I have been feeling soooo dang sleepy all the time for the past couple days. Last night I slept forever too, but still so sleepy. I can't figure out what is wrong with me. Why am I always so drowsy and sleepy and my sences so dulled... I eat nothing but good food... fish, natto, vagetables, fruit... but I am always so un-full of energy.
To make things worse, I really hate running back from work already. I am not to tired to run, but it is just so boring... at leastwhen I take the train there is only 20 minutes of semi-bordom, because I can read while I am riding, but running means about 1 hour where I can't do anyhting... I have gotten much faster a s a result though... I get so dang bored that I run faster so I can get it over with.
I suppose I should begin thinking about the toast I have to give for Tim's wedding... or maybe that's better left to write while I am on the airl\plane with my all-you can drink ticket.
Only a few days till Tomoe gets back... meybe I will be less bored then.
Despite the boredm, I have been pretty busy lately. I have been doing alot "for work" on my own time... thing is everything I do can't be used at work because there is no way to make use of it currently... I think we need some cutomers... I am not complaining though... everything I do helps me a lot... in fact more than it helps my company I'm sorry to say.
I'm heading to bed now... can't keep my eyes open and it's only 10:30.
I was listening to a Van Morrison cd today as I worked... One of the songs is one that a freind and I practiced for our Ann Arbor band "Flute Rock". It was Kevin on guitar, Beth on flute, and Dug the Brewer with his home-made washtub base. Doug never made it to any of the rehearsals, a real shame since he was the brewer and we counted on him to bring the beer, but even without Doug there was enough beer.
Since Beth was a manager at The Arbor Brewing Company where we all worked, we could set up and do a concert anytime we wanted... alas, we never made it that far. But for some reason, that whole experience has made a wonderfully deep impression on me. I can't listen to that song without remembering our dreams of making fools out of ourselves. Right about the time we decided to do this, the seasonal snow storms were beginning... this partly why Doug never made it (the other part was that he spent to much time doing quality assurance on his brews) Anyway, the song makes me feel like winter... in the basement of that old Ann Arbor house with the roommates who stole my deposit and the cat we had to hide in the closet when the landlord came, and roommate Adrian and his girlfriend Jackie with their wonderful way of expressing their affection for each other by screaming and yelling such tender terms of endearment as "F**k you b***!"... "NO! F**k YOU a*****e I never want to see your b****-*ss face again!" (on a daily basis for the entire year... yet they really liked each other).
I used to spend so much time practicing guitar then, and that was when I had that great creative writing class with the teacher who was a fellow waiter at the brew-pub with me... and after the first day of work, Haskell (the teacher), Ronda (another English teacher at UM) and Autumn (the manager who's boyfriend was Todd McFarland's right hand man (for real Jon) going around the country promoting spider-man), and Gary the big flamboyant waiter/bartender went out to celebrate Autumns birthday. At the end of the night I seem to remember something about a kissing survey Autumn, (my new boss mind you) was conducting, so the night ended in a kissing orgy... though very scientific, and we where taking notes. Needless to say, the Creative Writing class was never the same after that.
Anyway, I just really liked working at the brew-pub... even though the job itself was nothing special, it is amazing how much difference the people around you can make in your job satisfaction. Right now I feel no bond with any of my co-workers... there was one who I could joke with and she understood my jokes to some extent, but she left a few weeks ago to have a baby. It's not the other people's fault of course, they seem to have a lot of fun together, but I am going to simplify the blame and put it all on their being Japanese. I don't understand their humor and they don't understand mine, and since I communicate 90% of the time with sarcastic humor, it means that I can only speak to them 10% of the time that I actually want to, and that 10% is usually very serious, thus I have the reputation of being serious and strict/mean or whatever....
I was shocked that one night, at an official work party, they were commenting about movies that were sad, they could not believe that I would cry at a movie, because I am "so serious"... WHAT?!?!?! I cry way too much... anybody that knows me knows I'm a sensitive guy. I cry even when the movie is so dang cheezy that I also want to puke... I cry on the train when I read the newspaper... I cry when I look at Awii and Guri... you get the picture.
Tomoe of course is different, and this very point has come up as a "problem" between us in the past. Sure she is Japanese, and sure she doesn't understand all my humor... though much better than the people at work, and many American's don't get me for that matter, but the reason for sarcasm and humor is a way to relate to people who are not as close... I can feel close through mutual humor, but would much rather feel close through honesty that is not hidden by sarcasm. So far in my life there have only been a few friends who I could get that with. Tomoe is of course one, and I really value the fact that I don't have to use sarcasm and humor with her... but the other people around me here...
One really empty spot that I feel about living here, is that I feel either close to someone, or don't... it is not like in America when I could have close friends, semi-close, acquaintances who are fun, people who understand me so I can be around them, and the rest of the people who I just hated to be around... so much variety back there.
Of course there are some people here that fit in the fun acquaintance group. I do know some foreigners, but I meet them on such an infrequent basis, that I feel reluctant to count them.
I did meet a guy that seems interesting on the train the other day. A singer from New York... but seeing as how I only see Wendy -the friend of a friend who became a close friend of mine after she let me stay at her apartment or a month when I first came to Japan- once every 9 months now, I doubt my own ability to foster a friendship. As it is now, most of the times I go out, are because other people have invited me... I can't remember the last time I invited anyone else to go someplace, so I guess I can't really complain about anything until I put some effort into it.
I'm a little late to post these.. please forgive my Kyuri- hash- ass.
It has come to my attention that last weeks hash-trash was sent as an email instead of paper.. these means that the link to the online hash-trash was not ready when most people recieved the trash. It was just a broken link because I thouht I had two more days before you got the paper trash with the URL. It is ready now.
No posting... really busy... had to make hash this week... now have to do everything I didn't do while making hash.
What is WOW? A reader asked today what WOW was... this is an excellent question. WOW is just that... WOW. Something that makes you say "WOW". A WOW project can be anything really.. I guess it depends on the observer, but once you grasp the concept, I hope that you begin to se WOW all around you. And the more you recognize it the better. Since it is hard to explain WOW, I will try to comment about any particular WOW I saw each day... I think you will get the idea.
Today's WOW? I was listening to Rufus wainwright tonight. Rufus is WOW! Why? you have to listen to fully understand, but this excerpt from one of his songs is one I can listen to again and again and each time I honestly feel like crying because it is so dang WOW! Honestly!
I don't wanna hold you and feel so helpless I don't wanna smell you and loose my senses And smile in slow motion With eyes in love
And then of course come some WOW piano playing, which I can't reproduce here... but it all comes together... It's not because I feel any particular connection with the lyrics. Pretty simple sure... but I don't know anyone who can write something so simple and yet be so dang great... WOW!
Other WOW... The fruit stand I go to every day... unlike most Japanese shops, they actually acknowledge the fact that they recognize me. They say "Hello your late (or early) today." This may not seem wow to people in the US, but when you think that 99% of the places I give my business to I give my business to at least once a week (and I only give business to them), and only two or three shops acknowledge that fact, that is WOW for Japan. The liqueur store I frequent recently got a new shipment of the Belgian beer I like after being out of stock for a month... the fist day I came in they had a bottle at the register waiting for me! WOW!
WOW is not necessarily big, it is most often some small detail that most people overlook... and when it is not overlooked, it is WOW!.
Think about it every day... what makes you say WOW!? Paying attention to it give you so much insight into WOW! and as G.I. Joe says, "knowing is half the battle".
I can't get over how great Guri and Awii are. Tonight, as I was working at my computer it was so great to have both of them running all over the keyboard. I think they where watching my fingers and tried to mimic them... wondered what was so special about every key I touched... The only problem is that Awii is actually heavy enought o press the keys when he/she stans on them. It's a bit annoying.
I am surprised to find that Guri loves fresh corn. She has never expressed any interest in any vegetable before. Recently I myself have discovered how much more wonderful fresh, raw cord on the cob is compared to boiled or grilled (as we do in Japan) corn is. If you have never tried it, please do. It is so juicy and tastes so fresh... Guri likes it too I guess, because she couldn't get enough of cleaning my cob. Of course Awii saw her, and wondered what was so great so Awii ran over and tried it too. Awii didn't seem to like it as much as Guri though.
At work today I got fed up with all the server maintenance I have been doing lately, and it just so happened that we need a new program for our office so I started doing that. Unlike most days, I did not want to leave at 6:00. When I get into creating a site or program or whatever, it is hard to pull myself away... a nice change at work. Unfortunate, I also have to set the trail for this weeks hash so I had to leave anyway.
I heard from Tomoe today, after thinking for the past week that she and her mother had been abducted and something terrible had happened because there was no response to a any emails and no phone calls. She is alive though. Her mom leaves England tomorrow and she will be out of town for a week... but then SHE COMES HOME!!!
I have to admit, although I am really glad that -she is coming home, (and she will kill me for saying this) I have just recently settled into a lifestyle that didn't include her. It was hard work making my weekly schedule which I have followed 80% of the time. Now of course I have to remake that schedule. She is not the first one to throw the schedule off though... Awii was bit of a surprise.
Tonight I have been working on a little R&D project that I started two weeks ago. It is a long term project that only one reader may be interested in. but it is more for myself so... Anyway, I will reveal that in due time. Guri and Awii have done nothing to help. They have both been jumping up and down on the keyboard. At first I thought they were just trying to disturb me, but when I looked at what they typed
tweee tweeeeert kweeee kweeee kweeeee kwert gaaag gaaaa gaaaaa kyaaaaa burrrreeeee burrereeeeee kweeee kweee kweeee kwert
Well, let's just say I have to wonder.
Tomorrow I have to go make the Hash trail so I will probably be pretty busy. Don't expect much.
I haven't had much time to write. I had a part with a client Friday, and unfortunately there was no nudity. Even more unfortunately, the model at my drawing club that night was over 50 with fat rolls... The chance to draw that doesn't come along much since all the "models" I find on the internet are from porn sites, and they don't show that... of course there must be some fetish site somewhere.
I also spent quite a long time making the Hash Trash, a kind of newsletter that everyone who is in chare of the week's hash writes to announce the next location.
I went to a documentary movie today about "the earth" I think... though the main point of the film was very hard to figure out from the film itself, it was interesting. To me it was more a film about figuring out what to do with one's life. They profiled a scientist, Jane Goodall, a surf champion, and an amazing artist in Okinawa.
The one thing they all had in common, was that they all had WOW projects, and live their lives for them. I am all for and driven by the WOW project, but what I noticed from this film (not that I didn't know it before) was that there are so many WOW projects, and even though I have been striving to make WOW, I am still lost until I can figure out what I want to make the WOW in. I feel like (actually I know) I have been trying to force myself to make WOW in a field that I don't really care about (server maintenance and sys admin stuff). I am not ready to stop that yet, since it is interesting and challenging, and I don't know what field I want to make WOW in (although I would love to be doing more development and site architecture/design), but it did make me much more unsatisfied with my current situation.
Awii is dong great. In the morning, when the birds outside are singing, Guri and Awii start singing too. The only thing that is weird, is that Guri responds to sweet sounding bird songs, but Awii only responds to the giant crows.
I had a chance to finally try to use the water paints I got a week ago. I must say I am not so good.
I just got a junk mail with this ad. Big coincidence since I had just answered a comment from someone who was reading my posts last week.
I have to skip nudie day tomorrow because I have a party to go to with a client... but hey, who knows... maybe there will be some nudity there!
I was a little late to post these this week. I was too busy working on the Online Has Trash for next week. I really wish I had enough time to put everyone in it... maybe if I find some extra time I can go back and update it periodically.
Anyway, here's the pics from Shinbashi...
Awii hates me now. She/he only ate a spoonful of mush this morning, and didn't touch his/her pellets all day. His/her stomach was just empty, it didn't feel as bad as Myu's did before she died, but I don't want to take chances so I was forced to hold her/him down and shove the mush into her/his mouth.
The good news is that Awii already likes the healthy pellet food that Guri wont even touch. Guri only eats seeds or whatever I am having for dinner (unless I have healthy pellets for dinner). Unfortunately seeds don't have any real nutrition for the bird. I just hope Awii doesn't start eating Guri's seeds and give up on the health food too.
Maybe it's because Awii is bigger so has a stronger scent, or maybe it is because Guri stinks and I don't like to smell her, but Awii smells great! The other day someone said birds smell like eggs, and if I think about it I guess it is correct, except Awii smells like super sweet powder-fresh eggs. I should try to market that aroma.
All is well in birdland and I'm pretty happy. I came home tonight and Awii and Guri were sleeping side by side on (previously) Guri's perch. They had been ok Saturday and Sunday, but I was afraid that Guri would get too aggressive and hurt Awii. She is not being mean to Awii at all, but loooves preening the big yellow feathers on Awii's head. Awii seems ok with this, but doesn't really like it when Guri starts preening his/her eyelashes.
Yesterday he/she was quite inactive, and I had some fears that I adopted a mentally challenged bird -I am used to Guri who seems to be exceptionally smart and more important, social- After spending all day in bed reading though, with Awii on the pillow next to me, she/he seemed to get used to me, and by the end of the day was eating normally and exploring.
I have some more drawings posted. When I was drawing them Friday night I thought I felt the power flowing through me, but when I look at them tonight, I think I must have been mistaken. It's amazing how much more difficult it is to draw a live model than a photograph, even if the pose is the same.
Saturday I also bought some waterpaints also, and have experimented once with (no photos yet) so hopefully I can get better at that and add another dimension to the sketches.
It's hot here.
Tonight was a party for a co-worker who is going on maternity leave from tomorrow. She is due in late October, but I don't see any reason not to push hard on Oct 1st. She has promised to lend me the kid for a weekend sometime.
Mom and dad are off to Iceland tomorrow, so I guess my daily readership will be down about 15% for the next two weeks. It's a good thing I don't rely on advertising. I did hear from a reader today who I had not heard from in a long time. I was beginning to think that I had offended someone.
Awii (a-WEE) is a two-month old cockatiel (okame-inko in Japanese) and the newest member of my household.
I have been looking for a nice cockatiel for a long time now, and have been visiting various pet stores every month for the last 5 months or so, looking for a bird that was both young enough that he/she would still be likely to bond with me, and old enough that I don't have to hand-feed it four times a day.
This week, I found two... one was in a store in Kichijyoji for 160,000 yen. (about $160) but after Myu's (my second parakeet) death, I don't trust just any pet store, and this one was quite suspicious... so I went to Shibuya to the greatest pet shop in the world at the roof of Seibu department store. Of every pet shop I have been in in Tokyo (and that is a lot) this is the one store where the person working there (always the same old man or his younger intern) really pays attention to the birds, and can answer any question I have, and that is where I found Guri. They also had three cockatiels young enough yet old enough... but the same age white cockatiel was 240,000 yen ($240). I was prepared to pay 160,000, but when faced with the option of buying an expensive bird from a shady shop, or paying 8,000 yen more for a bird I feel absolutely confident will only die if I screw up, I decided to shell out the extra 8,000 yen... so I have to skip one hash a month for the next three months... oh-well.
Where did the name Awii come from? Well, first I though he/she looked like a "Walter" but since I don't know yet the sex of the bird, I didn't want to give it a gender specific name... even if I did know, I wouldn't want to lock it into a gender role by giving it a gender specific name. I want it to play with both trucks and dolls. I started looking for something else, but the "w" sound stuck. When I got home, I put the new bird in a cage while Guri was outside, to let them get used to each other, and they looked at each other a bit, after an hour I thought all was ok, so I let the new bird out. They again stared at each other for a bit, and then, I don't know who was spooked first, they both started flapping their wings like crazy and flying away from each other scared as hell. Guri is a great flier with complete control so there is no problem there, but Awii is still only two months old... she/he flew around the room bumping into everything and anything possible to bump into, and in the end, there was a bleeding wound (an owwie) on it's wing... thus the name Awii.
Guri seems a little jealous, and doesn't really want anything to do with Awii now, but I am afraid they will actually become too close when I am at work all day, and Guri will stop loving me. As it is, every morning around 6:00 Guri starts screaming and crying until I get up and open the cage door so she can fly down and sit on my pillow or on my shoulder as I sleep... sometimes if my hand is palm up, she sits in my palm and poops until I wake up. I hope Awii doesn't do this because Awii's poop must be quite a bit bigger and juicier than Guri's.
I thought that I was doing pretty well as I drew Friday, but after a few days without looking at the drawings, I am able to se the truth. Oh well, I shal improve. I have also attained a small waterpaint set so I can start to expand my artistic horizons. You may see samples of that by next week even.
From class (It amazes me how much more difficult it is to draw a live model than a photo):
Some practice sketches:
I have been sitting here drawing some nude ladies (and some regular portraits of people with clothes), and again, as always, I thought about how much I like just doing that... not only that of course, I love creating a web-site for a client, be it the design or the program. I love drawing a kick-arise hash trash... I loved making that "online greeting card" for Tomoe in England. By far the greatest class I took at UM was the Introduction to Creative Writing course. (I spent more time on this course than any other, and it was the most difficult, and I loved it most, even though I was taking it for no grade) I just feel best when I am creating something, and I especially like creating things visual (more so than a cool program).
It made me think again about seriously studying art or design. Of all things, since I was pre-teen, the one thing that has come up more times as something that I want to study, is art or design. I even have a stack of pamphlets sitting here form art schools in the US that I sent away for three years ago... of course then, I got a job in investor relations, started reading the Wall Street Journal, and got interested in Marketing, so I wanted to go to school for marketing... then of course I joined my current company (to be trained and work in marketing) but wound up being the techie... so I was interested in that and thought about going to school for computer science. It would be interesting, but I am fairly sure that computer science is not "it" for me. And now I am back to art again.
Why did I never study art if I had wanted to since I drew my first (half-finished) comic book about 20 years ago?
1. As a kid, I had the crazy idea that art was only something that "artists" do... and they don't get paid. And they are all dead.
2. No one ever told me I was wrong... in fact, some people re-enforced this notion.
3. None of the schools I went to until college had art courses.
4. By the time I had made it to college, I had gotten way sidetrack by an obsession with learning a foreign language.
5. Once I felt that I knew a foreign language (Japanese) well enough (not really) to get by, I got side tracked by that whole business crap, though I really wonder if that is what I really want because the only reason I can see for having a business, is to create something... preferably visual and somewhat artistic (when it comes to marketing, the most amazing thing is how images control the viewers mind, compelling them to buy)
6. Now that I have come across this again, the major reason I would be afraid to pursue it is that I have spent 27 years already not pursuing it, and am afraid that I am way too far behind.
7. I still want to eat.
I wonder how long I can keep denying myself. Now that I know of course that being an "artist" or "designer" can make some money. Tomoe's father is an illustrator. I have only been to her home town once, but everything I saw in her dad's tiny upstairs office/studio was everything I really thought about so much when I was a kid... but didn't know really existed. I didn't know that you could still create and not be a famous painter. (I really think that MLS (my high-school) needs to get some career day or career counseling other than pastor day)
On the connection they were discussing allowing foreign students verses "homeland security". They had some good points about keeping better track of foreign students, and if they are really going to classes, and there was a psycho who wanted to get rid of all foreign students, but one small thing that I thought was really interesting, was that they talked about taking foreign student's finger prints as though it was no big deal, and in fact is becoming more accepted. I am not opposed to it myself, but what is interesting, is that here in Japan, my first "Gaijin (foreigner) Card" had my finger print on it... but that had been a huge issue for some time... people complained that Japan was treating all foreigners like criminals etc... and now, my new card no longer has a finger print. All that time, though I didn't mind the finger print, I thought that certainly America would never do something so oppressive... but it turns out they have been, and it is accepted.
I was wrong yesterday when I said that the worst of the typhoon was supposed to come today. In fact, it was the worst when I was writing. And it sure wasn't bed in Tokyo. It was really no different from a normal rain. I have been through six typhoons since I first came to Japan, but have never noticed during the actual typhoon.
You would think it was terrible in Tokyo though if you watched the news. For the longest time, they "covered" the typhoon by showing live shots from various places in Tokyo. Some places there were heavy rains, others drizzle, but hardly news worthy. At one point the announcer said "Few people are out on the streets tonight. As you can see from this live camera, the wind is picking up and causing peoples umbrellas to shake." That is when I decided I better shut my storm shutters... if the wind is shaking peoples umbrellas, just think of what it can do to my curtains!
I timed my jog home tonight from the gym for any doubters out there. It took exactly 64 minutes. I hope this satisfies anyone who spend a restless night tossing and turning over this.
Hashing the middle of a hurricane was not as bad as it sounds, unless your the hare. Our hare this week set out to re-mark the trail for all of us, and somehow finished an hour or so after all but two hashers... I'm not even sure what their story is.
Went to the Hash tonight in the midst of a typhoon. I think the worst is supposed to hit tomorrow, but I don't watch the TV so much so I can't know for sure. Sounds like perfect Kayak weather.
At the hash (actually after) I went and did it again... I lied. Why is it that I say all these things, with no intent at all that anyone believes me, and yet people do? To me it is so obviously a sarcastic load of crap, yet of course no one knows me enough to realize... which is part of the reason I guess that I try to write on this site... of course I wind up writing sarcastic bull-crap much of the time. Who taught me this?
I received another comment about the Pledge of Allegiance... I am glad to get these responses... I don't really have many people here to have serious conversations with right now.
Of course I support leaving "...under God" in the Pledge, because I believe it's true regardless of what others believe. I like to have God in as much of my life as possible, even if it's not politically correct. That doesn't mean that is fair based on our constitution. However, I don't like the idea of total separation of ourselves from God.
Unfortunately the question is not if it is "true" or not, but if it is constitutional or not. No matter how much some of us believe it is true, the constitution doesn't allow us to force it on others (something I thank God for). Is that a problem with the constitution? I don't think so... there are also Christians in Japan, though obviously in the minority. So what if, since most Japanese people consider themselves Buddhist and Shinto, the Japanese school system made everyone, even Christians pledge their allegiance to Japan "under Buddha" , or even "under the Emperor" in the context that the eemperror is a diety. That's not nice of the government.
The comment above states that it is true regardless of what other people believe... I agree... it is also true if we don't even say it. I would rather not say it in the pledge, than have the government become involved in my religious beliefs, telling me what I should or shouldn't, or worse, can or can't believe, or more likely, endorsing another religion. That is a great freedom... regardless of what anyone believes in.
Finally, when the ruling was made, no one tried to promote an idea of total separation of ourselves and God, just keeping the government out of promoting and regulating what we can or can't, should or shouldn't believe. In effect, makgin us free to be as close as we want to God without worry. The Supreme court did not say that we are not allowed to recite the pledge, as is, on our own time, free from government sponsorship. I don't feel anymore separate room God if I am not expected to recite "under God" than if I am... after all, 99% of the time when I was in school, I was simply reciting a bunch of words that where pounded into my head by the teacher anyway because if we didn't recite it perfectly word for word, we got an 'F'... it didn't matter if you understood the meaning, and could rephrase it in your own way... it was just a bunch of words. But that's a different conversation.
However, if someone wants to remove the word 'indivisible' from the Pledge, I have no problem with that, because then it would be a little more accurate. Just look at how we're divided as a nation on this simple matter.
I'll accept that point. So let's make the pledge just say "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America". Though I also value the division. And it seems to me that as much as we are divided, so far, (except for a few extremists) we are all divided, yet still indivisible in our freedoms to have different opinions and beliefs.
I could rant on for another hour, but I am sleepy.
On Sunday you wrote that you "hopped on my bike and rode the one hour there and back." Does this mean the whole trip was one hour, or it's one hour one way? Even if it's only 30 minutes one way by bike, that's a pretty good distance. ...And now you run home? That's a pretty good workout...It takes 30 minutes by bike one way if I ride leisurely... about 20 if I go all out. Running takes an hour more or less... I also said I was tired.
Absolutely nothing is happening. It is 9:30 and I'm dead tired. If I step away from the front of the fan for 3 seconds, a tidal-wave of fruity flavored sweat bursts from every pore on my body. I have a plan to stop it though... I will stop my liquid intake... including foods high in water content. For the next week the only thing I put in my mouth will be uncooked instant ramen. That will be sure to stop it. Though it will be difficult to give up my daily package of plums. That's right, I have been spending 350 yen for a package of plums each day... previously unthinkable, but even more previously normal. I think it has been two years since my favorite fresh vegetable shop closed, since that time there has been no source of fresh vegetables within walking distance of my apartment. Now however, I have started running home from work, and so pass a very friendly aoyasan (greens shop) about half-way. Today I had to run the last half carrying a bag full of plums, bananas, tomatoes and an ear of corn. An ear of corn costs 130 yen (just over $1).
I have a puddle of boiling water on my kitchen floor... The silver dollar sized cockroach didn't think that I would pour it on him. I have found over the years in Japan, that the quickest cleanest way to exterminate a giant cockroach is a pot of boiling water.
Work has been going better since I have lightened up on trying to provide quality based on budget, and started doing what I feel is cool for the client regardless... of course we wont have enough cash for that raise... We finally have a high speed Internet connection. There should be labor laws that regulate this... imagine all the stress and anxiety I have lived with waiting for all the web-sites to download and for my files to upload.
I'm listening to a discussion on The Connection about high-fat diets that are good for you. It sounds good, but the things that their now saying I can eat and still be healthy are things that I don't even want to eat. I'm in trouble if we find out that greasy fried steaks are the best thing for you.
Itis interesting to note that the whole "Fat Free" craze never caught on here in Japan. It is difficult to find Low Fat or Fat Free selections of such things as yogurt, salad dressings etc... I was looked into a little web-based importing scheme for fat free foods a while ago, but asking around, found that no one was interested. Sure Japanese people have been getting fatter, but their sure nowhere near the US. It must be all that tea.
One speaker (a doctor) --commenting on how important even the smallest physical activity, such as walking up the stairs instead of using the elevator-- just said that eating one lifesaver a day more than you burn for thirty years will cause you two gradually gain 30 pounds in that time. Her enemy countered by asking how many fat nurses, who are on their feet and moving all day, there are in her hospital.
Wow. Last night and today have been really maybe two of the most beautiful days this year, though maybe it is because of the horrible weather we have been enduring for the past three weeks. My clothes enjoyed a chance to dry as well, especially the pair of jeans that had been "drying" for over a week now.
I might not have noticed, had I not been lying in bed last night around 1:00 when from nowhere one of those thoughts popped into my head... the kind that knows when I want to have it, but seems to have more fun waiting as long as it can possibly contain itself, when it pops out giggling hysterically taunting me "Nya nya nya nya! You couldn't catch me! Here I am!"
I had forgotten to lock the office door when I had left 7 hours earlier! The trains were done for night, and I didn't think I could concentrate on my book anymore if I didn't do something about this, so I hopped on my bike and rode the one hour there and back, only to find that the door was locked when I got there... either that bastish little voice was lying, or the boss had come back later and found the door unlocked...
The bike ride between work and my apartment is usually always a pleasant one, since I live right on a river with a walking path and gardens along side it that stretches from beyond my apartment, all the way to Kichijyoji and iinogashira Park with the promise that I never have to ride on Tokyo streets. In the spring, the entire distance is lined with cherry blossoms, and any night you can hear the romantic sounds of copulating carp.
Maybe it's because of the heat, maybe because of lightly crowded paths, but no matter how pleasant a day ride can be, it can not compare with riding along that river in the middle of the night. The sweltering heat and humidity have long since been banished by the cool breeze that every night come to visit me through my window every night in the summer. It always seems happier though when I go outside to play.
Today was just as wonderfull... hot in the city, but that breeze was back at it's usuall hang out, our river. I was trying to work, clean, read, shop etc... but wound up just taking a nice afternoon nap by the opne window with Guri pooping on the pillow beside my face.
Yes, I went to work on Saturday again... and I worked from home tonight. I am weak and ashamed of it. No matter how much I try to reclaim my own personal time, I can't seem to escape. The problem is that there just isn't enough time at work, to provide the kind of service that I expect myself to give to the clients... even if they don't care about certain seemingly minute points, as the producer of the web-site or program, I have trouble delivering a "faulty" product, even if they wouldn't consider it faulty now because they are worried about their budget and they want me to cut corners. Only problem is that my name is on it. If a undesirable bug, no matter how livable, that the client decided not to fix, or the lack of a feature the client decided not to add because of budget concerns causes great annoyance to them down the line, Kevin is the one who made this...
Not having enough time in the work day to provide the client with a quality product is a major problem, and I have been trying to solve it by giving the clients what they agree too and pay for. I have started making contracts clearly stating what we provide and don't provide, and what we suggest but the client turns down, thinking this will make it easier on me, but it does absolutely nothing to allow me to be proud of my work... I hate making crap, so I wind up spending so much of my own personal time doing things the client doesn't pay for... just giving away my life.
I guess what I have to work on is convincing them why they need a certain feature, and why the process I recommend for creating a web-site or application must be followed to get quality, clearly illustrating all the lost value in customer usability, or time spent by their own people using a poorly designed application because they wanted us to cut corners. Or another option, turn down clients that want to contract us for crap. I'm not interested in selling more functionality, or more projects that the client doesn't need, it's more important to me to complete only a few projects, but complete them well. I guess I'm not much of a business manager though, since spending more time on a project, to make sure it gets done right, will loose money... but there must be a profitable middle-ground.
I hear that PromisesThe Promises web-site was down at the time of writing this post, so here is a Google search with results regarding Promises., a film about Palestinian, and Israeli children's lives, is coming to Tokyo. I have to find someone else who wants to see it, so contact me if anyone reading this is in Tokyo and would like to go. For more information about the film, I mentioned it and posted a Fresh Air interview back on May 24Down at the bottom of this post you will find a link the a Fresh Air interview with the creators of Promises..
This comment came...
How can you take away the rest of the pledge of allegiance and only leave part of it? It says "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS. Not just I pledge allegaince to the flag alone.
I can take away whatever I want, it's part of the "liberty" part. And even if you leave the rest on, it doesn't change the fact that you are pledging allegiance to a flag also. I thought this was weird when I was a kid... I still do I guess. I don't see the relevance of that line, and I don't see a problem with just cutting out the "under God" part... after all, it was not in the original pledge, and it has served it's purpose to differentiate us religious people from them evil commies who don't believe in God. So now if it is a problem, take it out. I have yet to hear or read anyone giving a valid reason not to, or illustrating who will be hurt and why.
Is there something wrong to say "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"? It's much more simple and too the point, and relevant... no extra words and junk, and just think of all the tax-payers money that could be saved if the Supreme Court doesn't have to spend time on this.
I stumbled across this great commencement speech to the Harvard Class of 2000 by Conan O'Brien.
Also a little background information on The Legion of Doom, a vital aspect of American culture that must be understood by any Japanese people before they can claim to "understand" Americans at any level.
And a web-site by physicists who can't just sit down and enjoy a movie for it's entertainment value. Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics
I really think I am getting better. Below you see the drawings from tonight's model, as wel as some of the practice drawings I have made in the last two weeks.
It's strange that the drawings I least like, are the ones that other people seem to find the most interesting...
These are from tonight's model
These are drawings I have made through the weeks as practice...
I was listening to a talk about the pledge of allegiance being ruled Unconstitutional because of "under God". even as a Christian, based on the current interpretation of what "separation of church and state" means, I don't see how any public school or government agency could promote or encourage people to say this if they don't actually believe in God. I wondered about this when I was in grade school and had to recite the pledge of allegiance, but what I wondered about most was the fact that, if you take off all the rest of the pledge, we basically say, "I pledge allegiance to a flag". Is it just me or is it weird to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth. I realize that it is the 4th of July and all, but forgive my unpatrioticity... I never understood that part of the pledge.
After that un-American comment, I have to display me patriotism. (actually it's probably just more a love of great music).
In this Talk Of The Nation discussion from New York on July 4th, they have the greatest rendition of Stars & Stripes Forever that I have ever heard (You have to fast forward to about 28 minutes into the clip).
I was hot tonight at art class... I should stop calling it "class" since there is no instruction, we basically all just pay to have a model sit there, but I don't know what else to call it... "Art Session"? whatever... I felt good tonight, and noticed after 2 weeks of not going that I have actually gotten better. I have posted tonight's drawings, as well as some of the practice drawings I have made between last "session" and tonight.
Another good reason to stop drinking: At the end of a Hash I become very susceptible to volunteering to be the next hare.
Since the gym forced everyone to take their blood pressure every day, apparently to make sure no ones heart explodes while pumping iron, I have noticed that my blood pressure is quite low. Usually hovering around 103/45 or something like that. No wonder I can never get up in the morning. I know that all it takes is a little exercise to bring it up, and get me all spunky, but how can I do a little exorcize when I am under the evil control of lethargy caused by the low blood pressure in the first place? The perfect chicken and egg. I wonder if there is some kind of device that I can hook up to my body that can be controlled by the alarm clock to start my heart a-pumpin about five minutes before I want to get up. If my blood pressure could already be at a reasonable level when the alarm rings, perhaps I would have no trouble springing out of bed.
A friend from the US was almost going to be coming to Japan for work, but looks like he was canceled at the last minute. I cleared my whole schedule for that too. It's going to waste a valuable 5 minutes to write the old stuff back into my planner.
Tomorrow is art day again. Another two weeks gone and I havn't gone to the store to buy some paints or at least pastels... I am almost bored with the pencil drawing so I gotta move on.
I thought my burrito supplies I got from the Hash last night would last for at least three days... I grossly over-estimated. Oh-well, I will be back in the US in a few months where I can have Bell's beer and bean burritos every day for a week... I'll bring my own to the wedding reception in a brown paper bag if they don't have any already.
A reader was asking about sites that help create web-logs like this one. The Bastish Net is of course all my own creation, but I just came across Moveable Type that may be of interest to anyone who sees the value of keeping your daily thoughts online for anyone to see. It is probably a lot easier to use than mine, since it is actually a product and they have actual incentive to improve the back-end... but I don't know that it provides the flexibility that I enjoy being the server-administrator and web-master at my work. I can upload all those Hash photos and not worry about file size and bandwidth costs. I originally pointed the reader to Blogger.com, but we soon found that it doesn't allow you to put photos on the site, unless you have your own server space somewhere. That really shouldn't be so expensive anyway though, and I think that most ISPs give you free space as part of he package.
Great hash and even better on-on, since that is what I really come for, and burritos are by far my favorite American dish, I was only too happy to devour four there, and take home a pack of shells, cheese, and chicken. I'll be in burrito heaven for the next three days.
I was so comfortable to just relax on the great balcony though, that I didn't get many photos of different people. Sorry 'bout that.
Top Ten Ways the World Would Be Different if Everyone Were Named Kevin.
I just got back from the Hash and have too much to write about tonight... I'd like to go to bed, but I did that last night so I'll give myself an hour tonight.
Several things I thought about tonight... number 1 is how it is so sad that I loved the apartment the on-on was held at tonight... a huge, great balcony (on each side of the apartment) with broad views of the city. If you have to live in Tokyo, that is definatly how to do it. The sad part is that even if I had enough money to rent a place like that, I would still be living in my little one room 100 year old tatami mat place with the moldy bathroom, and all the money would be rotting away in my savings someplace... why do I have to be so dang cheap? I blame it on my parents.
Of course if my company insisted on getting me a place like that I don't see how I coud refuse - unless the living stipend was cash I guess.
Number 2. Just three weeks ago I was appalled to find that at the end of the day, the brand new pair of socks I put on in the morning had huge holes in them already... again because I am so cheap I buy my socks at Uniqlo (which doesn't seem to be doing so well lately). If you will remember though, a few weeks ago I took a friend's daughter to a World Cup game, and tonight I received the greatest thank you gift ever... although she may have lost a sale since for the past 2 months I have been seriously considering buying a pair of the great running socks her company sells. I would have never have guessed that $15 for a pair of socks would be worth it, but try these socks and you will understand that despite what my mom thinks, sometimes spending money can get you nice things... I recieved a few pair a couple years ago and I wear them at least once a week and they never wear out. Anyway, she lost the sale because she gave me a couple pairs of both running and dress style socks that are by far the most high quality pieces of clothing I own. The amount of stress this will save me every morning when I look for socks is enormous.
The question came up whether or not I ever wish I hadn't written something on the Bastish Net... if I ever want to erase my previous post? Yes and no.
Sure I find that I wish I hadn't written something, but the problem is not that I wrote it, but that I thought it. I realize I was wrong or a little too hasty, or maybe even (gasp) a jerk. Do I want to erase it? No. Whatever I write I write because that is how I feel at that time... I never write something that I could not handle if someone wrote the same thing about me, and I (hope I) don't write anything bad about individuals, and everything I write is pretty much in line with my goal which is to keep family and friends updated. I honestly still can't figure out why people I don't know read this.
Last week I was in a foul mood, and I guess looking back I may have "bad-mouthed" the hash, and I know I "bad-mouthed" my job in some peoples eyes, but hey, that's how I felt and I made no claims that what I wrote was 100% set-in-stone fact.
Obviously if I hated the hash as much as it may have seemed like (by the way no one commented on the hash posts in particular) I would never be going there in the first place. The same thing for my job. I write how I felt at that day, and what I write aint the half of it... I hope no one is fool enough to think that I am actually writing everything exactly how I truly feel it! I would love to get more real and be more honest (especially to myself) but it's not so easy. It's amazing, but not really suprising, how many times people lie in just 5 minutes of daily conversation. It would be unreal to think that I don't try to make myself look a little better here.
Since I have started this little project, I have found that writing these things where other people can see them and give feedback, and I can re-read them with the knowledge that other people are reading it too gives me a much more valuable perspective than if I just kept it all to myself, wrote it in a diary, or even shared it with only my closest friends... when I read it and think that the group I am "bad-mouthing" may be reading it too, I wind up looking at it how (I imagine) they would look at it, and I am able to quickly recognize where I am wrong. If I keep it to myself, or even share it with an understanding friend, we all just sit there and agree with me... forever and ever... I am always right.
Along the same thread, I realized something cool today at work. The less I do, the more other people do. Like I said above, my work is not as bad as I made it out to be last week. I heard some people thinking today, maybe and idea or two popped out from somewhere. My problem is that I expected people to realize things as fast as I realized them... then when they didn't, I went ahead and tried to do it myself, or just wrote it off because I didn't have time to do it myself.., Now I see however that it may happen slower than I hope, but it does happen. I am a happy boy.
About work: I was talking with a Japanese company owner today who told me that their company would not allow me to go to the gym on my lunch break (as I used to about a year ago) even if I stayed within the allotted 1 hour lunch time. This turned into a conversation (at least in my mind) about what an employee owes a company. A year ago I was all for expecting nothing less of WOW from an employee, but after a talk with a French guy a while ago (French only work a little over 10 hours a week by the way), I came to realize the obvious that if the company doesn't provide any value for the WOW, why should the employee give it?
I used to work a lot of overtime, and when friends would tell me I should think more about myself, I didn't realize what they where talking about... I was thinking about myself. At that time, I saw great value for me personally to spend long hours at work, and I liked what I was doing too. Now however, I have begun to value my time more to be used on my own projects and study, as I feel great value in them. When I am at work, I still strive for WOW, and then when my time becomes my own I strive for my own WOW.
Regarding the prospect of providing value if one wants their employees to work overtime (I mean really work... not like Japanese overtime which is too often just biding time until everyone agrees that they can all leave and no one has to feel embarrassed to be the first to leave) the friend made an interesting comment that I will have to explore... People who recognize the value to themselves, and think about working for that value rather than simply putting in their time are not available to small companies such as my friend owns. All those people run their own companies. This is obviously an exaggeration, and there are obviously people who work for other people who are WOW, most of them all snatched up by the big popular consulting firms etc... but it is an interesting point. My own boss once lamented to me about all the exceptional people who worked for his company through the years, and have moved on... many to start their own businesses.
If that is gong to happen anyway though, why not encourage it? Get that kind of people before their ready, use them and benefit from them and help them until their ready, and then congratulate them when they leave... why look for people you think will stay with you? I'm sure someone has done a study, and I would love to see what the long term value is of a mediocre employee who you can trust will never leave (not that all people who stay at a company are mediocre) vs. the value of a string of WOW employees that will be moving on (or up) in a few years.
I just read that the New York tobacco tax was raised from $.08 to $1.50... Nice. I also read a few weeks ago that smoking on the street in some sections of Tokyo was made a crime... This is great. If you think that a lot of smokers are rude in the US, you aint seen nothin yet. In Tokyo it is impossible to walk down the street without having a smoker walking in front of you, blowing the smoke over her shoulder into your face, or sanding on all sides of you at the crosswalk waiting for the light to change.
Check out track 11 of this CD released in May of 2001.
I got my tickets to go home for my brother's wedding finally. Arrive Aug 28, Depart Sept 5.
Oh wait... maybe I shouldn't post that... now anybody who reads this knows exactly when they can break into my apartment risk-free. Hmmm.... I guess what I'll do is leave the post here, and take all my valuable china, and jewelry with me when I go home.
I am about to fall asleep at the keyboard, so I guess I'm not going to be writing too much tonight. It's just as well anyway, since absolutely nothing happened today. I got up. I went to work. I worked. I went to the gym. I went home. I ate grilled chicken livers and rice. I revisited a book I read about 2 years ago, Kotler on Marketing: How to Create, Win, and Dominate Markets
(as I wait for Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to arrive from Amazon, I have nothing to read but books I have already read). Then I got tired, and decided to say hi before I go to bed.
Today was one of the most exciting days I have had in a long time.
Speaking of books, I had been meaning for a long time now to write more about A Mind at a Time, which I thought was excellent. I actually cried once while reading it I was so impressed. I guess I should add that to the list... I think I have to set aside more than one hour a night for this Bastish. Also perhaps I should do it first thing when I get home so I don't fall asleep mid-thought.
Guri is transforming into the devil. She has attacked ears for some time now, but recently she has begun attacking my neck, my arm, my love-handles, and even my back. She can't really hurt me with her tiny little jaws though, so it just ticks her off more.
How did I get absolutely nothing done this weekend? That is the question that plagued me all day today so when I got back from the gym I sat down again and did a little analysis of where I am spending my time, and where I can fit in everything I want to it in. As with everyone, I have absolutely no time unless I stop sleeping. Even with leaving work at 6:00 sharp if I can... with the exception of two weekends ago I have been pretty good at getting out before 7:00. I have to start working harder so I can get that last hour too.
Anyway, based on my analyses, that is the only place I can really get any extra time. One thing I discovered (but already knew) is that I was getting to addicted to NPR. I justified it by practicing my drawing while I listen, since I can't really do anything else and still pay attention, but 2-3 hours of that a day is way too much. I have trimmed that down now to 5 hours a week while drawing (and hopefully painting if I can get a chance to get to the art shop), and of course I can listen during the one hour I have each weekend to do my laundry and clean my apartment... so long as I don't vacuum because I can't hear the radio over the vacuum.
The one thing I am protecting is my hour a night to update the Bastish Net. This doesn't include time however for site upgrades, such as fixing the login function... stuff like that I have thrown into the project box that is filled up with enough for the next 3 years considering that I can only allocate 13 hours a week for working on them, and most of them are big projects that will wind up taking 2 months each at that rate.
Looking at the schedule, I realize I can only get to the gym 3 days a week, since I have the art class on three Fridays a month (there was none last week which is why I did not update the Art Progress page), and the hash is every Wednesday. The weekends are no good for the gym because it is so far away.
I figure with the 35 minutes of train time I have each day I can tackle all the books on my reading list in about 4 years.
My topic list for study doesn't seem to fit into the 4 hours /week I have for it. I am torn, not knowing if I should be studying work related topics (XML, Java, Perl, CSS, Photoshop) which I unfortunately don't get a chance to study or improve at work, or should I be working on that GRE exam that has been on the list for the past 3 years? Let's not forget about my Japanese which has been slowly eroding since I started working at my current company and began spending more time with the computer than communicating in Japanese...
Then there is all the left-overs, like the Kayak sitting in the middle of the room, the guitar which I haven't really practiced for three years... I know a lot of people have this problem, but I don't know how they solve it. I guess the only thing I can do is to buy a Sega and just stop being interested in anything else.
I did manage to get some work done on the site over the weekend. It's nothing any of the readers wil probably notice, (I'm not talking about the new colors) but it makes me really a really happy boy. Someday I will reveal the results of my efforts.
Speaking of the new colors and the new photo, I just want to remind you that all photos I use on the site are taken by ME. I didn't steal that from anywere and I'm darn proud. Sometimes I can get some nice shots if I take hundreds of pictures. Tomoe and I had that orange for breakfast while we were mountain biking last summer... I don't really remember where though...
A magazine came in the mail last week with an interview with myself and a couple other foreigners working in Japan. I'll put that on the list of things I want to write about, comparing the other peoples views and ideas of what work is. I'll wait with that though until I can scan the page and put a photo up here too.
I caught the World Cup final with the usual group of French, English, and Japanese folk yesterday. It's so sad to see the World Cup finish. I don't know if I can wait another four years! But seriously, I did have a good time watching the games here in Japan since I am always around people of so many different nationalities, it really helps to make the game more interesting. No matter how well America did, it wouldn't be enough to make me watch more than a game and a half if I had not been in Japan.