By the Numbers

A question of remarkable unimportance popped into my head while showering today and it was one that I figured warranted a little bit of investigation. Over the last couple of months, I've felt as though my blog posts, while not improving in cohesion or clarity, are getting longer as a result of the daily writing cycle. Because there is the admittedly arbitrary personal expectation that a new article is both written and published on the same day, the subconscious mind is working on the question of the day's topic. As a result, even when I'm not particularly charged on the subject matter, it's completely feasible to sit down and write anywhere from 500 to 850 words. Issues that strike a cord can be two or three times longer after a bit of rereading and rewriting. However, the problem with feeling something is the case is that it's a subjective measurement based solely on perceptions clouded by a fallible memory. Fortunately, it takes almost no effort to get this information out of the database with a quick and dirty SQL query1.

Post History

The blue bars represent the number of posts published in a given month, while the line represents the average number of characters published for that month. December 2019's sharp rise can be ignored as there was just one published blog post at the time of the data collection.

So, am I writing longer posts now that I'm sticking to a daily schedule? The data shows the answer pretty clearly: no.

Some interesting patterns are visible in this chart, though. For about 18 months in 2008 and 2009 I was writing more but publishing less often. This was back when I was trying hard to become a "professional blogger". Posts would be sketched out on paper with mind maps before being written, and then they'd sit for a day or two so that I could go back later to revise them with a slight bit of detachment. This process was abandoned mid-to-late 2009 when I started to really participate on Twitter.

As for the spike in the middle, that was during the first few months of Noteworthy, the Evernote-linked blogging engine that pre-dated 10Centuries. The goal at the time was to work out all the kinks in the system so that it could be part of the 2012 Evernote Cup competition. Unfortunately, "stuff happened" and I was unable to participate. The platform did continue, however, and eventually became what it is today.

Seeing charts like this to quantify what is essentially a pastime can be quite interesting, but they're not something I'd want to look at very often. The numbers I seek now are simple: (a minimum of) 1 post written and released on 1 day. If there are more, that's great. If the content is 10,000 words in length? That's amazing. If the post is just an eight-word haiku? That's fine, too. Measuring more than this will quickly drain the joy I feel while considering, composing, and publishing.

  1. Here is the query if you're interested in seeing how the numbers were pulled. All I did was filter on blog posts written by me as myself across all of my sites from October 2016 to present:

    SELECT DATE_FORMAT(po.`publish_at`, '%Y-%m') as `period`, COUNT(po.`id`) as `posts`, AVG(LENGTH(po.`value`)) as `avg_chars` FROM `Post` po WHERE po.`is_deleted` = 'N' and po.`persona_id` = 1 and po.`type` = 'post.article' GROUP BY `period` ORDER BY `period` DESC

    The question needn't be analysed with any seriousness. This was, after all, a question of "remarkable unimportance".

Five Things (I Hope to Accomplish Next Year)

The final month of 2019 has started which means that hundreds of millions of Christmas trees are being put up in homes around the world and shopping malls in dozens of countries have replaced their regular muzak with Christmas songs that will repeat ad nauseam in people's minds like the buzzing of a fluorescent lighting tube nearing the end of its operational life1. The end of the year is often a time for reflection and a time to wind down at the day job. Colleagues will be disappearing for some extended holidays, which reduces the amount of work the people remaining can be realistically expected to complete. It's a time to relax. A time to put things in order. A time to focus on friends and family.

For me, though, it's also a time to go over the previous set of short-term goals, assess what was completed, what wasn't and why, then plan the next 90~120 days of efforts. This weekend I did just this and have identified five key self-assigned tasks that I would like to accomplish before April 2020.

Release an App in the Apple AppStore

Over the last couple of months I've learned quite a bit about SwiftUI and have even made some inroads into building a 10C-centred application. That said, it's still a rough "alpha-grade" project that does the bare minimum, which is obviously not enough. Given that I've already given Apple money for a developer account, it makes sense that I get something in the store as soon as possible so that lessons can be learned and immediately applied to …

Develop an Audio App for ThinkSpot

A month or two ago I received an invitation to join the ThinkSpot beta. The service was very different from what I was expecting, and it continues to be a site that I don't feel quite works for how I would expect to use it. That said, the service has a wealth of interesting podcasts and videos from thought-provoking members that are not found in regular podcast channels or video platforms. The service is still in its very early days, which means there are no apps nor is there a clear API that presents the info I seek in a data-complete manner. That said, I have poked around the API in order to reverse-engineer how one would interact with the platform to assemble a "pseudo-feed" of podcasts and video files. Armed with this knowledge, it's possible to build an application that could read a personal list of followers, get the most recent media URLs, and cache them locally for playback later.

Interestingly enough, I'm not the only person who wants something like this. A number of people have outlined a wishlist for a simple application and it's all within the realm of feasibility. This is something I would really like to get in the AppStore before someone else takes it upon themselves to do the same.

Renew the Government ID

It's that time again. Every half-decade I need to make the trek to the immigration offices in Nagoya to show that I still live here, my passport is still valid, and I'm paying my taxes. So long as all the appropriate boxes are checked, I'll get a new piece of plastic that acts as a secondary piece of ID alongside a driver's license. The process will take the better part of half a day and require two trips to the immigration office because why let someone accomplish a goal with just one visit?

Being an immigrant has its perks, but the amount of extra paperwork that's required can be a bit much at times.

Drop OT Hours at the Day Job

This year, if everything goes according to schedule, I'll have clocked just over 750 hours of overtime at the day job. Mind you, these are just the hours that I've claimed, which is generally a low-ball of what was actually done. 750 hours is almost 19 weeks of 40-hours, which means one could make the case that I'm probably still a workaholic. While this has made it possible to do crazy things like take the family to both Disney and Universal Studios in the space of two weeks, it has also taken a toll on my patience. The goal for the first four months of 2020 is to not exceed 10 hours of OT per week.

Maintain the Post-per-Day Run

Back in September of 2018 I gave myself a goal to write and publish a blog post every day for 50 days. Fifty became one hundred, which eventually became 365. I'm now on day 446, which is far longer than I had ever expected to go with this. That said, if I can go straight through to my birthday next year, it'll be 569 consecutive days of writing and posting. There is no significance to that number, but it'll be nice to pass it on the way to 750, 1000, or 10,000 unbroken days of publishing.

There are other goals of course, but these are the five key items that make sense to share. The others are probably less interesting than these.

2020 is shaping up to be a busy year, and not because of the day job.

  1. I'm not the only one who hears the "phantom buzzing" of a dying fluorescent tube for a couple of hours after leaving a room where one was struggling to remain lit, am I?

Remembering OS/2 Warp

ArsTechnica recently re-published an article from 2013 that covered "the triumph and tragedy of OS/2", IBM's long-forgotten consumer desktop operating system. At six pages, it's certainly one of the longer pieces not written by John Siracusa and covers a time in my childhood when there appeared to be a great deal more drama and excitement in the world of software1. Microsoft was a scrappy startup and IBM was the monolith that made covetable notebooks, powerful mainframes, and really expensive software. While I never used OS/2 Warp in any real capacity, the operating system left quite a mark on me.

OS/2 Warp 4

In the mid-90s, a friend of mine and I operated a little business where we would help people with their computer issues. The venture was called SultanSoft. We had delusions of grandeur and, when not helping someone with a DOS installation or upgrading some hardware, we could be found sitting in my room in front of my first computer, building applications that very few people would ever use. One of the most frustrating jobs we had was trying to get someone's relatively new computer to run OS/2 Warp with some semblance of performance. Windows 3.1 ran just fine, but OS/2 was required.

Everything about the job was complicated. Installing the operating system took far longer than expected. Configuring the "lightning fast" 28.8kbps modem was a pain. Discovering that the client bought the version of OS/2 that didn't ship with the Windows emulator — which he needed — was disappointing. But the most frustrating thing of all was the lag. Everything just took so long on IBM's operating system that we would often wonder if there was something wrong with the hardware. A company like IBM would never release bad software … right?

We tried everything we could think of to get the machine to perform better. At one point, we even tried upgrading the machine, an Aptiva with 2MB of memory, to a ridiculous 4MB RAM! The 2-megabyte, 30-pin SIMM had to be ordered directly from IBM via an authorised service centre and cost just under $70 before tax. When we put the memory into the machine and booted it up for the first time, we thought for sure the 66MHz 386 machine would take off like a rocket.

But it didn't. In fact, we couldn't see any real performance difference despite doubling the RAM. The machine used SCSI hard drives, which were considered the fastest consumer drives back then. It had a dedicated video card with a good amount of memory. Heck, it had a CD-ROM! The machine should have been amazing, but it wasn't. In the end, we were asked to replace OS/2 with Windows 3.11. We completed the task the same day and, because the computer had a whopping 4MB of memory, the system just flew. The IBM Aptiva could handle everything that was thrown at it.

After this unfortunate interaction with the operating system, I never tried to use it again. The world was already rallying behind Windows and I wouldn't even see an OS/2 interface until 2009 when I would visit a company in rural Japan that used the system to control their factory machinery.

Most people in their 40s and older will probably have no recollection of IBM's operating system, which is unfortunate. There were a lot of innovative features that were eventually taken and incorporated into other systems, such as multiple desktops, virtual environments, and the like. Fortunately good ideas have a way of sticking around2

  1. Well … from my vantage point, as a teen with a stack of computer magazines and an insatiable appetite for anything and everything related to software and hardware.

  2. Bad ideas also have a way of sticking around, but they generally require a great deal more work to maintain.

Doing It Wrong

A little over 8 years ago, Apple released Siri onto the world and almost overnight millions of people were talking to their phones rather than just through them. The service is pretty handy and it's incredibly good at determining context from just a handful of words. While the tool does not appear to be used in public very often in this part of Japan, there does seem to be a growing trend overseas where people have the "intelligent personal assistant" do the basic tasks that generally require a person to stop, pull out their phone, open an application, enter data, perform an action, then put the phone away and continue doing whatever it was they were doing before. Just pushing a button and asking Siri to remind us to buy milk the next time we're at the grocery store is very much a Star Trek like interaction with technology.

However, despite the convenience that Siri offers, I've often found it difficult to use for more than a couple of days at a time. This isn't because of misunderstandings or a lack of quick activities involving a computer, but more the result of habit. My first serious interactions with computers took place in 1994 and I've spent at least a couple of hours on a device of some sort almost every day since 19951. Siri was released in 2011 and I first used it a year later on an iPhone5, though only occasionally. From this point, a pattern would play out:

  • Apple releases a new version of iOS, which includes improvements to Siri
  • I update my devices
  • I test Siri out for some basic things and remark at how easy it is
  • I go back to doing my own data entry a few days later

The same thing happened when Siri became part of macOS. It was interesting to have the digital assistant on something more powerful than a phone, and it's slightly fun to say "Hey, Siri; launch Byword, please."2 and see it do so, but talking to a machine and having it respond is still something I find peculiar; particularly when it's for something that I can generally do in under a second with half of my fingers in half of a second without the use of my voice.

Is there a use case for Siri in workflows that involve something more complicated than "Remind me to buy milk tomorrow, please."? I'm sure there is, otherwise the service wouldn't have seen as much time, money, and effort from Apple as it has received. That said, I'm just not seeing how the assistant can offer much in my home beyond weather reports and kitchen timers.

Clearly I'm doing it wrong.

  1. There was a period of about three months in 2002 when, believe it or not, I did not own a computer of any kind. Mind you, this was also the point in my life where I was always just a couple of days away from being homeless. Whenever I received a paycheque, the important things had priority. Rent, then food, then the basic necessities.

  2. No, I don't have the devices set to listen for "Hey, Siri". There's always a button that needs to be pushed. Also, yes, I do say "please" when asking Siri to do something on my behalf. This isn't to garner brownie points when the robot apocalypse is upon us, but more because I'm not at all comfortable asking anyone or anything to do a task on my behalf without a modicum of respect and appreciation.

Free Time

For the first time in what feels like months, the evening is mine to do with as I please. The boy is in bed and my American colleagues are off on a 4-day weekend, which means the pressing matters of the day job can wait until tomorrow. So tonight I will enjoy something that I've sorely missed over the last couple of months: I'm going to meditate.

People choose to meditate for any number of reasons, but I generally use the time to recharge my creativity. When the endless mental chatter is calmed and the mind focused on the singular task at hand, solutions to complex problems are often discovered. Occasionally these will appear during a meditation but, more often than not, the answers to how something can be solved are worked out by the subconscious and communicated via dreams. On days when I meditate, my dreams are much more vivid and memorable … though no less improbable.

Coffee at Midnight

Coffee at Midnight

Coffee at midnight to stimulate the nose.
The mind is plenty active, yet exhaustion shows.
Coffee at midnight to entertain the tongue.
Mostly black with a hint of milk, a preference since I was young.

There is such a thing as too much coffee, but a cup around midnight makes the last few hours of productivity go by very smooth.

Not Signing the Contract

Sir Tim Berners Lee has recently released his latest project, the Contract for the Web which outlines nine principles for governments, companies, and people to follow. On the surface, these nine ideals sound great and are something to get behind. In reality, however, the principles mask contradictions and illogical expectations that do little to resolve the actual issues facing people's access to and/or activities online. To make matters worse, the contract is endorsed by companies such as Google and Facebook; two organisations that have done more to destroy trust and privacy than any entity in the history of humanity. As such, I cannot — and will not — sign the contract.

What's bizarre is how the principles generally align with my beliefs1. Here they are as they're written today:


1 ⇢ Ensure everyone can connect to the internet.
2 ⇢ Keep all of the internet available, all of the time.
3 ⇢ Respect and protect people's fundamental online privacy and data rights.

Whenever the word "rights" appears in a document, I look for the other side of the statement. In order to have rights, there must be responsibilities. Do the outlined responsibilities align with the right being claimed? If so, then there may be precedent in granting the right. Otherwise, it's just a demand.


4 ⇢ Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone.
5 ⇢ Respect and protect people's privacy and personal data to build online trust.
6 ⇢ Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst.

Of the nine principles, number six bothers me the most. When you read more, there isn't one technology outlined. This is all about pushing an agenda that has nothing to do with supporting the best or challenging the worst, which are already subjective ideas that cannot be agreed upon by two people in from the same culture, let alone 7-billion people from every way of life.

More on this later.


7 ⇢ Be creators and collaborators on the Web.
8 ⇢ Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity.
9 ⇢ Fight for the Web.

It's interesting to see number eight in this list, given that Twitter has endorsed the contract. The most active threads on that social forum respect neither civil discourse nor human dignity. Heck, if I were still on that network, I'd probably be compared to Satan himself, because I will not subjugate myself to the groupthink that seems to have become so inescapable over the last decade.

Off-hand remarks aside, these nine principles sound good. Really good. Governments certainly have the power to ensure everyone can connect and access the entirety of the web, both good and bad, while ensuring that there are no state-sponsored or mandated data collection processes in place. Access to the Internet is not a human right, but it should be available to those who choose to use it. I can agree with the surface content of these three principles.

Principle 1.3 comes across as wholly unnecessary, though. It feels as though it was shoved in despite the fact that Principle 1.1 and 1.2 already cover the four items in 1.3. If everyone is supposed to have access, as stated in 1.1, would this not also include "women and other systematically excluded groups"? What part of everyone doesn't include more than 50% of any given population? I wholly agree that everyone should have access. I disagree with the wording that excludes more than 50% of a nation from the word "everyone".

Principle 4.1 (a) also strikes me as bizarre. It reads "[Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone, by crafting policies that address the needs of systematically excluded groups], [by] designing gender responsive and inclusive data plans targeting women and other systematically excluded groups."

So … only cis-gendered caucasian men should pay full price for access to the internet in western nations, cis-gendered Japanese men should pay full price in Japan, cis-gendered Chinese men should pay full price in China, and so on. Everyone else gets a discount … right? Because this is what I'm reading. This isn't me trying to play the victim2. This is me reading the words on the page.

One thing I like about Principle 4.1 is section (c), which reads: "Ensuring user interfaces and customer service are effective, and offered in languages and mediums that are accessible to minorities and people with disabilities, including by respecting universal acceptance principles."

Having a UI that is offered in languages that are accessible to people who identify as minorities will be quite the challenge for anyone in a nation that has more than one tongue3. This is not an impossible task, but it does leave an organisation wondering how to properly address the situation without resorting to the awful use of machine translation software. What I liked, though, was the goal to have interfaces accessible to people with disabilities. Too few websites — including this one, I'll admit — do much for people who might have different degrees of visual acuity.

Principle 5 is wholly incompatible with Google and Facebook's business model. The fact they've been permitted to endorse the contract is why the whole thing is meaningless. Sure, one could argue that we should sign anyways, and "fight" (Principle 9) to ensure large corporations who have signed live up to their promises, but that's not how shit works on the internet.

Principle 6

Where to begin.

First, section (a) "Respecting and supporting human rights, as outlined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights." is not a technology. Neither is (b) "Establishing policies designed to respect and promote the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those pertaining to education, gender equality, systematically excluded groups, climate, and socio-environmental justice.". Nor is (c) "Assessing and addressing risks created by their technologies, including risks associated with online content (such as misinformation and disinformation), behavior, and personal well-being."

Some of these are certainly laudable goals. Who wouldn't encourage the support of human rights? However, none of these are technologies. To wedge this social justice component into a principle that is defined as (to) "Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst" is already presenting itself with a non-recoverable contradiction.

Principle 6.2 brings up the word "intersectionalities" in section (a), a word that has yet to make it into many dictionaries, which means it's already a losing proposition to back this contract. How many "intersectionalities" are there in the world? Let's see … what's the population of the human race? Yeah … that many. We are all human. All of us. Principle 6.2 should really read: "By interacting with people honestly"4. Let's step away from the Animal Farm allegories where some groups are more equal than others, because it's a false narrative. If we are to be treated as equals, nobody can have preferential treatment.

Principle 6.3 is the only time any sort of technology is mentioned. Therefore, Principle 6 has nothing to do with what it claims.

For citizens of the internet, Principle 7 is right in line with what I agree with. Open collaboration, communication, and participation. That's an admirable trifecta to aim for. Principle 8 gets preachy pretty quick, mixing admirable activities with virtue signalling. And Principle 9 … is pretty good for four of the five items it mentions.

There is no denying that I despise what the web has become and have sequestered myself to an island of my own making. The general lack of respect shown by corporations, asshole developers, and drive-by warriors is excessive and unacceptable. Tim Berners Lee and his organisation may be trying to bring about a positive change with this "contract", but it's ultimately untenable. People who truly believe in the nine principles as they're stated on the project page will do what they do regardless of whether they publicly back the initiative or not. People who do not will endorse the contract.

  1. Notice this word; beliefs. I believe in what the principles state on the surface. It's when you "read more" that problems arise.

  2. I am not a victim. I've been raped but, even then, I was not a victim.

  3. Every nation has speakers of different languages. Canada has at least 77 spoken languages and six signed languages according to Wikipedia

  4. I have a very serious bone to pick with group identity politicking, as it's an inglorious waste of time and energy. I may have a certain genetic make-up and certain belief system and certain set of ideologies and certain preferences, but there's no way in hell anyone can group me in with every other person who looks, walks, and talks like me. Fuck that. I am my own person. I speak for me. Nobody else does.

The Challenge

Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
— Rule 51

Over the last couple of weeks the boy has exited the "Terrible Twos" to enter into one of the next phases of his mental development: pushing boundaries. The most common situation that I face with him now is getting to fight and argue over just about everything. It's time to get dressed. That's an argument. It's time to wash some hands because food is ready. That's another argument. It's time to use the bathroom. Yet another battle! Heaven forbid there are multiple steps that need to take place before an activity, because he'll fight and laugh the whole time.

But this is what children do. They try to understand just how much freedom they have, often by being complete nuisances or worse.

A couple of months back I read No-Drama Discipline, a parenting book recommended by a reader2. In it parents are encouraged to follow a series of steps to first understand why their child is being difficult, then redirect that energy into something more productive. The method generally works for situations when we're outside but completely fails at home, where the boy seems to feel he's in charge. Unfortunately this means that on days when we don't go anywhere — which is usually twice or three times a week, depending on weather and my workload — he's more than a handful.

My parents had a relatively consistent way of handling this sort of behaviour with my siblings, and I'm assuming they used it with me, too. Today it would be called assault, but sometimes a quick swat across the hand or the bum can send a message: This stings a little bit now. Keep it up, and it's going to sting a lot more.

That said, I've never hit the boy and it's not something I plan on doing in the future, either. If he learns violence from me, then it's a given that he'll use violence on others. There are better ways to solve problems. They don't work in every situation, mind you, but it's better than doing something that could eventually involve trips to the hospital.

In No-Drama Discipline the ultimate objective is to understand and redirect, which is also, conveniently, an acrostic:

Reduce words
Embrace emotions
Describe, don't preach
Involve your child in the discipline
Reframe a 'no' into a 'yes with conditions'
Emphasize the positive
Creatively approach the situation
Teach Mindsight tools

Historically, seeing conveniently packaged steps like this would make my eyes roll because there's usually a superfluous step or two added to make the pattern work. For my kid, though, I'm willing to accept this as a set of strategies to correct his insolence. I refuse to let him be a little tyrant at home and I sure as heck won't tolerate him being a jerk to other people if he starts acting up outside. The world already has a problem with assholes. It doesn't need more.

So far the most successful strategy with the boy is to reframe a "no" into a "yes with conditions", as he likes hearing the word "yes". This generally works well when there's food involved. This is always prefaced with a describe, don't preach and followed up with an emphasise the positive. In the end, we get a situation like this:

You are not a monkey, so there's no need to shout. You can have an orange after you finish all of your chicken. See how you've already finished your broccoli? Can you do that with your other food? Okay, then. The orange is on the counter and you can have it when you're done.

To which the boy will generally go back to eating3 while staring intently at the orange, as though he were trying to bring it closer through telekinesis.

This doesn't always work, of course. My son loves to echo everything he hears, but he doesn't consistently repeat his actions. Creativity is key …

… yet creativity is so hard to maintain when someone half your height and one fifth your weight is throwing a tantrum and screaming like a banshee because he wants to roughhouse in the living room rather than get ready for dinner.

The boy is still two years old. His language skills are still incredibly basic and devoid of nuance. So while I try to employ a lot of the parenting suggestions in No-Drama Discipline, a lot of the feedback elements are non-existent. It will be nice when the boy is a little bit older and better able to express why he's doing what he's doing. We can reason with a why.

Sometimes I wonder how parents with multiple children manage to maintain some semblance of sanity while raising the next generation to be conscientious and respectable members of society.

  1. The rule is from 12 Rules for Life, a book that a lot of people — myself included — have found incredibly useful.

  2. Thanks for the link, Robert!

  3. With his hands, more often than not. One battle at a time, though.

Five Things (That Happened This Decade)

With the year coming to a close and a lot of newspapers looking back at the decade, it seems reasonable to do something similar as a great deal has happened since January 2010. A decade ago Reiko and I were living in an apartment on the outskirts of Kakamigahara. Reiko was seriously considering going back to university for a Masters degree. I was an English teacher who had delusions of writing software for the company. Twitter was a fun place to interact, and I was using an Acer AspireOne netbook as my primary computer … as that was all we could realistically afford at the time1.

Life seemed to be so much simpler then.

However, there has been a lot of change over this time as well. Some of it good and some of it less so. Today's list is presented chronologically and dedicated to five events that changed the course of the following years.

April 2010An iPod Touch Replaces Windows Mobile

As silly as it may sound, within a very short amount of time of having an iPod Touch, I learned that my software sucked and needed to be better. Not just a little, but a lot. The biggest area where my software failed after being exposed to an Apple device was the interface. Menus and submenus and contextual menus and left clicks and right clicks and "power" functionality when there was a Shift+Click or Ctrl+Click. Then there was the actual design of the interface, with its heavy influence from Windows XP design patterns ….

It wasn't pretty. One thing that my software did manage to do well was having multiple languages right out of the box. Back in 2010 all of my Windows software shipped with English, Japanese, and Korean at a minimum.

However, after using applications designed for iOS, my eyes were opened to how interfaces could actually guide and improve software use. I've never looked back.

June 2010I'm Employed by a Tech Startup

In early June I was supposed to demo a piece of software I developed for the day job called Lemonade to the then-CEO. The tool would help school management with the tedious task of tracking employees trainings, time-off requests, praise forms, complaint forms, and the like. It was also designed to be self-healing and not require a centralised database at all. Using BitTorrent technology, every instance would have a full copy of the database. When a computer failed, which happened frighteningly often back then, a manager could get a new machine, install the software, type in their credentials, and have their data back within minutes. It was an interesting tool that five of the school managers I worked with thought could solve some legitimate problems.

As one would expect, I prepped quite a bit for this opportunity. The software was tested thoroughly. A one-page summary was typed up to explain the problems it would solve, the benefits and the long-term costs of operation. I took the day off so that there would be no schedule pressure. I arrived at the meeting room 3 hours early to make sure everything was prepped and ready to go.

15 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin, the managers of the local schools joined me in the room and we went over some of the main items that a C-level executive would want to hear about. I was nervous, but ready.

15 minutes after the meeting was scheduled to start, it was still just the managers and I in the room.

Half an hour later one of the school administrators tracked the CEO down at a different school in the area. She wasn't coming and she didn't even have it in her mind to let the rest of us know that she wasn't coming.

Two days later a headhunter got in touch asking if I'd be interested in "an exciting opportunity in Tokyo". I agreed to have the meeting and was hired soon after.

August 2010Nozomi Joins the Family

Who knew that a puppy could change a person's life so much? I had dogs and cats while growing up, but they weren't at all like Nozomi. From the time she and I first interacted, we got along quite well. I didn't even mind too much when she would bite hard enough to draw blood. Nozomi taught me responsibility in a way that only a dependent could. It wasn't always easy. There was certainly a bit of sacrifice at times. But it has been worth it.

March 2011The Great Tohoku Earthquake

The 3/11 quake forced a great deal of change to come about quickly. Nozomi wouldn't eat because of all the aftershocks. Reiko was stressed beyond belief. Clean water was darn near impossible to find and the grocery stores were completely cleared out as people stockpiled as much as they possibly could. We needed to get out of the Tokyo area fast.

On the 16th we took one of the first Shinkansens back to Nagoya after the lines were confirmed safe and stayed with Reiko's parents for a couple of days. I was given permission to work remotely for the time being with the understanding that I could be called up to Tokyo at any time for meetings. A week later we went back to our apartment and a fortnight later we decided to move back to central Japan. Again I was allowed to work remotely for a time, but my employment with the tech startup ended in August 2011 after the company sold itself out to Mixi.

January 2017The Boy is Born

This is arguably the biggest event in my life and not just for the 2010~2019 decade. The amount of responsibility that comes with a tiny human is incredible. I can see why some people are unwilling to accept the burden. That said, the amount of joy that this child can generate in people is well worth the challenges that come with parenthood. I've not been a perfect father by any stretch of the imagination, but the boy is rather forgiving at the moment. Every morning I aim to be a better person than the day before.

While these five items stand out as important events over the last ten years, they are not the only big ones. There was a period of 17 months where Reiko and I were en route to a divorce until a series of schedule changes resulted in a large confrontation and several days worth of conversations to get to the bottom of our issues. We never did discuss everything, but we resolved a majority of the big issues.

The period of time when App.Net was a viable social platform was also important, as I met a lot of intelligent and interesting people there. One could probably make the case that the conversations that happened on that network helped shape the way I see the world today.

There was also a three year span where I was involved with at least one podcast, though the last bit was primarily in a support role.

Or maybe the day in 2016 when I finally, after years and years and years of trying, managed to get taken out of the classroom at the day job in order to develop software for the company; a desire I had carried since late 20072.

The 3652 days that make up January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2019 have certainly been eventful. Time seems to move much faster today than at any other point in my life. It will be interesting to see what 2020 ~ 2029 will be like, though I have a very strong feeling that it will be much more complicated than any decade preceding it.

  1. The computer I wanted back when it became necessary to replace my HP Pavilion zt3000 cost about 320,000円. It was another HP that supported a whopping 8GB RAM and one of those newfangled Core 2 Duo CPUs. The 15" display was 1920x1080 rather than the horrendous 1366x768 that appeared on just about every notebook computer in the country between 2006 and 2018 and the keyboard had the Home/End/PgUp/PgDown keys in "the wrong place", running vertically down the right side. 320,000円 was about 5 weeks of wages before taxes and deductions, though. It just wasn't feasible. So, rather than deal with the challenges that would arise from a Toshiba, NEC, or Fujitsu notebook, I opted for a navy blue, 35,000円 Acer AspireOne. It worked well for blogging, but I tended to use it for developing software in Visual Studio as well … which was probably not at all recommended. Interestingly enough, I was able to use the machine up until I bought my first Mac in 2012. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't impossible.

  2. Did I mention that after leaving the tech startup, I went back to work at the same educational company I worked at after landing in Japan? Yeah … that's another story I should tell at some point.

Warm Weather

Back in February people in this part of Japan enjoyed the start of springtime temperatures two months ahead of schedule. A lot of people were concerned that something was different this year1, and the relatively cool summer temperatures didn't to much to dissuade the worry. Today, just before the last week of November, the thermometer hit 24˚C in the neighbourhood and 22˚C at the official weather station some 12km west of here. The weather was so nice that by 9:30am I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt while washing the car outside.

Today's Temperatures

Tomorrow's weather is expected to look much the same as today, too.

Tomorrow's Forecast

This evening Nozomi and I noticed that the nearby park was buzzing with insect life during our evening walk. The late blast of warm air has encouraged some of the hardier bugs to come out and sing for an audience of mammals, but I wonder if they'll survive the night. Temperatures around here generally drop to about 5˚C after midnight in November, and there aren't many sources of heat to counteract the chill. Will the area birds have a feast of frozen grasshoppers waiting for them in the morning?

If the weather continues to be this erratic going forward, then we're going to see local food prices rise quite a bit as neither fruits nor vegetables will enjoy the variability.

  1. I'm one of the concerned people, too.