much cheese on her sandwich

much cheese on her sandwich
We went down to Hamamatsucho Station to take the highway bus, but as we're waiting in line, the bus drivers are talking about what detours to take around roads closed due to snow. So we slink out of line and get on the train.

still snowing

still snowing

more snow

more snow

emi eats

emi eats
emi eats, originally uploaded by renfield.

My god-daughter emi eats. Yup, she is in fact cuter than you.

snake eater

I got Hiroko Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. And I have been playing it all day. I dream about crawling through the jungle, sniping enemy guards with my tranquilizer gun.

fighting fitness party

fighting fitness party
Hiroko's Fighting Fitness Karate Dojo had it's year-end party at...a sports bar connected to a tanning salon. They served really good Chinese food, too. Explain that one to me.

x-mas bbq

In the tradition of our ancestors, we had a Japanese/Jewish X-Mas BBQ. Conan and the Smallwoods came first, with Conan immediately commandeering The Comfy Chair, quietly transfixed by his new Etch-a-Sketch and the cold medicine keeping his sniffles under control.
Amy and the Rudicks then showed up, with Amy happy to bound around the loft. The BBQ was fired up and the traditional pork loins were set upon the grill whilst we warmed up with slices of fine domestic beef. Kairi and Ericka came soon after, giving Amy a playmate and completing a fine collection of children's toy cellphones.
Others gathered and the food piled up. We made an extra beef run, complete with Alaskan King Crab legs, revived the BBQ for its Second Coming, and put away even more food. Complete and utter gastric destruction; no one went home empty-handed and the fridge is still packed with left-overs.

emperor's birthday

Happy 72nd birthday to Emperor Heisei!
Took advantage of the day off to accomplish three things:
  1. Went up to Saitama to practice at Shinbukan. More Kenjutsu. Everyone else was practicing iai and Kuroda-sensei asked me if I had my sword with me. I didn't bring it, assuming I wouldn't be doing iai for months. So all I had was my wooden sword. He figured good enough and started showing the first iai form. All the iai forms are from iaigoshi: fold your left leg under you, such that your left heel is in your butt, then put your right heel in front of your left knee, keeping your right knee off the ground. So yeah, you're sitting on your left foot. And yeah, it hurts. But wait, it gets better. From this position, rise up into a low stance, right foot forward, left knee off the ground. But don't stand up, you have to basically float up; ukimi. Literally "to float." Needless to say, the top of my left foot is nicely sore and swollen.
  2. Came back from practice and put the Cuisinart to use: made about 3 kilograms of Mama's Famous Fake Chicken Liver Pate (carmelized onions, string beans, walnuts.) Cuisinart, as you know, is French for "Kitchen Power Tool" and it is the single greatest invention since the Intelligent Meat Fork.
  3. At my request, Hiroko cooked her stunningly good fried chicken in sweet/sour marinade. Add in a spinach salad, miso soup, and fresh rice and we had us a meal.

go chimi!

Seems like it was just yesterday that I gave Yu-ching the really, really terrible nickname Chimichanga (now reduced to the much more tolerable Chimi-chan), but now she's been at for a while, and I'm at Deutsche, and she's run the Honolulu marathon for the 3rd time! Amazing. I can't even get up before 10am on a Sunday, and she flies to the other side of the world to run for hours on end.
Speaking of which, Ramesh now officially owes me money, as not only did he not run the marathon in under 5 hours, but he didn't even bother to go to Hawaii! Beers on him, but it's up to me to collect!

cousin dave

Finally uploaded all his photos from his Japan trip.


This is Andy. Andy came to Japan 18 years ago with a UK new wave pop band. Now he goes to the Tsukiji fish market every morning, buys up all the leftover good stuff, and sells it at Shin-hinomoto, right under the train tracks at Yurakucho station.
He is tall of height, quick of wit, and a damn fine chap who sells the best and cheapest seafood in the dingiest salaryman hangout.


Serious crab closeup. Plenty of crabs guts (brains, eggs, etc.) to eat after we powered through all the legs and claws.

crab @ shin-hinomoto

crab @ shin-hinomoto
Jeremy and the gang at Shin-hinomoto. Special of the day: whole crab!


Jorge randomly appeared in Japan for a day, on his way back from a Samsung meeting in Korea. Hiroko and I took him to eat okonomiyaki and monjayaki across the street and then we goofed off as we generally do.

x-mas party

x-mas party
Research X-Mas party, so at the Tokyo American Club first we went bowling and my team came in 3rd! Woowoo!
Then we headed over to the banquet hall and had some food and bingo insanity.
After that we were singing karaoke up the street until I finally dragged myself home.
Check out the photos.


Ako from the NY Japan desk is in town, so she and I and Scott went to Akihabara for uh, technology, um...research. Yeah, that's it.
We did the standard tour, checked out the cool TVs (Ako really needs to buy a new TV) and had a killer lunch at some hole-in-the-wall. The owner was showing off his festival photos and told us to come back in May.


Hiroko and I finally put on our motivational hats and went Holiday Season Shopping. Unlike yesterday, it was damn cold, so we were motivated to keep moving. Bussed to Shibuya and hit the Seibu Department Store and connected Loft to spend 4000 yen in gift certificates that Hiroko got from credit card points, then walked over to Harajuku up to Omotesando, and back down through Aoyama to Shibuya. It was surprisingly not too crowded, and once the drizzle sputtered out, it was pretty nice, though gray.
Saw a totally ridiculous protest march: a bunch of college students complaining about not having adequate health coverage and benefits as part-time workers. Um, maybe they're unclear on the concept: it's called 'part-time', as opposed to 'full-time', i.e. "I work for a living" versus "I leech off my parents and earn just enough spending money to keep me in Gucci and karaoke."
Sorry kids, no pity from me. Here's a novel idea: you are students, right? How about maybe studying something interesting and actually becoming a useful member of society?


Had the last cutting session of the year at Honbu. There was a big Mochi-tsuki festival down on the street below, so we all assumed that after we cut we'd got some eats, but alas it was all gone by the time we were done. Most folks cut ok, and I demo'd some basics, but I'm so out of practice, I really need to get back into cutting every week.

work x-mas party

Had our company party at the lovely Hotel New Otani up the street. Check out the photos. For some reason, Emiko managed to get into just about every photo. And she was quite drunk, as many folks were. The food, of course, was top notch. Hats off to the chefs of the hotel; the did a spanking good job on the vittles, from the sushi to the stir-fry, fresh curries, and fantastic fruit and dessert assortments.

patents and pop

Patents are, in general, patently silly. Here's a good idea to fix the system.
And while we're talking, why is it I get all the good toys in Japan?

bad apple (sauce)

Had my traditional breakfast this morning: some bread, some coffee. Also pulled a cup of apple sauce out of the fridge for some much needed fruit.
Went to work and spent the morning in the bathroom, doubled over in pain. Didn't eat much. Came home early, curled up fetal on the couch.
Haven't had white-hot-iron-poker-in-the-abdomen pain in months, and will be happy to never have it again. Must check expiration date on apple sauce...


Yes, but do you really really love eggs?

bid'ness illiteracy

My mom is religious in her pursuit of spelling and grammar errors on my blog (no I don't spell check it. What would mom do then?) But believe me, there is worse. The good news is email does not make you illiterate. The bad news is you can't hide your illiteracy anymore what with all the email you send.

big easy

Jeremy went to The South. He and Burt had a good time.
Southern women + food + beverage = New Orleans.
Burt + old southern women = smile.
Jeremy + 3 Pat O'Brien Hurricanes = old southern women start lookin' real good...


Bought me one of them groovy oil heaters from Electrolux. Has two timers to set the desired temp at one-hour increments. Has casters. Is totally silent. Gets warm slowly, cools down slower still. Very toasty. Speaking of which, finally broke down and bought a toaster, too. Convinced myself for the longest time that I didn't need one. I was wrong.

random french breakers @ akiba

random french breakers @ akiba

calf muscles

A stunningly warm and sunny day. Serious global warming problems when it's the beginning of December yet 24° outside.
Did kenjutsu today for the first time at Shinbukan. Actually, all I did was suburi, practicing one basic cut over and over. Elbow was tweaking, but didn't hurt nearly as badly as my legs. Try this: stand with your feet together, move the right foot way forward and face left, such that your toes and heels are all on one line. Now turn your left knee way, way in until you're facing forward again. And lower your left knee until your left calf and right thigh are parallel to the ground. And don't let either heel touch the ground. Hold that position with practicing basic cuts. For two hours.

cousin dave

Somehow managed to find his way up from Osaka, so he came over for dinner and will crash for a few days as he plots his Tokyo assault.

your own path

So it looks like Kiyokawa, Iwata, Misawa, Hoshi, and Tamaki have decided to leave and do their own iai thing. Everyone's got his own path, I reckon. Perhaps some people already know exactly what they are doing even when they're only 25 and have been training for only a handful of years. Then again being 25 and having some old dudes tell you "You don't know what you're doing, because you're young and inexperienced" isn't really going to convince anyone. Best thing for people who still have lots of growing up to do is, let them grow up. Hell, if my parents were paying my rent and I didn't have to work or study, and could just practice all day, I'd milk it for all I could. As it was, when I was in college I did have my parents paying my rent, but I also worked part-time and busted my ass studying, besides training 7 times a week.
As for my path, thought I would have Honbu all to myself because Miyasawa started teaching the Friday classes at Tokiwa down the street, but as it turns out the gym was full of chairs for an assembly, so everyone ended up coming to Honbu. He and Kaeda spent their time with a new dude, two people watched class, and I just zoned out and practiced for an hour and a half. Recently been trying to figure out how to use my left hand/arm/side of the body, not my right, to draw smoothly and quickly. Definitely Kuroda-sensei's book gave me a hint: the left wrist needs to not be rolled out; keep the left armpit closed, elbow back, open the left chest and keep the wrist straight, dropping the saya back and down.
That whole 'move without moving' thing is pretty farking weird, but here's how I explain it people:
Extend both arms straight out in front, palms together. Now swing open your arms so that your arms are extended out to the sides. Your arms are now open 180 degrees. Each hand moved 90 degrees. OK, so do it again, but this time, as the arms open, pull the right foot back, turning the body to face to the right, moving in sync with the right arm. When you're done, you should again have the arms extended out to your sides, open 180 degrees, only this time you're facing right, not front. Notice the position of the left hand. If you do it carefully, you can move such that the left hand stays fixed in space. But you opened your left arm; it moved 90 degrees from its original position. Get it? Move without moving.
After practice I had a mad craving for sweet & sour pork, so went with Gosoke and Ohtsuka-san and Wakabayashi-kun to the cheap-ass greasy-floored Chinese restaurant at Kanda station, and because I was really hungry I also had spicy shrimp.


Time to stand up.

DB 70's X-Mas Party 2004

DB 70's X-Mas Party 2004, originally uploaded by renfield.

Had our 2004 X-Mas party for equities sales, research, and clients.
70's theme, so I dressed appropriately.

Ann's knife fight scar

Ann's knife fight scar, originally uploaded by renfield.

She took on three drunk, armed attackers, disabled two, but the third dude stuck her...or maybe it was just surgery...

bookmark string

I can't honestly say if it's a Japanese thing or not, but whenever I buy a book it comes with a string attached to the spine to be used as a bookmark. I find that incredibly useful.

virtual keyboard

virtual keyboard
As a matter of fact, this is the coolest toy currently in my possession.
Red laser projects image of keyboard on my flat desk. Then all I do is type. Touch typing takes on a whole new meaning with this thing, but it's damn fun to use.
Naturally it has a battery and cables to hook up to all the various palms and portables for road warrior use.

cousin dave

My family is, like all families, insane.
Got a voicemail on my cellphone:
"Heah it's Dave...I'm at the airport in Tokyo now...I gotta meet this IBM lady and then go to the maybe we can have dinner later, cause I don't feel too tired. The hotel is...The Royal, Park...something. Near the TC...? In the middle, y'know, of Tokyo. OK. Bye."
So I email Hiroko in an attempt to decipher this enigma. She writes back:
Well, you're related to him by blood.
Royal Park Hotel in Hakozaki, close to TCAT (Tokyo City Air Terminal).
Tel: 3667-1111
I called them and left him a message to call us at home or my mobile when he checks in this evening.

I am great.

She is great. I am not worthy.

manhattan tie

manhattan tie
An incredibly cool tie from Emy and Dolph. X marks the spot where they live.
Hint, as the holiday season approaches: I can always use more cool ties!

half-life 2

Had a big seminar for everyone in Mugairyu. First one in a while, and about 75 people showed up so that was cool. As expected, plenty of idiotic he-said-she-said politics and conspiracy theories. Man, just shut up and train already!
After that I went up to Yutenji to have dinner with Smallwood. We went back to his place to make sure his new sound card was working. By playing Half-life 2. Let me use my fine command of the English language to explain how good this game is: holy fucking shit.
And that's about all you need to know. The machine gun and rocket launcher are cool, but not nearly as much fun as using the gravity gun to:
  • whiz circular saw blades through multiple targets
  • knock furniture into shards
  • splatter paint cans
  • smack around dead bodies hanging from bungie cords
  • throw milk crates

This game makes we want to buy a PC just to be able to play it!


This is Yamamoto-san. She's one of Hiroko's Fighting Fitness instructors. 15% body fat. Chiseled muscles. And totally, completely goofy.

inoue sensei's birthday

inoue sensei's birthday
Inoue-sensei, who runs Hiroko's Fighting Fitness Kyokushin Karate Gym. We went to a local Korean restaurant for his 36th birthday and packed far too many people into a tiny space. Everyone was generally muscle-bound (including a pro boxer who was huge) and really nice. The women in particular are generally insane.


I went with Keith up to Saitama to Kuroda Tetsuzan Sensei's Shinbukan practice. This guy is a legend; he is probably the single most talented koryu martial artist alive today. First of all, he has alien bug muscles. He can basically move any muscle in his body independently of any other muscle. So for example he can twist his upper arm clockwise and at the same time twist his forearm counter-clockwise. He flows like mercury and has incredible balance. You grab onto him and he doesn't move...only he's wrapped his leg around yours and swept you to the floor before you know what's going on. Freaky fun. We spent most of the time doing various body movement exercises, trying to move without moving, push without pushing. Basically impossible stuff, until Kuroda-sensei does it and shows that it can be done.


Went to Namikawa Heibei in the morning with the gang, and bought tons of stuff.
In the afternoon we went to Honbu (with a quick haircut detour) for training, and then after training we naturally went to the all-u-can-eat-&-drink place.
Nothing like a viking buffet to get the blood flowing!


Tony and Bill arrived, and Neeley came back up from the seminar he was at, so it's a full house at Hotel Kuroda!

jenn & sushi

jenn & sushi
National holiday, so Hiroko and I cleaned. Cleaned the vacuum cleaner, took the covers of the bed and couch and went to the laundromat to wash them. Did lots of laundry.
In the evening we met up with Jenn at the Keio Plaza and wandered around Shinjuku looking for a certain sushi place. Couldn't find it, so went into the place with the biggest frozen fish head outside.

fake dead crow

fake dead crow
If New York pigeons are flying rats, then Tokyo crows are flying coyotes. They are big, smart, and nasty. They'll tear through trashbags, abscond with small pets and children, and smoke and gamble all night, shrieking up quite a racket.
The one thing they don't like is other crows, dead. So Hiroko, a veritable wellspring of random knowledge, commanded me to find a fake dead crow. And lo! For twenty bucks I got a life-sized, plastic fake dead crow.
He's hanging stoicly on the balcony, and I swear since he's been put up I haven't even seen one crow in the near vicinity, though I can hear them far off in the distance.
Now I wonder if I could find a fake dead New Religion peddling old woman to hang on the front porch?

red rubbers

red rubbers
Went shopping Shibuya with Hiroko. I wanted to fix my broken watch band, and she wanted black leather boots. Turns out my watch band is no longer made and they have to check with the factory. Meanwhile I spotted the most stylin' Marc Jacobs red rubber, high heel, non-slip boots and Hiroko simply had to buy them. Ah, to consume. Small is the economic role we play, but proudly do we play it.
Also hit Muji for various supplies like a big cushion on which to sit, an incense holder, small useful plastic case, and bath salts that smell like a hot spring resort's fine soaking.
Back home it was an evening of massive cooking. Hiroko made meat pies and curry and I slaved away caramelizing onions for an hour to make a double batch of my mama's famous fake chicken liver pate. Calling it that doesn't do it justice though. Blend carmelized onions, string beans, walnuts, and hard-boiled eggs into a paste and eat with your favorite crackers. It is stunningly good and damn addictive. And probably healthier than anything else I can inhale.


Went over to Higashi Koenji to have Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki with Stevie and Eriko and Hye-won and Yon-sama and Eriko's family.
After dinner we walked over to Stevie's place and talked about the crazy times we had in Seoul. I brought the photos I took when we were there 10 years ago and totally embarassed Hye-won.


Hye-won and her husband, the famous Korean Idol Yon-sama!

hye-won & ren
Ren and Hye-won

The Wonder Twins

Went to Yurakucho after practice to meet Stevie and his cousin Hye-won from Korea and her husband and everyone else.
Haven't seen Hye-won in like 10 years, since I went to Seoul with Ivan and Stevie and Hye-won showed us all around. I have a totally traumatized image of Korea now, because all I did was hang out with Hye-won and her friends, drink, and eat, and drink.
Hye-won's now 8 months pregnant, so she's not drinking for now, but she's making up for it by eating!

red alert

From whence it came.

polish pride

polishPride, originally uploaded by renfield.

Lee Guzofski: Polish-American.

night of the polish heavy weights

So Lee goes to Madison Square Garden to see Night of the Heavy Weights.
His buddy Jud's write up was so good, I am blogging it here. Without permission, I might add.
Last Saturday, Lee and I attended the "Night of the Heavyweights" boxing match at Madison Square Garden. The featured match was a fight between a guy named Ruiz and the pride of Poland, Andrew Golota. The crowd was filled with thousands of Polish folk - faces painted, draped in red & white flags, yelling angrily in Polish (at least it sounded angry) and all absolutely bombed.
Lee, very proud of his Polish heritage, was like a kid in a candy store. As the night progressed, Lee proceeded to order trays of champagne for all of his Polish brothers sitting in the nosebleed seats in section 413. They were a bit confused at first and were not sure if they should thank Lee or kick his ass, but after explaining that he was a fellow Pole, they gave him a hug and chugged champagne together. (If you have not been to a boxing match before - they serve champagne like it is some kind of classy event, even though the crowd is roughly the same crew that hangs out in OTBs, with more fights in the seats than in the ring).
As the night progressed, Lee collected more and more Polish paraphernalia - every time Lee went to get a drink or go to the bathroom, he would return with a new Polish t-shirt, hat or flag given to him by a new friend. (The most interesting item he came back with was a doctor working for the polish mob, who gave Lee a business card and let us know that we could call him if we ever needed medical attention but required something more "discreet" than a hospital. I am not kidding - this actually happened).
At about 11, I turned around and found Lee leading a group of about 100 men and women in a Polish fight song. At midnight, Lee was at the front of a group of Polish people threatening to beat down some poor Ruiz fan. As I walked out of the Garden, my last image of the event was watching Lee crowd-surfing on top of a sea of people dressed in red and white.
I am sorry the rest of you were not able to witness Lee in all his glory - it was truly awesome.

sleep deprivation

Been trying an experiment for the past couple of days: since I generally don't get enough sleep as is (late conference calls, late practice, too lazy to get off couch, get in shower, get in bed, etc.) lately I've been swapped 20-30 minutes of sleep with 20-30 minutes of post-shower, pre-sleep zazen meditation. Well ok I call it that, but it's basically me sitting and staring at at an incense stick as it burns it way to gray ash. Fairly sure I have not reached a transcendental plane just yet, but I do know that as soon as I go to bed, I am dropping off to sleep in what I think is a shorter amount of time than if I just sit and stare at the tv, shower, and crawl into bed.
Of course, to do a properly controlled experiment I'll have to spend one week eating donuts right before bed, another week playing with action figures before I go to bed, another week reading comic books before going bed, etc. and see if any of them cause me to drop off to sleep more quickly than normal, too.
Such is the life I live, dedicated to the pursuit of scientifically backed truth.
Hiroko and I saw Kakushiken Oni-no-tsume at Shinagawa Prince Hotel Cinema.
By the same director as Tasogare Seibei, and a very similar story: average Joe samurai, the woman he's always loved by can't admit it, the clash between old-world samurai and Western modernization, a challenge to friendship, a final duel, a secret technique. Not as good a movie as Seibei, but also better in some different ways. Not very much fighting; this is not a samurai flick. Someone told me it's a story told much more from a woman's point of view, and I sort of get that now that I've seen it. Anyway if you liked Seibei and Ame-agaru, you'll like this one. Assuming you ever get the chance to see it.

cutting practice

Had a mellow cutting practice. Honma-chan and Kobayashi-chan were cutting for the first time, and all things considered they did very well. Kobayashi-chan had one perfect cut that just passed through the target like butter, making that great sound kind of like a zipper being opened really quickly. Niina-gosoke came in from the other room going "That sounded good!"
Everyone else cut ok, too. Presley was pummelled from aikido the day before, so he was all sore but doing ok. Sakaguchi-san cut pretty well, too, and he brought a couple of killer wakizashi that he's selling for super cheap. His sword shop "Mugaido" will be open in Takadanobaba soon. He's going to cater to practitioners, so unlike most uptight arty sword shops, he'll sell to iai practitioners who want to get a feel for the sword before they buy it, etc. Can't wait for his shop to open. He said he's got a cutter from a modern smith in Chiba that is an absolute light saber that he can get for a ridiculous price. I told him my custom-forged cutter will be coming next month and he just smiled and said "When your sword comes, we'll compare, and then we'll see which one you want to keep."
After practice I went back to Shibuya with Presley and bought him a hotdog, talking smack as we walked down the hill from Aoyama. Nice weather so the crowds were out in full fall fashion, so we swivel-headed at Hachiko Crossing while he waited for his 7:30. Conclusion: Japanese chicks are in general too damn skinny, and if you look up the word 'grace' in a Japanese dictionary, there is most definitely no mention of 'walking in high heels' for most of the knee-knocking female population.

ted's jingasa

ted's jingasa, originally uploaded by renfield.

The old man said "This is the jingasa the general wore when he was hunting wild boar in the forest."
It must be true because no one can make up a story that cool-sounding.
It's covered in chicken feathers, and in surprisingly good shape considering how old it must be.

will wants cake

will wants cake, originally uploaded by renfield.

Will came over for dinner a couple nites ago and brought cake. Hiroko ate the cake for breakfast for days. Bad Will, no biscuit.

nyc marathon

Dolph finished the marathon in five hours nine minutes.
See for yourself: Race results, runner #38042.
FYI, five hours nine minutes is the amount of time it takes me to watch Blade Runner 2.64 times.

ted & andy

ted & andy
Got up reasonable early and got down to Harajuku to check out the flea market at the temple. Andy was already there and professed his deep disappointment at the selection of stuff. Still, we wandered around and managed to grab some cool stuff; cufflinks, nice kimono, jingasa (helmet/hat) covered in feathers...
Got gyoza for lunch and then walked back to Nishi Azabu for some cake and iced tea before heading home. Ted went off to meet a client for dinner and Will come over to be fed. Surprised Hiroko because she didn't realize he's in town. Ate too much chocolate cake before calling it a night.

gifts from ted

gifts from ted
Alpaca fleece hat, gloves, and muffler. Also, Avon Skin-so-soft (the best bug repellent in the world!)

Ted came by Honbu Dojo and we went to the all-you-can-eat meat fest with Niina-gosoke before cabbing back to the Kuroda residence. Meat is good.

dolph tracker

Once again Uncle Dolph is running the NYC marathon. This man is a machine, I swear. Running this many marathons simply cannot be healthy, but he seems to enjoy it, so more power to him!
You can track him via his runner id: 38042.
I will be cheering him on from the comfort of my bed, stomach full of carbo-loaded pasta in his honor.

go bears!

My alma matter Cal is ranked #2 university in the world! Not bad for a bunch of hippies with minimal state funding.
Also most definitely note that Stanford, even with its buckets and buckets of money, comes in a measely 7th.

present from parentals

present from parentals

namikawa heibei

After work, I went over to Namikawa Heibei to see little Yui-chan and hang out with Ted and Guido. We all went out to dinner at a local restaurant and talked swords and polishing and smack.

maid cafe

Met Smallwood at Akihabara and immediately headed to the Maid Cafe to get some morning coffee served by cutish girls dressed up like anime characters. It being Halloween the costumes were predominantly black. The guy at the next table was classic: mid-30s, glasses, badly dressed, flipping lovingly through a 3-ring binder of anime character trading cards.
We then went on a video card fact-finding mission, grabbing lunch before getting Ivan a new video card and heading back to his house to have dinner and install the card to verify Doom 3's smooth polygon blood-flying.

conan the tiger

conan the tiger
Conan and bunch of other folks came over for a BBQ. It was raining all day and the coldest day yet this year, but that didn't stop and unending march of meat. Ivan supplied the cow, which was followed by pig, and mushrooms, and ribs...Miyuki brought sake and proceeded to drink it all herself. At some point we remembered the corn on the cob and the potatoes in the oven, and then Masa and her friend came by once everyone had gone home and with Presley finished off most of it, taking the rest home.
conan the sleeping tiger


My brother, in the spirit of Halloween.



just practice

Had a singularly unpleasant day at work. Hong Kong is going off into the Twilight Zone and I'm on damage control from their rogue bumblings. The company I helped write a short yet glowing research report on a couple of weeks ago is plunging like a skydiver without a parachute because the Tokyo Stock Exchange is staffed by monkeys who only know how to follow manuals, and populated with investors who aren't much better. A vendor in tears because she doesn't have the mental fortitude to work in Wall Street and expects perfect requirements in black & white. Lawyers with a million reasons to deny and disapprove, but all of them have different reasons, so pleasing one upsets another. And its earnings week so the market is all over the place, the team is pulling all-nighters, the schedules are packed, and the clients are antsy.
It was not a second too soon that I scampered out of work at about 7 and headed down to honbu dojo. No one was around so I let myself in and practiced for over an hour before Gosoke came followed shortly by Miyasawa, cramming in as much practice as he can before his 4dan exam next month.
Trained until about 9:30, with Gosoke giving pointers on noto and other fineries, before heading to the station to get some Chinese food. I have had an unsatiable craving for sweet & sour pork for weeks, and the more I eat it, the more I want to eat it.
Chatted with Gosoke about what it means to practice; to practice for yourself or for someone else (against someone else.) Without putting too fine a point on it, I don't care how "good" you are, if the only reason you're swinging that sword is to be better than someone else, to beat someone else, to prove something to someone else, you'll never get "good." You may become proficient at cutting and swinging, but if that's all you're interested in, try a machete. It's not some deeply spiritual concept of "the path" of martial arts or anything. It's really quite simple: it's about having heart.
Or, to put it more bluntly, are you being an asshole? Someone once told me "Brown, black, white, pink, small, large...assholes come in all shapes, sizes and colors. But an asshole is still an asshole."

one cut

Trained for about 3 hours. Stayed focused on two kata: shin and enyo. Actually was just working on the one cut they have in common: gyakukesa, rising diagonal from the draw.
The more I practice the more I notice everything I'm doing wrong. Too much arm, hips are late, feet are open, balance to the left too much, not straight, telegraphing with the elbows, chin tucked too much, grip is off, left wrist is bent, kissaki too's a never-ending pursuit.
However I am also now buried in Omori Sogen's "Zazen Nyumon", in the hopes that I'll get motivated enough to start zazen (seated zen or meditation.) Of course it's like a totally 'zen' thing to do, and knowing my absolute mistrust and borderline intolerance for religion, it seems like an odd choice, but it will most likely be helpful for my iai, and my high blood pressure, and my winning personality in general. There a couple of temples in my neighborhood that offer 'basic intro' courses; 20-30 minutes with instructions for beginners and a little spiel from the head monk. Then again it's all about meditation. Omori talks about 2 types of people in his book: those who talk about zen but don't sit, and those who sit but don't do zen. Both are NG, but at least with second type, you're sitting, so all you have to do is focus on getting the zen part. I am, so far, the first type; all chatter and no sitting. The journey starts with the first step...but first there's some cool websites to look at, and some funny tv to watch...

swingin' to the earthquake

Big quake hit Niigata this past weekend, and we're still feeling aftershocks. Biggie just hit, and my building is still swaying. 20th floor, so we're moving tens of centimeters as the building creaks and goes with the flow.


Not need, want.

local temple

local temple

anti-terrorist solution

Federal Aviation Agency
800 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC

Dear Sirs:

I have the solution for the prevention of hijackings, and at the same time getting our airline industry back on its feet.

Since men of the Muslim religion are not allowed to look at naked women we should replace all of our female flight attendants with strippers. Muslims would be afraid to get on the planes for fear of seeing a naked woman, and of course, every businessman in this country would start flying again in hope of seeing a naked woman. Hijackings would end and the airline industry would have record sales.

Why didn't Bush think of this? Why do I still have to do everything myself?


Bill Clinton

kensuke & momo

Went up to Kensuke's house to play with him and momo. Had a massive allergy attack from all the greenery, but it was fun. Kensuke is now big enough to stumble about and cause trouble, and momo's front teeth have come in finally, making her look more and more like her mom every day. Hiroko saw her old gang of elementary school buddies and we ate far too much, as usual.

shiroganedai station

shiroganedai station

tomo & mieko married!

Congrats to Tomo and Mieko for tying the knot. I like to say it was a shotgun wedding, because she's a month pregnant, but alas it was all part of the plan.
I also take some small responsibility because I encouraged her to join IT not Corp Comms back in the day, and I like to think that had something to do with her meeting Tomo in IT. Then again it could be totally unrelated, but whatever.
Saw Spike and his very pregnant wifey, bumming because she's gotta go easy on the booze. Also saw Moka, who's announced he's leaving Morgan to go give a hand at the front office. Good for him!
The old ECT team from the days of yore at Morgan Stanley is slowly dissolving; life is change. And change is good.
Here's the photos.

eat well, dream well

I'm fairly certain that I've been having vivid dreams the past few days, but as soon as I wake up, all I have is the vague recollection that I was just dreaming...but I can't remember what about. I hate that.
Hiroko says, "Every time I wake up, all the comforter is wrapped around you, and I'm cold, and you're dead asleep." So it's some kind of karmic payback for stealing the covers?
Maybe it's because I've been eating better these past few days. The fear of high blood pressure has put a motivation on me, and I've been attempting to cook dinner for the past couple days. Here are some things I have discovered:
* You can put lots of different spices in the sauce and the chicken will still taste bland.
* Too much garlic is too much.
* Don't put any food into your mouth until you've thoroughly chewed and swallowed everything. And taken a sip of tea.
* Talk alot during dinner; it's more interesting, it makes the meal last, and you feel fuller without having eaten as much.
* Eating 200 grams of pasta in 20 minutes is just as filling as eating 500 grams of pasta in five minutes. And it's less painful afterwards.
* Hiroko still eats really, really slowly. But it's arguably a better way to eat than too much, too fast.
* Japanese food has lots of salt in it. Hiroko says it's because the water in Japan doesn't have any minerals in it like in the states, so all minerals, including salt, have to be added to the food. I think it's just because Japanese people generally like salt.
* Japanese food labelling requirements pale in comparison to the states.

typhoon #23

Just a couple of weeks after #22 slammed across Japan and we got hit by #23. Strongest typhoon yet, and with the ground still wet from the last typhoon, much of Japan, especially in the southwest, was a mess of landslides and overflowing rivers. HR told folks to leave work early, so last night I left at five. Coming out of the train station I was met with horizontal rain. My umbrella was totally useless; the wind was blowing so strongly the I felt like I was laying down under a shower. I basically gave up and trudged home through overflowing gutters. Good thing I had my boots on, though. At least my feet were dry.
Golly, I'm sure glad that there's no such thing as global warming, otherwise I'd suspect all these typhoons had some kind of meaning.
This morning it was a bit gray but the typhoon's gone off into the Pacific, and most of my neighborhood is still standing, so it wasn't a total loss.

good bad attitude

Paul Graham touches on the American-ness of the hacker ethic. He is spot on, and of course no reasonable government official, and especially not anyone in this fear-mongering White House, would even get it.

(un)health check

Not really much point in getting a health check if the doctor doesn't actually tell me anything helpful from the results, eh?
Turns out that I cannot escape genetics. The high bloodpressure from my mom's side rears its ugly head. I need to lose weight and cut salt as I am a classic case of prehypertension.
I've never been a big salt fan and now I have an excuse to demand lower salt. Hard to do though in Japan; a spot of soy sauce and it's all over!
Then again cardiac arrest is not an option, so no more second bowl of rice, no more post-dinner icecream, more fruits and veggies.


It's not Krispy Kreme, but Doughnut Plant, NYC makes a damn fine cinnamon roll that puts Starbucks to shame. Hiroko and I found it yesterday walking back from Meguro after having lunch in Shinagawa and loaded up for breakfast. Don't think we can freeze them so we'll have eat them all in the next couple of days!


Hiroko's birthday present has finally come together. Got a 5.1 set of speakers from Axiom Audio, a Yamaha receiver, and bunch of speaker cable from Ivan. After playing with Conan for a while and checking out his house in Yutenji, I made a couple of trips to Bic Camera to get various necessary cableage and finally get the system wired up. Still need another D video cable to connect the TV output to the receiver, but in general it works.
Now if I can just figure out how to get all the remote controls consolidated...


Remember, the driver sits on the right side of the car. So, how does he get out?


Konishi-sensei came up last night and practiced at Honbu Dojo. Very interesting. The theory behind many of the kata are just different enough to make the kata quite different. And of course they don't 'cut', so most of the movements are practically unusable. Interesting, but not my thing and not the 'cutting iai' Mugairyu that we do and are used to.


Everything you ever wanted to know about electronic music. Mad snaps to Ishkur for not only mapping the genre and providing samples, but for summing up, in a simple, sarcastic paragraph, the essence of the music.

the political post

This will be my one, and hopefully only, political post. Just watched the 3rd and final debate. As an overseas citizen I have a simple agenda:
I have not lived in the US for a decade, and yet I pay taxes. ALOT of taxes. The US is one of a handful of nations that fully taxes its citizens overseas.
The president, in my humble opinion, should be neither a lawyer nor a statesman. He should be an accountant, or at the very least have an MBA. Because running the US is simply about economics, but the economics are not simple. You have some money (taxes) that you have to spend on stuff (roads, schools, killing brown people in the desert.)
Here's what you do:
A) Collect fewer taxes
B) Spend the the money you do have wisely. Intelligently. Efficiently.

The only other thing I really care about is you and your God telling me that the way I live my life is wrong.
To this I give Kerry credit. When asked about his faith, he basically said: "My faith guides me in what I do and why, but not how I legislate, because I cannot force my faith on others who may have a different faith."
Bush, on the other hand, said "God told me to spread freedom and democracy and to kill all the fetus-killing, liberal, terrorist, non-Christians."

Unforunately, as my esteemed father taught me a long time ago:
"The average American is average. And that's pretty fucking stupid."

So my prediction is: Bush wins. I stay in Japan indefintely, where the government is at least as screwed up, but as Douglas Adams summed up best, mostly harmless.

for jorge

KDDI announced some new handsets, including Talby, designed by none other than Mark Newson.

iPod + Sazae-san

Snarfed this from Chimi. For those who know the long-running Japanese cartoon Sazae-san, check out the iPod commercial.

health check results

Got my yearly health check results back:
Height: 169.3 cm (5'6")
Weight: 78.0 k (171.9 lbs)
BMI: 27.2
OK, I admit I've got a nice gut going on and can stand to lose some weight; my BMI is too high and my suggested BMI is 22.
But my suggest weight is 62.4 k (137.5 lbs.) So I'm supposed to lose 15.6 k (34.4 lbs)?! I guess if I cut off a leg or something...


Just back from two nights and three days in Beniya Mukayu, the coolest hot springs hotel in Ishikawa Prefecture. Check it out.
Weren't sure if we'd even make it, because the typhoon on Saturday was bearing down hard. We headed to the airport expecting our flight to get cancelled at any minute. The other two flights after hours, and basically everything else after 5 pm, was cancalled, but we made it.
Very cool hotel; stylish modern design but traditional rooms. Stunning food. Wandered around the town during the day, checked out the local pottery (kutaniyaki) and historical sites, and made my own traditional paper postcards at the Arts & Crafts Experience Extravaganza that is Yunokuninomori.

bus-waiting hiroko

bus-waiting hiroko