June 2001 Archives

I'm too used to

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I'm too used to waiting.

It began (as I recall) with a boyfriend in 1986 who was always running late. I learned to bring a book. I started watching people.

15 years later in Tokyo, I still find myself waiting. Yesterday it was an hour's wait for an out-of-town visitor I had promised to meet at 2. I arrived a little early and watch the tides of people washing out of trains and through the wickets. Businessmen, well-heeled housewives, and a curious phenomenon.

Teenaged girls in groups of two or more came and went from the station wearing the same t-shirt. "629" (the date?) was emblazoned on the front, along with "Big Egg Show performer" in orange script. Some of them wore yellow and black polka dotted hats--four of them had enormous, egg shaped headpieces made of yellow and black spotted fur. It was mysterious, but later I found out there was a J-Pop band called Yuzu playing at Tokyo Dome (aka "Big Egg")

At 2:55, I tired of watching and waiting and headed back to my office to work. During an evening phone call, I found out that my guest arrived at the station at 3:00, having gotten lost in the neighborhood of her ryokan.

Maybe I should have waited a little longer...

Best new web resource

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Best new web resource of the day: Google Image Search.

Google's already my favorite search engine (and has been since it was in beta several years back) and now it has an image search, too. While you won't find high-res artworks (like you do at Corbis or Getty), I've already discovered that it's a treasure trove of local maps of obscure places. And if you search for 'mcquillin' you will find a photo of me.

It's always fun to find a useful new tool on the 'Net. It's even better when it satisfies my narcissism.

It's summertime and the

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It's summertime and the sewers are stinky.

Smelly sewers are one of the hallmarks of summer in Tokyo. I don't really notice them at any other time of year, but from tsuuyu (the rainy season) until autumn, I catch a noseful of noisome bouquet at almost every corner.

Some drains are worse than others. In past summers, I've found myself crossing streets to avoid particularly foul areas. The fetid stink has only begun to surface here in our new neighborhood, so I haven't yet learned the bad patches. But within weeks, I'll be crossing the streets as needed.

This morning I've been

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This morning I've been preparing for the judging portion of DigitalEve Japan's postcard design competition.

For the past six weeks, we've been advertising our contest (grand prize is 30,000 yen (about $300)) but have received only three entries. The deadline is Saturday June 30th so I'm hoping that we'll have a last minute flurry of entries. That's why I'm preparing the judging portion now.

Would you like send a last-minute entry to the contest? The theme is "Women - Japan - Technology" and the submission details give all the specifics you'll need to know. Everyone is invited to enter and who knows, you could win a prize! If you have any questions, you can e-mail me.

Yesterday we received visitors.

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Yesterday we received visitors. But not in the formal Victorian/Edwardian sense of posting hours during which visiting is acceptable. This was much more casual.

Simon, a friend of Tod's who is staying with us for a few days, called at 2:30 to say he'd arrive around 3:00. I had to leave at 2:45, so I left the door unlocked for him when I left. Did it feel strange to leave the house open to someone I'd never met? A little bit but Tod vouched for him so I knew it was OK.

Our second visitor was Erin. She's masterminding the redesign of the DigitalEve Japan site. On Thursday she's off for a three month holiday, so we were finishing up all the loose ends of the design before she goes.

Because Tod, Simon and I were holed up in the 3rd floor office with the aircon on and the door shut, Erin was greeted by a note on the door downstairs. "Come in. We're on the third floor."

I know first impressions are important, but yesterday was too hot to bother.

My computers' fans buzz

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My computers' fans buzz frantically trying to cool off. Already this morning the thermometer registers 28 (82 F) degrees with a forecast of 33 (92 F). The office seems to amplify the temperature outside, so I know it will be stifling in here today. Today would be a good day to switch on the aircon.

I'm not sure when summer snuck up on us, it must have happened while we were away. Humidity hits 90%, skies look grey, I turn red, blotchy and cranky. Summer is not my favorite season. I will just have to bide my time until October when things cool down again.

Usability and User Interfaces

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Download the PDF, includes exercises (401 K)

What are “usability” and “user interface”?
Usability is the ease-of-use factor—how simple is it for your audience to do the things they need to do on your site? Can they find the information they want, buy a product, search, and send feedback to you? The clearer and simpler your site is to use, the better your usability and the more satisfied your audience will be.

User interface is what your audience sees —your logo, recurring graphics, theme colors—and the tools they use to interact with your site—navigation buttons, search boxes, and even their own browser. User interface is everything except for content (and even that’s debatable).

Designing for Usability
Usability encompasses a few main aspects:

  1. Universal access
  2. Ease of navigation
  3. Attractive design
  4. Loading time

Universal Access
When you plan your site, you might be lucky and know exactly who your audience is; but most of the time you won’t. Universal access takes into consideration that users have different screen sizes, browsers, and abilities.

To make your site viewable to the widest audience, think about these things:

  1. Page size. This means with width of the page as well as its length. For people with smaller monitors, wide graphics will require horizontal scrolling. There’s no completely foolproof size, but popular sites use graphics that are 480, 600 or 800 pixels wide. I prefer smaller to larger.
  2. Standard HTML. Both Netscape and IE have special HTML tags that work exclusively in their browser. If you rely on them to convey your message, some of your audience isn’t going to see what you intend. Try to avoid using them.
  3. Plug-ins. Unless your site has a real need for cutting-edge technology, think twice before incorporating it into your site. How many users are really going to download the plug-in so they can see a 3-D model of your office? Not very many, unless the design of your office is the message of your website.
  4. Browsers. Netscape, IE, Opera, Mozilla, Lynx, and other browsers interpret even the standard tags differently. What may be Bold and 14 point on one machine will be Italic and 16 point on another browser. You cannot control this, but you can learn to design so that differences like this don’t matter so much.
  5. OS Differences. The biggest difference between Macs & PCs is their screen resolutions and font sizes. Mac fonts look smaller; PC fonts display larger. Your lines will break in different places; paragraphs will fill different amounts of space. Don’t count on your text looking exactly the same on every computer!
  6. Disabilities. Not every user is going to be able to see, hear or be completely mobile. Even if your target audience isn’t the disabled population, it’s not much trouble to add features to help out those who cannot see your graphics. Adding a simple alt=”Links Button” to the img tag will allow web-reading programs to interpret the buttons.

Ease of Navigation
There are a number of ways to make your site easy to navigate.

  1. Use multiple methods of navigation. In addition to buttons and text navigation, include a site map or directory and a search function. Users have different approaches to navigation; it’s a good idea to satisfy them all, if possible.
  2. Give the user what she expects. Search boxes are in the upper right corner of the page on most sites. If you put yours there, too, users will find it easily. Use standard icons for navigation instead of making up your own. For most users, a magnifying glass means “search;” a house means “home page.” A blue balloon? An animated duck? These don’t mean anything as navigation buttons.
  3. Be consistent. Navigation should be in the same place on every page and it should not vary in order of items or anything else that might cause the user to click on the wrong link or get frustrated.
  4. Stabilize. After you’ve designed the navigation of your site, don’t change it. Of course, you may need to tinker as you add new sections or delete content, but your careful planning in advance will keep you from having to make major overhauls.
  5. Double-check every link and button works correctly!

Attractive Design
Even the most perfectly well organized site will fail if it doesn't look nice. Aesthetics are a matter of personal taste balanced with the prevalent idea of beauty, but there are a few things that you can do to ensure your site will look nice:

  1. Select your colors carefully. Be sure you have a good range of light and dark colors for contrast. Colors can be similar (orange and yellow), contrasting (blue and orange) or complimentary (yellow and violet)
  2. Use graphics to give the reader’s eye a rest or to focus attention.
  3. Remember that white space is a valid design idea, but that with pages as small as a monitor, you must carefully balance space and content.
  4. Avoid amateur graphics and don’t resize images to be larger than the original.
  5. Animation focuses attention; use it extremely sparingly.

Loading time
Have you ever waited for a long time for a web page to load? I’m the sort of person who either gives up after a few seconds and clicks Stop or lets it load in the background while I do other things—usually forgetting that I wanted the page at all.

What makes pages load slowly? Some of the issues are out of your control, like bandwidth and network congestions, but there are some things you can do to make sure your pages are zippy.

  1. Optimize your graphics. You can do it by hand, calculating the math yourself then saving the file as the right type and compression, or you can get a program like Adobe Image Ready or Macromedia Fireworks. These make optimizing very easy—you can compare the image quality and file size of several versions of your image at once, then save the best one.
  2. Use height and width attributes with your img tags. This allows the text of the page to load while “holding a place” for the image while it downloads.
  3. Don’t use too many graphics. That’s not to say don’t use any, but it’s a good idea to use them wisely. 50 1K files take longer to load than 1 50K file because the server must be contacted 50 times instead of once.
  4. Remove extraneous HTML. Some web editors are notorious for writing bad code. Instead of <p> they use two <br> or they add font tags to every single paragraph or they bloat the header with meta tags. All these little things can add up to a second or two of download time.
  5. Don’t try to put everything on one page. If you’ve got a book to publish, break it into chapters. Loading one chapter will take much less time than loading the whole book.

User Interface Planning

It’s important to plan what you’re going to do before you begin development. Good planning allows you to be consistent when you add more content and information in later stages. And if you’re working with a team to do your site, planning ensures that everyone is following the same ideas.

Planning Stage 1: Content
Content is how you deliver the message of your website, so it’s key to have a clear focus. What are you trying to say to your audience? Can you sum up the “mission” of your website in two sentences?

Examples
“digitalevejapan.org publishes information about DigitalEve Japan’s events, projects and membership. The website is bilingual and includes interactive registration for events.”

“Kristen’s Japan keeps friends, family and the curious reader entertained with daily snippets from my life. In addition, longer, illustrated essays give an in-depth picture of aspects of living in Japan.”

“MediaTinker.com showcases the products and services of our company. Pricing and contact information are available as well as tutorials by our staff and links to business partners.”

Planning Stage 2: Structure
Organizing the structure of your website is a two-fold process. You must consider your audience’s needs first. What do you think will be most important to them?

Keep in mind that what a user needs is probably not the same as the structure of your organization. If we arranged the DigitalEve Japan website based on the steering committee, our members would have a difficult time finding out about our workshops. Here’s what might be, compared to what currently is:

DE-J Steering Committee Organization
Co-Leaders' page
Treasurer’s page
PR page
Sponsorship page
Web Content page

Audience-based Web Organization
News & Home
About Us
Join Us
Events
Contact Us

If you are planning a corporate or organizational website, you may want to conduct focus groups or interview some of your users to find out what they think is important or useful. You might be surprised at what they suggest.

Once you have an idea in your head, you should put it on paper. Not only does this help you fill any gaps you may have forgotten, but it gives everyone involved in the construction of the site a guide to follow.

There are many ways to sketch out this plan. You can use a simple list, as above. A flowchart can be helpful if you need to lead the audience through steps, such as registering or purchasing something online. Another technique that is helpful at the beginning stages, especially when you have a lot of information to organize, is mind mapping.

Planning Stage 3: Navigation
Navigation is the final key point in your user interface. This is how your audience will move around in your site and it includes all the clues they will have too show them where they are (and where they can go).

Here are some standard navigation techniques; you can incorporate as many as makes sense for your site:

  1. Navigation Buttons. These might say Next, Home, E-mail Me, or Products
  2. Textual Navigation is an alternative to buttons or graphics. If you use buttons, it’s a good idea to include text, too, as an aide for anyone who has trouble with graphics.
  3. Search is invaluable if you have a large site or one with lots of content buried deep. While some users enjoy browsing to find what they want, busy users want to get there quickly.
  4. Site Maps. These graphical representations of the structure of the site were popular several years ago, but have fallen out of favor. However, they can be useful as a secondary navigation method to show an overview of what’s in each section of the site.
  5. Index/Directory. Lists can help a user pinpoint a topic. Unless your site is a deep or broad portal, this is probably best as a secondary method
  6. Themes. Although these are rarely appropriate, if your site has a specific metaphor that can be graphically integrated into navigation, it can be a fun and natural way for the user to navigate. However, trying to force your site’s content fit your theme can be painful, limiting and confusing to the audience if it doesn’t work perfectly.

Incorporating navigation “clues” can help your audience identify where they are in your site:

  1. URL. You will not always be able to give your page a meaningful URL, particularly if you are working with a database, but compare these two URLs. Which gives you more information about the page?
    http://www.blah.org/tokyo/maps/shinagawa.html
    http://www.blah.org/map.html
  2. Page Title. The title of a page appears in the browser window, not actually on the page. This is what is used to create the entry in your Favorites or Bookmarks. So it’s key to make it meaningful. An example comparison:
    Welcome!
    DigitalEve Japan: Event Calendar
  3. Page Heading. This is the heading on the page itself. It should let the audience know exactly where they are. Event Calendar, DigitalEve Japan Contact Information, or
  4. Breadcrumbs. These are usually generated by a database-driven website. You’ve seen them at sites such as Yahoo!.
    Home > Society and Culture > Cultures and Groups > Women >
  5. Highlighted navigation items. Either the current location is “grayed out” that is, it cannot be selected in the navigation area, or it is made more prominent.

Organizing navigation should be a priority when you start designing your site. Take a look at sites you like and especially ones you think are easy to navigate then copy the best ideas to use on your own site. Remember that even though unique design can help your site stand apart from other sites, confusing the users with bad navigation means nobody’s going to stay very long to read what you have to say.

Points to consider

  • Where to place the navigation text or buttons. At the top or bottom of the page? Down one side? In a frame? Inside a table? Try to keep navigation “above the fold” on your page—that is, it should appear in the first screen of information without having to scroll down
  • How many levels to include? On digitalevejapan.org, we have only the section names as navigation on each page, but we could add more detail:

    About Us
    - DE-J History
    - Member Profiles
    Events
    Calendar
    - Registration
    - Photo Archive
    - Class Materials

  • What information should be searchable? Should the search box appear on every page, or do you want a special page (with instructions, hints, etc) to search from?

Whew, am I tired.

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Whew, am I tired. The web retreat was a great success, but lots of energy!

Still in jetlag mode, my body demanded large quanitities of food all weekend. Fortunately, we ate extremely well during a feast at the resort last night, two hearty lunches, and a wonderful Japanese breakfast.

After dinner but before we went to bathe in the hot spring, we enjoyed playing with fireworks outside the hotel. A five year old boy was lighting some and his parents shared with us.

The workshop portions of the weekend went well, too. But for me, the onsen and the food were the highlights. The rest was more like work.

When I'm jetlagged, I

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When I'm jetlagged, I eat strangely.

First of all, my mind and body are out of synch by about four hours. I went to sleep last night at 1 am and rose at 5 this morning with my mind so full of ideas and plans that it forced my body to move.

So here I am, four hours of sleep behind me, ready to start a new day (the first day of a two day DigitalEve web retreat that I am helping to teach/lead) and I am famished. I crave protein. No namby-pamby tofu and beans for me, please. I want meat. Give me a big juicy steak or a hamburger. Or maybe a horse.

Sadly, there is no meat in the house and the only restaurants open at this hour are not serving meat-rich dishes. I'll have to settle for toast and coffee. Lunch will come along in another 7 hours and I'll get some protein then.

Well, the pipe inspectors

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new pipesWell, the pipe inspectors must have sent in their scathing report. The drainage system across the street has been reworked into a maze of waterways. Not only are there new, complicated joints connecting all of the branches, but they dug up the street to create two new access ports into the underground gutter!

Most of the work was done while we were gone, but a man driving an unmarked van was putting on finishing touches today. Quite a production!

When it's all said and done, I think the moss was pretty and the grey PVC pipes quite ugly. They should have left it as it was.

When we arrived home

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When we arrived home last night, I grabbed all the mail out of our mailbox and reviewed it.

Half of the volume of mail was flyers for real estate companies, movers, telephone cards and food delivery services. I dumped those in the trash, then sorted the remainder: two tax notices, a bill, a contract, a magazine, and an entry for DigitalEve Japan's postcard contest.

I guess that's about right for two weeks. I wish I received more interesting mail.

Delays and cancellations made

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Delays and cancellations made our trip home an extra-long day. Our 10:10 flight from Pittsburgh had a mechanical failure which forced us to switch to a later flight so we missed our connection in Chicago. The next plane out of Chicago to Tokyo also had a mechanical failure--we waited for five hours while they flew in a replacement.

I was happy that we had Star Alliance Gold status (access to the Red Carpet Club and business center) and the new laptop (access to our e-mail and chat with friends) to keep us amused while we waited. The bloody mary didn't hurt, either. :-)

Now we're home, showered, and downloading e-mail before we retire for the evening. I'm looking forward to some tasty Japanese food for lunch tomorrow.

My maternal grandmother, Romayne,

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My maternal grandmother, Romayne, had a fondness for shoes. Her closet was full of shoes to match every outfit. I've never thought I inherited that same love of shoes as closet is full of practical styles in black.

But yesterday I realised my heritage. I was shopping for yet another pair of black leather shoes at a store that can only be described as a supermarket of shoes. Aisle after aisle displayed sandals disguised as confections, fruity pumps, meaty oxfords, and of course, my practical staples.

They looked tasty enough to eat and I walked away with four pairs. Two were what I'd anticipated. But two were in the spirit of Romayne--bright salmon mules and burgundy sandals.

This year's Father's Day

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This year's Father's Day Death March was the best ever.

Since the fateful Father's Day hike about ten years ago (It was long, hot and very wearying), we've carried on a tradition of a fruitless and terrible trip as selected by Tod's father. We've driven for hours to walk for ten minutes in a grassy ghost town, we've visited oil fields, ridden steam trains, and even found the southwest corner of Pennsylvania.

But now that he's a grandfather, Pete's mellowed. This year we went bowling only a few miles from the house. Justin (the newest father in the family) won with a score of 145 and Pete came in second at 116. My score? A pitiful 74.

Everyone says that Seth,

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Everyone says that Seth, our six week old nephew, is a good tempered baby.

He must know that a baby skeptic (me) is in the house because he wailed for 45 minutes straight last night, putting his good behaviour in serious doubt. Just as I suspected. ;-)

However, his crying didn't seem to damped the enthusiasm of the adults around him. They held him in every imaginable position, on his back, on his stomach, upright (though not upside down) while bouncing, rocking and jiggling him to placate his screaming. Eventually, he fell asleep lying on his grandfather's stomach.

Winding up a vacation

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Winding up a vacation is always a bummer. I'm shaking sand out of things and putting them back into their places. Tod's showering and finishing up his packing. Soon we'll be checking out and heading for the Philadelphia Airport to catch a flight to Dulles then on to Pittsburgh. The mood in the condotel is melancholic frenzy.

It's been an interesting week getting to know my family again. Both of my cousins, who were kids when we last met, are adults now. My niece is growing by leaps and bounds. The rest of us are getting older, too, but it's better not to think too much about that. Jenn and I were silly sisters together, falling right back into the playful patterns of our childhood. But I still resent that she's taller than me.

Get any far-flung, multi-generational

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Get any far-flung, multi-generational family together and you're going to get new words introduced into the collective vocabulary. A daughter's use of "right" or a cousin's use of "quite."

But my family coins new phrases wholesale. Here are some of the ones we've come up with this week:

  1. Spiral. (adj) Hip, cool, groovy. "This record shop is really spiral." Author: Fran.
  2. Ass clown. (n) A total jerk. "What an ass clown." Author: George Going to Dover. (v phrase) A trip fraught with minor disasters. Author: Jenn.
  3. Evanescence of avuncular remembrance. (n phrase) The affliction that explains why Helen won't remember Tod next week. Author: Tod.
  4. Hot trouser. (adj) Very cool. "That sexy girl is hot trouser." Author: Tod

"Making movies" is what

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"Making movies" is what you're doing when you think through how a situation will play out--a romantic dinner, a confrontation with a colleague, a trip to the dentist.

I was making movies when I thought of a way to mark the recent passage of several relatives whose funerals I had missed: my sister and I would light incense on the beach and spend a few quiet moments staring out to sea, remembering. Just a quiet passage of time to reflect.

Of course, things never turn out as planned. I brought five fat bunches of temple incense from Tokyo and that was the end of the director's cut. Six of us gathered on the beach, struggling with bad lighters and the wind to get the incense lit. A few sticks caught, then blew out. Dad burned his thumb. We probably looked like a group of bumbling terrorists.

In the end, we passed around one partially burning bundle, blackened at the edges and emitting a faint trail of smoke, while we each said a few words. I was unprepared to speak, but got my turn first, "Our time will come, too." Mom cried; Uncle George made us laugh; Jenn trembled; Emily voiced a wry observation; and Dad spoke briefly before we all laughed again and headed off to continue our day.

So it wasn't the movie I'd planned, but it turned out OK anyway.

[sigh of relief] I

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[sigh of relief] I went for several days without e-mail. No blog. No chat. OK, I know I'm on holiday and supposed to be relaxing, but there's only so much offline time a girl can take.

Suffering from computer DTs, I phoned Apple to find out where to buy an iBook in the Jersey Shore area. However, there was none to be had nearby so we drove from Cape May to Dover--a hundred miles away--to buy a new laptop. A ferry, a speeding ticket and a terrible lunch later, I had a shiny, white iBook in hand.

My whole family is here in Cape May--including my uncle, aunt & cousins from California--and we're enjoying the sea air and NJ asparagus. So far four people have checked their e-mail. I'm glad I'm not the only addict in the family. :-)

We combined fire and

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We combined fire and cottonwood last night after Tod discovered that it burns beautifully. With lighters in hand, we walked the neighborhood looking for patches and drifts of the white, fluffy seeds.

Touching flame to an edge caused the seeds to catch fire in a wavefront like a fuse burning down. Fire consumed them so quickly that nothing under them was even singed. We stopped when we realised that we were filling then neighborhood with smoke. But it was fun while it lasted.

Grilled leg of lamb.

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Grilled leg of lamb. Pierogies and blintzes. Falafel and hummus. Coming to Chicago is always an excuse for feasting on things that are hard to get in Tokyo.

And the prices can't be compared. Our leg of lamb was $18 from a local slaughterhouse. (I'm sure it would be $18/lb in Tokyo). Our filling Polish dinner was $32 for four of us. The same thing in Tokyo? It's not possible--we've never found a Polish restaurant in Japan.

Yesterday morning's fire was

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Yesterday morning's fire was more appropriate than I imagined.

We spent the day marvelling over the blizzard of cottonwood snow that blew from two local trees. The soft, fluffy seeds fell from the sky, drifted across sidewalks, collected in the gutters, stuck in our hair.

It's 7:45 in the

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It's 7:45 in the morning. Tod & John are out getting wood to start a fire. I'm not sure why--perhaps for atmosphere, or maybe someone's going to cook breakfast over it. Kris is about to start a summer job as a camp councillor, so I suppose this could be for her benefit.

All I know is that it's June (what date is it?), and although the day is cloudy and cool, it's not really fire weather.

A year ago my

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A year ago my sister, a poet from Pennsylvania, came to visit me. We talked about how experiences, like a roast hot out of the oven, need a while to settle before we dig into them. They want time to grow inside the cocoon of self before taking fight. Pick your metaphor. We have to wait before we can express our experiences.

Her first poem about Japan, Music of Washing, emerged from its chrysalis this week. When I read the title, I thought it might be about the Japanese laundry machine that she liked. But it isn't.

If you're well travelled,

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If you're well travelled, you know that packing for a trip is an art. Maximise the combinations of clothes, minimize the space, and you have yourself a well-packed bag. Fortunately for me, my entire wardrobe follows that rule (everything is black or goes with black) so packing's not too challenging.

Until you consider where the gifts are going to fit. Today I'll be taking my backpack and cramming it full of gifts to give to friends and family. And sliding in (I hope) a pair of shorts, two t-shirts and a skirt. That plus what I wear on the plane is all I'm taking. Since I'm going to the land of clothes that fit, I'll buy anything else that I might need. A pair of shoes, a bathing suit, and new underpants are definitely on the shopping list.

Since I was a

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Since I was a teenager, I've wanted to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform live. Small dream accomplished.

The touring company is playing The Tempest at the Tokyo Globe and it's an excellent production. They've blended music with Prospero's magic to create something really powerful. The stage itself was fantastic--a sinuous rolling wave, raked sharply upwards at the back to provide a place to spirits to fly, the shipwrecked to swim to shore, and the firey, stormy elements to be seen.

It hardly needs to be said that the actors were incredibly good. It's always a treat to see Shakespeare come to life. The plays are better enjoyed as performance than in script.

Was The Tempest as captivating as the BBC-produced Nicholas Nickleby that I fell in love with in high school? Almost. But it wasn't nearly as long.

I'm often surprised how

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I'm often surprised how American culture and habits sometimes rub me the wrong way. Other times I cuddle up comfortably with them.

Case in point. Last night at midnight, I attended a conference call. (Don't even get me started on the "joys" of global telecomm and its use at wicked hours) Most of the particpants were Americans who were annoyingly upbeat, but foolishly nitpicking and didn't listen to one another. Also, too many had the extremely irritating habit of turning scentences into questions? As in "I'm palnning an event? And we want to make t-shirts? Is it OK to use the logo?"

But I'm not always down on the US and its citizens. Also last night, but a little earlier, I attended a friend's birthday party and met quite a few new people, including Adam from V-2 who has recently arrived in Tokyo. He was great. His interesting sentences were declaratives.

Geek celebrities. It's weird

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Geek celebrities. It's weird how in any field there are those who are well-known and respected practiioners of their craft. But in the Internet world, the widespread sharing of communication allows some to become celebrities and household names.

Among my circle of geeky friends, Slashdot is a news portal of choice. And last night, we had the opportunity to meet Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, the brains behind the operation.

His blend of pop culture verities, experience, laughter, and cynicism brought to mind a few friends and colleagues from the Telerama days: Doug, Alan, Peter, and of course, Tod. We were just like CmdrTaco, only without the fame and fortune. There's a certain enthusiasm of youth that some have at 25. The lucky ones hold on to it.

Tod was enthusiastic when Rob handed over his business card. He didn't quite do a victory dance on the spot but he had to restrain himself, I think. I got permission to scan it for "the 'blog" today but Tod will take it back and preserve it in his card file. I have two binders full of cards that I use all the time, but I don't think I have any famous people filed in there. At least none that I care about.

Nothing list a new

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Nothing list a new trash can to brighten up a kitchen.

Sounds like a silly thing, but we have to separate our waste into five categories, so we have a lot of trash cans. Or rather, we should have had. Actually, we had a lot of paper shopping bags.

Now we have a nice collection of 25 liter trash cans with lids. My kitchen looks so organized, so clean. Next, I'll get the spice rack tidied up.

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  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): I am such a loser - sent off my cards read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): Hi Babe, Haven't seen you in ages it seems. Ash read more
  • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlBlcLTfxgMWRgxf2_TuNkGW8AwePJPekQ: Hi Kristen, Tell me about it. Our last (3 month) read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): "We deeply apologize to our customers for the heavy burden," read more
  • Carolyn Farwell: Oh the gif you've created is so funny! You have read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): I am going to miss you!! read more
  • Eric Smith: Hey Kristen: Met you on a train a couple of read more
  • sar: Hey beautiful !! you have some mad drawing skills ! read more

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