• The Week #41

    • I've migrated my blog from Wordpress to Tanzawa! I made the first commit to Tanzawa back during winter break with this idea of wanting a blog that was comprised of different micro-blogs, dead easy to use, and IndieWeb friendly. I finally finished all of the Wordpress importing code so I could move entire blog over. The import went smooth – the only issue I had was needing to increase my request Timeout settings while Tanzawa rewrote all of the content.

      It's still nowhere near finished and ready for the non-enthusiast, but it's getting closer and I cannot express how excited I am to finally be using it on my main site.
    • I am no longer head of the block. I had two last tasks: deliver the "power of attorney/proxy" sheets that give me (head of the block) authority to approve the next year's directors o the neighborhood association and then attend the meeting to exercise that right, ending my duties.Β 

      My neighbor across the street didn't include all of the signatures required on his proxy-approval form so I had to go collect them. After I collected it, we were going to take a family walk to the neighborhood association building to drop them off.

      I rang their door bell told them the wife came down and I told her what I needed and she invited me inside while she gets their seals. When I looked up her husband (late 60's) was standing there with a huge grin on his face. He motioned for me to come inside and sit on the sofa.

      He offered me a drink. Thinking I'd only be there a second and knowing that my wife would be outside momentarily I refuted. He asked again. I refuted. Finally he looks like a light bulb went off and just gets a wine glass and hands it to me. Can't refuse now.

      I hear my son yelling for me outside.Β  The wife invites them inside and much to my wife's surprise see's me drinking wine and enjoying cheese πŸ·πŸ˜πŸ§€. Β 

      We all had a good chat (mostly masked) before continuing on our walk. The opportunities for these meetings between neighbors are rare these days, especially with covid, but they are the foundation of building a community. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm really happy we found such a good neighborhood to call home here in Yokohama.
    • I've been thinking about audio quality as I'm on so many Zoom calls lately and saw this page comparing a bunch of microphones with audio-clips. Usually this type of content would be in a YouTube video or something. Being able to click different players to hear sample recordings is neat. I'm nowhere near deciding or actually purchasing a microphone, but it's still neat.
  • The Week #40


    • For the past month I've been thinking about getting a bike. I wanted something with that wasn't a cruiser like our electric assist mama-chari. Something a bit more sporty but not a road bike...a cross bike. I found a nice blue and white Giant Escape for Β₯35,000 (about $350) at a local used goods shop in Totsuka. It already had fenders on it too, as an added bonus.





    • Since the weather's been so nice (it is spring) we took our bikes for a long ride along Sakaigawa with our goal being Iida-farm. We took the scenic route, which was a bit longer at 12km. Iida-farm is a small dairy farm with an attached gelato shop that's popular with cyclists along Sakaigawa. Me and Leo shared a milk gelato and it was great.

    • My dad got his second shot of Pfizer and Japan has just started vaccinating the elderly. With a 4th wave apparently starting, I really wish they'd pick up the pace.

    • I haven't had as much time (or energy) for working on Tanzawa this past week. Part of it is I'm using/saving my energy for work as we're approaching a deadline. The other part of it is writing the Wordpress import code just isn't fun. I've got the import code written and working, I just need to run it through my posts to discover the edge cases I'm not handling and handle them. I think I'm fine leaving a proper polished UI for another day.

    • Jeff analyzed all the Airbot data for 2020 and submitted a PR to adjust the values so it tweets for the top 0.5% threshold. It already appears to be tweeting more! Certainly more than it has the past month (TCEQ blocked our scraper's ip address again – a simple snapshop and restore of the server on a new droplet and we're back in business).

  • The Week #39


    • Another big week in the Van Dyne household. After 3 years (mostly by-choice) my wife is re-joining the workforce. The timing is mostly because Leo will be starting pre-school next week, so he'll be out of the house most days for the majority of the day. Japan has some different laws surrounding healthcare/social security/being able to be declared as a dependent for tax purpose requirements, where if you work more than x hours or earn more than y per year you can no longer be included on your spouses healthcare/social security, so she's staying within those bounds for now. Either way, exciting.

    • I watched The Trial of the Chicago 7 about anti-Vietnam war protestors charged with the intention to start riots at the 1968 DNC convention in Chicago. I've never seen Sacha Baron Cohen in a serious role before, usually he's Borat or Ali G for me. I didn't realize until the end it was an Aaron Sorkin movie – it's no wonder I liked it.

    • This year marks 100 years of public transit in Yokohama and the city has build a webpage celebrating those 100 years. It even looks like the next station down has some limited edition paper tickets "Dancing Cat" tickets. Fun!

    • I got a haircut and talking with my barber about the vaccine and she said she's hesitant to get it. I asked why and she mentioned Bill Gates funding the research, alluding to an ulterior motive. I wasn't quite sure how to handle it exactly, but tried to talk about his vaccine work before covid. She said "do you think this might be one of those rumors?", "Yes, absolutely.". I also told her about my dad and brother's experience getting the vaccine (uneventful, because it's safe and not filled with 5G ads for Windows).

  • The Week #38


    • Exciting times in the Van Dyne household! The potty has suddenly clicked for Leo. We haven't been nearly as strict with Leo as some of our friends have been when it comes to potty training. We've taken the approach that "everybody eventually doesn't like wet diapers and grows out of it". Instead we've just been trying to make it a routine before the bath to give it a try. If he does, great and if he doesn't that's fine, we'll try again tomorrow.

    I had Leo by myself all day Saturday and I didn't change a diaper – at all. Not because he didn't pee, but because I asked him every 3 hours if he had to go, we'd try and he'd sit and do his thing. On Sunday we thought he was just doing his thing on the loo and he did his first #2 by himself. The end of diapers is quickly approaching!

  • Part of having Leo all day Saturday meant we go out and ride the train. Leo wanted to ride the monorail. The monorail ends at Enoshima, so we can ride a bunch of trains and loop back to our house. Usually we walk down to the beach, maybe get a burger atKua`Aina then loop back.

    However, a couple of weeks ago Leo went to the aquarium in Enoshima and it was likely going to be packed being it's a weekend and spring break. Even without the pandemic I'd avoid it. So we took the Enoden to Kamakura. I figured it was also going to be packed, but it was early enough we could avoid the crowds. We walked towards Tsurugaoka-hachimangu as there's a Tully's and I needed a break. But to my surprise it had disappeared!



    We looked at the Sakura and koi for a couple of minutes and headed home. On the way back we saw the Narita Express, one of Leo's favorite trains. He also melted down as he wanted to ride it, but it wasn't at a platform for us to ride. If it was I would have paid the extra fare so we could take it a couple of stations home.


  • I linked to What is the Small Web on the Tanzawa blog, but felt it's worth calling it out on The Week, too. It's made by Small Tech (also worth a click).


    Small Technology are everyday tools for everyday people designed to increase human welfare, not corporate profits.

    Small Tech is exactly the banner to get behind.


  • The Week #37


    • Technically this was last week, but my term as head of the neighborhood has come to an end. Although I was part of the physical education group (the most event heavy group), we didn't have a single event due to covid. Being new to the neighborhood and not renting, I was hoping to use this year to get more involved in my community and to get to know my neighbors / let my neighbors get to know me. Next year I'm the backup head of the block, so maybe that's still possible, once the vaccine rolls out.

    • Speaking of vaccines, my friends in the US and UK are starting to get their covid vaccinations. While we've had a fraction of the case load as them, I can't help but feel a bit jealous. We're still inoculating at a slower pace than I'd like to see, but in a month it's increased a hundred to topping topped 70k per day. It's at least going in the right direction.

    • I've decided to get a bicycle and went to a couple of shops to check out used ones. One was a one of Japan's great second hand stores, where they have a bunch of "used" products that are like new. And the other was a shop that specializes in used bikes. The staff was friendly and answered my stupid questions. I'd wouldn't mind buying my bike from them, but they didn't have the one I want.

    I don't know what it is - maybe just a lack of knowledge of bicycles in general, but I always hate going into bike shops. It's not a Japan thing, as I've noticed in US as well. I always feel some serious in-group/out-group energy. Just me?


  • I saw this cool project called Solar Protocol, which is an experiment to have a website hosted across the globe completely by solar power and sent from whichever sever has the most energy. I thought about volunteering as a server steward, but I'm not sure about how I can securely mount solar panel to my balcony, which has both great southern and western exposure (I'm not about to start climbing up on the roof).

  • Lately I've felt like our water bills are a bit higher than they should be. For many it's because they're now at home all day everyday, rather than in the office, so their usage has increased. But we've been at home all day everyday for about 3 years. Since we bought our house, I had always thought our water pressure almost too good. Turns out the taps were fully open. I cut them back 50% - 60% and they're still getting great flow. This should reduce our usage (and thus our bill), but it will take a month or two for us to find out just how much effect this 30 second fix will have.

  • The Week #36


    • Sophie turned 9 years old – she's old enough now that she has to take medicine twice a day. Rather than making her a little doggie cake, kept up the tradition of singing happy birthday before giving her a bit of chicken and carrots. She always looks at as funny whenever we sing to her.

    • I shipped locations in Tanzawa this week and started a new weekly round up style post on the development blog. Once I add support for checkins (backfed from Swarm) I've got the minimum viable blog for me to switch over full-time. Already I find myself wanting to author posts with Tanzawa instead of Wordpress.

    • As for the migration – I've got two basic paths forward. 1) Turning my current site into a static site and use nginx to redirecting existing urls to the static site. 2) Parse the Wordpress XML file and import it into Tanzawa. Option 1 will "buy me time" to get the Wordpress import flow working. 2 is probably at least a week long project like locations were. I'll have to blog about possible workflows on the Tanzawa blog while I stew on the path forward.

    • Jacob linked me to this new creator on youtube: Beau Miles. Specifically this great film of his called The Commute: Walking 90km to Work. It's refreshing to see someone talk about just how much cars remove us from our environment. The description about the video says more than I ever could.



    Setting off with no food, water or shelter, I walked 90km to work a bunch of years ago to see if a stripped back adventure could give me the kind of buzz that far away, exotic, heavily planned expeditions have given me over the years. It did. Different, but familiar feelings of challenge and insight came through. When I was asked to give a lecture about adventuring at a new building at my university, I said β€˜no worries, why don’t I walk to work and deliver the lecture as soon as I get there’? So I walked to work, again.

    Go watch it. Now.Then follow up with his The Human Bean: 40 days on a tin-bean diet.

  • The Week #35


    • The biggest thing to happen this week was Leo graduating from from the "higkari-gumi" at his pre-pre-school. I couldn't attend, but saw a small video. He was so proud of himself. He got a cool medal, a hat, and a certificate that we've framed. He starts pre-school full-time at the same school next month – he's so ready for it. My only concern is keeping his english ability when he's playing in Japanese all day. His output in English is already "behind" that of his Japanese (as expected, since we live in Japan) – I just hope it just doesn't regress.

    • We're finally back down to double-digit covid cases in Kanagawa again. We haven't been in this range since probably November or December. We're not out of the woods yet, but starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. If only they could speed up the vaccinations here, they're off to a snail pace.

    • In my entire life I've owned 3 suits. 2 suits I got when I first graduated from the Men's Warehouse and became way too big for me once I moved to Japan ( it's common for people to lose weight when they move to Japan because a combination of smaller portion sizes and taking trains/buses everywhere instead of driving). Those 2 suits fell apart almost immediately. The other suit I got as a replacement for my sister-in-law's wedding 11 or 12 years ago. The white shirt I bought with it was getting pretty gross so I went out and replaced them this week. I don't think I've ever owned this many dress shirts at a single time. Now I just need an occasion to wear them. (Even as a salaryman, I never wear a suit - even when going in to the office (which I haven't for over a year)).

    • I'm starting to blog (even more) with Tanzawa. As it gets more feature complete it's easier for me to blog with it than it is Wordpress.

    • Around a month ago I bought tanzawa.blog. It will be the home of the Tanzawa project (maybe hosting???) once it's ready for release general consumption. In the mean time, I've redirected tanzawa.blog to tanzawa.jamesvandyne.com

  • The Week #34


    • I forget what I was searching for but I found this fantastic blog (in English) about trains in Japan called Tokyo Railway Labrinth. It has history of different trains and so much more. I love when I find a site where someone is just geeking out about their passion online.

    • During the week some co-workers and I were discussing burgers. This gave me a craving for an avocado cheese burger from Kua`Aina. I recounted the story of how, even though in Japan you're supposed to have a nice light Japanese meal the day before the birth of your child, my wife was craving a burger and calories, so we went to the Enoshima Kuga`Aina before Leo was born. It was delicious as always. And since we got there right after they opened, not busy.

    • I also visited the Fujiko Museum in Kawasaki over the weekend a.k.a. the Doraemon museum. I've never read the manga, but I have watched a couple of the movies (Leo's going through a mini-boom at the moment). It was pretty great, though I spent most of the time holding Leo watching this giant Rube Goldberg machine move a bunch of different balls across the room.

    • I started working on replies in Tanzawa. Introducing Turbo to add some dynamism to admin interface. It's turned into a bigger rabbit hole than expected. I imagine most rails devs are familiar with the basics of Turbo (Links) but as a Django dev, things like Turbo aren't included, so there's a bit of a learning curve for me to implement it properly. That said - it's coming along.

  • The Week #33


    • Covid numbers are down to numbers we haven't seen since November. The vaccine is approved and they've started inoculating people. The weather's warming up and early bloomer cherry blossoms are starting to bloom. I'm optimistic.

    • Meanwhile in Texas, it's been the exact opposite with a huge cold front (thanks climate change!) and a deregulated energy industry decided to not invest in weatherizing their natural gas and coal plant despite regulators saying they should caused people to lose power/heat for days in freezing temperatures. Then the (republican) leadership goes and tries to blame the entire thing on the wind and solar farms in west Texas, when those were unaffected by the cold. Never elect a man to office who says government doesn't work, because they might win and prove it. Thankfully my family made it through unscathed (though hopefully they didn't get a $16,000 electricity bill like some did)

    • I used to listen to a lot of Japanese music when I was younger. These days, not really. Mostly electronic/punk when I'm working and Josh Rouse when I'm not. Lucky Old Sun is a new (to me) Japanese group I found lately. You should give it a listen. I like the last track on this EP a lot, but they're all good.

    • I went to Chigasaki Sagtoyama Park on my four day weekend. It was my second visit. There's this large slide that's above the trees and goes downhill with rollers on it. I usually ride down with Leo in my lap because he wants to ride it, but it's a bit scary for him. As it was a regular work-day and I took the day off the park was fairly empty. So I went down by myself. Take a ride down the best slide in the world.

    At the bottom of the hill/slide there's a couple of big white bouncy mounds that the children like to jump and play on. There was an older (double (half)) kid who looked similar to Leo. Which Leo noticed and kept on copying what he was doing when jumping. It was too cute.


  • The Week #32


    • Last week I had forgotten an interesting tidbit about my self-introduction presentation at work. During my presentation I introduced some of the apps I'd built for the Mac – ImageXY and Jisho. ImageXY was popular in Japan for its first couple of years and one of my co-workers actually used to use it all the time! First time I’ve met a random user of ImageXY!

    • The covid vaccine was finally approved in Japan and they're starting to vaccinate doctors and nurses this week. Still no idea when I'll be able to get my prick, but I imagine it will be sometime this summer. Speaking of getting the shot, I found out my grandma got her second covid vaccine shot last Wednesday. Woohoo!

    • I had my annual health check this week. As nobody is going in to the office, we are free to do our health check anywhere. I went to a a clinic In Minatomirai, as it was the closest to my house. The clinic itself was the top two floors of a high rise. We carried a little rfid card at each station and see a nurse/tech for the test, and finally a doctor briefly at the end to cover the results. Hope I can use this place next year too.

    • There was a large earthquake off the cost of Fukushima. It was about a 4 where I live in Yokohama, certainly the strongest and longest quake I've felt in a while. It reminded me of 3/11 in someways as just when you think it was going to stop it just kept getting stronger. I was fast asleep when it started, but you can see my heart rate from my Apple Watch about when it hit.

    • This week Leo turned 3. He has his official "chocolate debut" as he picked out a chocolate cake decorated like a panda. He must not have been impressed with the hype around chocolate as he only ate 2 bites.

    • I watched this good documentary called Winter in Stockholm. I hadn't realized how much I miss watching documentaries like these randomly on TV.

1 of 5 Next