This is Paro. Paro is a "Seal type mental commit robot for psychological enrichment" or STMCRFPE for short. It's supposedly "the world's most therapeutic robot" and is intended to have a calming effect on patients of hospitals and nursing homes.
The robot has tactile sensors and responds to petting by moving its tail and opening and closing its eyes. It also responds to sounds and can learn a name. It can show emotions such as surprise, happiness and anger. It produces sounds similar to a real baby seal and (unlike a real baby seal) is active during the day and goes to sleep at night.
Paro isn't mass produced like its robotic cousins Necord or Nearme, so if you want one it's gonna probably set you back a few grand. A cheaper alternative are Sega's dream pets. While in Japan, Kate and I picked up a couple of Yume Inus (Dream Dogs) for about 1000 yen each. They are really cool! They can't walk, but they can produce a cute mechanical bark, stick their tongues out, as well as turn their ears and heads. They also have sensors in their eyes, feet and on their backs so that they can react to you. They were once pretty expensive, but soon after the Chihuahua fad ended the bottom fell out of the market for robot dogs. I think they have now been discontinued, however Sega Toys seems to still selling the Yume Neko. Grab one now before it's too late! Take it from me. There's no better way to calm your nerves after a hard day than playing with a furry robotic friend!
Attention sukebe otaku of Toronto... your prayers have been answered! Toronto now has it's first Maid Cafe at McNicoll and Kennedy.
Update: CBC's The Hour ran this story about iMaidCafe.
I don't want to come off sounding like an old fart, but when I was a kid the Eaton Centre's Santa Castle was truly something to behold. The only thing more impressive than Santa's five story tall home was the mile long line of kids waiting to sit on his knee. As you can see above, these days Santa seems to have fallen on hard times. Santa even lost his big chair and now has to make do with a crappy little white bench. Who can blame kids for ignoring him?
While on the subject of how much better Christmas was when I was young, let's take a look at the display windows outside of the Bay. I still remember when my grandmother would take my brother and I down to Simpsons (now the Bay) this time of year just to look at the cool animatronic Christmas dioramas out front. Some time ago, the store sadly decided to do away with this tradition. Well it appears that this year they are back! Well, sort of. Instead of Santa and Rudolph the displays now feature characters from the pseudo-Christian movie Narnia. Apparently this is actually the second year the Bay has been schilling for Narnia. Bah humbug.
Baby goats and tractors
Remember way back when this used to be one of the first "Video Blogs" on the net? No? Well I guess it has been a while since I uploaded a new video. I really didn't shoot much footage over my last year in Japan that wasn't wrestling related, so making this video was a bit of a challenge. Anyway, for better or for worse, here is my very last video from Japan. Enjoy!
Click here to download this video to your computer (Windows Media)
In addition to the usual Noheji & Hirosaki stuff, this one features footage from my travels to Shanghai China, The Great Wall, Vietnam and Cambodia. I really had the time of my life during my three years in Japan, and if I could have stayed longer I probably would still be there. Alas, my job is done and much like The Littlest Hobo it's time for me to move on to new adventures. Special thanks to Kate for filming much of this footage, and thanks to everyone in Japan past and present for putting up with me for so long. Gokoro sama deshita y'all!
Many moons ago when I was a student at the University of Toronto I had a short lived morning radio show at the Erindale campus. It ended abruptly one day when co-host had a dispute with one of the managers at the station over some dumb fee DJs had to pay for the privilege of working there. Because my co-host was also my girlfriend, that ment that I had little choice but to resign as well, though I secretly wanted to stay. Radio Erindale was terribly run and I couldn't blame her for getting fed up and quitting. For one thing, the room with all the CDs in it was always locked because management was worried about DJs stealing CDs. As a result, the only music available to DJs was what they brought with them and a small stack of "Canadian Content" tapes kept around to comply with broadcast regulations. Since I graduated, the old studio was torn down to make way for a fancy new multi-million dollar student center, complete with a new high tech home for the radio station.
A couple of weeks ago my brother Andrew and his friend Geoff (Jeff?)
resurrected their old college radio show from McMaster/Western, but at my old campus. From what I've heard the new home of Radio Erindale (now called CFRE) isn't much different from the place I once occupied, and is anything but high tech. The equipment in the studio is mostly the same junk I was using 10 years ago, and DJs don't even have headphones available to them. If a DJ wants to put a caller on the air then only thing he or she can do is hold the mic up to the speaker phone. If the caller wishes to request a song, they'd better be looking for Canadian content because the CD room is still locked tight. Anyway, if it's Tuesday night and around 9pm Eastern time then click here and check out Too Much Monkey.
Speaking of monkeys, Luke Elliot in Aomori has posted a great new video titled "Monkey Wars: Episode 1" featuring scenes from my classic comic Let's Aomori.
I couldn't have been more surprised or happy when Kate made this wonderful gift for my birthday last July. We both first learned of Tarako from the blog of Michinoku pro-wrestler Mango (now Bear Fukuda) who would post on his blog daily photos of the adventures of his own Tarako doll, his mysterious disappearance and their tearful reunion.
If YouTube is having trouble, or you want to save the movie then try this direct download link (Windows Media)
For our last weekend in Aomori Kate and I decided to check out not one, but two wrestling shows! First we saw an All Japan show in the same Hirosaki gym that we witness the infamous bloodbath between Gosaku and Mr. Pogo some time ago. Then we drove to Daisen City in Akita to say farewell to our friends at Michinoku Pro.
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