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Do you know what I'm really into lately?
Internet Explorer add on toolbars.
IE toolbars are little programs for
that integrate into your browser and
just like regular toolbars (i.e., rows
buttons and icons at the top of your
Most toolbars are centered around some
of search functionality, but some of
do other things as well. I find them
Probably one of the most famous, and most
useful, toolbar is the Google toolbar. It integrates Google search (as well as
a few other Google services) directly
your browser, and it also has a very
text highlighting function.
Another one of my favourites is Ultrabar. It allows you to search about ten different
search sites by default, but the cool thing
is that you can add your own sites to the
list of possible choices. So what I did was
add an online dictionary and thesaurus. Now
when ever I'm stuck for a word it's just
one quick search away.
Another interesting toolbar is Alexa. It displays all sorts of information about
a site and its owners. Also, it lists a set
of links to several sites that are related
to the one that is currently being displayed
in the browser.
Have a look around and I'm sure that you'll
find a few more. Some are more useful than
others, and some are easier to uninstall
than others. I haven't had any major problems
with any of them yet. If you want to hide
or re-show the toolbar all you have to do
is select your 'View' menu button, then select
'Toolbars', and you should see a list of
all of the optional toolbars that you have
Hope that you can find one that you
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A woman at work recently asked me to tutor
her twelve-year-old son in (English) expository
writing. She wants him to go to an American
ivy league college.
Kids here are put under a lot of pressure
to achieve, and, oddly enough, adults really
aren't. In fact, the life course of the typical
Japanese person is in someways the complete
inverse of that of a North American person.
In Japan, pressure to achieve and competition
between peers is highest when you're young,
and then decreases as you get older. In North
America, and Europe as well I would guess,
it's the other way around.
The Japanese put a lot of stock in education.
The goal is to get the best job possible
by going to the best university possible.
But the thing is, to get into the best university,
you need to go to the best high school. And
to get into the best high school, you have
to go to the best elementary school, and
so on and so on all the way back to pre-school
at age 3.
Since school placement is test based, serious
students do nothing but study and groom their
resume. They go to regular school (which
is 6 days a week) during the day and then
to night school (juku) in the evening. Then, for the rest of the
time, they practice a sport or some other
At each consecutive educational step the
pool of potential competitors shrinks. Anyone
in the world can apply to the top-notch pre-schools,
so you really have to be the best. Once you're
in however, you only have to compete with
the kids from the other good preschools to
get in to the elementary school of your choice.
This continues until university at which
point the tide turns and the weary student
can finally relax.
Japanese universities are extremely difficult
to get in to, but once you're in, it's almost
impossible to get kicked out. Consequently,
what happens is that everyone skips class,
drinks, fools around, and generally has a
good time until they graduate.
After university you begin your working life.
Traditionally the most prized jobs have been
with very large companies and in the government.
Many of these large companies, and possibly
the government as well, do all of their hiring
for the year on one special day. This day
is very auspicious and must therefore, it
is felt, be accompanied by a grand ceremony.
Usually, everyone entering the company at
that time will be roughly the same age and
they will progress through the company together.
They will live in company housing; socialize
with their co-workers; and generally devote
their entire lives to the company.
Here's the clincher: Once they are hired
they are more or less guaranteed a job for
life (though this is changing now) and their
promotions will be based on seniority, not
merit. The end result is that there is no
peer competition and very little pressure
In other words, it's time to kick back,
and wait for retirement.
Of course, people still work insanely hard,
but there isn't the completion. And in someways
merit is important with regard to promotions,
but if you don't want to compete you can
effectively opt out of it and just do your
job without worrying about getting ahead.
My impression is that my young potential
student really isn't worked that hard. His
mom tells me he has a lot of free time. I
hope so, but if he doesn't now, he probably
will in the future.
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Karen and Jack just got back from Vancouver.
I feel good. I feel good like a new a car,
like a sunny day, like a hot chick standing
at the bar.
I have to go and be with my family
the pictures from our local Buddhist
For those of you really looking for something
to read Paul Harris at Yellow Times.org writes some good opinion pieces.
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Do you know what's better than finding twenty
bucks in the pocket of an old coat?
Going to work and finding out that it's a
Yes, that's right, show up to an empty office
is exactly what I did. I know it sounds stupid,
I mean, how could you not know it was a holiday,
right? But, the thing is I have a Canadian
calendar on my desk at work because I can't
read the regular Japanese ones, someone has
to tell me about the holidays. That someone
is usually Karen, but as you might know,
she's in Canada right now.
My ignorance turned out to be a good thing.
I went in to the office anyway, just for
a while, I wanted to check some email and
surf the web a bit. There were a few other
people already there, die hards, working
even on a holiday. After about 45 minutes,
who should walk in but my boss, Nishikawa-san.
"Oh, Mike-san," he said.
"I am surprised to see you here today.
Then he smiled and toddled away.
So, I got to score a few brownie points
the management, if you know what I
The other good thing about me showing up
for work on a holiday is that I left after
about an hour (and when have you ever done
that?) and went down to Shinjuku to take
pictures all afternoon long.
The photos that I took that afternoon in
Shinjuku are the ones you're looking at in