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Happy Family (Or Not) Life

October 17th, 2010


My very first day in Japan, some 27 years ago, I saw one of these machines on the street and stood there for a few minutes, staring at it and trying to figure out what the heck it was selling. I can only guss what Japanese people walking by must have thought of this foreign guy on the street staring intently at a condom vending machine. Of course, at that time, my Japanese wasn’t as good, and there was no English on the machine or the packaging to help me out.

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  1. Ken sensei
    October 17th, 2010 at 02:34 | #1

    Has it really been 27 years?
    (Sigh) We were so much younger then…

    It’s sometime easier for Japanese to buy such products from vending machines in order to eliminate the “loss of face” during a cashier-based purchase. I just wish they would make a condom look like a condom, so that people would know what’s for sale. Alas, in Japan, maintaining some ambiguity about the product protects the purchaser’s privacy.

    And leaves the foreigner scratching his head…

  2. Tim Kane
    October 17th, 2010 at 08:00 | #2


    Forgive the departure from thread – and I know you recently did a posting on this. About three or four weeks ago, I got the Ipod Touch 4g. I loaded the Skype app. I’m back in the states, btw, for at least 5 months – maybe more.

    Yesterday I purchased a 3g MIFI (wifi in your pocket) from Virgin Mobile: I get unlimited minutes (data of course) for $45 a month – without a contract (so if I go back overseas, I just quit buying time in 1 month buckets).

    If it works as expected, I won’t buy a phone – I’ll just use the mifi + Ipod. If I end up back in Korea, I figure to do the same (there WiBro is about 30 times faster). Thus I’ll use my ipod here and there as an ersatz cell phone.

    In addition to an ersatz phone, I can hang a total of 5 devices off of it. They don’t recommend it for down loading video, but I watched an episode of “Big Bang Theory” on it last night and PBS NewsHour this morning with almost no notice of constraints.

    It’ll take me a while to optimize my usage of this (I still haven’t spent much time studying Itunes or mastered the Ipod): but I think, if I want, I can have 3 phone numbers coming in – one for Phoenix, St. Louis and Kansas City (and perhaps a fourth for connecting with Korea).

    I’m not sure what this means for Apple – but people can now buy Apple if they want, and get real cheap 3g usage. In my research, I noticed that other services are coming along behind Virgin Mobile, including one, Clear, that will offer 4g at pretty cheap prices. It’s easy to see that the cell phone devices and industry is going to be a lot different two years from now.

    I’m not sure how that dove tails with condoms… except it’s kind of orgasmic (and I’m one more big step closer to having something very close to a Dick Tracy Phone on my wrist), oh, and the mifi comes with a kind of cloth condom you put it in for some protection while it’s sitting in your pocket. “Is that a mifi in your pocket or are you just glad to see me.”

  3. Tim Kane
    October 17th, 2010 at 08:01 | #3

    Correction, the monthly cost is only $40, not $45.

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