Making some fun memories with Leo.
Love the inside of the new Odakyu trains.
Monorailing 🚝 (though this is a hanging monorail, unlike the emoji)
A bit over 4 years ago I moved back to Japan, without a stable job. I had been contracting for 3 or 4 years in the US, but a difference in time zones (GMT+9 vs GMT - 4) made that difficult to maintain. I had heard about a Python shop called BeProud and they were remote friendly.
There weren't many remote friendly companies at the time in Japan, let alone companies that specialized in Python consulting. Being full-remote friendly signaled to me that they'd have a progressive company culture where I'd fit.
It was a fun just over 4 years, my longest tenure to date. My co-workers were great, bosses nice, and the projects (mostly) fun. Work-life balance is taken seriously (I took 6-weeks of (paid) parental leave after my son was born without any issues – something that's still rare in Japan).
If you can speak Japanese and sling Python, they're a great company filled with great people.
So why leave?
Climate change. Like many, for years I've worried about climate change. But I didn't know where to begin, beyond voting for people that take it seriously and reduce flights/driving where possible. But the challenge is bigger than any individual.
The most important change society is going to need to make is is getting our emissions to net zero. As fast as we can. And the biggest leaver is changing how we power (⚡️) our society. Japan currently gets 69% of its electricity from fossil fuels. Any way I can help lower this number, beyond just changing my personal electricity, is something worth spending my time and effort doing.
Like many, while I am worried about climate change and want to help, each time I looked for how I could get involved in non-superficial ways it either required engineering or chemistry expertise that I don't have or in the wrong location or some other factor that didn't line up. Until now.
Octopus Energy, one of Europe's largest investors in renewable energy, is a working to make a "green dent in the universe". They do this in a number of ways:
1. As an electricity provider, they offer dynamic tariffs that move with the wholesale price of electricity. Using data science and machine learning, they then help their customers take advantage of renewables by increasing electricity usage when there's an abundance of energy on the grid (which is usually when there's a lot of renewables producing electricity) and reduce usage when there's less abundance (and usually dirtier, fossil fuels).
2. They're generating their own green electricity that they put on the grid.
3. They sell and service electric vehicles
4. They're making green-Hydrogen as a service.
The system that powers all of this is called Kraken and they're bringing it to the US, Australia, and Japan (in partnership with Tokyo Gas), allowing customers to take advantage of cheap green energy and reduce demand when it's mostly fossil fuels.
Starting in October, I'll be working on the integrations that allow Kraken to be used in Japan and helping de-carbonize Japan's electricity supply. Hopefully over the coming years this 69% will decrease.With any luck, my work will directly contribute to driving that number to 0% as quick as possible.
While I'm sad to leave BeProud and co-workers I enjoyed working for and with, the opportunity to use my skills to fight climate change in a meaningful way is not one that I could pass up. To my new co-workers, I look forward to working together to make our green dent.
Tokyo’s humid subtropical climate means hot, muggy summers are unavoidable; the U.S. Southeast and northern India fall into the same climate zone. However, there are other underlying factors exacerbating the conditions. Human-caused global warming has contributed to a 1.5°C (2.7°F) increase in temperatures in Tokyo since 1964 and a 2.86°C (5.14°F) increase since 1900.
Heat Island Effect is an oft forgotten aspect of us covering the land with asphalt and concrete. What always shocks me, even in my suburban Yokohama neighborhood, there's plenty of green, but not much shade. Especially if you're traveling around noon when the sun's directly above.
Dinosaurs! 🦕 🦖 ❤️
I miss workstations like this classic one. And mousepads!
First shot done. Next shot in 3 weeks. 🙏🏻💉
We went on Leo's first "ensoku" (field trip) with his pre-school. Originally we were supposed to go to the beach, but with covid-19 they don't want people going to the beaches, so we had it at Kodomo no Kuni instead.
Kodomo no Kuni is this huge park in Yokohama close to Tokyo. Inside they've got some huge jungle gyms, different pedal-powered rides, a full-on dairy farm and heaps of open space to run and explore in. You can buy the milk (to drink on the spot) and soft-serve, which I believe comes from the cows (they have a dairy farm, so it would make sense).
Since we were with a big group, we just played in this huge field / hill and went and saw the cows. The cows are a major attraction, so much so that the train that comes to Kodomo no Kuni is cow themed.
Next time I want to go by the cow-themed train!
Enoden Monaka. Love the packaging of these. The classic style tickets are great.
I just finished an article that will be published in this month's Web+DB Press magazine, a monthly web-related programming magazine in Japan. The entire magazine, including my article, is in Japanese. I want to reflect on the process of writing professionally in a second language and contrast this with my first experience when writing the 2nd chapter of Professional Python Programming 3rd edition (PyPro3).
Picking a Topic
Unless you're writing for yourself, the general topic is going to be decided for you. The company I work for writes regularly for Web+DB Press. GraphQL's been gaining popularity lately, and since I've built a few projects with it, a co-worker asked if I was interested in writing an article about GraphQL. Remembering how difficult it was to write PyPro3, I was a bit hesitant at first, but thought it'd be a good test to see how much my Japanese had I'd improved over the years. I also wanted share what I'd learned building GraphQL APIs with Django.
Outlining is the process where you set the scope and decide in in more detail what you want to write about and the general order that you'll write. Before you can start outlining you need to first decide roughly how long of an article you want to write. The length of a magazine article is often decided for you, so it's mostly a matter of figuring out what you can fit into the allocated space.
My outline was fairly basic, just a bullet list to help guide me along as I wrote and the base idea for what we'd build in the article.
Writing in your first language is difficult enough. Writing in a second language maintains the challenges of writing in your first, but also adds an extra layer on top. Not all idioms or expressions in your native language can be expressed in eloquently or in a similar manner in a different language.
Having a solid outline of what you're going to write about, including the order and main points you want to cover makes writing much easier. This applies to writing in your first language as well, but it's doubly important in a second language.
When writing PyPro3, I could write and speak Japanese, but writing a narrative piece was difficult. Many of the words I was using weren't quite yet internalized and reading what I wrote 5 minutes prior was a challenge. So I ended up writing the gist of what I wanted to say in English, and then translating it as best as I could before a native speaker cleaned it up for me.
This time around, 3 years later, my outline was in Japanese and I didn't write any of the article in English first and then translate. Writing was a lot quicker too as I had become used to explaining code and what it's doing from work. I made the quickest progress when I was focusing on writing for a specific co-worker and explaining GraphQL to them.
Editing in a second language is difficult. I won't say I'm useless, but I don't have that feeling when something sounds "off" like I do with English. Without that sense, it was difficult to know exactly how to fix feedback from internal reviews and the editor at the magazine.
The actual process of editing this time around was much easier, however. A co-worker and I would pair edit, where I'd pull up the document on my screen via Zoom and we'd work through the comments together. This made it much easier to ask for advice or for clarification or a second opinion.
Beyond not having a native feel for the language, skimming is also much more difficult. This makes finding the paragraph a particular comment is referencing a bit slow. I got better as I practiced, but I also found that copying a snippet of the comment and using the Find feature of my editor helped immensely.
Good writing in any language requires clear thinking and proper planning. Being able to stay in the same language for planning, drafting, and editing makes the entire process much easier. Having native speakers check and edit your work allows you to gain a better understanding of your second language, not only at the grammatical level, but with sentence patterns and flow as well.
I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to be published, especially in my non-native language and hope I'll have another chance in the future.
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