Tuesday, March 27
The Mediaman's New Toy

In the spirit of Hwan's dream discussions, I had another one of my nightmares last night. They are never the same, but they always happen two nights after I've met a lot of people. While I didn't really meet anyone new, I was crammed on a plane with a couple hundred other sardines and saw the Sakata's for the first time in ages. Maybe it has more to do with crowds.

After another big breakfast (Oh! I'm suffering!) we went for a walk at a small temple. There are Buddhist temples all over, and the area that they are in is usually not that big. However, the entire area is unbelievably intricate. The stones and plantlife coexist in a way that can only be harvested through over a thousand years of hard work. There is no such thing like this in the New World, and I am indescribably amazed at the living artwork I am surrounded by with every garden that I enter.

And there are many of them. We saw two today and they are like the most elaborate garden you have ever seen multiplied by the acreage of a large, stately home. Beautiful temples are everywhere and I even though I will be seeing dozens more over the next week and a half, I feel like I need a camera to capture the breathtaking uniqueness of each one... so it was off the to camera store.

Now to describe this store where I bought my camera is like describing a little piece of heaven (for geeks, at least). Enter - immediately greeted by dozens and dozens of cell phones, no five can add up to the weight and volume of the Clearnet Ham Radio I usually have strapped to my belt. All with 1"x1.5" screens at least, and many with full colour displays of cartoon characters. Not to mention a whole wall of accessories.

Next (traveling counterclockwise around the store) was the software department where I got a quick glimpse at all the software that I will covet next year when it's ported to Canada. Handheld pagers was next, followed by the digital cameras - my primary objective for today. However, my attention was distracted towards the opposite side of the aisle by the rows of Sony Vaio computer systems. I can count on one hand how many Sony Vaio desktop systems I have seen outside dedicated shops like "The Sony Store", but here they numbered in the dozens with the worst monitor being a practically concave 15" Trinitron with a desktop footprint the size of a hamster.

Before I managed to spot the cameras a mere ten feet from my back, I was 'dragged' over to the television department where I saw television technology that I am sure to never see in my local Future Shop back home for at least two years. Every television in the wall display exhibited a 16:9 HDTV display. There were four models of cool plasma displays that started at 750,000 yen (about $10,000 Cdn.) to over a million yen. Every last one of them was about as wide as my fathom, shallower than the width of my hand and had a sharper image than Kevin Spacey on the cover of GQ. In short - Heaven.

Once we finally found the digital cameras, we spent a while starting on the low-end and worked our way up. My brother, John, my Dad and I all played with powerless cameras until we got board and I picked one out. Now came the challenge. Buying a camera in a store where no one spoke English (that was on shift) except for the Gaijin (tourists) who were trying to buy the damned thing. Dear God the confusion was overbearing. Using my uncanny gift of 20/20 hindsight, we really should have brought someone bilingual with us to the store. But that's now, this is then.

All things considered, it went rather smoothly. I bought the camera and a 32 megabyte CompactFlash card for around 50,000 yen. The model I was looking at in Canada was an HP215 with 1.3 MegaPixel (for those of you who know what that means), 4 MB memory with room for more memory on cards (like the CompactFlash), cost $300 Cdn. and was about the size and shape of an average brick. I figured that buying that inferior camera and bringing it to a country so technologically advanced in photography would be like taking an Oh! Henry! to Bavaria.

This camera is (non-techies can skip this paragraph) a Casio 2.2 Megapixel (1600x1200), captures 16 second audio-less 320x240 AVIs, has a swiveling lens for shots over crowds or from down low without having to lie down to see the LCD display, lens effects like stuff you can normally do in PhotoShop but done automatically by the camera like blurring the background a la 35 mm cameras, black and white photos, and stuff that you can't do in PhotoShop like increase or decrease the amount of time the lens flashes so you can take instant action photos or long exposure photos for stuff like that soft effect you get with waterfalls. Excuse the long sentence.. I'm just really excited.

While I'm apologizing, let me explain that I'm typing on a Japanese keyboard and tend to hit keys other than those I intend to. One reason is that the spacebar is the size of a SHIFT button. There are extra keys to switch to kanji. I haven't figured out how to make the Caps Lock work yet, and the apostrophe is above the 7, the @ is on it's own key, so is the semicolon and the colon, the double quotes are above the 2 and every key has a total of four characters -- depending on what language you're trying to speak. I'm also working on a Japanese Windows 98, so the text I upload may have a lot of illegal characters on your screen. E-mail me if you get funky stuffs in my journal entries.

After a night of screwing around with my new toy, I found that using the zoom extensively will wear out the batteries really quickly. I think I'm going to buy some of those rechargeable Alkalines when I get home.

Big dinner - experienced something wonderful with a massage chair - spine turned into jelly - went to bed - woke up twice to go to the bathroom and tossed and turned in the middle of the night again. I had no green tea on Tuesday. However, I think that while my mind has made the time-change successfully my body functions still work on Toronto Time - including deep sleeps.