Thursday, March 22, 2007

People-less Stands

We kinda live out in the boonies. And while there are a lot of things crummy about living in the sticks (the nearest movie theater is a fifty minute drive away, no bookstores with English language books, and not one Subway Sandwhich Store), there are some wonderful things as well (air, quiet, and a bazillion stars that are visable on a clear night. I can't tell you how many times that that alone has made up for lack of movies, chocolate, and literature).

We also have these things called mujin hanbai. Mujin means something like 'no person' or 'unmanned' and hanbai means "to sell". And that is exactly what they are. The farmers build them and leave them up all year round. From here they sell any extra fruit or vegetables they've picked that morning. Here's a picture of one taken near our house. It looks like it has onions and radishes and potatoes today.

What I like about them is that they are all done on the honor system. You go, pay your one hundred yen (or whatever price is written), take your veggies and go. There is a nice handwritten sign that thanks you for your business.

Here's one that is even closer to my house. It sells seasonal flowers. Sometimes when I'm working in the garden and discover a pot that needs filling, I'll grab a handful of change and walk over here to pick up some color.

You can see the little box for the money as well as (below) a plastic bag full of more plastic bags to help you carry your flowers home. I've even seen mujin hanbai that sell cow poop.

What never ceases to amaze me though is that no one steals this stuff. No one takes the vegetables or the fruit or the flowers. No one breaks into the little box to swipe the change. It makes me feel like a deviant to even think that anyone would be tempted. Because when I quiz friends they say, "Why of course no one would steal the stuff! It isn't theirs. Why would they?" Well, I can understand no one pilfering the cow manure but most of the time this stuff stays out all night long. And you're telling me no crazed teenager hasn't ripped off some tomatoes and ruined a house? Nope. Wow.

I just really, really like that this system works.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Psychic Cell Phone

Matt's post made me wonder.

Maybe this is no big deal, maybe it happens all over the world, I don't know. But my cell phone reads my mind.

Okay, it goes something like this: When I'm text messaging, say I type the character "Ah" (that curly looking thing in the white space, upper left hand corner), well, immediately below that (in the shaded blue box) the phone will guess as to what I am going to say; it will give me several choices. Here it throws out, arimasu (to have), arigato (thank you), and asobi (to play). Instead of typing in all the characters "ah ri ga to u" (which equals five) I only have to click on the word I want to say...

So I clicked on arigatou. Shazam!

Glancing at the mysterious blue box again you'll see it has already decided that I might want to be polite and add a gozaimasu for good measure. So, yea, I DO want to add a gozaimasu. Again, I click the word instead of "go za i ma su", thus saving four key strokes.

Voila! OMG! I check that blue space once more and it suggests that maybe I want to end that sentence with a period. See the little circle, that's a period. By God! I DO want to end that sentence with a period. Bring it on! Click.

This goes on for the entire message. Sometimes it even suggests sweet little emoticons for me to use.

Now what I'm curious about is does this happen on English language cell phones? I mean if you typed in an "H" would it give you choices like "hi", "hey", "hello" "how"? And if you chose "how" would it then suggest "are", "is", "many"?

I am thinking this has something to do with the differences between the languages. How in Japanese there are a good many set phrases and words that just inherently go well together and these have all been keyed into the phone. Which would make it necessary for English language users to use words like "R" for "are" and so on.

Other news:

Today's the first day of Spring vacation which means yesterday was J's last day of fifth grade! The school year ends in March. We had a great morning. After he made us pancakes (while I took out the garbage and washed and hung out clothes) we spent the morning shredding a year's worth of papers (two garbage bags full!) and sorting through notebooks and textbooks. I introduced him to the Pixies and we laughed and laughed and laughed. I had never thought the Pixies were funny until I saw his face when they started singing "Caribouuuuu". Today the cherry blossoms are supposed to start blooming which means I need to start planning my pic nics. The only really sucky news of recent is that the Red Hot Chili Peppers cancelled there Japan tour (there supposed to come in fall, which means I can still wear my new RHCP hoodie). We were going this Thursday. Were stoked. Now just kinda blah. Hope Anthony heals up well and all that.