Hand warmers and novelty products

It’s cold! A day for カイロ (hand warmers). The first time I came to Japan was the first time I encountered these portable packets. The brand my homestay family had was ホッカイロ (Hokkairo), which totally confused me because I thought they were talking about going to Hokkaido. And then I thought that was the name of the product until I saw other brands like ホカロン (Hokaron).

Do you know the kanji? (See the bottom of this post for the answer.)

Do you know how they work?

It’s a simple chemical reaction. Basically, the packets are rusting, and the heat is just a by-product of that reaction.

Read about it in English here: “How Do Hand Warmers Work, Anyway?” (from Adventure Journal)

At the end of the article, there are several recommendations/links to purchase them. The prices in dollars on Amazon seem a little steep to me, compared to Japanese prices. Anyway, there’s also an electric hand warmer made by Eneloop, which may be better for the environment. It’s available on the Japan Trend Shop, which I’m not recommending you use to actually buy anything, but it’s a pretty funny place to browse many novelty products you’d “only find in Japan”.

 


The kanji for カイロ is:

懐炉

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Pasokonga

This retired man in Japan uses the Excel spreadsheet software on his computer to make “paintings” (パソコン画 — pasokon-ga — “pasokon” is the Japanese portmanteau for personal computer + “ga” means picture).

He’s quite a character. So maybe it’s not about the tools. It’s about the person.

Here’s a little more about him from Spoon & Tamago.

And there’s more information, and images here, where it says Mr. Horiuchi won the official “Ageless Award” this year, proving that retirement can indeed be the start of a second life, and reminding us about how important it is to have a purpose and goals in life.

Machines should work and people should think.

There’s so much to notice and comment on in this short video, made by Jim Henson for IBM back in 1967. Yes, the same Jim Henson who created the Muppets. This video was made two years before Sesame Street debuted on TV.

A few things I thought while watching this:

  • I wonder if Henson intended to make the people seem robotic in their delivery.
  • When the types of professions are listed, why is it that the only profession represented by a woman is teacher?
  • Did IBM not think that this video seemed a bit insidious?

Read a little more about this video: “Jim Henson Wanted to Free Us From Paperwork” (from Atlas Obscura)

And the video has an IMDb page.

Never say never

How could someone who can’t see kayak? With a lot of motivation and ingenuity, and a litle help from technology.

Read more about this native of Turkey, who lost his sight when he was a child:

“The Water Belongs to Everyone, and This Blind Kayaker Will Prove It” (from KQED)

Here’s the app he uses: Be My Eyes. If you’re feeling philanthropic, maybe you can lend your eyes to someone who needs them.