Not done yet...
Don't ask me how, but I seem to have cut my nose shaving.
After a couple more hours, I am a little closer to completion on my boat painting. I don't really know what I can add or change, but I am not satisfied with it. Probably because I worked over each part too much. I'd love to be able to get it right with the first layer or two... but I went over this so many times that it lost all it's distinctive color I think. It's just a big messy mix of dull colors now.
Oh well. There's always next time. The first two photos are repeats from yeasterday's post. Picture 1 is where I stoped last night. Picture 2 is the original I am trying to copy, Picture 3 is my (finshed?) version from tonight. It doesn't look bad so long as you don't click on it.
I came across a great article called What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson, who has written several books about internet / start-up related work. I really liked Nudist on The Late Shift which I read a couple years ago, but I wonder if I would like it now. My ideas of work and career have really changed since then. I like to blame it on the French people I had been hanging out with, but I really don't think it is their fault. I am simply reverting to the ideas I once had that being happy with myself is more important that having an important sounding career and making big bucks. A couple years ago though, because it was new to me to think about becoming a "success", I tried it out and threw myself into business and internet career, and it was very short lived... only three years later I am reverting to my old slacker self.
Anyway, the article states the obvious that our lives would be much better if we lived our passions, rather than for what society considers "success". It makes me feel good, but that's probably because it's a feel-good article for lots of people who suddenly lost their big dot-com jobs. I doubt the article would ever have made it onto fastcompany.com two years ago.
Even so, it is filled with some obvious gems that I need to be reminded of sometimes... such as
The first assumption to get busted was the notion that certain jobs are inherently cool and that others are uncool.
I can't say that I seek out "cool" jobs, but I do feel like a looser if the job I seek is not considered "cool", even if I enjoy it more than people who do "cool" jobs enjoy theirs.
It turns out that having the ?financial independence to walk away rarely triggers people to do just that. The reality is, making money is such hard work that it changes you. It takes twice as long as anyone plans for. It requires more sacrifi?ces than anyone expects.
Hmmm. Easy for him to say, since he has no worries, but I have written before, somewhere on the bastsihnet, that I have no admiration for people who sacrifice to get to where they are, if they didn't even have to go there in the first place.
The shortest route to the good life involves building the confidence that you can live happily within your means ( whatever the means provided by the choices that are truly acceptable to you turn out to be ). It's scary to imagine living on less. But embracing your dreams is surprisingly liberating. Instilled with a sense of purpose, your spending habits naturally reorganize, because you discover that you need less.
This is something that luckily I think I don't have much of a problem with. I already have a hard enough time finding things to spend money on. With the exception of some expensive watercolor paper, or some new paints (I just got em today-yipeee!), I can't really think of anything that I have to spend money on. I have no need for a bigger apartment (although the one in Fujino was bigger -and cheaper). I don't need expensive food, except for a good Belgian beer every now and then, and I don't find great pleasure in going out and partying. The vacation I enjoy most is bound to be the cheapest, rather than staying in luxury hotels.
I was with someone once who looked longingly in the window of an expensive restaurant and said "One day I'll be in there." I felt so lucky that I would much rather be eating at the Ramen stand on the street, or better yet, grilling a nice Mackerel at home.
I guess that means I should be ripe for embracing my dream. No I just have to find it.
I should point out that the photo a few days ago of Tomoe looking longingly at the Coach bag was posed. She has no desire for a Coach bag, but that night we were in Ginza and stopped by the Coach store to get a feel for the side of Japanese culture we miss out on by being cheap.
There was a man in his 50s looking for a gift who asked the sales lady to show him something under 10,000 yen. She showed him a little pocketbook that was over 15,000. He thought about it a bit and asked to see a cell-phone strap, (which is just a cheap loop to put on your phone for style. They are about as valuable as a happy-meal toy) She showed him a strap, which looked like any other, except it said "Coach" in small letters. He says "Oh that's cute" thinking "It's the cheapest thing here, and if I don't get it for my 25 year old girlfriend she will find someone richer". He bought the strap for just over 10,000 I think. I wonder how many cell-phone straps his girlfriend has.
I don't really have to worry about money, but I do anyway because everyone else says I have too. But when I see a scene like the one in the Coach shop, I feel a little relieved that the reason they worry about money so much is that they have to feed their brand-goods and worthless crap habits. I don't have those habits, so maybe, just maybe, I don't have to worry so much about it.
I am torn. Come 6:00 tonight, I was really into something cool at work, and I saw no end in sight. Yet I had planned to come home and try painting... I even had the picture selected that I would plagiarize. What should I do? I could stay and play at work with the interesting new discovery, or I can go home and use my precious free time to do something else that I really want to... in the end, realizing that if I stay at work and play/work, I don't get paid for it, and come tomorrow, even though I put in overtime, I wont be able to paint at noon if I feel like it. I will however have an opportunity to try out my discovery, and in fact, if I do it during work time I get paid for it... when you look at it that way it is an easy choice.
Anyway, here is my painting so far, after a couple hours of doing one practice sketch, and starting on the real thing. I can't seem to decide what I am going to concentrate on before I start to paint. Should I worry more about the colors, and learning how to mix them and get the results I really want, or should I concentrate on learning how to apply the paint to the paper, and my stroke? It is not too difficult to make the painting look OK, but if I keep doing that I will never be able to make it look great.
I am plagiarizing a painting I found in a great big book of Japanese art from the used book store (only 100 yen!) The original artist is Kimihisa Togari, who has some really great paintings of boats. From the book, out of hundreds of paintings, this one you see below really stood out to me. I don't know why I have a fascination with boats... maybe it has to do with the fact that they can literally go anywhere, in any direction, and don't need roads. On a road you can go within a continent but a boat can take you anywhere.
Although I haven't taken my kayak out for a long time, It still fascinates me. I remember the first time I ever saw a sea kayak. I was in a sailing shop in Traverse City looking at sail boats (which are also cool, but beyond my budget) and say a sea kayak on display. I had never seen one before, but from that day I was fascinated and started seeing them all over. I think that too had to do with the fact that a sea kayak is so small that it can go literally anywhere. It can go into small areas that a yacht or even sport-motor boat can't get to, and yet, it can handle open seas as well as any yacht. Unfortunately, it doesn't handle the trip from my apartment to the ocean very well. What ever happened to that dream I had to Kayak from Maine to Brazil...
Anyway, I should paint a Kayak I guess. Instead, I am in the midst of the painting you see below.
Tomoe and I finally got around to cashing in on our Christmas present from mom and dad. They should be getting a bill next month for our "don't care about price dinner" which we wound up having at a Spanish restaurant in Ginza after checking out the Bridgestone Museum of Art. Dad should be expecting a bill for 150,000 yen some time soon.
I'd love to write all about it, but I am almost asleep.
The Spanish food may have been practice for a trip to Spain this summer if Tomoe can get a vacation from her new job. Seb is getting married in Spain so it would be the perfect opportunity to drop by.
It's funny that Seb should come up. He just happens to be in town this week from France on business. Sunday we did a little indoor rock climbing, and I noticed that only one year ago I was much braver... this time I was much more cautious (and a lot more physically weak). How can a year make such a big difference?
Finally, to cover for the lack of substantive content, I have lots of pictures...
In todays selections, you will see the amazing sink at the Bridgestone Museum of Art which has automatic squirter, soaper, and dryer all in one. You will also see a giant red fish. And finally, my favorite is the look of longing on Tomoe's face everytime she passes a Coach or Gucci display case.
Well, the whole deal with the client I mentioned yesterday is cleared up. I have to say I am not happy though. Basically we had to take a strong stance in order to get paid which meant that in the end, we get paid on time and the client doesn't get the simple but meaningful changes we had planned to give them for free.
Business-wise it ovbiously worked out best, but as the creator of the system, I really wanted to make it the best it could be, which means making the upgrade. The problem now is that I can't give them the upgrade anymore, because we have to be afraid of them trying to takae advantage of us now. If I give them this, they will want more and more. If we suggest the upgrade as a billable item, I don't really see it going through, as they have already made up their minds to use the imperfect system as it is... and they probably wont want to pay the extra.
This happens all the time, and it really baffles me that people can't just be a little patient even when they realize that I am giving them more than they paid for in the name of making a better product, I am giving them something above and beyond the agreement. They just never seem to accept that in order to do that I need some flexibility so I can work on jobs that pay the bills too, or else I'm gonna bill 'em... and the more unhappy I am, and the more afraid I am that they are going to try to take advantage of my generousity, and the more demands they start making about how generous I have to be, the less generous I become and the more little things that I would normally include in the retainer become billable items. It seems so basic... what's not to understand?
You may or may not have noticed (if you did you get a prize) that I have a new link section along the bottom left side of the page entitled "Reading Queue". This is basically just a place where I can bookmark all the pages I come across and think "I really want to read that, just not now". I can bookmark it at that time and it automatically shows up on the site so I know where it is if I ever get a free moment...
Now YOU TOO can get inside my head!!! YOU TOO can learn what I learn!!! Or you can just ignore it.
If you happen to have a site on the basitshnet, (keldog and jonnyboy), I can set it up for you too. You can add links while you surf just like adding them to your favorites list. You don't have to touch the HTML template at all. If you want it, let me know... For more information about it, check out blogrolling.com. It has directions so you could actually set it up yourself, but somehow I don't think Kelly can handle it seeing as she hasn't quite figured out how to read the Moveable Type Documentation yet.
I used up all aloted computer time tonight posting a comment to another (Joi Ito's) blog. Now that that is done, I only have enough time left to give you what you really want.
I am getting requests for more pictures of the birds, and I've got a lot of server space, but it's real hard to find something original. My apartment is only so big, and I can't really take them outside for a change of setting. I did however manage to catch Guri in mid-flight. Now that's what blogging is all about!
It's been over a week since I had a chance to parctice painting... I haven't even been doing my daily train sketch blog because I have been forced to actually do work on the trains instead because I have a couple of projects, all with deadlines at the end of this month.
To make things worse, one client asked earlier this month for some changes to the agreed upon specifications of a project I finished last month and billed for this month. We agreed to do the upgrade for free when my schedule opens up a bit next month, since it really wasn't such a big deal amd they have been a good client. Then today we get a phone call saying that they won't pay us this month for the original completed work because they consider it incomplete without the upgrade. And guess what... the contract can only be found in the archives of the salesman's head. Dang!
I recomend looking at the second Awii with the "huge" setting
Awii says "YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!"
On The Connection, Niel Gabler, author fo Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality throws out some statistics from a Time Magazine survey in 2000.
...asked people if they were in the top 1% of earners, 19% of Americans say that they are in the richest 1%, and a further 20% expect to be someday.
Dang. Hoped to gee some of the study done that I didn't do this weekend out of pure laziness, but a few minutes ago the president asked everyone to go out to dinner. I have been plowing my way through the the color and waterpainting guide on handprint.com. It makes me a little sad though to think about how much of this I might know already if I had paid attention in science classs when I was young.
I have noticed that a couple of the web-sites written by people here in Japan have put links to their first Flash-animations. It made me remember my first flash animations from a couple years ago. This was when I was first getting into the web-stuff, and at that time I only really saw the visual aspects of the web, thinking it was like a better TV.
Since then I have come to have a point of view where complex visual design of most sites is almost worthless unless the main purpose of the site is to communicate corporate brand images and logos, such as Disney or Coka-cola (actually after just checking out the Coke site, I find a flash page that doesn't really communicate any brand to me, and would be much better in straight html with some red colored logo images. As it is now it's simply slow). without much need for communicating non-visual information. Even then, most branding can be fit into the background color and one or two logo images on the top.
There are however some very good uses on the web for Flash. I think that my two experiments are good uses, as they are meant for pure entertainment. There are also thousands of Flash animations on the web that are much more entertaining than the television here in Japan (more on that later). I also like the link to celebrity prank phone calls Ian put on his site. (oh no! I've partaken in the incestuous practice of content regurgitation!)
Now that I am moving back toward drawing and painting, and having looked at other peoples ventures into Flash, I have started to feel an urge to play with Flash again. Maybe someday soon... I wonder if after spending more time studying and experimenting with more visual-design related projects I will do a 180 and start to think that having a cool looking site is important again... If I moved toward design in my career, it would make it difficult to advise a client that they need a snazzy design if I really feel that text-based sites are the way to go. (note: even most of the Flash sites found here are "wrong" in my opinion. )
I'm going to jump on the "My First Flash" bandwagon, and once again post links to my first and last flash animations, (which have been linked to from this site many times before because I'm pretty dern proud of 'em).
This first one is a little greeting card I made for Tomoe when she had gone to England and Switzerland to check out her University and participate in some global environmental summit or something or other.
This second one was started just over two years ago and meant to become the new Tokyo Ladies Hash web-site, but as I became to busier it never got finished until a few months ago when I was the hare for the hash, and I pulled it out of the mothballs to make the first web-based hash trash announcing where the next weeks run would be.
Not that I view this as a competition, but I think it is only fair to note that although these are my first attempts at Flash, I obviously wasted a lot more time than the people I linked to above, and there are many scraps of animation on my computer that never made it into these final versions because of the degree of crappiness.
It has finally happened to me. I have heard so many horror stories of the NHK man coming to collect the required fee for having a television that can view NHK programming (Japan's PBS or BBC), but it has never happened to me before. I am now officially an outlaw because I refused to pay the 1,400 yen/month subscription fee for NHK which you automatically are signed up for if you own a TV.
I told him "It's too expensive." and he said "Yes, but it doesn't matter, it's the law". I said "I'll unplug my TV." he said "Yes, but it doesn't matter, it's the law." I said "Sorry, I don't have that much money." He said "Yes, but it doesn't matter, it's the law." I said "see you later."
I wonder what percent of the people actually pay for their "subscription". Is NHK making a killing? I am not sure what cable TV costs here in Japan, but I would imagine it can't be much more than 5,000 / month, and with that you get a number of channels... who set the price of 1,500 yen for one channel that is not even on 24/7? If anyone knows the answers to these questions I'm only slightly interested.
Something I wish I'd thought of... the Wikipedia. An online encyclopedia that anyone can add an article to, or edit an existing article. I haven't really had time to check it out yet, but the concept is great. Maybe I'll contribute some articles on topics I know about which would be... hmmmmm... (Japan... kind of, Parakeets... well maybe only parakeets named Guri, and I guess that's about it...). But if you know a lot or even a little about something, such as making mountain bikes, look into contributing an article.
I listened to lots of interesting shows on the connection today. Two in particular that I will mention.
I'm not trying to make an argument for or against any particular side, since it is not really clear to me what exactly each side stands for... I would be against giving a place to a minority, based on minoritieness, who obviously is not qualified for the place, but that doesn't seem to be what happens.
All I really know myself is that having diversity around you... being forced to be in a situation with people from diverse backgrounds, whether I want it or not has only helped me. And I know people whose views have changed dramatically when circumstances put them in such a situation they would not have chosen themselves. Having diverse friends here in Japan has totally changed my views about many things. I shudder to think how successful I might have become had my view of work not been so influenced by discussions with a group of Frenchies I met here.
The "anti" advocate seemed to have the argument that there are better ways to provide diversity than looking at a person's race or gender, although she gave no alternatives. I agree to the extent that looking at race alone would not guarantee any diversity, but if my having lived and work in Japan would bring diversity, as a counselor at the University of Michigan School of Information Science told me last summer, then I think it is safe to say that a Japanese person can bring diversity.
Perhaps that is the answer... for the admissions policy to not even mention race, simply say that a person was accepted for the diverse point of view they will bring based on their life experience of having spent their life interacting on an intimate level with members of the African-American community. This would not exclude white people at all, so long as they have the diverse experience that the university is looking for.
One interesting part was a white student at the University of Michigan business school relating a story of when a group of recruiters came from a large southern corporation. He didn't get the job, but he acknowledged that without University of Michigan's policy to create diversity, he would not eve+n have had a chance because the whole reason the executives came all the way to UM was they wanted people who had been taught and functioning in a diverse environment to bring that experience to their company.
Something I have known for a while now... while some birds simply make sounds that are inherent to their species, some birds can mimic sounds they hear, and not only that, actually create their own sounds.
It got a little more in depth than that, showing how some birds can actually compose songs and sounds with complex syntax. It then goes on to tell how this is bringing into doubt some of the previously held "truths" of evolution, mainly that there is no space in the evolutionary theory to explain how the only known creatures who use the same portion in their brains that let us do this are some birds, dolphins and whales, bats, and humans. We are all pretty far from each other on that evolutionary tree, and there is no line to connect them as there should be.
I of course knew this all along, science Awii is always making some crazy new sound, from her own name, to imitating the sound of the alarm clock in the morning when she wants me to wake up.
I was talking with someone the other day who suggested that a good way to fight the problem of unemployment / poverty would be to transplant unemployed poor peoples brains into robots that would not need food, thus no need for money for food. Not that I agreed, but I figured if anyone was going to do that, then why not simply put their brains in jars... that way we wouldn't need to provide electricity either. I was called a nazi.
Like I say, I didn't agree with his idea about the robots, but thought it had a better chance of being implemented than his idea to send all the unemployed Japanese workerd to China to work in the Japanese manufacturing plants that have moved there for cheap labor.
The sketch-blog you've all been waiting for. I'll let you try to figure out for yourself which of these sketches were done on the train and which were not.
There are always a couple things I wonder about regarding the nudie sketch club.
1) How much do the models get paid? In case anyone is under the impression that they are just girls off the street wanting to make an extra buck, I can assure you that is not the case. With the exception of a few, they tend to have very defined muscles. Not big like a body builder, but more that of a dancer, and in fact, many of them are dancers. Still, they are not simply dancers who pose nude for an extra buck. I don't know how hard it is actually if one is to spend at least some time practicing, but it is obviously not something anyone can do on a whim. Often they make a pose that most people I know can't even hold for 5 seconds, yet they hold it for 20 minutes. Then they take a break, and assume the exact same pose (usually with little margin of error) and hold it for 20 more minutes... and then one more break and one more pose.
I'm sure they have a stock set of poses they use often and practice, but at least one of the models has been there three times and I have not seen the same pose from ther twice. What I'm saying is basically that I have found that modeling is a real profession, and they have to practice it just as I have to practice programming.
So how much do they get paid? Today was the first session of the year, so we received the balance sheet from last year. There were 32 sessions and the total amount that went to modeling was 346,260 yen. I don't know if different models charge more than others, or if they are all just ordered through a modeling service that sends a different one each week, but average is about 10,000 yen per 3.5 hour session.
2) Another thing I often wonder is if I actually have the right to put my sketch of them on the web. I am 99% sure that it is "my" work so I have the rights, but it is still her likeness.. no matter how much it doesn't resemble her. I'm sure she would not appreciate if I whipped out my camera and started snapping shots for the web... (or for my own personal use for that matter) but why is a sketch any different? Should the model for Mona Lisa and her descendants get royalties?
My site has become a comment fest lately. Four whole comments on one post... that's a record for me. Of course they are all from people who were at the meeting for people who like to write thins on the web. One of the cementers (Ian) states
I think popularity contests are natural. People want to feel special, gain recognition by their peers. It's all about getting the cool kids to like you, just like high school.
Maybe part of the reason I am considered cold and anti-social (probably only by myself) may be that I almost never had that "trying to be in the cool group" urge which should probably build the social skill of shmoozing and flattery. Sure I remember feeling how I wanted to be cool in my sophomore year of high-school, but is the only time I can think of. Not that I am such a mature person to realize that I am special no matter what anyone else thinks, but rather because I never had to worry about that.
Was I so cool that I didn't have to worry? Nope. I went to a grade school (k-8) with only twelve people in my class. Everyone was cool. My freshman year was the first time i was thrown in with so many people... and that was only about 70. I didn't know what was what about being cool or trying to be cool when I was in 9th grade. In 10th grade it became clear, and by 11th grade I had trivialized everything we all did so much that it didn't matter. Since high school, most of the things I have done have been centered around small groups where there aren't enough people to have popular and unpopular groups. Both trips to Japan had only 10-20 students in the "group", while at University I already had my "main" friends right along with me so there was no need to worry about finding a group to fit in with... Anyone outside my "group" was a bonus but nothing to obsess about.
What does all that have to do with anything? not much, I was just thinking about how again, writing this, my readership is pretty much decided. It is mainly for people who I know. I don't mind people I don't know reading, but I feel no need whatsoever to advertise... in fact, the thought of too many people I don't know yet, but may meet someday scares me a little. Oh well.
Not to pick on Ian, but one thing he said at the meeting has stuck with me. "You have a Japanese girlfriend, right?" ... or maybe it was "Do you have a Japanese girlfriend?" Anyway, when I said yes, his reply was something to the extent of "I knew it", or "I thought so".
That's a downer. It used to be an issue for both me and Tomoe... living with the stigma / serotype of the looser foreigner who comes to Japan to get a desperate-air-head-Japanese-waif-with-a-fourteen-year-old-maturity-level who has dreams of living in America with a tall foreigner. Both walk around the city wearing the other like a badge.
When someone says something like that, I feel funny... I don't mind so much if they think that I am a looser who can't get a girl anywhere else (maybe I am), but (in my mind) it implies that Tomoe is an airhead-desperate-Japanese-waif-with-a-fourteen-year-old-maturity-level dreaming of living in America with a tall foreigner. I could give all the examples and proof why she is not, but that would open an ugly chapter and somewhat validate the stereotype.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not saying that Ian was implying all that... It's all in the imagination of the insecure Kevin who obsesses... luckily I am usually the trivializer Kevin.
The only benefit of getting up at 7:30 for an 8:30 meeting is that I get a nice view of Tokyo in the morning. If you look closely you should be able to see Fuji in some of these shots. It's hard though because of all that smog. An interesting fact, it is estimated that up to 87% of all the smog you see in this photo is from smokers exhaust. Of course I am the one who made that estimate, and I based in on nothing more than my feelings when walking behind a smoker on the street.
Tomoe calls me "trivializer" saying that I "trivialize" everything. I tend to disagree. I feel that I am simply lucky enough to not have anything really worth worrying about in my immediate life. I really have a hard time thinking of anything within reason in business or my life that will mean the end of the world and are unrecoverable from. Of course, my trivialist attitude does come out in some pretty inconvenient places, such as work. It always amazes me to see what a big deal people can make of something that is actually quite simple. Sure I understand the need to get it right, but in most cases getting it right does not require so many wasted man-hours in meetings and discussions where the main goal is not to get it right, but rather to look good.
I of course look bad because I "trivialize" things. My attitude is often "Do the best you can. Don't waste time trying to do better when you know it is physically or technically impossible in the given time frame, and if it doesn't turn out the way you hoped, it ain't the end of the world. Learn from it and move on." I have the hardest time keeping this attitude to myself... since it will undoubtedly not go over well with people who like to obsess rather than progress.
Does the need to have endless meetings stem from a desire to look good, or to keep as busy as possible without making more work for yourself? It's a mystery to me.
That being said, I often long for some semblance of bureaucracy in my own office where there is no systemization. This is nice in that it allows me to run amok and do what I want without being bogged down by crap, but when working with people who need he rules set down in black and white I often get overwhelmed because I try to take on too much myself rather than setting the rules which, if everything worked as planned would make things so smooth, but basically fall apart because I can't trust most people anyway and once again wind up taking on too much. This of course effects my performance on any one project, and I feel like crap about that... got to work on that.
Don't know why that came up. It is just something that was ticking me off today.
Probably part of the reason it is on my mind is that I started feeling a little bad today, thinking that I may have offended some people by writing what I wrote yesterday... though I see absolutly nothing wrong or earth-ending with it, I was writing it in connection with people I don't really know, and some people do take things and themselves way to seriously. Or is it that I just trivialize them and myself?
I have no reason to feel that anyone is upset, no death threats or anyhting, but I seem to rub serious people the wrong way sometimes. As a result, since I can not make myself take everyhting so seriously, I have learned over the years to just keep my mouth shut. (hence I am a cold loner) This whole making my thoughts public on my site concept throws a little monkey wrench into the silence strategy.
Tomorrow is nudie night again.
I did a lot of train riding today because I had an early morning meeting in Yokohama (1.5hr away). I used to hate such far away meetings... I would torment over the lost hours which I could be dedicating to a project due a few days later. Now however I look forward to riding the train... it's sketch-blog time!
Your daily fix.
I spent the night hanging out with a bunch of dorks like me who like to post stuff on the web. Despite the inherent creepiness that goes along with all of us interested in this, I came away with good results from the evening.
1) Although there was not a whole lot of super-technical talk (it was not supposed to be the main topic) there was some and you would not believe how nice it feels to be face to face with someone who would be able to have a conversation relating to what I do everyday for my job. I can think of only two other people that I have met in the past 2.5 years that that applies to. It's not that I am so "into" tech topics that I crave such conversations, in fact I find that as the days go on, I am less and less interested in it, but that doesn't change the fact that I know about it, and it is nice to meet other people who know about it too.
2) For the past 2.5 years, since I first learned how to turn on a computer, and at the same time became the head techie at an Internet company, I have often felt inferior, or that I don't know enough to really do the job. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that I know no one to compare myself to.
While this has it's advantages, in that I probably spent more time trying to catch up to the imagined standards, and in doing so learned much more than I would have if I thought I knew enough... It has also been a constant source of stress.
As it turns out, while I'm sure the guys I met tonight (who have been at it for much longer than I) know a lot of things that I don't, they also had similar problems as I do, and in some cases problems that I used to, but no longer have... not that I'm smarter or anything, but I guess there is so much information, and things are changing so fast, that in some matters, a person with 10 years experience is on equal footing as someone with 2.5.
3) There was talk about peoples web-sites of course, Although I see all kinds of sites, Although not a personal rule or anything, I have always tended to steer clear of the sites about other sites. It just seemed to happen. Talking to others about their sites, therefore helped me to more clearly define what it is about my site that I am trying to do... without having actually consciously planned it out.
Much of web-logging seems to be, in part, a popularity contest, to see who gets linked to more, and who has the coolest link, etc. This is fun and addicting. One great thing about these sites is that people with real humor can be heard, and we don't have to rely on the humeri that TV executives like for ratings. Without sites like this, there is a lot of worthless information, and not-so worthless information that I have picked up that I would never have known about before, and in fact, never even thought to look it up.
One of the big "revolutions" made possible with web-logging is evident in more "serious" sites that focus on current events, and news. Often these sites are written by professional journalists, and often by armature journalists. Again, it allows us to have access to opinions and news that is not good enough for the networks ratings, or a newspapers sales.
At times in the past, I really wondered why the heck my site should even exist. I don't really have time to write any humerus pieces, and certainly not to research and write news stories... so then why even waste bandwidth as our friendly commenter stated a few days ago?
I never really realized it, but my site is almost entirely made up of the content I read first from other peoples sites. Sometimes a funny link catches my eye, and sometimes the reason I make it to someone's site is because they have an interesting article, but always the very first page I go to is the "about" page. The most important thing to me, is "who he heck is this, what is this persons history, and how can I apply anything about this person to my own life and path?
In a way, although it's probably not interesting to anyone other than mom and myself, I try when I have time to write not about the latest model of Apple computer, or a cool new game, but about what has built me to what I am, and what is building me to what I will be. Maybe it will help someone someday who identifies with me and can use any little thought I had on some crappy or happy day.
I realized the other day, after searching for many of my old High-school classmates on google, that despite having been somewhat of a "cold loner" (which many people have said of me as recently as two years ago) I may very well be the most transparent person in my class. Just by reading my site people can learn more about me than they would surely ever know through normal conversation with me. They also know a lot about my birds. And I guess that's the real purpose of my site... to make my life open to anyone who cares to look... because why not?
I have to be up for a 8:15 conference call with the US again tomorrow.
Everyone hates me.
My mom hates me because she accidently saw porn, although I did not show it to her.
My birds hate me because I didn't let them out of the cage until 10:30 tonight.
My neighbors hate me because I was confused this morning and thought it was Monday (due to the holiday yesterday) and I put out my garbage on the wrong day.
My landlord hates me because rather than saying to me "Kevin, you put your garbage out on the wrong day. Please be careful." to which I would have replied. "I'm sorry. I will be more careful", the neighbors went directly to her and claimed that they were having major problems with me and my garbage disposal habits. Apparently they failed to mention that it was only once in the three years I have been here.
I have a hunch it was the woman upstairs. I would think she would be grateful to me that I don't report her and the strange noises she makes at night, which are (according to Tomoe's theory) obviously the sounds of her crushing up chicken bones to feed the poor child she has chained up in her bathroom.
Here's an article about a guy who saves everything he does on his computer including phone conversations and every photo he views, etc., making a computerized memory for himself. He envisions a day when we will be able to access out memory from screens that pop up out of desks and what-not. The availability of storage space allows this to happen of course...
I wonder how long it will take to realize what I envision. Imagine a day when our brains are hooked up to the Internet and our artificial memory's disposal. Every signal to our brain from our eyes will be saved. Every auditory signal saved... I wonder how much storage space that will take.
There will be no need for memorization. Everything will be accessible via the Internet in our brain. Before a surgery, a doctor can download all the needed anatomy charts into RAM. Skill will be based entirely on how a person uses information, rather that how much information a person has access too.
I will be able to transmit everything I see, hear, feel and even think to anyone else in real time... (ESP).
Of course some people think that this is creepy, but to the generation that grows up with it, it will be a fact of life, and no one will give it a second thought. Even if so called "privacy" went out the window, and all out thoughts were open to anyone else who wanted to read them, I don't see any problems. Of course there would be problems if this happened today, because we have not had time to adapt, but given time, it could become a wonderful aspect of human culture. Image how many hate crimes based on ignorance might not happen because ignorance is impossible when we can literally see the world through someone else eyes. We would know of someone's evil intent before they even came close to acting on it, and would be able to either prevent them from acting on it, or give them the help they need to prevent themselves form acting upon it.
The need to keep a secret should disappear with the ability to keep a secret... after all, the only reason I put up a front, is so that I can live up to a standard set by the other guy who is putting up a front himself.
But that's just my vision.
I have been sitting here all day thinking how I want to do something productive... somehow I can't think of anything productive so I just stared at my bird-crapped-on ragged old cap. The sketch-blog, of course, records my daily activities...
Today is "I'm becoming a grown up day" here in Japan. Basically it means a holiday for most people, and for people who are 21, it gives them a chance to dress up in expensive costumes they will probably never wear again, and giggle with their friends, and be interviewed by TV reporters about how it feels to be an adult now.
It was such a beautiful day, I took a walk to the nearest temple. There were a lot of people there, but no freshly minted adults in their kimonos.
Following up on yesterday's post, about spending habits, I will show you what I bought today on a typical weekly trip to the grocery store. This, of course, only consists of the base foods I like to keep lying around the house. Some days I will stop by the fish store on the way home from work to buy that day's dinner. I also don't use any of this for lunches. Thanks to the newfound ease of uploading photos, I am also able to show you everything I bought today to give you a better idea.
|Category||Price in $ (based on 130yen = aprx $1.00)||Item Description|
|Cereals and Bakery|
|Cereals and cereal Products||13||5kg bag of rice (should last 3-4 weeks)|
|Bakery Products||1.15||8 pieces of bread|
|Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs|
|Poultry||2.66||1 pkg chicken liver |
1 pkg "other" chicken parts
|Fish & Seafood||1.46||Fish filet|
|Eggs||1.29||10 L-size eggs||Fruits & Veggies|
|Fresh Fruits||.76||4 bandannas|
|Fresh Veggies||2.73||Spinach |
|Other Food at home|
|Misc||1.36||1 pkg processed fish cakes|
|Bean products||1.95||2 pkg natto |
1 pkg tofu
|Non-Alcoholic beverages||3.64||3 cartons grapefruit juice|
How did I stumble across such wonderful images? I noticed that a user came to my site via a search engine after searching for feel the beautiful pain" I searched on google to find where I rank when searching for that particular phrase and was surprised to fins that all he other sites were porn sites. Does this prove that porn dominates the web, or that my site is bordering on pornographic?
I was looking around at average salaries for various jobs at the Department of Labor web-site, and found the average annual expenditures for single males in the US for 2000-2001. I was interested to see how compared. So far I've only really looked at the Food category, but this is what I found...
|Category||Everyone else ( average All Single Males 2000-2001)|
$/year (based on 130yen = aprx $1.00)
|Cereals and Bakery|
|Cereals and cerial Products||70||184 (included rice)|
|Bakery Products||142||538($3 every day for lunch at bakery)|
|Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs|
|Fish & Seafood||52||280|
|Fresh milk and Cream||65||10|
|Fruits & Veggies|
|Other Food at home|
|Sugar & Sweets||52||19|
|Fats & Oils||35||4|
|Food Away From Home||1,751||1,200|
Of course I don't know how accurate my figures are, since until now I have never been able to keep up and expenditure recording drive for longer than 2.5 months. I will start again today... If I am lucky this one will last until April.
Instead of writing about my weekend, I will show you my sketch-blog, where you can see I spent the weekend eating sweet potatoes and watching Tomoe sleep and write her thesis.
More pictures of the birds of course... just to spite the jerk who doesn't like them. And just a reminder to all who read this. This site is not for enjoyment. It is not supposed to be interesting. It is only so I don't have to write email to everyone I know. The main audience is my mom. Not YOU!!! But you are all welcome to read it.
The requests are rollin' in forme to put people phtos on my web with my new photo sizer thingamajig.
My brother just asked me a few days ago how to shirnk his images easily... This was even before he knew I was going to put this little function up. I just did some photos for Jonnyboy, and Tomoe went skiing a few days ago at Iwappara. Her frineds sent her photos that were too big for her to view in her browser, and she doesn't have a program to shrink them sooo....
Hopefully she will write a little commentary describing each picture...
I'm almost done with the new image uploading /displaying functionality. You can now add you comments again.
Of course, in order to test it I had to take more photos to upload. Since more people would like to see photos of the birds than my computer, I will put them UP! And for all you bird-foot-fetishes out there (I know there is at least one) check out that last photo.
I had a meeting in out past Yokohama today, so I spent a lot of time on the train. It gave me a chance to do some sketching, which is good because nudie class was cancelled again tonight it seems.
I got cought twice today drawing someone elses picture. Luckily the people where more interested than angry. I am always afraid I will get caught by some psycho, and I will only have a pencil to defend myself.
Using the new blow-up function, you can blow these drawing up to actual human size. Pretty cool.
I had planned to do more tonight, but I got a terrible paper cut on my thumb yesterday. It is exactly where I have to hit the "space" key. It is agonizing, so I can't type much... seriously.
Regarding the boring photos of my "art" and the birds, I really want to put more photos up there, but I only really know one segment of my market... the segment that likes my "art" and the birds. What else would you like to see more of? I don't make it to the temples often, buit if people want to see that, I'll make a field trip. If you want pictures of a dirt city, I can do that easily. What would you like to see from Japan and from my life? Submit all requests here.
Some interesting insights into something I never gave much thought to before... Why are roller coaster rides so short? This is just an excerpt from a conversation about Ceder Points new fast jet coaster (that's what we call 'em here) at slashdot.org
The millenium force gets 1600 riders/hr. This one is predicted to get 1500. Usually the turnover is dictated by the size of a train and how fast you can load/unload them. There will be a train going up the hill, one on the track and one in the house loading/unloading. When they are going 70-120 mph, you'd need an awfully long track to change this model. Since this coaster is so fast, there will only be one train going up the hill or on the track. All the others will be loading/unloading and keep the line moving that way.
at 120 mph what are the G forces?
120 mph is 2 miles/minute.
2 miles/minute is 176 ft/sec
0 to 176 ft/sec in 4 seconds is 44 ft/sec/sec
1 G is 32 ft/sec/sec so it's 44/32 or about 1.4 G.
Going a little further, if you weigh 220 lbs, you'll enjoy the feeling of 302 (220x1.4) lbs squishing you into your seat. wotta thrill....
and even more about that here. Sometimes geeks have interesting things to say.
(The link to ceder point's site may not be visible... I hope they don't sue me for posting a link to their site on my site... the trafic they are getting from the bastishnet must have shut them down...)
Alraiit!!! I got a new toy. I finally got around to writing a little script that would allow me to upload my photos directly without having to shrink them in Photoshop. As a plus, it also allows the you to change the size, so I don't have to put links to both big and web-sized pictures. This will save me an average of 20 minutes each time I upload photos.
When I get around to playing with the site again, I will set it up so that you can choose a default setting. I have had complaints that the images are too big for people with crappy dial-up lines, so now you can set it that the images are always smaller, and of course you always have the option to make it bigger and bigger and bigger yet.
To change the size, you can use the links above the photo.
Oh yeah, the seldom used comment function has disappeared temporarily
I spent all my time working on it tonight, so I didn't have a chance to take new pictures, so I will throw up some old miscellaneous photos from my archives.
These are from a Kayak trip back in August of 2001. You can see Tomoe in her "long john". Also some pictures of Kazuyo, Saori, Tomoe, and Dr. JJ, and of course Guri.
I came back from work hoping to have more time to paint today, but as I was eating I decided to check my web-access reports to see what other crazy search terms people used to find there way to the bastish net.
so far this month
The first one reminded me that I havn't visited authentikate.com in a few months. I encourage you to go there and check it out. A lot has changed in her life since then... much more than has changed in mine for sure, and it makes for much more compelling reading... so now I have less time to paint.
Sure her story is amazingly interesting, but whats more amazing to me is the openness with which she writes. Let alone the fact that she has had operations that are extremely private in nature, but she writes more openly than any other web-site author I have found... (and actully believe) that have nothing in their life that compares.
Actually, I found that staying up till three gives me time to make one painting.
I should note that I am not creating these out of my imagination of course... I am using profedsional photographers photos, and painters paintings as models... I should give their names and credit along with my butchered versions I supppose...
I really like my new paper. The picture of the doorway is on one half of the new expensive paper (24 sheets = 1,500 yen). I can't believe the difference it makes over the crappy sketch paper I had been using. It's also amazing what a difference the new brushes make... I have decided not to scrimp on supplies again.
I bought a new brush yesterday. I really like it.
I bought some real water color paper today. I hope I like that too.
Spent the day trying to learn how to paint again. The results are below.
A lot of poeple have web-cams for their site... and I check many of them every five minutes to see if they have moved, or come home as the case may be. Some people use web-cams to broadcast porn. I'm considering making the first bird-porn site for some extra income. Awii and Guri have to work off all the damage they have done to my apartment anyway. Tomoe thought it would be a good idea to get a web-cam to point at them so we don't have to worry about them on cold days. I think that is a good idea. As of now, I don't have a web-cam. However, if I did this is what you would see.
I like to do my part in helping people with lesser computer skills than I troubleshoot their systems. So I will post this little tidbit I learned today.
If, when you start your computer, you get a "????(I forgot what kind of error) Error", the problem may be that your cockatiel has chewed through your 6000 yen mouse cord. Unplug the mouse and try again. If this doesn't work, don't ask me.
Here's an interesting self-assesment quiz about hidden bias toward or against certain groups, such as Asian American, Black, Native American, Gay Lesbian, etc...
I took a few, but not all of them yet. In the first test I was cought off-gaurd because they use the word "American", without defining what the test assumes it to mean. Does it mean having Citizenship? does it mean likes hamburgers? It then asks a series of associations for Native Americans and American. The kicker is that when you answer "wrong" and say for instance, that "Ohio" is a Native American name, when actually they consider it an "American" name, it is a mistake you will never make again... no matter how many times you are asked. Then if I answer that it is an "American" name the second time around, I seem to have become automatically biased against Native Americans. I'm not arguing with the result, as I no doubt have a bias in my image of what is an American, but in this test, rather than my own naturally existing bias, I displayed the bias they forced me to have by having "right" and "wrong" answers.
The Gay/Lesbian test was a little better, in that it didn't call for us to use a very vauge term like "American" but still, I was apparently "wrong" in my thinking that gays and lesbians have bowel movements just like anyone else.
When I have more time I lookforward to taking the Asian American test.
I am not sure really what the test proves though. If the test is to see if I consider certain groups to be American by my definition, "have American citizenship", most of the associations are irrelevant, and I am marked incorrect if I answer correctly based on that definition. If the test is to see if I consider certain groups to be a part of what is traditionally thought of by hollywood, and the media as American, surely I will have biased, since that defenition of "American" does not include all groups.
Anyway, it's interesting and makes you think, but the results should not really suprise anyone.
I will soon be opening an online store with my paintings. I figure my main competition will be this guy... http://www.derekmccrea.50megs.com/golf.html
I was bored so here is a little quiz I just thought up. I estimate that only Albert Einstein can solve it.
THE QUESTION IS:...What color is the shirt of the the person who wears lavender socks?
There's no trick. You just have to have a big brain like me.
(I will probably get in trouble if I don't state that I in fact did not make this up entirely... it was sent to me in some junk email, I just created a similar version)
People often ask if I feel weird knowing any stranger can read my site and know all the crap I put up here. No I don't, but I do feel a little weird seeing that someone came to my site from the MLS alumni page. It's more weird to think that someone I know may be spying on me.
I woke up thinking it was dang cold. A couple hours later when I went outside, I noticed something was a little different than the day before. Expect to see more spelling mistakes as I have no feeling in my frozen hands... difficult conditions for typing.
I had a crazy thought today. Architecture. It sounds interesting and pays well. I took an architecture class in college, but did not see realistic solution to merge the architechture with the foreign language study. That was before I had been to Japan, and my main goal was to find some program to study abroad.
As I mentioned before, I have been trying to conquer the cherry in my paintings. You see two of my attempts here, and this only represents a fraction of the hours I have spent on cherries now, so far with little progress.
Had some extra film to use up...
There are six deaths attributed to sticky rice so far this year. Kelly, Jin, and I also ate some, but we were extra careful. We kept a vacume nearby and took turns so that there would surely be at least one of us who was not choking and could save the other two.
The following post may not make sense. It was written without an outline, and has not been re-read or revised.
Things are going well. Well then why do I feel so Crappy? (notice the capitol "C"). Maybe it is just the regular depression... that happens every few months. Last time I solved it by putting more power into something that I actually like to do and have had a desire to do since i was young, but never knew how to or that it was even possible. This time, the depression is caused by the very fact that I am doing what I want.
I have been spending much more time on trying to learn how to paint, trying to make up for 20 years of ignoring the desire, and I find that it is interrupting with my current career performance... maybe it is just imagined, maybe not. I do know that I am performing my salary worth and more, but what makes me depressed this time, is that I am not doing the absolute best I can... of course to do that would mean taking my work home with me like i used to (and loved to). A huge part of me wants to take my work home with me now too, because I like doing it and I love learning new things. I have found though, that when I do bring my work home now, which I still do, but to a lesser extent, I feel stress because I am doing this for free, and not doing my own hobby, which I still have crazy dreams of making into a job.
I know that I like what I do now, and I get paid for it, and I excel at it, but I still tend to view it as a transitional job... like an internship, or summer job, before I do what I really want to do. I have no desire to make a career out of it. But it makes me money, and so long as I am improving at this I have no worry for the future.
Ever since I was a kid I have loved to draw, and wanted to learn to paint... Had I never met Maria and discovered that there was a world outside of Michigan and the US, I would most likely have studied art in University, despite the fact that I had no idea there was any way to make money, and I thought the term "starving artist" was true. (now of course I see many people who studied art and design and make adequate if not great livings). I am not sorry that I studied Japanese instead, as at that time I really loved studying foreign languages, and still do... if I had the time, and I see my International experience, as one of my greatest assets, and the biggest influence on how I view the world. But as I read the biographies of many artists, famous and not, I notice that they all entered art schools out of high-school or earlier. A little late for that I guess.
So what's the problem? If I pursue my dream half-way... making it only a hobby, I can not give the attention to the career that pays my bills. I can't do it 130%. My interests seem to change frequently, but one thing that doesn't change is that when I am interested in something I pursue it 130%. Maybe it is aquariums, which when I was a kid I spent so much of my free time on and was what I consider a miniature expert on. Maybe I should have studied marine biology, and believe me it has crossed my mind. When I decided I liked track I really lived the next year thinking mostly about the track season. Even the football season was just training for track. When I met Maria and became interested in foreign languages and decided to live in a foreign country, I spent the next couple years consumed by that, until I finally went to Japan, and once I had done that, I spent every moment I could studying Japanese... from practicing kanji in every other class, to working at the local sushi bar where I could practice. A few years ago I became interested in marketing and business, and spent the next year reading every business book I could.
The reason I started working at my current company was because I was under the impression that it was a marketing company. Through a series of events, despite the fact that I couldn't even use my own browser before I started, I wound up being the head systems administrator / programmer / technical advisor. Great! I loved it... but it is still missing something... like what I really want to do.
Is it too late though to start what I really want to do, and wanted to do before a girl sidetracked me and indirectly led to this?
I got off on a little tangent, so lets get back to the 130% thing. When I was happy to take my work home, and read my programming books all hours of the day, and spend hours checking out all the Linux commands I will never need, just so I can know them, there was no problem. I did what I wanted and I got better at my job, and I felt confident that I was doing the best I could do.
From a few weeks ago, I have stopped taking work home where possible. This has of course allowed me to spend more time on learning to paint, but it has caused a huge loss in confidence in my own web-related career. I am no longer doing every thing I can... only every thing I get paid for. The problem with this is that I was never looking at the salary as the only benefit. The other great benefit is that I was learning and getting a chance to use what I have learned. I didn't care so much what my salary was, because I saw a that I would soon outgrow the current company and have more options... I fell like switching to a "salary-man" will erase any of those opportunities... as my learning will be cut in half (or more since most of my learning occurred outside of work).
I guess if I had confidence that I could make a living with art, design, or illustration (such careers include everything shown here, and teaching which I think I would probably love... so long as I am not teaching English), I would not have a problem, but my drawings are nothing more than "better than some peoples" and I am starting awfully late... Is it worth it to spend time on it, thus sacrificing chances in my current career? If I decided not to pursue art / illustration I will be applying for grad-school this year in Information Architecture, which I am interested in, and would like to do what others who followed that path do, but probably not long-term.
To re-cap, my dilemma now is that I have something I would like to pursue (artsy crap), but feel like crap for lowering my standards on my current project (my job) in order to make time to pursue it.
On a related note, there was a Talk of the Nation yesterday about time and how we use it. The speaker said that basically the way we use and regard time is all mess*d up, and that we spend too much time on our work. But that solving this is not an individual problem, something that I can do myself, but rather a collective problem that needs to be solved by society as a whole, by passing laws to limit the number of hours we work etc... On one hand it makes me feel good to know that I am not simply "lazy" to have been shrugging off work as I have lately (not taking it home if it is not finished on sallaried time)
On the other hand, I know that society wont be changing nytime soon to make it acceptable for me to pursue my own interests... so it worries me a little.
What a crazy night to start the new-year! First we sat around and looked at the bird, then my sister made the first painting of 2003, then we played "hagghghputthh". If we would have only had a jig-saw puzzle the night would have been complete. Oh well, there's always next year.
Explanation of the photos below (for a huge photo, click this link. For a smaller photo, click the thumbnail above):
Guri, by the way, is doing much better. I just feel bad that she had to spend the whole weekend in her incubator while Awii was out having fun with all the new people.