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13 Dec 2002: Betwixt

I am due to start work at Barclays Global Investors (BGI) on January 6. In contrast to this success, the level 2 Japanese proficiency test was a bit of disaster! With all the heavy emphasis on getting a job, not enough time had been allowed to pursue serious Japanese study. Not to worry, though, I'll just retake the exam next year.

Redundancy has not been as exciting as I would have hoped, largely because the current Japanese economy doesn't permit any feelings of security. The IT job market is remarkably stagnant right now; it can't last forever though, a bounce is expected at some point, we just can't say when.

I'm off to the UK for a couple of weeks, so my current focus is preparing for this trip. In other words, Christmas shopping, which I really hate. I have a feeling that I've sounded off about this before. I know that Christmas is all about the giving, that's great, that's all truly wonderful stuff. But I hate the shopping. I do have an advantage, though, because in the No Man's Land between jobs, I have the ability to shop during work hours. Right now, Shibuya is less insane and Shinjuku is only crowded instead of overwhelmed. Let's be honest, Christmas shopping is Christmas shopping is Christmas shopping. Does anyone out there like it?

Book corner!  I finished A Random Walk Down Wall Street (Burton G. Malkiel) which was definitely good stuff. It's basically a guide to investment and it's a good one. It's evidence is not anecdotal, but academic. A significant portion of the book is a build up to efficient market theory; then the book explains what risk is all about, and the how the concept of a diversified portfolio ties into that. There's also a wonderful appendix on the purpose of derivatives in managing risk at the end of the book. The book was time well spent, even though some of it was tough going and the most important chapter of the whole book was US-centric.

On the fiction front I completed Jay McInerney's short story collection How It Ended. All of the stories feel like a buildup to some punch line, some interesting point, but I felt that only half of them made an interesting journey on the way. Still, a good read. I'm working on a couple of other books right now (one fiction, one technical) and I'll report on those when they're finished. I also want to return to my efforts at reading Japanese fiction, which had begun with manga...

There is now a short video clip of one of my lessons at my Japanese school's web site. Once you've finished laughing at that, you might want to peruse the pictures below.