Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thanks, but no thanks!

This video came from Trends in Japan aka CScout Japan. It shows a place called Tokyo Summerland with its "wave" pool where apparently thousands can jump in to cool off. I can't imagine trying this with so many people, but it's the Obon holiday and people will do anything to escape the sweltering heat.

Sugarcoating the future

I'm finally convinced the U.S. really is the land of milk and honey—or rather, milk and sugar. Is there anything that doesn't include massive quantities of sugar?

We had pizza from Pizza Hut and I thought there was something wrong with my tastebuds because the first flavor came up sweet! Wait, wasn't this a pepperoni pizza? The two flavors didn't compute and with each bite it reconfirmed there was definitely sugar in this pizza! Sugar in pizza? At first I thought it was the sauce but it was actually the dough! T said their new dough recipe now contains sugar. As if anyone in the U.S. needs more sugar in their diet.

After living in Tokyo where people say they don't eat sweets (even though there are at least two bakery shops on each block), I got used to less sweetened sweets. They just don't use as much sugar in their pastries and I learned to like the "less is better" approach. But now that I'm in the U.S. everything tastes so sweet!

Maybe people should be investing in sugar futures which were up 60% from last year. Of course, the future isn't just about eating more sugar, even though that's actually what the entire world is doing now. It's about using it as an alternative energy source. If it's used for alternative energy, will sugar gradually be cut back in Coca-Cola, Twinkies, or Pizza Hut pizza? Will restaurants and coffeshops start charging for sugar packets? Will people start losing weight? Will children suddenly turn calm and focus on their school work?

I'm appalled at such blasphemous thoughts!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Can't break the habit

It's quite surprising how a habit can become so comfortable so quickly. I mean, I only lived in Japan for three years, but I can't stop bowing.

So far, I've bowed to drivers who allow me to cross in front of them to get into the supermarket. I've bowed to the bank teller. I've bowed to the clerk who rings up my items at Costco and at the post office. So far, I haven't bowed on the phone yet, but I still don't trust myself.

Bowing seems so natural and it's hard to stop.

Maybe I should check myself into some kind of rehab.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Got drugs?

What in the world is happening to America? Is everyone really on drugs? And I'm not even referring to the illegal type. I'm talking about the kind you get with a prescription from your doctor.

If you've watched American TV lately, you can't go five minutes (I swear!) without seeing an ad for some kind of drug that's going to make you sleep soundly, lower your cholesterol, get rid of your allergies, improve your sex life, control your high blood pressure or diabetes, ease your arthritis pain, take away your depression or anxiety and give you a reason to live.

Apparently, since 1997 when the Food & Drug Administration relaxed its rules about advertising, the pharmaceutical companies rejoiced, and in 2006 spent $5.29 billion on consumer advertising. This of course makes me wonder who's in bed with the FDA.

Worse yet, the pharms are so wily as to present much of their advertising as Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to advocate for disease awareness. Not so surprisingly, health care costs in America have skyrocketed because 1 out of 3 people who see those ads asks his or her doctor about prescribing the medication.

I'm not saying there aren't ample and valid reasons for taking prescribed medications, but I am wondering why we've become such a drugged-out nation. There seems to be an obvious correlation between the amount of money spent on advertising and the number of people asking their doctors for prescriptions.

With the push to bring each new drug to market faster and faster—thereby making pharms richer and richer—and the increasingly familiar headlines about potentially lethal side effects of some of those drugs, why are so many people still inclined to chase that magic pill for a perceived instantaneous fix?

In Japan, drug advertising is still prohibited, but like so many other things, Japan will probably eventually relax its restrictions due to the aging population and pressure from the pharms.

Here are some numbers that indicate the power of advertising:

$4.65 billion—Amount of consumer advertising spent by the pharmaceutical industry in 2005
$5.29 billion—Amount of consumer advertising spent by the pharmaceutical industry in 2006
$4.20—Amount of additional sales each $1 in advertising generates
16—Average number of hours of prescription drug advertising Americans see each year

Sources: TNS Media Intelligence, Kaiser Family Foundation, Journal of Health Communication

Hopefully, people will start waking up to the fact that they're being manipulated for the sake of greed.

For anyone who's interested in a more serious take on what's happening with drug advertising, here's another video (which makes a first for me to include 2 videos in one post.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lightning, thunder and other things that make noise

Monsoon season is definitely here. We've had our share of lightning and thunder storms over the past couple of weeks, but not that much rain. Here's a very cool photo of the Luxor Hotel Casino and the Mandalay Bay that I borrowed from the All Hat No Cattle blog taken last year, but I'm sure it must have looked close to the same this year.

Speaking of rain...J&T decided to call a roofing company to take care of a leak they had in the roof last spring that left a stain on the living room ceiling. Early yesterday morning I was awakened by the footsteps and pounding of the roofer who came to fix the leak. Wouldn't you know that in the middle of his repairs it started lightning and thundering, and I was a little worried about his safety. Then it started raining, but by that time he had finished the job. So now we can all relax and not worry about any more leaks. . .we hope!

There's been quite a bit of activity around the ol' homestead these past few weeks. J&T have decided to do some remodeling and have spent tons of time looking at kitchen appliances, lighting, flooring, furniture, paint chips, patio furniture, and plants. Well, you get the idea. It's been fun for me because I haven't had anything to do with house stuff since 2002 when I sold my Oregon house. Watching them do all the planning, coordinating and arranging actually makes me miss owning a home. Those are the things that really make a house your own, but can increase the stress level--not mine--theirs!