Say Hi

It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted here.

I just wanted to point out that there is a site that does something that I tried to do here, with varying degrees of success: capture what I was thinking or feeling at a particular moment. Say Hi seeks to map physical location with personal experiences. It has a nice low key approach, doesn’t require a real name, and puts some interesting constraints on communication that keeps things positive and light. (One of the creators explains the site in more detail here.)

Check it out. And let me know if you find me.

Tacoma Elf Storage

I’ve been digging what is pretty much the perfect Christmas EP. Yeah, I know it is February. Barry Phipps and his friends make a Christmas EP every December, and they put it out free ( for a limited time ) on Barry’s label Tight Ship Records. This year the record wasn’t out as usual, and I was pretty bummed. However, I just checked earlier this week, and it came out the day after Christmas.

The 2010 vintage of Holiday Music is whimsical, delightful, and fun–pretty much the dead opposite of what you hear in the stores over the holidays. Titled “Tacoma Elf Storage”, the EP give you a great view into the life of the elves when they aren’t working at the North Pole. Go grab this free download now — you can safely enjoy it all summer and into next holiday season. (While you are there, pick up another indie label of love… I recommend The Like Young’s Six at Midnight.)

Go to: Tacoma Elf Storage


I knew nothing about the movie before I went, and if you haven’t heard anything about it either, I won’t ruin it for you. Just: see this movie now.

Ebisu Garden Place has been running a month of free movie weekends in the big outdoor courtyard–the perfect way to spend the warm, breezy summer evening. The only downside is having to get in line to get a seat (there’s are less comfy alternatives: standing, or sitting on the pavement on a newspaper, or upstairs in the balcony) a couple hours early. first-come, first serve, one ticket per person, and seating for about 150 people.

outdoor movies, free, at Ebisu Garden Place
outdoor movies, free, at Ebisu Garden Place

Tonight Y & I went to see “Once”, which was one of the most pleasant movie experiences that I’ve had in a long time. I knew nothing about the movie before I went, and if you haven’t heard anything about it either, I won’t ruin it for you. Just: see this movie now. RUN, do not walk.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova make music in the movie "Once"
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova make music in the movie "Once"

Instead, I’ll tell you about dinner. After waiting in the hot hot summer afternoon to get the (free) tickets for the movie, we went to the sweet, sweet air conditioning of the Mitsukoshi department store. On the B2 level we cruised around the food department, looking at all the delicious food. First stop– soft serve ice cream cones, made from real Hokkaido milk. Super yummy. Then bentos — chicken kara-age, okonomiyaki, and a huge niku-man (cha-shiu bau). And a Korean Bibimbap roll. All delicious, except for the niku-man, which we haven’t eaten yet. As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomache and we bought too much.

All in all, a great evening.

sorting through my dvds

I currently have the pleasure of sorting through my dvd collection…. in an attempt to get rid of as many dvds as possible (need more space!). There are a lot of dvds that I can’t easily part with–The Lord of the Rings box set, for example. There are the dvds that you would think I could get rid of easily, but I pause: Johnny To’s “Running on Karma”, which features Andy Lau in a Big man suit? But, actually, a great, entertaining movie.

Then there are the indefensibles, the dvds that are still shrink wrapped, that I purchased but never watched.

For example, the DVD pictured below, a look at the cover and you already know what the movie is–a Bollywood rich playboy meets family obligations, I mean, girl, and then slapstick rollercoaster to the wedding at the end. Except that it probably isn’t–I don’t know, I haven’t watched it yet.

But after closer inspection, the purchase isn’t entirely indefensible. I am guessing that I was moved to buy this after reading the copy on the back:

“The story opens with Vijay returning from the USA, to join his family business. The only son of a widower industrialist, Vijay carries home with him the attitude of the western world, some good, like equality of man and woman in a relaxtionship [sic], and some bad, like failure to recognise marriage as an institution.”

An inexplicable part of my dvd collection

lost on the run

Wound up doing a really long run/walk/run on Friday. I managed to get out of the before 10am and did a very easy job over to the park, where I did a circuit and a half. I realized the bridge in the middle of the park is quite steep, it is hard to keep a steady pace up and down it.

On the south end of the park there was a huge gateball/lawn golf activity going on, with all the neighborhood retirees out in full force with their bicycles lined up, hats on, and jabbering away.

When I left the park I exited further south than I am used to, but I figured I would hit the main road before too long. And then I started daydreaming about my coding project and before you know it, I was completely lost. I hit an intersection that was far too big. And spent about 10 minutes walking around trying to figure out where I was. The convenience store I went into didn’t have any maps, and I had apparently run into a different ward, so the maps on the sidewalk didn’t show where I lived and I was having a hard time figuring out which way to go. Compounding this was the only landmark I recognized, a huge red and white antenna tower at the NTT building, was… in the wrong place. Or rather, I thought it was in the wrong place.

I basically just got completely mixed up. Recognizing a landmark doesn’t help much if you still think you are on the opposite side of it.

When I finally figured it all out, I was about a mile off course. At this point I was walking, but I was thirsty and I had no cash for a drink at the convenience store or a cab home. So I started running again, just because I didn’t want to be out in the heat and humidity forever.

It was a mess of a workout, lots of walking, stops at red lights, etc. But I did cover some ground. About 7-8km, out for over an hour.

getting back in shape

so, i went for a run yesterday. the first run in a very, very long time. how long? well… let’s be generous and call it late 2006.

i’m motivated to start running again after checking out my weight. it’s climbed again, after 6 months of over-work, stress, and no exercise. the price i pay for being at a crazy startup. well, time to get the weight back down again and start feeling healthy again. i used to be fairly active and am determined to be so again.

running in tokyo is a bit different because it is so much more urban than san francisco is. a lot more traffic, roads, bicycles, and pedestrians to contend with. another difference is the weather–hotter and more humid in the summer, and much colder in the winter.

there is a small park about a kilometer from our apartment. weather is overcast, the ground is wet after it rained sunday night. traffic is light–it is monday mid-morning, after all.

after just a couple hundred meters, i am huffing and puffing. wow, so out of shape. when i pass people i try to keep my wheezing to a minimum, you know, just so i don’t scare them. not that i am passing anyone. maybe i can catch that grandpa, with the fishing hat, walking ahead of me, with the cane.

the park is pretty small, actually, so even though i am slow and fat and out of shape i can cover it end to end. well, once. i stretch and decide to walk home–a long cool down.

somehow, i was running slow enough to get two mosquito bites.

~3km/1.8 miles. 30 minutes.

purpose in work?

i’m not sure quite where this happened, but my thinking has gotten older. some would say matured. when or where this happened isn’t obvious. it didn’t happen overnight. but it did happen.

what is this “older thinking”? well, it is a less idealistic, much more pragmatic. it has to do with my attitude towards work and life and love. but primarily work. my expectations of the work-world are that it will be a slog, a fight, that it will never be what it should be. “do your job, keep your nose down, get it done” but not to expect it to be all roses because “it is a job. if you loved it, it wouldn’t be work.”

this attitude runs counter to my experience and my job when i was much younger. but now that i am a bit older i think—maybe it wasnt the job. maybe it was just me, and my idealism, and love of work, that got me through that situation. i wonder if, given the same situation, how i would be do now–with my “older thinking” in place.

a discussion over the weekend–is it truly possible to find a job that you love? the conclusion was “no, that is why it is called work”. a bit depressing, but probably true. a columnist from the financial times was quoted, in response to complaints about “lack of meaning in work”, that being able to feed your family is reason enough to work, and should provide satisfaction. we are so far up Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy that our concerns about self-fullfillment in our work is a bit ludicrous in comparison to the vast numbers of people in the world who suffer.

still–we have these concerns, and we have to live our own lives. i wonder if a re-reading of alain de botton here might not do me some good. i know that i have some dissatisfaction with where i am, career-wise, and am trying to sort that out.

i am not particularly happy with the idea that i just need to settle for a job that will support my family. i would like to think i could do better. but i look around, even at my most successful friends, and i do not see much self-fulfillment in work.

for the moment, i will leave this question open.

Loro’s at bbang


So, I found myself in Seoul, S. Korea last Saturday night, and my friend took me to a great little venue near Shinchon called Cafe Bbang, the prototypical artists/musicians basement painted in bright colors and with a great quilted backdrop to the stage area. We got seats in the back corne and sat down to enjoy the show.

All the bands were great, but the headliner, Loro’s, was amazing. A 5 piece band, playing mostly instrumental music with occasional lyrics, they produce a multi-layered soundscape that builds from pianamissimo interludes to huge banging drum and guitar pieces. The band includes a cellist/vocalist, two guitars, keyboard/vocalist, and an awesome drummer. I don’t know how to describe the sound–kind of like the Album Leaf, but with more expansive and dramatic highs.

I could go on, but you’ll just have to wait to hear the real thing when they release their first album in February.


Holiday Music

A new holiday tradition for me is to check the website of Tight Ship Records. The owner, Barry Phipps, gets his friends together every year to record some holiday music–which is also the name of their band. You can buy their music from the website, or you can just download it for free.

Holiday Music is great for when you are tired of the same old carols, but want something festive. This year there’s even a song with lyrics, “Wrapper’s Delight”.

Enjoy! and happy holidays.