• The Week #141

    • All around good guy Japanese astronaut andΒ  Koichi Wakata returned from a visit to the ISS. He's now (or maybe even was prior to this as well?) the Japanese person with the most time in space. Top story of the morning news was that he was coming back...but the evening news didn't seem to cover that he made it back safely? That seems like like it would still warrant top story in the evening...or at least a mention somewhere in the top 10? Nada.
    • When we visited New York in 2016, we saw Matilda at the Shubert Theatre. Since then, I wanted to watch it one more time. On the train this week I saw adverts for Matilda...odd...and it turns out they performing it as well! In Tokyo it seems to only be for a couple of months. We bought tickets for early April.

      I've shown Leo both the English version of "Naughty" and the Japanese version. He loves them. Both songs are great and an anthem to live by: If something's not right, sometimes you gotta put it right.
    • In employer related news this week, Octopus Energy announced €1 Billion Investment in French Green Energy Market and New European Tech Hub in Paris. Nothing to do with me, but I do love working for a company that's driving actual change in the energy system. Something's not right (burning dinosaur juice causing climate change) and we're trying to put it right (electrify all the things with wind, solar, and storage).
    • On Sunday we had a small birthday celebration for baaba and my nephew who's birthdays are both in March. We got to re-use some of the Mario themed birthday goods we brought back from America, which was a hit with the kids.
    • MyΒ  back / leg are almost back to normal. I reckon another visit or two and I'll be as good as new. You really don't appreciate not hurting with most steps until you've been having a slight pain with every step for a month.
  • The Week #140

    • Spring is on its way and it couldn't have come soon enough. Especially after getting so many warm mid-20's days in Texas. My inner-Dutchman is be proud that the tulips we planted are coming up. They're my favorite and for 3 years in a row I said "I'll plant some next year" and thanks to Yumi, we actually did. I'm looking forward to seeing them bloom.
    • Leo came home from school on Tuesday early with a small fever and not feeling so well. Naturally when I go to pick him up, he's fine and bouncing around. He wasn't sick, but with spring in the air, he has allergies now. The next day we took him to the doctor and they confirmed this and gave us some allergy meds/eyedrops for Leo to drink twice a day.
    • While back from school, he played a bit more switch than usual. He somehow discovered the e-store and downloaded the demo of Kirby. I haven't played much Kirby in my time, but it's a lot of fun. It also supports two-player mode, so we can play cooperatively. I wish more games had a cooperative story mode (I used to play Quake-2 pretty often in cooperative mode back in the day).
    • With Spring means the end of school year and the start of a new. Next year Leo will be in his final year of pre-school, which means it's time to start preparing for a year from now: elementary school.

      We went and looked at randoseru, the traditional Japanese leather backpack that kids use throughout elementary school. It used to be there was only two colors: black and red. Now days there's heaps of colors, though mostly for girls. I wish I could find it to link to it, but there's an episode of Japanology Plus about school satchels that goes into the history and how they're made and is really interesting.

      Why are we looking now, a year before he needs it? Basically they're all handmade and you need to order it about a year in advance. They're also quite expensive. The bags we were looking at ranged from $500 - $1,000 dollars.

      The $1,000 backpack. One day I hope I'm adult enough to use something this nice.

      We decided to buy from was Tsuchiya Randoseru in Kamakura, where Leo's cousin bought from, so we know it's a quality product. We decided on one of the less-expensive ones in a nice olivey-green that looks great on Leo. Thankfully it's one of the few options remaining for boys πŸ˜€.
    • On Monday had a bit of a meltdown before going to pre-school. We have a car, but try to use it as little as possible. It's a 7 minute walk / 3 minute bike ride to his school and he refused to sit on his seat my bike and instead take the car. I told him no, the weather is nice are taking the bike or we could walk. He had a meltdown and in the end I carried him while he's crying and screaming the entire way to school.

      He's 5 years old now, this isn't acceptable behavior, so he lost his switch privledges for the night. Which he didn't realize until he got home from school where he promptly had another meltdown for 30 minutes.Β 

      There's a number of behavioral changes I'd like to address with Leo and habits I'd like him to form. Getting upset / fighting about them isn't fun and isn't solving them. You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.

      I'm thinking about creating a chart with various changes / things that Leo needs to do. e.g. go to school without fighting / having a meltdown, putting his bento box in the kitchen when he gets home from school, going to swimming with a smile (he's not a fan of the current teacher), trying to eat new foods, quitting the switch when his time is up etc...

      Each time he does the desired change he gets a gold star to stick on the chart. When he collects enough stars total he gets Kirby. And to maintain access to Kirby, he will need continue those practices. My hope is that they'll become habit along the way and life becomes less stressful.
    • Recommended podcast this week is The Beanpod Podcast. It's life updates from @tbeanpod on twitter (and @tbeanpod@famichiki.jp, but he doesn't seem to post there 😭 mastodon needs his Ishikawa vibes). He often includes a song he wrote himself and sings them while playing guitar. A great listen while walking the dog.
  • The Week #139

    • I submitted my resignation...to the employer of record we've been using in Japan as the Japanese Kraken Tech legal entity is ready for employees. Day-to-day, in practice nothing changes for me, except a different company is making my salary deposit each month and I'll get a different insurance card. But it will be nice to officially/legally be an employee of the company I've been working at for the past (almost) 18 months.
    • I went for my annual health check. I probably mention this every year, but I am really like the process itself. Basically over the course of about 45 minutes I visit a bunch of stations, each with multiple nurses ready to process the next person in the queue. They're all tests that you're just not going to do, but give you a good baseline of your health (stool, urine, blood, hearing, vision, heart rhythm, and chest x-ray). You can even add extras if you have different concerns that need monitoring. At the end you sit with a doctor who shows you your results and talks through them and compares them with last year.

      This year my blood pressure was down from just above the limit (2 years running!) to completely normal. Also I didn't get hit with slightly elevated cholesterol numbers, either, which makes me happy. The only downer was, though surprising, was that I gained a kilo, putting me at 76.0.
    • Perhaps related I went from a strong December / January running to a grand total of 1 time in February. I took my running stuff with me to the US, but it didn't feel safe to run – too many big cars driving by at 60kmh and no real path. Then with Jet lag and the back tweak...let's aim for getting back into the groove next month. I need to make more badges.
    • I finished off my prep for filing my Japanese taxes, I think. Most of it is just documenting my foreign account transactions and the exchange rate of that day so I can report it yen. I always put it off because I don't like working with excel, especially in my free time, but when I'm done I always like looking at the results with everything nice and neat.
  • The Week #138

    • We flew back to Japan and we're all happy to be home. By day 10 in America, we had spent the entire time going full-throttle meeting people, going places, and doing things and we were all tired and ready to get back into our regular routine again.
    • Before the flight I bought the extra Mario Kart levels to give us something new to do on the plane. I really like this "expansion pack" model with Mario Kart. For Β₯2,500 we get new 48 new courses to play and they're delivered over the next year or so. Half the price of a new game and we regularly get new content without needing to buy new games.
    • The flight was mostly uneventful. The main mishap was that despite me updating my reservation via the app to include kids meals and Asian Vegetarian meals for the adults, none of them got saved. And as we were coming America, this means there's no rice dishes and nothing that Leo would eat. He survived on half of the bagel he didn't eat for his breakfast and some random bread / butter we could scrounge up.

      What was annoying was that the staff didn't apologize for their system messing up and instead told me to check with the ground staff next time. I shouldn't need to do that? And I've asked this before, but why aren't children's reservations set to automatically include a kids meal?
    • Once we landed in Japan everyone exhausted. But since this is a fully-developed country (and Japan at that) we were able to send our luggage to our house via kuroneko (Japanese fedex), to be delivered the next morning and enjoy a nice rail trip on the Narita Express to Totsuka. Leo ate the food he missed most, a salmon onigiri before falling asleep.

      Once in Totsuka, we took a taxi home, brushed our teeth, and collapsed in bed – almost exactly 24 hours after we started the journey from the hotel.
    • And speaking of Salmon Onigiri, Leo missed them so much he had them the next day (Sunday) for breakfast as well. And some for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Monday. Onigiri is Leo's life force.
    • I subscribed to a new blog brr.fyi. It is chronicling life in Antarctica through the winter. I've only read a few posts so far, but it's well written and is quite thought provoking – seeing what it takes to keep humans alive in such harsh conditions.
  • The Week #137

    • Leo turned 5 years old. We had a birthday party a couple days early with the entire family at Coffee Grounds in Buda, Texas, just south of Austin. This was the first time we've had the entire family (all of my brothers and their kids) together in the same room in at least 6 years and it probably won't happen again for a very long time.

      The day itself, Leo got a bit overwhelmed with all of the people and wasn't feeling very well. He slept half of the afternoon and we woke him when it was time for cake – you can't cut the cake when the main person isn't in there.
      Leo's homemade box cake

      The entire party was Mario themed and we had a lot of Mario decorations up in the house.
      Licensed goods? Who knows.

      Presents wise Leo scored – 5 years worth of presents. He got Lego Luigi, Lego Mario, Lego Luigi's Mansion, a Tanuki suit, and more. I have no idea how we're going to get all of it back to Japan.
    • We went to the Children's museum with my mom and we had a lot of fun. They had this pneumatic tubeΒ  display where you could put in a ball and it would flow through the airways and come out of a given location. It had two valves you could adjust that would change the flow of the air and hence the location it would pop out at. I think we probably spent 30 minutes on that one display.
    • We hung out with my younger brother Jacob at The Domain. The domain is privately-owned high density residential/retail/office area in Austin. Effectively it's like the owner of a mall bought a huge chunk of land and started playing sim-city, trying to recreate what would normally occur "naturally". It was trying to become a "second downtown". When we lived in Austin, a decade ago now, we lived in phase one. I'm amazed about how much it's changed – it's gotten so much bigger.Β  There's more to do.

      Mostly we sat and drank a cola at this burger place because they had a playscape inside their shop.Β  This is the rub, because it's (the domain) are all privately owned, there are no parks or other such amenities you'd expect if it was a regular neighborhood. Instead, everyone's collecting rent and everything costs money. But, at least it's (mostly) walkable.
    • We also went to San Marcos, a bit further south of Austin, where Yumi and I (and Sophie🐢) met. The entire college campus area has been re-developed and I'm not a huge fan. The new shiny buildings with heaps of different restaurants are nice, but it's lost the charm and character of yore. I should've known it was going to happen when our little hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint, El Charro (which was next to a used tire store), was replaced with some place selling fancy mixed cocktails. College towns should be a bit dirty, no?

      Valentino's, the pizza place in the square is a good example. "In the old days" the store was classic 80's / 90's pizzeria. Walk in and it's a bit dark, there's some arcade games, and a random selection of hair bands are playing. When you placed your order you could feel a little bit of disdain and instead of a number you get a playing card. That's all gone. Now it's bright and airy. There's a proper bar, not just "pint or pitcher" for beer. And full wait staff. It feels wrong.

      Making dough in the front, not back in the kitchen.

      But, most critically, the pizza – the pizza hasn't changed. They still make the dough in house and it still crisps up just so. Maybe not all change is bad.
  • The Week #136

    • We traveled to Texas. This was Leo's first flight and his first time to America. It's also my first time visiting the US in 6 years, since we moved back to Japan. Leo did good on the flight. When the flight attendant came about, Leo was able to say he wanted chicken. Ordering stuff as a kid can be scary and he did great.
    • It's been good coming back and visiting America. I missed seeing such a large skies like you see in Texas. Going outside this time of year is great: it's about 23 during the day and there's no mosquitos. This same area during summer though is not as great as it's 40+ and you get eaten alive by the mossies.
      Water front views

      We've been able to introduce Leo to all of his cousins and all of his uncles . Mission accomplished.
    • Β Driving everywhere is a drag, though. Not because I'm not a fan of driving, but just how inefficient (resources and time). i.e. getting everybody loaded up into the car just to literally drive across the street because there's no other way.
    • Visiting Space Center Houston with Leo was a lot of fun. We did the red tour, which takes you to the ISS training facility and to rocket park where they have a Saturn V rocket. The other tour takes you to Mission Control and rocket park and way back they were a single 3-stop tour.
      Saturn V Rocket

      Over the years I've done this tour at least a half-dozen times. As I've gotten older visiting the campus inspires me. There's just something about visiting the inside of the large campus, and people doing research, each advancing human knowledge in their own respective fields that is inspiring. I imagine there's an alternate timeline where I also worked inside those buildings.Β 
    • Afterwards we visited my wife's old workplace and Leo got to meet Akihiko Hoshide, one of the Japanese astronauts. Leo was happy to meet him because he's seen him on TV in Pitogora Switch (youtube). I was surprised that Leo didn't get shy and try to hide behind me. In fact he (Leo) talked quite a bit, mostly about Mario though.
  • The Week #135

    • Leo had a badge test at swimming. Last time he had a test, we missed half of the lessons for various reasons and he failed. He's been trying really hard since then. During practice directly before the test Eno-chan, the teacher, was praising him...and he passed! He's now an official owner of a a Jellyfish badge πŸŽ‰. With this we could move him from the weekend class to weekdays class, so we'll now have 1 weekend day free, again.
    • I had my first "viral toot" on Mastodon. It was about Ivory, the mastodon client from Tapbots, and also how I like how on this version of social media, we give cash to the people hosting and making the tools instead of data-mining privacy-invading advertising driven platforms.
    • I put de-Turboing (and HTMXifing) the admin of Tanzawa on hold for a while. It's turning out to be a bigger chunk of work that doesn't lend itself to my usual 30 minutes -> hour in the mornings here and there development style. I also wanted to build make other tweaks to my blog that feel more important (recent photos on the homepage (βœ…), plugins need some re-working in a fly.io world, generating blogs from runs, better indieweb (or activity pub?) support, etc...).
    • I generated my first cumulative megawatt hour (1,000 kWh) with my solar panels. I'm really looking forward to spring and summer when I can generate them at a much quicker rate.
  • The Week #134

    • After weeks of sunny clear winter weather, it's been cloudy and cold this week. Just in time for us to start a new billing cycling and for me to discover that my tariff calculation was wrong if usage was less than the max of the first tier. I fixed that bug and now I'm back to enjoying checking my savings page without having a heart attack at the cost.
    • We've been planning a bit more for Leo's birthday party in the US. I was thinking Mario themed and literally the first image I see on Party City (a chain store in America that sells party supplies / balloons) is Mario birthday supplies. All of it is great and...surprisingly...not that expensive?
    • Growing up I watched a great sitcom called That 70's Show about a bunch of bored teenagers doing things that teenagers did in the middle of nowhere. They rebooted the series with the original cast with a new show That 90's Show on Netflix and it's fantastic. I hadn't realized how much I missed Red, the hard-nosed dad.
  • The Week #133

    • This week marked 12 years of marriage. I don't know how it's already been that long, but the dates, they do not lie. I couldn't ask for a better friend and partner in crime life.
    • I ran my longest run in a very, very long time. My usual runs are about 30 minutes (especially as of late following Time to run). The last Time to run was an hour long episode running Central Park and it went by rather quickly. In that hour I ran 8.6km, which I'm pretty happy. I didn't have any distance goals for this run, I just wanted to get through the entire hour.
    • In birdsite news, they seem to have cut off API access to all big clients. I reckon they're trying to force everyone onto the main clients for the ad revenue. But what a slap in the face, they didn't even give any notice that access was going to be turned off. They just did it and then were silent about it. What a joke of an operation it's become.
    • More refactoring on Tanzawa. The "small" change of getting rid of Turbo is forcing allowing me to tackle some hidden tech-debt with how my templates are structured and divided.

      Currently users only see one form/one save button on the screen for a post/location/syndication urls, but under the hood (on the backend) it's actually 3. Processing 3 separate forms as 1 hasn't sat well with me since I implemented it, so I'm going to embrace my new yak shaving hobby. My plan is to pull location into the post form and move syndication its own section with its own save button/url. Maybe the first steps in adding native syndication support? Who knows, I'm but a lowly yak shaver.
    • Our trip to America is getting ever closer and we're starting to solidify plans a bit more. We've got a couple of dates booked to see friends. While we're staying in the burbs, the place we're staying is walking distance (with sidewalks! and traffic signals!) to a bunch of different restaurants/cafes we used to frequent nearby...so I'm starting to think about all the tacos and sandwiches I'm gonna eat. Assuming there aren't any polar vortexes this year, it looks to be a nice 23-ish out, about 10 - 15 degrees warmer than Yokohama.
    • I don't speak Portuguese, but a co -worker shared this Brazilian Samba mix at work and it's incredible. If you just need some feel good, happy (presuming here – I can't understand a word) tunes to groove to - these thems.
  • The Week #132

    • Under the hood, Tanzawa uses django-webmention to support inbound webmentions. As I've been updating all of the backend dependencies for Tanzawa, I noticed that it didn't work with Django 4.0 and so I made a small PR to fix it, which was released as a new major version (as we also dropped support for old, unsupported versions of Python/Django).Β 
    • On the Sunbottle front, I had some inspiration and a few spare cycles so I built a "But, is solar worth it?" page, which breaks down exactly (minus tax) how much solar is saving me. In the almost 3 months, it's over Β₯21,500 Β Β₯22,000.
    • After using the same 3-fold leather wallet for 12+ years, I bought a new canvas wallet. It's a bit bittersweet, as my old wallet is still usable – the leather's in great condition, fabric inside isn't torn up, the wallet is just too big. It has many features I've grown to love, like the divided coin wallet, allowing me to separate Β₯100/Β₯500 yen coins from everything else, as well as keeping small things like sim cards so as not to lose them.Β 

      Why now? I've been thinking about it and looking (half-heartedly) for a couple of years for a worthy replacement. But rather than looking for the perfect wallet, I decided to that "good enough" will suffice and that over time, I will grown to love this wallet like I did my old one. I went with canvas instead of leather because it's lighter and there's no animals harmed in its making. A small step in the right direction.
    • We booked our hotels and car for the upcoming trip. As much as I wanted to do electric, the only option was a Model 3 at 70~ / day, which would have run is about $1,500 for the trip. A wee bit more than I want to spend and about double what we're paying for a small Mazda CX-5. I also went in to the police office and submitted paperwork for my international driver's license. It was mostly painless. Glad I went early as it takes a couple of weeks for them to prepare it.
    • Media wise: For the past couple of weeks, I've been reading The BFG with Leo. It's his first chapter book and he's mostly understanding, or at least mostly listening and we're about halfway through. We watched the first Harry Potter on Netflix and Leo didn't get scared or anything.

      Lastly, I started watching Ikebukuro West Gate Park, which I last saw in high school. I used to really like Japanese dramas back then, these days I never make time to watch anything. The theme song for IWGP is this song by SADS, and it reminded me how, years ago, I lost most of my music collection to canceling my iTunes Match subscription, including all of my jrock. Worth a watch if it's on Netflix in your country, imo.
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