. They follow, and also my own rebuttal to my false assumption.
  • Phelps has GOT to be doping. Apparently, he is not. Has given eight blood samples so far, according to the NY Times.
  • The pool is short. This is actually Yoko's idea, but I think we all know this is probably not true.
  • The finish today was total bullshit. He clearly lost. Again, the Times says it was reviewed and Phelps clearly won.
  • Those Chinese gymnasts ain't 16. No way. Okay so I still believe this one. No way they're 16.
If you hang around with Japanese people enough or watch Japanese TV, you get a sense that the Japanese think that the Chinese like to cheat. I was never into the Olympics much, but not working and packing lends itself to having the TV on. Basically, the Japanese TV coverage is all about the Olympics — three channels at once which is something for a country that only has 6 channels. Anything a Japanese person is competing in is shown too, so I've watched hours of judo, some ping pong, the hammer toss, more judo, wrestling, the steeplechase (which I'm not really sure made any sense: why the hell to they have to run through a puddle for?), baseball, softball, lots of swimming, sprinting. No rowing, thank god.

There is something universally exciting about a race, when two or ten people are going head to head. The winners and losers are quite obvious, you don't have to understand anything really, and people compete against each other in real time. Compare this to a lot of the winter sports like skiing and snowboarding and bobsledding and figure skating where people compete separately. I like the race atmosphere.

Finally, Michael Phelps does not make me proud to be an American. Your athletic team's ability or your country's athletes have nothing to do with whether you have a good country or not. It just means that you have the strongest person I was thinking about this and what would be legitimate reasons to feel patriotic while watching your country's athletes do well.
  1. Your country has the resources to produce good athletes. This is okay, I guess, but it only reflects on one really small part of your country and, like in the case of China, pouring tons of money into athletics might be better spent elsewhere, like, say, cleaning up the air or building an infrastructure to get people out of poverty. Not that they're not doing this, but it seems sort of shallow to point to money spent on athletics as anything great.
  2. Your people are stronger than other people. I think George Bush made very clear this week that this is the 21st century, not the 17th.
  3. Your country has the diversity to produce good athletes in diverse fields. Let's face it, different cultures generally are into different sports. That's why Japan's basketball team sucks, but they have great ping-pong players. One of the things I love about the US is that the folks competing for us are diverse and you see a lot of different people carrying the flag. So I think this makes me proud to be an American.
  4. Your people show good sportsmanship. Well, I guess this is only highlighted when people show bad sportsmanship, like this wicked fat Cuban judo coach screaming for a whole round about god knows what. I think there are probably good sports(wo)men in every country.

I hate consumer electronics

How long should a consumer appliance work? Apple thinks about a year and half. Apparently, Phillips, maker of the great-while-it-lasted SonicCare electronic toothbrush, thinks seven months is a good number. I think becoming Amish is the only way to solve this problem.

15 August 2008

Strike that

Spoke to soon. Still no place to stay.

-16 days

My letting problems have been solved by a very good short term solution. There's a small guesthouse near the school where we can stay for almost the same amount as we would be staying in an apartment. It's only one room, but we get breakfast and it's pretty central. We'll plan on staying there a week or two and then hoepfully moving into our real apartment, not letted by a slumlord or scammer. I'm crossing fingers, hoping it will work out...

14 August 2008

Party #7 (with pictures!)

Party #7: Yoko’s co-workers/ mentor
When: Thursday, August 14th
Where: Japanese Restaurant in Furumachi
Who: Me, wife, baby, Okamura sensei, and Shinsuke
Backstory: Okamura sensei is the person who brought Yoko up to Niigata to do her MA and Shinsuke is one of her childhood friends who also ended up working with her and Okamura sensei in Niigata. They are awesome.
Food: Japanese food that was heavy on the ‘Japanese’ and light on the ‘food’
Things learned: Yoko’s friends are really great. They all treat me like a regular guy and not a foreigner speaking bad Japanese. Okamura sensei is reading ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and was asking me what I thought about it today. Wicked cool, in my book.

13 August 2008

God Bless British Airways

If you are not interested in hearing about our preparations for moving, this blog is not going to be interesting for a while.

We are taking 14 bags not including backpacks and stroller to England. This is possible, for a couple of reasons. First, British Airways allows bicycles to travel for free, allowing me and Louis Garneau to stay together. Next, it allows us to take a bag and a carry-on for our own knee-nibbler, despite her not having a full ticket. Third, they allow you to take additional bags on the flight for only about $110USD, up to 32 kg. This is a lot of baggage, actually, much more than I thought and although I am so of flinching at the prospect of paying a thousand dollars just in baggage, it's not really that bad compared to the other options (sea shipping) which wouldn't allow us to send nearly as much and would require, depending on how much money we spent, actually going to the London Port after 60 days. I'm not really into that.

My books, however, my books. My books are going to have to spend some time with my in-laws. Which books to take, which ones to stay. It's like deciding on your children.

I may be on the way to finding an apartment. We'll see what pans out. I did, however, use the word 'dodgy' in an e-mail today as in
No, I'm not interested. Far too dodgy for me...

Take advantage of me

I have a feeling this is how potential landlords see me. I have an ad up at Gumtree trying to find suitable living arrangements for me, the wife, and the baby. I got my first scam today, which is nice in some way because it means people are at least reading my ad. In Japan, you can pretty much trust that people are not going to take advantage of you. Apparently, this is not the case in the UK. 

 But, -18 days and progress!


Diet fight?! 信じられない〜

12 August 2008

Everything must go

I just found out that the next teacher is not going to be living in this apartment, so I gotta get everything out of this apartment — nothing can be left. But hey, only 19 days. Whatever happens, it will be done in 19 days.

We have a small toy that one of Yoko’s friends gave to Naomi. It projects light on the ceiling and shows pictures of Disney characters while playing Disney music. It’s old and reminds me of a good Seiji Fujishiro picture. We put it on the bed, shut off all the lights and watch and listen. Today, Naomi and I spent the whole day together, beginning to end. After we took a bath, she was anxious, so I shut off the lights and turned on the projector and we laid down to watch the pictures. She was lying on the other side of the bed, but got up and laid down next to me and pressed her head as close to mine as she could, all without taking her eyes off of the ceiling.

11 August 2008

-20 days

We will make it, I'm sure, but it doesn't look too promising.

More Party Wrap-ups

My maths-literate younger sister said she was interested in hearing about the going away parties. By my count there are two more to happen (both this weekend). Could be more though. So here we are.

Party #3: Greg Sensei and Erik

When: Wednesday, July 30th
Where: McDonalds and Starbucks
Who: Greg and Erik
Backstory: Me and Greg have been meeting for like two and half years. Could be described as key mentor. In fact, Greg is probably the reason I am going to England and is the kind of person in your life that pushes you in the right ways to do the right things.
Food: Well, not that great.
Things learned: I am going to miss Wednesday morning more than a lot of things I guess. We all have to move on, I guess, but it was hard to say goodbye to Greg and Erik.

Party #4: With Kevin Sensei

When: Saturday, August 2nd
Where: WaraWara bar
Who: Me and Kevin Sensei
Backstory: Kevin is a teacher at Keiwa. We needed to get a final drink together.
Food: Japanese bar food.
Things learned: That Shibata has a bar district and that my situation in Shibata has really been wonderful.

Former Tuesday Night English Class: Party #6

When: Sunday, Aug. 10th
Where: Tanto
Who: English class members
Backstory: I taught this class for about a two and half years. I haven't been teaching it since I have been in Shibata, but I still keep in contact with people.
Food: Wicked good
Things learned: This one started off a bit awkwardly as I haven't seen these folks in a while, but we had a really good time. Good food and the wife and baby were there too. We even had some magic tricks. I didn't learn anything, really, but reminded me of why I am going to miss Japan and why I need to do something else right now..

10 August 2008

Urinal Usage

Any guy will tell you, public urinal etiquette is key to being a man. There are rules: for example, in a three slot situation, there is hardly any circumstance when using the second slot is okay. Only when the first and third are both occupied, and there isn’t an open stall. You should never take the second slot lightly, and you should never, never take the second slot when all three slots are open. That’s a laughable mistake for a man.

Today I found myself in a four slot public urinal situation, and the dreaded 1-4 split appeared (the first and fourth slots were occupied, and both of the stalls were taken). Now, a real expert would try to deduce which slot (first or fourth) was most likely to open up sooner. Hastily, I chose the third slot, and just as I went to unzip, the first slot opened up. So there I was, in the third slot, standing next to the guy in the fourth slot, with one and two open. I got the hell out of there as quickly as I could.

 It’s pretty simple, in the end — get as far away from everyone else as possible. This is what makes the second slot usages in an open first/ third situation so regrettable. It’s like telling everyone else: You have to pee next to me. And I don’t think anyone wants that. The only people who should be allowed to take the second slot in an empty three situation are Jay-Z, George Washington, Ringo Starr, Kermit the Frog, and any of the Eagles. And, in that case, the rest of us should just queue up outside the door and wait for them to come out.

-21 days

I decided not to buy the Burberry button-down shirts I wanted — Uniqlo had a sale, and I went for it. We'll see if the decision pays off in good karma, although I'm sure some sweatshop is turning out these shirts as well.

09 August 2008

Something to write home about

Look, I know people like me are not supposed to be into things like the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, but I’m watching them right now and it is really incredible. Really, really beautiful.


Judo, on TV in Japan. There is one Japanese wrestler from Japan (谷) and one from the US, who is of Japanese descent (松本). They both have Japanese names, but the US person of Japanese descent's name is rendered not in proper Japanese characters (松本), but in Katakana (マツモト), the phonetic alphabet for foreign words. I guess you get downgraded when you leave.

Trouble grows on trees

If it looks like we have made no progress on getting packed, it’s probably because we have made no progress on getting packed.

08 August 2008


Seth Rogan, for those you who are not familiar, is apparently a popular actor in America. He was in Superbad and that movie where he got that hot girl pregnant. Seth Rogan and I are apparently the same age. On the Daily Show, Seth Rogan said the key to his success was dropping out of high school and smoking pot and I thought, Wow, I guess I really screwed up…

07 August 2008


Party #3 and #4 are forthcoming (Party #2 Post, Party #1 Post)

Adult Learning Center Class: Party #5

When: Thursday, Aug. 7th
Where: Satomi!
Who: English class members
Backstory: I have been teaching this 20-25 person class for like a year and half. All the members are middle-aged/ older people that have varying levels of interest in English.
Food: Japanese bar food.
Things learned: This one was a lot more touching than I had expected too. Although I’ve always felt more like a celebrity in that class than a teacher, when it came time to leave, I had mostly good memories of these folks. Very sweet people.

Taking it one at a time

I'm finishing up my seminar classes at Yoko's university today and have my last community center class tonight, leaving me after I finish today only 2 classes away from being completely done. This should be more bittersweet than it is, but instead I am just full of nervous, bored energy, trying to find excuses to stay away from the apartment. Right now, still three and half weeks from moving, I have finished most everything I can for now and will not be doing much more packing until the last week. As people keep reminding me, we still have to live here.

This has not been helped by Yoko feeling terribly sick the last week and a half. She sleeps when she is not working, so I have been trying to stay sane in the hours between 8 and 11, when she has gone to bed and I go to bed. Pace around, walk around the block, watch TV on the Internet. Think of everything I should be doing.

We have also not been able to find a place to live in MK and I expect that this too is one of the things that I can not make happen from here, I don't think. Just looking, asking for advice from people and thinking about it.

04 August 2008

Oxford shirts

I know most of you are not interested in the lame minutia of my life, but I am trying to buy three simple oxford shirts for school. My fashion is going to be simple this school year: Oxfords and jeans, white chucks or black, square-toed black dress shoes, and my black North Face backpack.

I want three shirts: one black, one blue, and one white. I'm trying t
decide between Burberry, Gap, and the Uniqlo shirts. If I had £300 to blow on them (and yes, I did use pounds), I would get these Burberry ones. The Gap Oxford is okay too, I guess. I mean, if you're into the Gap. The Uniqlo ones are the ones I will probably end up getting because they are cheap, but they're button-down and I'm not sure I approve of that.


I remember when I used to be able to sleep through the night without getting kicked.

03 August 2008

Desired apartment

Milton Keynes, where we are moving in the UK, is a pretty boring looking place as far as housing goes. This apartment, however, really looks cool. Unfortunately, it's like 30 klicks from the OU and isn't on the same train line. A fellow can dream though, can't he?

02 August 2008


I signed 130 traveler's cheques today and at least one packet didn't come out so well. I don't know what you're supposed to do when your signature varies from check to check. Hopefully, it won't be that big of a concern as I will be signing most of them when I make a deposit on the apartment in England. After messing up, I was wicked careful with the remaining 120.

Attacks give you:

100,000 donors to Obama on Thursday alone. 1/3 were new. 200,000 donors in a week.

So yeah, keep putting out Obama is Paris Hilton/ Obama is Jesus ads.

01 August 2008


When I was in college, I worked a couple summers as an intern for Skil power tools in their marketing department. The job was fine, although I did very little and spent most of my time trying to look busy. I also tried to shave my head and look like Chris Martin circa summer of 2003, but it was a huge disaster. Anyway, it got me interested in why and how people buy things and how you are talked into buying something by a company.

We had a promotion we ran while I was there in which people entered a drawing at Home Depot or Lowe's or whatever to win a Skil saw that was painted like an American flag. In retrospect, it sounds kinda dumb, but what I remember most about the whole thing was that actually running the promotion was a huge pain in the ass. We had to make all the materials: the cards for people to write their addresses on, the boxes to put the cards in, the media surrounding it, getting everything into the stores, getting it out of the stores, and on and on. The cost of promoting the promotion was much, much more than the value of the saws by maybe 100 times. In the end, there were very few names we actually got and I realized that companies at the size of Skil could easily run a promotion like that, promise to give something away and then never actually give anything away and no one would know.

We did, I think, actually give the saws away, but it was after I left.

The point is, do you ever buy a product because you might win something? It seems to me that if a product can't stand on it's own as something you want or need without the possibility of winning something, it's sort of a problem. I imagine this is different in products like drinks or food where you might be standing in a convenience store and choose Pepsi over Coke because of a promotion, and I'm sure there is a bunch of market research about how often this happens. And as I think about it, its probably more than I think because people do it all the time. Maybe it's just me who doesn't get it...

There's another kind of promotion that kills me in Japan: point cards. Every store has a point card that you get stamped whenever you buy something. The problem is, the points usually accumulate to be about a 1% discount and it's not worth the trouble of carrying them all around, but everyone is always asking for them and I'm always like, Yeah, I have one, but I don't have it with me. The one exception is the electronics store that gives you 10 yen for every 100 yen you buy, which is just incredible and totally worth carrying around. If you buy a 100,000 yen computer, you have 10,000 yen to spend in the store just from the points.

A friend of mine just got a new iPhone and I want it so badly. Now that is a product you don't need to promote. I picked it up, used it, and I immediately saw its value. I don't need any points or free saws or anything to be enticed into buying one of those.