• The Week #116

    • Nanmadol, the biggest typhoon/tropical storm since accurate recordings began made landfall in Japan. It's blowing sustained winds are 108 kilometers per hour (67 mph) and gusts up to 162 kilometers (100 miles) per hour. Nanmadol is actually over Yokohama/Tokyo as I write this. Usually typhoons pass quite quickly, but this storm seems like it's taking its time boating along at around 20kph. I enjoy a good storm less than I did when I was younger, perhaps because I'm responsible for handling any damage might occur.
    • We made reservations to go camping next month at Well Camp Nishi Tanzawa. We'd talked about it before, but neither of us went camping as a kid, so it's a bit daunting to get started. One of our friends from pre-school whose husband camps and is trying to get his family more into camping invited us, so we decided it's now or never. Getting the basics camping for a family is relatively expensive. I'm justifying it in my head in two ways: it's good preparation for disasters and each successive trip is quite affordable. Not to mention it gets us out into the Japanese mountains and countryside which is so beautiful.Β 
    • I started on a redesign just the main page of my blog (and really for Tanzawa as a whole). Rather than just being a list of full blog posts, I'm going to make it more summary driven. I plan to remove the streams sidebar from the homepage, so I'll have the full horizontal area to use. Right now I'm thinking about a just a small feed at the top with my last 5 "status" posts (truncated and linked to the full post) at the top.Β 

      Other widgets I want, but I'm undecided where / how they'll look are:Β 
      • "Last seen at: ...", with a link to my latest checkin postΒ 
      • A 4x4 widget with my recent photos (unsure if this should depend on proper Photo posts or just show the recently uploaded/public photos).
      • A list of recent posts (non-status, things with titles).
      • Maybe some kind of map with recent checkins.
      • Would love to integrate weather or other real-time / stats data.
  • The Week #115

    • On Sunday I went for my first ride in about a week. This was an easy paced 20km, just exploring a bit. On the cycle routes it's so easy to get into the zone – just you and the machine, cranking faster and faster until...it's you've reached your exit and it's time to slow down.
    • The same day, Leo also decided he wanted to go to Baba's house – back on (a different) bike and cranked out another 15km round-trip. Which is to say, my legs are a bit tired on Monday. Not sore, just tired.
    • Speaking of being tired, Leo's starting to speak a lot more English to me. The first words he says to his mom, who is expecting Japanese first thing, are "I'm Tired". Focusing these past few months speaking as much English as possible seems to be paying off. Or maybe it's the Netflix Teen Taitan's Go! subscription (so, so good).
    • I found this fantastic series on Arte called When Bread Becomes Art. It documents different bakers in different parts of Europe. My favorite episode so far The Power of Fermentation, mostly because of this scene where they're in Denmark where he's teaching a sourdough baking class at this marina and :chef-kiss:, it just seemed so nice. It reminded me of our visit to Gustavsberg (though that's Sweden, not Denmark). Nice cool summer weather, ocean near by, sourdough bread – sign me up.
    • It looks like Japan is finally going to open its borders back up to vaccinated / negative PCR travelers and reinstateΒ  visa waivers. After over 2.5 years of being closed it will be nice – maybe my parents or siblings can visit? I'd love to visit the US, but with flights being about $4,000 round-trip per person, Β₯144/USD exchange rate, and all the other costs, it's not happening. Hopefully opening the borders will increase the availability of flights and reduce the prices to realistic levels.
    • We did this fun thing at work during summer where we'd try to get customers to reduce electricity usage during peak demand hours and in exchange they could win some prizes (as an employee, no prizes for me πŸ˜€). Since it ended the team made a nice summary page where you can see how much electric you saved and how that translates into CO2 / Trees. I managed to save 3.5kWh or about 2kg of CO2, which is about the same amount of CO2 as 13.5 trees would absorb in a month. Yes, we need systemic change, but it's neat to see the impact you can make by turning up the AC a degree here or there.
  • The Week #114

    • The variety of places we can eat / order from with Leo is slowly increasing. He's been on a curry kick as of late, which is great as we can get veg into him easily, but we also took this chance to grab some Indian takeaway. He ate up the butter-chicken curry. I was hoping to have him try some of my mixed vegetable curry, but they only heard "mixed" when taking our order and gave me the mixed seafood curry.
    • We had a company BBQ at Kasai Rinkai Park in Tokyo. The park is one stop from Disneyland (which you can see from the top of the Ferris wheel). I took Leo with me to meet my "work friends" and he was super excited. The setup is quite nice – basically if you have a reservation, you just need to show up. They have all of the BBQs, give you the charcoal, fire starters, tongs and food to grill. You just need to start the fire and grill. We let one of the Australians on the team man the barbie – it's in their blood. (yes, there were some huge shrimp included and no, I didn't ask him to "put another shrimp on the barbie", but mostly as I didn't think to do that until just now...next time).
    • I went out for a couple of rides along Sakai-gawa and I'm really enjoying it. It's a bit easier now as it's cooled off a bit from the summer highs. While I enjoy riding along the river (nice scenery, no cars) it does make me wish I could incorporate more longer-ish riding into daily life. The usual way people do that is to commute by bike, but that's not feasible as the office is 50km / 3 hour ride away. I guess what I'm getting at is that it would be nice to have a destination, other than just out and back.
  • The Week #113

    • I met with a buddy for a couple of brews in Totsuka. A few years ago when we met for drinks in Totsuka we tried to visit Yokohama Brewing, a local beer brewer. But that time it was the day after a public holiday, so they were closed in lieu of being open on the holiday. Sunday wasn't a holiday, so they must be open.Β 

      Wrong! When we arrived there was a sign on the door, the entire staff was off because they were attending a Yokohama Baystars baseball game. Maybe next time we'll be able to have beers there, 3rd times' a charm and all.
    • After wandering around a bit we found a nice Okinawan restaurant that had some tables out front so we could enjoy the cooler weather with our beer. The old lady running the joint wanted to take our photo for her Instagram story, which we obliged.
    • Leo's started mimicking? role playing? me. Out of nowhere he started saying he needs a desk and a computer in his room. Fine – we have an old IKEA Lack table and that old (now working fine) Macbook Air laying about. He starts typing in the notes app and tells me to close the door because he has to work. Then he tells me to go to my office so we can work together (each in our own office though).

      It got me thinking – in his mind working 90% remotely is completely normal for him. The shock when he realizes that most people, especially in Japan, don't get to do that, is gonna be huge.
    • However, now that Leo is "working" and pre-school is starting up he's started also saying "I'm not going to pre-school, I need to work". He does say he wants to study English while he's workig, so at least there's that. I feel like it's gonna be a long couple of weeks while we get back into the routine after a long summer break.
  • The Week #112

    • About two months ago I saw that Disney on Ice was going to be in Yokohama. Fresh off our trip to Disneyland, I bought tickets for us as I knew Leo would enjoy it. And naturally right as I did, a fresh wave of covid started its thing. Having been burned the last 2 times I tried to plan anything I was trying to not raise my hopes that, even though the tickets aren't refundable, that I'd actually be able to see it. But in the end, we did and it was a lot of fun.
      Tink and the gang
    • A (Japanese) college friend who I haven't seen in years was going through Kanagawa and dropped by for the day. It was really great to see him and introduce him to Leo. Leo took an immediate liking to him and kept trying his convince my friend that he should stay the night. We went to Lucy's, that American restaurant we went a couple weeks back for dinner. The key-lime pie was on point.
    • As I've (probably?) discussed before, my wife practices Kyudo, or Japanese archery. There's been a recent uptick in people interested because of Tsurune, a manga about Kyudo. And as with many manga, they also get made into movies. We saw Tsurune the movie this weekend, which was released on Friday. I was surprised Leo made it through the entire thing, but that was mostly thanks to sneaking in some potato chips and a little box of milk and timing delivery. The movie itself was beautiful.
    • I had another 4-day weekend because it's the last week of summer vacation and my wife worked on Monday. As it was cooler out we decided to go to the play at the beach early that day. Leo's swimming classes are paying off as he's really starting enjoy swimming and playing in the water.

      Of course as we're at Enoshima, we had to visit the aquarium as well. We couldn't see the dolphin show, but instead Leo and I explored areas of that he usually runs past on his way to see the jelly fish, sharks, and the dolphin show. It wasn't nearly as crowded as I was expecting. Though maybe it's because everyone was sitting at the dolphin show 😬.
    • Looking at this week it occurs to me that I went out a lot. It's been good to have some sense of 2019 in life. How wise this is/has been from a covid standpoint remains to be seen. With Leo starting back at pre-school this week, I am looking forward to getting back into our regular routine and slowing things down a bit.
  • The Week #111

    • My office area has been a mess, pretty much since we moved to our house. It's still a mess, but less so. Basically the problem is we have some awkward sized things that don't really fit anywhere and there's no proper place to put things...so they ended up getting grouped in an area. What I realized was I had heaps of storage vertically and I wasn't using it. I bought another steel shelving unit from muji (large this time, instead of the extra large) and put it across from my other shelve.

      Now there's a perfect spot to store the bike charger and all the other random stuff that didn't really have a place. It's great.
    • I've taken about a month off from running. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's getting bored with always running the same general area. Maybe it's, despite best efforts, I can't run slow enough to stay in "zone 2". In place, I've started taking out my acoustic bike. It's so much fun to ride. Maybe this will be my thing?
    • I finished reading Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World and I'm glad I stuck with it. The three main take-aways I had from it are:Β 

      1. You're not going to win over the 5%Β  of the population that are climate change denialist, so don't waste your energy trying. Instead, focus conversations about climate change with the 95% who either agree / can be convinced / are somewhere along that spectrum.Β 

      2. For die-hard conservatives, they associate climate change as a liberal political issue and will often automatically disagree with doing anything (we saw this with the recent passage of the IRA). For climate change conversations with such people, focus instead on local issues, which brings it home. e.g. The local river isn't as full as it used to be and this will lead to water shortages -> as a community we've got to be prepared to properly manage -> how can we solve the issue, roughly. Especially important in this is it doesn't matter if you don't agree all the time, but that choices/lifestyles trend in the low-carbon direction.

      3. Using your car doesn't make you a sinner and approaching carbon output from the perspective of sinΒ  is counter-productive. Sticks don't work. I always felt a sense of moral guilt each time I used my gasoline car knowing that I was making the problem worse. I still feel that to a certain extent (especially in summer), but it's not like before. I don't beat myself up over it. Note that this is separate from general disdain for driving and cars generally, but that's been there for as long as I can remember and is separate from climate change.
  • The Week #110

    • The biggest news this week is the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. This is basically a bit watered-down version of Build Back Better, but without the social benefits. Words can't express how happy I am that the US is finally doing something about climate change. 370 billion USD is a lot of money. This bill was the strongest climate change bill ever in the US. My hope is that it's just the start and we can build upon it more and more.

      It's funny how just 3 weeks ago it felt like all hope was lost in the US...generally...but especially in regards to climate change...and now we have a fighting chance. I think it is worth calling out that it was Democrats who gave us a shot at saving the planet, because every Republican voted no. Worse than no, they removed a $35 price-cap on insulin that would've helped type-1 diabetics stop getting gauged by the pharmaceutical companies.Β 
    • We watched Lightyear, the movie about the real buzz lightyear – not the toy. I wanted to see it in theaters in English. However our usual theater in Tsujido only had it in Japanese. I'd need to visit Minatomirai/central-Yokohama to watch it in English. That's when I saw it was $20 USD on iTunes on my AppleTV. Even with the horrible exchange rate, that worked out to the cost of just me and Leo going to the movies, so we bought it. It was really good – I quite enjoyed it.
    • I got a battery powered pressure washer and started using it around the house. First on the balcony outside office and the results are great! Once confirming it wouldn't mess up our siding in a non-visible location, I started using it on the north side of the house, which has gotten a bit dirty / green with a field being right there. I need to get a ladder so I can get the second floor as well...
    • We had an issue with leaf-miners green beans in the garden. You can tell because they leave these white lines through the leafs as the eat the inside of them. Rather than get some chemical pesticide I tried using neem oil instead, as it's organic and since I'd rather not digest *icides if I can avoid it. Since spraying the neem, I haven't seen any new leafs with leaf-miners and a week later it's looking fuller and greener than ever.
  • The Week #109

    • We spent the night at the Odawara Resort & Spa with Yumi's sister and her kids. It was a lot of fun, though quite tiring. The main attraction is the collection of swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor. You're free to use them before the official checkin time as well.

      Traveling like this is lots of fun, as there's nice air conditioned activities for the kids built in. We swam in the pools for probably 5 hours, total. A few hours before dinner and again after dinner.
      The door on the right is actually full of water and leads to the outdoor pool
    • We got a new sofa that is long enough to lay down on and finally makes the living area feel complete. Now that we have two sofas, we've arranged them facing each other. The idea is that we'd rather chat or read than focus in the TV.
    • The green bean plant has a case of leaf miners that I've let get out of control. I let it get that far because I couldn't decide how to combat them. I'm not an organic gardener (or a proper gardener really), but I hated the idea of spraying some wonder chemical on food that I'm going to ingest. Turns out, neem oil might could do the trick. And as it's just a vegetable oil, I don't need to worry about eating something that, we find out, causes cancer or something as so many of the pesticides do.

  • The Week #108

    • My Uncle Kelly passed away. He was just 61 years old. He was a good man. He was very good mechanically and could build any machine you could dream of (or at least he could from my perspective). I'm simultaneously filled with sadness of his passing, worry for my mom (they were twins), and anger at the American health insurance "norms" that results in people enduring pain longer than they should, going to the doctor when they can't bear it any more, and ultimately find something too late. Rather than rant about things I cannot fix, I feel like I should write a proper post about him, so that's all I say for now. Uncle Kel, you will be missed.

      Disclaimer: The rest of this post was written before this bullet. It feels a bit flippant in the wake of things, but I'm leaving it as a record of the week before he passed.
    • My first week with Tanzawa Health has been a success. I've logged my weight and mental state each day. While I'm tempted to start building graphs so I can visualize the data I'm collecting, I'm also in no rush – just having that single reference point is enough to keep me on the right track.
    • I (finally) started working on adding support for photo posts. It's still a ways away, but I think I know what / how I want them to look. Photos will also the first feature where I introduce HTMX / Hyperscript into Tanzawa as I migrate away from Turbo/Stimulus.

      Why migrate away from Turbo/Stimulus? I'm not a fan of the webpack build process I need to use for it, which means I'm hesitant to fully embrace it and my app suffers because of it. HTMX / Hyperscript seem to have been embraced by the Django community as well (Turbo comes from the Rails community), so it also makes sense to use the preferred tool of the ecosystem. I'll outline my plans for photos in another blog post.
    • I did the 2022 Sotestu Stamp Rally with Leo. Stamp Rally's are a common summer activity in Japan. Basically you're given a booklet and at select stations there's a stamp station inside/outside the station. Once you complete the selected stations, if you're early enough in the season, you can collect a small prize.

      Completed Stamp Rally! 6 overlayed stamps to make this image.

      We visited all 10 stations and got the prize! I had thought about checking in to each station/location so I could make a trip and get a nice map, but decided against it and just focused on hanging out with Leo. I'm glad I did that.
    • Over a year ago Sophie knocked over a cup of coffee (being places we she shouldn't be!) and killed my wife's 2014 Macbook Air. I took it apart, cleaned it and tried to fix it, but it wasn't quite right, so about a year ago we bought a replacement. It's been sitting in my office collecting dust ever since, as I procrastinated clearing the hard drive and taking it to Apple to recycle.

      I charged it up and went to delete everything on it when I realized – it's working perfectly again. Sound is working. WiFi is working. Keyboard is fine. Trackpad is also fine. Half of it wasn't working a year ago. Maybe a year of the cold and heat let it fully dry and sort itself out?

      As we already got a replacement machine for it, I fiddled a bit with Fedora 36 on it (via a live-usb). Naturally as it's Fedora, it requires some faff to get WiFi working (which will probably require installing, as a reboot is required for new drivers, I think). But I was able to even get that far because I could share WiFi from my computer over bluetooth and it just worked! I'm amazed.

      I think Fedora might be my new OS once it starts to become a hassle to use my Mac because of outdated software. Big Sur is the last macOS my computer is compatible with, so I'm already not able to run the latest OS.
  • The Week #107

    • With the rapid rise in cases of covid in Japan, it's only natural that it hits close to home. Someone in Leo's pre-school got it, so his week ended early and we're back to doing the random closures of school that we did in spring.

      Leo had a 39 degree fever on Wednesday night, so it's possible he got it as well. We tested him, but it came back negative, so maybe it was something else.
    • Europe is having a heatwave reaching temperatures not forecasted to occur until 2050. That combined with a single man (a "Democrat", no less) blocking US federal climate action has made it a rough week. We've got to get off fossil fuels...
    • I made an inquiry to the guys that are installing our solar, as they also do electrification work, to see about what it would cost to get an IH hob and water heater installed at the same time as our panels. My guess is probably 5 - 6k.
    • We have a trip planned for the end of the month with my sister-in-law and Leo's cousin's to a nearby resort hotel for a night. It has a nice pool and I didn't have any swimming trunks, so I bought some.

      I bought a new pair of Quicksilver trunks. Seeing all of the surf brands reminded me of growing up in Huntington Beach. Being a beach town in California, most everyone wore Quicksilver, Billabong, Roxy, or other surf brands. I never wore any of their clothes as it was too expensive for us (though I did have a sweet Rip Curl backpack for a couple of years). Though I haven't thought about these things in 20 years, being able buy the things we couldn't afford growing up without thinking much about it makes me feel incredibly fortunate.
    • I made a new Health plugin for Tanzawa. It's most immediate goal is to provide a way for me to track my weight / and mental health without any fuss. Why not use some app on my phone? There's a couple of reasons and regular readers of my blog can guess:

      1. My data would be locked into some application or service that I'd have no control over.
      2. The interface would likely require more taps and swipes to record 2 small data points. ( Inputting it directly into Apple Health requires like 7 taps and heaps of scrolling)
      3. The data collected would almost certainly be sold off to big tech for additional profiling.
      4. Health can start to becoming the bones of my future Strava / health-related integrations.

      The most important part though is that it's not public in any way, unless I want it to be. My hope is that I'll be able to find trends and course-correct easier. Things like: "Hey, you've had 3 days in a row feeling sad. Maybe you should talk about it?", or "You're down 2kg over this time last month, great job!", or, conversely, "You're up 2kg since the last month. Are you stress eating?".

      I can't emphasize enough how much having a platform like Tanzawa, which allows me to quickly and easily add forms / data to a database withoutΒ  thinking about design (just match what I already have), or where I'm going to host it (already hosted), or any of the faff with a new project (βœ…), is so empowering. It makes it possible to go from idea to running in production in a day.
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