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Babysitting Services in Japan

Life abroad as a parent can be tough, and there are moments when you just want someone to take the pain away...now.  It can be especially difficult when those moments sneak up on you, and you don’t have nearby friends or family who can keep an eye on the youngsters.  While you take care of business or recover from an illness or recent childbirth, wouldn't it be nice to have a helping hand?  Sure, there are daycare programs and preschools; but those options aren't always convenient or suitable, often requiring advance registration procedures.  Luckily with some relatively recent developments, parents in Japan can choose from a number of babysitter options to help alleviate the stress of finding someone trustworthy to take care of the kiddies in those busy times.

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Sumida Hospital's Clinical Trials Program Seeks Participants in Tokyo

Several years ago I enrolled in Sumida Hospital's clinical trials program, participating in one of their paid clinical trials.  Despite the commitment, I found it a rewarding experience both in monetary value and blog-worthiness.  I described the experience here: The Clinical Trial

Since I'm on their mailing list, I receive occasional invitations and information regarding their other clinical trials.  They are currently seeking Caucasian and Hispanic female participants for a well-compensated clinical trial slated to start the first week of February 2016.

REQUIREMENTS
- healthy Caucasian or Hispanic female (both parents must be Caucasian or Hispanic)
- age between 20 and 45
- weight between 40 kg and 90 kg
- able to refrain from smoking during the clinic stay
* Please note that these are just the major requirements. There may be other requirements or conditions not listed here that could cause you to be ineligible for this particular trial.

Please contact Sumida Hospital using their contact form if interested.  Please let them know that David Pavlina referred you, as this will allow me to receive credit for the referral.  Here's the link:
http://www.clinicaltrialstokyo.com/questionnaire1/9

How to Receive SMS Passcodes Abroad

Although I've lived overseas in Japan for some time now, I still maintain a "presence" of sorts in my USA homeland in the form of bank accounts, credit cards, Paypal, etc.  The Internet with its access-anywhere convenience makes this reasonably easy; however, I smacked into a challenge when seeking to boost the security of my online financial accounts.  My ultimate goal was to setup multi-factor authentication wherever possible--a feature supported by most major online services, especially the money-related ones.

Some sites use handy token apps like "Google Authenticator" to provide the second authentication factor, but most I found use SMS--messaging the one-time password (OTP) to your phone upon login.  The problem I have is that sites like Paypal require a USA phone number to send the SMS to.  But I don't have a USA phone number because I live abroad.  Am I forever doomed to answer recycled personal questions when logging in?

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Training the Train Molester

Wait...is that his hand down- what?!?
Oh, shit. This is real life.
Being half asleep coming back from an exhausting job in Shibuya and on my way to a photoshoot, I wasn’t sure if this was me being half-delusional on behalf of lack of sleep or verifiable reality.

Nope. It’s definitely real life.

Being half-asleep on a train in Japan is nothing out of the ordinary. Actually, most people catch up on their much needed REM cycles in transit and then magically wake up when they arrive at their stop. It’s like an Asian superpower that I have somehow been able to adapt to in my gaijin way. It's no wonder every time I go back to the States, everyone wonders why I fall asleep in a car. My body just goes into Asian work-power mode. Sleep on the train, get up when your subconscious hears that magical intercom announce your approaching stop in its monotone yet elegant way, and then go, go, go. You can sleep on the train ride back home. My body is trained to sleep in transit. I don’t think at this point it will ever adapt otherwise.

Anyways, so there I was--half-asleep, listening to my iPod on shuffle, on my second home in Japan also known as the train system, and I awoke to something disturbing, confusing, and alarming.

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Japan's Donation Tax Program Delivers Fancy Almost-Free Gifts

Are you in the market for some tea that is green? Peaches, perhaps? Specialty rice painstakingly homegrown in a small village in Japan? You are in luck, as all you have to do is pay your residence and income tax for the year, and these gifts can be yours for practically free! It’s hard to believe there is actually a program like this, but Japan’s relatively new gift/tax or “Furusato Nouzei” program promises a unique way for residents to pay a portion of their taxes.

What is the gift/tax program?
The gift/tax program was started in 2008 as a way to boost the economy of smaller towns in Japan. As many Japanese are aware, the migration of young people from their pint-sized hometowns to metropolitan cities like Tokyo and Osaka puts a growing economic burden on small towns and villages across Japan. As the jobs and money move to larger cities, these small towns encounter trouble staying afloat.

Read more: Japan's Donation Tax Program Delivers Fancy Almost-Free Gifts