December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

From Our Family To Yours:

Wishing you the old-fashioned pleasures of home and happy memories, and all the joys of Christmas.

December 22, 2012

Plain, Helicopters and Automobiles (Part II)

“Apocalypse Averted”
We are still here! Lots of mirth out there given that on December 21 the world was supposed to face a cataclysm or a dramatic shift in consciousness when the Mayan calendar ended. For me, the only shift I felt was the glee inherent to the transition to Christmas holidays.

Courtesy of Fox 12 TV in Portland, Oregon

“Origami Gone Wild”
One reason I am lucky to be working in the automotive sector is that I get many opportunities to drive different types of vehicles and witness how their marketing is developed and executed. Mobility is my mantra. The words become reality when the rubber meets the road. However, as a regular driver I am well aware that part of the ownership experience is the tune-ups or repairs that go with having a car.

To wit: we had our car serviced recently. I was quite satisfied with the way we are usually treated by our local dealer. One element of the generally excellent customer service you receive in Japan is the amount of small gifts they give you to show appreciation for your patronage. Tissues, coffee/tea while you wait, and doting on you while diagnosing the car’s problem or as you wait for the keys to be handed back to you after they fix it.

This time around, they gave the girls some cardboard you-fold-it promo gifts featuring their newest model being rolled out….in the form of a tissue holder!

I was intrigued. The Japanese have perfected the art of paper folding over centuries and the "origami" tradition remains strong to this day. The girls clutched the bright red puzzle given to them at the dealer showroom. Yet even as we got home, it retained their attention, which is unusual. Then we constructed the tissue box, and you can see for yourself that it is nicely thought-out and eye catching. Happy kids, happy parents, and cheap and effective marketing.

December 1, 2012

Plain, Helicopters and Automobiles (Part I)

“The Happiness Dashboard”
The Rising Family is a happy family. We lead a plain but satisfying life in Yokohama. For example, Lady E. will soon reach six years old; she is blossoming and is high-octane curious about life. Talkative, like her dad. M. is also speaking at length without need of an audience and laughing at her own jokes. She has staked her claim in the family unit and is a lovable little nutter.

The danger of a joyful family that is blessedly free of major problems is that it lacks the drama or fodder for stories that you, dear Reader, might find interesting. In that sense, “plain” is a pain. I soldier on nevertheless, and offer the following two tidbits from our Yippie Yokohama existence.

"Orange Hawk Down"
Background to this anecdote: The V-22 Osprey is a multi-mission, tilt-rotor aircraft with a vertical take off and landing (VTOL) capability. It has been in use in branches of the US armed forces since 2007. The V-22’s development was long and controversial, and it has been plagued by a reputation for glitches and accidents. Once the Department of Defense announced the V-22 would be deployed to Japan there has been a long and pronounced public outcry about potential safety hazards and potential for crashes in Japan’s densely populated urban areas.
Courtesy of the US Dept. of Defense
Flash forward to the present: I am a childish man. That said, I occasionally indulge in “man toys.” One such purchase was a cheap, remote-controlled mini helicopter. I brought this with me when I recently took the girls to a local park that has a wide open green space, perfect for takeoff and landings. Or so I thought.

Amid a lull in the usual jumping, screaming and climbing that goes with such trips to the park, I snuck away and pulled out my toy for a test. The trial showed the mini-heli had two directions: up (very, very quickly) and straight down. Immediately after this test I was surrounded by a gaggle of kids, mostly young boys, who materialized out of nowhere. Feeling very much the middle-aged pied piper, their enthusiasm was infectious—more tests...go go go.
Test flight #2 was memorable. The helicopter went straight into the heavens, remote control was severed at about 50 ft high, and it plummeted straight down into the sidewalk where the crash impact split the nose off the fuselage. Carnage!

My helicopter was mostly destroyed, but I was laughing my ass off. Why? Immediately after witnessing the crash of the mini heli, the group of kids surrounded the downed helicopter and, almost in unison, cried out: “It’s the Osprey!”
Who says kids these days don’t follow current events?