Monday, November 26, 2007

The Cell Phone Camera and Its Myriad Uses

The weather is beginning to get a bit cool here in Miyazaki, which means it's time to re-calibrate my air conditioner to start blowing warm air. And while this might strike the unsuspecting reader as a pretty mundane sort of task, it is, in fact, a twice-a-year exercise in annoyance and frustration for me. Why? Well, because the air conditioner's remote control buttons and settings are in Japanese, that's why. In the past I've put on a brave face and hauled out my dictionaries and, through a tiring process of trial and error, tried to work out the arcane workings of this most cursed of devices. The sin of pride, you see, has kept me from simply asking someone who actually knows Japanese (and believe me, there's certainly no shortage of such people in these parts) to turn on the air conditioner for me. No, much like the proverbial man who turns a deaf ear to his wife's desperate entreaties to "just stop and fucking ask someone for directions, will you?", I refused to bow to the reality of my utter incompetence in reading Japanese...

... until the other day. I'd been pondering this problem when, of a sudden, it struck me: "idiot, you've got a Japanese lesson today, why not ask your teacher?" Why not, indeed. After all, this is a business relationship, so it's not quite the same as groveling on my stomach in the hall outside my office in the hope someone will notice me and take pity. I was dazzled by the sheer simplicity of my own genius! When my teacher came by my office later that day I asked her straight out, "how the hell does this thing work and can you please write it on the whiteboard in a form I can understand?" As I said, this is a business relationship, precluding any visible sign of contempt she may have secretly harbored toward one so pathetic he can't even turn on the fucking air conditioner without help. Like a true professional she complied with my request, even offering a few explanatory comments and a demonstration of how to use the remote control (the last, perhaps, bordered on insolence; but it also could simply have been an eagerness to help...).

Anyway, at the end of my lesson not only did I now know how to order a burger and fries in Japanese, I had at my disposal the means to control the temperature of my office! As soon as my teacher left I took a picture of the whiteboard with my cell phone, uploaded it into my computer, and then printed it off. Hah! No more chilly days in my office! Yes indeed, I'll surely enjoy working in my nicely heated office. At least until spring...


  1. Why are any directions in that country still printed in Japanese and not in good old American English? Are they forgetting who won that war that they started a little more than half a century ago?

    BTW, nice pictures in the earlier posts.

  2. ME,
    Thanks for dropping by and commenting. While having everything in English would certainly make *my* life easier over here, I can't seriously blame the Japanese for wanting to use their own language (and I don't think you're being serious... are you?).
    Glad you liked the pics. I'll drop by your site after work when I have some time...