Inspired by Groucho, Lennon, Chopra, Lincoln, Buddha, Keillor & The Economist

Archives: 2003 - 2004 / 2005 - 2006
coming soon - more Blah Blah Blah!
Feb 10 Seymour, Aso, Sleep

Happy belated New Year. We are off to Hawaii on Feb 12 for 9 nights in Waikiki.

YouTube video of The Spa in Koh Samui here. Taken by Neil of all us buds detoxing.

Japanese Prime Minister Aso deservedly gets bashed some more

I am working to reduce the amount of time I need to sleep. Since the new year I have been waking between5am and 6am giving me more time to study, work, stretch, etc. So far, so good. I have actually been more energetic during the day but the results are early and I am not sure if I will hit a wall soon and get super tired. However I eventually will make this work because it is so excellent to have more time. I read that Bill Clinton would sleep from 3am - 6am while in the Whitehouse and be full of energy the other 21 hours. Here is the plan

1) Reduce sleeping time.
2) Increase the Quality of sleep.
3) Gain more energy than ever had before.
4) Eliminate all feelings of drowsiness / inability to concentrate during the day.
5) Reduce Daily Stress Levels.

Time is the most precious commodity we have in our lives!

"Don't try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are."
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Dec 22 Ambassadors, Aso's Weakness, John Munson, Useless Projects, Fat Minnesotans

Obama Gives Political Ambassadors Their Pink Slips

The article states that the Ambassadorship to Japan is the most important for the US after Britain, which is true. The US / Japan partnership contains the world's two largest economies and their military pact has resulted in a stable, peaceful East Asia for 50 years. Why did W Bush appoint as ambassador to Japan a nobody businessman, Thomas Schieffer, who helped him with his loan to buy the Texas Rangers? I am sure the political power brokers in Japan were dismayed at the posting of an ambassador so lacking in political ties in Washington. The message was the US does not think Japan is important. Look at the heavyweight Ambassadors directly prior to Mr Schieffer; Howard Baker, Tom Foley & Walter Mondale - all three undeniably major polital heavyweights for many decades.

The choice was not nearly as bad as W Bush's choice of Harriet Miers for Supreme Court Justice! What was Bush thinking? Wikipedia writes "In mock sessions with lawyers, Miers had difficulty expressing her views and explaining basic constitutional law concepts. Miers had no experience in constitutional law, and did not have extensive litigation experience; at her Texas law firm, she had been more of a manager." This is the person Bush "the Decider" decided on for the highest court in the land. Wikipedia adds " The nomination was met with opposition from both sides of the political spectrum". Oops, bad decision I guess Mr Decider!

Next, let's tackle the idiot Prime Minister of Japan, Aso-san. The previous 2 Prime Ministers and Aso-san have just been shredded by the media, most of it deservedly, especially for Aso. Why would anyone want this job? All three guys wanted to be prime minister so badly, and all 3 have been thoroughly and publically humiliated. The Taipei Times writes "Support for gaffe-prone Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso tumbled by a third to 31 percent". He has trouble reading basic elementary school level Chinese characters. When he tried to show a cool side by constantly bragging he is a manga (comic book) geek he was firmly chastised by world famous Academy awarding winning animation film director Hayao Miyazaki. "It's an embarrassment," the filmmaker said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan when asked about Aso's manga mania. "That's something that should be done in private," he added. The UK Guardian noted the super wealthy Aso "has risked offending the country's 40m pensioners after he described them as tax burdens who should take better care of their health"

Anyway, this loser is in way over his head. He was only elected in September 2008 and will not last much longer we predict. Get ready, next PM could be Ozawa (Oh No!). Actually I think the entire population of Japan is convinced the next Prime Minister will also be a dolt. Too bad Koizumi the Lionhearted is retired and gone, he is the only real leader in the whole country.

MA grad and buddie John Munson update here!

Airport Without Planes Shows Japan Hooked on 'Useless Projects'

Lakers 2009 schedule

Minnesota slips in healthiest state rankings

Palin is more qualified for national office than Caroline Kennedy

Nov 8 Chicago on the BIG STAGE, Hizzoner Harold Washington and Mirth & Girth

I was watching BBC International in Tokyo on Nov 6, at the very beginning of the broadcast they stated "it is 7am in Chicago and 11pm in Beijing". I was a little shocked to hear Chicago mentioned, it appears Chicago is back on the big stage internationally. When I got to Sweden in 1984 I was greeted by folks saying "Chicago ... Al Capone, Bang Bang". In Japan in 1991 I got the same greeting (famous man, Mr. Capone), although in the mid-1990s thanks to Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Al Capone was most forgotten and Mr Jordan became the face of Chicago. Well Hussein Obama has blown all that away. Internationally he is half rock star and half Hindu god. Chicago is back, and so is America. Being American overseas with Bush/Cheney sucked. Mr. Obama is here now to provide high paying jobs to all, fix our banks, and resolve all International conflicts and wars.

Along with Lincoln winning the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Chicago in May 1860 and Barack Obama's acceptance speech in Grant Park in November 2008, here is another highlight in Chicago politics - Mirth & Girth is a portrait painting by School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) student David K. Nelson, Jr. "Mirth & Girth", a "full-length frontal portrait of a portly grim-faced Harold Washington clad in a white bra and G-string, garter belt, and stockings". Nelson stated, "in Chicago, at this time, Harold Washington is like an icon. He's like a deity." In particular, Nelson painted the portrait after seeing prints of "Worry Ye Not", another poster that depicted a smiling Washington with a blue-robe adorned Jesus Christ, looking down on the Chicago skyline. Nelson later testified that he had based the iconoclastic elements of the painting on a rumor that doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital had discovered female underwear beneath the suit Washington was wearing at the time of his death. Further fuel for rumors came from alderman Edward Vrdolyak, who at the height of Chicago's Council Wars, often insinuated that Washington was gay, imitating Washington's demeanor, fluttering his arms and saying phrases such as "Pretty please?" in falsetto to mock Washington. Hey, Fast Eddie Vrdolyak is going to Jail!!

Did anyone notice Canada held a national election in Oct? Can you name the incumbent who was reelected? Stephen Harper. I wonder if Canadians can name him.

Very good and very cheap (JPY 7,000 for 2 hours) Thai Massage here!

I am off to Thailand next week to visit a good friend in a valiant fight against cancer. Gotta keep a positive state of mind and keep moving forward. We will stay at The Spa.

Hey Minnesota people, I was reading the Star Trib online and what a shock ? Sid Hartman is still alive. I thought he was about 70 years old when I moved to Japan 18 years ago. Say No to Franken!

God bless you all & God bless the United States of America.

Oct 21 Various Ramblings About Japan & Life

Japan ranked 18th out of 180 countries and territories in a global corruption perception index in 2008, according to the Berlin-based NGO Transparency International. Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand were the countries seen as the least corrupt, while Somalia was rated the dodgiest.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, which is changing its name to Panasonic as part of a rebranding strategy, announced that it also will do away with its National moniker. In my book Matsushita is superior to Sony, but it has always been much less famous. The man who started the company, Konosuke Matsushita was a total stud. In Japan he is known as "the god of management".

After tabulating the results of an online questionnaire, the Japan Draft Beer Association chose gold medal swimmer Kousuke Kitajima as the "person who looks best with a beer."

An artificially inseminated, 12-year-old female giant panda named Tan-Tan gave birth at a zoo in Kobe, but the cub died three days later.

Britain's Chambers Dictionary announced that dashi was one of the 956 words added to its latest edition. It is an English word now, learn it!

Just plain weird here - A Japanese record company has released a CD featuring US pop star Cyndi Lauper narrating a story about Tokyo zookeepers who had to kill their animals during World War II.

A North Korean official said that Japan should never be allowed a permanent seat on the UN Security Council because it "beautifies" the massacre of millions of innocent peoples in Korea and other Asian countries. Soon after, Japan decided to extend economic sanctions on North Korea for another six months. North Korea is a mess, how long can they muddle on like they are?

Staff at Kinosaki Marine World in Hyogo have put all 19 of its performing dolphins on a low-fat diet of white-meat fish after discovering that the animals had become too fat to jump through their hoops thanks to eating fatty mackerel.

A new mobile phone by Sharp can unlock car doors and let drivers start their engines, all without using a key.

The defense ministry will let female members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force serve aboard destroyers starting in 2009, lifting a ban that had been in place since the force was established way back in 1954.

File this one under the Devoted, Yet Creepy: A 56-year-old man was arrested for leaving his wife's dead body in a suitcase in a room at the Shinjuku Washington Hotel. Police think the woman died from an illness; her husband was quoted as saying, "I carried her body around because I wanted to be with her as long as possible."

According to a survey by the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, 57 percent of South Koreans rated Japan as their "most-disliked country," up from 38 percent last year. Anti-Japanese sentiment apparently rose in the aftermath of the squabble over a couple of rocky islets called Dokdo or Takeshima, depending on whose side you take. In the same survey, the US was named the "most-liked country" by 18 percent of respondents.

A survey conducted by a Japanese NPO and the China Daily found that 60.9 percent of Chinese people believe that relations with Japan became "much better" or "relatively better" an increase of 10.4 percentage points from last year. However, just 10.3 percent of Japanese hold the same view, with 43.7 percent saying that relations between the two countries became "relatively worse" or "much worse". Overall the Olympics were great for helping bring China a step closer to being a normal country.

It was reported that only 35 percent of the public believes that Japanese people will "continue to exhibit a hardworking diligence, the kind that has sustained the country's economic development". When asked the same question in 1984, 59 percent of respondents believed Japan would remain hardworking.

Our friend Penny Poe is just finishing up a 10 day fast which consists of lemon juice and maple syrup, and she will start another 20 fast soon. Details of the "The Master Cleanse" fast are here.

And Yes, the conservative leaning Buddhist Libertarian website is endorsing Barack Obama for President of America in 2008! The spirit of Abe Lincoln lives on!

Oct 5 Palin & Obama in Fukui, World Cup, Wild Monkeys in Shibuya?

After it was discovered that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's distinctive eyeglasses are manufactured in Fukui Prefecture in Japan, local officials began posting photos of the Alaska governor. However, local allegiances are torn because the prefecture is also home to a city called Obama. The bakeries in Obama Japan flog "manju" (sweet red bean pastries) stamped with "I Love Obama" and a caricature of the Senator's face.

Speaking of Black leaders and Japan. Do any of you remember the story of the Black Shogun who came from Africa and became the first Shogun of Japan in the year 797? You decide if it is real or not!

It was revealed that FIFA has "sounded out" Japan about hosting the 2010 World Cup in the case that the intended host, South Africa, is unable to do so. Would be awesome to have the World Cup here again.

Researchers from Oxford University announced that Japan has the highest-quality broadband service of 42 countries surveyed. The US came in 16th and India last.

Monkey eludes dragnet at Tokyo train station. Shibuya station is the main station nearest our house and one of the busiest stations in the world. Several years ago there was a large wild monkey living in our neighborhood and tried to climb up the outside of our apartment a couple times. Wild monkeys can actually be quite scary, strong with big teeth. You do not want to piss one off.

Aug 1 Obama's history in Chicago, Yoga, DoCoMo, Dope at Customs

Great article in the New Yorker magazine on Obama's relationship with Chicago politics. Anyone who has lived in Chicago will enjoy this.

Yoga is the fountain of youth. You're only as young as your spine is flexible

"The primary aim of yoga is to restore the mind to simplicity and
peace, and free it from confusion and distress. This sense of calm
comes from the practice of yogic asanas and pranayama. Unlike other
forms of exercise which strain muscles and bones, yoga gently
rejuvenates the body. By restoring the body, yoga frees the mind from
the negative feelings caused by the fast pace of modern life. The
practice of yoga fills up the reservoirs of hope and optimism within
you. It helps you overcome all obstacles on the path to perfect health
and spiritual contentment. It is a rebirth."

NTT DoCoMo is seeing smaller rivals such as Softbank erode the company's dominance in Japan as its market share is now 52 percent compared with nearly 60 percent in 2001. Operating profit continues to decline and international investment opportunities aren't so hot. The company's recent blow was Softbank becoming the exclusive provider of the Apple iPhone in Japan, which is considered a marketing coup for Softbank.

Marijuana planted on Narita passenger - Apparently an unwitting passenger passed through customs with a packet of cannabis that had been planted in his bag by a customs officer as a "test" for a sniffer dog. The only problem is that the officer who planted the marijuana lost track of his test subject, a business man who made it all the way to his hotel before noticing the baggie! He apparently turned the package in to the police.

July 25 Trip to USA, Peru Embassy, Obamamania, McKellin published in American Chamber of Commerce Journal
  My girls and I were in the US for most of July and had a great time. Thanks to all the relatives and friends who took time to meet up and party. Mucho Gusto! Would write more about the trip, but a picture is worth a thousand words! Go to the front of and you will see highlights of our trip. was lucky enough to attend a Pisco party at the Peruvian Embassy this last Thursday night. The food was among the best I have ever tasted, perhaps the best food I have ever had in my life (Not Kidding!). My sponsor, the American Chamber of Commmerce Japan, promoted the event as - "This will be an excellent opportunity to network, develop relationships, exchange information, and celebrate Peru's Independence Day (7/28) all while enjoying warm company accented with Pisco cocktails, delicious Peruvian food, and a traditional Peruvian performance. Attendees will be greeted by Ambassador Hugo Palma." The Ambassador was a very cool guy, wish I had my camera for content!

In January 2004, The Economist said that "Peru can lay claim to one of the world's dozen or so great cuisines". Thanks to its pre-Incas and Inca heritage and to Spanish, Basque, African, Sino-Cantonese, Japanese and finally Italian, French and British immigration (mainly throughout the 19th century), Peruvian cuisine combines the flavors of four continents. T'was heavenly.

Pisco is 80 proof booze made from grapes, a clear liquor which suits me well. The Embassy served the Pisco straight, in mango smoothies, with a lime mixture similar to margaritas, and many other varieties. The Embassy is in the heart of Shibuya, and is surprisingly large for a middle-sized country. However. Peru and Japan are both Pacific countries with a long history and numerous Japanese emmigrated to Peru in the early 1900's. Perhaps many of you remember Alberto Fujimori, a Peruvian and Japanese politician who served as President of Peru from July 28, 1990 to November 17, 2000.

Obama is on fire. Can you imagine how boring a 4 year McCain administration would be? As Carolyn McKellin says about Obama and the Presidency "It's his to lose".

McKellin published in the American Chamber of Commerce Journal, July 2008. Starting on Page 40 with a picture on Page 44. Title - "Mobile Latest - Deregulation signals end of oligopoly"

Lake Michigan Surface Temperature HERE!

May 10 Pandas!, Neil Young, Earthquakes

Japan is without a panda for the first time since 1972. The last Panda at Ueno Zoo, Ling Ling, died. Luckily for us just a couple weeks back Anna, Alice and I went to Ueno Zoo and saw Ling Ling walking around. Usually a trip to the Panda house results in seeing an empty cage as Panda's sleep for something like 22 hours a day and spend the other 2 hours eating bamboo. Here is Carolyn McKellin with Ling Ling a few years back. Carolyn said "I always wanted to see a panda and never thought it would happen". Now it is up to the Japanese gov't to be nice to the Chinese to get some replacement pandas. Loans of giant pandas to American and Japanese zoos formed an important part of the diplomacy of the People's Republic of China in the 1970s. This practice is termed "Panda Diplomacy". By the year 1984, however, China began to offer pandas to other nations only on 10-year loans. The standard loan terms include a fee of up to US$ 1,000,000 per year and a provision that any cubs born during the loan are the property of the People's Republic of China.

Dick Morris has been hit and miss over the last 15 months, but he really nails the Clintons here. The Clintons don't yet realize the damage they have done to themselves. The Republicans have always hated them and now a large part of the Democratic party hates them. According to the Clintons, the nomination should be hers. She wants it. She and Bill are sure that she'd be a great candidate. likes Obama on the Democratic side as he has the magic, however we will stop short of an endorsement due to the anti-Capitalist, anti-Free Trade rhetoric of Mr. Obama. As our superior friends at the Economist wrote May 8 edition. "Barack Obama deserves the nomination. It is not yet clear whether he deserves the presidency". If he does win it all, Mr Obama will bring home some bacon to Chicago which is great for every American.

Neil Young teams with geeky Silicon Valley company Sun MicroSystems. The first sentence of the article states "Rebellious rocker Neil Young hates the sound of compact discs." Neil later adds "CD quality is very low resolution, maybe a step above MP3s. It was a crime to make that the standard for so many years," With Neil's grungy sound and sloppy guitar playing who can tell the difference? Hey Neil, why don't you try tuning your guitar sometime? says thank you to Mr Young for your awesome jams over the decades. Prost!

We were awoken two times two nights back by a pretty decent series of earthquakes that had our house shaking in the early morning. We have chimes that hang in our bedroom and they were-a-ringing. A BIG one is a coming.

I was at Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku tonight enjoying myself and it dawned on my why I like Tokyo so much. And the answer is because Tokyo is such an ultra-cool f-ing place. Ask anyone who has been here.

Komazawa Olympic Stadium is near my house and I have been running to the park and then doing a 2km loop on the track that surrounds the grounds. The Tokyo Olympics were held in 1964 and the place feels dated, but it is still awesome and magical. There is a great energy around the place and almost everyone I see there at any time is in a jolly mood.

My old company Visto takes a direct shot to the groin in a patent loss to RIM in the UK.

Here are Bikram's hot yoga postures

Release all power struggles in life, you'all

Keillor on the demise of NWA -

Raising smart kids

Apr 10 Miyamoto Musashi's Samurai Code

Big Tokyo quake would cause human gridlock: study.

Walking home from the station last night I saw a pharmacy with different brands of toilet paper named Due, Cute, Naive Lady, and Penguin.

The Cherry Blossom season this year was a little short, but long on enjoyment. We got out almost every day or night to enjoy nature.

For those of you who wish to live by Samurai code, below is "the Way" from legendary Samurai Miyamoto Musashi.

This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy:

- Do not think dishonestly.
- The Way is in training.
- Become acquainted with every art.
- Know the Ways of all professions.
- Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
- Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything.
- Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
- Pay attention even to trifles.
- Do nothing which is of no use

Freaky heart transplant story l 570 Denny's to close in Japan I McDonald's Porn I Stupid US sailor kills Japanese taxi driver I Filthy Critic Archives I l

James Bond in Japan - The creator of James Bond fell in love with Japan, he was enchanted by the delicacy, the politeness, the astonishingly delicious food.

Mar 12 Sorry for the delay
  Hi you'all, sorry for the delay in updating I had quite a few complaints about the delay which means there are actually folks out there who take a look at the site from time to time. Here are some ramblings:

Man with ugly wig at girl's school - A 39-year old man was arrested after he tried to enter a girls high school dressed in a girl's uniform and a long wig. Students screamed and the man fled -- only to be caught by a school clerk further down the road! Nutty stuff. (Source:, Feb 22, 2008)

Chicago now highest taxed city in the USA .....

According to an article I just read in the Economist property values between 1997 and 2007 rose by 156% in the US, and fell by -32% in Japan.

The cover of the February 23 International version of the Economist declared "JAPAiN: Why you should be worried about the world's second-biggest economy"

It was reported that parents in Okinawa are afraid to let their children walk alone to school after a 14-year-old junior high school student reported that she was raped by a 38-year-old US Marine.

Had a great trip to Hawaii as you can see in the pictures. Next year will be bigger and better, start your preparation now!

Yen is at 98 to the dollar!!!Wow!

Dec 25 London World's Capital, Kasumigaseki - the Washington DC of Japan

Metropolis Article with photo and quotes from McKellin

London barely nips NYC to be named the World's Capital. However it is a UK newspaper (The Independent) that did the study so there could be a little bias, but we can go along with London at #1 and NYC at a close #2. London really has come on strong over the last couple decades to become a financial powerhouse and beacon of capitalism within Europe attracting top talent from around the world. is very happy to see Tokyo at #4 and Chicago at #5, both cities are well deserving. Chicago is world-class and has many strengths, but often gets overlooked. Sports Illustrated asked MLB players which roadtrip city they most liked, and which they least liked. Chicago was most popular and Milwaukee least popular. Chicago's main strength in my mind is that overall it is a friendly city inhabited by friendly folks. Here is the top 15 list from The Independent:

1. London
2. New York
3. Paris
4. Tokyo
5. Chicago
6. Madrid
7. Washington DC
8. Los Angeles
9. Rome
10. Mexico City
11. Barcelona
12. San Francisco
13. Berlin
14. Amsterdam
15. Beijing

My current office with Visto is in Kasumigaseki, which is the location of the Diet of Japan and the Prime Minister's residence. I can actually see the Prime Minister's residence from my desk. Built in 1929, the building is a two-story mansion and heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright who lived in Japan for 6 years. A new five-story addition was completed in April 2002.

Nov 29 Life After Death, Randy Moss

Some good pictures of Japan here

Stories of NDE (Near Death Experiences) here. A little creepy but fascinating. I found this website after doing a search for Thomas Benedict who had a fascinating NDE and was mentioned in Deepak Chopra's book Life After Death. Anyone who will die should read Deepak's book, and that probably means you. Death is not the end, but the next phase and this book paints a pretty positive picture of what happens after we move from this current phase of existence. Deepak's tone is written in simple language and is reductionist, he gives us the universe, cultural history and directions to Nirvana in a nutshell. He poses the question "Why are most people only concerned with what is to happen to them after they die" ......... Deepak suggests we ask instead .......... "Where did we come from?" Personally I feel more comfortable and less scared about moving to the next phase of our journey than before reading this book. We are alive, therefore we will die. This is the simplest, most obvious truth of our existence, and yet very few folks have come to terms with it and are ready.

"Plan for this world as if you expect to live forever; but plan for the hereafter as if you expect to die tomorrow." - Ibn Gabirol

Think Big and Kick Ass (title of Donald Trump's new book). The Four Hour Work Week is here!

On RANDY MOSS - New England quarterback Tom Brady said "He's a great teammate, a great player. He's very coachable. He's selfless. He's a great worker. He leads by example. He's got a bunch of great qualities."

"When Randy got here, everyone saw his work ethic," Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said. "Everyone saw his ability on the field but I think maybe a lot of people questioned what was going to happen with him in this locker room and he's fit in perfectly. He's been a true gentleman. He's worked tremendously hard and he's done everything he's had to do. He's making plays on the field so that doesn't hurt."

Oct 25 Trip to SFO, Various Ramblings
I just finished a 4 day business trip to San Francisco. I am beginning to like this city more and more. I have viewed this area negatively in the past as I had met several "California Nationalists" who thought they were somehow cooler, deeper or worth more than an another human from say Iowa or Seattle just because they happened to be born in the Bay area. The Bay Area I experienced on this trip was one of first class restaurants, intelligent people, courteous drivers and over-all a very sophisticated vibe. Enuf about SFO, after several glasses of free white wine in the Northwest lounge, here are some rambling thoughts on a series of unrelated topics -
  • The Apple iPhone is a pretty hot product. Motorola, Nokia and other handset makers are truly scared according to industry insiders I met with this week in Silicon Valley. The game has changed, no longer can the traditional handset vendors just add a couple new features to their existing phones, but they need to reinvent the whole idea of what the experience of using a mobile device is from the ground up. I remember when the iPhone was announced, Steve Jobs brilliantly spoke for one hour with no props about how kick booty his phone is, then some fat-ish, old, CEO from AT&T got up and read from cue cards in his hand about the relationship between the 2 companies. What a buzz-kill that speech was, it just highlighted how kick butt and dynamic Steve Jobs is. Brilliant. Apple, Pixar, iPod, iPhone (what's next?). Great track record, he will go down in business history with all the great ones like Henry Ford as guys who changed the world.
  • Henry Ford said, if I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse!
  • The next versions of iPhones will just continue to get better and better. We won't see one in Japan at least for a year while we are waiting for a 3G version.
  • Around Union Square in San Fran I met the most confident homeless people I had ever seen. They were not just begging for money, but demanding it with absolutely no sense of shame at all in their plight. Their attitude was like "this is a profession I have chosen just as you have decided to be a lawyer or salesperson, there is nothing wrong with it, now you must give me some money". Later away from Union Square near Mission street I saw some really destitute homeless who were really down on their luck or with some psychological issues. Homeless in Japan are full of shame as they feel they have failed the social system, they will not look you in the eyes and almost never ask for anything.
  • The #1 industry in San Fran is tourism
  • You've got to let love rule!
  • I just read a review of a new book that lists the White House as one of the most haunted buildings in the US. Reportedly, almost every president has experienced the spirit of Lincoln in one form or another inside the White House. Spirits are real and among us, it is those who are sensitive enough to the energy of the spirits than can feel or see them. These powers are strongest in young children and diminish as we age.
  • On the plane to Tokyo I just watched Die Hard 4, this is a movie that did not need to be made. The story was entirely implausible. Computer hackers running around with laptops take over every major system of communications in America from our power grids and water supplies to controlling individual air force fighter jets. Despite the major flaws, the movie was mildly entertaining and was helped by engaging acting by the "Mac guy" from the Apple TV commercials who played the hacker hero in the movie. Bruce Willis was trying hard, but the movie lacked the mojo of the previous Die Hard flicks. Die Hard 5, Bruce saves the nursing home he is in from terrorists. Speaking of nursing homes, how about Harrison Ford in the next Indiana Jones flick.
  • If you haven't noticed, Louisiana, home to some of the most down-home, good ole boy crooked politics anywhere, has just elected a Generation X, Hindu Indian, Catholic convert, Republican Governor. A crisis can bring about major change. The mismanagement of hurricane Katrina was the catalyst for change, just like the crisis of a looming civil war in 1860 allowed for some geeky, hillbilly lawyer from Illinois to go all the way to Washington and get elected president.
  • President Hillary? I guess there is a good chance it may happen, I just get the feeling it won't though.
  • I went to Target and K-Mart on this trip to SFO. K-Mart really sucked. The people were very friendly which was pleasant, but they were also rather incompetent when I asked them for help. The layout of the store sucked compared to Target and overall product selection sucked. K-Mart food sucked. Target had Little Caesars and Starbucks which are valid options. Easy to see why Wal-Mart and Target are kicking the poo poo out of K-Mart
  • I had a much worse experience at Toys-R-Us. I went in looking to spend quite a bit of money on some specific items and didn't find anything I wanted. A worker there told me about a specialty toy store called Talbots in San Mateo which got $70 of my money on items like 1st grade level reading books and balsa wood airplanes. Again, it is easy to see why Wal-Mart and Target are kicking the doo doo out of Toys-R-Us, there is little difference between the toy section and Target and Toys-R-Us. Toys-R-Us should offer more specialty and unique toys rather than the standard ones that Target and Wal-Mart are hawking.
  • Did you ever wonder about what the world would be like if there were no islands east of China and the country of Japan never existed? People would never have thought of eating raw fish, the G7 (now G8) would have been all "Caucasian" countries, and our TV's would still have big knobs on them. What if there was another set of islands even further than Japan, what sort of cuisine and cultural influences are we missing from that phantom country that never existed?
  • Japanese ballplayers are playing major roles in MLB this post-season. Japanese baseball will continue to turn into a minor league feeding system for Major League Baseball. You could almost call it AAA+ ball or JAA ball. Trust me, these Japanese ball players are much happier in the US than playing in Japan where teams treat them like they are in the military.
  • We had a major blow-out Halloween party at the mckellin abode in Meguro-ku the day before I left for San Fran. 50 folks invited 22 adults and 28 kids. Tons of fun. At dusk the kids went trick or treating tearing around the neighborhood at predetermined friendly neighbors we stocked up with candy. The adults went through 9 bottles of champagne (among other booze) led by Andy Anderson of Eden Prarie Minnesota who must have drank 3 of the bottles himself. Kyoko was Hannah Montana and Yoshie Nobu was Troy Bolton from High School Musical, good humor. Once again I was a Thai Buddhist Monk which is easy and always a costume I feel comfortable in. Anna and Alice watched me get my haircut to 3mm earlier in the day at a barber shop to help make the costume look more authentic.
  • I never get tired of AC/DCs Back in Black. I think it sold 35M copies which would rank it in the top 5 albums ever. There are a lot of good videos of AC/DC with Bon Scott on You Tube.
  • Miyoshi Umeki recently died. She was the Japanese actress who became the first Asian to win an Academy Award for her role as Red Buttons' wife in the 1957 film "Sayonara". She was 78. Umeki, was also known for playing the housekeeper on the TV series "The Courtship of Eddie's Father". Can you remember the theme music to that show? Hum or sing it quietly to yourself now please "People want to tell you about my best friend ….."
  • I can't think of anything for this bullet point so I will just write this sentence.
  • Heads up - my girls will be in Hawaii from Feb 19 and I will arrive Feb 22, we will return to the Megalopolis on March 1. Carolyn, Jim, Keimei & Atsuko will also come, and you, my dear, are personally invited to join us. We always have great weather for swimming thanks to Aunt Barb so make your reservation now.
  • Michigan will probably mess up Big Ten football again this year. First they lose to APPALACIAN STATE to ruin their season, now they will probably get fired up and beat Ohio State ruining any chance for a Big Ten National Champion.
  • We'll, it is now 3 hours and 28 minutes until I arrive at Narita airport. I am gonna drink some water and take a nap. Goodbye
Sep 7 ICA President Message, WirelessWatch article
The President Speaks - update from the President of the ICA

McKellin quoted in Wireless Watch

Aug 28 Longevity, Tiger Takes PGA, Rudy G, Visto & PTS Press Release (Again!)

World's oldest person dies in Japan at 114. Japanese women are the world's oldest living people, in what experts attribute to a traditionally healthy diet and high standard of medical care. Their life expectancy was a record 85.81 years in 2006, according to the government. Japanese men are the world's second oldest with a life expectancy of 78.8 second only to men in Iceland who on average live to be 79.4.

Silicon Valley humor and smarmy inside news here, daily - bookmark it if you give a sh*t

How about that Tiger Woods? Winner again! The PGA is definitely #4 in stature out of the Majors in golf. It is the Ringo Starr, Zeppo Marx, and Shemp of Major golf. If I were British I would feel insulted that the PGA, as one of the four "majors", is somehow considered an equal of The Open. In rankings, The Open is definately #1 with the Masters slightly ahead of the US Open for the #2 spot. The PGA is a sorry-assed, distanced #4. Still, hurray for our boy Tiger to get #13! Good on yah mate!'s preferred candidate Rudy G showing strong support. Don't underestimate this man to successfully take on Hillary head-on. He has been licking his chops to devour Hillary since May 19, 2000 when he decided to withdraw from the Republican primary for NY Senate due to prostate cancer. Americans must decide whether the man who saved New York can also govern America. The fact that he is alienated from his children and has a foul temper is worrying, however the man is a leader and has proven it under duress. Managing NYC is definitely not an easy job and he left the city better than when he found it.

I have known for several months that Rudy can, and, will perform confidentially, convincingly and Presidential on the big stage. Currently Hillary still enjoys her cocoon of sycophantic groupies and Bill's star-power. Next summer she will need to leave her safety corner and enter the center of the ring to take on Rudy G mano-a-mano. This is will when will learn who has the bigger cajones, and who can elevate their game to convince Americans they can lead. Leadership is what Americans will value in this election after our current leadership vacuum with our Texas President and Congress with an unheard of 18% approval rating. How do we know there will Presidential debates producing giant political fireworks in the Summer of 2008? The Tao! - The way that events naturally unfold will lead to these debates and some seriously good political entertainment. Rudy vs. Hillary Rodham Clinton - Classic, historic, important, and coming soon!

Visto launches new service in Japan English & Japanese

Coverage in Japanese - Nikkei, Yahoo, Fuji Sankei

Coverage in English - Yahoo, Wireless, Bus Week

Aug 13 David Beckham, New England Sports, Visto Partner Site Press Release

BECKHAM AS PETER SELLERS - I have finally begun to understand the why there is always so much hype around little David Beckham. He is like the Peter Sellers character, Chauncy Gardener, in the movie Being There. Beckham is just so incredibly empty that there is something very pure and innocent about him. Both Beckham and Chauncy Gardener are illiterate, simple-minded and harmless. The story of Beckham in the US is pure fluff, but better than the continuing negative stories of Bonds, NBA officials, etc. At the end of the movie, Chauncy walks on water. David Beckham will have a higher chance of walking on water than building a Pro Soccer league in the US. Soccer is a great sport if you are watching the English Premier League where the level of play is high and teams have long histories and rabid fans. The hype surrounding the LA Galaxy will die down very quickly from the flash-in-the-pan heights 3 weeks back when Tom Cruise and Will Smith held a giant A-list Hollywood welcome-bash for Becks and his trashy wife Posh. She is empty too, but not in such an innocent way as the saintly Becks. Pretty little St. Becks, dashing around in your own silly spotlight in L.A., doing no harm, creating content for People Magazine and The Sun.

NEW ENGLAND SPORTS - I have always been a Midwest and West Coast guy, never much interested the East Coast or it's sports teams, until now. With my man the (still) electric Randy Moss on the Pats, and Garnett on the Celts, suddenly Boston area sports is very attractive. Now let's add in Matsuzaka on the BoSox, when he pitches in the post season it will be must see TV. Who can cheer for the lowly Vikings in 2007? Uff Da!

VISTO LAUNCHES NEW SERVICE IN JAPAN - Visto Japan just launched a new service here in Japan. (actually a more of a new channel to market) The Press Release says it all here in English & Japanese.

Nikkei BP - good article comparing us favorably to Blackberry

Nikkei BP IT Pro - article favorably comparing us to Blackberry, screen shot of Japanese screen

Fuji Sankei - good summary of release

Yahoo! Japan News - summary article based on Fuji Sankei article

Mobile Crunch - 3 paragraph summary of the release

Yahoo! Finance - straight copy of release

Business Week - one paragraph summary

Wireless Developer Network - straight copy of release

SysCon Media - straight copy of release

Symbian One - straight copy of release

TMCnet - summary of release

Global Investor.Com - Summary of release

ArriveNet - Summary of release

Unstrung - summary of release

NewsBlaze - straight copy of release

Aug 12 Fake Steve, Paglia on Newt, Beaches

Have you seen this blog by the Fake Steve Jobs? It is incredible, written for guys with a wicked sense of humor and some knowledge of the Valley. Steve hammers on Bill Gates, Novell, Bono, Larry Ellison, Michael Moore, etc. Fake Steve talks about getting buzzed and then crank calling John Scully and telling him he wants John to come back and run Apple because Steve is so busy with Pixar and other things. Funny and sharp content. There is a lot of content so you can scroll down quickly to see who he is roasting.

Fellow journalist (you know we are just kidding here folks!) Camlle Paglia is alive and well and elquantly writing about American politics and society at large. Her most recent articles are here.

For those of you rushed or too lazy to click on Ms Paglia, here are some quotes from the article I will paste for you. Paglia's assessment of Bush and Gingrich are so 100% accurate, that it is difficult to imagine articulating it better than her.

In my view, the president has shown terrible judgment in choosing advisors (from the vice president on down), who have not served him well. My lack of confidence in the president's managerial ability is based on his weird reluctance to fire anyone, no matter how mediocre. This is not the trait of a strong, capable leader who claims to serve a higher cause.

How about this mastery of the English language when discussing Newt Gingrich -
I find him to be overall a depthless thinker, spewing out an endless stream of bright but disconnected "ideas" whose main function is to advertise his own putative brilliance. He's showy and narcissistic, with a smirky adolescent precocity.

Bonds Hits 756! - Who cares? SF folks are pretending to care and ignoring that this event is seriously tainted. Good buddy Bernie Lincicome wrote a good piece on number 755 and the whole stupid chase here.

Fake Steve Jobs Busted!

Top Beaches in Japan
1 - Kamakura - close to Tokyo. Many pretty girls. Great beach houses with drinks, food, showers. Water can be a little gamey at times for swimming, but a great beach to see. Kamakura is also one of the best historical sightseeing areas in Japan with numerous temples and the famous Kamakura Buddha. Great day trip, even if you are alone. Good hiking or just the beach.

2 - Onjuku - Great white beach with giant waves, wide-open ocean. Totally clean. Comfortable Express train from Tokyo is 1.5 hours and drops you off at Onjuku. Sister city of Acapulco believe it or not.

3 - Chigasaki - Birthplace of surfing in Japan and hometown of Kyoko McKellin! Great veiws of Mt. Fuji and laid back atomosphere

Big Al Kamakura Buddha Here!

We are not human beings
having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings
having a human experience.

June 25 Facelift for
  With my girls enjoying life with their cousins in the US, I finally have had time to give a facelift to I will join them shortly and we will return to Japan on July 16. From now on I should be able to update the site "on the fly", so you can expect more frequent updates the Commentary section you are now reading. As always, thank you for your patronage!
June 22 Hawaii Governor Lingle / Gay Republicans

Along with other business leaders at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, this week I was honored to have lunch with Governor Linda Lingle from the great state of Hawaii. She is the real deal, eloquent and intelligent, and she has great plans to expand the Hawaii economy beyond just tourism. Against all odds she was elected Governor. Born in Missouri, Jewish, rumored lesbian and Republican in a Democratic stronghold, she won her first term in 2002. Wikipedia mentions in it's bio of Lingle "The state Democratic Party was accused, although there was no evidence, of launching a whispering campaign that alleged that Lingle was a lesbian, and that because she was Jewish, she would abolish Christmas as a state holiday." WOW!

Speaking of gay Republicans, the Log Cabin Republicans have an awesome platform - "We believe in low taxes, limited government, strong defense, free markets, personal responsibility, and individual liberty. Log Cabin represents an important part of the American family-taxpaying, hard working people who proudly believe in this nation's greatness." Why do so many stupid Republicans waste their time attacking gays - Let Freedom Ring! There is no party for those of us interested in fiscal responsibility and total freedom. Fred Thompson is not the real deal, lets hope his campaign implodes. To me he looks like another guy not ready for the Big Time, just like our current President.

World Maps here!

June 15 Lil Bush cartoon

For those of you who have yet to see the new TV show Lil Bush, you need not wait until it's next broadcast on Comedy Central. If you go to YouTube you can see the key parts of the first three episodes. The show has a great premise and some good moments, but ultimately it is just not that funny (unfortunately). One item I found amusing is Little Cheney snarls and makes noises like the penguin in the first Batman movie, it is pretty funny. However this show is a swing and a miss and the premise seems limiting and should soon get tiring. (NOTE: added June 25 - Comedy Central has blocked Lil Bush on You Tube)

We just measured Alice's height at 3 years old and she is 2 centimeters taller than Anna at the same age. The kid is a giant.

May 31 Global Competitiveness / Casinos in Michigan

The results of a global innovation study by the Economist has found that Japan leads the global rankings for innovation, followed by Switzerland, the USA, and Sweden. The study looked at the per capita number of patents a given country has made as well as executive opinions about innovation in general. The study found that Japan has 3.5 time the per capita submission of patents visa vis the USA. I think a lot of these Japanese patents are Univ research patents and less with a specific business need. I have a good buddy who is now searching Japan for undervalued patents and selling the rights globally.

Can you believe the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City is investing $300 million for expansion? Also New Buffalo is getting the Four Winds Casino Resort on Aug 1st. Economic studies predict the casino will support 3,500 new jobs in the community, including 2,000 at the casino. In addition, it should provide the state of Michigan with an estimated $20 million in annual revenues and provide more than $4 million a year to local governments and agencies. At an estimated cost of $160 million, the 52 acre development is expected to draw more than four million visitors a year to the New Buffalo area. Future phases of the project include a 160-room hotel and a special events center. WOW! Big time. Shorewood property prices are only going to go up!

Everybody should have the right to live within one hour of a decent casino.

All the news one needs from Michiana is here at the Red Arrow

Who ever knew this kick booty waterpark was in Porter IN.

mobile enterprise magazine

babelfish translator

Who doesn't love a good mojito! Here is the recipe. Will Cuba once again be the party hotspot of the Caribbean - or not?! Yes it will! And in our lifetimes, soon!

Hey Todd Mitchell, we hope to see you in Bethany in early July!

May 13 Various Ramblings / Sarkozy & Blair / Macau

Japan goes Supersize! - Mega Mac burgers become a big hit - four meat patties layered between three slices of bun with cheese and lettuce.

Croquet tournament confirmed for July 10 at the Ken Olsson Croquet Grounds in Chicago. Top seed Rob Haley will make an appearance and is poised for an upset.

South Park Creators Making G-Rated 'Giant Monsters Attack Japan!'

Should Paris Hilton spend time in Jail? You Betcha!

French Toast! / Tony Blair

We can all toast France on electing Sarkozy to the Presidency. The election was interesting, but now that Sarkozy has actually won French politics should become even more entertaining. We will see if Sarkozy can actually make a change. One change bound to come is Americans around the world can stop eating Freedom Fries and start eating French Fries (no super-size, please) again.

While Sarkozy storms to power in France, Tony Blair limps out of office in the UK to the relief of most Britons. Blairfs dalliance with Bush damaged him dearly no doubt, and, if he would not have sent his troops to Iraq, Blair would have probably been able to hold on to his much-loved job a while longer. Blair didn`t know the war would end up being so poorly managed, and that eventually he would have very little (or no) influence over Bush. There is no doubt he is a master politician, and he will continued to be loved in the US where his popularity is much higher than the UK. It is a similar situation for Bill Clinton, he is a rock star in Europe but a bit tiresome to the American public. Poor W Bush has a 28% approval rating at home (that is low, low, low), and overseas it is probably less than half of that. When W finishes his term he will be loved nowhere on this planet. Some are saying W is worst president in American history. I don't know, we Americans have had some pretty poor leaders amongst our Lincolns and Jeffersons.

Hong Kong / Macau

I am writing from the train on my way to the new airport in Hong Kong to return home to Tokyo. The train is easy to use and fast, I do prefer the old airport though which was right in the city and left one just a 15 min taxi ride to their hotel. It is amazing there was never an accident at the old airport with airplanes landing between the high-rise apartment blocks of densely populated Kowloon. I met up with good buddy Eric Helfer from Cisco and he showed me some of the party hot-spots in town. Hong Kong is a very happening place and lively. Business is booming and the city is a lot of fun. Given the right deal, I could live here.

On Saturday I took a day trip to Macau which was great. After the 50 min jetfoil boat ride from Hong Kong, my first stop was the Sands Casino where I quickly learned that it was not going to be my lucky day. However, I knew that a little poor luck at the Sands would not deter me from having a great time, which I did. Macau has become a bizarre, but wonderful, mix of Chinese, Portuguese and Las Vegas. The old Portuguese streets, buildings and Cathedrals have been restored and are a pleasure to stroll about. The new construction taking place in this former backwater is astounding. China took control of Macau in just 1999. In 2002 China opened up the casino business to outsiders, and in 2007 Macau passed the Las Vegas strip in gaming revenues. With all the new casinos coming online shortly I predict Macau will double it's gaming revenues within 4 or 5 years. The Venetian, which opens shortly, will have 3,000 luxury suites, each one larger than the size of the average 2 bedroom apartment in Hong Kong. It will have 1 million square feet of luxury brands shopping space and more gaming tables than any other casino in the world passing the current record holder the Macau Sands. Macau is made up of 3 islands, and all the land between the islands of Coloane and Taipa is being reclaimed to make room for the Venetian and other ventures. On a tourist scale of 1 - 10, I rank Macau a 9.8. I don't give Macau a perfect 10 only because it is not kid-friendly for those with little ones, and you may get hit by a car walking the narrow streets by one of the aggressive drivers. Otherwise, Macau is a great destination for a day or two (or 3 maximum), but there is no real reason to spend several days there.

Macanese history is interesting and I will share with you 2 remarkable episodes. The first takes place many centuries ago when the Dutch started to wrestle control of the Asian trade routes from the Portuguese (can you imagine these 2 teeny countries where once the main world powers?). The Dutch attacked Macau in 1604 and 1607 but were thwarted. However the profits of the silk trade were so huge that the Dutch just could not give up. In 1622 the Dutch sent a superior force of 14 war ships and 800 soldiers who were able to catch the Portuguese by surprise with no warships for protection and only 150 garrison soldiers. The Dutch were overly-confident and brought their ships right next to Macau island to pound the lone fort with artillery while Dutch troops started to land in the north of the island. What happened next was either pure luck, or an act of a benevolent Catholic god. In the face of the advancing Dutch, the Portuguese soldiers began to panic and abandon their posts when a Jesuit priest who was visiting, fired a lucky cannon shot which somehow directly hit the gunpowder ship and a tremendous explosion followed leading to more ships to be sunk. The Dutch had no more ammo to attack and they left Macau alone after that. The new strategy for the Dutch and English was to just bypass the Portuguese in Macau. The Dutch where able to secure a monopoly on trade with Japan using Batavia (present day Jakarta) as a post and the British set up in Hong Kong next door to Macau to trade with China. A single, lucky cannon shot changed the course of history and allowed the Portuguese to stay on in Macau for almost four more centuries.

The other historical event took place in 1974 when the Portuguese government was taken over by a leftist military coup. The new government decided it was a terrible thing to be a colonial power and they quickly cut loose all overseas territories with little or no preparation resulting in disaster for some former colonies such as East Timor and Mozambique. When the Portuguese moved out of East Timor, Indonesia quickly, brutally and illegally annexed the former colony resulting in a civil war that left over 200,000 dead prompting a UN peacekeeping force to be deployed. When Portugal tried to hand Macau over to China they got a surprise from the Chinese who said "no thanks, we don't want it, please go ahead and administer the territory in perpetuity". How do you think the Macanese must have felt? They were about to lose their Portuguese passports and fall under the rule of the nutty Red Chinese gov't fresh off the dismal failure of the Cultural Revolution. Both governments basically said "we don't want you". From that dark moment, things have gotten considerably better for the territory. The Portuguese began to take pride in their colony and throughout the 1990's renovated many of the historic buildings, cathedralfs, seminaries, streets and forts. The old historic districts are beautiful and well preserved and a great place to walk around. The economy and tourism are booming. Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson, the world's fourteenth richest man, said that Las Vegas should be called "America's Macau".

The 1999 handover of Macau to China brought to an end 442 years of unbroken Portuguese rule. No other colony, anywhere in the world, had lasted as long as this. Hong Kong / Macau is a "must see" destination for everyone at least once before they depart this life. Don't wimp out, start making your plans now, and let me know the dates you will be there.

May 1 Macau / Singapore Airlines / Movies / Anna in 1st grade

Hong Kong / Macau

May 9 I will fly to the magnificent and captivating city of Hong Kong for some meetings. I have not been to Hong Kong in exactly 10 years when it was still flying under the under the Union Jack. I will spend my one free day in the former Portuguese colony of Macau. Macau has a great history and its own unique cuisine. Macanese food is a mix of Portuguese, Indian, Malay, and Chinese, and it offers a unique and wonderful eating experience found nowhere else on this planet. The big news about Macau since the 1999 handover of power from Portugal to China, is the opening of large Las Vegas-style casinos. Stanley Hofs multi-decade monopoly on Macau casinos is finished and the global casino kingpins have moved in. According to figures released in January, Macau's gambling receipts increased by 22% in 2006 to reach $6.95 billion, placing Macau just ahead of the Las Vegas strip, previously the global leader. No doubt the Chinese love to gamble big time.

The Las Vegas Sands Casino opened in Macau in May of 2004, and it is now the largest casino under one roof in the world. In September Las Vegas mega-operator, Steve Wynn, opened a casino aimed at a slightly wealthier clientele; it was followed in October by the Galaxy, intended for a less affluent crowd. Macau is beating Las Vegas in gaming revenues and the majority of big-name casinos have not yet even come online! In the pipeline to open soon are:

- The Venetian Macao (2007)

- Four Seasons (2008)

- MGM Grand Macau (2007)

- Ponte 16 (2007)

- Far East Consortium Complex (2007)

- Grand Hyatt (2009)

- Galaxy Cotai Megaresort (2008)

- City of Dreams (2008)

- Oceanus (2008)

- Mandarin Oriental Lago Nam Van (2009)

WOW, that is a lot of big time casinos to open in a short time! The number of visitors to Macau has grown from 10m in 2003 to 22m in 2006 and Goldman Sachs estimates the number will reach 45m by 2009. Count me as one visitor for 2007, and probably again in 2008! Post-Macau report to post in later in May, make sure to come back now youfall.

Singapore Air / Recent Movies

It is mid-April as I write this and we are on Singapore Airlines Flt SQ637 from Tokyo to Singapore. Singapore Airlines economy class is very superior to any US carrier. Great food, drinks and service. The coffee is really good, the food is one level below restaurant quality which puts it 2 levels above the average grub on United or NWA. 60 movies on demand and there are some good ones. On the way to Singapore I watched The Departed and the new James Bond flick, DiCaprio is a superstar thespian. On the return to Tokyo I watched The Queen which was fascinating and surprisingly engaging, Helen Mirren deserved her statue. Now I am in the middle of The Aviator which I believe is not quite as good as the other 3 movies, but still good. It is better for Marty Scorsese that he won his statue for The Departed and not The Aviator. Almost every scene in The Aviator feels a bit too staged and forced, not as natural as The Departed or The Queen (still DiCaprio is dreamy once again).

Regarding The Queen - Wow, how Tony Blairfs stock has dropped since the early days of his reign when he was like a breath of fresh air after John Major. The real superstar of post WWII British politics no doubt is Maggie Thatcher. Hopefully our friends in France will elect Sarkozy and he will surprise us all by being an energetic proponent of change in that stagnant country and by injecting some competition back into the economy and society. The French 35 hour workweek cannot succeed in a world inhabited by emerging powers like China and India with their hard-working, talented populations hungry for success.

Singapore is just north of the equator so it is always warm and sometimes very hot. My taxi driver on the way to the airport said if one is caught with a single bullet in Singapore they will be put in jail for several years, getting caught with a gun will result in hanging. Excessively harsh, but definitely effective! Singapore always feels extremely safe, and is extremely safe. When one looks at the state of Singaporefs neighbors, there is no doubt Singapore is doing many things right. I am beginning to like Singapore more and more on each visit. Still I have no desire to live there, especially compared to the giant, wonderful, (equally) safe and (much more) lively Tokyo.

Cherry Blossoms

You may have seen our lone picture this year for the Cherry Blossom season. This belies the fact that we were out almost every day or night walking / eating / drinking under the cherry blossoms. Overall it was a decent year for Cherry Blossoms, we had about 8 decent days before the blossoms started to blow away. We are a family that really enjoys this glorious time of year in Tokyo.

1st Grade

Anna started her new, temporary public elementary school in early April. She really likes it and is learning more and more about what Japanese society is really like. In June she will quit the school and fly to the US for 4 weeks, upon returning she will start at a private Catholic school, Seisen International School, not too far from our house. Education at Seisen is in English. Hopefully she will be able to keep her Japanese level near fluent moving forward, she will need to work extra time to learn the 3000 characters required to read. On her 4th day of 1st grade she decided she could walk to school all by herself which she did successfully while her Daddy stealthily following behind at a distance. She has quickly adjusted into school life with a couple minor bumps and really appears to enjoy the experience. I anticipate no problem in the change to the international school, we talk about it often and she appears ready for the change.

Bikram Yoga

Our good friend Trent B from Mpls is in Waikiki studying Bikram Yoga for 9 weeks, sounds great. Bikram is a controversial guy who has patented his routine and claims it as his own. Yoga is thousands of years old and it is difficult to think that someone could own moves or techniques, but Bikram is doing it. Obviously he has some good teachings and many are finding their path through his program which he came up with while he was teaching in Japan many years ago.

We will be in Michiana June 29 - July 11, then in MN. Hope to many of you then.

Mar 21 Hawaii / Skiiing in Niigata

We are back from an exceptional trip to Hawaii with Carolyn and Jim. Carolyn, Kyoko, Anna & Alice spent 2 weeks in Waikiki with Jim and I joining for the second week. Bright sunshine ruled everyday and we hung at the beach and numerous free hula concerts at Kuhio beach and in front of the Imperial hotel where we stayed. We spent one day on Bellows Beach in the wide open ocean with giant waves. Surrounded by giant steep volcanic mountains it must be one of the worlds most beautiful beaches. Anna and Alice got quite brave in the waves and where crashing around pretty good. The girls enjoyed playing with Grandpa and swimming with Grandma. Waikiki is user friendly and lots of fun, we all had a great time and are planning the trip next year already. It is a great place to meet, halfway between Tokyo and the mainland.

I went skiing in Niigata (Uchiishi Yama) one weekday before leaving for Hawaii and the mountains were gorgeous as you can see in the picture I took with my Nokia N73. While the mountains are much shorter, they look like a miniature version of the Himalayas. I had not been skiing in over a decade and was a bit rusty. The rental skis where too short, unwaxed and the edges not sharp at all so I was slipping and sliding around a lot and could not go too fast. Still, it was a glorious sunny day and great experience. There were great restaurants all over the ski hill. I had an excellent Korean lunch of bibinba and a superb salad. In the afternoon I went to a German beer restaurant and drank some very good draft beer. The trip by bullet train was only 70 minutes from Tokyo station to the ski hill where a shuttle bus brought me to the slope. From the moment I left my door to the time I hit the slopes was a little less than 3 hours.

Feb 5 Prince at the Superbowl

Poor Rex Grossman, how is this guy gonna handle the off-season? He has proven he will never be able to lead any team to a Superbowl victory. He is damaged goods, and now it has been demonstrated in front of the whole nation. Chicago fans will never welcome him back as the Bear`s leader. Trent Dilfer`s record as the worst QB to win a Superbowl is safe for a while. You gotta be happy for Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning.

Prince was indeed princely in his halftime concert playing parts of songs from Jimmy Hendrix (Bob Dylan), Ike & Tina Turner (CCR) and Foo Fighters. The idea to use the marching band as back up was genius, worked well, and was a throwback to the old days of halftime entertainment. Prince was all alone on stage and didnft rely on anyone else, just pure confidence and showmanship. He didn`t just play a couple hits like previous halftime acts, but actually made a show by incorporated hits from others old and new, and a bunch of his songs in the mix. The only other musician who the music just flowed out of so freely was Mozart, both have an incredible sense of rhythm and melody. Purple rain from the purple people eater himself. Can they get Prince to play the halftime show every year?

Here is a thought provoking interview from 1995 in Playboy with Camille Paglia, who is sometimes referred to as an antifeminist feminist, antigay lesbian and antiliberal liberal. She is sharp and thinks outside the box. Many people in North American society need a kick in the pants and she gives it to them, especially the liberal elite.

Jan 25 Slingbox / Presidential Election

A new day has truly dawned. As I write this, I am watching cable TV from the US live on laptop here in Tokyo through my new Slingbox. Soon I will set up Slingbox on my HTC TyTN Windows Mobile 5 mobile phone I carry around in Japan. 16 years ago I had to wait until the Tuesday morning newspapers in Tokyo to get the NFL scores from the previous Sunday`s games. 12 years ago the internet improved live sports greatly, however now on my laptop anytime I can watch live LA Laker basketball! And lots of other good stuff! Life has changed, forever. Amen.

Of the jokers out there, is coming out early to endorse Rudy G. On the Dem side, watch out for John Edwards to steal it from Hill and Obama. Hill is not a natural politician and voters may never warm to her. Obama, with only 2 years in the senate, is totally unprepared to be president. We elected an inexperienced guy last time and look where it got us. Hillary has the shrewdest political advisor in Bill and together they have proven to be ruthless political operators. The superior men from the Enconmist put it gMr Obama is now standing in one of the most dangerous places on earth - the road between Mrs Clinton and the White House.h A presidential campaign is rough and brutal, and Obama is about to get schooled. Hill has a better chance then Obama, but I think John Edwards will most likely steal it. His strengths are he is slick and he is not Hillary. He is a populist slick-willy who will say anything to get elected. And, he is battle tested by the presidential run he had with John Kerry 4 years ago. Pretty boy. Again, we repeat, we like Rudy G.

Bear Down!

Jan 13 New Age Bullshit
  What is all this New Age bullshit?!? There are so many flaky ideas and people running around it ills. There is nothing New about the very best of the New Age philosophies out there. Even today, the finest teachings come from Chinese and Indian cultures starting over 5,000 years ago. India perfected yoga, advanced breathing techniques and meditation. China invented preventative herbal medicine, acupuncture, and Tai Chi / martial arts. Everything needed to live to 100 with enlightenment has been part of our communal knowledge for thousands of years. Am I a big fan of New Age? You betcha, but it is a big field and many of the people in it are whacked out. Do I believe in Energy? Of course. The human body and spirit are interrelated and constantly interact with the environment, any disharmony in the external and internal condition of a person will create illness and disease. Balance & Harmony. Stretch, breathe, exercise, eat fruits and vegetables, keep your mind alert, don`t internalize stress.
Jan 4 New Years in Chigasaki / Dali / DJ Ozma & NHK / Jim & Carolyn 50th Anniversay Poem

Happy New Year You`all! We had an excellent New Year`s holiday near the beach in Chigasaki at Kyoko`s parent`s house. Anna and Alice`s cousins Shingo and Ayano came for a couple days of high energy rowdiness. The weather overall was good and there was no wind at all which made for walks on the beach quite enjoyable, although there were no waves for the surfers. This season always has wonderful for clear skies as you can tell from the pictures we took of the sunrise over Enoshima island and the sunset behind Mt Fuji. To top it off we had a giant moon each night, Jan 3rd will be the full moon.

Last week I went to the Salvador Dali exhibition at the Mori Art Center in Ueno park. What a mind trip! Dali is a master, and extremely entertaining. Some of his pictures are like looking directly into someone else`s dream. I am a huge fan and am glad I didn`t let this opportunity pass by. I have really began to take pleasure in art over the last several years, mostly due to the influence of Kyoko who is a huge art fan. We got to see an excellent Monet exhibition 9 years back with Carol Gonsky at the Chicago Art Institute, and someday soon we will go to the Lourve in Paris. Other places in Europe we want to go are Italy and Sweden. I visited Paris 1 1/2 years back after a 20 year absence; I had forgotten was a great and beautiful city it is. The buildings and streets in Paris are glorious, at the street level Tokyo is for the most part an ugly city. At least there are lots of Japanese females around which helps the scenery immensely.

NHK`s annual Kohaku New Years party/concert this year brought an unexpected surprise to that boring, out of date, staid show. I only watched 10 minutes, but happened to see DJ Ozma`s sing when his dancers ripped off their clothes and started dancing topless for many minutes. NHK and Kohaku is supposed be family friendly TV so it was quite a scandal. The one second of Janet Jackson`s nipple at the Superbowl 2 years back was nothing compared to this. At the end the girls ripped off their skirts to reveal only a fig leaf covering their privates with a phallic white ornament hanging on the leaf. Quite entertaining, DJ Ozma pulled a fast one on NHK. The real crime here is that NHK sucks so bad, and Kohaku, which is supposed to be the year`s premier concert event is so stale and the production quality has not changed since the 1950`s it seems. I am sure there are some guys in their 60`s and 70`s calling the shots for the show. NHK should allow MTV to produce the event once to show them how good it could be. Ratings for the mighty Kohaku have dwindled from it`s heyday in the 50`s, 60`s & 70`s. (UPDATED Jan 13 - Photo from DJ Ozma)


Sorry for the delay, here is Jim & Carolyn's poem from the 50th wedding anniversary surprise party in Maine























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