Home > Gaijin Chronicles > Unplugged


I’m a bitter, crotchety old man.  This happened a lot sooner than I expected.

One of the earmarks of becoming a bitter, crotchety old man is the rejection of society around him.  In the old days, this meant living along in an old wooden house, occasionally coming out onto the porch to throw rocks and angrily wave your cane at teenagers.  But the times have changed.  Now everything is about super-connectivity.  There’s Facebook and Twitter and blogs and all sorts of wonderful cyberspace ways to know what everyone is doing at any given moment.  The grouch of old will go outside, and find that there are no teenagers to throw rocks at – they’re all inside recording themselves on YouTube.  Nowadays, the grouch will have to update his Facebook status to “Old Grouch says you kids all suck!  get off my internets!” for anyone to listen to his crazy ramblings.  But, by virtue of him being on the internet, he hasn’t truly rejected society.  He’s a part of the information superhighway, lovingly embracing it like a tender 17 year old.

To truly reject society these days, you gotta do it old school.  You have to go offline man.

While I’m not completely offline yet (or you wouldn’t be reading this…), I feel myself heading in that direction.  Why, you may ask?  Well, for one, the only Apple product I own I use almost exclusively for music.

(The audience gasps collectively in horror.)

That’s right, I don’t even have an iPhone.  3G, 4G, Kenny G, whatever, I don’t have one.  I really only use my cell phone for email, phone calls occasionally, and some very light net browsing.  The iPhone seemed like overkill to me.  Applications for Facebook, apps for checking your stocks, apps to remind you when your wife’s birthday is, apps to remind you when your mistress’s birthday is, apps to show you the fastest escape route out of your own apartment, apps to cook you a 3-egg scrambled breakfast within your recommended daily nutritional value…it’s all a bit dizzying.  Apparently though, I’m one of the few who has yet to sign up for the Steve Jobs Doctrine.  A friend of mine’s wife expressed surprised when she found out I didn’t have an iPhone.  “All the foreign guys I know have one” she said, and sure enough, they did.  I work a job now with more foreign people, and the ratio of iPhone users to non-iPhone users is like 7:3 (one of the non-iPhone guys uses Google Android though).  Even among Japanese people, I’m seeing more and more of the iPhone – but that’s not really a surprise.

World:  Hey Japan, everybody’s doing this thing…wanna join us?
Japan:  A chance to conform?  Where do we line up to do that!

Smart phones are cool and all, considering that I use a computer at work, and have a computer at home (used to…more on that in a bit…), do I really need another little mini-computer for all the times in between?  While some people have compared them to the nifty little data pad thingies on Star Trek, I just see us inching closer and closer to The Matrix.  We’re going to be so connected that no one is going to know what’s going on in the real world anymore.  I could walk around naked on the street, and unless someone Tweets about it no one would know.

@OLGal:  Hey, I heard there’s this big black dude walking around naked in Shinsaibashi.
@Tetsu/Jin:  I’m in Shinsaibashi now…anyone got a jpeg or YT video of this?
@MrMissile:  I think I saw him in the reflection of my iPhone, but by the time I started up the camera he was gone.
@OLGal:  Vids or it didn’t happen.

More than my rejection of smart phones, what really makes me feel like the grumpy old miser is that I actually don’t have a home computer right now.

It wasn’t by choice.  My old laptop broke down.  Originally, I panicked.  I started looking into ways to repair or replace it.  Unfortunately, my wife brought me back to reality rather quickly.

Me:  So I was looking at this nice Dell…
Her:  Um, honey?
Me:  But Sony VAIO is also nice…
Her:  Um…before you start getting to deep into that…
Me:  What’s wrong?
Her:  A new computer isn’t exactly in our budget.
Me:  I wasn’t talking about state-of-the-art systems.  Just something decent.
Her:  Yeah, that’s not in the budget either.
Me:  Okay, well then, how about a value system?
Her:  Nope.
Me:  Okay then, what IS in the budget?
Her:  We could buy matches to make smoke signals.
Me:  Seriously?
Her:  No…the matches are kind of pushing it, actually.

So with a new computer completely and totally out of the picture, we were both forced to settle for a life unplugged, away from the warm glow of cyberspace and thrust into the cold, un-loving hands of IRL.

You know what though?  It’s actually not that bad.  When we absolutely positively have to use the internet, we can use our cell phones, my iPod Touch, or the PlayStation 3.  We can no longer surf random sites, keep up on message boards or random blogs or things like that, but I don’t really miss it.  I feel kind of bad for my wife – now being 6 months pregnant and not working, it leaves her with not much to do at home, but she’s found a way to occupy her time – making baby clothes.  We still don’t know the sex of the baby, but she’s avoiding that problem by making gender-neutral stuff.  With lots of lace and frills.  So I’m thinking either she’s expecting a girl, or baby Prince.  I would be okay with baby Prince, so long as he grows up to sing Purple Rain, and his basketball game is rivaled only by his delicious pancakes.

The one glaring problem with not having a computer though – you guessed it – is porn.  I was prepared for this – I have most of the good stuff backed up, and I have some stored on easily accessible devices for my viewing pleasure.  Of course I was prepared – I grew up in an age where porn wasn’t easily accessible.  We had to have backups just in case something happened.  Unfortunately, no computer means no way to get any new stuff, so that may be a problem in the future.  I’m good for the moment though.

Of course, having a computer would be good, and if I could turn enough tricks on the street…well first I guess I would pay all those past due bills first, and then I would look into buying a new computer.  That’s a lot of tricks though, so I’ll have to keep my weekends open I guess.  Ahem, anyway, yes having a computer would be nice, but I’ve found that not having one isn’t the life-crippling handicap I feared it to be.  So if I am this content with not being plugged into all the latest gadgetry, what happens 5 years from now?  10?  20?  Will my kids have to drag me kicking and screaming to the holodeck, while I complain about how in the old days if we wanted to play baseball we actually went to a field and did it instead of recreating it in a computer program?  You may laugh at the absurdity of what I just said, but how many of you have ever played Wii Sports?  See!  The techno apocalypse is closer than you imagine.

Now get offa my lawn unless you want me to Twitter a rock.jpg to your file server.  It’ll be a really big rock too.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles
  1. June 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    So.. how – did you write this post.. via your work computer?

    It sounds like you’ll both get by just fine.
    I am a lifetime Apple user but the iPhone never appealed to me for all the exact reasons you’ve said.

  2. Norz
    June 16, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    For what it’s worth, I don’t see the point of an iphone either. My phone is of the cheap and cheerful type, with an emphasis on the cheap. I only use it for calls and sometimes text-messages. A telemarketer asked me if I used the camera on my phone the other day and I had to reply that I’m not even sure if I *have* a camera on the thing, never bothered to find out since I’ve never needed one.
    I don’t have a twitter account and the only reason I’m on facebook is because it’s the only way I seem to be able to get in touch with some of my friends.
    And I can relate to the being poor bit. Though I don’t have any outstanding bills, I do have to think real hard if I really need anything more costly than a pair of socks.

    • RieaMiea
      June 17, 2010 at 2:52 am

      Glad to see that I am not the only one who uses their phone for just the basic functions. Sometimes I even forget where I put that thing that’s how much i use it.

  3. RieaMiea
    June 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Ok, so like you I have one Apple product my IPod Nano which was a gift and it’s all about the music. The Iphone is overkill. I almost got sucked into the IPad till I realized it was just a big IPhone/IPod touch. Oh don’t even get me started on the WI fit. Fuck Twitter too, what is the purpose of Twitter anyway?

    I love that your wife is making gender neutral clothes with frills ahh if it’s a boy he will be quite comfortable in his sexuality. Any ideas for names?

  4. AS
    June 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    As long as you have someway to get access, in this case it would be your ipod touch, you should be fine if everywhere you go has wi-fi. I only tried going online once outside of my hotel room and that was in Harajuku where I even did find a spot to just tweet where I was. Ya, i’m sucked into the net… Knitting baby clothes, nice.

  5. Miroku74
    June 16, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Must be tough getting those smoke signals Twittered, huh?

    Keep at it though. You give the rest of us who are still clueless about the weird whacked-out shit which is business as usual over there in Japan.

    And as always, take care.

  6. June 16, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Sorry to hear about the increasing problems, but glad to hear that you guys seem to be doing well despite them. I’ve been a long time reader, and really enjoyed hearing about your time in Japan. I hope to hear a lot more.

    Related to that . . . I am in the middle of starting a publishing company that will focus on short fiction ebooks. While I do not intend to get into the general business of accepting non-fiction, what I really mean by short fiction is short narrative writing, and your experiences in Japan are wonderful examples. Would you be interested in publishing a series of short compilations of your past posts (with some editing, though nothing like what would be involved in turning them into a book)? I’d definitely pay you a rate well above my base rate per word for short fiction (the base rate is 5 cents per word). If you’re at all interested, just give me an email and we can talk about it.

  7. June 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    The only Apple product I own is an Ipod nano that I got as a graduation gift. If not for that, I’d still be rockin’ my Sony CD player. And the only thing my cellphone can do is make calls. It pisses me off when people text me cause I have to pay $0.20 for each message. I’m only 21 years old and I’m already a crotchety old woman.

  8. RieaMiea
    June 17, 2010 at 2:53 am

    well I am 25 and I too am a crotchety old woman. I have frequently used the term kids these days.

    • Corey
      June 17, 2010 at 4:51 am

      So have I actually……..but I’m 18. What’s wrong with me??? I don’t like Facebook, Myspace and especially not Twitter. I don’t even have/plan on ever having a cell phone, let a lone an Iphone. Though if one day I had to get a cell phone, it’d be an Iphone, but only because I liek teh vidyagaems.

  9. Kyle
    June 17, 2010 at 4:51 am

    I don’t see much point to the iPhone either, for the same reasons you mentioned. In Japan I use my phone for mail 95% of the time and the rest for voice calls. Having GPS maps and stuff would be useful but all those apps just seem like overkill to me.

  10. Bara
    June 17, 2010 at 4:53 am

    As an official crotchety old man I’d like to welcome our newest member, Az. It can be frustrating though; I’ve spent the last 10 years eagerly anticipating the time when my neighbors boy would start taking shortcuts across my lawn and the punk is too polite. It makes me worried about kids today. I blame it on too much humus and couscous in their diet and not enough processed meat products laced with massive amounts of sodium, nitrates and fat.
    As for cell phones, I refuse to get one. Too much expense when I already have a land line. If I’m not there anyone can talk to the silly answering machine. Why the heck would I want to be on an electronic leash anyway.
    As a “Dad to be” you are going to stress about money and material things but that is a part of being a Dad. Just don’t let the worries overwhelm the joys of being a father. 🙂

  11. June 17, 2010 at 5:41 am

    I remember back in like 96′ or ’97 (or ’98, ’99, etc. – it happened for years -) when people (online) used to ask me “Are you on the interent 24 hours a day?!”, basically implying i was a loser for spending a couple of hours a night chatting and surfing the web. Yes, i was (gasp) always connected to the internet, though not always sitting at the computer. I guess this was practically unheard of then. If i was connected, i must be USING. Now days, people carry the interent in their pocket, and panic if they can’t post to Twitter or watch a Youtube video in the thirty seconds it takes to walk between the car and the grocery store.

    I don’t use a cell phone. I bought one, and used it at the airport on a trip one day. One day. Never really needed it. And i don’t own any Apple products. I don’t see what they can do that other, MUCH cheaper things don’t.

  12. Patrick
    June 17, 2010 at 10:36 am

    You can probably get a used netbook in the $100-$150 range.

    Personally, I couldn’t imagine losing the internet for long. Then again, I’m not a very social creature.

  13. June 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    AZ, I can relate to the financial problems. All I have is 26 dollars. Maybe we’ll both be in better financial shape by the time I finish High school a year from now. I’ll stay tuned to find out =)

  14. Fumi
    June 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    No friends with old laptop they’d like to get rid of? What about used ones?

  15. June 17, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    yo az!
    i’m so on your page with all this “online trend” stuff.
    where are the times when you were actually NOT available when you went outta the door – today, everybody got a mobilephone and just a call away.
    where are the times when kids actually where physically doing something, when they went out to play with their friends? today it’s all about hanging around infront of a flatscreen and ps3 and possibly enjoying loads of pizza.

    oh boy, i sound really conservative here, don’t i?

    well, we kids of the 80s have seen the times change. the generations to come will be born with a cellphone in hand.


  16. david
    June 17, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    glad to see your new job isn’t that time-eating if you have the time to type all that at work 😉

  17. Curtis "Caged" Penguin
    June 17, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Az, For a while there it looked like you were getting into the whole making websites thing. op9.com and then working with the blog. I’d get back to that and hit http://dice.com -> advanced -> Type web design and then check telecommute.

    It looked like you were getting good traffic for a while there too. Google ads dude! You write good stuff. I won’t care about some stupid banner if it got you a check so you could post more.

    Btw, I gotta thank you. Thanks to reading your story through the years I broke my yellow fever.


  18. Django
    June 18, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Hehehe, good old Charly Murphy’s true stories…

  19. Megan
    June 18, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Being a 17 year old I can’t really claim crochety status as of yet, but I am relatively similar – I don’t enjoy TV all that much, I usually forget I have a cellphone, and I see no reason for Twitter, Iphones, and the like. Though I do admit to being on the computer a fair amount, as I enjoy gaming. Still, I don’t get this need to be connected all the time, and I am the only person I know besides my mother that has never sent a text, so I think I still qualify for at least grumpy.

  20. Sam G
    June 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

    My brother’s looking forward to be the old style of crotchety old man that you mentioned at the start – he can’t wait to call kids whippersnappers. But seriously, I can definitely understand where you’re coming from. My mobile phone is… I don’t know how old, but it has polyphonic ringtones, very limited internet, and no camera. I use it more as an alarm to wake me up in the morning than for anything else, and I can make do on $20 a year. Iphones – yes, I refuse to spell it their way – are just completely pointless. If I don’t want to modernise to a mobile future, then I’m not going to!

    As for the lack of a computer, I can sympathise, when it took two weeks to repair my laptop. It was bad, yes, but not as bad as I thought. And an assignment at Uni required me to not use the internet for a few days, and that worked out really well. Screw the opinions of other people – be as crotchety as you want!

  21. vaid
    June 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I’m long time reader of your blogs. first time commenting.
    It is nice to see more regular updates and new site.
    Sad your computer died, good luck maybe you can get enough money to buy a cheap pc.
    haha I dont have iPhone too, but I have windows mobile phone. Yes I sold my soul to Microsoft.
    Next month im going to Japan haha.

  22. Navi
    June 19, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Y’know Az, ask and ye shall receive. If you really wanted one, I’m sure a PayPal donation run for the Az Needs a New Laptop Fund would be well-received, since we’re all so glad to have you back. And I for one would tolerate an ad here and there on this site, if you want a little extra cashflow – I wouldn’t even Adblock you; I love your blog that much. You’re one of the few successful bloggers who has the enormous readership that everyone dreams about; no shame in monetizing your success, especially if bills are ganging up on you.

    Just sayin’. I’m a soulless MBA student; can you tell? 😉

    • wole
      June 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

      agreed with above commentor and if you need a startup plan to commercialization then hit me up andi’ll do a free basic plan.

      opportunity maximizing economist here

  23. Nori
    June 19, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I feel you on the crotchety old person bit and I’m only in my mid 20’s. Apple? Bah, I have an old ibook I got second hand from a friend because it was cheap and I needed something for school. Smart phones? Forget that jazz; my phone is six years old and does exactly what I want it to do (however rarely): make and receive phone calls. Text messages are nice, but completely optional. Supposedly it goes on the interwebs, but I’ve never used that particular feature. Twitter’s useless to me, the only reason I have a Facebook account is to, like others mentioned, be able to get ahold of those people that are impossible to otherwise.

    …………Damn technology preventing me from becoming a complete hermit. I want to be the old lady sitting on my porch with a glass of lemonade and a shotgun.

  24. June 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Ha! We’re in Japan August, Space World and Mitsui Greenland on the menu. We’ll be on iPhone number 3 for me and iPhone #2 for my wife. Though Steve did give me the first one.

    1 point though. There will be wireless keyboard support for the new phone this go-round …

    • June 19, 2010 at 12:58 pm

      I still think you could actually join me as a fellow employee if you didn’t mind working in Osaka City. Heh.

  25. Chaychay
    June 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Im glad you are alive and well, even if financially down. I feel sorry for your wive though… not because you are expecting! god no! Congratulations to that! But that she has to go through the final months of pregnancy during Japanese summer in Kyoto, no less. I hope everything will go well and all the best to the little boy/girl.

    PS: if my kids/grandchildren ever want to take me out to the holodeck I would feel so honored. But I have to admit its hared to keep up with the new stuff sometimes 😀

  26. Jesse
    June 20, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Like many others, I am so happy to see you still updating.

    May I suggest that you link to your newly set up Gaijin Chronicles page from your OP9 homepage? It only has links to the now Russian blog; you might or might not have noticed that the OP9 homepage doesn’t even link anywhere (that I could find) to the Gaijin Smash archives that you moved back onto your servers before your domain expired, so some people that’re not in the know and without bookmarks have no way to come here. When Gaijin Smash expired, I had forgotten about the new place that you hosted your archives and had figured you died in a ditch somewhere when all I could do was to check OP9 weekly only to find several-year-old updates and breaking links.

    I found this new site only after searching OP9 on facebook yesterday.


  27. Zarquon
    June 21, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Not only should you add a paypal button, you should also add a Flattr button. If you don’t know what that is: flattr.com

  28. Jasel
    June 21, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Man am really glad to see you back. Have followed you for years (But not in a creepy way). Congrats on the pregnancy also!

  29. someone
    June 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Maybe when i finally get a new laptop i can send you my ancient one preloaded with porn (( and possibly loads of spywares and adwares))

  30. Vonbootystein
    June 22, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Az, Ive been reading for years (im talking OP9 days) and i am SO GLAD to see you’re still writing. I was so worried when we didn’t hear from you for so long. Congrats on the pregnancy and I hope she’s taking to it well.. (being 9 months pregnant right now, I can only hope hers has been at least as easy as mine so far) I only found the new site by googling “gaijin smash”, hoping that you had popped up with another blog. You definitely need a link on OP9 so old readers can find you. I’ll spread the word as best as I can!

  31. June 22, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    a 140 character rock at most !

  32. Hoffa
    June 24, 2010 at 5:42 am

    I’m glad to see you are doing alright as well, I always enjoyed the the blog back in the day. Cheers to you and your family!

  33. June 25, 2010 at 3:01 am

    If we, your readers, donate just a little money each, you will have a working ‘puter in no time.

  34. Leidbag
    June 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Hey, Az. Whatever happened to your television gig?

  35. Dave
    June 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    This may actually shock a lot of you, but I don’t even have a mobile phone. I did, but it ended up just being an annoying little tool that my mam would use to call me from whatever I was doing(usually taking a shower or a shit, or at a really important part of a game) and go to the shop to get her 20 cigs.

  36. Cornwallis
    June 28, 2010 at 5:31 am

    If you really need money, here is what you do, Az:

    Take all of your chronicles from your blogs, and compile them into a manuscript. Double-spaced, justified, 12-point Courier. Revise it, fix spelling mistakes. Send the manuscript in, with a compelling cover letter, to a publisher. Try to get into contact with editors looking for humorous literature. With your talent, you will get a book deal. It may take a few tries, but it will happen. Then you will be rolling in dough. It’s been done.

  37. Jen
    July 7, 2010 at 1:11 am

    I don’t own a single apple item, at all. I don’t care for them. I have a chocolate touch that I use for my portable internet, camera, music, and of course, calls. Since my schooling is blended, though, I honestly could not survive without my computer if it failed.

  38. Andrew
    July 7, 2010 at 3:17 am

    My work gives me a phone so I just use that. It isn’t an Iphone, but it makes calls and goes on the internet. I mostly use it as a clock though lol.

    As for the internet at home, I use it like a time machine. I’m broke, and internet gaming/surfing/learning japanese is a cost effective time waster. So when I need to get to the next pay day for minimal cost, I spend a lot of time on the computer.

  39. Urh
    July 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I have to say, Az, there is a certain pleasure to be had in “switching off” in some form or another. I don’t regard it as being an old geezer, but just another form of relaxation. I’ve just realised that the last time I was “disconnected” in any real sense of the word was the last time I went on a camping trip…..6 years ago. The closest I’ve come to disconnecting recently was seeing if I could go for a week without logging on to Facebook. It was incredibly easy to do, so much so that half way through the week I was seriously thinking about deleting my account.

    Sadly, if I were to go on a camping trip now, most of travel my companions would probably bring their smartphones with them, only to complain about a lack of 3G coverage. Goodness knows you have to photograph and film every last detail of every moment of whatever activity you’re doing, and immediately upload it for the whole internet to see. In the past, whenever I drank too much and did something stupid my friends would have a laugh at my expense and we’d basically keep it to ourselves. Thanks to my obsessive-compulsive camwhore friends, my latest drunken exploits are now on ****ing Youtube. Now when I go out, I have to wonder if my friends are going to actually look out for me or use me for their own personal amusement. Thanks a lot, internet. Thanks a lot.

  40. Edward
    August 15, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Az…maybe you should start another donation drive? I’m sure with the readers you have, say $5 each *50 users = $250. Hopefully that’d be enough for a wee netbook that should suffice for the most part.

    • August 23, 2010 at 6:08 am

      I think I could donate a couple of bucks…

  41. Mediafag
    August 27, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I also don’t have an iPhone (or any Apple product for that matter)…

    …please don’t kill me.

  42. September 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    I have never owned a cellphone of any kind, and I sincerely hope I never do. One of my goals in life is to someday live in a house with *no* telephones of any kind. If people want to talk to me, and it absolutely can’t wait until I check my mail, they can jolly well get off their duff and come knock on my actual physical door.

    I do find having a computer kind of useful, though.

  43. TheMan
    September 21, 2010 at 5:12 am

    Good stuff Az. Good to see you’re still hanging in there. Is Pierrot the Fag divorced yet?

  44. Mike
    November 10, 2010 at 5:44 am

    Jesus man, you’re in Japan! They have six-storey porn megastores there! (Well in Akihabara anyway, i suppose most other places have a mere two stories). Where i come from the shops that sell porn are very small, very dark and located at the back end of Stabbed to Death Alley (leading to Dissapproving Grannies Staring at you Avenue).

  45. Ryuichisj
    April 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Hey man, I just found your latest site and I’m a huge fan. Im half japanese and I lived in Tokyo for 2 years due to being stationed there for the military, and I was really able to relate to your blogs. If you need a computer I am more than willing to help out in the cause. I haven’t read past this post yet and I’m not sure what your current situation is, but I really started to get attached to your writing and I want to help out. Let me know if you need anything man, I put my email in.

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