Recent contents of consciousness – Are you f**king kidding me?! Edition – 2018-09-05

“A new digital divide: Young people who can’t use keyboards” by Toshiaki Katsuda.
Somehow I’m simultaneously gobsmacked and not at all surprised to find out that many new employees to Japanese IT companies lack basic computer skills — even systems engineers.

“The No-Tipping Point: Inside the twisted minds of deliberately bad tippers” by Monica Burton. I feel like all of the discussion regarding tipping practices start with the words, “As a former server, . . .” That said, I completely understand the pushback against the compulsion to do what the employer should do (i.e., paying his/her employees). Yet, when I am in the US, I feel an internal push to over-tip — to the tune of >25%. Still, (wait for it . . . ) as a former server living in Japan, I can’t really tell the difference in service quality between what I get stateside and what I find at home in Tokyo, at least beyond the difference in “customer service orientation.” I guess all I can say is that this is a complicated issue with many cultural issues. My guess is that, for the time being, the low/no tipping crowd should not be surprised to receive some feedback when they choose to dine out.

An enjoyable voyage into the world of “The Bullshit Web” by Nick Heer. One note of warning: this article caused me to go down a fairly long and familiar rabbit trail of other “bullshit” writing — links to said bullshit are contained in this fun and interesting article, . . . which brings me to . . .

“On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant” by David Graeber.

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more.

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Kusatsu Weekend – August 2018

Upon arriving in Kusatsu, we practically made a bee-line to the footbath (足湯) to soak our feet for a bit. It is located in the small building in the picture behind Sarina. The water was so hot, but once acclimated, extremely nice. Afterwards, Sarina and I enjoyed exploring and sightseeing in the city with red feet and ankles.

I also took a few photos of the Yubatake — at the area near the spring itself, the water is very mineral-rich and very hot. Leading away from the spring here, there are several wooden “pipes” that channel the spring water to several nearby bath houses, called onsen (温泉). At the far end of the Yubatake, the water is a bit cooler, and takes on a more blue hue. The mineral smell here is definitely present, but not overwhelming. Sarina, however, did not care for it at all.

As is my thing, I found a few new tanuki friends in front of shops in the area around the Yubatake (湯畑), which is the main hot spring at the city’s center.

Finally, we were able to relax over soba and beer at a local restaurant.

After arriving to the hotel, we attempted to head out for archery on the hotel grounds, but we were almost immediately turned away by a sudden downpour of rain. However, the leaden sky made for some dramatic and beautiful photos of the area around the hotel. After drying off and resting for a bit, we spent the afternoon napping, playing video games, and bowling.

After dinner, we retreated back to our room to change clothes and head to the onsen in the hotel. Here, you can see Sarina after visiting the onsen, relaxed and wearing her yukata.

The next day, the weather cooperated a little bit more, and we were able to go visit the outdoor labyrinth and try our hand at archery. I found this handsome dragonfly chilling out. He agreed to let me take his photo.

Of course we also made time to visit the footbath again, on our way out of town. A great weekend for all of us.

Weekend plans in Kusatsu

We are taking advantage of a national holiday on Saturday (山の日) to take a family trip to Kusatsu, in Gunma prefecture, for some time in the onsen, plus swimming, archery, etc. So far, the views of the passing countryside have been spectacular.

The attached photo is of our ride out of town. This train might qualify for “oldie but goodie” status—no frills, but the windows were big, and the seats were spacious and comfortable.

What are you doing this weekend?

Recent contents of consciousness – words of insight and inspiration edition – 2018-08-08

For getting distance from your work and thoughts—even on vacation—never underestimate the power of “Doing Nothing”

Take a minute to be present. Taste the moment. “The Alternative to Thinking All the Time”

That recognition is the key: to really taste something, to know the experience, you have to remember that you are experiencing something. If you have cup of coffee or tea next to you while you read this, you might not have even noticed you were drinking it, much less how it tasted.

Nothing compares 2 . . . a short-ish list of useful aphorisms. “22 Personal Eternal Truths”

A short video on Minoru Mukaiya, who composes the short melodies found at many of the train stations in Tokyo (and in other cities across Japan). Some of these melodies combine to form a longer song, if you ride an entire line. “In Tokyo, These Trains Jingle All the Way”

Takanobu Nishimoto is working hard to regain the honor of ossan. “Middle-aged men for rent in Japan” by Susan Scutti and Yoko Wakatsuki

Recent contents of consciousness 2018-08-04

A quick, brief primer on UX/UI and what a UX/UI engineer does—“What Is This Thing Called Design?” by Khoi Vinh

All the maths! “The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature” by Natalie Wolchover

I always knew that JIS encoding was nothing short of magic. Turns out it has ghosts! “A Spectre is Haunting Unicode” – Dampfkraft

Just in case you were wondering—“Why Westerners Fear Robots and the Japanese Do Not” by Joi Ito

“Michael Pollan’s New Book Will Open Your Mind” by David Bronner

Michael Pollan’s New Book Will Open Your Mind” by David Bronner, on Dr. Bronner’s All-One blog.

Click the link to see how you can help promote scientific research into psychedelics (and receive a copy of Michael Pollan’s new book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence in the process).

If you are not familiar with Michael Pollan or his new book, I highly recommend listening to the interviews he has done on a the Joe Rogan Experience or the Tim Ferriss Show. I am extremely excited to see these important medicines given a much-needed second look. Early results indicate that therapies involving compounds such as psilocybin have clinically significant effects on addiction, depression, as well as issues around grieving.

I haven’t read the book yet, but it is next on my list.