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Poor Helpless Creature February 15, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Japan, Photography, Publishing Tools.
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It’s PhotoShopped, but the little guy looks purrfectly forlorn.

Minivans are Totally Babe Magnets December 18, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Japan, Mutants.
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Words fail.

More Cute From Japan December 18, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Japan.
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I wish I could leave a link here to Amazon for this, but I don’t think they sell it.  These are from Rakuten in Japan.


Correction: they DO have them:

imm Living DC069-Owl Hidden Owl Teacup

imm Living DC069-Fox Hidden Fox Teacup

imm Living DC069-BEA Hidden Bear Teacup

Violating the Benthic Treaty October 17, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Japan, Mutants, Science.
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The headline is only funny if you have read any of the Laundry series of books by Charles Stross, the best science fiction/horror writer I have ever read.  This fish is, however, a true horror from the deep, being found 7 kilometers down in a trench, using a baited camera rig made by a collaboration between Japan’s Ocean Research Institute and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research.  They found a supporting ecosystem feeding off carcasses of critters from warmer, shallower levels, but no Elder Gods this time.

You will love the name;  New Scientist reported it as a Sméagol.  The source press release doesn’t use that name, but I like it.

This is my blog, damn it.  It’s a Sméagol.

“Asagohan” Means “Breakfast” September 27, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Hello Kitty, Japan, Video.
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A family discusses breakfast options in the ebullient style for which Japan is justly famed–right up until lunchtime.

MotherTongue May 24, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Hello Kitty, Japan, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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I’m weirdly proud of this application because it was my idea, although my friend Mark


programmed it (does this make it pirate software?).  It just takes random hiragana or katakana characters and reads them aloud while highlighting them, equivalent to a mother reading to her child.  I like to think that this would help someone learn Japanese kana a little faster than flashcards.

Next I would like to port it to WinCE 5, so I could put it on my phone.  Hey, it could happen.

This is an application that works well for two reasons: one, Japanese is a monotonal language, so the syllables mostly sound the same no matter what order they are spoken in (not entirely true, but largely) and two, it’s a syllabic language in the first place (each symbol represents an entire syllable.  It’s hard to misspell in Japanese).

This program (MotherTongue.exe) can be used with other languages for this reason.  Just put .png files of the syllables of your new language with .mp3 files with the corresponding names in the same directory as MotherTongue.exe and start it up.  Purists might wish to use a silent syllable between words, but I haven’t bothered. It will also work with other sound and picture files, but I haven’t tested it with them, since my needs are already met.  I have toyed with the idea of using it to read Japanese aloud, but parsing random English-transliterated Japanese is liable to be too tricky to ask my boss to code up over beer.  I would have to move up to better bribes.

Leave comments about this if you would like. I would appreciate it.


EXCITING UPDATE:  I have written a version this for Android.  It’s ridiculous to put it on GooglePlay since I’m writing something much grander for language-learning activities generally but I’ll send it to you if you leave me contact info in the comments.

Additional update: strangely, this ancient post is still getting hits from somewhere. there are much better kinds of language-learning tools out there, most especially Google Translate, which can read you text in Japanese and a huge number of other languages, works in your browser or as an app on your phone.
Seriously, I am only leaving this page up because I am in love with the sound of my own writing.

Cutest Camera in the Known Universe April 16, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Japan, Mutants, Photography, Publishing Tools, Toys, Uncategorizable.
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Here is the cutest little camera you ever saw:


Oh, sure; you think the girls are huge and the camera is a normal-sized digital camera.  You would be wrong.  look at the background: is that city destroyed?  No.  No monster rampage, therefore the girls are not horrible mutants bent on destruction, therefore the camera is really, really tiny, yet packed with yummy features: 2048 x 1536 resolution (JPEG), pretty high-resolution video (1280 x 960 30 fps) and microSD/microSDHC card slot (1-8GB).  Also has a voice recorder built in, which I suspect is pretty easy to do once you have everything else installed, yes?  Even my cheap Samsung has that.

I picture everyone in the future having one of these worn around their neck or on a headband or something, recording the whole day and wiping anything uninteresting before going to bed.  That would make a lot of cops uncomfortable, I’m sure.

This sucker has a Japanese-only instruction manual so it will find limited acceptance in the US, even though nobody here reads the manual anyway.

More Hello Kitty February 9, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Hello Kitty, Japan, Uncategorizable.
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Hello kitty tire tread

I took this picture in my local Sanrio store.  There was a HK motorcycle also, but for some reason this tire spoke to me.  Get it?  Spoke?

I know, you think I’m just a cut-up.hello-kitty-chainsaw

Fine, if you want to be like that.


You could use this:

No, it’s a real gun:

Hello Kitty AR-15 Assault Rifle



Not a Photoshop job, like this:


But you probably prefer the happy ending.

hello kitty 1.jpg

Apparently someone ACTUALLY LIVES HERE.  In solitude, I imagine:

hello kitty 2.jpg

hello kitty 4.jpg

It could be this guy:


He probably want to meet this nice girl:


You can tell by her look she just wants to meet a nice guy and settle down and have some beautiful children in a happy home.

Hello Kitty Bath by Samurai Shiatsu.

All this HK stuff makes me sick.


Never fear; I have more.  Oh, so much more. 😦

Hello Kitty Pancakes February 8, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Hello Kitty, Japan.
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I don’t actually own any Hello Kitty products, but I love looking at them.  They generally make me want to slap myself silly for even thinking that what I am looking at is real.

The above photo is from a Harajuku store selling filled Hello Kitty-shaped pancakes.

I should have written a dozen posts about this sort of thing, but I have been busy.  Fear not!  I will add a Hello Kitty tag so you can read only HK posts by clicking on the link on the sidebar to the right.

Spanish Lessons That Might Take January 28, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words, Japan.
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I have unsuccessfully fought a battle to teach myself Japanese for years, with little success.  It may be that Japanese is just too different for a man of my advanced years (i.e., not a teenager) to master or retain, or maybe I haven’t had enough exposure.  I used to use Paul Pimsleur’s language instruction course for this (available at my local library), but I find I have trouble remembering simple things even now.
This may have changed.  My oldest stepdaughter needs two years of language credit to get into Cal, so I have been looking for ways to cram a lot of Spanish into her head before next year, when she must take the classes she needs.  I stumbled across Spanish With Michel Thomas (Deluxe Language Courses with Michel Thomas) and was impressed by how quickly he could get children to learn several Spanish phrases.  I obtained the recordings and started listening to them during my commute.  I liked what I heard so well I started supplementing that learning with a basic vocabulary text I found on Google, but finally bought on Amazon.

Then I looked into Michel Thomas, and found an interesting story:

He was the sole survivor of not one but three concentration camps in World War II; he talked his way out of being executed by Gestapo chieftain Klaus Barbie; he helped liberate Dachau; he rescued 40 tons of Nazi dossiers on the verge of destruction in Munich; he hobnobbed with princes and seduced starlets; he dropped acid in 1958 as part of a pioneering drug experiment; he beat the slot machines in Monaco.

Oh, and his New York and Beverly Hills language schools can teach anyone a foreign tongue in just three days.”

Yeah.  I don’t necessarily believe it either, but it’s a great story, isn’t it?

What else matters?

English-Japanese-Chinese Mobile Voice Translator December 30, 2009

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Japan, Star Trek Technology, Toys.
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Toshiba has announced (but I can’t yet find where to buy) an application which translates spoken phrases from any of these three languages to any of the other two.  Nifty.

This isn’t a teaching aid, but it could be a lifesaver to a traveler.  The very best part, is that it is entirely contained within the PDA; it does not require interaction with a server, so no data link is required.  This is a big deal, since the data costs in backwards countries like the USA are exorbitant.