Trip to the States?

Author: mirai  //  Category: Uncategorized

Every year around this time, I usually take a trip to California (specifically my hometown). There’s nothing to really to do or see, so I don’t know why I even do it. I suppose its just for a change in scenery or perhaps is just for nostalgical purposes. I usually stay in San Francisco, because there are a lot places to stay and a lot of things to do.

Unfortunately this year, since I started a new job, I can’t go to California, at least not until Decmeber (when my probation period ends) But my mother will be in Japan then, so I cannot go anywhere. Futhermore, she has been nagging me to go to Atlanta (where she lives now). Atlanta is not a bad little town, but it is boring. I must admit that before I went there, I had a lot of stereotypical views that Atlanta would be full of shotgun toting rednecks driving pickup trucks with gun racks and the confederate flag painted on the roof. I guess I watched too much “Dukes of Hazzard” as a kid. In reality, its really not that bad at all, just a bit boring.

I haven’t really decided on how I am going to do this, but I guess I will be going to Atlanta early next year. My mom wants me to meet her in NYC because she wants to see a Broadway musical. Since I have never seen a musical on Broadway, I think it’d be a cool thing to do.

I’ve only been to NYC twiice. First time was on a business trip so I couldn’t do too much; the second time was an overnight stop over on the way to Atlanta. I don’t like NYC. Its so dark and dreary. I giuess I expected it to be like San Francisco, but they’re nothing alike. San Francisco is so much better.

As for my anual trip to Cali. Well, it looks as if its gonna have to wait. Perhaps next spring. I really like to be in my hometown during the winter though. The smell of burning wood in the fireplaces makes the whole town smell nice, which I really miss a lot. I remember when I was a kid I use to sit on the roof of my house for hours just to smell the scent of burning wood in the cold air.

Another thing I like are the Chistmas light competitions. During that time of year, people would decorate their houses and lawns with literally thousands of lights and other holiday decorations. Being a Christmas eve baby, it always make me feel good to see stuff like that. makes me feel warm inside.

Its Thursday, and this week has been quite rough, so I am really looking forward to the weekend. I think I just want to catch on sleep. :

New Job Challeges

Author: mirai  //  Category: Uncategorized

It’s been nearly 2 weeks on the job, and I already find it quite challenging. First of all, we are way short-handed. My boss tells me that we have a head count for 3 more people on my teams so I am actively looking for some people. I got e-mail from a former co-worker who told me that she had recently resigned from her job, so I am trying to get her resume so that she can be considered for one of the open slots.

The main issue is that the whole infrastructure is old and very hard to use. I found that my team spends much of their time running aound all day servicing request from users. This takes a lot of time and energy and is very unproductive. Right now, we have a lot of projects going on to bring the whole infracture technologically up to speed, but some critical projects are at a stand still because of some issues we are having with the equipment.

One project is to roll out 800+ PC’s to users in a span of 6 months. Unfortunately, we have agreed to buy Dell PC’s (I hate Dells; they all suck!), and for some unknown reason, Dell’s don’t work with the system that automatically installs Windows onto them. The person who is in charge of this project has been struggling with this for weeks now, and we have come to complete stand still because of it. Dell nor the developers of deployment system will have anything to do with this. I have strongly suggested that we should scrap buying Dells (because they’re all crap anyways) and going with HP (formerly Compaq). I personally have more experience with HP hardware and found them to be more reliable. I almost won my argument with the management; they were JUST about to cancel the contract with Dell, when the question of time came up. We don’t have much time. We are already quite behind as it is, and to start an account with another hardware vendor (like HP) will take several weeks (although I think I can get it done sooner; but its not my job). And we only have about 2 weeks left to get things going or we have to pay penalties to the business entity.

Anyways, once everthing is replaced, I think it will reduce the workload for everyone. This is the first time I have ever joined a company that used technology as old as the first day I started my career. But for me, its more interesting, because I have so much knowledge and so many ways of making things better. I actually got into to it with the networks team (the only team that I am not managing right now) about what they are doing to improve the work environment. To my surprise, they are the ONLY team that are doing nothing to make imrovements. I asked why the network is so slow, amd why our teams are having to take all day to make updates or do something as simple as copy files from one server to another. They looked at me and shrugged. I soon found out that the technology that they were using were pretty much outdated and I suggested that they need to change as well.

Later, I had lunch with my boss, and he commended me for making the suggestions to improve the environment further. He couldn’t believe that the acting networks team manager (since there is no real networks team manager right now) never made this suggestion. I was sensing that we was about to ask me to lead that team as well (or at least until they get the lead hired) but I quickly changed the subject. I have way too much on my plate, so I don’t need another team to watch over right now, although I wouldn’t mind doing it in the future (which is the goal).

Overall, I like my job. So much to do and so many opportunities. But most of all, the people are all awesome! I miss working with human beings. It was so hard doing everything by myself in my last company, and I have found that the mentality that I am all alone on several of these tasks, and my by job in general has stuck with me. In other words, when I am given a project to do, I still as if I have to do it all myself, because that’s they way it was. I couldn’t depend on my boss to help and Kohda was just absolutely useless. But in this company, my boss often has to remind me that I am on a team and I am the head guy, which means I no longer have to do everything by myself. But its still difficult to get that out of my head.

Pictures from the LA Crew

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Family and Friends

My mother called me ealier this morning to tell me that my cousin Tsugu (yes, the jerk), bought a Jack Russell Terrier puppy.  Tsugu takes care his pets pretty well, in that he will feed him and take him for regualr walks, and maybe take him on trips (like I do with my white terriers), but that is the extent of it.  He has a hard time showing any love for any living being except for himself.  Its really quite sad.

Before I got my dogs,  I was looking to get Jack Russells as well, but after research, I quickly learned that JRs aren’t for me.  They take a lot of work to train and are extremely hyper-active dogs, so the owner has to be just as active..  My dogs are pretty active as well, but I have trained them to be very well-behaved around people and other animals.   I get a lot of compliments on how well behaved and friendly my dogs are.  As a matter of fact, the owners of the Owls Wood lodge took pictures of my dogs to use in ads for the lodge. I think Tsugu thought that if I could do it, he can too.  But the big difference is that Jack Russells are much more of a handful, and that I actually love my dogs. 

To give you an idea about how Tsugu is around aniimals, I found a small kitten in the middle of the road out by my grandmother’s summer house.  I was going to take her home, but the apartment that I was living in at the time didn’t accept pets, so I couldn’t.  The kitten (seen in previous blog entries) was so adorable and friendly.  She use to crawl up my arm (which hurt like hell) and onto my shoulder and fall asleep there.  She now belongs to my grnadmother and stays with her in Tokyo.  Tsugu (the freeloading slob that he is) lives on the second floor of my grnadmother’s house and often goes and visits the cat.  The cat has gotten so mean because of him abusing her.  On occassions, I have seen my mother scream at Tsugu fro being so mean. My mom doesn’t even scream at me the ways she screamed at him, that’s how bad he is.

Here is a pic of  Tsugu teasing my grandmother’s cat:

Funny thing is, right after this picture was taken, Pei (mygrandmothers cat) got one lucky strike at Tsugu’s nose and gave him a nice sized scratch.  It was pretty hilarious.  Anyways, I am kind of afraid to see how his Jack Russell is going to turn out in six months.


I finally resized the photos from Friday/Saturday.  There aren’t that many.  I think I am going to keep these off of halvsie and just share my pictures with a small group of people from now on.  So here goes:

First the purikura’s:

A lot sillyness but fun!

This is my favorite…I think

Um…a bit too many hearts….

And more tongue action by Jon

Here are the other pictures:

Yuriko and Robyn

Another great shot of Yuriko and Robyn

Jon, after his glorious spare (bowling)

Yurko and Alex

Jon vs. Alex on Taiko’s.

That’s all folks..

A visit from the LA Crew II

Author: mirai  //  Category: Family and Friends

Last night, I went to Shinjuku to meet up with the same people whom I met at the offkai last week.  I must admit that I have not really fully really recovered from last week.  My throat was still a bit sore, and on top that I had an allergy attack early yesterday morning which made my nose and throat very irritated.
But I wasn’t about to let that stop me.  I really wanted to see everyone because I know it will be a while until I can go out again with my busy work schedule.
We all met in fron to of Alta in Shinjuku and headed off to an izakaya.  At first things seemed kind of quiet.  For me, it was because I was still kind of tired, plus I am naturally quiet at first until someone starts talking.  After Jon arrived things started picking up, or maybe because the alcohol started flowing.  I didn’t drive this time so I did drink, but not too much.  Just enough to melt the ice a bit.
We spent most of the time at the izakaya just talking and taking pictures.  Robyn bought a new digicam which was quite nice, so we were snapping pictures all night. 

Later we headed of to the nijikai.  But before we got there, we took a detour into a game arcade to take some purikura pictures.  The pictures turned out pretty hilarious.  With all the wrinkles around my eyes, I looked like a maneki neko though. Something like this:
But I guess it didn’t turn out so bad (will post photos later).  Robyn and Yuriko looked really looked cute in all of the photos.
We all headed off to go bowling after that.  On the way there, I got this huge headache, and I had to step away from the group for a while to try to recover.  It was so bad at one point that I thought I was going to pass out.  I thing this was the after effects of my allergy attack earlier that day, but luckily I was able to recover enough to continue. Sorry for worrying everyone.
I HATE bowling, because I suck so much at it.  I actually won the boobie prize at a bowling tournament with Citigroup employees.  That was so embarassing.  Ironcally, the boobie prize was a maneki neko statue.  But I guess for me I didn’t do so bad last night.
I had already missed my last train home by several hours at this point so we all headed off to karaoke to just kill some time until the first train.  Unfortunately, with me barely recovered from the all-nighter the previous weekend and this lame allergy attack, I was hardly in shape to do any kind of singing.  My throat still hurts right now but at least I still have a speaking voice.
We finished off the offkai at around 5AM.  It was raining quite heaviily so we were all trapped at the karaoke place trying to wait for the rain to let up a bit, but it never did.  We all decided to cut our losses and go wet.  Robyn was wearing very little in terms of something to keep her from freezing in the rain.  So I gave her my jacket and decided to see her to her hotel to make sure she got back alright.  So Alex, Robyn and myself saiid goodby to Yuriko and Jon as they headed home, and we went to find Robyn’s hotel, buried deep in the outskirts of the red light district of Shinjuku.
We nearly got lost on the way there, but after asking directions at a convenience store, we were able to find it quite quickly.  By the time we got there, we were all pretty drenched.  I was okay, but Robyn looked pretty cold.  She handed my jacket back and we all said our fairwells, which was kind of sad.
Alex and I thn walked back to Shinjuku station together and then said our “until the next one”‘s and parted.
The train trip home seemed so long because, I was still drenched and the air con was on which was giving me chills.  By the time I reached my station, my headache was back.  I rushed home and immediately changed into some dry clothes, worte a couple of quick emails and went to sleep.  I slept a total of 4 hours which is average for me.

I will post pictures later when I have the pics resized…  

A Visit from the LA Crew

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Family and Friends

Okay, the moment that you have all been waiting for,  the details from the  Saturday night’s off-kai.
It was by far the longest offkai I have ever attended.  It started at 7pm and we said our goodbyes at 6am the next morning.  I was not intending on staying out too late that evening, but wound up staying until the morning with the rest of the crew.  Anyways, enough typing…here are the pics:

Robyn and I meet at last!

Jon sitting on Alex’s lap (don’t ask don’t tell!)

Robyn and Yuuki immitating conjoined twins joined at the head.

Yuriko and I giving the camera the Japanese finger.

Alex, Yuriko and Monica touched over Robyn magical singing voice.

Jon, Yuriko, Alex’s Sister?. Paul and Alex at a karaoke box in Shubuya.

Yuuki and me.

Royn and Alex smiling for the camera.

Jon and Yuuki posing for the camera.

Paul doing his version of Bob Dylan

Monica, Simon, Robyn and (sorry forgot her name).

Yuriko kneeling on the floor trying to get a song into the karoke machine

Yuuki single duet with Alex to Eminem’s Slim Shady rap.

that’s all folks!

First day on the Job

Author: mirai  //  Category: Uncategorized

I lost my voice once again.  It is COMPLETELY gone .  But this time in a good way, because I just attended what was probably the best and definately the LONGEST off-kai ever.  But before I get to that,  I must tell about about my first my day at my new company.

I started with my new company last Thursday.  I went to my company’s main office in Shinjuku first.  It is so from from the  station (about a 15 minute walk) and I even managed to get lost. I finally arrived about 10 minutes late only to find the lady from HR (human resources) waitng for me.  I think she was a bit upset that I arrived late, but I didn’t let that bother me.  It wasn’t too important that arrive on time because all I was there to do was to complete paperwork for new hires (new security badge, bank info for salary transfers, commutation costs, etc.)

It took me an hour to complete all of the dreadful new hire paperwork, and then it was off to the actual site, where I will be permantly stationed for at least for the next 5 years or so.

The site is about 30 minutes away from Shinjuku on the Keio line.  Its in a really bad location, but in a way, that is a good thing.  Reason being is that the office is located basically in residential district in a very small town in central Tokyo, so I actually go against rush hour traffic and so the trains are pretty empty in the morning and evenings.   So Iget to actually rest up a bit before entering to the office.

The first day was just orientation (meeting the staff, seeing the office, tour the machine rooms, etc.)  The machine rooms are fabulous!  They are aren’t extremely garganchuan like the machine room at some of my past companies (like Citigroup) where you could actually get lost.  But the machine rooms are a lot bigger than the little closet sized crap that I had to put up with at my last company.  And the best thing is that they are using the newest and latest technology so it’ll be a lot of fun.

I currently have a staff of about 10 people total, but there are 3 or 4 slots open so I will be potentially overseeing 13 people or more, which is a pretty sizeable number for me.  Although I don’t have direct hiring or firing power (yet)., my boss assures me that my responsiblities will be to assist him in bringing aboard new qualified staff members as well as recommending changes to current ones if necessary.

I was introduced to the staff that I will be heading, later that day.  They all basically consist of  Japanese guys, which is a big change for me.  I am use to working with more racially diverse groups of people, so I kind of see this as a minus point.  Being half Japanese myself,  I don’t mind working with Japanese people.  But, in the past, I have found that in general, their thinking is much more rigid and anal than westerners.  In my line of work, its sometimes essential that people are able to think on their feet, and make correct decisions without having to confirm if its okay with the boss.  I have found that westerners are bit better at this than the Japanese, who tend to want to confirm everything before doing it.  There are a couple of Japanese women on my teams as well. They both looked to be in their late 20’s or maybe early 30’s.  There are quite a lot cute girls in the IT department too, and they all seem to be younger or about the same age I am.  So I guess I will no longer be sexually harassed by older ladies like Kiyota.

 I am definaely not the oldest;  I might actually be one of the youngest (which was kind of a concern of the MD (managing director), whom I met a few weeks earlier when I went to complete the hiring contract.)  He saw that maybe the rest of the staff may not accept me as their manager, but from my initial impressions, I seemed to have been well accepted.  I see this as one of the big postitives of having an all Japanese staff.  They are generally more accepting of personnel changes, whereas westerners may have put up red flags knowing that their boss is a bit younger, and have been in the company for less time than them .  But the staff all seem to be pretty knowledgeable and knew what they were doing (unlike a certain dumbass I had to put up with at my last company -Mr. “I don’t know what side of the CDROM faces up in the CDROM drive” Kohda  )  Although I have only known my staff for 2 days now, I can already tell they are pretty good! And its nice to know that if there is a “Kohda-like” dorkus on my team, I can do something about it this time.

Most of my 2 days consisted of just being stuck in meetings and meeting people.   My desk is near the window, so I have view. Not too spectacular of a view, since we are only on the 3rd floor, but a view.  And its strategitcally placed in spot where I can see every single member of my teams without too much effort, which was a bit akward at first.  I tried not to make it so that I was watching people, but I think that is the whole idea of being in that spot.

  Many of my team members don’t speak any English at all, so that makes it difficult for my boss, who’s from Singapore and only speak broken Japanese, to effectively communicate with them.  So I mainly speak Japanese at work now, and use English with my boss or the MD, which is good.  I think I carry a much friendlier tone when I am speaking Japanese, which is good for the staff.   I don’t want to sound like a slave driving asshole to them, but more like just another member of the team.   My English tone is a bit more firm and serious and consists of a lot of  “colorful” vocabulary, which really should be reserved for friends and people who can appreciate it and know the suttle nuances of English, so that they know when I am really pissed or just ranting

Overall,  I am pretty satisfied with my first days at my new company.  I know that there are going to be a quite a bit of new challenges ahead.  But that is a lot better than just being bored and doing the same thing day after day.  But the best part is to be able to interact with “intelligent” people once again, instead of having to repeat things over and over again to a dumbass, bullheaded, and arrogant boss who refuses to listen because he thinks he’s above it all, or working with a blatenly underqualified staff member, who has no will to learn or even put in any effort into trying to understand.

Anyways,  I am going to save the off-kai stuff until later (a separate entry) and make it protected so that not everyone on the planet can see it, since I have a lot of pics to post too…so stay tuned.

A Trip to Karuizawa

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Travel Blog

Over the weekend, I went to Karuizawa (nice little ski town up in Nagano prefecture). This is the last week of my summer break, so I decided to pack up the dogs and take a long drive up to the mountains. Its been over ten years since I went there last. The last time I went, I went with my aunt and my cousins to a ski resort. I remember Karuizawa as being a very quant little ski village that had a lot of Japanese culture left over. Not to mention that the people are so incredibly friendly. It kind of reminds you of what Japanese people really are suppose to be like (nice, friendly, and very polite people, who are proud of their culture); something that Tokyo and Yokohama people have apparently forgotten about. We stayed at little off-season lodge called “Owl’s Wood”. Apparently, the owner has a deep facination with owls and cats. and so she had decorated the entire interior of the lodge with owl and cat stuff. She even loves dogs, hence its a pet ok lodge. Funny thing is, she banned small children under the age of 12 from being able to stay in the lodge, but allows dogs, which is quite unusual. But that’s perfect for me brcause I am not particularly found of kids, but I love animals. Owl’s wood Despite it’s outwards appearances, the lodge is quite small. It only has five bedrooms total, which gave it a very cozy atmosphere. There were only three other guest staying there so it was a family like atmosphere. Our room was the biggest of the five. I don’t like being in small crampt areas so I mad sure that we got the suite. The suite is not that much more than the cost of a regular room, and you get a separate bedroom and living room.. The bedroom had these little stands or tables by the beds. Since I just washed Princess the day before, she kind of looked like a stuffed animal. So I put up on the stand and snapped a few shots of her. The pictures turned out hilarious! Princess on in-table Another picture of Princess on in-table After my little photo shoots with the dogs, I fell asleep. It was a long 4-hour drive through the twisitng Nagano mountiains. I was a bit worried because ir had been quite hot and my car doesn’t do too well in hot weather. But luckily Karuizawa was cool. I would even go as far as saying it was cold, so it was a nice change from the soaring heat. I love cold weather, so it felt really nice! My car did well too. I even got race a guy up the moutain roads . car resting after a long mountain drive The lodge serves dinner at precisely 7pm every night. Since I have many food allergies, I made sure that served food that I could eat. The owner was nice enough to serve a special dinner (different from everyone elses) because I don’t eat beef. Usually these lodge dinners aren’t so great, but this lodge served some really nice dishes. After dinner, the owner let her cats out to play. She owns 7 cats total, but only 4 of them came out. My favorite was a black cat named “Bezie”. She had the prettiest eyes and she was so friendly. All I had to do was stick out my hand and she would lick my fingers and rub against me. She really made me want a pet cat, but I already had my hands full with two white terriers. Picture of Bazie Another picture of Bazie The next day, we went to a nearby ranch that had a huge open area where we could let the dogs run free. They had huge corn fields where we were able to pick fresh corn and take them home. A horrible picture of me with an ear of corn Jenna having her run out in the field. Later, we met up with a pen full of “miniture pigs”. I didn’t see anything miniture about them. They also smelled really bad. Whoever said that pigs are “clean” animals obviously never met these pigs. They were filthy. But I felt sorry for them because their pen was not get clean and the water that they were drinking from was really dirty. Princess and Jenna getting a good sniff of the mini pig’s odor. Anyways that was basically my trip to Karuizawa. Next month I will be heading up to Hakone to do some hiking and do the onsen thing.. Here are some more photos I snapped of the lodge. This is where I checked my messages with my laptop. It’s the indoor’t terrace. Although the lodge didn’t have internet, I think that the lodge next door did, so I was able to pick up their wireless signal and access the internet from this room. These are the stairs that led up to the bedroom. The high ceilings remind of my grandmother’s summer home. The pictures on the walls are pictures of owls. A stuffed owl (not a real one though) The hallway to guestroom and the indoor terrace. Owls on the bannisters. Last picture….Jenna and Princess in the play area behind the lodge.