squid hat!

squid hat
Originally uploaded by renfield.


Been unseasonably warm past couple days, so taking the opportunity to sneak outside (between diaper changes and feedings) and shop for bread, buy/sell used English books, and get my head shaved.
Brain gets a bit toasted sitting inside all day, so it's nice to get out every now and then. Also interesting to see the kinds of people who are out and about during the day. Sitting at work all day I never get a chance to ride the bus and wander about shopping amongst the common folk. Good to mingle with the peasants every now and then; keeps one humble.

little man Kai

The Birth of Our First Baby
Originally uploaded by Cornelius_20D.

Corn's kid is born! Little Man Kai has joined us on Dec 22, so now Tonchan's got someone to date in a few more years.


Originally uploaded by renfield.

Parentals Kuroda came by this morning to present Tonchan with the traditional girl's hagoita (decorated fan.) Grandma also wrote out this cool birthday announcement.

gifts for tonchan!

Originally uploaded by renfield.

Tonchan is just scoring big time! From all her friends at work and across Japan and the US, and all her family, she got tons of flowers, a bunch of toys, new clothes, towels, stuffed friends, and this cool stocking from Aunt Linda!
She also really, really doesn't like coming out of the bath and being cold. She cries and screams and is generally pissed off with me for a good hour, until I wrap her up and make her warm and let her suck/chew on my finger for a while...but what really makes her happy is when mom comes and feeds her. Meanwhile I have been soaked and nearly pooped on from bathtime. Just think, in a few short years this bundle of screaming joy will be exclaiming "I don't want you I want MOM!"
Ah, fatherhood. 10 days down...24 years to go...

damn straight

Yup. For my none-too-subtle take on religion, read this. Then this. Actually he's got a new book coming out soon, too.

city hall and shibuya

Went with mama to Minato City Hall (Ward Office sounds lame) to register Tonchan's birth and start some paperwork. The federal gov't gives us a fair amount of money for a child's birth, plus Minato will kick in some more, for both the birth and for the mom's medical expenses.
The interesting bit, as always, was how they deal with a foreigner dad. Technically, when we got married P came off of her father's family registery, had her own created, and I am on hers (in the section on the bottom where it says "Pets and other notes" there is the comment "married to a foreigner.")
So to register Tonchan's birth my name as father has to be just like it is on P's family registery, which is basically my maiden name. I am curious as to how the US Embassy will react to that, because I don't actually have anything that shows I am me, with my current name and my maiden name. When I got married and changed my name, I simply went to the US Embassy and said "Got married, took my wife's name" and they updated my passport. When I went back to city hall to renew my registration as a resident alien, they used the name in my passport, no longer my maiden name.
So when I go to the US Embassy with a copy of Tonchan's Japanese birth certificate, it will have dad's name as my maiden name...not quite sure I will use that to prove she's mine! This should be interesting...

After that little adventure in Japanese bureaucracy we had a quick/cheap/easy/filling pork bowl at Yoshinoya and took the train to Shibuya. First showed mama the 5-story fabric store across from 109, and then reminded her how to get to Tokyu Hands, so now she's set for shopping. Finally had a warm and refreshing bevvie at the QFront Starbucks before taking the bus home.

angel when she sleeps

angel when she sleeps
Originally uploaded by renfield.


Originally uploaded by renfield.

Went to Azabujyuban with mama to do some shopping; laundry basket for Tonchan's stuff, sheets for her crib, etc. For some reason some Namahage drummers from Akita Prefecture were performing. No idea why, but it was pretty cool.

Came home and Tonchan finally fell asleep, so now P is napping, mama is napping on the couch, and Tonchan is napping in the basinette. I am doing the laundry and being a good new papa/husband.

laputa aoyama

Had our annual team Bonenkai in Aoyama at the trendy Laputa. Good food, excellent turnout. Unfortunately it was raining so we couldn't use the extensive outdoor area, but then again no one tried to take a drunk swim in the decorative pool either.
Afterwards headed over to Nishiazabu/Roppongi for some random drinking of Korean traditional mountain root beverages; jars of hairy vegetables and unidentifiable bits and bobs floating in progressively browner liquids, poured into shot glasses and giving of the pleasant smell of wood, feet, and traditional Korean mountain roots soaked for years in progressively browner liquids.
By 1am it was time for karaoke, but I and a few weaker souls got some ramen and headed home instead.

with baba

with baba
Originally uploaded by renfield.

Mama came to visit Tonchan today. I also had my how-to-bathe-your-baby lesson. Tonchan basically enjoyed it, though I think she was freaking out a bit not because she doesn't like the water, but because I had no idea what I was doing and almost dropped her into the water a couple times. They gave me helpful hints like "Don't hold her ankles and dip" and "No jamming cotton swabs into her nose."

more tonchan

Various Tonchan photos of the lovely Chikage Kuroda ( ), born December 11, 2006.

tonchan & mom

tonchan & mom, originally uploaded by renfield.


Tonchan!, originally uploaded by renfield.

tonchan update

I am back from the hospital for a few minutes to grab a shower and changes clothes. Here's the scoop so far:
P went into labor about 1am on Saturday. We went to the hospital at about 1am on Sunday. And we've been there ever since.
Looks like we'll be there all day on Monday, too.
The regular contractions weren't cutting it, so they started to induce on Sunday afternoon. P is now dialated about halfway, and they have stop the hormone IV so that she can get some sleep for a fresh day Monday of hormone-induced contractions.
Baby has a heartbeat like a raging bull and kicks like Bruce Lee. Mom has been in labor for over 40 hours and is as good as can be expected. Dad has been awake with mom for 4 days and has no idea what the hell is going on.
That's it for now -- back to the hospital.


Lee had a book launch party for Roland's new masterpiece, Japanamerica.
Buy it immediately, or Pete Townsend with bust down your door and harass you to no end!

DB Xmas Party 2006

P1000099.JPG, originally uploaded by renfield.

We had the company X-Mas party at the Hotel New Otani once again. A strong showing of quality food and general X-Mas Party-ness. My esteemed colleagues even won a backpack and limited edition teddy bear in the raffle. A good time was had by all.

saba miso

saba miso, originally uploaded by renfield.

40 weeks two days tonchan

41 weeks tonchan, originally uploaded by renfield.

dinner with jenn

P1000038.JPG, originally uploaded by renfield.

Jenn was in Japan this week doing work-related stuff. She came over for dinner and we did tonyu-nabe. Then I played with my new camera's multitude of settings in a valiant but often futile attempt to take reasonably well lit, in-focus photos. As you can tell, I largely failed.

Ode To a Foxhole

The following is a letter sent from my Grandpa to my Grandma when he was serving in the Army during WWII. My father photocopied the 12 handwritten pages and sent me a copy.

It is poignant, brilliant, and timeless.

Ode To a Foxhole

Jerry Feinstein

Lying in a foxhole; "sweating out" the shells bursting overhead, the thought came to me "does the average civilian fully understand what is meant when a G.I. refers to a "foxhole?" Recollecting the days before I donned an O.D. uniform, I always had the impression that "a hole in the ground," was the definition of same. I am well aware of the fact that I was entirely wrong in this assumption.

The first process in digging "this home on the front", is locating a well camouflaged spot, in the woods or under some trees. Then begins the manual labor of clearing a body length by three feet wide area of the underground soil. Usually, when one is in a hurry to complete the task, the soil beneath the sod, contains the "hated-more-than-anything," rocks. Chopping your way, below the surface is no easy job by any means. After a while, the blisters on your hands interfere with your construction progress. It must be done regardless, for 'tis better to suffer a case of "blisteritis," than a dose of that "Jerrie Schrapnel." Naturally, the more you did, the more you cuss. All throughout your "shovel and pick job," you think of the days when your "ass," rested on a "Beauty Rest Mattress," sheets, comforters, down pillows and a perhaps a hot water bag attached for those cold feet. How lucky are those "draft dodgers" in not having the taste of actual warfare. Also, the "behind-the-desk-soldiers" that are still hurting (G.I., for mad) because the Army called them. Oh! For the life of those "over 38" guys. Yes! They are far too old, but what about the G.I., born in 1909 or thereabouts? A quick remembrance of those lads, holding the defense positions in the States. Reference is not made to the mechanics in the various industries but to the "picker-upper-of-dropped-tools" blokes; classified as essential and indispensable. Fortunate are those after "Pearl Harbor", fathers with the hasty two or three children in the immediate family.

Stop your "bitching," (G.I., for complaining), Joe and get that foxhole finished before the shower of bombs commences.

Getting back to the project; after about two or more hours of excavating, the foxhole is finally dug...(three or four feet deep, body length, two or three feet wide) but not as yet complete. Now comes the task of covering the quarters of the hole with logs and putting the soil on top; thereby constructing a roof. As the logs that one is in need of do not come "made-to-order" or left lying around, waiting to be picked up; another process has to be done.

Chopping small trees and cutting up the desired logs. So, the wood chopper goes to work. With the well calloused hands, he finds this second step in building, getting worse on the general anatomy. Slowly, he accumulates the wood for the roof of his "Foxhole Mansion." Upon placing these logs over his underground domicile, the next step is to put back all the rocks and soil on top.

Well he's finally done, you think. No, not by a long shot. The last job is to camouflage his "shack.'That is placing some of the surrounding weeds, bush, or grass over the dirt on top of the logs. Phew! Tough going!

The idea of this is so that the enemy can not observe your place of shelter. At last the entire home is complete.

If one still has any reserve energy, he lines the inside of the foxhole with paper or cardboard; if available. At slumber time the two Army blankets and shelter half serve as the bedding. Hay or straw is usually put on the bottom of the hole to ease the discomfort of the hard terrain.

The dwelling place described in the foregoing paragraph is where the front line soldiers spends most of his hours. Shrapnel from those H.E. (high explosive) artillery and mortar shells , flak from the Ack Ack guns, small arms fire (rifles, machine guns, carbines, sub-machine guns, automatic small weapons) rockets, bomb clusters from attacking planes, grenades of all types, mines, tank fire power, armored infantry cannon and long range artillery pieces fly around in the combat area, day and night. A well made foxhole is the best protection and also tends to relieve the pressure, tensity, fright of the average fighting man.

At present, there is a letup in the "rockets spread glare and bombs bursting in air." So the writer will try and recovery his sense of humor that seems to have "gone with the wind." With the pulse and heart beat normal again, the lighter side of the battle should be mentioned.

The past four pages must have made horrible reading, I presume. If the reader should care to continue I'm sure she (or he, as the case may be) will find more enjoyable reading.


Nightly, the foxhole serves as a quiet resting spot for the soldiers. During the day the ears become accustomed to the "boom-boom" above, and the nocturnal activity is not so hard to take. Alone in his "home-away-from-home", the solder reminisces of his past civvy days, the battle missions he has undergone, review of his Army life, loved ones and practically everything else he has experienced.

Beneath the starry sky above, the thoughts of "peace-on-earth; good-will-towards-man," also prevail. Who knows, perhaps tomorrow, tranquility will reign again?

Throughout the heaviest fighting G.I. Joe has been know to tell some good yarns, joke about and act calm as if nothing is going on above him. The "guy in the foxhole", at night, awaiting "the sandman," recalls the "good ones," he overheard during the day.

The one about the paratrooper that was captured by the Germans. This G.I., in this German Prison of War Camp, he knew how to speak the Heinic language very well. Day after day he plotted an escape. Within a few days, he got hold of a German Colonel's uniform. He dressed up in this "Jerrie", getup and proceeded to walk one of the prison camps. As he passed the guard at the gate, the sentry snapped to attention, saluted him and waited until he passed. After walking a few feet beyond the exit, the escaping paratrooper, turned around and came back. The other G.I. prisoners of war, knowing of the paratroopers planned escape, thought he was spotted and caught; while they watched the proceedings. Upon his return to the guard at the exit, all the could see was his hands moving up and down, in conversing with the German guard. After some words, the paratrooper departed again. Later, the G.I.s in the prison camp found out that when the escaped paratrooper passed the guard at the exit, the sentry did not snap to attention and salute him in the proper manner, so he came back to bawl out the guard and instruct him on his military courtesy towards an officer in the German Army.

Another one about the German soldier that was captured. Said the M.P. that was escorting him to the Prisoner of War Stockade, "Your a lucky Nazi, you'll be going to the States, while I have to stay here in France." Replied the Heinie prisoner, "Yes, but there will be America for you after the war. When I come back there will be no Germany."

Not to forget the latest stanza of the famed song of Word War #1 "Madamoiselle from the Armatiers"

I've met the daughter of the mademoiselle


I've met the daughter of the mademoiselle


I've met the daughter of the mademoiselle

SHE TOO, CAN *__________ LIKE HELL!

Janky-Dinky, Parlez-vous?

* The omitted word; should you care to know is XXXXXXXXX Oh well! You wouldn?t believe me anyway!

Let me recollect a while of those past civilian days. That Saturday night date with the female companion was indeed of the utmost importance. Usually the first complaint to the errand boy or girl (kid brother or youngest sister) was that the suit being pressed would not arrive in time from the tailors. Priorities on the bathroom came next for the preliminaries of showering, shaving, shampooing and generally freshening up the entire organism. Following that the dressing ordeal took lots of time. Standing before the bedroom mirror for two or more hours was not an uncommon sight. How well those times come back to me now, of when it took about fifteen tries to get that necktie to meet with the satisfaction. Naturally the coiffeur also took time. Parting the hair and setting same via the finger method took plenty of patience too. Need I mention the affair of the putting on that sharp slouch hat? Laugh; yea not every minute detail is important. Checking his pockets for cigarettes, handkerchief, comb; and not to forget the glancing over of the greenbacks the wallet contained therein; et cetera, everything was was just right at last. The "Household Cassanova," was ready his evening's rendez-vous. The entire getup and personality stood out like a neon sign. Proceeding to the prearranged corner, this "not-a-worry-in-the-world," guy to wait the "belle of his heart."

All this has changed no, G.I. Joe. Tomorrow when you awake in your foxhole, you will also have a date; a date with a "Nazi." Complaining will not be of help; for there is no one to complain to. The fatigue clothes you slept in will be your getup for tomorrow's rendez-vous. If time permits, a steel helmet , full of cold water will serve as your outdoor washing facilities. Mirror, ties, hair-slicking are passé. After that hurried K Ration breakfast you'd better check your pockets to see if you have enough rifle ammunition, hand grenades, and full canteen of water. No more brilliance like that Neon sign, plenty-worries-in-the-world, the belle of the heart very distant, proceeding to that at the "break of dawn attack."

Again, gloom creeps over this script. Get away from the misery and misfortunes of war; the cerebrum tell me. Yes! I must so I'll pass over the "close-to-death-incidents," in my past battles. Many a time, I could feel the "devil sticking me in the behind with that red hot pitchfork." Why review it? It's over with, so why bring it up again, telling others? They have their own troubles to worry about.

Then to the thoughts of Army life. Seems as if I've been in the service for centuries. Aw! Don't want to think "shop," now anyway; got more important subjects.

The loved ones I left behind are lonesome too. The girl I use to meet on Saturday nights, has been married to me a few years now. Our son must be quite a little man by now. Nothing must break up our happy family. I miss them so very much; they miss me.

(Say, G.I., Joe, there are plenty of other guys in the same boat too
We all got to make the best of it)

With a prayer on the lips; "Dear, God," end this unwanted way of living; put a stop to all this destruction and killing, send the boys home again; G.I., Joe in his "Foxhole Mansion,"
falls asleep.

[Wat a man!]

According to Papa this last line was written by the censor who was assigned to black out any words in the letter that might reveal anything to the enemy.
And damn straight: my grandpa was a serious war hero, a stand up family man, and one of the greatest drummers whom ever lived!


crackberry, originally uploaded by renfield.

I am now one of them: the crackberry addicted. I really didn't want this evil machine. I still don't, but I must admit it is useful...for ensuring I get no sleep and spend no waking seconds doing anything other than checking work email.

Then again for once I am glad that my IT policy blocks gmail, all IM apps, and anything even remotely fun, so I actually don't spend all my time on the crack because all I can get is work email and Bloomberg messages.


So I'm the only one who showed up to the dojo tonight. Her virus cured and me a kilo over from too much weekend eating, we pulled out all the stops and got to work. A few hundred sit-ups, 200 supermans and 50 push-ups to get the blood flowing and then a good hour of sweating. And to finish it off: arms! Who needs weights when just raising and lowering your own arms in various positions is more than enough to get that lovely muscles-burning-so-much-I-can't-scratch-my-butt sensation.

shibuya sunday

Had to take Mama to Shibuya on a Sunday. Got on the bus down Meiji Dori and first hit the East Exit Bic Camera so that I could get an extra battery, a case, and a memory card for my New Hotness. 2 gig SD card; w00t!
Mama also checked out the cameras, and perhaps JewSanta will bring her something this year...
Then we headed over to Loft to replace the battery in P's watch, look for calendars (lame), and get Mama a new organizer (cool.)
Hit TGIF for lunch and then the fabric store where we loaded up on cool Japanese cloth for quilts of the future. And then off to Mecca: Tokyu Hands. We got slippers and beads and scissors and sewing stuff, and discovered that we could make millions buying at Tokyu Hands and selling in America all the cheap little crap like silk thread, needles, and thimbles.

P1000002.JPG P1000001.JPG

my new DMC-LX2-K!

my new DMC-LX2-K!, originally uploaded by renfield.

olive orange icecream...nasty!

olive orange icecream...nasty!, originally uploaded by renfield.

sit, eat

Got up reasonably early, had some breakfast and hit the dry cleaners with mama -- that's one job she can take over from me when the baby comes.
If the afternoon I went to sit whilst mama and P wandered up to Miri's for lunch, hit Blue & White, and checked out Azabu Jyuban and Roppongi Hills.
For dinner we went to David's Deli and had a traditional Japanese feast.

the week

This week went something like this:
work gym work dojo mama work gym work work work work WORK WORK WORK rolled cabbage bacon soup raisin bread wheat bagels work work work.

Didn't get home from work last night until 1:30 -- had to finish a presentation for my boss to give at the offsite this weekend. An offsite I will not, by the way, be attending, as P is with child and just about ready to pop. Due date is Wed Dec 6!

jet lagging mama

jet lagging mama, originally uploaded by renfield.

Mama has arrived, and as one can imagine, she's a bit jet-lagged!

making itarian

making itarian, originally uploaded by renfield.

Mitsukoshi had a Niigata Prefecture Festival, so of course there was lots of local food. Our target was "itarian", which is thick udon noodles cooked like yakisoba and then covered in spaghetti meat sauce. I don't have the faintest clue were this nightmare of Western and Japanese food came from, but it was damn tasty!

happy birthday nishijima-sensei

Went to Josui Kaikan for Nishijima-sensei's 88th birthday lunch. He's been sitting zazen and studying Buddhism for many a decade. He also translated some of the seminal works into modern Japanese and then into English. Today was also the launch party for his latest book, a modern Japanese translation of the Sanskrit Churon. Don't actually have any idea what it is, as I'm still slowly trudging my way through Shobogenzo.

38th week tonchan

38th week tonchan, originally uploaded by renfield.

p's "today's achievement"

TODAY'S ACHIEVEMENT, originally uploaded by piroko_kuroda.

She's a wizard with needle and thread!

zombies and babies

Counselor Kobayashi called me up and required brunch, so we headed to Miri's for a proper feed of Eggs Benedict and french toast. Then we headed to counselor's quarters to kill zombies on his xBox 360. Damn, the sickle is fun but pales in comparison to the chainsaw and the battle axe. Then again bouncing a soccer ball off multiple zombies is pretty cool too, though the propane tanks were also just begging to be shot or otherwise ignited.
After the slaughterfest I met P at the hospital to visit one of her friends from the soon-to-be-mom class who had her baby Yuika on Friday. Cutie! I got to hold her and we saw what's in store for us soon...whenever Tonchan decides to stop playing kick-the-organs and comes out into the world.


Finally got to the dojo and managed to train a bit. Did some iai for a few minutes and then Gosoke told us start kumitachi. Four of us, self included, so I paired up with Salty and got to work. One of the kata was surikomi, which involves sliding your sword down the enemy's blade so that he basically cuts his own right foot because his sword is driven back and down and pinned by your own. The trick is to not use strength, but to wrap up his sword with yours. It's more of a twisting thing. Really hard to explain, even harder to do. I've always been terrible at it, but as I was helping Gosoke teach, I dropped all three of their blades into their own foot, but none of them could make mine move at all. I smiled to myself, not amused by my own ability but remembering years ago when I was in their place and Gosoke kept slamming my sword into my own foot so many times I could barely walk. Ah, memories and progress. I still can't do it near as dangerously as Gosoke can, but at least I can assure these guys that if they practice for a few more years, they may get it a little bit.

After practice I went by Miri's for a burger for the first time in forever and there was JB and the girlfriend. Well I introduced him to the place, so I had every right to crash their date. Seriously though, a lovely girl...far too good for JB!

eye of tonchan

eye of tonchan, originally uploaded by renfield.

AKA The Kicking Beastly. P has now experienced pregnancy quite enough, thank you. She prefers to move on to the motherhood part. ASAP.
Tonchan seems content to get bigger and more ornery, kicking and wiggling like a coyote on a leash. She's now just over 2500 grams -- right on schedule. Doesn't look like she'll be coming out particularly early, but you never know.

all u can eat dim sum

all u can eat dim sum, originally uploaded by renfield.

Brilliant weather (where is the winter?) so P and I took a wee walkabout the neighborhood. Walked up Sakuradadori to Azabujyuban, then walked up to Roppongi Hills, which was surprising empty for a Sunday. I guess it's not cool anymore? They had a display of BMW stuff -- motorcycles and cars, and a couple of fake F1 racecars with a big plasma screen in front of it with which you could try your hand at racing. I went for the yachting simulator: spin the big wheel to catch the wind, and sail around the buoy. Fun for about 5 minutes.
We went inside and checked out the not-so-cool wares on sale, then got hungry and had some all-you-can-eat dim sum. Now that was a quality feedin'! Never get between a pregnant woman and her shoronpo!


Cutting practice in the AM. Good turn out, and several of the beginners did quite well. Something about not knowing what you're doing means you simply do exactly what you're supposed to do, because you have no preconceived notions, no ideas of right and wrong; you just act.
In Japanese it's called shoshin, beginner's mind. And you spend your whole life trying to get that feeling back.

name that baby

Week 36 and all systems go.
I have culled the name list from 60 to 14 to 5. Here are the finalists:
  • ? (???) Azusa
  • ? (???) Shiori
  • ? (???) Shinobu
  • ? (??) Sen
  • ? (??) Yumi
Keep in mind that final name-deciding authority rests with P, who will invariably choose the name (quite possibly totally unrelated to this or any other name list) once she's had a good look at her daughter's squishy little face.


bento, originally uploaded by renfield.


So the good news is Tonchan is flipped into the proper head-down position! This means that in a couple weeks, after she's done cookin', P will be up for having a regular old-fashioned birth. Hours of labor and pain -- sounds like fun!
I reckon all the Chinese voodoo magic needles and incense, plus the thrice-daily head-stands and yoga exercises finally paid off.
So I've cancelled my business trip to Boston in a couple weeks and now we're just in finish-cooking-and-wait mode!

stevie & eriko's wedding

IMG_1949.JPG, originally uploaded by renfield.

Happy marriage! More photos.


maguro!, originally uploaded by renfield.


London is a cool city. Similar to Tokyo with narrow roads and general city chaos (not like NYC's boring grid.) Nothing like Tokyo with old, old buildings and pubs and brick and double-decker buses and everyone is not English: Kiwi, South African, Romanian, Australian, German, Dutch, French...the hotel was cool and modern, in an old building of maddening design with the gym in the upper basement, down the carpeted, marble-lined staircase across from the wood-paneled pub.
I had me some fish & chips, some proper curry with kebab, Ribena, and some trendy Chinese food.
Grads were generally of higher quality, but also generally kind of boring and far too serious. Do all students these days desperate to work in The City or on The Street really spend years in college studying, with no binge drinking nor gratuitous hook-ups? Or maybe they figured that's not what impresses the recruiters. Sadly they're wrong. The first kid to stand up on the table with his shirt off whilst spitting 100 proof through a lit zippo and setting the curtains on fire gets the job.

new york

Recruiting. Company presentation. Horrid service at a trendy, over-priced hotel.
Dinner and too much late night music, silliness, and fun. Set the clocks back so got back to the hotel at 3:30 4:30.
Brunch with Pa. Barney's mens' store. Two killer suits.
Off to London.


And now we're in Boston...and I don't have a clue what day it is...nice hotel though.


From Chicago to Philly, early flight. United still sucks. Ted is even worse.
At least the hotel is sweet. This schedule is going to kill me, though.


This is why Japanese tv is so cool.

chicago really is windy

My but it IS cold in the Windy City. Endless interviews and lots of work work work, but I managed to get to the dojo last night and workout, and then we hit the nothing-but-quality Lincoln Diner for a turkey burger and heavenly waffle fries.

the ladies

Mom and the girls picked me up we went home where I became an immediate hit by producing stacks of cool Japanese stickers, notebooks, and pens. Food beckoned, so we wandered up the street to get some greasy Chinese take-out and ate it at the park before chasing each other about and playing with massive static electricity from the plastic slides. Do they build them like that on purpose?
The girls were getting restless and downright grubby, so we cruised home for a bath and some jammies before they drove me back to the hotel.
In an attempt to beat jet-lag I spent an hour in the gym and am now entirely ready to pass out. So if you'll excuse me...

san francisco

First things first: ANA is most awesome. Electronic biz class seats that go nearly full flat. Power plug that looks like a regular outlet (no special adapter needed). Brilliant food. Wonderful service. Personal entertainment system with tons of movies. Noise cancelling headphones. Blanket like a sleeping bag.
Silliness: my suitcase checked by the very thorough agents in San Francisco airport, looking for drugs. Drugs?! What kind of a moron smuggles drugs from Tokyo to the USA? Tokyo, whose draconian drug laws are second only to maybe Thailand?
More silliness: the anti-liquid rule. The "no congregrating" announcement by the pilot. The full set of metal cutlery distributed with every in-flight meal. The bottled water available aplenty in-flight, though don't bring your own.
Really silly: An executive suite at the Four Seasons. Damn.

oriental voodoo

oriental voodoo, originally uploaded by renfield.

P is trying some oriental voodoo magic accupuncture. She's got three needles in her back, and two in each ankle. Supposed to relax her, especially the abdomen, giving Tonchan room and freedom to flip out of breech and into position. Hey, whatever works, eh.


Good turn out in class today, and an interesting discovery, though not surprising: sa and enyo and basically the same kata. Specifically, the sayabiki and the use of the left side of the body are the same. Doesn't matter if you're turning to the left as in sa or turning to the right as in enyo; the effect is the same: get the saya out of the way to get the sword out, don't draw with just the right arm, let the hips do the work.
This is why I think teaching is such a great way to learn: things I think are key and obvious aren't necessarily so for others. So I try to show and explain in a different way, and in doing so I re-discover something. As Gosoke says: "There is only one kata in Mugai."

b is for bauhaus

b is for bauhaus, originally uploaded by renfield.

Had to buy these modern alphabet hipster cards from www.jargonboy.com.

akiba economics

Took my old and busted iPod (well ok not busted per se, but certainly old as it was bought used, and the battery doesn't hold a charge any more) and sold it at Softmap. Didn't realize that on the 5th, 15th, and 25th of the month they do a special points campaign, so it being Sunday the 15th the used buyback counter was packed. Had to wait four hours, so I wandered to the cool t-shirt shop and back alleys, discovered a couple new robot parts and LED shops, ate some crappy rotator sushi, and watched some digital entertainment at Tower Records before picking up my points.
I then crossed the street to the Softmap Mac store and picked up a brand new 80 gig black video iPod for: zero cash. I had over 45,000 points stored up so I used them all.


Cutting all day in Honbu; morning session had seven people, and we split the floor with the Beginner's class, which was packed with 15. A little worried about space, but we went one at a time on our side, and the beginners spent most of the time learning how to sit, stand, and bow, so they didn't take up much room.
In the afternoon there were only four of us, and we each went through about 10 targets, plus all the cuttable bits left over from the morning. I cut better than usual, but from shear volume my arm got pretty sore.

tonchan @ 32 weeks

tonchan @ 32 weeks, originally uploaded by renfield.

Tonchan is doing well -- near 2 kilos, and has long legs (where'd those genes come from?) She's still breeched; face buried into the placenta like a nice pillow. If she doesn't flip head down in the next few weeks we'll have to figure out what to do -- might have to do a cesarian which P is understandably not looking forward to.

happy birthday p!

P's birthday, so first things first, I handed over her DS Lite and Brain Training games -- gotta keep her wits sharp now that she's not working in the office anymore!
She went to the newly opened all natural health food store and got some free bread, though she had to battle the grandmas for it.
In the afternoon Mihohoho came back from Boston for a week and needed someone to go with her to see Kabuki, so P went along and they did dinner in Shinbashi whilst I got pummel'd by the Fighting Girls. Wednesday seems to be my Day of Pain: 45 minutes of non-stop cardio, followed by muscle training (situps, pushups, etc.) and then finally pad/bag work for another hour.

2 months to go!

2 months to go!, originally uploaded by renfield.

Taking full advantage of the last of this 3-day weekend, P and I rearranged the funiture in the bedroom to make it more Ton-chan friendly, including the addition of the Ton-chan Sleep Recepticle.

dali..er, ginza

P and I got motivated to check out the Dali exhibit in Ueno, but I think everyone else in Tokyo had the same idea, given the 3-day weekend and perfect post-typhoon weather. It was mad packed, with a line that looped the park.
So we bagged it and walked up and down Ameyoko for a bit, then got back on the Yamanote and headed to Ginza. Much nicer to walk around there and it was fairly uncrowded.
Ultimately had lunch at TGIF's and then I headed to the dojo for some extra cutting with a few of the guys and gals.

typhoon...and chips

LL's last day in Tokyo before she's off to London, and mad mad typhoon rain, so I skipped the dojo and headed down to Dubliner's for some farewell bevvies and chicken and chips, and fish and chips, and ... chips.
Nothing finer than a big, fried, potato-like structure, hot and smothered in ketchup.

take the skinhead bowling!

Work's yearly Bowling Night! I missed last time, so I was definitely in. We engaged in The Sport Of Kings at Tokyo Dome's Yellow Building 5th Floor bowling lanes (just up from th off-track betting.)
I bowled okay, considering how long it has been since the weekly league back in Munster, Indiana when I was 5. First game 135, second game 137.
Managed to come away with the team win, as my partners in crime managed to stay out of the gutter and throw only one open frame the second game (for individual 3rd place) respectively.
But such glory is not without sacrifice!
After such a brutal workout in the dojo on Wednesday (45 minutes non-stop with the music cranked, then situps, back arches, and pushups for another 10, then a final hour of target kicking) I was already sore, and lofting an 11-pounder at the pins for an hour just finished me right off.


monja, originally uploaded by renfield.

Daboo and N3i came back from Kansai and we had monja and okonomiyaki for dinner. They fly home tomorrow and definitely need to come back to Japan soon to hang out with Ton-chan!

baby stuff and bag

P and I went to Akachan Honpo (kinda like a Japanese Kids 'R Us) and loaded up on kids stuff: crib and all the fixings, bottles and feeding stuff, high chair, blankets, etc. DAMN this parenting is expensive, and this is before the kid is even born and after we got all the other stuff from everyone. I think I'll name my daughter "Money Pit".
After the kid shopping we braved the raining? weather and challenged Shibuya on a Sunday afternoon. Many umbrellas and packed as expected. We headed for Seibu Department Store so that I could finally get a decent replacement for the ratty old REI backpack I've been using for 10 years.
Checked out the cool Paul Smith bags but finally settled on the Tumi Tech Flow messenger bag. It has all kindsa cool pocketness and is expandable. I really liked the Sando messenger bag but it's too narrow for carrying dojo stuff.

To avoid the rain we headed into subterranean Tokyo, bought a bunch of dinner food at FoodShow, and bussed home.

wireless and sittin'

Headed to The Eng's in the AM to setup his wireless network. I was impressed with his ability to answer the door 2 hours before noon. He is strong when necessary, a fine upstanding gent.
So the wireless was easy, and the Yahoo! DSL seemed fine, then weak, then dropped completely...wtf?!
After much hair-pulling it was decided that the new home alarm system the building owner insisted he have installed was screwing up the phone line. So armed with my trusty screwdriver I proceeded to pry off the cover to the alarm, disconnect the phone line uplink, cut the power, disconnect the backup battery, and restore the phone line to its pristine state.
I also plugged the DSL modem and wireless into the phonejack in the bedroom, and amazingly enough it worked.
After that mad success, The Eng gave me a ride in his 43o Spider to Hiroo Station wherein I encountered a large group of large (ever seen small?) marines obviously confused. They were trying to get to Iidabashi, so I took them halfway and pointed them in the right direction as I continued on to Hongo 3-chome to do some sittin'.
And I sat.
And we had some snacks and bevvies as we usually do after sittin', then I bought a bunch of quality fish and dinner foods at FoodShow in Shibuya before bussin' home.

the bridge from the boat

the bridge from the boat, originally uploaded by renfield.

We rented a boat for a couple of hours to cruise around the bay. The weather was perfect, the water calm, the food warm and the beverages cool.

crash and bored

So, was in a car accident yesterday. Yes, I'm fine and not hurt, driver is fine, too.
Accidents happen, such is life. However, it was a fascinating insight into the machine of Japanese bureaucracy.
First order of business: close the highway, all lanes. For two hours.
I counted: 10 patrol cars, 2 fire trucks, 3 ambulances, at least 40 cops, plus 4 highway vehicles with big blinky signs and a number of old-school wicker brooms to help clean up the debris.
We spent a couple of hours standing around on the highway explaining to 7 different cops at least 7 times what happened. They had big tape measures, different colors of chaulk, digital and film cameras, flares, cones, reflective arrows, and blinky lights.
After a couple of hours on the highway, and having come to an agreement that the accident happened in our lane, with the other driver changing lanes in front of us, our tow truck arrived and we accompanied the car to the police station.
And then we sat on a bench.
20 cops. One laptop computer. A printer that appeared to only be capable of printing one. page. at. a. time.
Then signing lots of paperwork: we have your car. We're returning your car. We're NOT returning your car. This ackowledges that you ackowledge that we have your car, etc.
And then the cops apologized for keeping us so long, said they'd ask us to come back again, and when they call we can decide on a mutually agreeable time and date, then they called a cab for us.
And by 4pm we were back in the office. (The accident was about 8am.)

tonchan's sleeper

060925-200126.jpg, originally uploaded by piroko_kuroda.

P is The Best Wife, and soon to be The Best Mom. A few months ago we did the traditional thing and went to the shrine to make sure she got all the proper Shinto Good Birth Magic, and she got a length of gauze cloth to wrap her abdomen in order to the keep the baby cookin' properly. With this bolt, she buckled down in proper home-bound pregnant wife fashion and sewed this awesome babywear.
I asked if she could make one for me, too but she said she doesn't have enough cloth.

dinner w/yoons & smallwoods

dinner w/yoons & smallwoods, originally uploaded by renfield.

We did Akiba in the morning, checking out all the geeky back streets and crazy t-shirt shops, then met Conan's dad and headed to the massive Yodobashi Camera. N3i got a cool digital camera and then we all regrouped at home to check out Conan's new pad, watch some Samurai Jack, and get some excellent dinner.

jew food

Amy and Maya came over with their parentals and we all went down to David's Deli for some right and proper Jew food. Falafel pita sandwhich, matzoh ball soup, annoying Korean waitress...just like in NYC!
We then got some bread at the cool French bakery (Japan has the best bakeries, no idea why) and cruised home to await the arrival of Daboo and N3i.
The bus from the airport arrived promptly at 9pm. We taxi'd home and inhaled huge bowls of pasta as jet-lag set in.


Blackberries are finally coming to Japan. I had one for a couple of days for testing. It's pretty cool. Got used to the full but tiny keyboard pretty quickly. The Japanese support is weak -- they just slapped a crappy interface into an English device, but it displays okay so for reading Japanese mails it's fine.
I guess it'll be good for overseas travellers -- your Blackberry will finally work in Japan (as long as it's 3G) and Japanese berries will work overseas as well. Roaming charges will kill you though, and the damn thing is expensive enough to start, as it will only be offered to corporates.
Personally I'm more interested in having push mail and a more robust browser on my cellphone. Much better input prediction for Japanese on cells these days, and with a little more tweaking (slightly bigger screen, more powerful browser that supports more scripting) I'll be set.
The issue is that the market in Japan is entirely driven by consumers, not corporates, so the needs of the business user (data and more PC functionality) are beaten by the needs of the high schooler (MP3 player, digital TV, full-color decorated email.)
I had to go to Yokohama and was on the berry the whole time in the train. Managed to get through alot of mail and I can see how it can be productive, especially for folks with a long commute to work. Then again I can also imagine being a slave to it as mails from NY and London come in all through the night and weekends. No thanks, I'll stick with my laptop and cell for now!

typhoon yagi cometh

Typhoon Yagi, originally uploaded by renfield.

Things is gonna get real wet.


I-sensei was in fine form again tonight. He set up a circuit for the first half of class. A series of 1-minute routines with 5 second breaks:
  1. bench steps (right foot up on the bench, left on the floor. Push off with the right foot on the bench, lifting the whole body up to bench level, switch feet, putting the left foot on the bench and the right on the floor. Repeat.)
  2. running in place with 1 kilo weights in each hand, knees and elbows high
  3. straight sit ups
  4. right side sit ups
  5. left side sit ups
  6. straight sit ups
  7. right side sit ups
  8. left side sit ups
  9. left-right punching heavy bag, full speed, from the hips, up on the balls of the feet
  10. left-right kicking heavy bag, as soon as the kicking foot touches down, kick with the other foot
  11. sky-divers (lie on your stomach. Lift hands and feet off the ground in sky-diver position, lower and raise without stopping.)
  12. push ups
After this lovely warmup we paired off and did mitt work working kick and punch combos.
I think I lost 2 kilos in sweat alone.

mad ninja skillz ren @ work (by loveTrain)

LoveTrain drew this sweet picture of me. This is what I'm like at work, gettin' my bid'ness on.

bugs and weeds

Typhoon passed with little more than lots of rain, and as the clouds started to clear, I pulled on my long gum boots, long sleeves and pants, and wrapped my head in a towel. Time to pull weeds.
The front "yard" (is there a minimal size for a yard? If so, this is smaller) has been overrun by greenery I don't want, concealing the cool beauty of the moss I have encouraged to grow over the clay-like dirt.
So I pulled me some weeds. And the bugs didn't like it. Or, more accurately, they loved it. Specifically, they loved the one piece of exposed, non-covered skin: my face.
By the time I retreated to the safety of the shower, I had enough bug bites on my face to make me look like a battered husband. This was enough to get some decent husband pity from P, who rewarded my valiant efforts with a huge showing of sesame-dressing pork for dinner.

neighborhood mikoshi

neighborhood mikoshi, originally uploaded by renfield.

Three-day weekend + late summer = Neighborhood festival! Various omikoshi being carried by the adults and kids around town. When I went to get my haircut, only mom and daughter were there, as dad had snuck out to help, and was gone all afternoon. Even though it started raining a bit, everyone was having a grand time.

what u lookin at?

what u lookin at?, originally uploaded by renfield.

After the antique fair we went to Bic Camera and I bought me a super hi-tek electric shaver. Then we went to the big Muji, had some lunch, and bought some maternity clothes for the no-longer working P, and a new cover for our old couch. They changed the couch style a couple years ago; the arms are thinner and it's less comfy to sit on. But luckily they still sell the old-style couch cover.


milk, originally uploaded by renfield.

Went with P to check out the Oedo Antique Fair at Tokyo International Forum. Lots of cool, old stuff, but nothing worth buying. They also had various artistically decorated cows, which reminded me of the first time I saw such bovines, back in the day in Stamford, CT.

long night

To welcome the new folks on the team, we went out for some socializing beverages and eats. Started at the Irish (?) pub in the basement, then when they kicked us out we walked up the street to Apache, from there walked up to Roppongi, stopping by a sketchy S&M club that was (thankfully) closing so we carried on to Geronimo. The drum was bang'd. The drum was head-butt'd. Many shots were...shot'd. By 2am, Dommy-chan's shirt had been ripped off and whiskey was spilled and drinked in equal shares (both excessive) so it was time to leave.
Needless to say, I am rather sleepy today.

adults on board

adults on board, originally uploaded by renfield.

sword weekend

Spent all day in the dojo on Saturday -- huge cutting session. Special Agent RB joined from the Southland in the PM and showed us how it was done properly. I think we put away nearly 100 mats. Next time I am sticking to the 10 person limit; give everyone more mats and still takes less time.
Sunday I taught a beginner's seminar in the afternoon -- small turnout and it was damn hot -- and then finished up the kumitachi class at honbu. Lots of people dancing pretty with sticks, not enough fear and danger. As Gosoke says "Get clobbered in the head a couple times if you really wanna learn. Besides, if you get hit it's your own fault!"

And in an unrelated note, what exactly the hell is wrong with razors? P went to 3 different drug stores to try and find Gillette blades that would fit my razor. I ended up by Mach2 Sensor blades or something, but every time they add another blade (or lotion strip, or battery vibe or whatever) they change the razor so that new heads don't fit on old razors. I am sick of this scam. I'm going to drop big money on a really good wet/dry electric shaver, and then get a proper barber shop shave, with a straight razor, a couple times a month anyway.


tonchan!, originally uploaded by renfield.

The alien lives, and is watching you. Tonchan is now about a kilo, and P is feelin' it! Tonchan is also kicking and groovin' about regularly, making is really difficult for P to get a good night's sleep!