Weeknotes #138

in weeknotes

  • I applied for Rowan’s passport on Monday. The woman at the embassy said that it would be easier on their side if the new passports for me, Emma, John and Rowan were all sent together (even though the non-Rowan passports will be ready earlier) and so she warned me not to expect anything until the end of October.

  • That prompted me to do what I should have done months ago and actually confirm whether you need a current passport to book a flight. As most people advised me, you do not. You do need the names that you book the tickets under to be the same as the names on the passport so perhaps that’s where the thought came from. In any case, I then commenced the ordeal that was ordering tickets for five people through the ANA website. First, I was unable to buy through the website because my name and the name of one of my children was too long (?). I then tried to order by telephone. After waiting on hold for 30 minutes in the mid-afternoon, I decided to wait until late at night when presumably fewer people were trying to call. This was incorrect. I waited on hold for 1 hour and 30 minutes before finally giving up shortly before 3 am. The next day I tried again, this time waiting 1 hour and 45 minutes and finally making it through to Trial of the Telephone only to be cut off partway though because the maximum length of a phone call you can make via Skype is two hours.

  • I was able to get the tickets ordered eventually but with the added indignity of having to pay more for than they would have cost if I’d been able to do it the day before (the prices went up on 1 September). I don’t actually recall what the ticket prices were when I looked earlier in the summer and to be honest, that’s probably for the best. As it is, five direct flights just before Christmas are going to cost almost ¥900,000.

  • Speaking of flights, Mum arrived in Japan on Saturday morning and after a night at one of the hotels at Haneda, I picked her up on Sunday morning. One of the nice things about her being here at the start of September was that we were able to celebrate her birthday. The kids were especially excited to have a birthday cake. Well, and to see their grandmother again. But they were very excited about the cake.

  • I don’t know why I did this but on Sunday, I took the kids into Ikebukuro. Ostensibly it was to visit a stuffed toy pop-up shop that Eri had seen via the Japanese My Little Pony Instagram account but which I think was probably a desire on my part to go somewhere again. It was the first time I can remember taking the children out on a trip that involved crowded trains since before the pandemic.

  • I was unreasonably angry earlier in the week about the Astral Codex Ten book review contest for 2022. This is ridiculous because I was not an entrant in the competition and do not know any of the finalists (I don’t even know anyone who reads Astral Codex Ten). And yet still. I’ve been listening to the entries in this competition for months now. There were 13 and most were at least an hour or so in oral form. The first frustration was discovering that I’d missed the chance to vote on the winner. The announcement of voting was in an open thread post that the Astral Codex Ten podcast didn’t include (the podcast never does episodes for the open thread announcements which is fair enough). The second frustration was discovering that one of the third-place winners was ‘The Future of Fusion Energy’, a complete travesty of an entry that barely mentioned the book allegedly under review.

  • I’ve always thought the image of rock band OneRepublic suffered from having a name that was easy to confuse with the somewhat contemporaneous boy band One Direction (it’s a shame they couldn’t keep their much better original moniker, Republic). Possibly also that they come across as a sort of Diet Maroon Five. And yet every couple of months, I find myself coming back to their 2013 mega-hit ‘Counting Stars’ (Apple Music). The worst part? I discovered the song through an Apple keynote. If there’s a way to be more (almost) 40, I don’t want to know it.

Michael Camilleri @pyrmont