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Saturday, May 19, 2001


Satellite radio: a commuter's best friend

Ever wonder how Japanese people can sleep on trains? Ever wonder how they know exactly when to wake up at their stop? I've finally figured it out: They're not really sleeping. They're listening to satellite radio. Satellite-radio stations offer a variety of programs, many of them designed with Japan's most popular hobby in mind -- sleeping.

Here are some samples:

* When you see someone nodding off and they keep jerking their heads, they're probably listening to the "Counting Sheep" channel. Every time their head jerks it means a sheep has crashed into a fence.

* Nightmare Channel: Provides you with nightmares including Lizzie Borden (sound effects: ax heaving) and "The Blair Witch Project" (sound effects: approaching footsteps). Just before you die, you'll wake up at your stop.

* Fantasy with a Famous Movie Star Channel: Allows you to dream on and on until your stop.

* Fantasy with Someone You Haven't Thought About in 10 Years Channel.

* Listening to Calm Sounds Channel: Relax to the sound of Buddhist priests chanting or wind blowing through bamboo.

* The Streaker Channel: Imagine yourself running around the block naked. When you wake up, it's your stop.

* Falling Down a Hole Channel: When you reach the bottom of the hole and feel that involuntary leg jerk, you'll know it's your stop.

* Rip Van Winkle Channel: Recommended only if you're taking the train all the way to the end of the line and don't want to be woken until then.

* The Dew Channel: Holds contests to select the most boring haiku, guaranteed to put you to sleep.

* Tooth Fairy Channel: All the latest news in her soap-opera life.

* REM Channel: Imaginative ways to use REM sleep, such as counting how many gnats are in a moving gnat cloud or simultaneously following the paths of 100 ants.

* Whistling Tunes for Your Nose Channel: Learn to entertain your partner while you sleep.

* Snoring Patterns Channel: Includes seasonal tunes such as "Jingle Bells" and classics such as "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

* Cats Yowling Channel: For people who just can't get to sleep without that familiar sound.

* Howling at the Moon Channel: For those who have always wanted to learn how.

* Ghost Channel: Ghosts of dead relatives come to visit you.

* The Hypnotism Channel: Slowly repeats, "Don't grind your teeth."

* Continue at the Party Channel: When you don't want to leave the party but have to catch the last train, this channel provides continuous loud music, laughter, drunken brawls and phrases such as "Way to go. dude!" all night long. Have an open beer in your hand for periodic reassurance.

* Robbery Channel: See if you'd wake up if you were robbed.

* Live Out Your Own Horror Movie Channel: No more expensive movie tickets! Now you can be the victim throughout entire scripts of horror classics, such as "Scream 1 and 2" or "Halloween."

* Learning Foreign Languages Channel: Fifty-four languages in one hour, including the dead languages and English for octogenarians.

* Other People's Embarrassing Moments Channel: Relive embarrassing moments, but this time someone else's.

* All the Things you Could Do If You were Rich but Can't Because You're Not Channel.

* Internet Advertising Channel: Insert your own list of "Things to Do," which will appear individually as pop-up ads throughout your sleep.

* Alarm Channel: For heavy sleepers, this program sets off an alarm 30 minutes before your stop then increases the pressure to wake up the closer you get. Finally, just before your stop, if you still haven't awakened, the program threatens you with a fatal disease.

It is my hope that Japanese satellite radio will some day include more educational and business programs so that we'll be able to accomplish almost anything while sleeping and can spend our waking hours resting.

Visit the Japan Lite home page at www.amychavez.com or e-mail comments to: amychavez@mailexcite.com

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