Category Archives: Life

Locational Connections

I used to be very into audiobooks. I mostly listened to them while taking walks around the neighbourhood. It has been yonks since I listened to an audiobook. Not for any particular reason — just a thing that happened. Same thing for podcasts.

I have very clear locational connections between certain places in my neighbourhood and books I listened to well over a decade ago. Whenever I pass them, the voices of the narrators bubble up in my head. A corner I used to round on my way to work still puts me in mind of Dune. A temple a little up the mountain reminds me of Ender’s Game. And then there’s the park in the pictures here. This is totally the Pattern Recognition park. Walking there today, so much came came back to me — the Footage, Cayce’s Buzz Rickson jacket and the filed-down buttons on her Levis.

Fast Tracks and Face Masks

The other day I arrived back in Japan after three years away. After having closed its doors to foreign tourists for so long Japan is really keen to get people back here. You still have to show you’ve been triple vaccinated or have passed a recent PCR test but it seems like they’ve tried to make the process as easy as possible. Before you fly out you can upload your vaccination and PCR test information online so you only need to show a QR code when you get to Japan.

It’s a good idea to take screenshots of the three QR codes you need before leaving so you don’t have to mess about with the web app when you arrive. If you do that, though, make sure to include your name in the screenshot. Mine was cut out of the vaccination screenshot so I ended up having to show a paper copy of my vaccination certificate anyway. It didn’t take more than a minute, but I was on a flight that arrives to fairly early in the morning so didn’t have to wait at all. Your milage may vary.

To make things even smoother, they now let you fill in your disembarkation cards and quarantine questionnaires at the same time. So instead of scribbling answers on a terribly spaced Little form on a wobbly aeroplane table you can do it all beforehand and just show them the QR code. I really hope other countries, Australia especially, adopt some kind of online quarantine questionnaire. Having to fill out those forms while I’m in the air is one of the things I least like about travelling abroad.

Masks! Everyone is masked all the time. That wasn’t unexpected but still a bit of a shock at first, having come from Perth, where people mostly stopped wearing them when the mandates were lifted. It’s not just inside either. People wear masks even outside walking down the street by themselves. In just two days I’ve seen many people driving cars by themselves but still wearing a mask. Aside from the protection, both to yourself and others, masks have the benefit of helping to keep your face a little bit warmer in the chilly winter.

Tricky Cake

A rectangular slice of what appears to be some kind of coffee sponge cake with a coffee bean on top. There are three layers with a layer of coffee cream in between.

It was over ten years ago, but I still clearly remember the night I came home from work and was offered this delicious looking coffee spongecake. I spent a good long while trying to cut off a piece with my chopsticks. It was only when I saw the chopsticks bend that I realised that this was no ordinary cake or, in fact, a cake at all. Top marks to my wife and daughters for keeping a straight face throughout my struggles.

Not Quite My Own C64

My first computer was a Commodore 64. Way before I had my own though, I had access to one at the local public computer lab—aka, K-Mart. The local library had a few C64 magazines full of BASIC programs ready to be typed out, but magazines, for some reason, could not be loaned. I can’t clearly remember, but I think there was also a rule against them being photocopied. Otherwise why would I, as I clearly remember, have spent hours copying these programs by hand into an exercise book? Maybe I just didn’t have enough money.

After I’d got one down and more or less checked, I rode my embarrassingly non-BMX bike to K-Mart, where I stood for hours typing away on the display machine. It seems strange now, but I don’t remember anyone ever asking me to move on or stop what I was doing. The majority of the programs I tried out threw up a SYNTAX ERROR, caused either by my hunt-and-bash typing, poor copying, or the frequent flaws in the magazine text.

Sometimes, though, they worked, and when they did it was like hitting a home run. I had no way to save these programs, though, so when I was done I had no choice but to just walk away, leaving them to be wiped when the power was shut off for the night.