Category Archives: Personal

Wasted Days Etcetera

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I decided to accomplish absolutely nothing today.

In truth, this was not a conscious choice; it was the result of migraine hangover and a bad habit of enjoying the first day of the weekend way too much.

I managed to clean and re-ink a pen, and to pack a box and an envelope for shipment, but otherwise I did nothing else.

And I made lunch for our youngest and myself and then did dishes. Eventually.

Sundays are usually more productive, but Saturday’s have become my day to play vegetable. I didn’t even bother to schedule anything.

Sunday has been planned, though, and a with a little bit of follow through, I’ll get all of it done.

 

Hopefully Approaching the Probable End

If I tried to run a restaurant, it’s the dishes and daily cleaning that would do me in. If I ran a restaurant it would have to be a questionable dive in the middle of nowhere. Never look in the kitchen and don’t ask what that is staining the table top.

In my current low volume, low margin side hobby/business, it’s boxes, packing and forms that get to me.

What I hope is the last batch of ink a client has ordered arrived today and I now have the job of once again performing packing magic. I’m not looking forward to this.

To get the box to its currently packed state I performed advanced Tetris level packing that I now have to undo.  I also will probably have to find a new box as the current one is at its volume limit. Luckily, I won’t be able to ship anything out until Monday so I’ll have a lot of time to work things out.

At that point, when I go to the post office, I’m looking forward to seeing the looks on the faces of the post office staff when I hand over boxes of different shapes and sizes and envelopes of different shapes and sizes all going to different countries and all with different shipping methods.

They, however, will get to enjoy the look on my face as I fill out several different types of forms, some of which I’ll never have seen before and at least one I’ll have to fill out twice.

This kind of minutiae is why I suspect that many young business fail. Owners like handling the stuff, and some like selling, but very few like keeping track of inventory, boxes, packing materials and money. Similarly, it’s probably more fun to be a cook at at restaurant than to be the restaurant’s owner. At least as long as dishes aren’t involved.

 

 

 

Premature Demonetization

I haven’t been making any money and now it appears I probably never will.

A few years back, for no reason whatsoever, before I started this bit of blather, in fact, I started posting knife related videos on YouTube. The most popular two are summaries of Japan’s complicated knife laws and are at least as accurate as the predictions of the so-called main stream media in the last US presidential election.

Because I don’t put out regular content, the channel never got any traction. Just in case, I chose to monetize the videos.

However, after recent changes in YouTube’s advertisement policies, none of the knife related videos are eligible for monetization. Granted, one of the videos has clips of knife related crimes and a couple of them have bad language, but they’re not particularly political. (Well, one of them has its moments.)

I’ll appeal to YouTube and see if I can reinstate things on the Japan knife law videos but I’m not optimistic. Again, I’m not losing any money, just potential.

Of course, I could learn to play computer games or learn to put on make up and must make videos about those. Those don’t seem to have any monetization troubles.

Back Slidin’ Away

I was up then I was down now I’m up but balanced.

Today was day 600 of the diet/life style change I’ve been mostly adhering to. I reached a bottom end and decided to put some back on but the bad habits sent me shooting way back over my goal. I’m still well below where I started, but I can feel the weight gain.

Luckily I’ve hit an equilibrium where I’m not adding or dropping. However, I’d prefer to hit that equilibrium a lot lower than where I’m at now.

I dug into my food journals to find the menu I followed when I lost the bulk of the weight. It is intimidating and inspiring but the biggest problem is I’ve lost the motivation behind it all. Work related stress has thrown me off the game lately.

That said, I like being able to buy trousers of more than one style now in Japan rather than online and the clothes I own now are the measure of what I need to be doing.

The girls are away for a couple days which gives me a chance to reboot things without any attention being drawn to what I’m doing. It also gives me a chance to double down on bad habits. We’ll see which wins.

 

Playing with the Numbers

I’m beginning to understand corrupt accountants.

I’ve mentioned before how Japan has made me a minor currency speculator but today I was playing with a program and moving numbers around.

For my minor business/hobby, I’ve finally decided to keep more formal notes of my expenses and earnings and setting aside a small chunk of money to be used solely for the business/gambling.

That involved opening an account book on Gnucash (because free). However, because it is a double entry bookkeeping system I also had to learn to make the mental leap about balance and every income is an expense gets a line where it gets spent and, well, it gets.

At that point I started having fun manipulating the numbers in order to make the bottom line look exactly the way I wanted it to. I also experimented with different types of entries to make it do exactly what I wanted it to do.

I think I’ve finally figured it all out, but now it’s time to make an actual inventory database. That will lead to other problems, but I’ll worry about those later.

 

Almost Less Than Worthless

We are taking over our in-laws’ automobile and have to get rid of our old one. It’s not worth much but it’s worth more than simply dumping it, even though that option is quite tempting.

Every now and then, here in Japan you see news about illegal garbage dumps. Usually the dumps consist of cars and large appliances.

This is partly a problem because the government now charges you for getting rid of old stuff. Because of this used-goods stores will offer pathetic amounts for your electronics and electrical goods. You may only make a few hundred yen for your refrigerator–which will be sold for 8,000-10,000 yen depending on its size–but it saves you money because you don’t have to pay the recycling tax. On the other hand, if you live in an area with no used-goods stores, the only way to avoid the tax is to use your stuff until it dies once and for all forever and then illegally dump your stuff in the woods somewhere.

In the case of automobiles it’s worse. The government has mandatory inspections that get more frequent the older the car gets. Because of this, the car depreciates quickly. Once a car reaches age ten it is almost worthless and you can’t even coax college kids into buying it as the maintenance will be more than the car is worth. (Note: the primary market for decade old cars in Japan seems to be foreign teachers living in rural areas.) The only selling points of a car that old are the condition of the car, if the car has a low-powered (aka, a more “fuel efficient”) engine and the length of time left before the mandatory inspection.

In our case, our car has a couple strikes: 1) it is a 2004 model which means several sales companies wouldn’t even give us a price; and 2) it only has a couple months left before its mandatory inspection which mean it will soon require a few hundred dollars in expenses. As such, it is almost worthless (unless we can find an English teacher in a rural area and want to pay tax on the sale). That said, because we live in a suburbanish area (long story) it’s not worth our energy to drive to a rural area and dump it.

We will sell it though, because we need to get the new car before the next mandatory inspection. If we miss that deadline, then we probably will dump it somewhere.

Bond, James Bond and On and On and On

Because I believe in setting a bad example for my kids, I always have some sort of television show or movie on in the background while I mark exams. In theory it provides a mild distraction, but in reality it’s just that it’s usually more interesting than actually marking exams.

(Note: this does not prevent me from telling the girls to turn off the television when they study. Yes, I am THAT kind of dad.)

For last term’s marking season, as it was rather stretched out, I decided to watch all the James Bond films (Eon Productions only) starting with Doctor No and ending with Spectre.

It was an interesting trip.

First, I should acknowledge “My” Bond. Everyone has a Bond who is “their” bond. He’s the first Bond they remember seeing and everyone else is “Who the HELL is that?” when you see reruns or the next Bond is announced. (There is a similar phenomenon with Doctor Who: there is Tom Baker, David Tennant, and “Who the HELL is that?”.) In my case “My” Bond is Roger Moore and that effects the way I view all the other Bonds.

I also find with Bond movies it’s necessary to rephrase a line from My Favorite Year: “With Bond, you forgive a lot, you know?”

The Sean Connery movies started out strong then got crappy as he became more detached from the part and less and less cool. George Lazenby’s movie was excellent but it’s probably best he only did one.

Roger Moore’s movies start out average then get better and, with a couple exceptions, are less campy than I remembered. Moonraker was better than I remembered, although I’ll never forgive them for ruining Jaws: His name’s Jaws, he kills people; unless he sees impressive cleavage and then he’s just a horny, heterosexual male incapable of maintaining focus on the task at hand.”

In other words, they turned Jaws into James Bond.

Timothy Dalton’s movies are also better than I remembered, although I always remember liking him in the part. Pierce Brosnan’s movies are much more campy–and him a lot more lifeless–than I remembered (and I’ll never forgive the switch to BMW). Daniel Craig is awesome, but only has 2.5 good movies. (Skyfall was good but its plot relied on the London train system running precisely on time which is the most unbelievable thing done in any of the movies; even less believable than Sean Connery passing as Japanese in You Only Live Twice.)

I also came away having a hard time picking a favorite, although if you stick a golden gun to my head I’ll have to say Goldfinger, which may be the quintessential Bond as it’s full of gadgets, funny lines, a henchman with a killer hat, the Aston Martin DB5, and Honor Blackman. After that is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Casino Royale (the Daniel Craig version). I also have a soft spot for For Your Eyes Only, which has one of my favorite movie car moments.

The worst movies are You Only Live Twice, A View to a Kill, Quantam of Solace, which also wins the award for worst title (yes, it even beats out grab her by the Octopussy. Um, too soon?), Tomorrow Never Dies, and The Man With the Golden Gun, which even Saruman couldn’t save.

It’s harder to rank the Bond Girls, although I tend to favor the ones who show some sort of capability or competence. Honor Blackman is a favorite despite having the worst character name (Pussy Galore); Barbara Bach as Anya Amasova aka Agent Triple X in The Spy Who Loved Me; Michelle Yeoh as the best part of Tomorrow Never Dies; Lois Chiles as Holly Goodhead (yeah, well, okay) in Moonraker;  Carole Bouquet in For Your Eyes Only; Sophie Marceau, who serves as both Bond Girl and villain in The World is Not Enough (which may be my favorite Brosnan Bond film); and Eva Green as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale.

Grace Jones was a good villain, but was mostly wasted in A View to a Kill. 

I also kind of like Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice as she’s one of the first Bond Girls to remind Bond that “this is business” and that business comes before “honeymoon”. (Other than that, she was mostly useless in the movie except as a bikini model who looks beautiful in the sunset.)

I also have to give credit to Dame Judi Dench for playing two different versions of M. The M in the Brosnan movies is different in many ways than the M in the Daniel Craig movies.

(The treatment of women in the movies is another post entirely, but as historical moments it is interesting to see how the treatment changes over the years. With Bond, you forgive a lot, you know?)

The stunts also change a lot from the days when they actually dropped stunt men down cliffs in For Your Eyes Only to crappy CGI surfing in later movies.

One does tire of gun battles on ski slopes. However, that seems to be as much a right of passage as boat chases and saying the line “Bond. James Bond.” The ski slope battles, though, are more interesting than the endless underwater battles in Thunderball and For Your Eyes Only.  (During the former, I spent part of the time looking up what type of knife the divers were using just to have something interesting to do. Yes, I was still, technically, supposed to be marking exams.)

The first obvious product placement is Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize ) taking a bottle of Tabasco sauce to Scaramanga on a silver platter in The Man With the Golden Gun.

As for the future, I’ll be interested to see where they take the movies once Daniel Craig leaves. I like his anti-hero portrayal of 007, and the realistic style of his movies and think he will be hard to follow. As much as I’d like to see Idris Elba in the part, he may be approaching his expiration date (I feel his pain). Tom Hiddleston would also be good, but there’s that Marvel Extended Universe thing to contend with. Tom Hardy would also be an interesting choice as he keeps the Daniel Craig physicality.

I just hope they don’t do another reboot. I’d happily adopt the “James Bond is a codename, not a person” theory so long as they make new movies and not just remake old ones.

That said, even if they do another reboot, I’ll still watch the next Bond movie. With Bond, you forgive a lot. You know?

I know.

Cake Around Midnight

If it hadn’t been for the cake, I’d probably be asleep by now.

Yesterday was Hina Matsuri, the doll festival which celebrates/honors the girls in the family, and although we at the traditional sushi, which looks a lot like fried rice with a raw fish topping, we never managed to finish the cake. Everybody was so busy that even I got involved in baking the cake. (Granted, my part involved only waiting, removing and flipping the cake, and several burns.)

Today, though, we got to eat the cake, but as fate would have it, the cake wasn’t ready until after 10:00. (Long story.)

I ate a piece and that, on top of the coffee I’ve been consuming as I mark final exams, has me wide awake around 2:00 a.m. Unfortunately, because I’ve been marking exams, I don’t have much to report.

I’ll make this one a short one then. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a few adventures to report.

Or maybe not.

 

Hobonichi Techo–Making the Book My Own

It’s not bad; in fact I’m liking it a lot more than I thought I would. It just needed some extra lines. And then a couple more. Then a couple fewer.

To understand how finicky I am about calendars and planners you have to understand that every year I make my own monthly wall calendars and that for a couple years I was making my own Bible-sized inserts for my Filofax binder. (More on that in a future post.)

This year meets next year. #hobonichi #planner #planneraddict #hobonichitecho #penaddict

A photo posted by DL (@d.e.lively) on

After I decided to carry around the Hobonichi Techo as my planner, I immediately started modifying it. First, I decided to use a version of Mike Rhode’s Daily Planner Bar system, and that meant I had to add a couple lines to each page. I also added a line on the right which created space for comments and extra notes on what I had done (or not done). I used Fountain Pen Hospital’s exclusive Noodler’s Old Manhattan Bulletproof black ink to create lines that, in theory, wouldn’t smear (except during the creation process. Long story.)

The two months per page section became my general work overview and the month on two pages section become my blog outline (Sort of. Needs work. Long story.)

By the eighth day, though, I’d added a bar across the top to create a space for a short alert/to do list.

The lines and the pen they are added with. It contains Noodler’s Old Manhattan Bulletproof ink.

An example of how I was using it.

I add the lines every Saturday when I sit down in the evening to do my weekly review. After scribbling out everything I need to do on a notebook, I draw the lines with a ruler and my TWSBI Diamond 580 and then set about filling in the non-flexible part of the schedule. I then follow that with the elective part of the schedule.

However, as of today, I’ve modified it again. The extra lines at the top have been eliminated to give me more alert/to do list room.

The new look. It will last until the next look.

I like the size and portability of the TECHO which is why I opted to not get a cover for it. (Note: they sell at local stores as part of a TECHO plus cover set.) I supplement it with a calendar app that syncs across all my devices. Although I like having access to all my plans via the magic of the interwebs, I prefer writing details in the TECHO mostly because I find entering data in the online calendars to be annoying.

I also like the current system, at least this week. The current system will last until I decide to do something else. This will probably happen fairly soon because my system leaves a lot of unused space at the bottom of the page.

More Than Three Frogs

A short one tonight as I need to get some rest and try to chase out the frogs.

This morning, during “my goodness, why are we still doing this to ourselves” prep-time conversations at the school where I work, one of my colleagues noted my hoarse voice and suggested I had a frog in my throat. I suggested it was at least three, if not more frogs.

This evening, when we finally celebrated our oldest’s birthday with cheesecake, there were definitely more than three frogs.

The start of the term is the worst time to lose your voice at the school where I work. Students have arrived from a short vacation and each grade is beginning to see itself as the next grade. First year junior high, especially, are developing an attitude as they suddenly imagine themselves as middle-classmen rather than lower-classmen.

I try to get them writing and then speaking, but that usually involves speaking. Tomorrow I start off with my worst class, followed by a class that’s suddenly competing for the second place title. That means that tonight I’m hoping a bunch of frogs die.

If they don’t, tomorrow could be really interesting.