Apr 02

Youcaring.com: you had one job!

IMG_5996UPDATE: The problem was with the Paypal account I used. Apparently in the years since I used that account, Paypal Japan has changed policies and I can’t receive money on that account without upgrading to a premium account.

I am not pulling this post down because youcaring.com still took 3 business days to figure this out (including one business day of not answering me at all), and because I’ll have to wait at least one more to get an answer on how to change the destination account. (Re-upgrading my Paypal account will take 7 to 10 days.)

But yeah, youcaring.com’s crime is mostly just slllloooooowwwww customer support.

I recently helped rescue a sick tanuki (see photo; poor little guy) from around my neighbourhood, and I thought it would be nice to do a little bit of crowdfunding to cover the costs of the compassionate fellow who drove several hours over toll roads to help me set the trap and then again to pick the little guy up and take him for treatment.

I did some quick checking around and came across youcaring.com. For a small-scale, beer money project like this, they seemed perfect, particularly the part about no fees. Crowdfunding platforms generally take a 5% – 10% cut of whatever you raise. Sometimes it’s worth it. On the large platforms, you get quite a lot of exposure, which is valuable. But for a tiny project like this, mostly targeted at friends and family, a smaller site with no fees was appealing. Also, of the smaller sites, they were one of the few that offered Paypal, which is important because I’m based in Japan, where a lot of other payment processors won’t allow me to withdraw funds to my local bank account.

youcaring-logo-1-big<–(Their logo.)

I launched the campaign on Thursday evening (Japan time). A few hours later, my friend Rosie let me know that it wasn’t allowing her to click through and donate on her phone. I quickly tested it on my phone and multiple browsers and found that the button that is supposed to trigger the checkout screen wasn’t working; it was just reloading the page it was already on. I tested a few other campaigns, and the site worked properly.

I immediately opened a ticket with their support system. They’re a small site, so it didn’t seem unreasonable that they only answered during west-coast US business hours. They didn’t answer overnight on Thursday, my time. Finally got a peep out of them on Friday morning.

Them: Are you able to have your donors try on a different browser or device? There is a known issue in Firefox that our engineers are working on.

Ignoring the fact that, in addition to my problem, apparently their platform doesn’t work on 12% of computers (that’s Firefox’s market share) and they don’t mention that anywhere on their site, I pressed on, and replied within 4 minutes.

Me: The "Donate Now" button does nothing, so my donors can’t actually complete their donations. They click the button, the loading screen appears, and then just returns to the link at the top. It won’t progress to the credit card entry screen. This happens in all browsers, as far as I can tell. I’ve tried personally with Firefox and Chrome, as well as the mobile versions, plus the mobile browser within Twitter. Can you confirm that it’s not happening with this campaign on your end? [note: since then I’ve tested in the Edge browser; that also doesn’t work]

Despite having replied within minutes, this exchange took place about 15 minutes after their close-of-business on Friday (their time) and I have received no reply as of today (April 2). Which is totally reasonable for a business this size, except that the thing that is broken is the main function of their platform. And yes, it’s just for one customer (as far as I can tell—other campaigns go to the payment screen with no problems), but this isn’t like some weird formatting, or photo uploads not working properly. This is the bit where people give money to the campaign. Also, the worst time for a campaign to not be able to accept money is when it launches, of course, because it really ruins any momentum that you build with that initial post to your followers.

To add insult to injury, to anyone on the donate page who left one of the “send me emails” boxes checked, they have been sending emails advertising all the lovely campaigns that person could donate to… even though the one campaign that person was trying to donate to hasn’t received any money yet. So the “Donate” button submits the donor’s personal info, but doesn’t accept the money.


PERSPECTIVE: Yes, I’m running a tiny campaign trying to raise a few hundred bucks. It’s a “beer money” campaign, and there are no lives or livelihoods hanging in the balance. Terry the tanuki is going to get treated regardless. So it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for youcaring.com support to spend a lot of time on me and my piddly campaign. However, I would be wary of any company that behaves this way towards any customers. Maybe it is worth it to pay that 5% fee to deal with a company that responds meaningfully when you have a problem with its platform (especially in the case of a medical fundraiser or a similarly important fundraiser). I guess I’m mostly annoyed because I have software to run my own fundraiser directly off my website, but I thought I’d save time and energy by using an existing platform for this one. Ugh. My mistake.

CONCLUSION: I’m going to follow up with youcaring.com on this, just to see how it comes out. I’m hoping for them to turn things around, but I’m not holding my breath and fully expect to spend time next week searching for an alternative platform. Bummer. They seemed really promising for future mini-fundraisers like this one.

Nov 11

Hello, Leonard

It was in the school cafeteria at Oakwood Collegiate Institute in Toronto. The air smelled of grease. I was probably eating a packed lunch, although there is a small chance I was gnawing on the “spicy” “fries” that the cafeteria served.

I was sitting there with my friends Bill and Nicki (I think that’s how she spelled it). Bill was bugging Nicki to sing something.

“Come ooooooon!” he said.

So she sang it. There in the cafeteria, gently, with no accompaniment except the background chatter and the clangs from the kitchen.

Suzanne takes you down
to her place near the river,
you can hear the boats go by
and you can spend the night beside her…”

And there it was. My introduction to Leonard Cohen.

A few weeks or maybe months later, I was in my aunt Fern’s car. She always had very nice company cars, and it was the first car I’d ever been in with a CD player (I’m dating myself here, but it was the early 90s, okay?). I noticed an orangey-yellow CD in her collection. On the cover was a photo of a man in a mirror, adjusting his shirt in front of floral curtains. I borrowed that CD that day, from my very generous aunt Fern, and only returned it more than a decade later.
In the intervening time, I managed to collect every album he’d ever recorded, including a couple of concert bootlegs and the execrable Night Magic, which was far less easy in the days before digital music. I read both his novels and had a dog-eared copy of Stranger Music that I loved so much that when I got a replacement for the one damaged in my family 1996 house fire, I gave it away and kept the fire-damaged one. It somehow fit the voice of the author, I thought.

One of the biggest regrets of my life was that I didn’t attend his early 90s (93? 94?) concert in Toronto at the O’keefe centre, despite another friend Erinn encouraging me to. I wasn’t really into concerts then (and had, in fact, never been to one yet). Since then, I’ve never been in the right place at the right time; and now I never will be.

The world changed when my father died. The world has now changed again. My remote literary and artistic… is “mentor” too strong a word? is “spirit animal” any better?… well, he’s gone. He was never here, I suppose, but at least while he lived I could imagine, perhaps, one day, a meeting. I wouldn’t have asked him anything too deep; I wouldn’t want any of the mystery removed. I might have just said “Hello, Leonard.”


Thanks for the photo, Amie.

Oct 18

Making a Living From Art

Disclaimer: Just to make this clear right at the beginning: I don’t have a “right” to make a living doing what I love. I understand that I am privileged to even be making the attempt. My ability to make this attempt is partly an accident of birth, and partly a result of the sacrifice of others. I am aware of this, and, if successful, hope to “pay it forward” and help others do the same.

“Hey, let me tell you something kind of important.”


Most of you know that I do theatre. I consider it my full-time job, although I have a part-time job and take occasional freelance gigs in order to help make ends meet.

The arts economy has changed since I left theatre school. And, as far as independent theatre production in Japan goes, it’s changed a lot since I first came to Japan as well.
The upside is that the inter-tubes and related technologies have made it easier to make shows. We now have easy access to media assets (sound, video, text) and inexpensive ways of integrating them into our shows. We can advertise to potential audience members quicky and efficiently and do ticket reservations online.

The downside is that the competition is massive. Not just from other small groups like us, but from the huge media companies. Fifteen years ago, expats here were bored and somewhat starved for English language cultural activities. Sure, they could watch movies on bulky VHS tapes, but they had to at least leave the house to get them. Now, stimulation, vacuous or intellectual, is just a finger-push away.

The problem isn’t so much that people can’t be convinced to go and see theatre, but that they’re not looking for it. Most people these days have a surplus of stimulation, not a deficit. Add to that the marketing problem common to groups producing original works, that is to say that the shows are unknown, and you have some idea of where we stand. There is an audience for international theatre here, but it tends to be focused on groups who tour into the country (usually sponsored by a large media company or University). The problem is twofold: the audience doesn’t know about us, and if they did, they might value us less because we’re local.

YTG (Yokohama Theatre Group— my theatre company)’s goal is to develop the company name as the “star” of the show, rather than the title of the show itself, but that’s going to take time. To get attention from the general theatre-going public, the media, the festivals, and the universities, we’re going to have to build up a reputation, and the only way to do that is to keep creating and documenting our shows.

Until then, we’re stuck in a financial model that requires us to depend on friends and family, and from the arts communities that we’re associated with, both here in Japan and around the world. This means that the very people we should be giving free access to are the ones we rely on the most for support right now. I’m not going to bemoan this state of affairs, as I’m very much in favour of the democratization of media in general, but I think you can see the challenge we face, and the challenge that I, in particular, as an artist trying to make a living at making art, have.

So, for those of you who are supporting me, thank you. Thank you so much. Seeing your faces at the show, or your names on the list of Patreon patrons warms my heart. (And of course, thank you to those of you who have supported YTG in the past in one of our one-off crowdfunding campaigns.)

Hey, thanks.

For those of you who are not, no worries. But consider this: a small amount of support from each of you would make a huge difference to me. I’d be able to increase my artistic output and it would be available to you, either in the form of show tickets (for those of you who are local) or show videos (for those of you who are not, or who just miss a show). At the moment, I’m able to squeeze out one to two shows a year, plus some events, plus a podcast. If there was a stable base of support, I could probably create 3 – 4 shows per year, plus multiple podcasts, plus possible writing projects (several of which are currently sitting on the back burner). More shows means more stuff for you to see if you’re a supporter, and it also means more chances to get YTG shows into festivals, to get grants, and to get commissions. First, I’ll have a body of work I can show to festival directors and grants agencies. Secondly, I’ll have a repertoire of works to draw on should opportunities arise. (Not to mention that if I’m able to pay my collaborators, I’ll be more likely to keep them around and keep more shows on the ‘active’ list.)

If you want to think of supporting us as charity, that’s fine. YTG is a charity. We’re a registered NPO in Japan.

A still from “39”

If you want to think of supporting us as advance or surrogate ticket purchasing, that’s fine, too. At a certain level of support (currently $20 USD, but I’d like to see that drop), you’ll receive stuff: like videos, show programs, and the like.

For those of you not currently supporting my work, I want you to ask yourself this question: If Andrew was doing his shows at places and times convenient to me, would I pay to go see the show? If the answer is yes, then I encourage you to support my work via https://patreon.com/ytg .

For those of you currently supporting my work by coming to my shows, I want to suggest that supporting me via Patreon would not just get you cheaper tickets, but allow you to support me even when you can’t make it to a show or event due to bad timing. (And you’d get a video!)

Look, I’m not going to get rich from this. The first goal is to bring YTG into the black so that it can start paying off some of its accumulated debts and so that I won’t personally have to front the company the money for each show it does. Next, I’ll worry about making sure people get paid for their work. It’s great to work with our dedicated volunteers, and volunteers will always have a place at YTG, but despite the fact that it’s a charity, I see YTG as a professional company, which eventually means paying casts and crews.

Please consider supporting this NPO that I’m putting all my serious energy and resources into. As I said at the top, I have no right to make a living doing this, but support is going to make the difference between theatre being an expensive full-time “hobby” that produces 1 – 2 shows a year and me being able to ramp YTG up to a professional company that pays its artists and makes lots of great shows. Your support will help me get YTG’s work out there and seen by people who can help me take this to the next level.

Places you can find my work:

YTG website: http://ytg.jp
Patreon Page: https://patreon.com/ytg
Theatre Podcast: http://exit.ytg.jp





Looking into the future. Or maybe a chair.

Sep 05

A Plea to People Who Support Theatre

Photo by John Matthews

Photo by John Matthews

Some of you might be aware that I’m doing a show. This is true. You can see info about it here: http://ytg.jp/en/shows-en/upcoming-shows-en/494-fullgamut-en

As any of you doing small, independent theatre (especially here in Japan) know, we’re stuck in a financial model that requires us to build out from our friends, family, and the arts communities that we’re associated with, both here in Japan, and around the world. This means that the very people we should be giving free access to are the ones we rely on the most for support right now. I’m not going to bemoan this state of affairs, as I’m very much in favour of the democratization of media in general, but it’s still a fact of life for small-scale theatre and many other arts.

So, my plea is in two parts:

1. Please support me and the work that I do. Buy a ticket. If you’re not local, or you want more inexpensive access to our shows, events, and videos, join our Patreon campaign at https://patreon.com/ytg

2. If you are going to buy a ticket please, please, please reserve your tickets now! Don’t wait until the last minute! Don’t make me sweat until the show starts that the cast and crew will outnumber the audience. This is about the money, yes— I don’t want the show to lose money and stop me from doing the next one— but it’s mostly about not wanting to perform an amazing show that we’ve worked on since March to an empty house.

Look, I know we’re all busy people in Tokyo, but it means so much to have those bookings as early as possible. You can always email the box office and change your booking if you need to. Just let us know that you’re coming.

May 12

Resetting Panels in Lubuntu

Cocked up the taskbar panel badly in a new Lubuntu install. Found the following fix:

cp /usr/share/lxpanel/profile/Lubuntu/panels/panel ~/.config/lxpanel/Lubuntu/panels
lxpanelctl restart

Jan 26

Weird Place for A Writer

(photo in this post courtesy of Nema Photographie)


I’m writing this long-overdue blog update while I should be writing content for By the Hour, my upcoming show—my VERY upcoming show, that opens in just a few weeks (Feb 12 – 14). Why I’m not: because more than any other show I’ve worked on, it’s hard.Photo by Nema Photographie


So, first, we’re developing the show in rehearsal, so it’s not just about pounding out a script. Not that I haven’t done this before, under similar time pressure, but here’s the rub: the show is supposed to be accessible to both Japanese and English speakers, without the use of subtitles. And the subject of the show (sex workers in Yokohama) is a talky-ass subject. Our research is not very deep at all, and there’s still pages and pages I could write, without being preachy or anything… but I don’t want to create that show. Not just because that’s not what I’ve promised to deliver to audiences at the TPAM showcase, but because I really want to do something different with this piece.


I have to be cognisant as well of the fact that a lot of what I write is going to have to be translated into Japanese by my co-creator Naoe Kawamoto. So again, trying to keep the words to a minimum. It’s an enormous challenge.


So yes, I should be writing the play RIGHT NOW as I sit on the local train to Kamiooka station, but I think I instead needed to type out this post to clear my thoughts on the matter. Not sure if it worked, but I’m now itching to write, which is a good sign.


(If you want  to support the show, please buy a ticket at http://ytg.jp or, if you’re not able to attend the show, because you don’t live in Japan or something, head over to https://patreon.com/ytg and pledge to support my theatre company.)

Dec 27

Goodbye Taipei, Goodbye 2015

Jeebus, but it’s been forever since I’ve written here. Mostly because I’ve started keeping a private journal that requires less editing and polish than something I post online. Yes, even more shit than this blog. But I felt like I should barf some of my photos and brief thoughts up online until I can write something more thought out.


Anyway, I’m planning a year-in-review post, so I’m only going to cover my recent stay in Taipei. On December 18, I flew out of Narita airport. The plan had been originally to teach several workshops upon arrival, but those got cancelled.

What did go according to plan was that I met a whole bunch of strange and unusual people involved in the theatre scene there. (see images below)Katie Partlow

Tellus Theatre













Ahem. There were also a few who were so strange, I didn’t photograph them.


The other part that went according to plan was that my wife and baby Hammy joined me from December 23 onward and we celebrated Xmas with Suzy and Roger Walker. Suzy and Roger were also the generous people who put up with the whole Kikai-ga-shima team being dumped on them this past summer for the Taipei Fringe leg of that show.


IMG_20151226_132608So, we had a lovely, nearly traditional UK Xmas with our friends, and also made time to a see a little bit of Taipei while we were here. It was the best possible way to spend an Xmas in Asia, and I’m only sorry that Roger and Suzy are leaving Asia in February, so this will be a one-off affair. But I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to them for putting up with us for the better part of a week (and me for more than a week)!


Other stuff: we visited Tamsui and spent half a day there, and also had a chance to meet up with some Taiwanese friends. Also, Hammy rode a giraffe (pictured here).


So now, with slightly heavy hearts, mostly because we both have to work tomorrow, I’m sitting at the gate for our flight (Transasia GE 608, in case anyone feels like tracking it with Flightradar), about to say goodbye to Taipei. At least for now. Goodbye, Taipei! Goodbye, bubble tea!

Bubble Tea!

Nov 17

WTF, Ymobile?

Picture 9I changed carriers at the beginning of the summer, moving from DoCoMo to Ymobile. I had been planning on stretching out my phone for another year, but it was on its last legs of usefulness. And then, Ymobile was having a promotion and I happened to stumble across it. Even after paying 30,000 yen for a new phone (a Nexus 6—I fucking love it) and ~16,000 yen to get released from my auto-renewed DoCoMo contract, I calculated that I’d save 99,000 yen or so over the next two years. Good deal.

One of the things that came with the deal: 3 data-only uSIM cards that I could request and use. I got the first one back in August and gave my old phone to my mother-in-law with the SIM in it so that she could use LINE (her phone doesn’t have internet). Last week, I decided to get the other two uSIMs I’m entitled to so that I don’t need to do it in a pinch later. My mother is visiting early next year, and it would be nice for her to have a working device. Also, my backup phone needs a SIM.

So, I went to the local Ymobile shop on Friday, since I was out in that area. One thing that’s nice about Ymobile is that I don’t have to take a number and wait 90 minutes to see someone like I did with DoCoMo. The downside is that the clerks are less knowledgeable about anything beyond their most basic offerings, so doing something like getting my uSIMs can take longer than it should. There is also no one in the shop for them to escalate questions to.

After some initial confusion, my clerk walked me through the registration process for the SIMs, and I signed for them on the screen of his tablet. He hit the submit button and… rejected. Weird, since I’d already done this process a few months ago for the first uSIM. He excused himself for a moment to pick up a flip-phone and call someone. He managed to get someone on the line, spoke for a couple of minutes and hung up.

Apparently, they wouldn’t tell him why I couldn’t have my cards. Not couldn’t mind you. Wouldn’t. At least that’s my interpretation of it. The wording he used was, roughly translated, something like: “They won’t teach me, so I can’t teach you why you can’t have them.” (The Japanese word for teach is frequently used in the context of telling information. For instance, people “teach” their phone numbers to each other. So that particular wording isn’t as weird as it looks.) But he used “おしえません” (“didn’t teach”) as opposed to something ending with “できません” or some variation thereof (can’t do), and he did it repeatedly. My Japanese is not great so I checked by confirming: “You can’t tell me because they didn’t tell you.” and he agreed. Well, I could be wrong. The upshot in either case: I couldn’t get my SIMs and no one would tell me why.

Worse, the clerks couldn’t even tell me what my next step should be. I asked if I could come back in three days, and maybe they’d have it sorted by then. “Not likely,” was the answer I got. One of the other clerks pointed out a couple of times that maybe I should switch to AU or another company that had more support for foreigners. I pointed out that a) changing providers would cost me money, since I had a contract with Ymobile, and b) I have already paid for the uSIM cards, and their own material (right there on the desk; I was pointing to it) entitled me to those uSIMS. I asked if they had a supervisor, department head, or other boss we could escalate the matter to. Apparently, the only point of contact they had was the number my clerk had already called.

Then the other clerk suggested I come back in December. I asked why that would change things, and they couldn’t answer me. I also pointed out again that these SIMs were paid for (and were sitting right in front of me) and while I was willing to wait a couple of days for them to figure something out, waiting two weeks for something I paid for five months ago was a bit ridiculous. Throughout all this, I was as polite as possible. Aware that I’m not very good at hiding my irritation, I made a point of apologizing to the clerks and explaining that I was wasn’t annoyed with them, but with the system that allowed something like this to happen.

So, in the end, after spending 90+ minutes in the shop, I had to leave empty handed.

Next course of action is to phone the customer service line… or rather get someone to help me call the customer service line, since my Japanese falls completely to pieces on the phone (especially since I can’t easily use the phone to look up words I don’t understand while I’m talking on it).

Still happy with my phone, but seriously annoyed with Ymobile’s ridiculous customer service.

Oct 24

How to Flash OTA updates

Honestly, the easiest way I’ve found is with the Nexus Root Toolkit and doing Flash Stock + Unroot with the “No Wipe Mode” and “Force Flash” boxes checked.

I find it easiest to just download my current build factory image and flash that.

This returns the phone to stock, but without wiping it, allowing it to download and install the OTA updates.

I’ve never been able to properly sideload OTA updates, so I find this way more convenient.

(Didn’t work for the Marshmallow update for some reason. Ended up sideloading it manually using adb.)

Oct 06

Wi-Fi On But Won’t Reconnect After resuming From Sleep

This happened after upgrading to Windows 10, but apparently any version above Win 7 might have this problem.



  • Open Device Manager > Expand the Network adapters section
  • Right-click on the wireless network card > Properties > Power Management tab
  • Uncheck option Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power and click OK:

Oct 05

Rtorrent Won’t Start

Sometimes Rtorrent won’t start. The SCREEN process will be running, but the main rtorrent process won’t be.

Usually, this is caused by a bad .lock file.

Stop the service (just in case), go to /home/rtor/.rtorrent-session, delete the .lock file, and then start the service again.

Sep 18

Install Btsync 1.4.111 on a new machine (ubuntu)

Since I’m still using Bittorrent Sync 1.4.111 (because the free version of 2.0 is too restrictive for my use case), I need to use the following command to install it via Tuxpoldo’s PPA:

sh -c "$(curl -fsSL http://debian.yeasoft.net/add-btsync14-repository.sh)"

Jun 02

Had my ass saved by +Peter Kambasis​​'s old Galaxy Note today when mine suddenly…

Had my ass saved by +Peter Kambasis​​'s old Galaxy Note today when mine suddenly decided it was no longer going to transmit or receive mobile network signals. It has not been a great day for me, technologically speaking, as my reliable X60s laptop bit the dust this morning when its fan went tits up. That's going to be a massive repair job… 2000 yen part, but replacing it will likely take the better part of a day. #perfectloverblog 

Had my ass saved today by +Peter Kambasis​’s old Galaxy Note today when mine suddenly decided it was no longer going to transmit or receive mobile network signals. It has not been a great day for me, technologically speaking, as my reliable X60s laptop bit the dust this morning when its fan went tits up. That’s going to be a massive repair job… 2000 yen part, but replacing it will likely take the better part of a day. #perfectloverblog

Google+: View post on Google+

Post imported by Google+Blog. Created By Daniel Treadwell.

May 13

Adobe Offline Activation

Adobe products (in this case Lightroom 6) will refuse to do Offline Activation if they detect an internet connection at all (even if the activation site is somehow inaccessible).

The fix is to disable the ethernet port completely and restart the software, at which point you can get it to switch to Offline Activation mode and get your code to use on the Adobe website to obtain your activation code.

Whew. What a pain in the ass.

May 12

Another Diet

TL;DR I’m dieting again. It’s working. I describe it in detail because it is of interest to me. Feel free to skip this update if it doesn’t interest you.

I need to lose weight again. Well, not so much weight as fat. So I’m back on a diet.Skeleton_diagram

I’m pretty lucky in that my body responds well to dieting: I lose weight relatively quickly, and it takes years to put it back on. But it does go back on. Part of that is that my eating habits gradually revert to bad. In the past, I’ve found that simple calorie counting works very well for me. The trouble is that calorie counting is a pain in the ass. It actually pushes me toward eating more processed/prepared foods because then I don’t have to do as much work to figure out calories. I want something that’s more sustainable and has a better exit plan than “keep counting calories for the rest of your life”.

So I’m trying something new, and I have a plan for after I hit my target. After watching a recent BBC Horizons documentary on “personalized dieting”, I took their test and figured out what category of dieter I fit into best. To be honest, “personalized” is a bit of a misnomer because they only had three types of dieters, and I think that there must be more. Two of the them were related to physiological issues (Constant Cravers and Feasters), and one was psychological (Emotional Eaters).

As I said, I took their little online test and, no big surprise, I came out as a craver. Which makes sense. When left to myself, I tend to graze a lot. I’ve never been super big (but that might be because I’m still relatively young and active), so maybe I don’t have the physiological issue that the scientists in the documentary identified, but my behaviour certainly follows this template more than the others. (If you want more details, just search “Constant Cravers BBC Horizon” and you’ll likely find the webpages devoted to this programme.)

The Constant Craver diet was recommended two consecutive days on a highly restricted calorie count (600 – 800 kcal), and low carbs.

Not willing to take a TV programme at its word, I did some poking around and seemed to find some evidence that “intermittent dieting” worked well, and sometimes even yielded better results than regular calorie restriction, or even full-time low-carb diets. The evidence wasn’t overwhelming, but I thought it was worth a try.

On the non-restricted days, no calorie counting was required, but a “Mediterranean Diet” was recommended. That diet is very hard to follow for me as a person who doesn’t eat vertebrate animals, but I’m also not as out-of-control as some of the dieters on the show were. For instance, my ideal weight (before adding more muscle) is around 70kg and my weight when I started the diet was probably around 85kg. I’m 185cm tall, just for reference, and I tend to fall within standard BMI measurements. Actually, I have a slim build, so ideal weight should skew lower for me, probably, but still, I’m looking to lose under 20kg, not 100kg. So I’ve just been eating normally and cutting portion sizes when I cook for myself. I’ve been cutting down on sweet stuff, too, but I don’t sweat it too much.

So far, the results seem to be good. I am basically constantly hungry two days a week (usually Wednesday and Thursday), which is unpleasant, but the other days I don’t sweat it. I’ve started making whole wheat chapatti and in general don’t limit carbs but try as much as possible in Japan to eat whole grain ones. I’ve lost… well, it’s hard to say, because I didn’t have scales when we started, but based on how fat I looked, my guess is that I was about 85kg. Our current scale is a bit unreliable, but it’s telling me I’m hovering around 76-77kg after 4 weeks on this diet.

But the most important part is what do I do when I hit my target weight? At that point, or maybe even when I’m getting close, I’m going to change the restricted days to low-carb only, and possibly make it just one day a week. I also plan to start doing some strength exercises (I get a fair amount of basic exercise from walking quickly over the hills near my house carting my 11kg son around), but I’ve, of course, been putting that off for the time being. In any case, it’s having a plan for afterwards that makes this different than one of my normal diets. So, uh, I guess, good luck to me?

Update: The link to the BBC test that categorizes your eating type is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z2csfg8

May 12

Adobe is Pissing Me Off

TL;DR – A profanity-laden screed dedicated to Adobe, the company that makes software we all have to use even thought we’d all use something else if there were any decent alternatives because they are a bunch of bastard anal warts.

Adobe, get your shit together.

I’m a buyer of Lightroom, and I recently decided it was time to upgrade and take advantages of some of the new features, particularly those related to video. I like the way Lightroom’s catalog works, but version 4 handles video like crap. 6 is reportedly much better.

So I go on Adobe site to buy Lightroom. I want the standalone version because I don’t want to “rent” the app via Creative Cloud. I want a version that will work even if I stop paying (for instance, if Adobe raises their subscription prices to more than I can afford). Luckily, there is a standalone version of Lightroom (you’re out of luck if you want Illustrator or Photoshop, though). However the website does its damndest to keep you from buying it. Go there via Google, and you land on a page that sings the virtues of Lightroom but will only allow you to buy the Creative Cloud version (bundled with Photoshop CC).

For fuck’s sake.

I eventually find the motherfucker on a page called “All Products”. I configure the version that I want (English, Upgrade version) and hit “add to cart”. The webpage takes me to the cart, gives me the total in USD, and invites me to hit the check out button. I hit the checkout button and am slapped with the message that I can’t purchase this because my account is registered to another country and I should log in with an account registered in the country the site is in (presumably the U.S.) It then proceeds to automatically log me out (after I click the only option on the page: “OKAY”).

I sign back in with my account. Okay, I thought I was on the international site, but fine. I find a page that lets me switch to the Japanese site. Which is, of course, entirely in Japanese. Which is understandable, but why force me to shop there? The southeast Asia region is in English. Surely the sites can’t be that different. Anyway, with the help of Google Translate, I locate the product page in Japanese and set it up there. Of course, it’s more expensive that the U.S. version, but oh well.

I get to the credit card screen and pop in my Credit Card details. Unlike the US site and the Canadian site, Paypal is not an option. I want to use my Canadian credit card because I recently bought a plane tickets on my Japanese one because I didn’t have quite enough money in my Canadian account to cover them. Everything goes through fine. (At this point, I could have torrented the software three or four times over, but the ordeal doesn’t end here.) After an hour or two of not getting my download link (Lightroom 6 doesn’t have a downloadable demo version—only Lightroom CC does), I get antsy and check my account page. Of course, I need to change the website region to an English-speaking country in order to get a clear picture of what’s going on. The order is “bring processed”. There is a notification that the order might take up to 24 hours to process. Grrr.

36 hours later, I check back in. Order is still being processed. Fuck this, I’m going to contact support. The three options are a phone number (not for my region, and outside of support hours anyway), a live chat session, and the Adobe forums. Fuck the Adobe forums. They are full of community mods/fanboys (called MVPs) who basically shit down the neck of anyone who suggests that Adobe may have done anything wrong.


Q. Lightroom is mangling Canon camera RAW files on import. Other files are fine.

MVP. It’s your hardware.

Q. I’ve tested it on several combinations of hardware, including different PCs, different cables, different card readers, etc.

MVP. It’s your hardware.

Q. I’m pretty sure at this point it’s not my hardware. I can copy these files all day long using other methods and they’re fine. They don’t corrupt until I use Lightroom to move them.

MVP. What don’t you understand? Adobe is perfect, therefore, it’s your hardware. Try changing USB cables.


There are dozens of threads on this particular subject alone that basically end up like this. Another common refrain is

Q. I think [product X] should have [Y feature] that [competing product Z] has.

MVP. If you need that feature, you are obviously not a professional in your field.

Q. I am a professional, and the industry is heading this way because of [good reasons].

MVP. You need to buy [consumer grade piece of shit product]. Adobe [product X] is only for professionals.

So yeah, fuck the Adobe forums.

So I try to open a chat window. Here is what it says:

24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Chat is currently closed


After several days, I finally get an email from Adobe saying that the order can’t be processed because of a problem with my credit card. I realize that I was never asked for the credit card address, and they probably just applied my Japanese address, which is why it failed. Annoying that, while partly my fault, this took nearly four days to figure out. Annoying too that I can’t use a credit card in my name that doesn’t match the address on my account. I can understand why, on one hand, but on the other hand, Amazon doesn’t have this problem, so what the fuck gives, Adobe? Especially since there is no alternative source to buy the upgrade version of your software.

Also, your shitty forums and chat support.

Jan 28

Flicker on Liquidsmooth 3.2 ROM

Good friend Pete Kambasis sent me his old Galaxy Note i717 for me to fiddle with. If I can get better performance out of it than my Galaxy Note SC-05D (the Japanese model), then I may switch over to it as my primary phone.

The problem is that my Japanese phone has hardware that’s unique in the world of Galaxy Note phones, so there aren’t a lot of good custom ROMs for it. The i717 was widely used in North America, and therefore has a lot of choices.

I’ve chosen LiquidSmooth 3.1 as it promised good speed. One of the problems with it (that I supposedly fixed with a patch) is a screen flickering issue that occasionally renders the phone well-nigh unusable.

This is caused by the GPU and CPU essentially “fighting” over which of them is rendering the screen, apparently. A potential cause is a conflicting line in the /system/build.prop file. Here’s the fix I found and I tried:

In the build.prop file under "# Screen flicker fixes" [there is] this line – "persist.hwc.mdpcomp.enable=false" and then under additional build properties [there is] this line – "persist.hwc.mdpcomp.enable=true". I removed the conflicting "persist.hwc.mdpcomp.enable=true" under additional build properties and rebooted.

Use a root enabled file explorer. I use Root Explorer. Navigate to Root/System/ there you will find a file "Build.prop". Mount system as RW (read-write, on Root Explorer this is an option at the top of the file list. Change from RO, read only, to RW) Long press the Build.prop file and select open in text editor. Now you will be able to edit the file. Careful here, you don’t want to change anything you’re unsure of. Scroll down towards the bottom of the text and you will find the aforementioned duplication under "Additional build properties". Just delete the duplicated line then select save and exit. If you think you made a mistake, just close without saving and start over.

(This from user rsfinsrq at XDA developers. http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=54541112&postcount=386 )

Now I just need to solve the “move app to SD” problem…

Dec 31

Obligatory Rambly New Year Post

I guess I should make some kind of end-of-year blog entry. The trouble is having the time to do it right. I work from home, so holidays are not holidays. They are like semi-normal work days with a wife and child to distract me constantly. I do not need any help being distracted. I’m good enough at doing that on my own, thank you very much.

I’m also a little bit year-reviewed out. I sent out a family email newsletter for the first time every (yes, I am truly a family man dad type now), and a lot of stuff I could think of to write here would be a re-tread of that. I’m not much for writing the same thing twice under normal circumstances.

20141231_211239Pretty good year, all told. I don’t have my own theatre yet; I’m not even making my living from doing theatre yet, but I completed new major projects this year, one of which will be having a public performance at the end of March. I’ve got two and a half ideas also brewing for the next show after that, but it’s all going to depend on whether I can get the collaborators I want.

My son went from being a barely-crawling infant to a fully toddling toddler. He’s still pretty much pre-verbal, but he understands quite a bit of what’s said to him, in Japanese and English– which I find heartening, since he’s at hoikuen most days and I’m the only one who speaks English to him. Super! He may require a few months’ stay in Canada in the future to force him to actually speak it, but it’s great to know that his comprehension is good.

This is also the age where children apparently start understanding stuff. For the past few weeks, I’ve been able to reason with him to some degree. “Do you want to play with your toy? Yes? Okay, but we’re going to change your diaper first, okay?” is an example. He doesn’t want to do something; I figure out what he wants to do; I outline the steps between now and doing what he wants to do; I get his assent; we do it. I’m sure this is just a temporary golden age of reason before he gets into a “no” phase, but I’m really enjoying it. For once, I’m better at doing something child-related than my wife, and I’m going to thrill in that for as long as it lasts.

Is that enough yet?

My project for the last week of 2014 (bleeding into this year as well) has been to add more storage to my homebrew NAS. Finished the hardware setup a couple of days ago (an old pair of 2TB drives in an external case connected to the NAS by USB 3.0), and have just about finished the data-juggling from zfs pool to zfs pool to make best use of the space. Mostly this is because of the amount of video that YTG has started to generate (500GB in 2014 alone). I’ve started shooting more of the shows (or rather roping someone into shooting the shows) in a more professional way, which means multiple HD cameras. A 90 minute show can generate in excess of 100GB of raw data from the cameras, so I’ve decided to dedicate most of the largest pool (3TB) to the video files.

Enough yet?

I’ve also started journal-writing. My dad kept a journal from the time he was 19 until a few months before his death(there was an earlier one too, apparently, but he destroyed it when he was in his late teens). I’ve decided to start writing regular journal entries as well, with more of a mind to creating a family history document for my son’s generation. So far I’ve been pretty good about it, but we’ll see if I keep it up during the year. I’ll be slowing copying my father’s entries into the new document and adding commentary and annotations.


Okay. Now. That’s enough.

Nov 20

Moniker Update–Fixed

Oh MonikerSo, last week, I wrote this. I tried to be somewhat even handed and not fly off the handle as is my usual style. However, I did find the situation galling.

I was worried that the worst was going to happen, and I was going to lose one of my domains to a squatter, but Moniker support finally called me last Friday night and finally confirmed my phone number, thus allowing me to renew that domain.

I was very lucky that the expired domain was a redirect to another, not one of the three main ones I use on a day-to-day basis. Otherwise, either of my two websites could have been down for 10 days.

So, now that the crisis has passed, I am planning to move all five of my domains again to a new registrar. Any suggestions? Here’s why I picked Moniker initially:

  1. Good management interface (now gone to hell)
  2. Low prices (still have these). Current renewal rate is between $8.95 and $9.95 (USD).

I basically need these two things. GoDaddy has been recommended to me, but I’ve heard horror stories. Domain.com is more expensive. Hover is more expensive than Moniker, but not by much, actually. Would love to hear from people who have some experience in these matters.

(Of course, this is all assuming that I can transfer. Search @moniker on twitter and you’ll find a lot of people not able to transfer their domains out.)

Nov 17

ZFS Fails After Xubuntu Version Upgrade

Basically, the pools were showing critical errors after upgrading from Xubuntu 12.04 to 14.04 like this:

pool: mediatank
  state: UNAVAIL
status: One or more devices could not be used because the label is missing
        or invalid.  There are insufficient replicas for the pool to continue
action: Destroy and re-create the pool from
        a backup source.
   see: http://zfsonlinux.org/msg/ZFS-8000-5E
  scan: none requested

        NAME                                          STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
        mediatank                                     UNAVAIL      0     0     0  insufficient replicas
          mirror-0                                    UNAVAIL      0     0     0  insufficient replicas
            scsi-SATA_Hitachi_HDS7220_JK11B1B9HXYAWF  UNAVAIL      0     0     0
            scsi-SATA_Hitachi_HDS7220_JK2171B9HYRASL  UNAVAIL      0     0     0

  pool: tank
  state: UNAVAIL
status: One or more devices could not be used because the label is missing
        or invalid.  There are insufficient replicas for the pool to continue
action: Destroy and re-create the pool from
        a backup source.
   see: http://zfsonlinux.org/msg/ZFS-8000-5E
  scan: none requested

        NAME                                     STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
        tank                                     UNAVAIL      0     0     0  insufficient replicas
          mirror-0                               UNAVAIL      0     0     0  insufficient replicas
            scsi-SATA_TOSHIBA_DT01ACA_14TRP11GS  UNAVAIL      0     0     0
            scsi-SATA_TOSHIBA_DT01ACA_14TRRNVGS  UNAVAIL      0     0     0

Turns out, the new kernel changed the way it refers to these devices. Instead of


for instance, the new name is



Anyway, after looking at a couple of sites that said I needed to use symlinks to the old names in the /dev/disk/by-id folder, I found this fix:

sudo zpool export backups
sudo import -d /dev/disk/by-id/ backups -f

Thanks to the Blog of Graham.

Nov 13

Open Letter to Moniker.com (WTF, Moniker?)

WTF, MonikerThis is an open letter to Moniker.com and its CEO Bonnie Wittenburg.

TL;DR One of my domains registered with Moniker.com expired, and they are not allowing me to renew it until I confirm my phone number, which they are making stupidly difficult to do. They seem to be having serious issues with customer support: https://twitter.com/search?q=%40moniker

Dear Moniker,

This is in regards to case KS#2014110610010145. I am not a domain kingpin. I am not one of your customers who owns a portfolio of 250 domain names. My account has 5 domains registered. Two are personal domains that redirect to this blog and the other three are related to the NPO theatre company that I run. I moved to Moniker from several other domain hosts back in 2012 in order to consolidate all these domains to one manageable location.

Until this summer, I was reasonably happy with the service. I was lucky and didn’t suffer any problems due to the systems upgrade SNAFU back in June. The new system is a bit crap, to be honest, and the mandatory password reset took several tries until it “took”, but I’m willing to overlook growing pains as a company changes.

You have three jobs, in my book, and that is allowing me to hold my domains, keeping the DNS pointing at my DNS provider, and allowing me to renew those domains each year. You have failed.

One of my domains was due to expire on November 4. I have all my domains set to auto-renew and a credit card set up as my payment method. The last domain to expire was on August 8, and on July 26 or 27 (depending on time zone), my credit card was duly charged and I was sent a notice that my domain had been auto-renewed. Your systems start sending out notices months before a domain names expires, with occasional reminders up until the renewal date. This is great. For my domain that expired on November 4, I was receiving those notifications. I took note, though, on November 5th (local time, still the 4th in North America), that I hadn’t received the usual renewal notice, so I logged into my account. After resetting my password again for some damn reason, I went to that domain and saw that it had not been auto-renewed.

Hm. That was a bit frustrating. Perhaps there was a systems glitch. I checked my payment information and it was correct, so I went to the domain and changed it to renew immediately. The invoice appeared in my inbox right away, and it stated that my credit card would be charged. Great.

Except my credit card wasn’t charged. Instead I was sent the following email:

Thank you for registering your domain with Moniker.

For security reasons, we must verify your account before processing your domain requests.

The analysis for which accounts need to be verified is not done by our system but by an external service, based on objective criteria.

The use of such policies has sadly become necessary due to fraud attempts, especially in the internet business.

Until your account is verified you will only be able to make payments via Bank Transfer

We will gladly make an exception for you and open up access to your account once you call our support teams and verify your account.

To verify your account it will need to be a live call.   This again is a onetime call for fraud prevention.

You can call us at 1-800-688-6311 for the account validation. Outside the U.S. and Canada: 954-607-1294

Our hours of operations are Monday-Friday 8:00 am EST – 8:00 pm est.

We look forward to speaking with you.

Please have the following information handy to quickly verify your account.

Account #

Email Address on the account

Phone # on the account

Mailing/Billing Address on the account.

Wonderful. I have been singled out by “objective criteria”. Like what? My credit card hasn’t changed since I’ve joined. My billing address hasn’t changed. I’m also not trying to register a domain, as the email states, I am trying to renew an existing one that has been in my name since before I transferred it to Moniker. It it just because I live in Japan?

Interesting to note here that the support hours are 8:00 – 8:00 EST, which is currently 22:00 – 06:00 Japan Standard time. Luckily, it was still within support hours when I caught the email on the morning of November 6 so I called and left the requested information in a voice message as directed by your telephone system.

Your support team called me back as promised. At 5:00 the following morning. So I obviously didn’t answer. My phone gets turned off when I go to bed so it doesn’t wake my toddler. When did get up that morning, I saw this email:

Thank you for your response.

We retrieved the voice mail message however, we attempted to reach you at the number on file and we were unsuccessful. The number on file needs to be valid to complete account verification.

To change the telephone number please go to USER PROFILE> User Profile. Once updated please leave another detailed message with your account details listed below on our verification line so we can update the account.

Please have the following information handy to quickly verify your account.

Account #
Email Address on the account
Phone # on the account
Mailing/Billing Address on the account

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,
Torshie [redacted]

This kind of thing has happened before, but usually with a company that didn’t have my address on file—and, I might add, as part of the information I had left for you on the voice mail message that you requested me to send! Since my address was part of the confirmation process, and the person who called had to dial a country code other than +1 (US/Canada), you would think that time zones would be taken into account, no?

Still, whatever, mistakes can happen. I replied to the support email explaining the problem. No, my number did not need to be updated, I just needed to be called at a time when normal people are sleeping. I mentioned that I was available right at that moment to receive a call (still within business hours at 17:00 EST/7:00 JST). Two days later I received a follow-up email:

Hello Andrew,

Thank you for contacting us.

We apologize for the error. It look like we will not be able to reach you during normal hours today. If you leave a message on our voice mail system please call from the number on file so we can verify the number is valid.

Remember to confirm you account details:

account #

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,

Torshie [redacted]

I sent another reply explaining that a) I wasn’t going to phone from the number on file because it would have been expensive (the number is a Japanese mobile number), and b) that I’d already called and all they needed to do was complete the call back. I also specified several times over the next few days within Moniker business hours that I would be reachable in order to simplify things. I received no reply, and those days and times passed. I sent another reply with more dates and times and a request to expedite the support ticket since my domain had now been expired for several days. This morning (domain expired for 8 days now, 4 days since last contact), I received this reply from support:


Thank you for contacting Moniker Support.

We need to verify your Moniker account information for fraud prevention before you can make purchases.

Please provide us the following information:

* Customer ID / Domain(s):
  * Name on the account:
  * Email address on the account:
  * Phone number on the account:
  * Street address on the account:

Once your account has been verified, you will be able to make purchases on your account.

If you have any further questions, please reply back with your email or call our toll-free number 1.800.688.6311 / International 1.954.607.1294
Our hours of operation are M – F 8:00 AM- 8:00 PM EST & Sat 10:00 AM-4:00 PM EST.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,

Shane J

Now you can perhaps see why I included Torshie’s name earlier. It’s not to get anyone in trouble. It’s because my support person changed, and he obviously did not read the entire email chain. I’m not printing Shane’s name to get him in trouble either. It’s simply obvious that your support process is not sufficiently documented to allow your support people to do their jobs. Don’t worry, you’re in good company here; Paypal does the exact same thing. You get a new support person each time, and each time you have to explain everything from the beginning even though it’s all in the email reply chain.

I have replied to the most recent email explaining that I’ve already called with my information and I just need the call back from the Moniker side to complete verification. Since I received Shane’s email during your business hours, I suggested that I was available at that moment. Of course, he did not call.

So where does this leave me? Angry and writing a blog post about it, I guess. Waving my fist at the internet.

Moniker; Ms Wittenburg: please either complete the verification or allow me to make the single $9.95 payment needed to renew my domain with the credit card you have on file. Despite the length of my post here, this is not a complicated technical issue. This is a customer support failure only. It’s a person-problem that you can fix. No engineers or technicians are required. The Moniker brand has been seriously tarnished as of late (https://twitter.com/search?q=%40moniker). Most of the complaints are about customer service. It’s time to start turning this around.

I look forward to hearing from you.



Sep 20

Open Letter to Companies Who Ship Internationally

Hello, company. Thank you for accepting my money for your goods and offering to ship to Japan. However, if your only shipping option is UPS or FedEx, you can go fuck yourself. I don’t care how badly I need something, UPS and FedEx are such absolute shit for shipping to Japan, I haven’t used them in years.

Also, in regards to the company that inspired me to write this: $32 shipping on a $8 item that fits in a smaller box than an iPhone and weighs less than an 8-pack of crayons? Plus the box will arrived dinged-up, opened, and the delivery company may try to wring no-existent customs fees out of me? Go. Fuck. Your. Self.

Shipping an item worth less than $50 from the U.S.? I’ll take USPS, please. No, I don’t give a shit about tracking, or rather, it’s not worth the $25+ price difference.

Picture 9-Edit

Aug 28

Getting Excel to Open Sheets in New Instance

This is something that bothers me about Excel: it always opens worksheets in the same window. Then when I go to close one, it tries to close all of them. A couple of times, I was futzing around with a spreadsheet, closed a different one, clicked through the dialog on instinct, and saved over the original file I wanted to preserve.

Prior to Windows Vista, you could fix this problem from the folder options –> file type menu. Not any more.

I found this solution at blog.whitesites.com:

In the Registry Editor in Windows 7:


Change the default value from

"C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice12EXCEL.EXE" /e


"C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice12EXCEL.EXE" /e "%1"

Rename the command key below it to “commandOLD” or something.

Then, rename the ddeexec key (one level up, I believe) to ddeexecOLD

This change will work for the .xls file extension (Excel 2003 files)

To do the same thing for Excel 2007 files, make the same changes (minus the “command” key, which didn’t exist here for me) at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/Excel.Sheet.12/shell/Open/command.

I should have done this years ago. Must remember to do this on my laptop and make it standard on the YTG machine builds.

Jun 21

ZFS Pools Disappear After Upgrade

No idea why this happened by the fix was easy:

# apt-get update
# apt-get install zfsutils

Then rm -R the two mountpoints and sudo zfs mount –a


Jun 13

First Step

My son took his first step this morning. He’s been standing unassisted for several seconds at a time since last weekend, and standing up without using furniture for about as long, but this morning was different. He was clinging to the door frame in the kitchen and was making inarticulate “Daddy, come here” noises. I moved to about two meters away and motioned for him to come to me.

“Come here, Hammy!”20140530_093855-Edit

Usually, he’d let go of the door frame, drop to a crawl, crawl over to me, and then hoist himself back up using my legs for leverage. Today, he let go of the door frame and took one clear step toward me, and then half of another one before sinking to his knees.

But that was his first clear step, and I’m so happy that I was there for it. Given that he spends more than half of his waking hours at the preschool during the week, and that it’s usually my wife playing with him on the weekends, I feel pretty lucky that I was present (the only one present) for at least one major milestone of Hammy’s development.

He’s actually behind most of his contemporaries for walking. Both the other 13-month-old kids at the preschool are already toddling around and have been for a couple of weeks. But that’s okay. I was a late walker too. I’m still a slow learner—I really don’t like doing anything until I’m sure I can do it. (He’s way ahead on climbing skills, though.)

20140612_170125Speaking of the daycare, yesterday was an official parents-visit day. This week and next week are, in fact, days when parents can book themselves in for a morning and participate in classes. (That’s him in the cardboard box in the photo on the left.) We’ve been told that Hammy is an angel at daycare usually, and I believe it. He rarely cries when I drop him off, and even then he’s forgotten about me within 30 seconds of saying goodbye and is playing contentedly. When I drop him off and pick him up, I frequently see or hear a lot of the other children in his class bawling their wee heads off, but I’ve only seen him do it once—he’d only napped for 40 minutes that day and was overtired.

But yesterday, after he noticed that I was staying, he broke out of his blissful mode, crawled over to me during morning story-reading, and started fussing. He was a huge pain in the backside for about 75% of the time I was there, being just as fussy as he usually is in the evenings when I bring him home. At least, my wife told me, they’ll have some idea of what he’s like at home.

Sure, I guess. But I’d kind of like them to go on thinking he’s always that beatific boy I drop off and pick up.

Apr 30

Almost One Year of Ham

IMG_8539Hammy turned 11 months two weeks ago. Only a few more weeks until we celebrate his first birthday. I thought I should make some comments on him, or fatherhood, or something. I wish I’d been less busy and able to do it incrementally, but even writing in his baby book became difficult with a big show and fundraising campaign on the front burner.

So much has changed since I last wrote about him. When was the last time, anyway? Like six months ago? He’s got teeth now, four of them, which he occasionally uses to bite us with. His behaviour is become more discernable. He’s started pointing in the last few weeks, although figuring out what he’s pointing at is a crapshoot, since he doesn’t seem to understand that his finger needs to target the object. He tends to raise his arm almost straight up and then point his finger in a downward curve no matter what he’s trying to point at.

What else? I think he’s started to understand kissing in the last month, and hugging in the last week. He doesn’t really kiss. He places his mouth on someone (or something in the case of the giant stuffed gorilla Rau-chan) and drools. But it’s close. A bit disconcerting when he unexpectedly does it on one’s open mouth while one is talking to him. I certainly hope his technique improves before he starts kissing for real in his teens. The hoikuen (daycare) reported to me yesterday that he really likes hugging people. Given that we’re always hugging him and each other at home, I don’t find this surprising, but it’s nice to hear that it’s been noticed.

Kumiko’s _IMG_1372In the last month, he’s started getting picky with food. Nothing specific. It changes from day to day what he will and won’t eat.

Speaking: It’s been “abwaaababa” or some variation for a while now. About a month ago, I’d trained him to say “da” and “dada” as well, but he seems to have lost that as well while I was off doing my show. Although one morning in production week, he woke me up by standing at the foot of the bed and shouting “DA!” at the top of his lungs.IMG_0239

Right: standing. Still not standing unassisted, but since February he’s been cruising around using furniture. Recently, he’s added walls to his repertoire. He’ll readily walk around the house if someone holds his hands for balance. He also loves to climb things. I am seeing a few bruises and possible broken limbs in his future as he gets older and more adventurous.

I could add that Hammy seems very interested in technology, but I’m not sure if that’s a valid observation on my part, or a tendency to project parts of my own personality onto my little offshoot. Until he can talk, we won’t know, and I’m going to do my best not to Kumiko’s _IMG_2532influence his interests in that regard. I really look forward to giving him his own computer in a few years, though.

Rolling back for a second: Hoikuen.

Hoikuen is basically the Japanese version of daycare. Why is our 11-month old in daycare? Well, places in daycare are hard to get, and if you don’t get in at the beginning (age 0+), when there are the most places, you may not get your kid in at all. Since my wife and I both work, and my mother-in-law is busy babysitting the four other wee ones in the family, daycare is a necessity. My schedule means that I’m frequently working at home, but during the weeks leading up to a show, I could be away from the house from 9:00am to one 20140328_174718o’clock the next morning. Also, at any time I could get a job that requires me to work my pants off (figuratively speaking: those in the know understand that I rarely wear pants) for a week or more on a special project of some sort. Also, from this April, I’ve started teaching acting one day a week at a university in Saitama, which means I’m out of the house from 7:00 to 21:00 or later, depending on trains and how much I need to talk with my students after my last class. So yeah, we need child care enough, and only the full-time option is subsidized by the city. No brainer, really.

Hammy cried the first couple of times we left him there. Once he figured out what we were doing, anyway. He would glare at us and scream the scream of raw betrayal. From the second week, however, he hardly acknowledges us leaving… he’s so eager to go explore and play with new toys. I have to take his temperature in the morning when we arrive, and if the group starts singing the clean-up song while I’m doing that, he starts squirming because he wants to go join them.

So far, though, he is gratifyingly happy to see me at the end of the day when I go to pick him up. 


I guess I should sum things up here, but honestly, I don’t have a summation or a conclusion. I’m not quite 12 months into being a father, and I really probably won’t know what to think until after it’s all over and baby Hammy has flown the nest.

It’s going to be hard to get out of the habit of calling him Baby Hammy, though. Maybe I should do it into his teen years for maximum embarrassment.

Apr 28

CUDA with Premiere Pro CS6

I was struggling for the longest time to get the GPU given to me by my friend Tommi to work with Premiere (to use the GPU for playback rendering), and here’s how I finally managed to get it to work:

Go to the Premiere folder in Program Files, edit the cuda_supported_cards.txt to include the card (make sure it is a CUDA-supported card), and add your card if it ain’t there. In my case, I futzed around putting in GTX 560 until I used the GPUsniffer.exe in the Premiere dir and found that the actual name of the card was GTX 560 Ti.

Also, needed to go into the NVIDIA control panel and change the multiple monitor settings under Premier Pro.exe to “compatibility” mode. (And make sure CUDA was turned on there. It was.)

As always, writing this down so that I don’t forget this if I have to rebuild this machine at some point.

Mar 21

NAS Server Fixes

A few problems that I had to solve while setting up the new NAS.

One of the ZFS pools dismounted for no reason

This was a problem I’d never had before. Even the pool was gone and I had to re-import it using zfs import –f [pool name].

Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of problems to come.

ZFS doesn’t mount on boot and dir gets mounted by other app first

– sudo rm –R [mountpoint name]

– sudo zfs mount –a

(Technically, this is wrong, since mountall is installed, but somehow, it isn’t working on the main volume)

Edit /etc/default/zfs

Change ZFS_MOUNT=’no’ to ZFS_MOUNT=’yes’

Routing Table is Fucked Up

– applications that should be going out on eth0 are stuck on tun0

– netstat –rn showed slightly different tables on old NAS and new NAS

– turned out it wasn’t the routing tables, but a typo in rc.local that for some reason had the old machine’s eth0 address in it. These lines should be in rc.local

ip rule add from [eth0 address] table 128
ip route add table 128 to [eth0 address] dev eth0
ip route add table 128 default via [eth0 gateway]

Crashplan Reports whole directories as missing when they are clearly there:

– stop service

– go to /usr/local/crashplan/cache and delete EVERYTHING

– restart service

– it will compare files (might take a while)

Mar 19

Why I'm Glad the Internet is Fairly New


This link is making its way around teh inter-tubes this morning. It's a teenage girl who is coming out as "trans-ethnic", because she feels she is Japanese, not a white American.

I could just shrug and say "Trans-ethnic? Whatever." and pass on by, but her idea of being Japanese is so weird.

"I’m a typical Japanese girl who loves Japanese pop culture and society and the ancient traditions still manifest in Kyoto."

Very few Japanese people I know, but especially very few girls are manga-obsessed and / or care about the "ancient traditions" of Japan "still manifest in Kyoto". Whatever that means.

"I know that in Japan because of my skin color I will be looked upon as a foreigner, and that’s why I plan to live with a host family. After getting rid of the western-ness I may accidentally have acquired, I’ll be a normal Japanese in every situation, socially and culturally."


"[Japan is] as close to perfect as I’m ever going to find, and it was shocking to me that humans could create something so wonderful. Japan gave me faith in humanity while I was a depressed child who hated America and had no hope because of the meat industry." <– yeah, speaking as a vegetarian in Japan, you've got a huge eye-opening coming at the hands of your host family. Particularly if they take her out to a ホルモン restaurant.

Her idea of being Japanese is, despite her protests, not significantly different than that of any American otaku teen who's never been here. Basically, she sees it as a Disney World for otaku. Except that's not the reality, and for those who actually make it here, the reality of Japan sets in pretty quickly and depression frequently follows. Not because Japan's awful (hell, it's my favourite place to live), but because they have unrealistic expectations and they've invested so much in the fantasy.

At the end of the day, though, this girl is 15, and what I wrote above is not to take her down a peg, but to make the point that young people today have it harder than we did. (Get off my lawn, you kids!)

When I was in Canada this winter, I found a lot of my old writing, and much of it was just as dumb, if not dumber, than this. The saving grace is that pretty much anyone who came into contact with my writing of that period has forgotten it. At least back when I was 16, if I wrote something stupid, there was no internet to make sure that people would remember it forever.

However, not just coming out as "trans-ethnic", but as "trans-ethnic" to a fantasy culture that doesn't exist may end up haunting this girl for the rest of her life, especially now that it seems to have gone viral.


Embedded Link

ゆき の ものがたり (Yuki’s Story) – I am finally going to come out: I am a transethnic…
I am finally going to come out: I am a transethnic Japanese woman.
I’ve noticed that on Tumblr there is a lot of ignorance and hate about us, and I’d like to civilly redress that. Unlike the LGBTQA+…

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Post imported by Google+Blog. Created By Daniel Treadwell.

Mar 11

Three Years

Three years ago, I was walking out of my Japanese class near Yokohama station and was headed for my bicycle. I had no idea then that just over two hours later, I would be cowering under my kitchen table or standing outside watching the earth roll while people just a few hundred kilometers away were dying terrifying deaths or having their homes destroyed.

After the dust cleared, I did just over a week of volunteering, and it really doesn’t feel like I did enough. I also started a (largely unsuccessful) attempt to call out journalists on their shoddy and sensationalist reporting of the event, particularly the brouhaha surrounded the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. I think I made a few people defensive, but I don’t think we really effectively called anyone out on their bullshit. And such reporting continues to this day, largely forgetting about the real victims of the tsunami, many of whom are apparently still homeless.

My wife and son are out for a couple of hours, so I’m using this quiet time to think about all the people that we lost on that day, and those we still haven’t effectively helped; to think about all the stories yet untold, and all those that can never be told.

The plum blossoms are blooming in my yard again, just as they were then.


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