I have a beta version of my application that will allow non-web-gurus to easily post images and text to their blog via mobile phone without having to install and configure any software on their own mailserver.
It is ugly because I haven't spent much time working on the interface, but someday I hope to make it look spify. Before that though, I bet some Blogger users would like me to add support for Blogger as well.
Currently it is only for Moveable Type.
I don't know if many people really need it, and think I should be pretty safe opening it up now with bugs and all. If too many people start using it and have too many troubles, I may suspend the membership drive till I get it sorted out.
So far I have one happy user... and it aint me and it aint my mom! :-).
My mom says she wants to come to Japan during the cherry blossom time. Yes, the fact that Japanese have planted cherry blossom trees in so many places, all in anticipation of two weeks of each year does lead to a really great two weeks, where no matter where you go you are surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms.... and hundreds of thousands of people.
I often spend my lunch wandering through iinogashira Park in Kichijyouji to relax, but these next two weeks will be the least relaxing, and in some respects the most interesting. I will try to take photos each day documenting the stages of the hanami. Today was probably the perfect situation. Enough people to make it jovial, yet not so many that it takes an hour to cross from one side of the park to the other. (That will happen Saturday)
Last year Tomoe and I were supposed to meet some people in the park at a certain time, and knowing it would be crowded we left early. We never expected however that it would take fourty minutes to make our way from the station to the park entrance (usually a 5 minute walk) Once we got into the park, we gave up. Not that we would not be able to find them, because we knew exactly where they were waiting, but by the time we got there, we would already have to leave... I forgot what it was, but we would actually already be late for wherever we had to be next.
These last few photos are of a great baloon-animal / juggling things street act in the park almost every day. I have seen itfour times and laugh each time.. the guy's funny and I encourage you to check it out if you decide to brave the park this year. (he has been there before hanami started, so will probably be there after too.)
It was a good weekend despite the fact that the sailing trip I was going to go on was cancelled because everyone went mountain biking instead. I was left out because my bike is a piece of crap. The wheel I found in the garbage to fix it up after my crash a while ago is crapped out, and I can barely ride it to the video store now.
I tried to work on my to-do list Saturday, and got everything done except the camera battries and the bottle of gin. This morning I headed out to get my yearly Cherry blossom shots, and at one point almost hopped on the train to go to Shinjuku to check out new mountain bikes, and further contemplate a new camera (I definatly need one regardless of the battries because although it takes great close-up shots of chickens, anything beyond 10 feet is crap). I was on the train when I saw an advertisement with a waterpainting of the cherry blossoms, and realized how stupid I was to waste on of two days a week where I can be outside in the daylight hours by going into the hellish city of Tokyo... it's far better to sneak out of work early some evening and do that. I hopped off, and headed home to sit in my chair by my window, listen to great music and paint and sketch.
Today is a photo-centric day for the Bastish-net. Actually, the photos are from as far back as two years ago, but developing digital photos is such a pain that it sometimes takes that long... I guess you can imagine what I did when I had a regular camara. In fact, I still have a couple rolls of undeveopled film in my drawer from four years ago.
Today is the start of Hanami on this side of Tokyo. The blossoms are just beginning to come out. This is also one of two times a year that the river outside my apartment looks so great, so I have almost the same picture from each year.
(Two years ago it was snowing of course, so the photos are a little different.)
Two years ago:
I did my first plein air painting today. It was actually not much different than when I usually paint, because I was still sitting in the same amssage chair I always sit in, but instead of looking at a photo, as I do when I paint at nights, I opened my windows, cranked up the Van Morrsion, and had soaked up the great breeze blowing in, the sunshine, and all the passers-by.
The painting itself may not look like much, but it was actualyl the most fun painting I have done. Mostly because everyone kept stopping to look inside my apartment and check out what I was doing, and one crazy lady who appeared to be only around 30 years old, just stopped and gave me the cherry blossom you see in the lower right corner. "Because it fell" she said.
I've never really noticed how fast the light changes outside. If it takes an hour to finish the first part of the painting, the light is totally different when starting the second part, and the mood has changed so drastically, that the painting became totally different.
Awii doesn't much like fair weather days, as it means I have the window open, and she is locked in her cage.
In case there are any chicken fetishes out there. These chickens have popped up on my site in the past because they live in the nearby temple. They were happy to see Tomoe and me last weekend as always.
Some photos of Shibuya for Jon who I havn't heard from for quite a while. Anybody know if he's OK?
Some birds have more dandruff than the guy who sits next to me at work.
Last week sometime was the farewell party for a friend who is headed back to France at the end of this month. This proves that I need a new camera, as I know that my hands were totally steady, and there is no possible way I could have messed up those photos.
The highlight of the night appears to have been when a friend's daughter, after giving Dr. JJ (the guy leaving) a goodbye kiss on the cheek, decided to give everyone a goodbye kiss before leaving. Aparently she would miss me the most.
There are a lot of things that I want to get done, but I am tired already and it is only 10:30, so I'm pretty sure I'll only spend the rest of my night staring at some other peoples web-sites... and that always makes me feel like i wasted time. Not that other people's web-sites are a waste of time, but I also like to feel like I did something myself. And since I am pretty much resigned the fact that I will do nothing else but play with the web, I might as well make something as I play, even if the only thing I make is a couple of pages of babble.
I want to make one note. Until now, I have separated daily topics by using a " * * * " marker. The reason I did this is because the original tool I used when I started this site was a custom made content management system (by me) I later found out about "blogs", and that there where free programs out there that already did everything I had on my own to-do list. I switched to the great program I use now and suddenly had the ability to make several posts on the same day, but they show up in differnt posts but... wait... i guess i could have done that before. I don't know why I never did. I guess it was because I had never realyl seen other blogs and didn't know what was "standard" and I also only wrote once a day, and I usually start with an introduction like "today was...." If I use the accepted blog format, to saparate topics on different reverse-chronologically ordered posts, that would mean people would read about my day, and then finally get to the introduction once they were all done... That's wild and crazy. (at least as wild and crazy as web-geeks can get)
Anyway, recently I have wanted to write something in the middle of the day, but didn't because if I followed my current method, I would have to write the post, then later, if I added, EDIT that same post and add the rest on the bottom. But what would happen if in the mean time someone came and saw it before I added onto the bottom? Then when they come again, unless they scroll down they would think that nothing has changed and leave. On the otehr hand, if I swich methods without saying anything, someone like my mom might come and read the first part of my post, see that there is an actualy spcae between posts that has only been previously reserved for breaks between days, and leave thinking that was all I wrote that day. Yes I worry about things too much.
From today, make sure you read everything until you see something you have read before, because I am putting each thought into a different post. and tonight is as good of a time to start as any, because I have lots of time to waste and lots of unrelated topics I wanted to get down. Althouh I think I forgot most of them as I was writing this...
Since I am forgoing anything productive tonight, and the sailing trip I had planned to take tomorrow has been cancelled, I have to make tomorrow count. To help me out, a (hopefully realistic) list of things to get done tomrrow.
Something was great today. I don't know what it was, probably the fact that today is the first day I can remember for over three months where I did not feel totalyl overwhelmed when I got to work with the size of my to-do list for that day. For a period about a month ago, my daily to-do list was growing almost twice as fast as I could knock them off. I would go into work with 12 hours worth of work that "had to be done" in that 8 hour day, and end the day with 14 hours worth of work that people wanted done that day... despite the fact that I was always doing 10 hours worth of work. That's nothing compared to some people like lawer Jason, but I the more I read his site, the more convinced I am that I am doing the right thing by saying screw any work that can't get done today... it's not like I am taking four cigatrette breaks an hour like some other people. I feel bad that clients are probably disapointed, but I also know that if I say "ok just today I will stay till 11 to get this done" I will still have the same problem and wind up being there till 11 every night.
Anyway, this is supposed to be about things that went well, not complaining about work...
like I say, today (and yesterday) where the first days where I was able to get everything that had to be done for that day done in that day. (yesterday I even had time to sneak in some testing and work on mfop with Carsten)
The result of everything going so well? Some special sketching spirit entered me and I did so much better than I have been doing lately at the nudie sketch club. The sketches may not look any betterm but the differece is that for the past few months I had been struggling to create mediocre sketches... today they just flowed out of me.
each Friday, a different model does four different ten-minute poses, followed by three twenty-minute sessions of a single pose, and then four different five-minute poses. I had commented last week to one of the other people, who is also an art teacher, how much easier the 5 minute poses are to sketch than the 20 mintue posses, despite the fact that the five minutes are so rushed. I speculated that it was because the twenty minute posese tend to be more static (easier for the model to hold for long intervals) while the five-minute poses are full of motion (require more streangth to hold than most models can muster for twenty minutes... and more than I can muster for two minutes) The teacher disagreed, saying that it was because after 100 minutes of sketching, my eyes are more used to seeing and processing the shapes. It makes sence, but after toniht I think that the real reason is actually that by the time the five minute poses role around, I am just tired of trying so hard to make a good sketch, and when I say "screw it!" I do so much better. I have noticed this in other things too. The more I try to do a good job, the suckier I do. The more i don'T care, the more magic happens.
And more train sketches... I am quite dissapointed that I don't seem to be improving over a couple months ago when i first started sketching people on the train.
Today I sat down with a new lady at our company, and rn her through the website of a client which she will be doing most of her work for. Her Internet expereince leve is "ZERO". (less than my mom... by far") I probably would never have hired her, but then again, when they hired me I had less experience than my mom has now... about the only thing I had ever used the web for was hotmail.
Anyway, as I was going throught the site, and watching how little she knew about the web, I started to think about what she should know. In the past, i have also tried to train a new guy who supposedly had experience as a designer (but it didn't show) He was gone before training was even done, so I don't know if I was even doing a good job at it. I have often wanted to "re-train" the other production people at my company as well. It frustrates me that I started later than them, am responsible for different work, and yet, am more knowledgeable about the work they are suppsed to do than they are, and still know what I need to know for my own responsibilites.
I think one place where I have failed in the past with trying to teach them new things, is that I tried to teach them too much. With the new lady, I want her to be somewhat knowledgable about the web, but she is not supposed to be a production person... how much does she need to know? Obviously she doesn't need to know how to write a HTML, but I think she should at least know what HTML is, and what a CGI is (and maybe how the Internet works?) because she will have to talk to clients with some confidence... but how much understanding can I expect from someone who doesn't actually get their hands dirty. Most of what I know is from doing it myself... what if I wasn't actually hands-on. How much could I know?
In order to get a better grasp on what I should be training new people, and exisiting people (including myself) I am adding something to my long-term to-do list. I want to make a "What a web-developer should know" guide. It should not tell "how" to do anything... but it should tell what concepts need to be understood to speak intelligently about the web buy a generalist, and give a good foundation for anyone who wants to begin to spcialize in any particular aspect. It should cover such things as internet basic concepts, production process, helpfull tools, some tips and tricks (but not to topic specific, more like "benefits of, and how to use search and replace on your text editor"), helpful tools, and when to use each tool (MS Word vs BBedit), how to trouble-shoot, and most importantly, how to effectivly search the web and find information.
I often get annoyed that other people seem to fall far too short in some of these categories, but then maybe no one ever told them what they should know, and how to find the resources to learn what they need to know. granted, the other production people in my office have had years to figure this out, but I should at least give this new lady a chance before I ask the boss to fire her. After all, I would have fired me when I started...
My point is, I know there is at least one other web-developer who reads this site sometimes... If anyone who nkows about this stuff reads this, once (if) I get started on my list, I will be posting it in hopes of geting feedback as to what is important, what is not, what tools should be mentioned, what tools are too specialist etc...
So much for taking it easy tonight. I just spent an hour working.. testing an application for a client that went live at midnight on the server (managed by the client's US server team). Too bad... I had so many more gems of insight to share.
I'm torn. I've been making the rounds posting on other people's web sites, because it is actually easier than writing stuff on my own site. Most of the time I feel bad when people actually reply, because I really hate to increase the amount of email and comments other people feel they have to reply too. I would like to live my life based on the golden rule "Do unto others as you would have tehm do unto you", but in my expereince, that just gets you hated. I would never expect someone to reply to every email I send them... it's unreal. Yet if I don't reply, I am an anti-social jerk. If I organize a get together I try to make it as affordale as possible because it's just plain crazy to spend over 3,000 yen for a night with friends (the real value is in meeting the friends, it doesn't matter where it is) Yet people complain about my choice... saying it is somehow not classy enough... although I think that all of us being there makes it at least as classy as we are. I would rather that people spend less time making sure their kitchen floor is mopped every day, and instead spend some time doing something productive together, yet Tomoe gets mad if I don't choose to mop instead of go out with her... It's a crazy world we live in. Or maybe my golden rule is "expect other people to do to me as I want to do to them"
I spend too much time writing on other people's blogs and not my own. I have also been spending too much time working on the program that will make me famous (until someone makes a better version), and not enough on painting. No matter how hard I try to keep web-stuff at work, it keeps creeping in taking up my personal time too. It could have something to do with the fact that recently at work I haven't gotten much web-related work done, and most of my time is wasted helping a client fight with their tech team at home base.
What I have created, with inspiration and help from Ian and Carton is a system that will allow anyone with a (MT for now) blog to post moblog photos via email without having to set up and configure any special email parsing software on their own server. They will be able to send an email to an address on my (or anyone else who is nice enough to host the system) server. Their email will be parsed and the photo and blog content will be posted to their own blog.
The only thing they have to do is
I am still testing it (I don't even have a mobile), so would rather not give out the URL to everyone until I am confident about it. If anyone has a mobile, uses Moveable Type, and doesn't mind spending time and bandwidth cost to send some test posts that may never show up on your blog, please send me your email address, and I will send you a link to enter the required info, instructions, and the email address to send your posts to.
I have tried to steer clear of social cometary and what not, because the main point of this site is not to make my voice know, but rather to let mommy know what is going on, and to have fun with a web site. I have noticed that a few other people (not many, but a few) are reading this site to, so I feel compelled to add some other interesting things I find that don't have a direct connection to my life in Japan. It's probably good for mom to read these too.... I wonder if she ever does...
Anyway, today I found some interesting links at The Connection about "The Coalition". According to the White House web site
Who are the current coalition members?
President Bush is assembling a Coalition that has already begun military operations to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, and enforce 17 UNSC resolutions.
The Coalition will also liberate the Iraqi people from one of the worst tyrants and most brutal regimes on earth.
Contributions from Coalition member nations range from: direct military participation, logistical and intelligence support, specialized chemical/biological response teams, over-flight rights, humanitarian and reconstruction aid, to political support.
Forty-six countries are publicly committed to the Coalition, including:
.... (The list is here) ...
This number is still growing, and it is no accident that many member nations of the Coalition recently escaped from the boot of a tyrant or have felt the scourge of terrorism. All Coalition member nations understand the threat Saddam Hussein's weapons pose to the world and the devastation his regime has wreaked on the Iraqi people.
The population of Coalition countries is approximately 1.17 billion people.
Coalition countries have a combined GDP of approximately $21.8 trillion.
Every major race, religion, ethnicity in the world is represented.
The Coalition includes nations from every continent on the globe.
Better yet, a map with coalition countries is here at a page which is titles. All the maps found a the site are great, but one of the maps shows "Iraq's Threatened Heritage" and shows antiques being threatened. It's strange that they don't have a map showing "Iraq's Threatened Citizens". Oh wait... no it's not.
(interestingly enough the title of the site is "Iraq War Weblog, Conflict in Iraq". It doesn't look like any of the weblogs the freaks who read this page are used to, but hey, who ever said that we decide what a weblog is?)
One thing I seemed pretty obvious, but I had no info to justify my view, was that the "Coalition" members is simply a list of countries that the US is using as "moral cover". According to the article, the only coalition members that matter are Australia and Britain, the rest are just "moral support, not major contributions" (this includes Japan of course)
There are also 15 members of the Coalition that are secret members... probably Arab nations who don't want their people to know that they are supporting the war. It is said they "sort of don't comment". IN contrast, I was at a farewell party for a friend of mine this weekend (he was French which guaranteed some interesting conversation) and there were also a couple of Indonesian friends there. They told me that basically Indonesia's stance was "We back the UN" So they really have no responsibility either.
Anyway, there is a lot more, but if you really want to know, you should listen to the program where they talk to various member of the coalition as to why they are in the coalition. For example, the Philippines are in it to get financial support to fight against Muslim separatists.
This is a test of my new "Moblog For Other People" system. Since I
don'thave a mobile myself, and am only doing it because It seemed fun and I
saw aneed I could fill, I am sening from my desktop with outlook express.
If allgoes well, you should see a photo right here.
And if things went extra well, there will be a "more" link below.
If everything REALLY went well, anyone should be able to post to
their own MT blog using the mail parsing script on my server.
My at-home productivity level has dropped drastically in just one night. I finally got around to checking out a site recommended by a friend for stealing videos, movies and music on the web. I have been sitting here for over an hour exploring, and have found that while the program is running, my computer is left without memory, and almost powerless to do anything else... I'm lucky to even get Ultra-Edit open to write this, but there is no way to get the browser open unless I stop downloading all the Simpsons episodes I have missed over the last 5 years. My hard drive is too full of 4 years worth of digital photos to download an entire movie, but once I get them saved to CD-ROM I can start ripping off Hollywood too.
I used Napster for a while before it lost the ability to be useful for thieves like me, but at some point it became too much of a pain to try to find every song (in good quality) from the CDs I wanted, so I wound up just buying the CD. The biggest obstacle was probably that I could never really find the songs I wanted. Somewhere along the line I became an old fogie in my musical tastes, and everyone else likes pop and rap. With TV and videos it's different. Like I said, I have 5 years of Simpsons, South Park, and Seinfield to catch up on... Actually more since I rarely watched them when I lived in the States.
Hopefully I can lay off the Simpsons downloads and get to work on my contribution to the world of blogging. I have a working prototype that Carton is helping me test, (but when he tired last week it didn't work). When that's done I can move on to trying to set it up for Blogger as I have promised to Ian.
A couple of thoughts about the war... no not really... rather a couple thoughts about peoples' feelings during the war. But first a disclaimer. I have not re-read this. I have not edited it. iT is exactly as I wrote it word for word, and probably tomorrow I will look at it and think "why the heck did I write it like that?!?! That's not what I meant!!".
1. I often hear complaints about the news that gets reported during the war. People inevitably say that the reporting is not enough, or not open enough, and we need more. It's hard to argue against, since obviously the more information available, the better, but I really wonder who these people are who can't get enough news. The majority of my news comes from NPR's The Connection, and Talk Of The Nation. I also have been surfing major news sites and news.google.com. In addition, I find interesting articles I would have missed by surfing through some other people's web sites. I am far from digesting all the news available, and to tell the truth, I don't care about digesting it all, because to do so would mean that I would have to give up everything else in my life.
Another interesting thing I have noticed, is that no matter how much people hope that personal web-sites like this will bring down the traditional news media, surfing through other people's web-sites, I see nothing but links to traditionl news media web-sites.
2. I was asked the other day what I felt about The US invading Iraq. I know that if anything, I should/would/do feel appalled and sad, and similar emotions, but the more people I see expressing their dismay, the less I am able to feel it. Not because I don't feel it, but because I begin to doubt why I feel it and if I really do feel it.
The person who asked me expressed his sorrow about it, and I remarked how strange it was that he did not feel such sorrow about Saddam's evil policies for the past umpteen years. I wondered why he did not feel sorry about the continuing death and injustice in Israel which has fallen out of the attention of the news. He took it as me calling him a hypocrite. Far from it. To be a hypocrite somehow implies a choice on the part of the hypocrite to condemn one action but allow another.
I don't think anyone is making a specific choice to ignore all the other injustices in the wold, but the fact that ignoring one injustice and being utterly appalled at another seems to suggest to me that most of the emotions we feel now are more a result of some sort of collective social phenomenon. I wonder if it isn't like the death of Princess Diana. No one would argue that it was a joyous occasion, but it is hard to believe that she touched so many lives as those who mourned for her... rather there was some kind of feeling of belonging to the "in group of mourners" that caused so many people to act the way they did. I saw the same thing with the death of a couple of Detroit Hockey Players in a car crash a few years ago.
I agree with the feelings of people who despise this war. But when I find myself feeling so, I am plagued by the fact that for me to feel this now, when I should feel it every day of my life, makes no logical sense. Just like it makes no logical sense that the voice of those opposed to the war is so much louder than the voice of people opposed to Saddam's regime. As I see by the "Iraq Body Count" (which I do not claim to be accurate) on joi.ito.com, the death toll is only 199 max. Granted, if your brother/sister/daughter/son is among them, this is huge, but for me, who's closest contact in the war is the brother of a friend, why should I feel more appalled at this number than the thousands dying of AIDS in Africa? It just doesn't make sense.
One argument would be that the difference is that this is a choice by our government, and that makes sense. But isn't is also a choice by our government to not give more aid to combating AIDS in Africa?
Again, I am not arguing that everyone is a hypocritical pig... I am simply questioning the root of my own feelings, and wondering how much they are influenced by the feelings of everyone around me, rather than on their own merit, and on my own principals.
If you are one of those freaks who spends all your time reading other people's web-sites, you have most certainly seen this... you can skip. If you are one of those freaks who spends all your time cutting out coupons, you are my mom, and I'm sure you have never seen this.
It's a web site from a person in Iraq. I make no claims as to the validity of this, and I am not saying it is fake. I hope it really is someone in Iraq (for the reader's sake) and I hope it is a hoax (for the writer's sake). I wonder however why it is so hard for journalists to get news out of Iraq and people in Iraq, yet this guy is somehow allowed to write every day on a web site open to the world. From what I have heard (and i make no claim to the validity of the news I hear from western journalists) for him to do so is suicide. This link has been making it's way around the world, but I have yet to see anyone question it. I know a lot of people are very gung-ho about the power of personal web-sites in regards to making the world better, and reforming the government. I hope it happens, but I think if no one questions the authenticity, "blogs" are not any more valuable than FOX.
I mention all this especially because my mom recently congratulated me on having so many people, after seeing my painting, felt the urge to line up to get my autograph. Don't believe everything you see... but give it the benefit of the doubt or you'll become like me.
True or not, it's some of the most interesting reading I have seen in a long time, and the author seems to know a lot about Iraq.
Again... I am not calling it a hoax, but I haven't been able to find any proof that it is real.
I have no evidence to make me doubt it... I'd just feel more comfortable if I knew that some other people have validated it.
This site is not the only site I doubt. I doubt every site I see. It's just that most sites I see don't really matter if it is true or not.
The exhibition is over. There were about 500 people who came to see my painting since Thursday. No offers to buy it yet, but anyone wants too, I think they should be able to find me. As I was getting drunk with the other artists tonight (they seem to do that more than other people) I found out that the Friday nudie lady club is for professionals, and there is a different Thursday club for beginners. Talk about pressure. I have no idea what the difference could be though, since there is never really any talking in the club. Mostly everyone gets together, draws a naked lady, and goes home. No one even looks at the other people's drawings... I wonder what difference it makes if an "amateur" is there. Obviously none, since I seem to have everyone fooled (until I mentioned that I painted my first watercolor less than a year ago).
It was a bit uncomfortable as one of the women from the Thursday group found out I was a member in the Friday group. She assumed I was a pro and complained how boring the Thursday group is, and after telling me her group cost 7,000 yen per month, asked me how much my group (as a pro) cost. It sounded like it was some big secret, so I was reluctant to tell her that I, though far from pro, get to go to the interesting club and pay only 3,000 per month. Oh well, I get screwed enough times a foreigner... should I feel bad about getting some benefits too?
Nothing to do tonight, but I can't wait for tommorrow night so I can hear today's Connection program. It's part one of
Conflict and character: a five part series on Presidential leadership. Examining how Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, and Johnson made war, fashioned peace, and shaped the nation. This hour, George Washington, first president of the Republic.
Sounds interesting. I don't know why the teachers insisted on making history so boring back in school.
Good news about hte camera. I put in some brand new batteries and they didn't work. I'm sure the camera is busted.. it can't have anything to do with the fact that I bought them, at the 99 yen shop.
Tomorrow is the last day you can catch the big exhibition at The Kichijyoji Art Museum
I went downtown with Tomoe (in town for the weekend) to get her Shinkan-sen ticket back home. It was Guinness Beer day in Japan, and people were out in droves to celebrate. It only took a while to notice that everyone in the parade was an Irish Catholic, so I realized that it was actually St. Patrick's day (or "green day" as Guinness markets it in Japan). It was a hellish scene of overcrowded streets and made me fear for my life after the thing in Chicago a while back.
One pleasant surprise was to see that Japanese schools are more progressive than I thought. I saw a girl's high-school band promoting Guinness beer. Then again, maybe I have a conservative view of progressiveness, since I can't imagine that my high school would ever have allowed our band to play for the group with the big Guinness beer balloon.
As much as I was pleased to see that, I was a little disappointed that there was only one group in the parade playing Irish music, and it was so quite that I almost missed it because I was fussing with my camera. It's hard to make a group of three fiddles loud enough to be heard of the Michigan fight song by some other Irish-Catholic marching band.
I mentioned fussing with my camera. As cheap as I am, I am really hoping my camera is broken. The batteries run out after about 30 seconds now. It's probably just because I need new rechargeable batteries, but this did happen once before when the camera was still under warrantee so... If the camera is broken, it gives me a real reason to upgrade. I have been thinking about it, because I take a lot of pictures, and most of them I hate because the quality is not so great. My camera is great for taking pictures of people within 10 feet away, and really great at getting close-ups of plants, bugs, birds, etc... but it just doesn't have the capacity to take nice scenery shots. It wasn't a big deal in the past, because I always felt that if I wanted to remember a certain place I visit, it was much easier to buy a post card. The reason I wanted a camera was to capture personal events. Now however, I find myself wanting to get good shots of the exact moment, for painting later, and also just to have a nice scenery shot. Sure I have to work on my own photography skills most of all, but I have found that I stopped trying to take pictures I wanted to because I knew the quality would leave something to desire anyway.
Anyway, I have been looking around at cameras again, but really can't make myself spend 50,000 yen for a camera if the one I have (and cost 40,000 when I bought it three-and-a-half years) ago still works.
Here are some shots from my fist exhibition. Being the "webmaster" that I am, I felt an urge to sit an watch how many "hits" I got, and how long people spent looking at my painting. Of course I got as many hits as visitors to the Kichijyoji Art Museum (where the exhibition is heald) that day, but I was happy that as far as I saw, people spent an average of 1.3 seconds longer looking at my painting that the average time of looking at other paintings. I also heard more comments about my painting than other paintings. Mostly were just "Kawaii desu ne" (isn't it cute?). One said "Oh, a foreigner painted this". To be fair, I didn't spend any time listening to comments about other paintings.
Anyway, here it is.
When I left, some people realized that I was the painter of the cute bird on the bamboo, and before long, a line formed in the middle of the street of people asking for my autograph.
This is Kumiko's painting. She is actually the one who got me back into the whole art / drawing / painting scene, which I had given up in about 10th grade. Any long time readers of my site may remember when I went to one of her exhibitions last year (put on by the same group). I started to remember how I liked drawing, and always wanted to get better at it, and to learn to paint. I later joined the same nudie drawing club, and the rest will be history someday. (when all my high-school sketches of Maria and Spider-man -now in Jon's posession- become valuable).
And here are some of the other paintings from the show, and pictures of people contemplating the symbolism in my work. My favorite is the "Fishing people". (I didn't ask everyone if I could post closeups of the paintings, so didn't feel comfortable doing that. I will ask and maybe next week post them.)
Thursday, the night of the exhibition opening, I hung out with the other artists (you can tell their artists, because of the Frenchie artist caps some of them wear) at the opening party. Drank a lot, talked about painting a little, and argued with the angry looking guy about Bush. Even though I think he (Bush) is pretty much a crazy bastish, it's always more fun to take an argue than to agree, so I tried to find rational for a war at this particular time. In the end though, it all came down to me arguing against the angry looking guy's view that Bush makes every decision based only upon if it will get him reelected, and thoughts about other issues never enter his mind. Whenever I hear this, I always think it is way too simple of an idea. Though Bush is not the brightest bulb to ever be in the White House, I like to hang on to the belief that a complete idiot who is incapable of seeing antyting other than what would benefit himself would never make it that far. But then I start to think about who would make it that far, and think that only someone who cares about their own power above all else can do it. Maybe the angry guy is right. Anyway, that's a different topic. (he wasn't really angry, it was all in fun and we can still be friends)
Since I am "developing" so many pictures today, I thought I'd take the chance to throw up some nudie, and train sketches.
I can't remember the last time I felt like yelling "YEah!!!" and punching my fist up in the air like people do after scoring the winning goal. It's been a long time, but I feel like that tonight. I NAILED my painting for my first exhibition. Four weeks of fruitless attempts followed by 13 hours of work in the last two days before the deadline, and I NAILED it. I don't know why I ever try to do things before they are due. I always wind up creating stress when I could just leave it till two days before, and NAIL it.
Anyway, I can't show you yet, because it hasn't had it's debut, but I will let you know that i liked it enough to splurge and buy a 2,500 yen frame for it (of course It is a dark brown frame with generic off-white mat so it can be used with any painting in the future).
I went to bed at 4:30 the past two nights, so I'm going to bed early tonight. Later...
Only three nights left till the exhibition. I have nothing to display. I hope inspiration comes quickly.
Looking back at that comment, I looked like a major a*****e. Although I wrote it with a smile on my face, and the best of intentions, it looks angry to me now upon rereading. Add to that this post, and it probably looks like I have some grudge against the guy. I doubt he would ever see this, but just in case, nothing personal man. I just want the folks in the US to hear the voice of someone who doesn't "need" a mobile too.
Last week, were working on a little imode cgi application for a client's Japan Office. The application would run on the severs in America. Durring testing, I told the US tech guy that I had to wait until the "office imode" was charged. That in fact no one in the office uses imode, but we got one a while back mainly for testing. He was suprised and assumed I must use j-phone. he was even more supprised to find I don't have a mobile phone.
I ran accross an article about keitai (Japanese for mobile phone) in Japan. I know most of the people reading my site would probably never find this article. I wouldn't have found it if wasn't on slashdot, a site about technical news I read sometimes, but it is mentioned on an American web site, and I'm sure that newspapers and magazines in the US that you do read probably mention the Japanese mobile phone phenomenon. It just seems that they are always written by people who are more involved (tech writers / heavy tech users and the likes) in the whole phenomenon than what I would consider "regular" people (although in this case, people in Japan without a mobile are definatly irregular). It must make it hard to see the other perspective. When you actually use what you are writing about, It's easy make and believe statements like "The keitai has become a social necessity in Japan" without second guessing the word "necessity". I think it would be much more accuratly worded as "a social influence", though it would loose much of it's punch.
The rest of the article is not about how great mobiles phones are or anything even related to an opinion. Though nor is it about how cell-phones are a necessity, rather about how they are changing the way society interacts which is totally true. But before you people in America go jumping to conclusions about what life must be like in a tech-rich Japan based on articles you may see like this, I just want to make sure you also get to hear another perspective, and how people without phones live, and know that we do exist even in Japan. (but then again... I aint Japanese)
In the article the author gives an example...
Now I leave home with my tiny keitai (Japanese for mobile phone) tucked in my purse, calling out to my husband that I will call him later about where and when to meet for dinner.
I don't have a husband, or a wife, but we'll use Tomoe... If I am going to make plans to meet her for dinner, I contact her before I leave. If she doesn't answer her phone I leave a message with a time and station to meet at, or I contact her with email or instant messanger from my desk throughout the day.
As I run from street to train station, I notice fewer and fewer pay phones in the urban landscape, and I realize that I don't even carry a telephone card anymore.
As I run from street to train station, I never realize I forgot my phone, or forgot to charge it. Do I ever worry about if I have my phone card or not? Nope, it's thinner than a credit card and is always in my wallet. Also in my wallet is a couple thousand yen which can be used to buy a new phone card at any convenience store or from a vending machine nearby many pay phones. I have never not been able to find a pay phone when I need one, and with a little advanced planning and arranging, it is possible to only go through 3 phone cards per year.
On the train, I punch in a quick e-mail message to my colleague telling her I am running a bit late.
I try my derndest not to be late. If I think that I can't guarantee a meeting time at say, 7:00, I schedule for 7:30, or I we agree on between 7:15 and 7:30. I spend my time on the train sketching all the people with their noses buried in their keitai, or catching up on some reading.
A few moments later my phone vibrates and I see a message saying that she will be later still, and she will phone me when she arrives at our rendezvous spot. I send her an e-mail message when I arrive at the appointed place, and run errands in the station building until my phone rings, announcing her arrival.
She has either previously agreed with the meeting time, or previously said, "Let's make it 8:00". When I arrive at the meeting place, I look around with my eyes to see if she is there. If I don't see her, I pull out a book, magazine, or newspaper, thankful to finally have a chance to catch up on some of the reading or study I can never seem to find time for.
We stay online until we converge in the same part of the station. I wave to her to catch her eye, and cut the line. No apologies are in order for the delay, as neither of us has wasted time.
I read my book until she arrives at the meeting point. She taps me on the shoulder to get my attention. No apologies are in order because we both arrived within the scheduled time span. If one of us is late, we say "Sorry I'm late".
If either of us had left our phones at home, that would be a different story, one of frustration and recrimination and failed attempts at contact.
If we had both had a cell phone, it would have been a different story, one of worrying if the phone was charged, frantically trying to find a place with good reception so we could call the other, being interrupted from my reading to answer a phone call or read an email saying she would arrive only five minutes before the end of the agreed upon time period, instead of 10 minutes earlier, and one of larger phone bills at the end of the month.
I have nothing against keitai, except that the price to value ratio seems to be tipped toward the price side. I don't think keitai will destroy society or anything crazy like that. But to see the way people so easily fall prey to the idea that a cell phone is a necessity is a little discouraging. To be fair though, when I lived in Kyushyu a couple years ago, I had a cell phone, and I wondered how anyone could live without it. It seemed like a necessity, although thinking back, most of it was probably just the neat-o factor of having another gadget.
I haven't had a cell phone for 5 years or so, and nothing bad seems to have happened yet. If f I didn't care about an internet connection to my apartment, I would get a cell phone instead of a land line now. The reason I had one in Kyushyu was that it was cheaper than a land line. I still used pay phones to make outgoing calls when there was one available though, just because it seems like lunacy to pay more to call from a cell phone, when i was standing right next to an empty pay phone. actually the greatest thing about the cell phone was that it held all the contact numbers, and didn't get torn and tattered like my memo-pad.
The point is. In most cases, it's only a necessity if you have one.
Business is different of course. It can mean winning or loosing a contract. In this case, it is a business expense, and if the number of contracts won because of the phone is higher than the price of the phone, it makes sence. In my case though, me having the phone wouldn't be enough incentive to my friends that they would pay the bill for me... In my job, since I am primary careteker for our servers, it makes sence that I should have a beeper at least, but it doesn't even seem to be in the company budget to get me a pager, let alone a ketai... and I'm sure it's not in the budget to pay me enough to be on call 24/7.
For tonight's entry, I'll have to redirect you to Jason's bolg. I spent all my writing time on a comment over there. (read his post, then scroll down)
My brother want's my to help him set up a site for his adventure race team. I set him up a MoveableType site in two minutes as I was instant messengering him, but he didn't like it. He want's something simple, where he and his teammates do not have to use a special admin interface, but can just add posts from the top page. I'm sure I could fix something up with a text box and login function, but I wonder if there is already a plug in that does this. Anybody know?
I dont want the bookmarklet, although I suppose I can hard code it directly into the tempate. I want a textarea, subject field, and login field together on the top page so they can enter stuff and rebuild, and after rebuilding, have the top page come up again, all in the original window.
There was an interesting topic on NPR's Talk of the Nation Monday abouty a book called The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why. It was about the findings of some Professor of psychology and Co-Director of the Culture and Cognition program at the University of Michigan.
I think it is supposed to be common knowledge that "Japanese think in a circle and American's think in a line". The example always given is of how when an American writes a paper, the "correct" format is to list points leading up to, or supporting a point. When a Japanese person writes a paper, it goes something like
Did you look at the flower on the tree? I saw a bird eating a cherry. Australia is south of Japan. It is hard for me to understand some Canadians when they talk. I like birds. Some birds like flowers. Australia has strange animals. Some birds in Australia like flowers. Different species of birds have different methods of communicating.If you didn't understand what the main point of that was, you are a westerner. Try this one.
When analyzing bird "speech" and communication methods, one can see patterns develop that correspond the climate and local flora of the species. A large concentration of birds using method A can be found throughout northern Michigan and Canada. The numbers of species that fit this specific speech pattern dwindles the further south we look. Interestingly this change corresponds very closely with the number of Cherry trees in the region. In Australia, home of unique flora, as well as birds, speech and communication patterns are found that have no match anywhere else in the world.(disclaimer: I don't know anything about bird speech habits. I made it all up.)
Back when I used to be a little more diligent in studying Japanese, I would buy Japanese books of essays to try to get a feel from the "real" language. Looking back though, I realize that I have finished by far more Japanese translations of English books than books originally written in Japanese. Now I see that it was simply because the Japanese essays were either too hard to follow (and not only because of the language) or else I lost interest because I couldn't see the point fast enough to satisfy me.
Anyway, getting back to the point, this guy (Richard Nisbett) at UM put this common truth to the scientific test. He found some pretty interesting things. For instance, (forgive me if I can't quote the numbers and some of my references may be a tad bit inaccurate) when shown a photograph of a stream with some fish in it, and later asked to describe details of what they saw, the Asian viewers where overwhelmingly described details surrounding the fish, such as the color and placement of pebbles, and plants. Westerners zeroed in immediately on the fish, and considered it the main point, and everything else disposable.
In another test, mothers were asked to play with their small children with certain toys. The western women, as they held the toy truck in front of the baby's face, said things like "Look at the truck. Look at the truck. See the colorful wheels?" While the Asian women focused their children's eyes onto their own face, and said things like "Do you like the vroom vroom. I give you the vroom vroom. You give mommy the vroom vroom." The point was that the American's focused in on a specific point, while the Asians focused on more abstract concepts such as sharing and communication, while placing little emphases on "the point". He found that Western infants learn nouns more rapidly than verbs, and the opposite is true in Asia.
One thing I get way too frustrated with at work, is that during a discussion, we have to drag things out of the Japanese co-workers or we won't get any feedback. The good professor says that Americans are able to talk while they think, and talking thorough our ideas helps us to formulate them, because we are very narrowly focused on the problem at hand. Asians however, are looking at things in a much broader view, taking in everything around the issue as well, this takes more concentration and therefore talking actually inhibits the ability to do that.
I can accept this. Everyone thinks differently. I know. There is no one right way. But what I want to know, is how in the heck do companies with all broad thinking Asians stay in business. I try hard to adapt to what I am told is the "Japanese way" of doing things at work, such as meetings where no one makes an attempt to get to the point until an hour into it, and waiting until everyone has accepted the fact that a certain thing needs to be done before trying to work out a course of action. In the end though, as I look at my watch after an hour of talking around the issue, and look at the calendar and see all he deadlines that just crept an hour closer, I snap and I decide everything in 2 minutes, because in the end, we have to make money. I know that some of the work would get done if I left it alone, but I also know it wouldn't be enough to pay all these deep-thinkers' salaries.
So, my dilemma, as always, is how to use these tidbits of knowledge to improve the way things work in the office. How can I use this to help the company, without doubling my own workload as the odd-ball American "doer"? Every time I do things the "wrong" way, by taking charge, I feel less stress about the project, because I can see it is on track and moving forward, but I feel more stress about my own personal development as a "culturally diverse" manager. After all, one of the obvious strengths that I should have from working so closely with Japanese in a Japanese company is that I know how to work with them. Thing is... I feel like I haven't got a clue.
Tomoe and I often discuss this and similar topics. Until recently she has been a student and most of her frustration was not about a lack of direct participation in business meetings, but rather at her University. Before going to get her masters, she had images discussions and stimulating dialog between the teacher and students. She had images of some of the classes she took at back at UM. During her under grad years in Japan she was often frustrated by a lack of speaking up and participation on her classmates part, so I don't really know why she expected it in grad-school (especially sine Tokyo University is actually seems to have a bad reputation for producing "free thinkers") here, but once again it was a major source of stress for her, and she often regretted her decision to do it.
Now, she is in an American multinational here in Japan, I get to enjoy talking more about work related topics. One thing in particular seemed like a cool coincidence.
Just a few days ago, I had downloaded a project management software which I discovered needed a lot of customization to fit our needs. As I was working on the database, one of the field names "project_owner" struck me, and I felt the need to change it. It seemed wrong to me, and a very American idea because no one in our office wants to "own" a project. I don't know if they are afraid of the responsibility, or if it is a this "group" thing we hear so much about in Japan, but ownership just doesn't happen.
The very next day, Tomoe was telling me about how much her (American) company stresses "ownership" of a project. She works for the "home office", but she spends every day in the office of a Japanese subsidiary. She was remarking how the ownership concept just didn't seem to be working as great as it sounds. I'm so glad to hear that it is not just me and my company.
No matter how glad I am though, it doesn't really help me much when I feel the urge to take on all that responsibility just floating around in our office, because just hate to think of what will happen when it gets sucked out he window and lost forever. I have been getting better at finding my limit and not taking on more than I can handle and still be able to leave at a reasonably decent hour.
Finally, before I forget for too long, because I have no social graces, Thanks to the people who sent their condolences about Guri keeling over Friday. I got a couple emails, and those two comments. I'm a tough guy. I'll make it. As soon as I have time to take a regular lunch hour, I'm going to start browsing the pet shops.
Somehow I seem to have lost whatever magic possesed me when I painted my Uncle a week ago. I guess I have passed my peak.
I feel pretty sorry for Awii. She seems to be taking Guri's death quite hard. At first I thought it was my imagination, but I am certain now that Awii is much quieter than usual. Usually she is quite annoying at times, but the only times she has made a sound this weekend is when I she bit my nipple and I jumped and screamed throwing her across the room.
Of course maybe it is that she is now, finally at peace, and all the annoying screaming she did was not for fun, but out of stress from having to be in that tiny cage with Guri.
I have a treat for my reader who likes buildings. The Connection did a program called The World Trade Center, Reimagined
. They also had a link to a site displaying the finalists in the bid to design what will be in the spot. There are slide shows of the plans and lots of interesting images and concepts. The winner was Studio Daniel Libeskind. The whole thing seems like a real joke however, after hearing how the contest and designs were made based on almost no serious contemplation of what the area will be used for, traffic needs, and most of all budget, and that if a project of this magnitude were to be done correctly, there are so many issues that have to be taken care of before the design begins that it could be years (20 they said) before it even happens.
It's like when a prospective client will ask us for an estimate and schedule on "a web site". They don't know what it is for, what functionality it will need, how many pages, etc... this is fine that they don't know, that's what I help them with, but what often happens is that if we give an estimate for something we think they will want, based on our experience with similar clients, we loose because it is too expensive. If we give an estimate for something simple and closer to their budget, they get pissed when they realize that they are not going to get an Amazon.com. I guess that's supposed to be part of the fun though.
Finally I was able to get Guri to sit still long enough to paint her.
Congrats to my sister. As I look through the server logs, I see that her site has been ranked number one by Google when searching for 99% dried Korean poop. I wonder if they mean 99% korean, or 99% dried...
Last night I came home from work late to find Guri dead of what appears to have been a chronic illness. For several months she has been puking up most of what she eats. I am surprised and glad she made it this long.
It sounds silly, I know. But for some silly reason I really felt close to Guri. Not close like you can be with a person, but close in the sense that if she had a little more brain power, she would have worshiped me less. Meaning she seemed to have lived for me. (I don't even know she if was a she )
Of course I only feel sorry for myself, because I really loved half waking up, opening the cage and having Guri flying around crazily as I drifted back to sleep, only to have her land on my face and wake me up just at the critical moment that decides if I will get to sleep that extra 20 minutes.
I often woke up with poop on my face. I always go to work with poop on my shoulder. I was just thinking that I should wash my fleece, but now I am having second thoughts.
When I first got Guri we were amazed at how much she craved attention and loved to be caressed and held. Although she craved attention until she croaked, somewhere along the line she grew to hate being touched... or at least she thought she hated it. If I would grab her and force her to undergo a head rub, she would squirm and scream until after about 7 seconds, when she realized she liked it and stayed there until I got tired of it.
She loved to take showers, though not directly under the shower (as Awii does). Guri preferred to stay on the edge of the tub and run in and out of the mist and spray. I think her favorite bath was in the fern though. I wish I would have kept a fern around more often, but I didn't because they always die after a few weeks. Even so, 300 yen every month for a plant that Guri loved to play in was not asking so much I guess.
Her death didn't catch me off guard. She has always been close to death, from the time Tomoe tried to boil her, and her poop hole got burned so bad that the poop wouldn't slide out as it should, and we had to clean her butt every day, to many vet bills over the year and a half. I have spent more on her doctor bills in 1 1/2 years than I have on my own in six. I have come home from work several times to find her stuck at the bottom of some small tube or crevice... maybe she fell down there nine hours earlier when I left for work.
She had her adventures, and one brief taste of freedom. As I was sitting at my computer working. I noticed how peaceful it was and had been for the last couple hours. After a frantic search, I discovered the window open less than an inch (I still don't know how she managed that). I went outside to search, and just as I was about to give up, a bright blue streak came out of the sky and flew into a tree across the river. I thought I would never see her again, but luckily she was powerless against my charms, and after standing under the tree making smooching sounds for about five minutes, to the wonder of passers-by, Guri finally, mesmerized, couldn't help but come down and land on my shoulder, where she stayed the entire five minute walk back to my apartment. She spent most of the remainder of her life in her tiny cage in the corner.
Other than the pet shop, my apartment, and her brief taste of freedom, Guri has enjoyed trips to the office, where she amazes everyone with her outgoing personality. I am under the impression that many birds would be nervous and afraid around strange people, but Guri's biggest problem was scheduling all the shoulders to land on into her short stay. She also spent some time in the care of my boss' daughter, Kiana, where she was welcomed for the most part, but i am told the fact that she loves to hang out in the kitchen while people are cooking caused some trouble with Kiana and her mom.
Figuring she was lonely when I was at work, I brought Awii home. Guri hated her, and Awii hated Guri. I have ben afraid that they would kill each other, but now i wonder if Awii wont actually be lonely all day alone. It's probably just my imagination, but Awii is unusually quiet tonight...
Anyway, the coins are still on the floor, where Guri loves to throw them. I'll leave them there until I move I suppose. Before I confined her to the cage (because she was eating pencils and wallpaper when I was not at home) She use to stand up on the top of the shelf and drop coins on the hardwood floor, making as much clatter as possible to wake me up. Oddly enough, hearing her there, and later feeling her climbing and pooping on my face made me feel so much more comfortable, that waking up became so much more difficult.
Guri's name appears 387 times on this site, with 102 photos. The bastish net totals only 220 posts. I feel like an idiot for not having written more about her when I wanted to, because I felt like an idiot for writing about her at the time.
Probably only Tomoe cares, but I have made a page with every photo of Guri.
I guess there's nothing left to day, except that, no matter how silly it sounds to people who have never had a great pet, (or probably to people who have devil-birds too) Guri was a huge joy in my life, and I will miss her.