It’s been an incredibly long day of work, chores, and getting organizational things done. But before I turn in, I just wanted to give a shout out to the people at Japan Travel Bureau who just saved me over $1,000 on my flight to Japan.

I bought through Northwest earlier this year and spent a ton. On the advice of my good friend Alex, I checked out JTB and they were so much cheaper that I will be calling Northwest tomorrow to cancel my existing ticket (even though I will loose about $100).

If you are ever flying to Japan, give JTB a call. I am now their official cheerleader.

T-minus 25 days

A new audio podcast for you all. I ramble on my way to school and talk about how I should talk about this stuff more. Sound redundant? It is. I think this is more for me to get in the habit and work out my audio-workflow before hitting the ground for real in Japan.

Sorry if the audio is a bit wonky. I didn’t even think it would be usable until I listened with headphones today. But alas, it seemed salvageable. So here is Monday’s podcast, today!

Show notes

A Difficult Week

This week has probably been the most difficult week for me in Columbia. Not because classes are difficult. In fact, all of my classes with the exception of my Japanese language classes are already finished. Rather, I think the reality of leaving the country for a year and a half is hitting me. I’ve grown so much since beginning this program and know I will only grow more after experiencing Japan for an extended period of time. But there are still a few things that are on my mind:

My family will be difficult to see. Both of my sisters are in college still and can’t really afford to travel too far. My mom and dad will most likely come out and see me, but I’m not sure at which point they will – or even if I can get my dad on the airplane. LOL.

Dealing with administrative things in Japan may be difficult. I’m still in the process of finding an apartment, I need to open a bank account, I need to get a phone, I need to get an alien registration card, etc, etc. It all seems like a lot right now and I know these things will be even more difficult with my lack of fluency in Japanese.

In particular, I’m not looking forward to being so far away from my girlfriend for that period of time. Even apart, I felt like I have grown so much closer to her and feel awful being apart from her even now. I’m looking forward so much to being back already, and I haven’t even left yet.

So with all of these things, I still look forward to going, though a bit hesitantly at this point. Most things I have done in my life have been relatively safe or predictable at this point, so this whole thing is truthfully, a bit scary right now. I’m hanging on tight at the moment.

New Video Project Coming

Sorry for the lack of video and audio lately. I’m preparing for my move to Japan and tying up a bunch of last minute things like taxes, insurance, blah blah. I did want to let everyone know that I have come up with a pretty neat video project that will make the videos a bit more entertaining. Rather than post some boring video about Columbia (which is where I am now until March 16th), I’m collecting material that will make for a more interesting “watch” or “listen” depending on the format.

On a “leaving for Japan” note, everything is now in place. The airplane tickets have been purchased, my visa has finally arrived from the consulate in Atlanta, and I am officially admitted to Waseda. Please stay tuned, more to come after the next few weeks of craziness subside.

Reason #24601

You know are in an international business program when…


Your email client gets confused with the encoding because there are more than three languages being used in a single thread of email. I think I’ve started to officially confuse gmail. (^o–)

Zen Gaming with Flow


Ok, so this is not really Japan related but I wanted to share this with my friends and those who perhaps appreciate the simple, clean aesthetics.

A week ago while stressing Japanese grammar, I found this very soothing and relaxing game called Flow. It is a flash-based game, played in a browser. Today I was amazed to see that Flow is being released as a PS3 title, with even better graphics and amazing gameplay.

A little more exploring and it turns out, “flow” is actually a concept defined in psychology:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields. (source: Wikipedia)

Not only is this game incredibly relaxing, but it is also so freshing to see that good games can be developed by independent developers and attract so much attention that they become mainstream on major platforms. Instead of solely focusing on next generation hardware, this game focuses on a simple concept and executes on it so well. Let’s hope we see more independent and creative titles from developers like this in the future.

If class / work / life / pets / whatever is stressing you out, go on and play flow. You won’t regret the experience.

The Beef is Back

Kobe Beef Podcast Logo

This morning, I somewhat mozied on out of bed like I usually do on Sunday mornings. But man, I would have bolted out if I had know that one of my favorite podcasts just made its comeback last week. Terrance over at the Kobe Beef Show podcast has started it up again for the new year. His site has a new design but the cowbell is still there in the intro. (I was beginning to worry when he did his check sequence on episode 55 before the intro song). It’s like getting back on a bike again, you remember how much fun it is and then it all comes back to you like it was yesterday.

Terrance has not only a unique outlook on Japanese like, but also an interested approach to the language. T-Bone and Terrance will teach you the Japanese that no book will teach you and keep you straight with the Japanese street slang. Terrance is also a kind soul, hosting both me and a friend when we visited Kobe for some sweet Kobe beef followed up by unnumbered rounds of sake at a bar that I will never find again.

If you are learning Japanese and interested in fleshing out your vocabulary or just like listening to a cool cat get his groove on, get on over to the Kobe Beef Show podcast now kids. 聞くよ!

Staying Focused


Canon EOS 20d 1/60 f6.0 3200ISO ??mm Photoshop

I did an experiment yesterday. The goal: completely sequester all distractions and see how much I could get done in 5 hours. I managed to surprise myself as to how much I could accomplish. From 4pm to 9pm I worked like a busy little bee and the only thing a bit dissatisfying was how much work there was left to do, but it got me thinking. A little focus in all aspects of my life could certainly help.

I think that I will work with two central themes this year, capturing a story and capturing motion. I will not focus so much on the media this happens in or even the discipline in which it occurs. I’m curious to see how much I can reduce the things I shouldn’t be doing and add value to the things I am doing by applying a simple concept to things across the board.

For example, in my professional work I could certain benefit from this. Capturing the story of how businesses transform in a simple way for presentations could certainly help. Being able to accurately capture and harness business change (“motion”) provides a focus for my business architecture research.

Even in my amateur photography work, these are two great themes to be able to work with. I hope it also reduces the temptation to take cliche photos of buildings, sunsets, flowers, and pets.

What is the central theme to your work, professional or otherwise this year? Should we even be using this approach. I’m wondering what other people use to guide their work.

Or perhaps, maybe I have just had too much coffee today.

Aqua Teen Attacks Boston

I was reading a post from a friend about Boston being shut down by a potential terrorist attack today. Totally under my radar. But after randomly watching a Youtube video today, I soon realized that it was actually Turner Broadcasting and their marketing of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force show, one of my favorites. And even better, it was the Mooninites. I think this entire incident shows the hilarity of the way some people think. Even after Turner claimed the strange magnetic lite-brite devices were part of their guerrilla marketing campaign, the siege continued. The video link above has some good insight, but this quote from CNN throws me off the train completely.

Assistant Attorney General John Grossman called the light boards “bomb-like” devices and said that if they had been explosive they could have damaged transportation infrastructure in the city. – cnn.com

Are you kidding me?!? Bomb-like?! Look at that picture!! Sure, if the manholes in the streets were explosive, they could really damage quite a few vehicles in the streets of Boston as well. If the streetlights were explosives, they could cause some major traffic delays. If the trees were … you get the point I’m sure.

At any rate, I think we all need to take a look at the way we react to “terrorist threats”. A visiting prospective student today (who is British, British mind you) even remarked to me on how he was detained at the airport for nearly 3 hours, passport confiscated, no ability to make a phone call and consequently missed his connecting flight and was unable to get in touch with the folks waiting for him at his final destination. Without passport and communication with the outside world (no phone calls mind you), he was essentially without rights.

It’s really incredible how much of those goes on day to day and we, as Americans, simply miss it. Turner, get permits for physical marketing. Boston, get realistic or watch more Comedy Central.

More Updates Coming

Photo 16 copy.jpg

Hey everyone, just a quick update. Sorry I have not posted any audio or video lately. I read a review in the iTunes Music Store of this podcast and thought to myself, “Yeah I really need to do more”. The past month since I have returned to school has been very busy. We’re already taking finals next week and we have a Japanese language mid-term the week after.

The good news is, our eligibility certificates came in from the Ministry of Justice in Japan (photo above). We’re sending these off today to hopefully get our student visas. It should only take a week or so. Once that is in, I’ll be able to stay in Japan for more than just the 90-day tourist visa. It seems like the process we are going through is much easier and straightforward from our European track classmates.

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard at my existing job to get things closed out before I leave. I’ve also been really digging in with Japanese. I can recognize about 100 Kanji now, which doesn’t sound like much but it has been a big step for me. Alex and I will be participating in some role play in class next week, I hope to catch that on tape and put it up as well. I also hope to start writing posts in both English and Japanese to help work on my writing skills, but we’ll see.

I hope everyone else is doing well. I’ll be back more later this week. ごめんあさい。またね。