Yuka’s (2 minute) One Minute Movie

Small Format 2.3MB

Bigger Format (4.9MB, so go easy on my server…)

This one by Yuka, taken today in Koishikawa.
They look best if you save them to your hard disk, then view at double size. (Probably right-click and do “Save As”.)

Yuka and I were toying with the idea of making a whole lot of these and making a DVD of them. It seems like a good idea, since we’re making them anyway and we have a DVD burner in the new iMac. I wonder if anyone would actually want a copy if we did it…

Microscale Publishing

(An early draft of this was posted last night by mistake, so I took it down and finished it up a bit…)

When Yuka and I were deciding what to do Sunday morning and seeing who was around, we thought of seeing Tod & Kristen, but rather than picking up the phone, (as we didn’t have their number anyway,) we got on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) where Tod runs a private server and a channel for them and their friends to come visit.
It functions as a kind of living room, not for everyone, just invited friends.
Joi also runs one, a much more public channel on FreeNode, where people hang out and chat all the time.

I wonder if these little private spaces will become more and more common. It seems a kind of natural extension to the whole blog thing where people are creating these little microcosms of their public personality. Email is of course, becoming a last-ditch medium of communication. After all, how can you be sure that your message will actually reach the person and not get tossed out with the dirty bathwater of spam that most people seem to get these days?

Thinking about this, I got to thinking about weblogs and their role in the writer’s life. This is where what we do differs from Journalism. Journalists do what they do to have people read what they write. A successful Journalistic publication is one that is widely read and influential – the goal, money aside, is to have as many people as possible read their words.

For this reason, people looking at blogging tend to focus on the big players, or the “Alpha Bloggers” as I call them. Those, being the most widely read, must be the best, right? I don’t necessarily think so.

It’s the little blogs, the ones with an audience of just a few people, that are going to define this medium.

These blogs are conversations. They address a very limited audience in a very familiar fashion. They tend to be on a first name basis. They talk about trivial, often uninteresting (to an outsider) topics.
Maybe that’s ultimately where blogs will make the biggest difference – microscale audiences. Personal conversations, not pronouncements.

So given that thought, why do the big-name blogs work? They drop all pretentiousness and speak directly to with their audiences. They maintain a sense of intimacy with the readers, often by adding the little mundane details of daily life. Stuff that can’t be faked.

Franklin Roosevelt knew that a dialogue with the people was important, opening one with the public in the form of his Fireside Chats. Groundbreaking as they were, they still had the tone of a father speaking to his children. It was a one-way dialogue, firm, yet kind. His wife Eleanor, on the other hand, was able to conveigh a sense of conversation and intimacy in her daily column My Day.

Boston’s infamously-corrupt and colorful mayor James Michael Curley knew the power of these dialogues as well. I never understood how such an obviously criminal man was able to remain one of the most popular leaders of the 20th century – until, that is, I had the opportunity to listen to some of his radio addresses. They were warm and familiar, delivered in a voice that could have been one of the older Barrymores, kind, fatherly and sincere, yet humble in their tone. After hearing them, I realized that had I been in Boston when he was running for office, I probably would have voted for him a few times too.

Listening to Curley, or reading Mrs. Roosevelt’s column, you get the feeling that you are part of an audience of perhaps five people. Intimate..

I think this is what works best for blogs as well, an audience of five, whether that number is actual or perceived.

The Japan expat bloggers are some of the best in the world, in my opinion, because they are familiar with this style of writing. Many of us were writing emails to small groups of family members and friends back home in groups of five or ten, describing the odd happenings of daily life as a stranger in a strange land. A trip to the market becomes something to write home about. A trip to Akihabara that results in a new digital camera adds images to this dialogue. A bit of web space makes it public and some blogging software makes it interactive.

Yet it’s that original bit of writing that is the heart, not the technology. Not the number of readers, not your rankings on the blog popularity charts. It’s the writing.

Someone trying to compare Journalism to blogging will probably not see this, after all, a blog with five readers cannot possibly be a success, can it? Blogging and Journalism are starting to bump elbows and step on eachother’s toes. There are journalists who blog and bloggers who report news, but the overlap is insignificant, (though not unimportant,) in its scope.

Yet in my opinion, it’s the blogs that speak to with their readers in groups of five that are the true successes, no matter how many readers they actually have.

Koishikawa shokubutsuen

Yuka and I went to Koishikawa shokubutsuen with Tod and Kristen today and took lots of pictures. The park was once an herbal botanical garden for a hospital, but now belongs to Tokyo University.
Kristen showed us her favorite trees, a pair of huge trees, the wood of which smelled like cinnamon and the leaves, like camphor.
Afterwards, we had a coffee at a kissaten called “Zou no ko” or “Baby Elephant”, which was a fitting coincidence, if you know how much Kristen and Tod like Elephants. From there, we went to Kagurazak by bike and I learned what a Nikon with a heavy lens sounds like when it falls from a backpack several feet to pavement. My camera gained a scuff to to the corner, but otherwise was unhurt. Nikon makes very durable cameras.
At kagurazaka, we had crepes and galettes and brut cidre… Oishikatta.
Yuka’s on the other computer now, busily editing a new movie from what she shot today, so it should be up here soon.

Down at the coffee shop

I’m down in the coffee shop now, Yuka’s here, reading a book. I brought a wireless access point out to the balcony of my apartment and the signal seems to reach well enough, so I have internet.

I wish the coffee shop had its own wireless – I’d come here a lot more if they did. Daphne just stopped in to the shop – she was driving by and saw us sitting here. This town is getting smaller and smaller.

The washer finally decided to die, so the workmen and the landlady came by again this afternoon to check it out. Not a big deal, but it necessitated my cleaning out the laundry room of all the boxes, wires & computer equipment in there. Less of a hassle than I had anticipated, really. I stacked the servers on my desk and got everything back up and running in just a few minutes really.
The landlady gave me less of a hard time than I had guessed she would over all of the strange equipment and wires and blinking lights jammed in next to the washer. I explained that it was “for my work” and that seemed to satisfy her.

Since they’re all out, I’ll take the opportunity to do some work on the server, I guess – maybe cram in another hard disk and try to add a different video card – I have one that works with these strange proprietary flat panel displays I got. It would be more convenient than bringing in the flat panel from my desk every time I need to reboot.
This is a poster currently on the subway line I take – it’s a “manner poster”, which is of a series to remind people not to do things on the train to annoy other people. I really like the way this is drawn, reminds me a bit of something that Garth Williams might have done.
The caption at the top says “Ajiwattemasu, fukaikan”, or roughly “tasting your newspaper isn’t pleasant”. Maybe I can convince the station people to give me a copy.

Pound – reverse-proxy and load-balancer

Tech stuff – of limited interest…


Pound – reverse-proxy and load-balancer

The Pound program is a reverse proxy, load balancer and HTTPS front-end for Web server(s). Pound was developed to enable distributing the load among several Web-servers and to allow for a convenient SSL wrapper for those Web servers that do not offer it natively. Pound is distributed under the GPL (with the OpenSSL disclaimer) – no warranty, it’s free to use, copy and give away.

On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings

William Henry James, 1899

On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings

The spectator’s judgment is sure to miss the root of the matter, and to possess no truth. The subject judged knows a part of the world of reality which the judging spectator fails to see, knows more while the spectator knows less; and, wherever there is conflict of opinion and difference of vision, we are bound to believe that the truer side is the side that feels the more, and not the side that feels the less.


Just got off the phone with my sister Leslie and she’s decided to come to Tokyo for a few weeks. Very, very cool.
OK, Les, now the world knows and you can’t back out…

Scary Movies

I watched a bit more of 28 Days Later tonight.
Turned it off after a few minutes, the same as I did yesterday.
Too spooky.
I was thinking about what movies have really spooked me out over the years. If course, there was the 1972 classic low-budget film The Gargoyles, which I remember as being scary, yet cool. There was something about the way that the monsters moved that was surreal, yet even more terrifying, at least I thought so as a six-year-old, watching it on the big black and white TV upstairs in the old house, way past my bed time…
A few tears later, in 1976, I saw Burnt Offerings, with Oliver Reed and Karen Black. All I remember from that was being terrified by the Chauffeur, played by Anthony James.
Yet there was another one that always haunted me, terrified me at the time, but I had no idea what it was. It had to do with the lead character going to some kind of resort or home or something and discovering that there was a woman buried on the grounds. The person, who I remembered as being Brian Keith or maybe Brian Denehey, tried to get others to believe that there was someone buried alive, but couldn’t convince anyone.
A year or two ago, I found myself thinking about that movie again so I searched the Internet Movie Database and went through all the movies for both actors. No luck, so I filed it back into the place where I keep dark and disturbing thoughts to keep me up at night…
Yesterday, after a bit of Googling, I finally found it. 31 years later. It was The Screaming Woman, an ABC made-for-TV movie from 1972, starring Olivia de Havilland, not Brian Keith, as I had remembered it. Funny how your mind can work – I’m probably the first person ever to confuse Mr. Keith and Ms. de Havilland. (A bit of local trivia – Olivia de Havilland was born in Tokyo.)
So anyway, back to the movie…

A wealthy former mental patient goes home to her estate to rest and recuperate. While walking the grounds one day she hears the screams of a woman coming from underneath the ground who has been buried alive. Her family, however, refuses to believe her story, and sees the incident as an opportunity to prove the woman’s mind has snapped so they can take control of her money.

Doesn’t really sound so bad now, but it was probably the creepy music they used to play in those things.
I hear it runs now and again on latenight cable – could one of you in the US with a TiVo take a look for it?

So… Since it’s so close to halloween, think back. What movies stick with you as being the scariest? What scenes come to mind when you’re spooked late at night and you’re headed to the basement with just a candle to investigate a strange noise?

Yuka, would yours still be Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô (Female Convict Scorpion Jailhouse 41) which we both had a chance to see again recently?

Fox Head Fruit

This is a strange sight in Japan this tome of year – a Fox-Head fruit.
I don’t know much about them, except that they’re pretty much ornamental only.
Anyone know more about them?

Adam and Joe Go Tokyo?

Since there has been a lot of ongoing interest in this, I’ve created a dedicated Adam and Joe site at http://gotokyo.mmdc.net/
Nik and Tom will be running it for now and I’ll be jumping in here and there.

Has anyone heard of this show called Adam and Joe Go Tokyo?
It’s a British reality show where two guys get dropped off in Tokyo and have to become famous in a short time.
I guess they’re famous now, since they’re on my blog, but I hadn’t heard of the show until just now …