| Nov 17, 2012

A little bit of telephone talk

“I see,” I say. And then I say, “I see.” And a few more times as well. “I see. I see. I see.” “You say, ‘I see,’ too much,” says my wife, who has been eavesdropping as I spoke with my boss via telephone ...

| Nov 3, 2012

In the valley of the uncanny

I am at this bar, see, and with me are two friends. Both have lived in Japan as long as I have, give or take, and both claim to like it here, mostly. “Mostly my eye,” says my first friend. Let’s call him Mutt. ...

| Oct 20, 2012

Then and now

I remember well my first Halloween in Japan, mostly because I was invited to speak about it at a junior high. Trick or treating? Kids in sheets with peep holes? Jack O’ Lanterns? I might have been lecturing about life on Mars. And now? ...

| Oct 6, 2012

Digging for things to do

One of life’s little facts: “Every man needs a hobby.” “But I thought I was your hobby,” says my wife, with a hint of a smile. So I must clarify: “Every man needs an affordable hobby.” And there I stand in my hobby clothes: ...

| Aug 25, 2012

A plan for a healthy TV diet

The world is going to pieces. I know because the television told me so. Global warming, economic meltdown, regional conflicts, partisan politics, Justin Bieber. Is there anything good happening? Anywhere? “The problem,” says my luncheon mate, “is not the world. It’s you.” Now how ...

| Aug 11, 2012

The race to be at rest

“Japanese are supposed to be polite. It’s a defining part of the national character.” And before that argument can crash, I back it with . . . “In the same way that bees have buzz, cows say moo, and pigeons on the street go ...

| Jul 28, 2012

The buzz about cicadas

Japan is entering cicada season, so let me start with a modest observation: Cicadas are the ugliest bugs on earth. I can state this not because I am an expert on bugs, but rather because I am an expert on ugly. In regards to ...

| Jul 14, 2012

The fear of phobias

A peek at “The Phobia List,” a webpage cataloging the accrued fears of our mighty human race, finds a list of over 500 documented phobias. Some on the list are interesting all by themselves. Such as . . . Barophobia — Fear of gravity ...