I am a worrier…

…and so when I recently found an article posted by the AP announcing that there could be a toilet shortage during a big quake in Tokyo, I worried some more.

The report says that some 810,000 people could be looking for a toilet within the first few hours of such a quake.

I suppose I should also mention that about a 7.3 quake could send 12 million workers scrambling from their office cubicles and could prevent about 7 million of those from returning home.  Upwards of 4.6 million could end up seeking public shelter.

But back to toilets…

I had a bad experience when I was a kid that involved a toilet and two older students peering over the top of my stall, laughing as I anguished in pain from stomach pains.  It wasn’t a very pleasant experience.  In fact, it has essentially scarred me for life — I absolutely fear public restrooms, especially those in the States where stalls and doors don’t go from floor to ceiling.

Did I mention that I’m also a bit of a clean freak (perhaps a borderline OCD-case)?  Yeah, that doesn’t make things any easier for me either.

Fortunately, the public restrooms in Japan tend to be quite clean.  Some places even have pay-toilets that offer facilities that are cleaned on a more frequent basis.  I’ve only been to the pay-toilets at Tokyo Station so I can’t really comment on all of them, but they were nice — less traffic and cleaner than most regular restrooms.  I’ve also heard a lot of good things about Akihabara’s Oasis, but have yet to make use of them.

But I digress…

I love living in Japan.  It was probably the best thing to happen to me.  I do miss the States, but not really enough for me to want to return and live there…  Except perhaps when I hear news about major earthquakes that are supposed to be hitting Tokyo in the near future.

Source: Toilet shortage feared in case of big Tokyo quake

Mobile talk time surpasses land-line talk time

The MDN News is reporting that mobile talk time has finally surpassed land-lind talk time.

According to the report by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the total talk time on mobile phones in Japan was 1.899 billion hours, a 4.5 percent increase from the previous year, whereas calls made on fixed-line phones declined to a total 1.835 billion hours, an 11 percent decrease from fiscal 2006.

They cite recent mobile phone contracts, that include free talk time between friends and / or family, as a possible cause for such a turn-around.  My guess is that this divide will only continue to increase as mobile phone coverage increases.  The only question is, how will the mobile phone marketplace change?

The introduction of the iPhone to the Japanese market was a great first step in separating the content from the provider.  Up until now, mobile phone providers controlled much of the content that got piped into their phones.  And while the provider (in this case Softbank) can still control some of the information under the Apple Iphone, they have a much smaller stake in the overall pie.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Google Android makes it debut in Japan next year.  From what I’m hearing right now, Docomo and Au will be offering the Google mobile phone as competition to the iPhone.

While these new devices mean potential changes and shifts in the marketplace, there is one problem that all of these foreign mobile phones will face: localization.

The biggest problem with the iPhone that I can see (and probably the largest cause of it’s semi-lukewam reception in Japan), has to do with a lack of basic featurs many Japanese phones now offer, such as one-seg TV and Osaifu keitai (e-wallet).  Some of these features have become so common that not being able to offer them can become a real reason as to why a phone might not be able to fully penetrate the marketplace.

In any case, I guess we’ll soon find out if Google makes any changes to Android to provide a better “fit” for the Japanese marketplace.  Take a look at Microsoft and the 360 for a good starting point — sales have finally started improving in Japan because they are actually listening and catering to the needs of Japanese gamers.  No matter how “cool” your device is, if there’s no content geared towards users in that specific market, or if there’s key features missing, it simply won’t sell as well.

Grammar Review

Since coming to Japan, I’ve taught English at conversation schools and in private.  While it’s fairly easy to teach English when you’re part of a school, it’s much more difficult when you’re on your own, since there isn’t any sort of a support system.   But what’s great about teaching privately is that you get to create your own lessons, tailored to the needs of your student.

But in order to teach effectively, it’s important to brush up on your grammar.  While I could easily sit down and review these rules on my own, I thought it might be useful to do it online where others might be able to benefit from “chicken scratch.”

I can’t really promise regular posts, but I think you can at least expect to find something new here on a semi-regular basis.  No promises though.

I’ll most likely stick with the basics to begin with.  I’m no grammarian, so corrections would be appreciated.

Today’s Quick Review

I’ve been reading through Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and thought I’d go through some of the materials covered in the book. I’ll discuss the first couple of rules today.

Forming the possessive singular by adding ‘s

This works with all nouns, regardless of the final consonant.  The exceptions: ancient proper names and words like “conscience” and “righteousness.”

Of course, pronominal possessives have no apostrophe: hers, theirs, its.  Indefinite pronouns do require an apostrophe: one’s, anybody’s.

In a list of three or more items with one conjuction, there should be a comma after each item except the last.

Therefore: apples, oranges, pears, and watermelon

The last comma before the conjunction is referred to as the “serial comma.”

Business firms can be different so it’s usually best to follow the usage of each business.

It should be noted that parts of the first rule and most of the second are fairly flexible.  What matters most is consistency.  If you don’t like adding ‘s to words that end with an s, then do so for every word that ends with s.  If you like to write your lists without a serial comma, do so consistently.  The problems arise when you flip-flop between the two different styles.

I’m going to end today’s Grammar Review here.  If anyone has additional notes, questions, or comments, please feel free to leave them down below.