Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
OK, so calling it "green-tea cooking oil" is a bit of a stretch. Still, the manufacturer claims that "camellia tea oil is one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fats and is naturally cholesterol-free."
[T]he average number of meetings at work more than doubled in the second half of the 20th Century. ...
[P]eople who are high in accomplishment striving are predictably and negatively impacted by meetings, particularly when they are frequent. Numerous short meetings have a greater impact on their well-being than a few long meetings taking the same amount of time.
[P]articipants who scored low in accomplishment striving were positively impacted by meetings. They appeared to be welcome events rather than interruptions.
It's just as I've always suspected: The people who seem to thrive in meetings are the ones who are the least productive outside of meetings.
Here's an interesting find:
[M]ore people actually view meetings as a positive part of the workday than they will admit publicly.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Here's an interesting excerpt:
[Arakawa] also hopes to find a boost in the popularity of her sport among the Japanese. Rinks have been closing, including the Konami Sports Ice Rink in Sendai where Arakawa trained. She is troubled by such a trend, which in part has forced her to train in Connecticut much of the time.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006
To save on energy, local officials [in the town of Kamiita, Japan] shut off the heating system in the town hall, leaving themselves and 100 workers no respite from near-freezing temperatures. On a recent frosty morning, rows of desks were brimming with employees bundled in coats and wool blankets while nursing thermoses of hot tea.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Yuka Yamaoto dutifully quit work to assume her expected role as suburban homemaker when she married six years ago. But she quickly grew bored at home, and when she saw a television program about online stock investing, she took $2,000 in savings and gave it a try.
Today, Ms. Yamamoto says she has turned her initial investment into more than $1 million as a day trader, scanning her home computer for price movements in stocks, futures and foreign currencies that could lead to quick profits.
The photo below, from the same article, is of Maiko Asaba, 28, a "financial researcher and part-time day trader who keeps a giant teddy bear next to her trading terminal in her cramped Tokyo apartment."
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Saturday, February 18, 2006
The tradition dates back to the shrine's founder, Kai Soun (1510-1583), who was a retainer of the Aso clan and lord of nearby Mifune Castle. After Lord Kai was wounded in a peasant uprising, he was so happy with the attentive treatment he received in Kashima that he told the people there that after he died (see his grave here), he would return as a deity to heal their arms and legs, just as the townspeople had done for him.
Almost 500 years later, people are still taking him at his word.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Over the course of the sessions, Anna worked on self-hypnosis techniques to bring down adrenalin levels, to improve her ability to relax, to reduce her anxious thoughts, and prepare her body for sleep.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Could Bulganians' increased tea consumption have anything to do with the huge success of one of their native sons as a sumo wrestler?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Instead of the fish fish, rice and miso soup of their grandparents' generation, younger Japanese are increasingly wolfing down fast-food-like burgers, fried chicken and instant noodles.
Stress is also to blame: Sayaka, the overweight 10-year-old girl profiled in the above-linked article, was in the habit of eating sandwiches at nighttime cram classes—where she studies for junior high entrance exams [emphasis mine]—and then slurping down a bowl of noodles after getting home.
Speaking of snacking at school, at what point in this country did parents start thinking that their kids couldn't go without food for more than 2 hours at school? Or was it the teachers who introduced multiple snack breaks per day for all elementary grades?
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
The Japanese celebrate Valentine's Day, but they have their own unique twist on this holiday: Women are expected to give chocolate to the men, not the other way around. These social expectations extend even to the workplace, where women feel obligated to give chocolate treats to their male bosses (but usually not coworkers). Of course, many women are, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about this. In fact, this resentment has spawned the term "giri choco," meaning "mandatory chocolate" ("choco" is a Japanese abbreviation of the English word "chocolate").
But the men aren't off the hook completely: They get to reciprocate one month later, on "White Day," a holiday invented by the Japanese confectionary industry as a day for men to give chocolate treats to the women who gave them something on Valentine's Day.
And that goes for bottled tea, too!
Monday, February 13, 2006
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Friday, February 10, 2006
In fact, a Finnish company has begun selling the idea of "three-generational play"—playground equipment made not only for children but also for their parents and grandparents.
The researchers also make interesting cross-culture comparisons about parents' attitudes toward this type of play:
In tests on groups from different countries, the Germans were found to be fondest of having the generations play together. ... [French] parents frequently cleaned the dirt from the children's' hands and ensured they did not play with toys that had been brought in by other children. The British were the most laissez-faire. But overall, the Scandinavians seemed to be more relaxed about rough and tumble.
On the other hand, some studies show that green tea can help prevent prostate cancer.
If you're a "the cup is half empty" type of person, you can look at it this way: 18 is when the brain only begins to mature:
When do we reach adulthood? It might be much later than we traditionally think.
On the other hand, let's not talk about when the brain starts to atrophy.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Until mid-January, the public loved the 33-year-old college dropout, for he represented the dawn of a new economic era in the Japan. Not only was the recession finally over, but seemingly limitless opportunities were now available in a business environment that was more transparant and less clubbish, where the average Taro or Hanako could take an American-style startup from humble suburb to a prestigious Roppongi Hills address.
Horie even launched Japan's first-ever hostile takeover attempt. Although this attempt, like other subsequent and equally prominent attempted takeovers, ended in failure, it helped craft an image of him as a plucky, go-getting upstart.
How quickly a man's fortunes can change.
Today he sits in a jail in Tokyo somewhere, held incognito by authorities still trying to sort the whole mess out.
Horie's party came to an abrupt halt when audits revealed that his core portal business was a money-losing house of cards. Livedoor's stock price collapsed—and nearly took the entire Tokyo Stock Exchange with it. An article in the recent edition of the Economist sums up the story nicely.
Mr Horie is . . . the opposite of what his detractors claim: not an innovative American-style capitalist but rather a traditional Japanese book-cooker.
This excerpt from the same article puts the whole incident in context:
Mr Horie's sole true innovation lay in his use of publicity. Out of the failure of his bids for a baseball team and then a television company he built notoriety, a big rise in visits to his internet portal, and a general sense that although his underlying business remained a mystery he might be on to something so his shares were worth a punt. If that underlying business was a chimera—it still isn't clear—then his crime was to blend the ancient capitalist art of confidence-trickery, seen in pyramid schemes and South Sea Bubbles since the beginning of time, with the sadly traditional Japanese art of obscure accounting and market manipulation. Virtually every Tokyo financial scandal of the past 20 years has featured those arts.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
(As for funniest, I'd pick the Bud Light "On the Roof" ad.)
We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.
Monday, February 06, 2006
The organization was founded by a group of Japanese men alarmed by how shabbily so many husbands were treating their wives. The group's philosophy is simple: Be nice to to the missus—before she leaves you. From the group's website, their Five Tenets are:
- Get home from work early [by 8 p.m.]
- Create a pleasant atmosphere
- Call her by her name [not "Hey, you!"]
- Look her in the eye when talking
- Watch her reactions
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Saturday, February 04, 2006
I hate to be a nitpicker, but technically some of these aren't manhole covers. Some of them read "Air Valve" or "Water Valve" or "Fire Hydrant." But they are nice to look at nonetheless.
But she got her start writing fortune-telling books. In fact, she is listed in the Guiness World Records as the bestselling author of fortune-telling books. The numbers—81 books published and a total of 34 million copies sold.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Setsubun is celebrated at home and at shrines by throwing roasted soybeans, a practice that originates in an ancient story in which a monk drove away an evil demon by throwing beans at it. The basic point to the holiday is to give thanks for surviving the winter and offer one's wishes for good luck in the spring.
(You'll notice that a lot of festivals in any given culture began as an occasion to either pray for good luck ahead or express gratitude for previous good fortune.)
The picture below shows a priest leading the Setsubun ceremony at the Aso Shrine, which is located in—you guessed it—Aso City, where Mellow Monk Tea is grown.
The main selling point of the South American herbal tea [yerba mate]: It is a healthy pick-me-up without the side effects of coffee's caffeine ... The only problem: Scientists now say the main stimulant in mate is not an alternative called mateine, as its champions claim, but plain old caffeine [emphasis mine]. And although mate (pronounced mah-tay) is widely marketed as a health drink, some health-care practitioners warn that is may worsen blood pressure and anxiety.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
But what I noticed about this kettle is that if I boiled water with the lid off, the kettle wouldn't automatically shut off after the water reached a boil. Instead, the water would continue its rolling boil until I tuned off the kettle manually.
Wondering why, I did a little research on the Web and found out that in some electric kettles (like my current one), the auto shutoff sensor is positioned at the top of the kettle so that it detects the heat that builds up under the lid when steam from the boiling water collects there. With the lid removed, the steam escapes and the temperature near the sensor doesn't get hot enough to trigger the auto shutoff feature.
This is something to keep in mind when using an electric kettle.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The reason is this: A border collie can get emotionally wound up while zipping back and forth to round up a herd of sheep. But once the sheep have been rounded up and are all grazing quietly, the dog has to shift almost immediately into "chill" mode. That means sitting down and watching the herd quietly and from a slight distance.
A dog who doesn't chill and continues to harass to herd will not only make the sheep nervous (and possibly scatter them) but may become too aggressive and end up attacking the sheep (which will not exactly help the dog at performance appraisal time).
Hmm, are there any parallels to this phenomenon—getting so wound up that we end up lashing out at the people we're supposed to watch over, protect, or work with? Do some of us stay in "kill" mode when we need to be in "chill" mode?
So remember: Don't attack the herd. Mellow out.
Of course, green tea, even with its theanine, can't do the job alone. But it's a start, and a good, old-fashioned tea break is a good way to take a step back, relax, and recharge.