Archive for the ‘Main’ Category

Year of the Dragon

January 1st, 2012 Comments off

This is my year, my fifth time around, so I’m turning 48 in June. Holy cow, I’ll be 50 soon. Just after midnight, Sachi and I celebrated with a snack of ham, cheese, and nuts with red wine (a gift from a friend), not the healthiest of late-night snacks, but it’s not like we do this every night. Even Ponta got a nice snack of rice and a little bit of cheese.

2011 was, well, a full year. I started out with a case of the flu in January. Since I got permanent residency in late 2010, we were in full house-hunting mode throughout the first four months of the year. We got scammed by our realtor who faked us into signing for our house (which, fortunately, turned out to be a house we’re happy with, which does not excuse the scumball realtor). Between that and actually finalizing the deal, a 9.0 earthquake shook the whole of eastern Japan, causing a tsunami which killed as many as 19,000 people, and setting off a nuclear disaster which seemed to go on forever. Stores were low on supplies for weeks while the whole nation sat on the edge of their collective seats waiting to see how bad bad could get in Fukushima. My school closed for the remainder of the semester. Then we moved into our new house, with all the work and technicalities involved with all that. We bought a bunch of new furniture and settled in. In May, we landscaped our small garden and learned that bin Laden had been killed. Judgment Day came and passed, and then came and passed again. Sachi and I planned a housewarming party, but then her father, Junzo, passed away. We went to Nagano for the funeral. I fractured a bone in my right foot which I had broken some years back, which kept me on crutches for more than a month, foiling our plan to buy a puppy in late July. Then I fell and sprained my left wrist which made it hard to use crutches. I made a DIY PC. I stopped blogging on a regular basis just as the right wing went nuclear and the Occupy movement started gaining steam. After my foot got better, we got Ponta, for whom I started a blog. A typhoon hit, prompting my school to close early that day. Steve Jobs passed away. Sachi and I planned another housewarming party and had to cancel it as my mother fell ill and I had to take an emergency trip back to America. My mother passed away while I was there. I came back to Japan, finished my semester here, and bought a used car (having a car is a fairly big deal if you live in Japan). Then I went back to America for a two-week visit, and came back to Japan to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with Sachi and Ponta.

It’s hard to think back to a year as event-filled as this one, and brings to mind the Chinese curse about living in interesting times. But there’s been good along with the bad, the most significant of which was getting Ponta, who has been a particularly bright spot in our lives.

Let’s hope this year will be a better one, Mayan calendars notwithstanding.

Categories: Focus on Japan 2011, Main Tags:

Christmas Eve Dinner

December 25th, 2011 Comments off

Sachi made a very nice dinner last night, even including Ponta in the festivities.


It was a nice chicken meal, spicy dark meat with carrots, onions, and pumpkin, and a nice avocado salad, with rice and a cheese/tomato sauce on the side. Ponta had chicken breast with toast in pumpkin soup with carrots and some kibble.


Afterwards, Sachi and I had a nice dessert–a homemade winter log cake (not uncommon in Japan) with sweet whipped cream/cream cheese frosting (yum!):


It was a great Christmas Eve–how could it not be with these guys?


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Nine Years and Out

August 5th, 2011 20 comments


Nine years. 4610 posts, or an average of about 4 posts every three days. A little over five of those years with non-stop posting, at least one post per day.

I first wrote a post on August 5th, 2002, back before I found out about blogging software; I was pissed at Bush’s mad rush to war in Iraq and his abuse of the “War on Terror” to get whatever he wanted, and wanted to vent. I had heard about blogs, and so created one the only way I knew how–by hand, just banging out some HTML that could hold my writing. Looking back on it, the post was a bit more extremist than my current style (I was venting more than anything else, writing even less to any audience at the time, and knew less then than I do now), but the reason for writing was very similar to what it is today. Of course, I wrote about a lot more than just politics: my life in Japan, computer stuff, odds and ends, philosophical musings, funny stuff I stumbled upon. It has also turned out to be a fair diary, reminding me of what was happening in my life at various times.

In the spring of 2003, I started writing fairly regularly, and in August made it a daily routine out of a desire to practice some self-discipline, in addition to it being a personal form of catharsis. I was surprised when I started getting a whole bunch of visitors. Within a year of regular blogging, I was recording 10,000 unique-IP visitors per month (who knows how many that actually represented; some users have rotating IP addresses, though the stats software I use also does not seem to count RSS readers). That peaked in 2007 to over 50,000 unique-IP visitors per month, a number which fell dramatically when I was forced by my web host to switch from Movable Type to WordPress, thus breaking links. Granted, a whole lot of those visits were to my Eyelid Twitching post (currently at 2,165 comments), but still, the reaction to the blog in general has overwhelmed me over the years.

After all this time, blogging is almost more of a habit than anything else. I get up in the morning, read the news, and blog on something. I have kept blogging despite the sometimes hopeless feeling I get from the headlong rush of politicians to do increasingly more insane crap, and despite the repetition involved in pointing out the lies spewed out in the media and in political circles. Plus, blogs are a dime a dozen now, and whatever I write is written about by hordes of others, many with depth, knowledge, insight, and style far better than I can achieve. Increasingly, this feels more like banging my head against a wall than anything else, to less and less purpose. You may have noticed my posting habits dropping from 5 days a week to four, and now to three.

Moreover, it has come to the point where I simply have other things I want to do. The deciding factor is the new Shiba puppy Sachi and I will be getting in the next few weeks. I also want to delve more into PHP and C++, and wouldn’t mind doing some non-commentary stuff, perhaps some creative writing for a change.

As a result, I have decided to stop regular posting to this site. I’m keeping the blog open, and will drop a post now and then when the feeling strikes me (probably at least two or three times a month), but I will actually make a conscious effort not to blog here out of habit.

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, and (for whatever reason I cannot fathom) really want to know when I post something, then you might want to use the RSS feed to alert you to new posts.

In the meantime, I will be opening a new blog: Shiba Me!, where I will abandon politics and commentary for warmer and fuzzier subjects. If you like puppies, are interested in the Shiba Inu breed, or would like to see the progress of a first-time (as an adult) dog owner trying to train one of the hardest breeds to train, then you may want to drop by. I have a “Welcome” post up, and will be posting as we visit the breeders over the next week, but won’t start regular blogging until we get the puppy, whereupon I’ll further redesign the site.

If you read Japanese, by the way, then a visit to Sachi’s Poza Room site is in order. Despite the header, it’s not just necessarily for women’s health, and you may find it interesting.

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Now Is the Perfect Time to Buy a Lottery Ticket

July 13th, 2011 3 comments

Last week, I was suffering from a weak knee–something in my left knee was a bit inflamed and painful. Nothing much, but it made me favor it somewhat.

Last Friday, I was at work and turned a corner too fast, slipped, and fell. I wrenched my foot on the way down, and was immediately in bad pain. An hour later, I couldn’t even walk. I went to the hospital by taxi, and had x-rays taken. I came in the next day on crutches–with a fractured fifth metatarsal–the same bone I broke five years ago. This is a hairline, not like the major separation I had before, but it has me back in a cast and on crutches.

The next day, I had that problem with the PC part and Dospara, setting back my ability to make the PC I had planned for so long. Additionally, I would have to cancel the trip to Akihabara that the Computer Making Club had planned for so long. Also, unable to drive a car, Sachi and I had to put off our plans to get a Shiba Inu puppy, even though we had one picked out already.

Then, as I did preliminary work on the PC, I cut a finger badly on a sharp part in the case, producing a real gusher. It healed OK, but it was just One MoreThing.

But not the last. As I entered the office this morning, I lost balance on the crutches, and toppled over backwards, twisting my left hand, at the very least spraining the wrist pretty badly. It hasn’t even been a week yet since all this started.

At some point, I figure something pretty damned good has got to happen to me.

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July 2nd, 2011 9 comments

If you read this blog, you might know that I am somewhat of a skeptic. I don’t easily accept stories of the fantastic; my inclination is that if there is a possible alternate explanation which is more mundane, I tend to give it more credence. I would sooner presume that a ‘spectral image’ in an old photograph is a double exposure or chance pattern of reflected light than someone’s spirit, or that a dancing light in the sky is some natural atmospheric phenomenon rather than an interstellar alien spacecraft. If a plant dies unexpectedly, I don’t see it as a sign that someone halfway across the world is in trouble.

On Wednesday, Sachi found that a glass holding flower cuttings had strangely cracked. It was a thick, short, but wide-rimmed colored glass. Sachi had bought some clay thingies with holes in them which, if put in the bottom of a glass or on a small dish, would hold flower stems upright and allow them to take water. One was in the bottom of this glass.

Sachi noticed first that the table was wet, and then that the glass was empty of water. When she tried to move the glass to see what might have happened, almost half of it just came away, as if it had been cleanly sheared–but it had not been hit, dropped, or jarred in any way we knew.

Sachi immediately took this as a sign that Junzo’s health was in jeopardy. However, she had been saying this about many such signs and portents over the past months. My own inclination is to believe that maybe the clay piece was a tight fit at the bottom of the glass, and when it expanded slightly in water, it created enough pressure to crack the glass. However, when I checked, I found that the clay piece was much too small and the glass much too large for that. But, if not that, then anything from aging glass (they had been Sachi’s for many years) to an unknown impact might have been responsible. Even had I been predisposed toward accepting supernatural phenomenon, I would not have assumed this was one such event.

The next day, however, something happened for which it was slightly harder to provide a more mundane alternate explanation. I had come home from work, and while Sachi got dinner ready, I was watching a video on my computer upstairs, in my home office, wearing headphones. Sachi signaled me with our little alarm/light system, and I came downstairs for dinner.

“Who were you talking to?” she asked. I did not know what she was referring to; I had been watching a video the whole time, and told her so. However, she insisted that she had heard me clearly, for several minutes, talking to somebody. She assumed that I had had a short Skype conversation. This really puzzled me, as I had not spoken at all during that time. It is possible I may have laughed at something, but I certainly did not make any sounds that could be mistaken for a fairly prolonged conversation. She had not heard my audio, as it was through headphones. No TV or radio was on. Since we were using air conditioning, all the windows and even the internal doors were closed, muting sounds from outside, and we never hear people talking that clearly from outside in any case. I suggested that she heard something else, but she discounted that immediately–the voice came from above, she insisted, and she identified it as my own. There was no other possible source for such a series of sounds–but I am certain that I made none that could even be close to that. We shrugged it off as strange and unexplained, but probably nothing.

Minutes later, during dinner, Sachi got the call from her brother that her father had passed away–and the timing of his death was almost precisely the time Sachi had, before we received the news, heard the voices.

After we got the call, the voices Sachi heard did not enter our minds as other thought, feelings, and matters pressed upon us. It was only this week that we recalled what happened and tried to explain it–but could not. The timing was certain–I come home and take no more than 15-20 minutes to rest before we eat dinner, so it was easy for Sachi to place the timing of the voices she heard. She mentioned the voices maybe five minutes before we got the call, so it was clearly not provoked by the news of her father passing. She explained exactly what she heard before the call came, so it is not possible that her memory of the details were influenced by the event in any way. Nor is Sachi prone to hearing my voice when I am not speaking; such an event never happened before.

Had she reported the voices only after she received the call, and had claimed she had heard her father’s voice, then at least it might have been possible that her reporting was influenced in some way. The way it actually happened, however, precludes any such thing. Even she did not see any supernatural explanation for the event at the time–she simply had trouble believing that I had not had a Skype call.

I still cannot wholly rule out a mundane explanation–but for the life of me, I cannot come up with any such explanation for what happened. Why my voice, for example? But the fact that she heard something like that exactly at the moment of her father’s death, as reported by the hospital staff, is something which gives you pause.

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Coming Back…

January 13th, 2011 Comments off

My apologies… I have been out with the flu for the past four days. Just went back to work today. Coming back online later tonight.

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Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2011 3 comments

Actually, it was two hours ago. Going to bed now. Still, Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu, wherever you may be!

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Friday the 13th Curse Not Working

August 13th, 2010 Comments off

Went to the doctor’s office today. Got a great report–blood sugar levels down to almost normal now (they had been creeping up), falling a significant amount since my last check-up 3 months ago, following a yearlong trend. Then I found a folder I thought I’d lost on my desk at work, and cashed in a ¥10,000 check that was in it (cable TV company rebate for joining). Then came home still early in the day, and had a nice & tasty dinner. Also, summer vacation started this week.

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Solution to Police Misconduct

June 3rd, 2010 Comments off

It looks like several states, at least, have found an answer to the problem of police misconduct being recorded and made public. The solution is simple: make it illegal to record a police officer. There’s a good (if at least slightly biased) article on this, outlining the legal state of public recording of officers over several states. Often the illegality is claimed under an extension of state wiretapping laws, which is not only a stretch, but also ironic in that in the past few years the government has more or less seen fit to ignore those laws in the recording of citizens’ private dealings. We can record you in your private conduct, but you can’t record us in our public conduct. Heinlein’s “public servant equals public master” rule at work.

The no-recording laws are disturbing also because they appear to be directly targeted at hiding police misconduct. It may still be legal to record in public, and you won’t be taken to task for recording police where nothing embarrassing is happening. But if the police do something out of line and they find out you’re recording it, then the line is crossed. Which, obviously, is the exact opposite of how it should be. Yes, not all of an incident may be caught on tape, and yes, the video might not allow citizen viewers to take in the whole picture and understand the nature of the job. But the answers to those issues are education and judgment made by informed persons; making recording a police officer a crime punishable with a prison sentence borders on Orwellian.

Take the video recorded by Anthony Gruber, detailed in this Baltimore Sun article. He had a helmet-mounted camera while driving a motorcycle, and was recording while driving down what appears to be a highway. Public location, not illegal to record there. The recording certainly makes it look like he was speeding, though. After he takes an exit, an unmarked car follows him, and when he comes to a stop behind traffic, the car pulls over and a guy in plain clothes jumps out and pulls a gun, shouting “get off the motorcycle!” three times and putting his hand on the motorcycle dashboard before identifying himself as state police. He does not begin by identifying himself as a police officer, does not immediately show his badge, does not simply keep his hand on his gun in case the motorcyclist goes for a weapon or does something else threatening. No, without any indication that he’s an officer, he just jumps out of the car and pulls his gun out. I don’t know about you, but that would scare the crap outta me. Maybe I just don’t know police procedure, but that seems pretty improper.

Here’s the thing, though. They guy did not start recording because he saw a police officer, he was just recording his driving. And as soon as he discovered the identity of the officer, he immediately complied with the order to stop his bike, and then took off his gloves and stopped the recording. In essence, he did not try to record the officer and stopped as soon as he found out. He was given a ticket on the scene and was let go, and almost certainly would not have been punished further by the police. But after he posted the video on YouTube, the police came and arrested him, confiscating his computer and other equipment. The police claim that the subsequent arrest is not retribution for embarrassing the cop, but few people are buying that. Those familiar with Maryland law say that the use of this statute–making an audio recording of someone without their consent–in a case such as this is unprecedented. The fact that the recording was accidental and was stopped as soon as the person was capable makes the arrest on these charges even more transparent.

What’s scary about this is that the tendency to make the recording of police illegal is not in the interest of public safety–the opposite is true, in my opinion–but to essentially protect the police in cases where they act improperly. It resembles the practice in many states of destroying all evidence in a capital case after the person has been executed, thus making it virtually impossible to prove that the person executed was innocent.

And we know that sometimes this kind of record is needed. Take the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., where it was pretty firmly established that the arresting officer filed an incorrect police report, misstating facts and exaggerating. Such police reports carry significant weight in court cases, but there is little doubt that these reports are, when there is improper police behavior, at the very least biased and very much subject to question. A video recording is powerful evidence for an arrest subject’s case in such situations. To remove these is to promote abuse.

Whatever the issues with recording police, banning recordings of public activity and arresting those who do so is not the answer. It smacks of a perpetual cover-up, and makes the public even more suspicious of police activity, not less.

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Glad That’s Over

December 7th, 2009 Comments off

Just got finished with a mountain of grading for three classes, in addition to studying for and taking a final exam in Introduction to Computer Programming, as well as some personal commitments. All went well–finished the grading my students on time, and aced the final exam in the programming class I was taking. Today, Sachi and I will do a bit of shopping, and I may take some time this afternoon to have my scooter checked out, and maybe even get one of those ten-dollar haircuts. Livin’ it large, what can I say.

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Nose to the Grindstone

December 3rd, 2009 1 comment

OK, I’m ducking below the radar for a few days. I have a final exam in Introduction to Computer Programming tomorrow on Friday, a graduation ceremony Saturday, and grades are due Monday by noon–and I have a really tall stack of tests, assignments, and essays to grade by that Monday deadline. I may still appear to be active as I have 2 or three posts in the can and will probably drop them once a day or so, but otherwise I’m going dark until early next week. Then on Wednesday, I leave for the U.S.!

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Too Much

November 27th, 2009 4 comments

Sorry I have not blogged much as of late. There are a few reasons. First, I was hit by what I am not pretty confident was Swine Flu. The “cold” I had lasted just over a week, which was strange enough–but it also brought painful headaches, loss of appetite, and low energy levels–which I do not normally associate with colds. When I visited a GP on a related matter, the doc said that it was almost certainly H1N1.

After the flu, I simply had so much work backed up that I got swamped. I had a Writing class this semester, and those are always heavy-workload courses–primarily because of correcting all the drafts and assignments in between. Right at the time I got over the flu, two successive drafts of two successive essays–four in all–were due within just a few weeks, and I tend to be meticulous in how I mark the papers, using MS Word’s comment feature to write rather detailed notes, along with an analysis and instructions at the end of the essay.

Add to that a kind of political overload or burnout that I have not experienced since the 9/11 commission–more so this time, in fact. What do you do when the outrageous in the opposition party becomes the norm? How often can you express disbelief that Sarah Palin says something so obviously untrue that one has to be blind, deaf, and stupid not to notice? When the GOP’s SOP is to make up completely ludicrous bullcrap about Obama, how many times can you call them out on it before it becomes irrelevant? When Fox News fakes crowd images three times in two weeks, how can you point it out without becoming repetitive? When people like Glenn Beck make you actually miss relatively rational people like Ann Coulter, how can you apply any sense of scale to the insane garbage they spew? When right-wing common folk become thickly populated with tea-bagger, birthers, secessionists, and armed jerks spouting death threats against the president, it becomes near-impossible to place it within a rational context. When Palin, Bachmann, and Wilson become political icons of the right wing, how can you spend much time writing how deranged they are when it feels like you’ve done this dozens of times before–and then you check and discover you actually did? When virtually everything the right wing does is so over-the-top, farcically, mind-blowingly, incomprehensibly psychotic, fleeing from reason and rationality at speeds approaching that of light itself, they all red-shift into some amorphous blob of crazy which becomes painful to witness, let alone attempt to analyze and comment on in a venue such as this paltry little blog. It just begins to seem pointless.

As a result, I have had one of my driest blogging spells since I started this blog, missing eight of the last ten days.

Coming out of this, I have decided to make an effort to steer away from politics, which, I have to admit, has been dominating this blog as of late–and I’m probably losing people’s interest as a result. I’ll still do some commentary when I just can’t stop myself–hopefully not too often–but I will be making a conscious effort to focus elsewhere. Maybe the end of my semester, my new focus on computer programming, and my trip back home for Christmas will help in that regard. I’ll have to see.

In the meantime, please forgive both my recent obsession and my more recent absence; I hope to rectify both.

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Bad Cold

November 7th, 2009 Comments off

Sorry for my lack of blogging over the past week–I got hit with the Mother of All Colds this week. It lasted almost a full week, with severe congestion, sore throat, splitting headaches, and now bad coughs and laryngitis. Yeesh. Am just getting back to being semi-lifelike again.

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Short Break

August 27th, 2009 Comments off

Sorry to have been away for so long–maybe the longest break from blogging for five years. Sachi and I went to her hometown to meet the folks, and then took a few days in the resort town of Karuizawa nearby. Add in a day at the office, a few more days prepping for classes, and a dash of simple laziness here and there, and before you know it, a week has passed.

Back to the grind…

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Hermion, Epmeion: Great Athens Restaurant

April 22nd, 2009 Comments off

Frankly, I’m not even sure what the name of this restaurant is; it says “Hermion” at the main entrance, but “Epmeion” at the restaurant itself. (Web site here.) All I know is that we liked the restaurant a lot.

We found this place while walking around Athens. Out of Monastiraki Station, there is a narrow shopping street heading due east, named Pandrosou on the maps. Just before it hits Mnisikleous Street, you can see the entrance to the restaurant:



Just go down the small walkway, and there is a relatively secluded, quiet garden setup. We noted it along the way after having eaten a not-so-great McDonald’s lunch (we just wanted something familiar and hopefully clean), and thought it would make a nice dinner spot. In fact, when a helpful jeweler volunteered directions on the street to help us when we were lost, he noted that we had the card for the restaurant, and said it was a great place, that he always ate there himself.

And it was. First off, the waiters are great. They speak English very well, but most notably, they have a great sense of humor. Often joking, but never losing the touch of class that makes the restaurant special.


The food was excellent. They started us off with a bread roll that tasted very good, and some pruned olives along with herb-flavored cream cheese. We passed on the olives, but the cream cheese went terrific with the bread rolls. We ordered the Traditional Greek Salad, Tortellini a la Creme, and a Pork Souvlaki. For drinks, we accepted the offer of bottled water (not free, it’s 2 Euros) and two Heinekens; all drinks were ice cold.


The salad consisted of firm tomatoes, soft thick cucumber chunks, sliced peppers, onion, anchovies, a little lettuce, and a nice large pad of feta cheese. You can top this off with vinegar and olive oil, in the table. I usually go for a Caesar Salad, but this did nicely.


The main dishes were fantastic: the Tortellini had four different kinds of cheese and tasted it; it was delicious and quite filling. The Souvlaki was a pork shish kabob, six generous pieces served with a mix of small veggies including peas, corn and string beans, and a side of french fries. The pork was really good, and went very well with the tortellini. After eating that, we both felt very full.



After we finished, I asked for the check (“Only if you insist!” the waited asserted; I did, and he asked the head waiter to get the check in Greek, then added in English, “He insists!”), and they served us a nice liqueur which was faintly reminiscent of juniper, along with the bill.

The restaurant is a bit pricier than other places you might find, but really not that bad; our bill came to 41.20 Euros (about $54, or ¥5300), about what Sachi and I would expect to pay at a medium-to-cheap place in Tokyo. We did not choose the most expensive dishes by far, however–but they certainly were good enough for us! I don’t have any reference for other restaurants in Athens, but I have a feeling that it is well above par for its price range. But it felt a lot more expensive than it was.

If you’re in Athens and want to eat well, I’d recommend this place.

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January 22nd, 2009 4 comments

Well, that’s it folks. An unbroken, 2000-day streak of blogging, spanning more than five years.

2000-Img-01I started this madness on a lesser scale back on August 5th, 2002, just when I secured the domain name. Like many, I started my blog as an outlet for my opinions in the wake of 9/11. At first, however, it was a blog in name only–I did not post regularly (just nine times in one month, from 8/5/02 to 9/1/02), and I stopped blogging because it was so much work–I had not yet discovered blog software, and so I wrote the entire code for the site by hand. (The original logo I made for the site at the time adorns the top of this post.)

Nevertheless, I maintained the domain name and in April 2003, figured out how to install Movable Type. I blogged for a bit, then broke off for my trip to Spain, and then came back, blogging several times a week, but not without breaks.

But then, on August 2, 2003, I started blogging daily. It was a conscious decision–I wanted to prove to myself that I could maintain a regular task. At that time, I had trouble when confronted with even mundane stuff, such as keeping a schedule book or regular exercise. Blogging without a break became kind of my demonstration to myself that I could keep up a regular activity. Plus, it was valuable to me in other ways: it helped sharpen my writing skills (one blog post made it into a college reader), and it forced me to be more read-up and knowledgeable about current events. While such writing was also an enjoyable catharsis, I didn’t have stuff to say every day, so it was often somewhat of a challenge to find topics to write about.

After a while, the streak took on a life of its own, and I didn’t want to break it simply because it was a streak. However, when I saw the five-year mark coming, I asked myself what I thought I was doing–after all, I didn’t intend to keep this up for the rest of my life! And if not at five years, then when would I stop? It’s not an easy thing to suddenly stop for no reason.

But I couldn’t stop at the five-year mark, not with the most momentous election in my life coming up three months later. But shortly beyond that was a different landmark, the 2000th-day anniversary, and I figured that that would serve quite nicely. It was only later that I realized that this would work out to be the day after Obama’s inauguration.

Not that I’m quitting blogging, or that the site is shutting down–far from it. I will continue to blog, just not every day–from now on, it’ll only be when I feel like it. That means that probably a lot of my traffic will switch to RSS, as it is of more use when you don’t know when new posts will appear.

Initially, I might not even stop posting daily, though I will stop writing daily. That is, I’m starting a new feature: Recycled BlogD (“Classic BlogD” sounds too pompous and clichéd), in which I’ll find what I think are still-readable posts from the past which are of some significance or interest, along with links to other posts of interest from the same period which didn’t make the “Recycled” cut. That ought to keep material appearing on a regular basis while not requiring me to blog every day. Considering that there are almost 70 months of posts (over 3,500 entries in all), even choosing only one out of every 30 or 40 would keep me going for a few months, even without any new blogging.

Also, I won’t quit blogging regularly, either–I’ll just be shifting focus. I’m going to try to switch to blogging for my college’s web site, combining posts on events and local news with articles on subjects of potential interest. Partly this is to increase student interest in the site, but it is also partly to increase search engine traffic. As I found out on this site, incoming traffic increases a lot when there is a good deal of content being produced; the more content you have on a wider variety of topics, the more traffic comes your way. It might be a good way of bringing more attention and publicity to the school.

More on all of this later. In the meantime, thanks for your readership, and don’t erase that bookmark–this site still has lots of life left in it, new stuff as well as recycled. Enjoy!

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Worst Kind of Call

December 30th, 2008 Comments off

It’s early in the morning on a holiday, and someone decides to give you a phone call. Worse, they ring just long enough to drag you out of bed, but hang up (1) just as you pick up the receiver, and (2) just before the answering machine picks up, so you have no idea who it was trying to reach you at this time. It could have been urgent, or it could have been a wrong number or a salesperson. So now you’re tired but can’t go to sleep and are wondering what was so damned important.

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Shiba Inus Taking Off

November 30th, 2008 3 comments

Ever since the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam took off, there seems to be a new interest in Shiba Inus. This pleases Sachi to no end, because she just loves Shibas. Several Shiba cams have sprouted up since then, but most are on-and-off, more off than on. One that we’ve found that seems good is the West Chester Shiba Inu Cam. This one is with a white Shiba mother and what I believe is a sesame father.


Four of the pups are standard brown, but one is brown with white spots–something I’ve never seen in a Shiba before. I suppose the colors will change as it matures–I don’t think that marbled Shibas exist.


The owners of the original Shiba puppies are giving them away for free–not so with this new cam’s object. They’re selling their pups. I can only suppose that after the huge popularity of the San Francisco Shiba pups, a lot of people with litters coming are buying web cams and trying to figure how they can get bidding started or something.

Shibas, by the way, are good dogs but also quite quirky. They are good and loyal dogs, but not very sociable with outsiders unless carefully acclimatized while growing up. They have a strong hunting instinct, and so must be kept on a leash, or they’ll often bolt. They shed profusely twice a year, when they “blow” their coats–a tremendous amount of fur coming out in a very short period of time. They are also not very loud–they don’t bark much, though they do whine some and when extremely distressed, are said to emit something called a “Shiba scream,” something you reportedly do not want to hear.

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November 29th, 2008 Comments off

Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

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Bits & Pieces, November 21, 2006

November 21st, 2008 1 comment

What’s going on with Obama’s nomination of Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security chief? Is Napolitano truly the best-qualified person for the job? Does it have to do with Napolitano being an early Obama supporter? Does she really want that job? Compared to being a governor, is DHS secretary a plum posting?

Here’s the thing: if Napolitano leaves office, Republicans run away with not one, but potentially two prizes. First, Napolitano would be replaced by a Republican lieutenant governor, and second, it would make it much more unlikely that Napolitano would run against John McCain for his Senate seat in 2010–not impossible, but much more unlikely. And Napolitano is the only candidate likely to knock McCain out and gain a seat for the Dems. So this move hands the GOP a governorship and helps them retain a Senate seat. What gives?

Is it purely coincidence that this news broke very soon after Obama met with McCain? Or am I just being overly suspicious here?

First it was automobile honchos flying luxurious and incredibly expensive private jets to Washington to ask for taxpayer money to bail out their companies. Now it’s bank executives bailing out with golden parachutes right before the parachutes expire with the acceptance of bailout money–robbing the institutions of substantial chunks of the money taxpayers are going to have to pump back into them. It’s as if the executives are brashly and unapologetically continuing their ways of opulent greed, not even trying to put on a show.

The auto execs are piling on the excuses for private jets, but none add up. Their primary excuse is one of security, but they only cite the dangers of kidnapping when the executives travel to dangerous countries. Excuse me? When was the last time someone was kidnaped on a plane or before they got to customs at an airport? Please. If special circumstances warrant extra security, then lease a plane, or make other arrangements. Another excuse is access to telephones and email–another BS argument, as first class on most airlines include such services. Another excuse is the ability to talk in private–as if this were really an unfixable dilemma for the short periods of time execs are in first class on a jet. Provisions can be made, easily, to get around any and all of these without paying tens of millions of dollars–now taxpayer dollars–to maintain a fleet of luxury jets, which are in fact nothing but a pricey perk.

Interesting about that SOFA pact that Bush arranged. It essentially committed the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq by 2011, laying out a distinct timeline for the exit of U.S. troops. Now, maybe Bush had no choice, and would have been in the tricky position of being told to get out of Iraq now if he hadn’t agreed to it. But essentially what it does is rob the Republicans of the chance to say that Obama was responsible for whatever bad stuff happened as a result of the U.S. pulling out of Iraq. They can no longer say that Obama lost the war and caused whatever havoc to erupt because he pulled the troops out–because Bush has now taken on the mantle of the one who pulled out the troops.

Of course, truth rarely gets in the way of Republican political attacks–they’ll still blame Obama for pulling out the troops, but it’ll be harder for them to make that stick. They’ll try to say that it’s how Obama pulled them out, or something he did or was responsible for along the way. Hell, they’re already blaming the recession on Obama, they’ll find some way to blame him for everything bad that happens, no matter how blatant the double-standard. Look at how they blamed Bill Clinton for “decimating” the military, when it was Bush 41 who did most of the cutting. Still, this SOFA agreement does take a good deal of the sting out of whatever attacks they want to launch in the future.

It seems that al Qaeda would have been much happier with John McCain. Obama’s election has al Qaeda rattled, as they have now lost a powerful recruiting tool and support mechanism. With Obama set to close down Guantanamo, put an end to torture, oversee the withdrawal of troops in Iraq, and re-brand the American image around the world, people in the Muslim world are a lot less likely to offer al Qaeda support or approval. Not to mention that Obama is set to re-focus American and international military efforts of the heart of al Qaeda’s operations and probably strengthen the investigative and prosecutorial efforts to curtail the organization’s activities.

This is quite something. Bush, at the G20 conference, joined the lineup of world leaders–but was conspicuously detached from all the greeting, hugging, and hand-shaking. As almost everyone else engaged in a great deal of enthusiastic welcoming, Bush simply walked past most of them, and everyone simply ignored Bush. A few times, Bush looked up at people in the upper row, as if to gauge wether or not a greeting was in order–and then walked on as no hand was extended to him. A CNN commentator likened Bush to the “most unpopular kid in high school.” Watch:


Want some fun? Miss your old Super Mario Brothers game? Play Super Obama World.

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