Chris Frederick

On Living in Japan

First, a quick disclaimer: I was born and raised in the United States. As a result, when I make observations about Japan they are based on—and contrasted with—my own experience living in the U.S. Needless to say, my life experiences may or may not be similar to your own. If you haven't lived in the U.S. or known anyone who has, you may not find some of my observations to be very surprising at all; in fact, you may find my assumptions to be more interesting! Nevertheless, I hope that at least some of what I write here will be informative to you.

I have lived in Japan for nearly nine months now, and I think that I am finally ready to share several observations that I've made about domestic life here. Note that I am explicitly focusing on (what are to me) interesting aspects of Japanese residences; I will not discuss cultural differences between Japan and the U.S. per se. Although it's true that I have immersed myself in the Japanese language and culture from abroad for over twelve years, I don't feel qualified to pontificate on the Japanese people, language, and culture; I couldn't do the subjects justice, nor would I wish to expend the requisite time and effort to do so if I could. No, I'm more interested in shedding some light on what it's like to live in a Japanese home, to illustrate a number of small ways in which the trappings of everyday life differ between Japan and the United States.

750 Words

I stumbled across 750 words some time ago and thought that it was a great idea. As is often the case, I forgot about it shortly thereafter. It's a new year, though, and I have resolved to write more. 750 words seem like a good place to start.

Here's a quick overview:

I've long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in The Artist's Way called morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in “long hand”, typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. It's about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day. Unlike many of the other exercises in that book, I found that this one actually worked and was really really useful.

How much can one say in 750 words? How long will it take? You and I are about to find out together.

On Transfolk

I couldn't help but write a post here after I read the following quote (emphasis mine):

Everyone is in the process of becoming who they are; we all start as rough drafts and through the act of living and choices we make, refine who are [sic]**, hopefully getting closer to who we imagine we could be as we go.** None of that is easy. Some people have further to go with that process than others, because of their own set of circumstances. I think if you’re a good person or are at least trying to be, when you see someone on that sort of journey, you encourage them when you can. And if they have come to a place where they are happy (or even just happier) with who they are, then you celebrate that with them.

I love this quote because although John was writing to explain what he meant by saying that he is supportive of transsexuals, the quote can be applied to pretty much everyone. I've held onto a similar sentiment for a long time with regards to getting older, actually: I feel that with each passing year I am coming to understand myself better and thus approach what I would consider to be my “true self.” I've certainly made a few missteps along the way, but as I look back I realize that I have undeniably made progress. Life really is a story that we tell ourselves and each other, for better or for worse.

Finally, for what it's worth, I should say that I am entirely in agreement with John's view of transfolk. I would be lying if I said that I understand how they feel, but I fully support their right to do so.

More on DRM and Ebooks

This is an excellent business argument for removing mandatory DRM from ebooks. The bottom line: removing DRM will mainly cater to the voracious consumer of midlist titles and authors, but it will also generate immense goodwill and provide more opportunities for small and independent retailers to break into the ebook business.

For what it's worth, I came across this article through a link on John Scalzi's blog.

A Floating-Point Primer: Part 1

It's really easy to make mistakes when you're working with floating-point values—especially when you're comparing them. Thankfully, Bruce Dawson has written up a very thorough treatment on the topic.

First Post

Welcome, dear reader, to my blog. Please make yourself at home. You may find the furnishings spare and the decoration spartan, but that will certainly change. I'm just moving in, and I must confess that I haven't had the time to really make this place my own. In fact, the words that you are reading right now represent a new beginning, which I quite frankly find both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Beginnings are hard. As a perfectionist, I find them to be especially so.

For the perfectionist, nothing is ever done. Every endeavour begs for improvement; every flaw is conspicuous and must be tended to. It is difficult to ever truly feel proud of what you have accomplished because, deep down inside, you will keep telling yourself that it could have been so much better. This is why I still hesitate to share these words with you, even after reading them over dozens of times. Yet I must.

For far too long I have been just another anonymous blip in cyberspace. I'd like to change that. I'd like to start creating things, and doing it in public. Obscurity sucks. Most of the thoughts and ideas that occur to me every day are simply forgotten; the least I can do is respect them by sharing them with others. Even if only a few people in the world find them interesting or helpful, it will have been worth it.