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18 Apr 2004: A Quieter Month



I'm trying to cut down on my coffee intake, so I've been drinking cans of coffee instead of the something from Starbucks or Tully's. So now I find myself addicted to Wonda Morning Shot instead. As Asahi Beer say, "...customers can rely on a Wonda Morning Shot for a quick kick-start to wake them up for work. The clear, bracing taste is just what they need." Except that I drink it in the afternoon and evening too. The intravenous drip will be ready soon.

The Eidan subway has undergone a dramatic revolution. The station staff now wear blue uniforms instead of green and the subway has a new identity as the Tokyo Metro. At the same time, a brand new dumb number system has been assigned to both Tokyo subway systems. Instead of having to use a station name like Nakano-sakaue on the Marunouchi line, you can call it M-06 instead. However, a single station can have multiple codes because it might lie on several different subway lines. Nakano-sakaue is also known as E-30. And even better, as the Marunouchi line branches at Nakano-sakaue, stations on the other branch have been assigned lower case codes such as m-01. Okay, I admit I'm already confused.

Finally, let it not be said that I pay no attention to domestic affairs. After a six-year old was killed by revolving doors at Roppongi Hills last month, just about every building entrance with revolving doors has been disabled. Seems like there's a scandal here, with injuries involving revolving doors going unreported over the years.

Book Corner

Quite a few books this time around.

Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love is a monster of a book. What with all that small text and all those pages, my my, this has taken an age to read. This is the first of Heinlein's works I've read but apparently it's not the best place to start! Still, I did enjoy the book. The narrative jumps around a bit - what can you expect when our central character has been alive for over 20 centuries - but, interestingly, it was the parts of the book that took place in the "present" (i.e. around 4200 AD) that I found quite difficult. It seemed fairly uninteresting, maybe it's because I'm not familiar with other Heinlein works; also, it seems every female in the book is really quite desperate for another man's child. On the upside, there is plenty of good story in here too, plenty of philosophical food for thought, and the last few chapters are just wild. If you can put up with some, shall I say, different attitudes to sex, you might want to try it out.

Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis has been considered to have created the genre of "mathematical fiction". Well, I suppose if people really have to classify everything... Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed the book, didn't take too long to read. As you might expect, it's the story of the relationship between the narrator and his uncle, and between his uncle and mathematics. I'm not sure how accessible the book is, but many of the observations on the mathematician mindset are right on the money. Enjoyed.

Finally, Charles Bukowski's Factotum was a short, easy read. This is one of a number of stories featuring Bukowski's alter-ego Henry Chinaski. Chinaski is a drifter who can barely keep a job longer than a chapter. It doesn't seem to have much of a plot, you could quite easily jump into the book halfway through as you could at the start. But this is also it's strength, every page there's something new to read, or gasp at in horror. The very darkest of comedy underscores the whole thing and made me laugh once or twice. Liked.