• 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.ย 

      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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 ๐Ÿ˜ฌ.
    • 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:ย 

      1. You're not going to win over the 5%ย  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.ย 

      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 sinย  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.ย 
    • We watched Lightyear, the movie about the real buzz lightyear โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 withoutย  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 (โœ…), is so empowering. It makes it possible to go from idea to running in production in a day.
  • The Week #106

    • The news of the week is Abe assassination. Unbelievable. I'm certain this will be dominating the news cycle for the months to come here in Japan. Such a needless loss of life.
    • After a nice lull in cases, the past couple of weeks, Covid cases have been on an upward trend, and are indeed doubling week over week. I think we've finally got the new omnicron variant here taking over. For whatever reason, people seem to be less worried about it this time around...perhaps pandemic fatigue? Or maybe as hospital numbers haven't really changed?
    • Leo saw his first movie in theaters. We went to tsujido to watch the latest Anpanman movie, and he did great. The theater had cushions for the kids to use that raises their seats up by about 4cm. Leo carried it to his seat and out of the theater, refusing my help. He didn't get up or talk the entire movie. Swarm tells me it's my first movie in theaters in 5 years.
    • The battery on my laptop is degrading much quicker than I had anticipated it would. The battery life had felt much shorter recently and indeed, CoconutBattery says it's at 93% of it's capacity. I imagine that's normal for a better that's 2 years old, but it's only been in used for less than 18 months 150-ish cycles. People on twitter tell me that that's pretty good...I just felt like it would have been 95% or 96%?
    • In Garden news, We planted a basil plant and a blueberry bush! The basil is giving off positive vibes next to the tomatoes. I have no idea how the blueberry bush is going to turn out, but having a bush makes it feel like we're eventually going to start putting plants into the ground, instead of planters, sometime.ย 

      About a month ago I tried a jalapeno from my plant and it still tasted like a bell pepper. This week I tried another one. Foolishly I took a big bite thinking "it's probably bell peppery". Boy was I wrong. The milk did nothing to soothe. My theory for the spiciness is that nacho channels his rage at the heat of summer directly into the chilis. Like solar panels, but instead of electricity we get spice.
  • The Week #105

    • ย After finishing Digital Minimalism, I've been skimming it again to write some notes, internalize the lessons, and start creating a plan to introduce the ideas properly into my life. It made me realize there are a few areas where I believe something or want to do something, but I'm not: consistently reducing meat intake, hitting my running goals, reducing my scroll time...and it was kind of depressing.

      "Prioritize demanding activity rather than passive consumption", it sounds easy but it's hard. Finding something to fill those gaps (hours per day!) that isn't just fiddling on my computer is difficult. It's so much easier to just sit and scroll instead of going for a run, or fiddling in the garden. Easier still when it's 35 degrees outside so it's miserable.

      One of the suggestions is to make the activities both scheduled and social, so it fulfills more of our social needs as humans. I'm having trouble finding these types of groups/clubs at a quick search...but it would be nice to find a group so I can create more connections in my local community.
    • On the way to the office on Friday and cousin facetimed me while I was on the train. Rather than just texting him back and continuing the conversation via Messages (low-bandwidth), I decided to apply some of the lessons in Digital Minimalism and you know...talk to people (high-bandwidth)...with my voice (ugh, I know, right?) . We Facetimed while I was walking to the office. I'm not usually one to talk on the video phone in public, but it was a lot of fun to catch up. A good way to spend 10 minutes in the roasting summer heat.
    • After work on Friday we had a welcome party for members from the UK who have been waiting to get into Japan for the past 18 months. We went to Vector brewing in Shinjuku. 3 hours all you can drink craft beer + 8? different dishes. The star was wonderful beer butt chicken (DDG it) which really good. I felt like there was too much meat overall . i.e. The only dish without any meat was the pickled veg at the start, even the salad had roast beef or the potato salad was mixed with tuna. Either way, the food was delicious, beer even better, and company even better still. Can't complain.
    • I've long been against getting an internet connected speaker in my house. Something about having an internet connected mic in my house just seems too ripe for abuse. Yes, my watch, phone, and computer are all technically similar, but the speakers are the only ones that are explicitly designed internet connected mics, not just a by-product of software.

      Which is to say, we decided to get a HomePod Mini. My hope is that we can use it for playing music from Apple Music without turning on the TV. Less "Baby bus" and more Jack Johnson, Ryan Adams, David Bowie. Should've had this revelation a week ago, as apparently Apple's adjusted all prices up ~25% in Japan to account for the weak yen ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜ญ.
  • The Week #104

    • This post marks 2 years of doing "The Week" ๐ŸŽ‰.ย  As things "open up" (they were never closed) and life returns to normal, I'm finding it difficult to remember to write these posts. But once I do sit down and write them, I am grateful I took some time to reflect on the week.
    • The Rainy season ended this week in Tokyo โ€“ 2 - 3 weeks early than it should've and we didn't even get much rain (I feel). It's been hitting over 35C in Yokohama, which is mid-summer temperatures. Hopefully we'll get some good summer rains to help cool things down. As a kid, I used to like summer, but any more I mostly dread it. How much hotter is it going to be this year because we continue to dig stuff out of the ground and burn it?
    • America continues its backwards slide with Roe vs Wade being overturned. We all knew it was coming after the leak, but it's still shocking and disappointing. The Democrat's response to this has also been fairly tone-deaf...reading a poem? Singing "God Bless America"?...and tell us to effectively vote harder? We did. We do. Give is details for how you're going to codify this into law. We can't rely on this court, full of people who lied under oath to secure their seat, to make impartial decisions. The only politician that I see communicating effectively about this is AOC.
    • I played a bit with Fly.io in an attempt to get Tanzawa deployable without running your own server. I couldn't get it running as I kept getting "Command not found" errors, when fly ran the container. This is confusing as the command exists when I run the container locally...another one for next week, perhaps.
    • I found this song by CHOUJI - ๅฅฎ้—˜ไธญ (funtou-chu (hard at work)) and I really like it. I used to listen to a lot of J-hiphop/J-reggae when I was in college. I should do more of that.ย 
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