Another post deleted.

I deleted the last podcast because the HFJ editorial staff (my mother) thought I gave out far too much personal information. And I gotta do what my mother says. It’s an involuntary reaction.

BTW, I won’t be able to go to the video blogger event tomorrow night at the Pink Cow. My company is holding a going away party that night for a coworker who left the company at the end of last month. The nicest thing I can say about him leaving is that things won’t be the same without him.

The “This Japanese Life” episode update

Last Friday at the BlogNation Japan shindig, I recorded some interviews with a few of the attendees. As I held the microphone in front of them and listened through my headphones, I kept thinking, “Wow, how am I ever going to be able to chop this up and rearrange it into a coherent story?” But the truth is, every time I start a new project, the same kind of fear and doubt run through my mind. It’s called “anxiety.” I feel it almost all the time, unless I’m doing something that I have 100% confidence in. (Those things include teaching, training, and troubleshooting PCs.)

The way I’m learning to come to terms with anxiety is to ask myself, “Well, if it all goes to hell, what’s the absolute worst thing that can happen, and how will I deal with it?”

If my attempt at creating a professional-sounding audio program to the best of my ability ends up sounding like a junior high school social studies project, I won’t lose any money, friends, or respect from others. I won’t fall over dead of humiliation. The time I spend on it won’t be wasted, because I’ll learn from it. And I’ll do it again on another topic; I’ll keep at it until I improve.

I realize I’m expecting myself to hit it out of the ballpark my first time at bat. I have a life-long tendency to expect too much out of myself, and it prevents me from starting or finishing challenges unless I force myself, kicking and screaming all the way. That’s the main reason why I’m here, blogging, podcasting and videoblogging. Because it scares the bejesus out of me if I let it.

I admire people (like my boss) who can jump into something new without any experience or a detailed plan and risk failure, so all this online stuff is my attempt at becoming more like them. It has never been easy, even after two years of constant practice. Core beliefs don’t change easily, even if on an intellectual level you know they’re false.

Right after I write a post, create a video or release a podcast, that voice tells me, “You’re not good enough.” But lately, something different is happening. I’ve been sampling bits of my old blog posts and podcasts that I have no recollection of creating and they seem like they’re from someone else. And you know what? They’re interesting, and often funny. When enough time passes that I can separate the critical, perfectionist “me” from the creative me, I can actually enjoy my own work. Maybe if I keep reading and listening to my past, I’ll finally catch up to the present and finally be at peace with myself.

Thinking of doing a “This Japanese Life” kinda episode

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m missing my true calling in life: sharing other peoples’ stories with the rest of the world. (Either that or running a business that does house calls for peoples’ home PC problems. I love helping friends tame their computers.)

I like the formula This American Life has for putting shows together. The mix of voiceovers, mood music and honest, spontaneous-sounding interviews is top notch. Everything except the cadence of Ira Glass’s way of speaking. I can’t put my finger on it, but that’s the only aspect of the best public radio show in existence today that I don’t want to emulate. It’s not as if I have to resist the urge to claw at my ears when I hear him talk, but he has such an idiosyncratic, kind of uppity (but not snarky) tone of voice that I know I have to avoid sounding like I’m imitating him. At the same time, I can’t sound like the barbiturate-addled hosts of NPR programs either.

The topic I want to cover is “Living and Working in Japan as a foreigner.” I want to conduct interviews with people on why they decided to come to Japan, how they found work, their work history, whether or not they feel as if they’re succeeding, and what the experts think are the best ways for people to find the job that’s right for them. And I want to keep my own story out if it, because if I don’t it’ll probably end up sounding like I’m using the microphone as my psychoanalyst.

For those of you who have thought about taking a stab at living in Japan for a while or moving here permanently, what do you want to know from those who are already here? What would you like to hear headhunters and recruiters talk about? I’ve got my list of questions, but I’d like to know if ya’ll can think of a few that might not have crossed my mind.

This is going to be my attempt at getting better at audio production. There’s an entire team of producers, assistant producers, writers, sound engineers, editors and researchers who work together to put out every episode of This American Life, and for a long time I’ve been wondering what I can accomplish on my own, even if it ends up being nowhere near as high quality. As long as the final product is interesting and listenable, I’ll try to be happy with it.

Well, at least I’m famous…

Tonight Robert Sanzalone told me that he saw my name mentioned in a book about podcasting. I did an Amazon search and found two books:

Page 267:

Rich Pav is your average, ordinary blogger, making his way through the not-so-average or ordinary Land of the Rising Sun. In Herro Flom Japan (, Rich frames his various travels and encounters with the history, culture, and people of Japan in his own unique point of view

Page 97:

Rich Pav, the evil mastermind behind Herro Flom Japan, takes the tech and chit-chat formula to another level by combining it with his observations on living in Japan. Rich doesn’t have any claims to being the first, the best, the most authoritative — in fact he doesn’t claim anything — his podcasts instead being more of a stream of consciousness, usually preceded by the term ‘I feel a podcast coming on’. Or as he puts it, “My bunions are tingling. Every time that happens, a podcast spews forth from deep inside me. Kinda like that movie Alien.’ The latest development is the addition of a video feed called The Herro Flom Japan Video Clip Chumbucket, which he admits isn’t really good enough to send out, ‘but at the same time it’s a shame to just throw it away’. Offbeat, oft understated, and often funny

…and then the prick author goes and posts the RSS URL to the invite-only HFJ Chumbucket. Hey, he posted my stuff without permission, I’m paying him back, right here, right now. (Actually, I don’t mind. There are many far more important things in life to get upset about. And from now on, that feed will point to Funnelgirl.)

Announcing “The Japlish Podcast”

Japlish PodcastWell, I’ve put up the website with the first episode, and I think it looks really nice. All that’s left to do is convince Tony to help me create the content on a regular basis.

Here’s the concept and the reasoning behind it. Learning phrases is an important part of learning to speak a language. I find that in my mind I have a library of set phrases that I permutate into whatever I want to say. So that’s why we’re going to do phrases.

Why do silly, useless phrases? Because they’re fun, and language learning is too often the exact opposite of fun. But even if you’re learning to say something like “Please whack me in the head with a baseball bat,” you’re still learning grammar and vocabulary you’ll be able to use for real. Just not in the way we teach it.

To get started, we need your help in the form of suggestions for phrases we can teach. You can either write them here or go to the contact page at and upload an MP3 we’ll play on the show.

I don’t know if this will succeed or not because it all depends on out willingness to stick with it, and unfortunately Tony inherited from me the tendency to not finish what he starts. But if it does, the idea is to offer the first two month’s worth of lessons for free, then maybe start charging (to support our video game habit).

Other phrases I’ve thought of:

  • Stop picking my nose.
  • I’d like to drink your bath water. (sure-fire pickup line)
  • My favorite food is monkey brains.
  • Oops, I pooped my pants again.
  • Excuse me, I found this eyeball. Is it yours?
  • I learned many magic tricks while I was in prison.
  • When I grow up, I want to be a serial killer/garbage man/gas station attendant
  • I made you a bracelet from my leg hairs. I hope you like it.
  • I ate a rat for lunch.
  • I haven’t showered in three months. Don’t I smell nice?
  • Please stop licking my armpit. It tickles.

Me and Jackie Chan

The other night, David Letterman had Jackie Chan on and asked him if he enjoyed making the Rush Hour movies. His reply:

“Not really…On the set I just follow whatever they tell me to do. They tell me fight, I fight. They tell me speak dialog, I speak dialog. When I speak dialog everybody laughing, I don’t understand what’s going on. Then I don’t know why audience like it.”

I can sympathize. Every morning, I think about what I’d say if I were to do a podcast and I think, “Nobody would want to hear about that.” But when I force myself to do one, the reaction is positive and for the life of me I can’t understand why. It’s like I’m the only one not tuned into the appeal.

I know, I know, I’ve said the same thing 100 times. But I’m still trying to figure it out. The problem is, I really like all the people who come to this site, so I have to keep putting stuff out so you keep coming back.

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.


Nothing too interesting here, but I managed to fix my home PC this morning. I guess the C drive is starting to crap out intermittently. It probably got stuck or overheated, and when the machine rebooted the BIOS couldn’t find it and promoted the next drive on the list to startup. All I had to do was designate the correct drive as the boot drive and it worked.

I warned you, not interesting.

Speaking of not interesting, lately I’ve been spending all my weeknights in a Starbucks somewhere, reading the Japanese translation of Catcher in the Rye. Had I not lost my iPod I probably wouldn’t have bought the book. I use my retro-cool Sony Clie as an electronic dictionary (it kicks the Nintendo DS’s ass eight ways into next Thursday) and footnote all the new words and phrases in red pen. On the train home (usually the last one) I re-read everything and try to think of ways I’d use in daily life the phrases that are new to me, so that I’m “owning” them instead of just trying to memorize them.

The company I work for is in negotiations with a major international publisher to produce a podcast for them. One of the biggest publishers in the world by far, but you’ll never guess in a million years which one, and when I can finally tell you you’ll smack yourself in the forehead. I can’t even give you a hint. I won’t be the voice, just the producer, and when you find out who the publisher is you’ll understand why. If all goes well, it’ll start in July.