Saturday, December 02, 2006

Buying a Three-Bar Heater

Buying A Three-Bar Heater

On the way back from the hospital, my wife and I stop at the local junk shop where an amiable gentleman sells us a three-bar heater for one thousand yen.

It is now more than two years since I have visited the junk shop, the place which provided much of our furniture, including the kitchen table which I am sitting writing at, here in my personal room.

I ask my wife what happened to the bad-tempered old man who used to run the junk shop, the one who was so often curt with his customers to the point of being rude. She told me that was the very same man. But evidently today was his good day mood.

On the way home, my wife described the heater as a "three-tube heater," which didn't sound right to me, so I corrected "tube" to "element." Only some hours later did I remember the word "bar," which I think fits better.

If I live in Japan for too long I'll end up speaking English teacher English rather than native speaker English.

At the hospital, all was uneventful. Another brain scan, another day. I got my next appointments, which will be in March, one for yet another MRI scan of the brain and another for a CT scan, a full scan of everything above the tops of the thighs.

The CT scan will use iodine for contrast. It will be my third CT scan with injected iodine so I'm not worried about possible side effects, as the stuff doesn't seem to have any effect on me.

Dr Gunma, my hematologist at Meijin Hospital, ran me through a quick informed consent procedure, and I noted that he did make the point that there is a small (very small) risk of death, as the occasional person does react badly to the iodine. The first time I had such an iodine injection the doctor doing the informed consent procedure did not think it necessary to explain the death part.

It is now December, and the weather here in Japan is getting cold, and I am wondering where I have put my lightweight Lowa tramping boots, which I will need if it snows this winter.

It is now 2327 on Friday 1 December, and today our daughter, Cornucopia, opened the first tab of her first-ever advent card.

When I brought Cornucopia home from the daycare center this evening she found my wife had set up our Christmas tree.

"Pika pika!" exclaimed Cornucopia, fascinated by the flashing lights.

There is a Christmas tree at the daycare center, since it is a Christian daycare center, and it is five times the size of ours and also has lights. Cornucopia stops in the corridor to admire it each time we head for the daycare exit. But the daycare Christmas tree's lights do not flash.

A quiet life, then.

We will soon be at the point where it will have been two years since the diagnosis of brain cancer was inflicted upon me. At the time, I was told that if I could make it to the five year point then I could reasonably regard myself as having been cured.

Well, so far, so good. So here's hoping for three more good years.

My eyesight remains stable and I cope well enough at work, my reading glasses pulling in even the fine print. I still have short-term memory issues, presumably permanent, but keeping to established routines and making a point of checking key facts methodically (student file numbers, for example) compensates for this sufficiently for me to keep heading homeward.

Today, when I was heading to Meijin Hospital, traveling alone with the intention of meeting my wife later at the hospital, I bought a suica card for the first time. The suica ("watermelon") card is Japan Rail's IC chip card which you press against the magic eye built into the ticket wicket, which logs you in and, when you exit, deducts the appropriate value from your card.

On the train coming home, I asked my wife to what extent the suica card could be charged with value, and she read the fine print and told me that the limit was 20,000 yen. When you buy your first one, 500 yen goes to the cost of the card itself, which you then recharge with money at a ticket machine in the station. So for the first 2000 yen you get, initially, only 1500 yen in train travel value.

The suica is great because it means I don't have to figure out which ticket to buy, so no studying of maps, no Chinese character challenge as I try to find my present location on the train's map board.

A good system, but not bulletproof. Today, 1 December, as I was sitting at home with Cornucopia before leaving for the daycare at 0830, I saw on the TV news that the suica system had failed this morning in quite a bit of the Tokyo area, and right in the peak rush hour, too.

But it was working fine by the time I came to use it for the first time ever.

My wife worked Friday morning before heading to the hospital to join me, but will be home Saturday and Sunday. Sometime soon, perhaps Saturday, we hope to visit a park where they have a small animal petting zoo and, also, a pony which little kids can ride on.

Cornucopia's first petting zoo visit, part of this year's trip to the free Nogeyama zoo in Yokohama, was not really a success, since she was too scared to touch any of the tiny little animals, her nerves having been shaken by a close encounter with a (caged) condor.

But, at our most recent zoo visit, a trip to Ueno zoo, she was very confident in patting the much bigger animals (goats and sheep) which they have in the petting zoo there, quite nicely set up.

She also enjoyed the elite experience of handling freshly-produced goat droppings, an experience which the average child growing up in the Tokyo-Yokohama area does not experience, at least not on a day to day basis.

Another year will soon be upon us, and, all going well, in that year we will surmount the largest of the problems which currently confronts us: winning the battle on the toilet training front.

Things have not been going well on the tt front, not in the past few months, but, like George W., we're going to stay the course, and we're not going to accept that failure is permanent. But, until we achieve success, Cornucopia will be continuing to keep the padded paper panties industry in business.

The joys of fatherhood!

As I write this blog entry, I'm feeling relaxed and confident, at ease at my keyboard, and with no consciousness of perpetrating errors. But, when I run my spellchecker over the text, my spellchecker tells me, hey, sorry, dude, but the error rate here is in brain damage territory.

At least my brain is functioning better than the wretched computer operating system I'm currently doomed to endure, Windows XP Professional. I've lost track of the number of programs which have fallen over during the 18 months or so in which I've been using this OS.

The latest stunt inflicted upon me by XP is that it's gone and caused my e-mail program to malfunction. E-mail messages seem to go okay, but I've recently been embarrassed by discovering that e-mail messages which I've sent to New Zealand have failed to reach their destination.

In the New Year, I'm going to have to rectify the XP mess by restoring my computer to factory conditions. It will be, I think, the fifth time I've done this in the 18 months or so during which I have had my present computer.

By this stage I'm confident that I have the secret of taming XP. After the first couple of times in which I did a "return to factory conditions" recovery process, it soon became waterlogged yet again, moving slower and slower, but I've found by trial and error that this will not happen if you do two things.

First, switch off "System Restore." (MY COMPUTER -> PROPERTIES -< SYSTEM RESTORE and check "Turn off System Restore." Second, in MY COMPUTER go to "properties" for the hard drive and uncheck "Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching."

It's better to use Google Desktop Search for this purpose. However, my current version of Google Desktop Search has sneakily updated itself by getting access to the Internet, and has inflicted something called "Google gadgets" on me, one more unnecessary complication which I want to get out of my life.

I tried to get rid of the gadgets by uninstalling Google desktop search from my archived software, but the gadgets came back, presumably hidden somewhere deep in the more mysterious parts of the computer, maybe in the registry, something that I never mess with.

When I restore my ThinkPad to factory conditions using the setup software which lives in a secret partition which has nothing to do with the day-to-day misbehavior of XP, the registry, as it currently exists, will be wiped out as my working partition gets reformatted, and I will start afresh. And, this time, I will make sure that my firewall does not permit desktop search to gain access to the Internet.

Death to the Google gadgets!

Now Blogger is complicating my life my trying to coerce me into switching to a new version of Blogger. The last thing I want to do. I'd like the same life as the one I had yesterday, thank you very much, and your improvements, in the current context, are my negatives. I'm already nostalgic for yesterday.


Anonymous Steve said...

Yes, here's hoping for (many more than) three more good years, Hugh!

7:39 AM  

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