Episode 00: Introduction
G'day, and welcome to the "Jani in Japan" mailing list! Since many of
you have absolutely no idea who I am, I decided that the least I could do
is introduce myself before I (we?) embark on this webcasted journey to a
far-off land. So I'll interview myself.
J: Hi, Jani! Nice to meet you!
J: Well hello there, Jani! Long time no see!
J: Nice weather, isn't it?
J: No, not really.
J: Oh. Well, too bad. So tell me, Jani, who are you?
J: Well, Jani, that's a pretty long story.
J: Just gimme the facts.
J: OK, Jani. In five words or less:
techno travel pagan gnosis kvaa.
J: Well, that certainly was... enlightening. Would you mind elaborating
J: Hrmph. Well, since you insist.
I was born and at last check remained Jani Patokallio -- for those of you
not versed in the art of parsing Finnish names, that means I'm male --
right here in Helsinki, the capital of a small North European country
called Finland. At the tender age of 9 months I was whisked off to the
States, starting a long string of stays in other countries that left me,
at the age of 16, back in Finland with a perfect command of English and
various levels of proficiency in Finnish, French and Spanish to boot.
Right now, I'm studying computer science and electrical engineering at the
Helsinki U. of Technology, and somewhere along the way I've added Japanese
and Russian to the list above.
As for the other side of the brain, I've developed a list of affinities
to things like techno, industrial and ambient music; eastern philosophy;
good food; Koosh balls and little red plush lobsters; plus traveling,
hiking, weightlifting, sailing and other forms of masochism. The meat
housing my brain halves is roughly 192 cm (~7 ft) tall and can immediately
be distinguished in a Japanese crowd by the long natural blond ponytail
attached to the head. Staring at my feet is unlikely to prove a respite,
as my shoe size of 49.5 European (15 US) is the bane of shoe salesmen
J: Gee, how fascinating. How much belly button lint do you have?
J: 15 grams. Want to see my collection?
J: Forget I asked. What the hell are you doing in Japan, you freak?
J: Beats me, but famed keitai-denwa manufacturer Nokia is paying me
a lotta cold yen plus rent and travel expenses to do it. I expect to
draw stares and calls of "Gaijin da!" for 5 or 6 months, ie. until
September '98, although this time around the obasans will have a harder
time petting my head. (Yes, I lived in Japan when I was 4-6 years old.
Unsurprisingly, I can't remember a thing.)
Actually, Nokia tells me I'm supposed to either spend my time testing
cellular phones or writing the software for testing them. With any luck,
they'll forget exactly what it was I was supposed to do, and I can become
an unabashedly hedonistic well-paid Zen monk instead. Then again, I was
planning to do that anyway.
J: And every single week, you're going to write up a veritable okonomiyaki
of blather about what mess you've gotten into now, all to a bunch of
total strangers on the Net, most of them probably pedophiles, terrorists
and poodle owners?
J: What on earth inspired you to do this in the first place?
J: I was about to say "beats me" again, but that would make me a masochist,
not an exhibitionist. Anyway, I figured that in Japan it would be
a little hard to harangue a crowd in Slovenian while wearing a gas mask
and standing on stage at a techno party, which is how I like to spend a
quiet Saturday evening here in Finland, so I figured I'd let my inner
dictator fulfill itself by haranguing y'all instead. I thought about
doing it in Slovenian too, but that would limit my prospective audience
to about two. And I don't know any Slovenian.
As for more practical reasons, my home computer happens to run a
webserver & listserv that run Entropy's mailing lists and Finland's Y2K
list, so that didn't require any extra work. So when some friends
and acquaintances told me to keep in touch while I was gone, the seeds
of yet another megalomaniacal project were sown.
J: OK, OK, like I care. Shut up already.
J: Make me.
J: I think I will!
J: Yow! That hurt! You're gonna pay, goddamn mutha...
Announcer: Tune in next week for another exciting episode of...
And today's URL collection, so you can figure out some of just what the
heck I/we was/were talking about:
Yours truly: http://www.iki.fi/~jpatokal/
Gas masks and Slovenia: http://www.tky.hut.fi/~entropy/oblast/