• The Week #62

    • This week was my last week at BP. I spent it heads down trying to get one last (part) of a project completed and while I didn't get it polished, I was able to get the basics completed. Literally merged about an hour before I finished. It's nice to have a few weeks free and clear without between gigs.
    • 15 minutes after I finished, I had an on-boarding call with my employer of record (basically my actual legal employer until Octopus gets an entity in Japan), going over paperwork requirements to get fully signed up. It was nice to chat with them. The call itself was mostly in Japanese, but everyone on the call speaks English, so it was interesting to hear word replacement here and there.
    • Covid cases continue their decline and Leo's school was canceled until the end of the month. His school seems to be on the more cautious side of this, as not all schools are canceling in our area. The teachers have a 40-minute zoom activity each day, but Leo has zero interest. It's too much stress (for both of us) just to try and get him to watch or dance with it all, so I think we'll be skipping them.

      Assuming the state of emergency isn't extended beyond Sept. 30th and he goes back to school as per usual starting in October, I'm a bit concerned it's going to be a big struggle each morning again.
    • There's a local farmer's market(?) nearby where local producers can bring their veg for sale. The back wall has the names of photos of the farmers who sell their produce there. I took Leo there with the bike and bought veg that isn't usually in the local co-ops like red bell peppers (not sweet ones, same flavor as the green ones, just red) and butternut squash, as well as some super fresh leaks (negi) that still have moist looking dirt on them. Cutting the negi and it was so fresh it kinda oozed like when you cut some aloe vera to treat a sunburn.ย 

      Best of all, it's helping me live up to my values better by consuming more food that's made locally in my city, rather than some nameless farm in hokkaido or tochigi or even abroad.
  • The Week #61

    • Grocery deliver is quite common in Japan (and has been for a while). We've had a weekly delivery of the basics for years, mostly since Leo was born to help us save time and ensure we always have something in the house. Due to an a couple of cases of covid in their distribution our vegetable order was canceled. Fair enough, it happens, no big deal.

      That combined with Fraser's post got me got me thinking about vegetable delivery, again. Besides grocery, some farmers will actually send you a weekly box of whatever is in season for a set price. I could get more local produce and perhaps more importantly, more variety, too.
    • It's been raining all week (again). But with the rain also brought consistently cool temperatures in the low 20's. It's been fantastic.
    • Leo is becoming more like me each day and it's kinda fun. On Sunday he looked outside and said (albeit in Japanese), "Hey look, it stopped raining. We could take our bike to the coffee shop. Let's go ride our bikes to the coffee shop".ย  I was thinking the same thing.
    • But rather than another trip to Starbucks we went and picked up proper Vietnamese food.ย  I haven't anything beyond the occasional pho since we moved to Japan, as there just aren't that many restaurants. Houston has a large Vietnamese population, so the food is everywhere and we'd get it quite often. So good and, man did I miss it.
    • JR announced they're retiring the double-decker Shinkansen. I've only ridden the Shinkansen a couple of times and rode this particular train a few years ago on an employee travel trip to Niigata.ย  I think it may be the only double decker bullet train? Either way it's an end of an era.
    • For Leo's second birthday I got him a talking Woody doll. A few months after he got it, he threw it and a wire came loose inside. I thought I could fix it if I soldered that wire back, but unfortunately I either botched the job or something else is broken. YouTube is full of videos fixing them, so it seems to be a common problem. I wish I had taken it to the Disney store when it first broke.
    • With Leo's school canceled for another week, I had to watch him on Monday. After his 40 minutes of zoom pre-school (which they're doing great, especially given the difficult circumstances) we went on a good loop riding the monorail and enoden. We had good luck and managed to see a limited express while on the Shonan-Shinjuku line, rode an Olympic wrapped mono-railed, saw the blue and green style Enoden trains, and rode the new Odakyu train. Only on the subway did the driver close the shades so Leo couldn't watch out - but I imagine that's because of the glare from the lights making it difficult to see while driving.
  • The Week #60

    • I talked (on the phone!) with Michael about living in Yokohama. It's the first time I've spoken English with a native speaker besides my parents in a bit over a year. I won't disclose the details, but I think living in Yokohama is the bee's knees with easy access to both Shonan and Tokyo.
    • I watched the DjangoCon Europe Keynote ( by @DrFJaeger from Octopus Energy(!)). This talk makes me more excited to join them. Learning about how they use django-configurations makes me think it may be what I've been looking for to allow people to customize their own deployments of Tanzawa. I'll have to fiddle.
    • I optimized the trips feature on Tanzawa for mobile and built a feature to get your current location. If you haven't, you should see my New York Trip from a few years back. Really looking forward to expanding this area of my site.
    • We expanded our bicycle fleet to three bikes: our original 26" E-bike mamachari, my 2015 Giant Escape, and now a small wheeled E-bike mamachari. The main reason we added a third bike to the fleet is scheduling. Leo can't ride on my Giant, so I need a the bike when I pick Leo up from pre-school. But my wife drops him off in the mornings and then goes to work. Coming back to to house and then walking to the station in this heat. We don't drive our car much as it is (maybe once a week? once every couple of weeks โ€“ it doesn't make any financial sense), but I think it'll get even less use now.
      New bike! We call it the "coffee" bike.
    • As expected โ€“ we're using the bikes more. Took them a few stations overs where we'd usually use the car. It takes a few more minutes on the bike, but it's so much more fun. I never get off my bike without a smile on my face.
    • Leo's day-care while we work (during summer break from pre-school) and pre-school itself have been canceled for the next 2 weeks thanks to covid. There haven't been any cases inside the school, but elementary and middle schools have been canceled and they're following suit. Thankfully weโ€™re able to shuffle schedules and get the grandparents to watch Leo so weโ€™re all โ€œon dutyโ€ 1 day a week and only taking a day off each.
  • The Week #59

    • Leo went for a haircut this week at a different place than usual. Usually he goes to this hairdresser that we've known a long time, but she has some equipment just for kids setup. Like instead of a regular chair, it's a chair with a car shell on it with a steering wheel. But getting there is a pain (you have to drive) and their parking sucks (the lowered bit of the curb isn't aligned with their 3 parking spots and not 3 spots wide / they're on a corner which gets constant traffic, so timing of when to back in or back out is no fun), but I digress.

      This time he went to another hairdresser we've known for ages as well. He's really into his craft, does contests and such, but he doesn't have anything special for kids. But it's so much easier to access (next to a train station) and there's a mall nearby for afterwards we decided to give it go.

      Turns out, Leo did great. He didn't care about the car-shell chair. He didn't care that he couldn't watch Anpanman while getting his haircut (which I was apprehensive about anyways). Instead he was chatting up the stylist that was doing his hair. Saying things like, "I have off today, but tomorrow I go to work (kindergarten)", or telling about himself "I speak can English.", and "Densha" is "Train" in English.", or pointing to his Dr. Yellow shoes "Yellow Train".ย 

      Way to go Leo. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป
    • I managed to spend time on Tanzawa this week and I launched a minimal viable version of Trips.ย  It's not finished (the views still need to be optimized for mobile), but it's good enough.
      Blog collections as Trips
    • I imported all of my Swarm checkins into my blog (via micropub) using Swarm-Checkins-Import. There's still some data in there that Tanzawa can't import (at all? yet?) that I'd like to add, namely the venue type (restaurant, park etc...). Why import all of your checkins as blog posts?

      Having my checkin data as blog posts allows me to go back and collect them into trips, which I'm really looking forward to doing. It also allows me to start building fun maps (though it isn't a cluster map, despite the url).
      My checkins on my site!

    • Yokohama had mayoral election and it turned out how I hoped: the center-left (opposition) party took the reins. I'm excited about it not only because the new mayor, Takeharu Yamanaka, is (literally) 30 years younger than the current mayor, but also as he's opposed to turning Yokohama into a casino, he wants extend city covered child-healthcare benefits until middle school and other parent friendly policies, and most of all, he takes climate change seriously. A new leaf for Yokohama, I hope it's a trend for the upcoming general elections this fall. ( Sidebar: I really like his .yokohama domain. I totally want one, but have no idea what I'd do with it...maybe I can find some open-data to map?
  • The Week #58

    • Delta continues its rise in Japan. I don't have much to add beyond "wow, politicians are daft". Ignoring citizens when they overwhelmingly didn't support the Olympics continuing, holding the Olympics, then telling citizens to just forget about traveling home for the holidays...I understand the request (and agree with it), but people aren't going to listen. It's like throwing a giant house party, then the next day, hungover, telling the rest of the neighborhood they can't throw parties โ€“ you've lost moral authority to make such requests.
    • It's been raining non-stop for what feels like a week. Areas in Kyushu have gotten a meter of rain in a couple of days. The constant rain has saturated the ground and there's mudslide warnings in much in the mountains. How saturated you ask? Water is coming up from the ground where it shouldn't.ย  While the 19 - 22 degree days have been a break from the usual 33 degree summer days, I think I'm ready for some blue skies.
    • Last week was Leo's "summer vacation" from school. We didn't go much of anywhere, but Leo got to play with his cousins almost everyday as they were at the grandparent's house nearby. I know he's growing up because he declared that he's not going to school and his still on vacation. ๐Ÿคฃ
    • I started working on Tanzawa again for the first time in what feels like ages. Which is funny as just a couple of weeks ago I said I wasn't going to work on it for a month. Tanzawa Trips is one of the "tent pole" features I had in my mind when I first decided to build a blogging system and I'm happy to finally be starting it.
  • The Week #57

    • Both Yumi and I got our second dose of Pfizer in Shin-Yokohama. Talk about a huge weight being lifted off your shoulders. Now everyone we meet with semi-regularly (Yumi's parents) are vaccinated, I can relax a bit more. My day-after effects included general lethargy and a 38.9 degree temperature. I wonder when kids will be eligible to get the vaccine...
    • I put in my notice at my current job at BeProud, my employer of over 4 years. In October I'll be joining the Kraken team at Octopus Energy as they expand to Japan. It was a difficult decision, but I'm really looking forward to my new role. I'll went into more info in my Why I'm Joining Octopus Energy post.
    • The IPCC report came out and it's a doozy. Things will get worse for the next 30 years. We've got a lot of work to do.
    • The Olympics ended โ€“ and (apparently, I wasn't watching) they cut coverage right when the head of the IOC started talking because a typhoon made landfall in Fukuoka. Classic snub, even if it wasn't meant to be.
    • I'll have about 3 weeks of vacation between jobs, so I'm starting to think about what I'll do. Since we're fully vaccinated, I'd like to make a small trip to another prefecture. Maybe a trip to Izu? Karuizawa?
    • I know I'll spend some time on Tanzawa, getting it documented and easier to deploy. Ideally I want a button where you can click and spin up a server on DigitalOcean (via Docker?) and some method for allowing you to update your Docker container for new releases.
  • The Week #56

    • Covid cases are through the roof in Tokyo. We've hit over 1,000 cases per day in Kanagawa.. Tokyo and surrounding prefectures have entered into a proper state of emergency (ineffective since we've been in one or quasi-in-one since December). And yet the Olympics carries on.ย 
    • We rebuilt the terrace fencing outside our sliding glass door and added some snap together flooring. It feels a lot more homey and it should make it easier to pop outside being able to step on something besides little rocks.
      Rebuilt Terrace fencing
    • We looked at vacuum cleaners. Thereโ€™s nothing broken with our current Panasonic, itโ€™s just heavy , corded (which is never quite long enough and gets caught on everything), and one of those with hose, so youโ€™re constantly carrying the vacuum and the wand (which means itโ€™s hard to move things out of the way). I think weโ€™ve settled on a Dyson as itโ€™s got a replaceable battery. I've started getting ads on Twitter for them, so in another week I should get a discount. ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป
  • The Week #55

    • The Olympics started this week. I'm not actively trying to watch them ( mostly as I don't care about the Olympics in general, but also because I think holding them without herd immunity and with un-vaccinated athletes in a pandemic is incredibly selfish and irresponsible). Problem is: they're on every channel all the time. And I must admit I enjoyed watching the mountain bike race.
    • But because of the Olympics some holidays moved around making this week a 4-day weekend. Unfortunately they didn't move the holidays until a few months into the year, so all calendars are printed with the wrong dates for the holidays.
    • We took a short train ride to Odawara to visit our prefecture's natural history museum. The stars of the museum are a bunch of dinosaur fossils all put on display. Because of the pandemic you can only enter with a reservation and it was great. Outside was a blue skies and 33 degrees and hot. Inside was cool and dark and just a few families. A great escape from the heat.

      Leo's reaction when first seeing the dinosaurs was great โ€“ "Wooow...sugoi~". Iโ€™m pleased he expressed himself in English before Japanese. I was afraid he might be afraid of towering dinos but thankfully that wasn't the case.
    • We got to ride the Odakyu Hakone Touzan Line, which is marked by the red trains, which Leo thoroughly enjoyed.
      Odakyu Hakone Touzan Line

      On the way there and back we also saw some 3-car One-man trains on the Gotenba line.I love the white face combined with the silver body. Wikepedia tells me, the Gotenba line, which connects Kozu and Namazu in Shizouka, used to be the Tokaido line, until they could route through the Hakone moutains in 1934. At which point it got renamed to the Gotenba line and the Tokaido.

      Gotenba Line.

    • I got a haircut. First time in the longest time and well overdue. I always like the result of getting a haircut, but hate the process, so I avoid them for as long as possible, pandemic or not. Thankfully the place I go to now gives us a card and they write down our preference on the card, so I never have to remember how to describe how to cut my hair, which is an issue even in English.
  • The Week #54

    • A couple weeks ago I was lamenting about having to cancel our trip to Atami. However, instead of going to Atami we were able to get our first vaccine shot! Our vouchers came and we were able to make an appointment at a clinic in Shin-Yokohama, with some good timing. It's funny how life works out like that.
    • Since getting my shot, I can't help but think about life 6 weeks from now when I'm fully vaccinated. There's still a pandemic going on and the delta variant, while it (probably) won't put me in the hospital, is something I'd like to avoid. So despite being vaccinated, I don't think it will change too much. Of course Leo's too young to be vaccinated and I don't want to needlessly get him sick just because Dad wants to travel. But man do I think about getting on a bullet train with Leo...ย 
    • Speaking of being sick, Leo spent the week off pre-school being sick. He had a fever (off and on) for a couple of days and a cough / runny nose. This is the first time he's gotten sick since starting pre-school. But it wasn't just Leo. The same virus had 40 kids home from school(!). It was probably the RS Virus that's having a boom-year this year.
    • Our garden is growing. Basil is happy and doing it's thing. Each mini-tomato plant is producing fruit, but they're all still green. Corn is pollinated and growing a few cobs. Bean production has slowed down a bit and the red / orange bell peppers haven't started producing fruit yet. I imagine the bell peppers are waiting for it to get hot and it just started to get hot hot outside. We've also moved the bell peppers so it gets both a southern and western exposure, rather than just a southern exposure. Hopefully that does the trick.ย 
    • I launched a new feature in Tanzawa to allow me to make private and unlisted posts. My motivation was two-fold: 1) I wanted to improve the interface around post-status and 2) I wanted to be able to write posts (mostly replies) on my blog without necessarily cluttering up my main feed. I don't know how much I'll use either of them yet, but I'm excited to see how my habits might change with these new capabilities.
  • The Week #53

    • This week Iโ€™m mostly writing in a retrospective, rather than bit-by-bit throughout the week. Itโ€™s proving harder than I had anticipated.
    • Blake shared a link to fireworks adverts from a Japanese company in the 1880โ€™s in the US.ย  I love the colors so much. Ads of this period are always interesting. Humans havenโ€™t changed as much as weโ€™d like to think.
    • Leo got sick for the first time in as long as I can remember. It just a cough, but we decided to pull him from pre-school for a day so he could visit the doctor and not spread it to other kids. His cough woke up him a couple of times at night, which in turn woke me up, so I'll need a bit more coffee to power through the day.
    • We went to Afternoon Tea in Fujisawa for the first time in ages with Leo for tea (well, I always get coffee/iced coffee). I was totally surprised how well Leo did. He managed to wait patiently for 20 minutes (!) while we waited for a table. He also waited patiently for our scones to come. Achievement unlocked?!
    • I built a little robot out of paper-straws with Leo (well, really he just watched). It was from a little kit made for elementary school students. His name is aru-kun after the Japanese for walk "aruku".
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