Obon and other stuff

This week is Obon, the yearly holiday season similar to Dia de los muertos in Mexico, when people go back to their hometowns to visit living relatives and spruce up the graves of dead ones. It’s believed that the spirits of your dead relatives come back to visit, which is a nice thing to believe–you never feel too distant from the ones you’ve lost. There are many local “bon odori” festivals that involve dancing, taiko drumming, eating, drinking, etc. People take off work en masse, and many banks, city halls, supermarkets and small stores are closed. This is also the time of year when traffic jams miles and miles long make the news.

I don’t have off today, but my wife does, and she’s is taking our kids to see the new Harry Potter movie, which means I’ll have to download watch it by myself later.

Last Friday Oliver dragged took me to a live house to listen to a singer/songwriter he met during his travels. Let me say this–although I do like some music loud, to which my father will attest, there’s a point where “loud” becomes “way too loud.” When the venue is in the basement of a building behind two sets of vacuum-sealed soundproof doors, it’s a good sign that your eardrums are in for some serious punishment. I used my sound isolating earbuds for earplugs and it was still too loud. It was sparking my “fight or flight” response, and I spent half the time in retreat on the opposite, quiet side of the double doors and the other half wanting to pick a fight with an innocent bystander. On the bright side, I took full advantage of the “all you can drink” deal that was included in the entrance fee and spend the night curled up in a dumpster outside Koga station. (I nicknamed one rat “Fifi” and the other one “Cuddles.”)

So here I am at work today, having no luck finding a function in JavaScript for converting HTML entities like & and ” back into their proper characters. It looks like you have to roll your own. Stupid language.

Oliver and I almost recorded a podcast, but I was too inebriated and in a pretty foul mood. We started one before the gig, but it wasn’t turning out all that well so I’ll throw it in the chumbucket later.

[tags]music, Oliver, anecdote, podcasting, geek stuff, work, family, holidays[/tags]

Crazy Japanese podcast

Tell me what you think of this idea.

Last weekend when Oliver was visiting, Tony and I started playing a new game. I’d say something totally insane in English like, “May I please poke your eyes out with my chopsticks?” or “I made you a bracelet from my nosehair. I hope you like it,” and he’d translate it into Japanese. Or he’d say something equally strange in Japanese (usually having to do with poop, because he’s nine years old) and I’d say it in English.

Would this work as a podcast with audience participation? I think it would be a fun way to learn English/Japanese. Of course we’d keep it clean. Believe it or not, Tony still doesn’t know bad words in English, and I want to keep it that way. Although he did say to my mother once when he was about two years old, “You’re a FIRE BITCH!” He was just putting sounds together, and that’s what came out. You should have seen the look on her face. Priceless.

Andy, Oliver, Tony

Oliver, a 19 year old podcast listener from the UK who’s trekking around Japan for a few months, stayed over at our house last night. Our boys were really, really excited to meet him. All three slept on the living room floor, but not before spending at least an hour in the dark making all sorts of noises that only little boys can make. (armpit farts, pig snorts, unexplainable very loud banging, etc.) I’m assuming it was Andy and Tony entertaining their guest. Tony woke up this morning looking very hung over. As long as the walls weren’t splattered with blood and nobody woke up in a pool of their own vomit (or somebody else’s), I’m just glad they enjoyed themselves.

In fact, you’re all invited to visit, just as long as all 4,000 or so of you don’t visit all at the same time.

P.S. My site was down earlier because the database server’s hard drive died and had to be rebuilt from a backup. I’m very surprised they’re not using RAID. Very bad sign. If I weren’t so lazy I’d ditch Dreamhost for a more reliable operation.

A happy news chaser, to clear your palate.

  • I bought a 30GB iPod yesterday to replace the one I lost. I also bought a new pair of Sennheiser CX 300 earbuds ($40 and they’re the best I’ve ever owned). With the store points I collected from that purchase, I picked up an expensive and beautifully crafted and designed leather case for a mere 45 yen.
  • For the first time in ages, tonight I’m having dinner with my best friend and her cousin. That might not make you happy, but it sure makes me happy.
  • The book publisher for whom we’re going to produce a podcast is mere centimeters away from approving the budget. Boy, will you be surprised when I can finally announce the company’s name.
  • As previously mentioned, my home computer is fixed, and I didn’t lose any data.
  • I’m going to take the kids to the International Tokyo Toy Show over the weekend, and the above-mentioned best friend and her daughter might come along. I think I’ll be able to bribe the kids into helping with a videocast, on the condition that I let them do it in Japanese.
  • Life is boring, repetitive, lonely, soul-draining and tedious for me lately, but it won’t be that way forever, and things could be a whole lot worse. I just need to make an effort to crawl out from under this rock.

Introducing Arthur

Arthur is a weekly book and educational toy series. Every week we buy a new piece of him. (This week he gets his left lung and his voice box, I think.) Someday I’d like to meet a preteen kid who can hold a camera still for more than an eighth of a second. But Andy loves being on camera. He’s going through an “Here, I’ll hold the camera for you,” stage now, and it started with this clip.

Lunch at Grandpa’s on New Years

This movie shows 100% typical family life for me. It’s for everyone who said they were curious to see the inside of Grandpa’s house, and to those of you studying Japanese and can’t get enough of hearing the real language.

I slapped this one together as quickly as I possibly could, and still from start to finish it took over four hours. Subtitles are an incredible time suck; not only adding them, but they also make the video take forever to render. I’m either going to have to find better video editing software or upgrade my CPU and motherboard. Working with the timeline in Windows Movie Maker is painfully slow.

I’m glad blip.tv lets me cross-post to my blog so I can just hit the upload button and go to bed. It’s 2:40am right now and I have to leave for work at 7.