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lingqi's Journal: October 30, 2002 - well, got my electric bill today 1

Journal by lingqi

October 30, 2002 (7:03pm)

I have exactly one hour and 10 minutes to write this entry...

and yeah it's a little late - but I am pretty sure nobody will mind too much - it's like 5AM in the US right now (though, not quite certain due to all the daylight saving / daylight spending / daylight retirement fund stuff)

From the previous entry, I hope you guys can see that I figured out how to post Japanese (in fact, any character now) on the Journal system. Thanks goes to molo for this. Apparently the page (the one with the text box) need to be set to a proper encoding type before Mozilla will send the characters over. Works for me.

please change the encoding to Unicode / UTF-8 for proper viewing.

the test characters prounounce baka (ãfã). It does not mean "horse-deer," rather it's the expression for "idiot, stupid, etc." handy, eh?

Yesterday I got my electric bill. It came in a plastic envelope (probabbly in cases when it might get wet?), and was no doubt printed on-site. considering thatit was read on the 29th (as in, yesterday) and given to me the same day - and did not come in an envelope with stamps.

I spent 904 yen between Oct 19 to Oct 28 (maybe he / she read it early in the morning). totally used 38kWh.

So I will go through the electrical system a little bit.

The first thing is that your house / apartment has a main breaker. It's color coded and rated a certain rating, and every month there is a base charge due to your total capacity:
AMP | price | color
10A 260 red
15A 390 light-purple / pink
20A 520 yellow
30A 780 green
40A 1040 grey / black
50A 1300 orange / brown
60A 1560 Purple

Basically it's 260yen per 10A in capacity. Me, for instance, have 30A so I may use a total of 3kVA (VA stands for voltage-ampre, similar to Watt, but different due to phase variations - ask any local electrical engineer about the difference) since the voltage in Japan is 100V. speaking of which - while 100V sucks for appliance compatibility, it is awsome when you try to figure out amprage (spelling?), power-consumption, etc.

The above plan is called "metered plan B" (å¾"ééçï¼). If you need more than that - you will be in "metered plan C," and are charged 260 yen of basic fee per 1kVA of capacity.

to be honest with you, I fail to see the difference here, since the pricing (below) is the same too, but whatever.

Then there is the actual usage cost:
0-120kWh: 15.58 /kWh
120-300 : 20.67 /kWh
300+ : 22.43 /kWh
this is same for both B and C types. Both B and C are residential only - I am not going to go through the commercial ones.

the only difference I noticed is that for B, there is a "lowest monthly charge" category, and it says, un-helpfully, 212.00 yen. no idea what's that about.

There is also a "fuel price surcharge." Apparently if the middle-east ever sells japan oil at more than 17,000 yen per barrel, they will charge you for it (something like that - numbers might be slightly off). You can't do anything about it anyway - so just chuck up the change.

Then there is the 5% tax. They do pro-rate the base charge (my 780 yen), so that's cool.

the other neat thing is that since my monthly statement is less than 1000 yen, I don't have to pay! They will ask me for this together with next month's bill.

I also can't pay via convenience store (No idea why). So I suppose I can go to the post office and pay this, just for a "get info for you wonderful people out there" excercise. That really, really depends on if I feel like it, though - and right now it does not seem quite likely to happen.

If you ever need more capacity than what you got (say you rented a place and the previous owner put in a 15A breaker) - I hear you can call up the electric company to change it out. I won't be doing this - 30A is about right for me. (microwave + washer + some lights)

Also - this is the price for Tepco (tokyo electricity) - So maybe it won't apply to everywhere in Japan - but I think the idea is nontheless same.

You have to admit, though - when recieving a electric bill is this exciting, you know my life has either got really delightfully interesting, or hit bottom in the bottomless pit of pathetic-ness.

My VCR worked, but I can not figure out how to output the tuner signal to the composit out for the life of me. ALL the US VCRs have a "TV/VCR" button that does the trick. I will have to beg the recycle-shop owner to exchange another one. sigh. Strange enough, the menu does come out on composite - that's how I know it worked.

Life in Japan definitely has its dull sides... My day goes like this:

6:00 alarm rings
6:20 finally get up after abusing the snooze button
6:55 run to train station
7:04-7:09 Gyoda -> kumagaya (èOEç"ãï¼ãçSè)
7:21-7:42 Kumagaya -> Hanyu (ç¾½ç"Y)
7:46-7:50 Hanyu -> Kawamata (åä£)
7:52 Kawamata -> company (company bus)
8:00-8:02 get to company
8:15 eat breakfast
8:45 official workday start
12:45 lunch
13:45 lunch break over
17:28:30 go to dinner (this has to be precise)
19:00 go home
20:15 get home
21:00 sleep

And for those interested (for whatever reason) - the best doors to exit is
Gyoda -> Kumagaya: enter the door closest to the stairs
Kumagaya -> Hanyu: third door from last (this is essential if you want to catch the next train) fourth works too, though.
Hanyu -> Kawamata: third OR fouth door from the last both okay (for a speedy exit of the train station)

I begin to follow this schedule so precisely, I repeat the same number of steps in the train stations. I have figured out which door to enter the train in order to get out fastest. It's very important in Hanyu because I need to go across the sky-bridge, exit the station, buy another ticket, and then across the sky-bridge again to catch the train. while theoretically I have 4 minutes, it usually is about 3.

Words of wisdom: this schedule sucks. Don't follow my footsteps, kay? Especially since I don't get overtime here. However, apparently I do get the maximum allowable vacation time, which is kinda cool.

Another word of wisdom: Don't assume every meal in the cafeteria has soup. I have ate almost 30 meals there now (actually, probabbly more), and every time there is soup in the set-meal. except today. To avoid looking like an idiot, Make sure what your set includes (there is a display).

I also noticed (when I eat breakfast, I get a bird's eye view of the parking lot) that Japanese people
1) park VERY neatly
2) always back into the spots

I saw a guy in a Mitsubishi GT3000 go back and forth adjusting his parking about 5 times, for a difference of a mere few inches. The entire parking lot is so straight (no cars are crooked, and they are always centered) it's mind boggling. Adds even more to the "I am a gear in this big machine" feeling.

Last complaint (not really, more like observation): It's good to have a wife in Japan. This is not in the "I want to get one" type of sentence, but an observation of the high-life people are leading here. Actually it makes my life very difficult. take, for example:

Me: So... how to throw away trash / pay electric bill / whatever?
Co-worker: erm... well... I *think* you do such and such, but my wife handles that, so I don't really know.
Me: This couple gave me some detergent for a "hi neighbor" gift. What's a proper thing to give back?
Co-worker: Well... I *think* we gave such and such, but my wife bought it, so I am not sure.

I saw the last few titles, and decided that Japan has begun it's subtle corruption of me. They abuse the exclaimation sign here. a lot. I will never use exclaimation marks in titles. ever again.

Oh yeah... A guy asked me (ME!) directions on a subway the other day. haha... Here is a run down of the conversation (as heard by me);
Him: sumimasen, blah blah blah blah Shinjuku desu ka?
Me: erm... e-to wakarimasen yo. (i don't know)
Me: [looks at train info] ... kono densha Ueno e ikimasu yo. (This train goes to Ueno)
Him: blah blah blah BLAH blah Blah blAH blah blah blah blah domo arigato gozaimasu.
Me: [smile hopelessly]

To this day (i know, i know, the effect need to be "brewed" for a couple decades - after I am fluent in 12 languages) I have no clue what he said. But he was the first guy to ask me (MEEEE!!) directions on a train. hehe.

well, it's like 8:10PM right now - It seem like I will get home around 10PM or so. I don't quite think my brain is any more functional than the box of detergent that couple gave me (still on my desk at work), so i am going to stop here.

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October 30, 2002 - well, got my electric bill today

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When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. - Edmund Burke