Neighbourhood Vaccination Day

Last week a postcard arrived in the mail addressed to Nozomi, "care of" me. In big letters the document announced that it was time for everyone to have their dogs vaccinated for rabies, and that pop-up veterinary offices would be set up around the city to make the mandatory shots easier to receive. A schedule showed the nearby community centre would have a vet on hand for one hour today, and I booked some time off at the day job to make sure Nozomi would have her first-line of protection for another year.

A lot of cities in Japan require that non-human members of the family be registered with the local government and must be done so within two weeks of moving. The paperwork is a nuisance, but the city generally makes up for it by making an effort to ensure that every registered animal in the area has the basic set of shots every year at a discounted rate. Today's shot was priced at 3,400円1, which is about 100円 cheaper than one would pay at a vet. The discount is real, though not particularly compelling. What was compelling, however, was the proximity. The vet (mostly) came here, rather than us going there.

Background aside, Nozomi and I made our way to the community centre at 1:30. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and Nozomi was more than willing to trot along at a decent pace as we followed the pedestrian walk that winds through the neighbourhood. Along the way we met a dozen smaller dogs and a good many more larger dogs. It seemed that everyone who had a canine companion wanted to be first in line.

Fortunately there was little need to worry about lineups.

Typically when there are community pop-ups in Japan, I generally plan to stand around waiting for a minimum of half an hour or more. This wasn't the case today. As Nozomi and I walked up to the injection site a vet approached us and asked for the postcard. He asked a couple of questions, wrote some notes on the card, then asked me to sign it. Almost as soon as I was done writing my name a needle came out. The shot was over before Nozomi could even react with more than a quick head-turn.

Once done, I stood in line to pay for the service and pick up the requisite evidence that the little puppy was good for another year. All in all, the walk to the community centre took more time than anything. I'm not accustomed to this level of efficiency when the city is involved. Last spring when we registered her with the city the entire process took 45 minutes and involved writing her name, my name, our street address, the type of dog she is, and whether she's been fixed or not. Things that could really be done online rather than in person in a stuffy office with slow-moving bureaucrats.

As Nozomi took the injection rather well, we went for a bit of a walk to a different park afterwards so that she could enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. The older she gets the more relaxed she seems to become.


  1. 3,400円 works out to about $30.50 USD.

Server Down

So much for my five-nine's of availability1 in 2019. Today I had a couple of minutes between meetings at the day job, so decided to connect to the web server hosting 10Cv4 and install some operating system updates. This is something that I've done hundreds if not thousands of times with various servers over the years. After the installation scripts completed I saw that I was within the 38-minute "lull period" where traffic to the service is generally at its lowest for a Wednesday and issued a sudo shutdown -r now command, telling the server to reboot.

Less than 30 seconds later I was reconnected and checking available storage space when my phone notified me of an issue with 10C. The site was offline. I checked with the notebook and found that the service was indeed unresponsive. The server was running, as I was connected via SSH. Apache was running on the server. The database was also operating well. But no traffic was being received. I checked to ensure that the firewalls were configured correctly, and that the IP address of the server handn't changed2. I cycled the software. I rebooted the machine. I checked error logs, installation logs, and configuration files. Everywhere I looked, the server appeared to be fine.

Cloudflare's Dreaded Error 523

By this time the service had been down for five minutes and a recovery plan needed to be enacted pronto. There were three viable options:

  1. Restore the VPS: This would essentially see me wipe the server clean and start with a fresh installation of 10Centuries. A backup would be pulled down and restored, returning the system to its previous state seconds before the reboot that brought the service down. Total recovery time: 90 minutes.
  2. Transfer 10Cv4 to the backup VM: As one would expect, I have a virtual machine image set up on the same server that is running 10Cv5. The machine could be brought online in less than 30 seconds with the most recent database restored and ready less than 45 seconds after that. I test this process every morning and it consistently takes between 73 and 75 seconds to complete. Once done, I would need to ensure the routing and forwarding was properly configured on the v5 server, which could interfere with some of the Apache settings that allows v5 to do what it does. Total recovery time: 15 minutes.
  3. Migrate v4 to v5: With the virtual server in Osaka slated to be decommissioned in two weeks when the annual service package expires, the v4 service would have to be migrated to v5 in the very near future anyway. One could argue that it's better to rip off the band-aid now rather than buy time and delay the process any further. Total recovery time: the rest of the day.

Yes, I went with the third option.

While it may not seem like the wisest decision given the lack of complete documentation, the lack of notice, and the stunning lack of functional code in various parts of the system, forcing the migration to v5 should work out to be a net positive. There will be more incentive to complete the outstanding items, as if there wasn't enough already, and it will be possible to see how well the home network can handle the traffic. If problems crop up right away, then it will still be possible to renew the VPS service with the Osaka data centre3, set up a newer infrastructure, and move everything over as a single package.

This is the plan, anyways. And with everyone on the same version on the same server, there will be a singular place to read updates rather than the plurality of timelines that has existed for the last eight months.

To the people who use 10Centuries on a semi-regular basis, I am very sorry for the downtime and hassle that will come from changing DNS records, workflow processes, source code, and preferences. One thing is for certain, though: once the migration is complete (along with a little more documentation and coding), people will prefer what v5 has to offer.


  1. Five nines generally means a service is accessible and usable 99.999% of the year, which means the system must be down for less than 315.6 seconds per year. My servers can generally shutdown and reboot in 23 seconds when everything is running properly, allowing for regular maintenance windows for security patches and other items to be installed.

  2. This would be weird, given that the 10Cv4 server is running in a data centre in Osaka with an IP that hasn't changed in years.

  3. 10Cv4 used a 2G VPS with 50GB of SSD for the web server and a 4G VPS with 100GB SSD for the database server.

Briefly Young Again

Nozomi and I generally stick to the same walking routes when we go out together. In the morning we get into the park and head west, where she can enjoy a great deal of soft grass and shade from the trees that tower overhead. In the afternoons we head south so that she can go up and down some hills that are just steep enough to encourage her to work a little harder. In the evenings we walk east onto the baseball diamond where she can enjoy a large expanse of safe, flat land after the sun's gone down. This regular pattern was stumbled upon after several months of sluggish walks where Nozomi would let me know in her way that she wasn't interested in continuing her outdoor explorations after covering about 100 meters of well-trod lawn. She's going to be nine years old next month, and she's clearly less interested in exploring all the smells of the park in one go, which is why we have three routes that are taken at three different times of day.

This evening, as we made our way to the baseball diamond, something in the distance caught my eye. The park is not very well lit after leaving the paved paths, so I wasn't quite sure what the object was, but my imagination filled in the gaps to reveal what could be a forgotten tennis ball. Over the last couple of years I've tried at times to get Nozomi to play around a bit like she used to without much success. While she still enjoys having her stuffed dog Kodama around, the toy is really more for smelling than anything else. She ignores balls and ropes completely.

A Forgotten Tennis Ball

As we got closer to what I believed to be a ball, I tried to get Nozomi feeling a little excited. I used a playful voice and asked her some nonsensical questions about running shoes and whether she stretched before coming out for a walk. My goal was to encourage her to get closer to the object so that I could see if she wanted to have some fun again like we see other dogs doing in the park from time to time.

The goading paid off. Sitting forgotten in the middle of the outfield was a relatively new tennis ball. I kicked it over to Nozomi and she responded instantly, jumping into the path of the spinning object and claiming it as hers with a playful growl. I managed to wrestle it away with some misdirection then tossed the ball a couple of meters, hoping she would chase after it. Chase she did. For the first time in quite some time a youthful, playful puppy was enjoying a warm evening outside with a ball and a game of fetch. This was the first game I taught her many years ago when we lived in Kashiwa, before the big quake hit. Watching her chase after the ball in much the same way she chased after the stuffed heart-shaped toy that she would chew on in the pet shop before we brought her home was like therapy. She growled playfully when I would approach. She wagged her tail just like she used to. Her eyes smiled with delight.

Sadly, this wasn't to last. In less than five minutes she was exhausted and wouldn't chase after the ball anymore. She wanted to continue with her walk and get home for dinner. Given that this was the biggest workout she's had in months, I can't say I blame her. This will not be her last workout, though. Not by a long shot; I brought the ball home.

She'll get another chance to chase and play tomorrow … if she's up for it.

RAM Emergency

How much memory does a typical computer need in 2019? When I look at machines that are sold at electronics shops1, I'm seeing machines that ship with between 4 and 8 GB of RAM. Looking at the Lenovo and Dell websites will show much of the same. Most of the notebooks that are handed out at the day job also fall into this category, with schools getting machines with 8GB, and managers getting units with 4GB2. When I moved out of the classroom in 2016 I was given a Lenovo W541 notebook with 8GB of RAM, which I promptly upgraded to 32 because it was the right thing to do. That machine has since been converted to a development server and I'm now using an X1 Carbon with 8GB. As I've lamented, perhaps too often, the sleek little notebook is great except for one little detail: 8GB is simply not enough.

RAM Emergency

As one would expect, I've brought this up with a couple of my managers who have all pretty much said the same thing: there isn't money in the budget right now for a new machine, so try to make due with what's at hand. I am certainly accustomed to working with what's on hand, though it generally means that I try to find creative solutions to my problems. The "fix" that I currently have is to offload work to other machines. I can send large workloads to the development server upstairs to chug through or, if I need even more power, a potent virtual machine with lots of memory and processing horsepower has been configured for me to use at the corporate data centre. This means potentially transferring up to 50 gigabytes of compressed data3 to get work done. It's suboptimal, but it's better than struggling with a machine that is simply not up to the task.

Today was pretty rough, though. More than once I noticed the machine struggling to keep up with the workload. If I were doing data transformations today then I could understand why the physical memory was exhausted and the swap file was being thrashed. However, today's tasks were all about working with web development tools. No database work. No API development or testing. Just design and development. Why couldn't the machine keep up?

The company had a RAM emergency. The office had too much RAM.
— Jen Barber, Relationship Manager for the IT Department of Reynholm Industries

Sometimes I'm tempted to bring up the issues that I face when using this notebook to carry out my duties. I didn't have these problems when I was permitted to use my own hardware, a MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and a much slower SSD running the very same version of Ubuntu as the Lenovo. The previous system I had requested was denied as it came out to 338,700円, which is just over $3,000 USD. If I'm a little more conservative and choose a similar machine to what I have now, an X1 Carbon with 16GB RAM, less NVMe storage, and a higher resolution screen for 182,488円, which works out to just under $1,650 USD. The 2019-model X1 Carbons will be shipping in June, so the current version is priced to clear.

But am I asking too much?

For the longest time I have tried to cost the company less money than anyone in IT. This doesn't seem to be the case anymore. I work an excessive number of hours overtime and the hardware that I've managed to acquire over the last three years is not cheap. All of this is in the service of the day job, of course, but there is still a cost involved. The management has already said "no" to the request, so coming back at them for the third time in less than four months could appear to be selfish or persistent in the worst way.

While it's true that I could just "secretly" go back to using my own personal hardware to get the job done, I would be much more comfortable having sensitive, work-related data on a work-owned machine. This way, if I am terminated or decide to leave the company at some point in the future, then I'll know that there's no company data on any of my machines. Wiping a drive and re-installing an operating system isn't enough when it comes to keeping a device clear of data, as there are backups that could also contain data that does not belong to me. I treat this subject seriously as it's my responsibility to protect and maintain data not just for the day job, but for a number of people I offer services to. For this reason my machines will continue to be used for non-day job tasks. In the meantime, it will probably make the most sense to continue doing what I'm doing, working with the tools I have and finding ways to make it all work. When it comes time to discuss this year's performance with the management team, it may be possible to bring up the topic again.

Besides, I can always use the occasional system sluggishness as an excuse to get up and walk around; something I don't do nearly enough of anymore.


  1. Never buy a computer from an electronics shop unless it's an absolute emergency. You'll pay through the nose for something that's worth less than half of the amount you forked over. Buy online if at all possible.

  2. I don't understand the logic, either. Outlook alone will consume all of this just to start up, nevermind what the browser(s) and operating system want.

  3. I work with a lot of databases. Right now I've been tasked to perform a number of data migrations for corporate offices around the world.

Five Things

Yesterday the family and I enjoyed a picnic at a popular park in Nagoya, travelling 55 minutes each way. As one would expect during cherry blossom season, there were thousands of people in attendance making all kinds of noise and generally enjoying themselves. Despite the splitting headache and momentary anxiety rush, the trip was a complete success. Everyone enjoyed the time together.

This morning Reiko learned that a children’s theme park not too far from here was going to have a show featuring ワンワン1, one of the boy’s favourite TV characters. Throwing caution to the wind with a second consecutive day out in a sea of humanity, we quickly got ready and drove to 犬山市2. The weather was gorgeous, though a little hot at times when the 27°C temperatures felt more like 37°C. That said, it wasn’t too bad, which made standing in line to see the show a little more bearable.

Waiting in Line at Japan Monkey Park

Today’s adventure turned out to be better than yesterday’s, though the boy was clearly in need of a nap at certain points this afternoon. One observation I had today while watching other parents try to coral and herd their children is that adults tend to have a bit more fun at these sorts of events than the kids … which is both relieving and weird.

Preamble aside, it’s time to get on with the list!

Bare Bums

A lot of parents seem to have no qualms with changing their child’s diaper in plain view when there are potentially dozens or hundreds of spectators. Regardless of how often I see a parent quickly go through the well-practiced motions of changing a dirty diaper in public, I still find it a bit odd given how such things are strongly frowned upon in Canada.

Muscle Mass

Over the last two years my arms have gotten much stronger. There was a time when I thought that, after carrying her for a kilometre or two, Nozomi was a heavy puppy. She’s been consistently around 4.5Kg since 2013. Today I was carrying the boy in one arm, his stroller with various drinks and whatnot, and a bag with other necessary items while walking 700m from the parking lot to the park. Reiko estimated that this was about 20Kg in total, which I managed to do without dropping anything or stopping to rest.

Parents have to become strong if they are to succeed, it seems.

Shattered Screens

Something I observed a lot this weekend is the condition of people’s cell phones. It seemed that anyone with a child under the age of five had a phone with a shattered screen held together with a “screen protector” that was more a finger protector than anything else. While I can appreciate the advantages of using glass on a touch device, I do wonder why plastic is not a viable option for people to choose. Life happens and technology is subjected to a great deal of abuse. Colour matching is generally suboptimal with plastic screens but, given the number of people with shattered screens or visibility-blocking films on their glass devices, accurate colour rendering may not be as important as some manufacturers think.

Pervasive Pollen

Despite the heroic efforts of the allergy medicine, the incredible amount of pollen in the air has meant that I get to sneeze and cough just slightly less than I might if I weren’t relying on an antihistamine. Fortunately there are just seven months to go before the next winter season begins.

Silenced Sirens

It’s been a little more than a week since I’ve ditched a bunch of news sources for being undeniably biased in their reporting. This leaves just eight sources of news in my life, four of which are focused on technology. All in all, I’ve been quite happy with the change. While the lack of reading angry articles everyday will take some getting used to, this has proven incredibly good for the mind. Some echo chambers are harder to identify than others.

Tomorrow is the start to another workweek for a lot of people. Let’s make it a good one.


  1. ワンワン is read as “wan-wan”, which is equivalent to “woof-woof” in English.

  2. 犬山市 is read as “Inuyama-shi”, or “Inuyama City”. Fun fact, 犬 means “dog”, and 山 means “mountain”. We went to “dog mountain city” to see a person dressed in a dog costume named “woof-woof” … and Nozomi, a real dog, couldn’t join us.

Sources

Anxiety is a problem for millions of people around the world and can range from being a slight unease in the chest to a full-blown panic attack. Not everyone will experience it the same way and rarely have I seen people who do not battle anxiety on a regular basis understand how it can affect someone. In my case, the strain that I feel most often is social anxiety, which generally appears almost every time I’m in a crowd without a pair of headphones on. What I don’t understand is why this feeling exists at all.

Social anxiety is a mental disorder where a person is incredibly nervous when in a social situation. Symptoms can include abdominal discomfort, a tight chest, lightheadedness, and a 'negative loop' of feeling anxious about any anxious feelings. Panic attacks may also occur if the right conditions cascade into each other. I’ve yet to experience a sense of panic when out shopping at a crowded mall or even when on a train in Tokyo. Everything else, though, is a regular occurrence to such an extent that I’ve started to actively avoid going to busy places unless I am alone and wearing headphones. When in a crowded place by myself, it’s possible to push away the oppressive claustrophobia that comes with being surrounded by hundreds or thousands of people who generally stand a little too close to others. This is generally impossible when out with Reiko or the boy because both enjoy talking in a near-nonstop fashion, and not answering questions or being part of a conversation/soliloquy is not an option. So, when out and about with the family, I generally keep the ears open to keep the peace at the cost of enjoying the different environment.

This has been “just the way it is” for years, and I’ve usually associated this with my strong dislike of unstructured noise. When people congregate somewhere, conversations and other sounds blend to become virtually incoherent, which makes it a challenge to hear what anyone is saying. However, after a bit of an anxiety issue today that resulted in a feeling of oppressive claustrophobia where I wanted everyone in a crowded park to “go away”1. The feeling is completely irrational and I understand it as such, but anxiety is really hard to control.

As the feeling generally crops up when I’m surrounded by noise, I’ve been paying attention to how loud a place is in order to maintain some semblance of sanity when outside. However, Reiko seems to think that my problem is not sound, but sleep.

This past week I’ve been working pretty long hours to accomplish a number of tasks and objectives. From Sunday to Friday, a six-night period, I managed to get about 27 hours of sleep. Nozomi gets more than this in two days, and the boy gets it in three. Generally when I am not getting enough sleep I have difficulty focusing on voices and this results in conversations coming across as incoherent noise rather than communicative language. As the ears get tired2, noise increases, which leads to anxiety, which leads to lots of frowning or a strong desire to escape the current environment, even if it’s just my living room. Reiko thinks it’s better if I get to bed before midnight every day, understanding that sometimes I’ll be waking up at 4:45am for early-morning meetings.

The idea does have merit. Generally I’m battling the strong desire to fall sleep between the hours of 2:00pm and bedtime. The body or, more likely, the mind is clearly trying to tell me something. My concern is that by spending more time in bed there will be less work accomplished. Reiko’s concern is that if I’m always focused on getting work accomplished, then a serious burnout isn’t too far off.

Two decades ago I could push myself pretty hard and the consequences were minimal. I’m clearly not as resilient today, and adjustments must be attempted. So, with this in mind, I’ll set a goal for myself to be in bed by 11:30pm every night, as this will mean being asleep before midnight. The trick will be to tell the mind it’s time to shut down for the night.


  1. By “go away” I mean leave and/or give me and my family a good 50 meters of space.

  2. I know it’s not the ears, but the brain. That said, this is generally how I describe the issue.

Mornings in the Park

Warmer temperatures have made the mornings a lot more enjoyable over the last two weeks and this has resulted in longer walks with the boy and, more often than not, Reiko as well. In addition to the fresh air and exercise, these walks are an excellent opportunity to explore the neighbourhood together. The boy is as curious as anyone his age would be, which means there are new discoveries and a barrage of questions every couple of minutes … or seconds. Fortunately he does stop for air every once in a while, which allows me to make use of the nice Canon camera.

The Boy Surveys the Park

As one would expect, Nozomi is also enjoying the springtime weather. Over the next few weeks her winter coat will begin to shed, which will make her appear younger, thinner, and much cooler. Time permitting, she'll also get a proper trim.

Nozomi in the Park

With two days of idyllic weather forecasted for the weekend, Reiko and I have made some tentative plans for a pair of picnics. One day we'll go to a nearby park with a large number of cherry trees and ample space for the boy to run. The other day we'll make the trip up to Inuyama to enjoy the park surrounding the castle with the in-laws. Camera batteries will be charged. Memory cards will be prepped and ready to go.

This weekend is going to be fun.

What Broke the RSS?

Over the last couple of weeks there has been something preventing the RSS feed from this personal site to Feedly. The last update shows as being March 16th. To the best of my knowledge, I've been publishing a post every day since September of last year. What's preventing updates from appearing on the popular syndication service?

RSS Background

The W3C Feed Validator reports that the XML feed is valid and it's possible to see updates when using an RSS Reader that does not rely on web services to parse, sync, and display feeds. Given the number of sites on 10C, if the RSS generator was broken, then there wouldn't be updates from any account appearing, but this isn't the case. New posts do pop up on an almost daily basis, but not for matigo.ca. The problem must therefore be somewhere within <channel>, and with one of the more recent <item> objects.

Yesterday this site moved over from v4 to v5, which is using a very different mechanism to build syndication feeds. Unlike the previous version of the platform, v5 supports both XML and JSON. Feedly also supports both of these formats, so I added the JSON syndication feed and found that the items are all loading just as they should. Every article, quotation, and bookmark loads without fail. So what's wrong with the XML file?

Looking at the output, there does seem to be some encoding issues with Japanese characters, but nothing that should get in the way of presenting the data. One would think that services such as Feedly have developed all sorts of methods to clean a broken or otherwise malformed XML file. What bothers me about this isn't so much the lack of updates or the fact that we can't do any debugging or check for errors on Feedly's website, but instead the appearance that I've given up the blogging streak. Few of the posts I write are worth reading more than once, if at all, but a post a day for over six months isn't something to walk away from. A lack of updates via an RSS service due to XML problems will look the same as a blogger who has given up.

Writing something every day is not at all easy, as it cuts into other responsibilities and expectations, but it's something I do look forward to. Unless I'm knocked offline for a day or otherwise indisposed, there's little chance of me stopping in the near future.

A Conversation with Nozomi

Not a day goes by where I don't chat with Nozomi about whatever happens to be on my mind. This generally happens when we're out in the park for one of her walks, and typically when there aren't too many people within earshot. For reasons I can only guess at, my neighbours generally do not talk to their dogs aside from issuing commands like "sit", "stop", and "come on". Maybe their conversations are limited to their homes.

Today marks 40 years since my parents braved driving through a final winter storm so that I could be born in a hospital. Despite the round number, growing list of responsibilities, and crippling home-owner's debt, I don't feel my age. If anything, I feel younger today than I did at 35. Perhaps the boy has something to do with this. However, it's because of this youthful feeling that I often find myself enjoying moments where the devices are put away, the distractions are minimal, and the current activity is the singular focus.

Clouds Above

This focus happened a couple of times today, once when I took the picture above, once when the boy and I were playing together, and again when Nozomi and I were outside after dinner, with the stars above shining brilliantly despite the light pollution that obscures all but the brightest celestial objects. It was this last moment, when Nozomi and I were alone in the park and observing our separate interests1 that I shared with her my unrealistic desire to explore the universe.

While she sniffed grass and leaves, I explained how the local solar system could keep me busy for years and the nearby star systems for decades. The problem of travelling vast distances at relativistic speeds was brought up as well as a couple of options for how humanity might get around going insane during the years, decades, or centuries of travel. Challenges with food and energy production for long periods of time kept the one-sided conversation going longer than Nozomi was willing to listen, but we could certainly walk and talk at the same time. And then, as was to be expected, the ultimate fantasy was declared:

This would all be easier if I were a Q.

Q, the fictional, omnipotent race of beings from Star Trek, can do anything they please regardless of how impossible the desire might be. Time travel. Going from one side of the galaxy to the other in a heartbeat. Reading a book while enjoying a cup of coffee on the surface of the Sun. All of these things are possible and more. Of course, being Q would also make a person immortal. With this sort of potential, now it becomes feasible to explore the galaxy … and the next one … and the one after that. Nozomi could come with me. I could ensure she never aged a day ever again. Heck, with the power to do anything at all, I might just solve Brexit2 before heading off to Andromeda to see what happens when a pulsar is absorbed by a black hole.

These are the sorts of conversations that I enjoy having with Nozomi when we're outside. She doesn't get to share her ideas very often, though she does send clear signals when a topic isn't to her liking. A few months back I was talking about how we needed to find a better shampoo for her to use during baths. As soon as she heard that last word, she was as far away from me as her leash would allow and pretending to be incredibly interested in some fallen leaf that was just out of reach.

Her honesty and patience are both wonderful.


  1. As one would expect, Nozomi is interested in what's on the ground. I am interested in what's above.

  2. First order of business: fire all of the politicians.

Sing

Spotify has done a pretty solid job of improving my enjoyment of music. Not only do they have a larger collection than I could possibly ever acquire (legally), but they have an application that is just so painless that I actually want to use the software. Whether I'm listening on the phone, the tablet, or the Ubuntu-powered notebook, the company has offerings that make it easy to sync playlists between devices, pick up listening to a song between devices almost to the second, and download locally for better listening1. One of the basic features that I've enjoyed more than I ever should is the playlist builder. Creating playlists in a music application is nothing new, of course. What Spotify does well, though, is present similar songs that might also be added given the recently added files.

The algorithm they use is just wonderful, but there is a pretty dire consequence: I want to sing.

Microphone Up Close

My wife has on numerous occasions asked me to not sing as fate has made it impossible for me to carry a tune in a bucket, even if it had four handles. This doesn't stop me from trying, though.

When she's not home, I'll turn off the TV, fire up Spotify, and hit shuffle on my "Let Me Sing" playlist. The boy even gets involved by following along with The Cranberries, Pearl Jam, Cornershop, Fatboy Slim, Sting, Phil Colins, and dozens of other great artists. It's hard not to. Music is the universal language, and singing is just downright fun. That said, I do wish I were better.

This need to karaoke at home was not instigated by Spotify. I would often do the same when all of my music was stored on a hard drive and played through WinAmp, or sitting in iTunes available across several Apple devices. Each of these earlier systems had just enough friction in place to prevent a spontaneous song and dance show. I doubt this is just because of how easy it is to create, modify, or load a playlist. If anything, what makes this music service worth the annual subscription is how instant everything feels. I could search for something truly obscure like Takuro Yoshida's classic Ningen Nante2 or Billy Ban Ban's I'm in Love With You Again3 and be listening in the span of 10 seconds. Music has never been so accessible and it's completely changed my relationship with the art form.

Hopefully I can share my love of music with the boy for a couple more years before he starts to leave the room whenever Sting's Fortress Around Your Heart plays over the speakers. If all else fails, perhaps a sound-proofed room where I can let loose with the well-timed, out-of-tune lyrics is in order. At the very least the space could double as a podcast studio.


  1. These are all things that Apple could have gotten right with their streaming subscription service several years ago if the iTunes and Apple Music development teams weren't so hell-bent on making something so awful that a combination of Windows Media Player and KaZaA seems a step up.

  2. This can be found by typing "Takuro 人間". The full song's name is 人間なんて.

  3. It's hard to believe that また君に恋してる has just 63,000-odd listens given how it's one of my favourite Japanese songs ever.