Dr John Hawkins
Welcome to my bit of the Maison de Stuff,
home to a huge load of pictures,
and my daily blog.
My email address is as above - I've put it in an image in a vein attempt to reduce the amount of spam I get.
- John's Journal / Blog
- Main Index
- John's Pictures
- Main Index
Main Index (text only)
- John's Travel
- Main Index
- Other Related Sites:
- Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- A Job Well Done
Back on Form
The Edge of the World
Work Night Out
Off to bed without any supper
iPod and Contract
Pre Wedding Party
The Middle East
Where everybody knows your name...
Haruka-kun and Kayo-chan
Culinary Reverse Engineering
Burglars (Imagined) and Taxi Drivers
Work on a Saturday
- A Job Well Done
- [Friday 27th October]
I really busted a gut at work today, I was in before 9 and worked through lunch (dining only briefly "al desko"). As a result I managed to crack the one last major technical challenge necessary to get the new feature I've been working on up and running in time for the big demo, the week after next. So I've now got a week left to dot the Is and cross the Ts, and make it into a really polished presentation.
I left the office today feeling extremely pleased with myself.
Me and my colleagues at the European and US offices had talked endlessly earlier on this year about how we could implement this new feature in the product I work on, and the fact it had been talked over so much without anything really getting done had created a bit of a sense that the whole thing was just unachievable.
Around May everything had to be put on hold due to another more pressing project, and it was only at the start of this month that we were able to start turning our thoughts back to the original task. This had only compounded the sense of how difficult it would be to get the new feature off the ground.
So a few weeks back, in light of the fact I had another business trip looming, I somewhat rashly said I'd have the first version of the new feature up and running by the time I went to the US. I said I'd have all the major bits done in a month. There was widespread doubt and even a bit of laughter when I first proposed this, and yet here I am now, a week ahead of the deadline, with the bulk of the work done and dusted.
When I think back to around a year ago I recall having feelings of inadequacy about this job. As any software engineer knows, one of the most difficult parts of the job is understanding how an existing system works, such that you can make changes to it - trying to read someone else's source code is always tough, but when the system is also really huge, and including lots of legacy support which you absolutely must not break, this task becomes extremely daunting.
So the last couple of weeks has been a great example of the old saying about being able to do anything if you put your mind to it. There's a slight sense of irony that I've only started to feel something resembling job satisfaction for the first time after I've told the company I'm leaving, but I'm well aware the two things are bound up in a big cause effect thing. If I hadn't made up my mind to leave, I wouldn't have had the same impetus to get everything wrapped up by the end of the year, and probably we'd still be just talking about software we might write, rather than actually writing it.
- Back on Form
- [Thursday 26th October]
Following the previous day's slump at work, today I managed to get back into the swing of things, and made really good progress on the project. I'm going to be going to US HQ in the second week of November, and will be doing a big demo of the work I've done to date - effectively the cumulation of my main project over the last year. Having almost got all of the big technical challenges solved now things are looking in really good shape.
I stayed fairly late at the office - really determined to get as much done as possible. Chie had dinner ready by the time I got back, which was really nice - we had Mexican food, a vegetarian chilli with flour tortillas. Lovely.
- [Wednesday 25th October]
After the previous day's exertions I found myself a bit lacking in energy and a bit of a slump ensued.
There is still plenty to do on my project at work, but I found that following the big breakthrough yesterday it was hard to keep momentum, and so today was a bit unproductive.
Still, you can't expect to work miracles 365 days a year!
In the evening, Chie's sister came to visit, and we had vegetarian burgers for dinner.
- The Edge of the World
- [Tuesday 24th October]
Today marked one year since I started at my current job. I wasn't really inclined to celebrate this in any way given that I'll be leaving in a month or two, but quite unrelated to this it was actually a really good day. Probably one of the best I've had in this job.
The main event was that I had a major breakthrough in the project which has been my main assignment since I started (although frequently relegated to the back burner during that time). I can't really write anything about it here because of the usual NDA nonsense, but save to say I felt even if today was my last day at the company, I could now go with a sense of pride that I was leaving behind something really solid and tangible.
There was some kind of internal conference on or something today, so in the large open plan space where I work there was hardly anyone else about. Initially there wasn't anyone to share my achievement with, but I didn't mind.
Shig came back from the conference early, and after showing him the big breakthrough, we went out for a bit of a celebratory lunch. After lunch Shig took me to see the plot where his new house was going to be built, which made for a surprisingly nice outing.
There have been hints of winter creeping into the weather this week, and as we walked there was a peculiar kind of stillness in the air. I guess that combined with the fact that we were in an area I wasn't familiar with made for a really unusual atmosphere - it is hard to put into words.
We kept on walking past the place where Shig's house was going to be built, further into territory unknown to me, until we got to the Tamagawa river. I'd never been this far away from the office in this part of Tokyo, and as we stood by the river looking out it felt a bit like being at the edge of the world.
Without wanting to overdo it, that "edge of the world" notion felt very poignant. At least on European maps of the world, Japan is right at Eastern extreme. I've spent a year working out here at the edge of the world, I'm now preparing to go back, but today particularly I could look back on that with a sense of achievement.
I'm going to stop rattling on because I have a suspicion this self indulgent introspective drivel is getting rather nauseating!
Anyway, it was a really good day.
- [Monday 23rd October]
Nothing much to report. Went for a couple of drinks after work with TK, and then went back home for dinner with Chie. Chie has basically finished her job now, so is having a go at being a bit of a housewife for a while - dinner was waiting for me when I got home. It's not really in her idiom so I'm sure it won't last!
- More Rest
- [Sunday 22nd October]
Another day just spent lolling around the flat not doing very much at all.
(there now follows a nerdy bit which any non-technical types reading will probably want to ignore)
I did at least attempt to spend my time a bit more productively today - I took a look at a cross platform application framework called wxWidgets. I'm vaguely considering starting off a new software project. Recently I've been doing more and more on the Mac, but one of the things that keeps me tethered to Windows at the moment is the fact that Photo Studio, my own program, is a Windows application. Whilst I have neither the time nor the enthusiasm to rewrite the whole thing in a cross platform type way, I have started to consider writing a new but extremely cut down version for the Mac, which just does the bits I need in order to run John's Pictures. The nice thing about wxWindows is that it lets you just write the code once, and then deploy it across three platforms (Windows/Mac/Linux), but unlike Java, with still having efficient native code and a half decent chance at a respectable looking UI.
- [Saturday 21st October]
Chie had a bit of an accident on her way home the previous evening - don't go getting worried or anything, it wasn't anything too serious... Basically she fell whilst getting out of a train, and picked up a few cuts and bruises in the process. Anyway though, this meant today we just spent the day staying in and resting as poor old Chie was feeling a bit sore. I too was a bit knackered after the week's excesses so wasn't adversed to just lolling around the flat all day. That's it really.
- Work Night Out
- [Friday 20th October]
There was a work outing organised for this evening to welcome a new guy who has started on the team. So we went out for a meal at a place near the office, and then inevitably after that the night devolved into a bout of karaoke.
I wonder what the new guy thinks of us - I think this is his first time to come to Japan, so karaoke and similar customs must be all a bit new to him. I have to admit on this particular occasion some of my colleagues did seem to be behaving in a particularly, errr, exuberant manner. I of course, was the absolute model of an English gentleman, sophisticated and restrained throughout.
Eventually the new guy decided to call it a night, but a few of us carried on a while longer regardless. In fact, me and one other guy actually went on to a second karaoke place - I'm not really sure why this was necessary, but some nights you just don't feel like throwing in the towel. Whilst the first one was the booth type (and so we were only embarassing ourselves in front of the people we'd gone there with) the second was a more traditional karaoke bar type where you sing in front of all the other customers. In fact, it even had a little stage. I was feeling somewhat full of myself, and rattled out a couple of my standards, and there was a round of polite applause after each chorus. What a nice crowd.
On the way back, I had another one of my fascinating conversations with a taxi driver, this guy was a bit younger than the last time, and I found his Japanese a lot easier to understand. We talked a number of topics, including house prices and the state of the IT industry and all that.
OK, I say fascinating, it probably wasn't really.
- [Thursday 19th October]
Another very uneventful day. Japanese curry for dinner, which came out a bit of a disappointment really.
One positive thing about this largely very dreary week has been my new iPod. I've been transcoding my Sherlock Holmes DVDs to watch on it, and also downloading lots of podcasts and music from iTunes, etc, etc. I'm using it on the train to and from work, as well as while I'm at the office - somehow it seems more convenient to listen using the iPod rather than via my PC. In fact I'm even using the iPod when I'm back at home - which is of course quite daft as all the content on there is just a subset of what's on the Mac Mini - so I could just as well listen to it there. Still, you know what it's like when you've got a new gadget...
- [Wednesday 18th October]
Not a particularly eventful day - went for one very quick drink with TK after work, then went home for dinner. Chie cooked, I think she made tofu hamburgers.
Still loving the new iPod, as the attached slightly embarassing picture will attest.
That's it really.
- [Tuesday 17th October]
Today I worked from home in the morning, then took the afternoon off to handle some paperwork. I signed the contract for my new job and dropped it off at the company's Tokyo office (for them to forward on to London). So that's very much a done deal now.
Chie and I also went to the city hall to sort out the remaining paperwork required for getting married this year. So basically all the legal bits are done and dusted, all we need to do now is turn up to the ceremony in December. In fact even if we didn't, we'd still be married according to Japanese law.
So, items remaining on the todo list for the future: work my arse off, have kids, retire and then die.
I'm just full of beans this week aren't I?
- Off to bed without any supper
- [Monday 16th October]
A pretty uneventful day. I wasn't feeling all that great (mentally rather than physically) so initially I went to bed without any dinner... but then later my stomach took over, and I realised I wouldn't be able to get to sleep without something to eat. That's it really.
- iPod and Contract
- [Sunday 15th October]
As you may have inferred from the title, today I bought/received two new things - the bought thing being an 80GB iPod (black) and the received thing a contract for my new job (yea, delivery companies work even on Sundays here in Japan).
I found an excellent tool called Handbrake on the web which let me effortlessly convert my DVDs so I can watch them on the iPod, and I also started busily subscribing to more podcasts (particularly video podcasts) so I'd have plenty of content to play on the new toy. I absolutely love the way it integrates with iTunes, and with absolutely no fiddling about whatsoever I had it synced up with my whole music/video library.
I had toyed with the idea of getting a Nano originally - smaller, lighter and with longer lasting batteries... but I think it was just the idea of watching videos on the train etc which really won me over to it's somewhat heavier and bulkier big brother. Especially given the really fantastic software support on the Mac.
It has occurred to me that the Mac Mini has now become sort of a periperhal for the iPod, in a topsy turvy kind of way. The iPod doesn't have a CD/DVD drive or an internet connection, whereas the Mac Mini does. This makes the Mac Mini a great little box for harvesting content, and getting it onto the iPod.
- Pre Wedding Party
- [Saturday 14th October]
Upon hearing that Chie and I were planning a wedding for December, as a really nice gesture several of Chie's friends got together to organise a bit of a party to celebrate in advance. So tonight we went over to an area of Tokyo near Akihabara for a bit of a celebratory evening out.
The first place we went to was an Okinawan style izakaya - a highlight for me being that they had Orion Beer on draught (normally in Tokyo you only get this in cans). There were about 12 people in the group which was a really good turn out - some of the people I knew really well, some I hadn't met before.
One particular highlight was seeing Chie's friend Tomochan - we used to see her a lot when I lived in London back in 2000/2001, but have hardly seen her at all since then. It was great to see that in the intervening years she hadn't changed much at all - still as eccentric as she ever was.
The second place we went to was a slightly upmarket bar, which specialised in Guinness and whiskies (although wasn't exactly an Irish pub). Here the drinks and conversation continued to flow.
As a few people had trains to catch, we left that second place just before midnight. However, the evening didn't stop there - me, Chie and three of her friends all went back to Sasazuka together (the area around where we live) and went to one more izakaya there. I'm always impressed by how late places open in Japan - so long as you're in the right sort of area of a reasonable city, you don't struggle to find a drink after midnight. In fact this izakaya was still serving food as well, so we had a few unusual late night treats including the rather novel tomato tempura.
I think we must have left that place around 3AM, I left slightly earlier to go and do a quick emergency tidy up of the flat as a couple of Chie's friends were going to be staying over.
Anyway, a very nice night out.
- [Friday 13th October]
Well thankfully there weren't any nasty surprises in store on this supposedly unlucky day. The daytime passed fairly uneventfully (and quite boringly), and then in the evening TK and I went for our weekly offsite meeting.
This time we stayed in the area of Tokyo where the office is, and engaged in a bit of a hashigo. Hashigo in Japanese literally means "ladder", however in the context of evening entertainment it effectively is the Japanese answer to that fine British institution - the pub crawl.
It is interesting to me to observe the differing metaphors that the two cultures use for this phenomenon of trying to visit as many different watering holes as possible in one night. The Japanese "hashigo" - ladder - implies a progression in an upwards direction. The British crawl tends to imply more of a deterioration, or perhaps an unruly yet Herculian feat to succeed against all odds. Ladder is a distinctly more civilised metaphor than crawl, however I can't help but think the British version is probably a more faithful representation of the reality.
Anyway, we only went to five places in total, so we weren't exactly breaking any records, but there was a slight sense of adventure to it - the "where are we going next?" phenomenon.
We started off at the Irish pub we often go to, then from there went to a little izakaya/bar that we've also been to several times before. From then on though we moved into unknown territory - two slightly upmarket whisky/cocktail type bars in quick succession, and then finally a "snack" - a slightly odd kind of Japanese karaoke bar, usually a bit old and grotty.
I really like this kind of night out - discovering new places and so on. The likelihood is we'll probably not go back to any of the new bars we found tonight, but that almost isn't the point. Variety is the spice of life, and all that.
- The Middle East
- [Thursday 12th October]
Another one of those inbetween days I suppose, a buffer between two other days which were actually worth writing about, unlike this one.
I had a hankering for Middle Eastern food today, but given the ingredients we have available to us, the resulting dinner was only a very rough approximation. So I made the usual rich tomato sauce and broad bean dish (including some of those big green chillis we bought on Monday, which are quite delicious). This I served with cous cous and a simple herby salad (with a lime and garlic olive dressing I knocked together). I guess the overall results weren't bad really, considering what I had to make it from.
A couple of slices of grilled Halloumi would have been really nice, but to date we've still never seen it anywhere in Japan.
- Where everybody knows your name...
- [Wednesday 11th October]
I don't really know why, but I seemed to get into a pretty miserable state of mind at work today. Maybe it's just the frustation of having to work out a long notice period (admittedly, partly my own fault), but whatever the reason was I really didn't want to be in that office today.
So I left as early as my conscience would let me, and headed over to Ikebukuro. As always, first stop was dinner at Rohlan, where for once I tried not to overeat - I get a bit overexcited about actually having a whole menu to choose from, so I almost always order too much, eat too fast, and end up with a bit of a stomach ache afterwards. Tonight though just the vegetarian tonkatsu set, plus a couple of small side dishes. All very nice as usual.
I was able to get to Quercus nice and early, which was great, and meant I could make a really decent long evening of it, but still leave in time to catch the last train back home.
There's a great community at Quercus, everyone seems to know everyone else, and they've all welcomed me with open arms, which is just great. It's just like the theme tune for Cheers - don't you want to go where everybody knows your name...? It's great to have somewhere in Tokyo where I can just turn up whenever I feel like it and guarantee I'll meet people I know, and I'm sure this will be one of the main things I'll miss when I leave Japan.
It's also great language practice for me - probably the only situation where I spend a long period of time speaking exclusively in Japanese.
On the whisky front, tonight's highlights included a couple of SMWS bottlings (including an amazingly fruity Laphroaig) and the Quercus 5th anniversary special bottling - a honey sweet Highland Park which is rather special.
- Inbetween Days
- [Tuesday 10th October]
The title for this entry comes from a song on a Ben Folds EP I recently download from iTunes. It's a cover of that song by The Cure which should be immediately familiar to anyone who was in the UK during that era. I'm generally not much of a fan of "Golden Oldies" - in fact I think a lot of old music ought to be just allowed to die gracefully. However, despite never having been particularly into The Cure, the Ben Folds version of this song has really got itself lodged in my head this week.
I have to admit to not having listened to the lyrics all that carefully, but instead have derived my own understanding for what the title - Inbetween Days - means. In fact it seems to have current relevance on two fronts.
In the first instance, when I write this blog, whilst I write an entry for every day, it's usually done in a lump of several days at a time, typically when I'm not so busy, like at the weekends. It is often surprisingly difficult by the end of the week to look back and remember what I did each day. Some days will stand out - typically the days when I've gone out in the evening, or, like this week, things like national holidays. However, when days fall into the standard pattern of work in the daytime, then wiling away the time doing nothing-in-particular at home in the evening, then it's almost as if those days didn't happen. They're just gaps where I'm just killing time until I actually do something interesting, something worth writing about. The title "Inbetween Days" seems to fit these sorts of days very well.
Today was one of those Inbetween Days - the previous day had been a national holiday so we'd had a nice day out, and the following day I went out for the evening. Today though I just went to work, then went home afterwards and did nothing-in-particular. It was a dull day buffering two (at least slightly) interesting ones. Yea, of course, you can't expect your life to be interesting 100% of the time, but in a sense the whole day really might just as well have not happened at all. Perhaps this never really occurs to some people, but I think it's a side effect of keeping a diary/blog - I seem to end up rating each day on a scale of how memorable it was. Today wasn't memorable at all.
In a wider sense the concept of Inbetween Days could be taken as a metaphor for my current situation. I'm sure everyone experiences that same sense when you're in the process of changing jobs (and in my case changing homes and countries too), working out your notice period, with your eyes on the horizon. It's a sensation a bit like treading water, once you've decided you don't want to be in a particular place any more, a lot of what goes on around you becomes a bit of a blur - it's not really relevant to you any more, and you're just biding your time until you can leave for the next place.
Hopefully I'll be signing the contract for the new job within this week, from which point I'll have left the current place mentally, but there's still some treading water to do until I can leave physically.
Hmmm...well sorry it's a bit of a waffley and insubstantial entry today, I guess I'm obviously in a very reflective sort of mood!
- [Monday 9th October]
Today was a national holiday here in Japan (there seem to be quite a lot of these). So Chie and I had arranged to go for a day out with Yuka-chan, and Tanaka-kun. Tanaka-kun very kindly offered us his services as a chauffeur for the day, which gave us a different range of options to the usual places we could get to by train.
Somehow or other we settled on going to take a look at Mt. Fuji. Neither I nor Chie had ever really seen it properly before - only brief glimpses from the shinkansen, or as a dimly visible blob on the skyline from tall buildings in Tokyo. Today though the sky was wonderfully clear and blue, and we made absolutely sure that we could get a good look by driving right up to it. Well I say right up to it, we were probably still a good few miles from the base, but wherever we looked today it seemed to dominate the skyline.
We also visited some caves in the vicinity - we seem to be having a bit of a run of caves recently - but the main attraction was of course Japan's iconic mountain.
It is very, very big. Possibly for someone coming from a country like Tibet or Nepal it might not make such a great impression.... but for one who hails from England's green and pleasant (and above all flat) land Fuji just seems to be unthinkably huge. I did a little searching around on wikipedia for heights of various mountains in order to attempt to put it into a British perspective.
If you took Ben Nevis (1344m), the highest mountain in Scotland, and on top of that you put Snowdon (1085m), the highest mountain in Wales, and then on top of that Scafell Pike (978m), the highest mountain in England, you'd end up with 3407m. You'd still be an embarassing 369m short of Fuji (3776m).
It really is very, very big.
- Haruka-kun and Kayo-chan
- [Sunday 8th October]
Chie went out in the daytime to go on a caligraphy course with her friend Kayo-chan. I stayed in and just did a few odd bits and pieces on the computer. In the evening I called up Haruka-kun, and we went and met the girls after they finished their course for dinner and a few drinks.
- Day Out
- [Saturday 7th October]
Had an unplanned, vague but very pleasant day wandering around Tokyo. Probably the pictures do a better job of recounting the day's events than any text here would (and besides, I'm feeling too lazy to write!).
- Job Offer
- [Friday 6th October]
On the quiet (at least as far as this blog goes), I've been in the process of applying for a job for some time now. Finally today I got the offer, and I have to say I am rather pleased with it.
I'm still a little reluctant to publish the name of the company etc here, but if any of you regulars happen to be curious and don't already know, please feel free to mail me!
The job is based in London, and I have a provisional start date of January 8th (they were really cool about my long notice period etc, which I thought was really great). I haven't actually signed on the dotted line yet, so to speak, but it seems really unlikely that anything better is going to come along. It's a great company, great money and benefits, the people I met so far all seem really nice, and the project sounds pretty exciting too, with plenty of freedom for me to input my own ideas. On top of all of that they have such a great attitude - a "we really want to have you" approach rather than the "you're lucky we're offering you a job" which was more the impression I got from my current place.
I recall back in August last year, when I was applying for my current (soon to be previous!) job, I wrote this article about how indecided I was on whether or not to take it. One of the chief problems there was that "you're lucky we're offering you a job" mentality. I often think back to a comment from Tim on that post -
All this said you also need to count your blessings (you have many) and stop looking for external validation/approval (certainly from corporate-types).
Despite this sage advice, I don't think I ever really stopped looking for that "external validation/approval", and this is probably one of the main reasons I have been so unhappy in my current job. It wasn't until I told them I was leaving that they started to get all up in arms about how valuable I was to the team and all that - well, not that it isn't appreciated, but sorry guys, it's too little, too late. Maybe the new place just has silver tongued recruiters, but thus far I really feel like they want to have me and for me that is a great feeling. They even seemed to recognise the value of having a PhD, all in all I feel like all the work I've put in up to this point (in my various jobs and academic activities) has been justified by this job offer.
I got the call shortly after I got home from work, and then proceeded to spend the rest of the evening feeling utterly jubilant (and not to mention a little full of myself, for which I can only apologise). Naturally a few celebratory drinks were involved, and I also took the opportunity to phone Vera and my Mum, to spread the good news.
- Culinary Reverse Engineering
- [Thursday 5th October]
Nothing much to report really. I made what I felt to be a somewhat heroic effort to cook dinner, despite getting home a good hour after Chie. I wanted to re-create a dish (gnocchi e funghi) we'd had at an Italian restaurant near our apartment. I'd been musing over the taste earlier in the day, the sauce has a particular kind of richness about it which I really like. Some of the ingredients were fairly obvious - shimeji mushrooms, onion and cream. It occurred to me today though that the added depth was probably from white wine.
The sauce I made wasn't exactly the same as the one in the restaurant, but it was in the same ballpark, and I felt very pleased with myself for having reverse engineered their recipe.
- [Wednesday 4th October]
I made kimchi nabe for dinner, which came out rather well (with the usual "although I say so myself" caveat, of course). Although I did the initial cooking on the hob as usual, I finished it off with the hot plate thing which we put in the dining table - it really helps the overall effect of this dish being able to eat it like this.
- Burglars (Imagined) and Taxi Drivers
- [Tuesday 3rd October]
Somehow I ended up quite unintentionally kicking off this week with two nights out in a row. Another guy from the office (a fellow gaijin) suggested going for a drink, and I'm always very loathed to turn down opportunities for socialising like that whenever they arise. Again we just went out in the area around the office - a different izakaya to last night though this time. It was very nice though - we had a long chat ranging over a number of themes, including, of course, the trials and tribulations (as well as some of the positive aspects) of living and working in Japan.
The evening was interrupted part way through with me having to go back home suddenly - I got a call from Chie saying the door to our apartment was open (not wide open, just not locked). She was worried we might have been burgled, and didn't want to go in by herself. It was, of course, a false alarm - obviously I'd just rather stupidly forgotten to lock it on my way out in the morning (hey, these things happen - I'm only human!).
As it was only just after 8 at that point I was determined not to just call it a night, so I actually went back to the station near where I work (about a 40 minute trip each way). The guys from the office were still at the izakaya, and so I resumed the night out from then on.
It actually ended up being rather a late one - somehow or other we lost track of time, or were just too lazy to get up and go home. I missed the last train (by about two hours!), and so I had to get a taxi back home instead.
I've taken taxis by myself quite a few times now in Japan, almost always on the way home after a night out. I've developed a habit of always trying to make conversation with the driver - a kind of etiquette I assume (perhaps naively) to be fairly irrespective of which country I'm in. I wish I could record some of these conversations, as they're often quite amusing (to me at least) - what with my broken Japanese and everything. Last night we commenced somehow or other talking about sport - like I can even maintain a conversation on that subject in English!
Then after a while we both fell silent, which I considered to be really letting the side down a bit. So I racked my brains for a "topical issue" to discuss. The best I could manage for a conversation starter was "Abe-san wa dou desu ka?" - what do you think of Mr. Abe (the new Japanese prime minister). To my relief, the driver then launched into a long spiel, which I didn't fully understand, but it seemed very much like I wasn't required to participate, which suited me fine. The small bits of political insight that I was able to pick up include such fine morsels as: "Koizumi-san (the outgoing prime minister) is older, but Abe-san takes his job a lot more seriously". I will almost certainly regurgitate this little nugget verbatim next time I am required to voice a political opinion, as though it were my own. The likelihood is that such a scenario will occur next time I take a taxi, so I only hope I don't somehow end up with the same driver.
- Monday Offsite
- [Monday 2nd October]
Mine and TK's weekly "offsite meeting" was rescheduled to Monday this week, as he was going off to Okinawa for a short holiday from Thursday. So after work we went to the kind of izakaya place near the office which which does mainly European (Spanish?) type food. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary, just had a good long chat about life, the universe and everything.
- [Sunday 1st October]
Despite it being rather a wet and grey sort of day, we had a very nice day out on Enoshima - a little island just off the coast near Tokyo. We went there mainly to visit the Spa (which we'd been to once before), but as we got there a bit earlier in the day this time, we thought we'd take advantage of the opportunity and have a bit of a wander round the island. It's really quite a charming little place, and it was very nice to be by the sea.
The Spa was great just like last time - hardly anyone there, and it was so great to lounge around in the outdoor pools, in the rain but kept warm by the hot water. The outdoor pools are right on the coast line, so from there you can see out to sea which is just great.
A very nice day out, all in all.
- Work on a Saturday
- [Saturday 30th September]
Recently it has become fairly commonplace for me to have to work a bit in the morning at the weekend.
I am managing the nightly build, which, being based on US hours, falls in the morning my time.
Normally at the weekend there's just a couple of hours work to do, after which I have to check back
occasionally to make sure things are running smoothly. Today though there were a number of fires to
put out, and it ended up turning into a full day's work. In fact I didn't finally hang up my hat until around
On the plus side though, I can do this job from home, and a certain amount of the time is spent just
sitting around waiting for results to come back, so it's not too bad.
Chie was out with a friend most of the day, which was probably just as well.