• The Week #203

    • 🚲 Leo and I have been riding bikes together more. He's getting stronger and rider further up the big hills. It's really good to see him rest midway up the hill and try again. This week we rode towards the big road to the station so he could get his hair cut. As a parent it's really scary having him ride there, even with me around, because there's so many things that could go wrong. But experience navigating is important and best learned at a young age.
    • πŸ“Ί We've started watching The Simpsons together during the evenings. I love it because...it's the early Simpsons episodes, so classics, but it really really reminds me of growing up and watching the Simpsons with my dad.
    • 🎢 Car-dependent societies have one advantage over places with good public transport like Japan: you can ample opportunity to force your kids to listen to your music (as you're stuck in the car together). I've been on a Aquabats kick lately and put them on the home pod mini while playing with Leo. Good news: He really digs their song Magic Chicken and sings bits of it to himself. :success-kid:
    • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ I ran 3 times this week again. That's 3 weeks in a row of 3x / week. Go me!. I've noticed that my shoes are worn out and ordered a new pair of shoes (New Balance 860). I'm really looking forward for running around in a new pair of shoes – I haven't bought any running gear since I was in London a couple years back. Getting new gear / things related to your "hobby" (is this a hobby or just trying to maintain my health? A bit of both maybe?) is a good way to keep motivation when internal motivation has a lull.Β 
  • The Week #202

    • 🎳 Summer is quickly approaching so we've gone searching for entertainment indoors. I quite enjoy bowling (2 semesters in college, still not great) and Leo enjoyed playing last summer when we stayed in Odawara.

      We went bowling at Shonan Tokyu Bowl and it was a lot of fun! I'd been there once before probably 6 years ago and nothing had changed. My favorite parts of the bowling that day was seeing Leo get hyped up and that we could choose a mario theme (SNES era) for our score board. The background change each frame and it was great fun.
      Mario bowling
    • 🍝 Eating out for dinner has been a challenge these past...since Leo was born. It's mostly been Denny's and other family restaurants and I'm so burned out on them. The menus are practically the same and there's always some shit by the registers that kids want to buy that makes entering and leaving a total pain (I'm looking at you, personal gumball machines) .

      But with Leo trying more foods each day (finally!) at primary school, he's feeling a bit more adventurous. Leo and I went and got Indian curry together because he wanted to eat nan. And we were able to go to a place that my wife and I really enjoy for the first time with Leo. Slowly the range of restaurants we can go is expanding.
    • 🌹 For Mother's Day we didn't buy flowersΒ  (Japanese mom's don't want them). Instead Leo and I went in to Yokohama to Tonoji and bought some really nice, handmade bento. Maybe it's the fact that Leo has his own passmo now (i.e. it costs money for him to ride public transit), but going is getting so much easier. He walks, doesn't moan (too much), and doesn't goof off in the train.
    • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ I ran 3 times a week for the second week in a row. Go me!
  • The Week #201

    • πŸ… Golden week continued this week, which meant a 4-day weekend. I gotta say, it was nice to have 4-days off in a row. The weather was fantastic the entire time as well (too warm for this point of the year, a tend that continues unabated). We kept a rather low profile most of the time.

      We rode our bikes to the local kids log cabin and played with Leo for a couple of hours. Life has been so busy with primary school starting and work and being an adult generally that in the moment I was able to really appreciate just being and hanging out.
    • πŸ› Part of this just hanging out and being has been including Leo more in what we're doing around the house. Teaching him the essentials of cooking and practicing his knife skills. We all made Japanese curry and miso soup. I think getting him more involved in the kitchen will be both a good thing for him and a way to bond. My dad and I cooked together growing up and it's one of our goto topics – what have you been cookin' recently?
    • 🏫 School still remains a challenge, but he went every day this week without a meltdown. School lunch is going well and he seems to be eating a greater variety of foods. At home he's even started trying to practice with regular chopsticks. After school Leo's doing his homework so he doesn't have to do it at home and can dive into Zelda.
    • πŸ—‘οΈ Speaking of Zelda, we got Leo a Zelda shirt a couple weeks back with the idea that he'd be able to advertise to his classmates that he likes Zelda automatically and maybe make some Zelda-friends. He's seen a couple of kids around with Zelda shirts and he talked with one! Not quite Zelda-friends yet, but I reckon they will be before we know it. The plan is working.
    • πŸ™ŒπŸ» Protector of Takao, fellow Gaijin, and runner Derek Wessman (🐘) made a post on his blog. I quite enjoy his posts, but this one stood out to me. It reminded me of how I used to blog "back in the day". Here's a thing that happened over a period of time with some photos interspersed. So much of my blog is micro-posts (checkins and runs) or "The Week" I don't leave the time to let a story like that build up. Maybe I should try?
  • The Week #200

    • πŸ’―πŸ’―. I never thought when I started my weekly blog posts in a whim in 3.8 years ago, I'd continue doing it for the next 199 weeks. Around 100 weeks ago I had flirted with the idea of maybe not doing the week every week. This time, no such thought occurs.
    • 🐨 Golden week started this week. It's a bit of a miss year because instead of having a nice string of days off in a row, there's effectively a 3-day weekend followed by 3 regular days, thena 4-day weekend. But as it's Golden week a lot of stores were prepared for massive crowds.

      The Pokemon center in Yokohama was as well. Their website said you'd need to get a reservation ticket and you could only enter to shop during that reserved time. I needed to get out of the house, so we decided to go and see what happens. As it turned out, we arrive 2-minutes before they decided to open the store to everyone without any reservations. It was still massively crowded, taking us 20 -30 minutes to check out. The entire way home Leo held on to his Mew plushie and it was super cute.
    • πŸ– We celebrated Showa day by having a BBQ at another friend's house. Instead of tacos, this time we made ahijo and I brought some fresh baked bread. It was a lot of fun.
    • ✈️ We bought tickets for a trip to the US this summer. Direct flights to Seattle (or anywhere in the US) from Japan are expensive. It's about $2,000 cheaper if we fly through Hawaii and take a domestic flight to Seattle. We've never been to Hawaii before, so we decided to split the difference and stay for few days in Waikiki. I'm really looking forward to the trip to see my Dad (it's been almost 8 years?! 😱) and for him to meet his grandson for the first time.
    • πŸ’΄ While the trip (as a whole) is gonna be fun, the exchange rate is giving me a bit of a pause. The strong dollar sent the yen down to Β₯160 /dollar - rates not seen since 1990. One one hand, I can't control the exchange rate so it'll be what it'll be...but also ouch.
  • The Week #199

    • πŸ– We had a BBQ with a couple of friends at friend's house nearby and it was a lot of fun. They've got a large chunk of land (probably what would fit 6 or so Japanese houses?) so they actually had a nice chunk of grass out back. They're close enough that I was able to load up a wagon and pull our contributions. On the menu was chicken tacos (corn + flour), roast beef, onions pulled directly from the garden, and craft beer and more. Excellent fun and good conversation.
    • πŸƒ I got two runs in last week, which rather happy about. The running itself isn't the hard part, but rather finding / making the time. Even a 30 minute run takes an hour when you factor in changing, showering, and a short warm up walk. Technically I have the time shortly after I wake up most days, but it's not quite hot enough outside to necessitate 5am runs.Β 
    • πŸŽ‰ Episode 16 of Inside Octopus Energy podcast is focused on Kraken. Worth mentioning on this blog because it includes a few couple of shout outs to my team in Japan for the AI / LLM product work we've done over the past couple of years. Always nice to get shout outs from the top.
  • The Week #198

    • 🏫 Leo had his first full week of primary school. He seems to be getting along well with everyone and enjoys the after school program. I haven't a clue what he's actually doing in school each day as he doesn't say...but he did write his last name.

      But it wasn't all roses. Leo's been low-key stressing about school lunch (as he's a picky eater 😒). The first day of school lunch the moment he woke up he started crying he didn't want to go to school. I had to drag him outside and to the meeting point (crying the entire way). And I had to walk with him all the way to where he entered the building (crying). When he came home he was all smiles and happy. "How was lunch?" "Good πŸ‘". All that crying and effort and stress for nada.
    • 🍱 Since Leo's now eating school lunch, I no longer need to make bento every morning. Which is quite nice as it took a bit of time. But also a bit of a problem as it means my lunch isn't made already either.
    • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ I managed to get out for a run. This cold had been persisting for a while and some medicine from the doc helped me get well enough to run. It felt good to get out there again and just boat along.
    • πŸ“Ί I started watching Franklin, which has proven to be quite interesting. I like that the French people speak French, unlike in Napoleon. It's also made me think I should probably add a biographyΒ  or two to my kindle.
  • The Week #197

    • 🏫 Leo is officially an elementary school student. We all got dressed up and attended his entrance ceremony – it was a first for both of us. Before entering the school, we received the class list and Leo is in the same class with his good friends from his pre-school (πŸŽ‰). We immediately left him there and went to the gym where they had chairs setup for parents and students and it was decorated with some nice flowers.

      The ceremony itself was short and sweet. They (someone, not the students) sung the national anthem and the Yokohama city song. One thing I really liked was that it wasn't just teachers, parents, and students in attendance. The local neighborhood association heads also attended, which really gives you the sense that education, at least at the primary school age, really is a community thing.Β 
    • 🌸 Cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Yokohama and Tokyo this week. They were later than they have recently, but more inline with when they "should" be blooming. Bonus points for the rain holding off so that we could getΒ  photos in front of cherry blossoms during Leo's entrance ceremony all dressed up with his friends.
      Cherry blossoms lit up at night near the office.
    • πŸ€‘ When I lived in the US, while I wasn't into churning credit cards to maximize points / miles, but I at least put everything on a decent card and the miles paid for a number of international and domestic trips. Points on Japanese cards aren't nearly as good, but I know I can do better than the Amazon card and getting Amazon points (that can't be converted to anything). The "best"-ish card seems to be the Marriot Bonvoy AMEX, as you get a free night per year, the points don't expire, and they can easily be converted to miles for any airline.Β 

      Unexpectedly, I was approved! This is the first time I've been approved for a credit card that I really wanted in Japan. It only took me having PR and a gold license to prove I'm a trustworthy gaijin.
    • ⛺️ Later this month we have some plans to BBQ with some friends at their house. Leo's quite excited about this and wanted to BBQ at our house tonight...with 5 minutes notice right at dinner time. We came to a compromise that we could eat outside on the balcony. We took out our camp chairs and tables and enjoyedΒ  dinner, just before it got dark.

      I must say, it was a nice change of pace. The weather is warm up now days that it's also feasible. It reminded me quite a bit of life during the pandemic as well – finding ways to be outside and socially distanced and just something to break up the monotony. We should do this again...but with twinkle lights!
  • The Week #196

    • β˜€οΈ The weather warmed up significantly in a week with a high of 26 - 27 degrees in Kanto. Perfect weather, but also record heat for March. It caused some cherry blossom trees to panic and fully bloom in a single day. i.e. Morning they were closed and by afternoon they were in full bloom (usually it takes a couple of days).
    • 🚲 But that wasn't the case everywhere. I rode my bicycle to Shonandai and back (with Leo on the back 1-way (dropped him off at the in-laws)) and all of the trees along the river/cycle path were yet to bloom. It was perfect weather for cycling.
    • 🍞 Since moving back to Japan we've been using our microwave/convention oven combo's toast mode to make toast. It's not exactly the speediest way, but it worked. Leo eats toast for breakfast just about everyday and using this method, but he can't make his own breakfast, he depends on us. So we bought a toaster and it toasts the bread much faster, using less electricity, and it tastes better. Yay toast.
    • 🏫 Leo had his first day on his elementary school campus. School starts next week, but this week he is able to attend the afterschool care all day. His start time has moved up by about an hour - instead of leaving at 8:30-ish he needs to be at school by 8ish. Last week he was still slowly eating breakfast, watching cartoons under the kotatsu still in his pajamas at 8am...but first day and he woke up early and immediately went to the toaster to make his breakfast. He left early and had a great time! He was even able to reunited with some of his friends from pre-school who are a year older than him. πŸ’ͺ
  • The Week #195

    • πŸ›°οΈ In Japan, even the smallest elementary school students go to school on their own. They all go together so there isn't much risk. On days where they don't have after school care, they just come home. Leo certainly knows his way home, but once he has his independence...you never know...he might get sidetracked. We got a popular GPS unit that also allows him us to relay voice recordings to each other.
    • πŸŽ₯ I'm on a "classic" movies kick. Leo and I watched 3 Ninjas (1992) together. He usually doesn't make it entirely through live action movies in English, but he made it through this one. I also watched Short Circuit (1986) (my second favorite movie with Fisher Stevens) – so good.
    • πŸ›‚ I made an appointment to get Leo's passport renewed. I didn't realize the US embassy was literally next to my usual subway exit when going to work. I've started looking at plane tickets to visit Seattle this summer and...$6,500 usd for just tickets....and when combined with the weak yen...ouch...for a week? Hmmm....
  • The Week #194

    • πŸŽ“ Leo graduated pre-school. While technically the main event was watching each kid walk up to the front of class and receive their diploma, the real main event felt like the thank you party immediately after. You see, Yumi has been preparing for a "thank you party" the past ~6 months...and it is finally over. The gifts were delivered and the videos / presentations we made played on the projector without issue.

      For most of the kids at Leo's school they're finished with the school for good. Lucky for Leo, he can still go through the end of the month when my wife and I are working, so he'll be able to meet his friends that will attend other elementary schools for a bit longer.

      After the ceremony itself we went to McDonalds with a couple of his friends and their family – I'm sure this will become one of those long-term memories.
    • πŸŽ₯ I watched two movies this week: Napoleon (on Apple TV+) and The Greatest Night in Pop (about the making of We are the world(Netflix)). I had heard a bit of hype about Napoleon, but it was just okay. On the other hand, The Greatest Night in Pop was a real fun watch. I'll sometimes listen to "We are the World" song when I need a pick me up and the world seems like it's going to shit. It was fascinating to see how quickly the entire song / thing came together. I'm starting to feel like good work demands tight time constraints to ensure focus....
    • 🌸 It was a beautiful 20 degrees out over the weekend. Spring is coming and I can't wait. I know in summer I can't wait for winter, but really I just want ~20 degree weather to come. t-shirt and perhaps a jacket.
    • πŸ‘“ With all the flowers and trees blooming, there's heaps of pollen floating in the air. We bought Leo a pair of glasses to protect his eyes and ease his allergies. When he's wearing his glasses and a flannel he looks like a clone of me.
    • πŸ€’ Between work being super busy with a buncha new responsibilities and my personal life packed with kids stuff...I've had minimal/no time for "fun" (though I did get some cafe time this week, which was nice). Either way, my body finally had enough and is forcing me to rest with a 39 degree fever. Thankfully that's the symptom. Here's to resting, also an important job.
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