Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Morey, How Long's an Aeon?

Well, it's late Saturday afternoon, the weekend chores are all done, and here I am strolling through Narita's Aeon Shopping Mall with the kids once again.

The city of Narita is home to the famous Narita Temple, the New Tokyo International Airport (my gateway to and from the rest of the world), and a good deal of shopping opportunities that don't exist in the Third World city I live in. Yes, you could call my twice-to-thrice-monthly trips here an indulgence, but I consider them a staple of life. Besides, I usually try to find some kind of concrete reason to do so every time.

Of course, I consider "boredom" a concrete reason.

Actually, the main reason I came out this time was to buy a new alto sax mouthpiece. The girl who is now the lead alto sax player of the Seishin Flying Eggheads (really cool, jazzy fanfare) is also the new captain of the band. She already has quite a bit of experience and has demonstrated considerable playing power (read: "she kicked sand all over the girl who was playing lead last year"). However, though she got a pretty good sound out of it, she never seemed comfortable with the Otto Link 5 metal mouthpiece she'd been using for jazz. The only reason she got that mouthpiece in the first place was that I had provided a few of the same make of a couple of different tip sizes to the band years ago, and they're still being handed down. She figured that meant it was the ideal, so she tested out a 4, 5, and 6 and got the 6. It always seemed a bit iffy, though. Those Otto Link metals are really popular, but they can be problematic. They work well for some and not at all for others. They also vary widely from instrument to instrument. (To be honest, I own one for my alto, but I never use it. I far prefer my rubber Yanagisawa 6 for jazz. I do use a Dukoff metal on my tenor, but only when I want a really raucous sound.) After she got her own, new Selmer sax a few months ago, she struggled with her OL metal and then stopped using it. Anyway, I'm going to test her out on a rubber Meyer 5 with a medium bore. That should suit her better. If it doesn't, I'll happily add it to my collection and check out something else next. :-)

I have the kids with me today, but not the Mrs.. She has both PTA commitments and that damned tennis club of hers to deal with. She said she was finally going to quit that tennis club once and for all this year. She even gave official notice to her principal to that effect. With her mother down being treated for cancer and both kids now in elementary school as of this month, she figured she had too much responsibility at home to be tied up with that ever-busy, ever-bothersome, ever-ulcer-causing tennis club. Well, that lasted all of three days. Apparently the principal asked her to be an assistant coach of the baseball team instead while assigning a notoriously brainless, young, new teacher to be in charge of the tennis club. Not surprisingly, she soon informed me that she had changed her mind. We're right back in the same old, same old. Another year of me trying to juggle my own work and club commitments (and putting up with the in-laws) with being a sort of househusband. Yes, I am a bit less than enthusiastic. That's another good reason to be away from home and here at Aeon. I think the kids needed to get away, too.

Actually, the Bon Belta Department Store about two or three kilometers away has a better selection of import goods, so I'm more likely to find Easter stuff there. Bon Belta also has a bit more in terms of CDs/DVDs and computer-related stuff. However, Aeon is much larger. Also, the music store at Bon Belta, actually a branch of the one here but concentrating on used instruments, disappeared during Spring break. I could also point out the fact that Aeon also has a Tully's Coffee outlet (which I actually like a little better than Starbucks, which has stores at both Aeon and Bon Belta now), but I'm actually going to refrain from going there this time. As late as it is, it's going to be a snap visit.

We arrive at the music store, and the Meyer 5 alto mouthpiece is there. There is also one for tenor, which I am very tempted to grab for myself. (I have a really old Meyer 7 for my tenor, but that's a bit too wide for my liking.) I'm even more tempted to pick up the Yanagisawa 6 metal that they have there, since the Yani 6 rubber I already have suits me so well, but it is really expensive. Considering the amount I just shelled out for the construction work being done on my house, it's hard for me to justify buying it. I know I'll be thinking about it for days, but I'll take a rain check this time...and just get that Meyer 5 for the Eggheads' lead alto player.

She'd better like it, dammit!

One of the things I really like about strolling through Aeon is the fact that it's so multi-national. The airport is literally just down the street, and there is a direct shuttle-bus service between it and the mall, so a lot of people probably come here during their layovers. As I and my kids thread our way through the crowds, I can hear various forms of English, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Bahasa Indonesian/Malaysian, Tagalog, Urdu, Farsi, Sinhala, and probably other languages, as well. It's an ethno-linguistic smorgasbord, and it's all music to my ears. I almost find myself humming along with the tune!

Eventually we arrive at the Jusco department store that is the largest single retailer in the mall. The first order of business here is letting my son satisfy his trading card/video game obsession. Last year there was only one such game, the ubiquitous rhinoceros beetle duel game "Mushi-king (King of Beetles)", and the little tike had over a hundred of its cards. Now there are several games based on the same basic concept but using either dinosaurs or giant robot war machines to slug it out using collectible cards and rock-scissors-paper. My son's grandfather takes him out to play every day when he's looking after him. I'm not so indulgent (which my son finds baffling as well as disappointing), but he was very helpful today. I figure it's worth a 100 yen coin.

Once that's done, it's time to take care of some bits and pieces of shopping. I was recently made the official co-manager of IT in the English Department (which I thought I was already, but oh well), and I spent all last week doing maintenance on the cabinet full of laptop workstations that Mr. O should have done a year ago. One interesting thing I came upon during that endeavor was a handy tool called Partition Magic. One machine was suffering from very little C drive space even after I deleted a gigabyte worth of student-downloaded game and video files (and then allowed the machine to execute fully 40 Windows updates plus SP 2!). Using P.M., I took a bit off the D partition and increased the C partition by 50%. I was amazed at how simple it was. Needless to say, I know what I want to do now to solve my C-drive space problems on this box! Since the stationery department happens to be right next to the computer department, I do a little school supply shopping for myself and the kids. Then I head over to the supermarket to get things for tonight's dinner (since the Mrs. will be out again). Actually, I get two food items...and several bottles of Australian beer.

Victoria Bitter! Ah...memories of my trip to Brisbane/Sunshine Coast last summer! The beauty of it is that I'll be making more or less the same trip again this summer, too! Victoria Bitter is a wonderfully smooth, drinkable brew that goes great with a meal. It's too bad Jusco doesn't have either Crown Lager or XXX Bitter, but you can't have everything.

Okay, shopping is done...and we're already waaaaaaaaay behind schedule. Time to race home and throw together some din-din. Actually, the trip home is annoying only because it's so uneventful. There is no blue Mercedes this time. In fact, the expressway is almost totally vacant. It's smooth cruising at 125 kph all the way back with a sky too dark with clouds for there to be any visual appeal. Just gloomy, dark, mostly unlit road all the way back to Itako and then on to Namegata.

Oh, well. Time to relax and end the day with some spaghetti, salad, and Victoria Bitter.


  • Can imagine the busy shopping mall... ethno-linguistic smorgasbord - interesting!

    Partition Magic sounds very useful. I have this problem of C drive coming up to a bursting point too... perhaps I should start looking.

    Hehe... Victoria Bitter in a warm spring nite, nice nice... We would have to make do with woodpecker cider here. :-)

    finally, HAPPY EASTER!!!

    By Blogger YD, at 5:54 AM  

  • Spaghetti and beer.

    Two very essential staples of life.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:02 AM  

  • YD
    I had no idea Partition Magic was so painless and easy to use. Yes, if you are having C partition space trouble, I would highly recommend it or something similar! Be careful, though; some partition tools require you to reconfigure your system yourself (i.e. fdisk) after you use them and can be a bit of a hassle.

    Woodpecker cider? No complaints! I've only tried Apple Jack cider (when I was in London for my honeymoon in '94), but it was perfectly fine for me!

    Are you settled down now? Good! Welcome back! Yes, I agree with your observation. Add cheese, too.

    (Unfortunately, all three are things my doctor has warned me to keep to a "healthy minimum" on account of my cholesterol level. I'm being good on every count...except the beer. That just didn't last.)


    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 3:10 PM  

  • I recently saw that rhinoceros beetle game at a department store in Taiwan. Tyler (my 1year old son) and I were killing time while Ching Chin was meeting with a business partner. Tyler liked just watching the trailer over and over. I guess I should ready myself for the day he learns he can do more than watch.

    By Anonymous Steve, at 7:13 AM  

  • HMM.. sounds like a interesting day out.

    Hopefully the weather was good.

    By Blogger Robin, at 6:06 PM  

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