One Hundred

Today is a special day for Reiko's grandmother, though she probably doesn't realise it. One century ago today, in a very different sort of Japan, Reiko's grandmother was born at a Shinto temple in Kyoto. The world was a very different place in 1920. Japan was a very different place. Few people had electricity or telephones. Fewer still had ever left their hometowns. The Japanese empire was expanding across the Pacific islands and into China and its emperor was squirrelled away from the public to hide his various neurological issues.

A great deal of change occurred in the 100 years that followed. The nation burned and then calmed down. Abject poverty, once the norm, was almost completely eradicated by the 1960s. Education was granted to anyone and everyone who wanted it, to whatever level of knowledge they sought, regardless of their family connections. Medical knowledge jumped ahead by centuries in the span of decades with the imported knowledge from specialists and universities around the world. The nation rebuilt itself almost completely from the ground up over a quarter century after World War II, channelling traditional Japanese determination and imagination to create something that many tourists today still consider to be a nation living in the future.

And Reiko's grandmother had the opportunity to see all of this happen. She had the opportunity to participate in making it happen. Her children grew up and contributed to the development of the country and have lived just and meaningful lives. Her grandchildren grew up and have done just the same, typically entering into careers centred on nursing or education. Her great-grandchildren will hopefully carry the torch further still, accomplishing worthwhile goals while raising their own families and bringing humanity forward one person at a time.

When I think about how much has changed not only in Japan but around the world over the last 100 years, I can't help but think about what the world might look like in another six decades if I hit triple digits. Will the problems of today be remembered as a turning point to something greater or a temporary blip? Will humanity really peak at about 9-billion before worldwide poverty is eliminated enough to offer every person the opportunity to seek out an education, medical attention, and a fulfilling mission in life1? Will commercial interplanetary travel go from being science fiction to something resembling today's ocean-hopping flights? There are a thousand questions or more that I have about what the near future has in store for us and, if I treat my body just right, there might be a thousand answers revealed.

Reiko's grandmother has had the opportunity to see 36,525 days. Her memory is not what it used to be, and she often believes she's still living at the temple where she was born2, but she's still going strong. Hopefully she can enjoy many more sunrises, creative afternoons3, and moments with family.

  1. Careers may not be in many people's future by the 2070s if current trends continue.

  2. This would be impossible, as it burned down in a fire almost 85 years ago.

  3. She's quite good at making traditional masks. It takes time, but they're exquisite.


Nozomi on the Bench

My puppy dog turns nine today and doesn't look a day over five. Silly as it may seem, I want her to receive a present with every birthday. She was given a new sleeping cushion when she turned three. Two years ago, because she was feeling a little left out after the boy arrived, I brought her for a walk to her favourite park, surprised her with some nice treats, and didn't bother her too much with photo requests. This year … she'll likely be bored as I'm in Tokyo for the day. All is not lost, though. Nozomi always gets her walks so long as there isn't any rain and I'll see that she gets some cucumber with dinner as it seems to be her favourite vegetable by a wide margin.

This weekend she goes to the groomers for a bit of a trim and I'll see to it that she gets a nice treat afterwards.


Today Nozomi marks the completion of eight orbits around the Sun and I find it absolutely astounding how fast the time passes. She's been a part of the family for almost 20% of my life and somewhere north of 99% of hers. When she first came home in 2010 she was an incredibly energetic ball of untamed energy with teeth sharp enough to cut through kitchen chairs. While her energy levels have certainly come down with maturity, her wonderful personality has remained incredibly consistent.

Here she is at 90 days:

Nozomi Age 90 Days

And then on her first birthday:

Nozomi Age 1

Two years later, at the age of three:

Nozomi Age 3

Last year:

Nozomi Age 7

Just a few days ago:

Nozomi Age 8

While the boy has had several thousand pictures captured in the 15 months he's been here, Nozomi's picture catalog eclipses his by a wide margin. It's often hard to choose which photos to share, but these five are some of my favourites.

Guess Who's 90?

Fred Flintstone (Wallpaper)

Well … okay. I don't know if Fred Flintstone is actually 90 but, considering how he was at least in his very late-30s when the show aired in 1960, it's got to be close.

Yes, Fred … I think you and Wilma have earned that pack of Winston's. Yabba, dabba, doo!

Fred & Wilma Flintstone Smoking Some Winston Cigarettes

I Am Not a Chef ...

This weekend marks the Mrs' birthday and as part of the celebration I promised to cook dinner. She's been asking for a Canadian meal for a while, which meant that this would be as good a time as any to take out some of my little-used recipes for foods that are not often available in Japan. There were some last minute changes, but it all panned out at the end.

What was on the menu? Two of the many, many food groups:

Reiko's Birthday Dinner

Ham cooked in Canada Dry Ginger ale, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, and fried onion. I also whipped up some applesauce to go with the ham. The Mrs. made some of her world-famous baked spaghetti, and we dug right in. The number of dishes that went into making and consuming this dinner was quite extraordinary. Makes me wish we had a maid every so often …

Tomorrow is her actual birthday and we'll be off to an onsen to relax in the wonderful waters.


Two Years and Counting

Second Anniversary Cupcake

Two years ago today, at 10 PM Japan time, Reiko and I met at the Meitetsu Gifu Station and officially started our life together under the same house.  Who would have thought that so much could happen in such a short amount of time?

It's been said that the average length of time for most foreigners in Japan is three years.  While there have certainly been some rash thoughts of returning to Canada where I might actually be able to get a job that makes use of my skills, the odds of such a thing actually occuring are between slim and none.  Let's hope there's no growth to that margin in the next twelve months.

Not Over the Hill ... Yet

Over The HillIt's been two weeks since my last post and, oddly enough, today also happens to be my 30th birthday.  Despite having survived three decades on this crazy little world, this will not be one of those posts where I lament over lost youth, missed opportunities, or foolish misadventures that I'm supposed to be too old to do anymore.  Instead, I'll just say this:

I still have all my hair, Dad!

Making Pancakes with FlairI call this picture "Making Pancakes with Flair" … it was during one of the few sane moments this past winter season.

Alright … bi-monthly post done, so it's time to get back to programming.  I might actually accomplish something worth being proud of this year.  More on that later, though.

Two Years and Counting

Happy Birthday to you,
It’s amazing how you grew.
Happy Birthday,
(It’s a work day),
But Happy Birthday to you!

Two years ago today, Jason’s Random Thoughts title=" | LAMP Up and Running" href="" target="_self">was officially born. Though it was originally put together on a simple Synology DS-106j NAS device sitting atop my refrigerator, this blog has been the stepping stone to re-shaping my online identity. In this time, there have been almost 700 posts, 20,000 spam comments, 1,800 real comments and 450,000 visitors (not including scrapers, search engines and every other type of non-human “visitor”).

I never really expected it to survive this long.

Okay … Now What?

Since getting married this past May, I have not really had the opportunity to put a lot of content on here. On top of this, the subjects have been a little stale or written without a proper second reading. While there are several reasons for this, none of them are appropriate for this post. That said; one of my goals for Season Three of is to improve both the quality of the writing, as well as the content. I’ve been working on a new writing style for some other sites and, when I think about the direction I’d like to take on here, it seems only natural to give it a try. What this means for anyone who reads this site regularly is that the writing will become a little more creative, focusing less on ranting and more on providing. This doesn’t mean that I will not complain about things that bother me, however, rather than type out a poorly laid out gripe on a given subject, the article will focus more on looking at first as a narrative and perhaps followed by some type of editorial-style piece. I’ve been practicing this on some other sites, and the results are rather positive.

However, these other sites will continue to remain anonymous, as will the pseudonym that has been slowly building a following. Eventually it will all come to light … but the social experiment is not yet half finished.

Passive Income Streams

There has been some advertising on since the spring of 2007 and, despite the amount of effort I’ve put into earning an income online through various ventured, I’ve managed to collect a grand total of $710 USD. Some of the arrangements I’ve made have yielded nothing more than a goose-egg, while others have offered enough to pay for site upgrades and server additions. That said, after a few email exchanges with Nick Ramsay, I’ve decided to make a more concentrated effort at earning an online income. While will not be the host of this money-making scheme, you can be sure that I’ll promote and talk about it from time to time on here.

Who knows … it might just earn enough money for me to cut back to “part-time” at my day job :P

In any event, I’ll be eliminating a few of the non-paying programs from this site. That should reduce loading times by a good fraction of a second.

Giving Back … Kinda

I’ve mentioned that I regularly guest post on other sites, and it’s something that I enjoy quite a bit. Not only does it offer the chance to write about subjects that might not really fit in with the hodgepodge of articles on this site, but it offers the opportunity to build stronger relationships with people online. To mark the beginning of j2fi’s 3rd Season, I’d like to offer my services as a guest poster on your site. All I ask is that you title=" | Contact Me" href="" target="_self">contact me and let me know what subject you’d like the post to discuss, and approximately how long it should be. Once we get the basics worked out, I’ll try to have something submitted before the end of the week. A link back to this site will not be necessary, so long as my name is left on the article.

On that note … Nick, if you’re still interested in that UTF-8 post, just let me know. Although it was technically resolved with the release of WordPress 2.3, there are many people that started their blogs on previous versions and are now stuck with the less-forgiving database structures.

Alright … on to year three!