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cheap thrills

Ok, maybe not really like Press Pennie. But in spirit, just like pressed pennies, these "toys in a plastic egg" thingy are low-cost souvenirs that get my kids motivated.  They are called Gashapon in Japanese and are everywhere we go, and the varieties are impressive, so is the quality.  Only that, as you could see, some of the toys may get the not-so-young crowd motivated as well, albeit for completely different things… 
 
Can't imagine anything like this to be mixed up with Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh…  Asia is a place where, whichever way you turn, you stare at paradox right in the face. 

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Right after I finished reading the article in Wired, "The Netbook Effect: How Cheap Little Laptops Hit the Big Time" in the latest issue, my nephew called me and said, "I have bought two netbooks for my cousins!" Apparently, these are the hottest "accessories" in Asia, since almost everybody has an iPhone now.  (Not in Japan though, despite the "controversy", I have been told by a few folks in Taipei that Japanese for some reason are not going gaga over iPhone, unlike people here in Taiwan…) 
 
Granted that the netbooks my kids got, at 4GB, would be considered a joke, my kids absolutely LOVE their new "toys."  Asus Eee PC costs just a bit more than Nintendo DS here. No processing power to speak of, nevertheless, perfectly fine for surfing the web.
 
Although I thought about whether it is a good parenting choice to let my kids consider YouTube as just another standard entertainment channel, I feel optimistic about Pros weighing more than Cons: my 6-year-old boy googled the weather in Beijing on his own when I wondered out loud, "Hmm, I hope we don't need jackets when we go to Beijing,"
 
Here is another prediction about this phenom: Soon Oxford Dictionary will add "netbook" as one of the new English words. 

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There is NO scary mascots, no company team building events, no overblown space stuffed with TABLES & BARS. Just a good old-fashioned penny (albeit nickel) arcade the way you remember it from your childhood, IF you are old enough. FREE classic games in the back of the room completes this little piece of heaven. Is that Pac-Man I see? Yes, I do suck at the game, that’s why FREE is just perfect for me!

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