Thursday, September 04, 2008

Osaki, Shinagawa (Tokyo) - 18:30

September 3rd, 2008
Osaki, Shinagawa (Tokyo) - 18:30

"Seeking Connectivity"

Every time (cough-cough) I've come to (cough-cough) this office complex in Osaki (cough-cough), I've seen people sitting around with their laptops happily(?) computing away, so I thought there might be Free Public Wireless here... (Phew - the prevailing winds have shifted and the - cough-cough, uggghh.... grrrrrr - foul leaf-fire smoke is - slightly - less intense than it was a minute ago)... but while my computer is detecting fifteen different broadcasts, they are all private networks requiring passwords, etc. The search for "Free Public WiFi" turned up nothing. Wait a second... I should check with my provider - maybe they have a broadcast that I can tune into.

Paper tubes of dried leaves for lighting afire and inhaling - there must be a new (new to Japan in any case) exotic type of toxic leaf that is popular to ingest - one of my apartment building neighbors torments me with it (when it's more than I can bear, I fight smoke with smoke by lighting up a few sticks of Indian super-strength incense), and one of my....

.... former (with a sore throat and on the verge of committing murder, I discovered a free seat in the non-toxic area) seat-mates here in Osaki is trying to poison himself and those around him... Okay-okay!! Rant over!!

"Roofed Sidewalk Tables" (18:50)

The trouble with having outdoor tables in Japan is that the weather - for one reason or another - generally isn't all that nice for sitting outside. It's too cold in the winter, vast quantities of pollen fly in the early spring, the raining season kicks in in late spring, humid heat comes in July and August, typhoons in late summer, early autumn, and then - after a brief period of pleasant temperatures and nice colors - the dry, windy cold (of Tokyo - a different type of cold in other parts of the country) is back. So it's no surprise that there are not many outdoor cafes, etc.

But there is a way - and I'm sitting in it. There is a large ring of round tables with chairs a floor above a plaza, which also has the same type of round tables with chairs in the middle. The seating is free and there is only one area for burning dried leaves (I'll try harder to never sit anywhere near that toxic zone again). What enables this to work is that it's inside - with large curved windows looking out on a green garden (which has some chairs and tables for the rare days when it's nice to sit outside). Maybe there are some other areas like this in Tokyo, but I can't think of them offhand. There are no end of places you can pay to sit, but a free place with decent chairs and tables... very nice, but not the norm.

[Later] - After packing my computer into my backpack, I went out to the outside part and discovered that it had cooled down from the day's earlier heat and was actually pretty nice out - but I was running shy on time, so I couldn't spend much time there.

"Living in the Wonderful Future" (19:02)

Plugged into my Creative audio file player (not an iPod), typing on a laptop computer, with a cell phone sitting by the computer with the screen rotated to horizontal, displaying a digital TV broadcast (with Japanese subtitles since the sound is set to off). Technology - in my ears, at the tips of my fingers, and showing some really stupid TV show on my phone. (I turned on the TV specifically to get a Technology Rush, not because there was actually something I wanted to see.)

This makes me wonder how these wonderful gadgets seem to post-twelve, pre-twenty people (oh yeah, there's a word for those creatures - "teenagers"). I guess cell phones, anywhere connectivity, and music in the ears is like rain falling from the sky and sunlight showing up on a regular basis to light the world for free. For those people, allow me to express a different perspective:

Several decades ago, I would watch futuristic movies and TV shows and think "That would be nice - but we'll never really be able to make TV's that small and effortlessly easy to use" (my family's TV at the time had a number of "special instructions" issues such as needing to physically whack it on a certain spot on the side from time-to-time to get the picture back), "and computers will never be quite that smart and compact all at the same time". And so I feel a little like I'm dreaming about something from a science fiction book rather than actually living it.

About to move on to something else - after sitting back and contemplating people making fools of themselves on TV and contentedly listening to a favorite song - and I suddenly remembered I have a video camera sitting in my bag. I briefly considered it placing that on the table to intensify the Technology Rush, but decided against it. It would be like one more drink that doesn't make you feel better, but rather tips you in the other direction, so I left it in the bag. I mean... what would everyone in Osaki think? "Hee-hee! Look at that Tech-bozo! Trying to show off his gadgets! Pathetic loser! Ha-ha-ha!" etc. I mean... not that it matters what people think really, but there would be no reason to pull out that technology and sit it on the table, other than to just look at the object. The cell phone, music player, and computer are all out for a reason.

"Out of Words...?"

All this time wishing I had a laptop to write with outside and now here I am - with a laptop in front of me eagerly awaiting as many words as I can type in in the time I have, and after writing a few paragraphs, suddenly I'm drawing a blank. Ah... maybe the aftereffects of the Tech-Buzz? Take a deep breath Lyle, relax... let the thoughts settle down and organize themselves.

[Later] No - that was it. It was just time to go. As I mentioned above, I then went outside and noticed how nice it was in the outside garden, but didn't have time to hang around, so I went back to Osaki Station and got on the Yamanote Line.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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