2006 Entries

December 23

Happy Festivus! A holiday for the rest of us. And a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all you traditionalists. And Hanukkah, and...

December 2

The holiday season is upon us. In the spirit of the season, I would like to share something with you, a little reminder of what we have lost, a sobering reminder of the power that we all still wield to do good, and even a bit of hope. This is a long (1 hour) speech by former President Clinton on the importance of philanthropy. Listen to what he says. Listen to the possibility for hope. Remember a time when we had leadership with intelligence, and hope and work for such a time again. It’s like nothing you’ve heard since he left office, I guarantee you.

Merry Christmas.

Direct link (28MB mp3)

Bill Clinton on Why Giving Matters, Slate Daily Podcast, Nov. 14, 2006

November 21

The holiday season is rushing at us, but all I can say that at this end is...I just ain't ready.

For Mac folks (OK, not just Macfolks), a couple of tidbits. Had a SECOND Seagate drive go south on me last week. Luckily, this one gave some warning signs, so I had a 48-hour old cloned drive ready to swap in. Not much data lost at all. Seagate was (rightfully) prompt about expediting replacement. More interesting was the major way the failed drive affected the rest of the computer. Could not boot from TechTool Pro (or then get the CD out) nor from an external Firewire drive. Could not reset PRAM or boot into single-user mode on startup. Both Harada-san at the Shinsaibashi Apple Store Genius Bar and I decided it couldn't be just the hard drive. However, I was toting the original 60 GB drive that came with the MacBook; we swapped that in and, bingo, all was well. Hmph. Just the hard drive. My only guess is that the Intel configuration means more interaction between the drive and the machine? Dunno. Pretty weird going there for a while. Also discussed getting the free recall エステ(be the first to do a Wikipedia entry!) for the MacBook to relieve it of its yellow snow syndrome, and tentatively scheduled that for the holidays.

There still is no DiskWarrior available for the Intel Macs - does anyone have any experience with Drive Genius?

As for good news, I had a buggy bluetooth mouse that was lying around and wasn't being missed, but thought I'd just let the maker know the product was problematic. Didn't ask for an exchange or refund. Well, lo, the guy sends me a replacement for the now obsolete mouse I'd bought AND a newer model that incorporates a rechargeable battery. Great company: Radtech. The mice work very well, have great feel and response (I am really picky with mice - maybe 12 or so lying around), and the replacements have been dead reliable. Be aware, though, that they are tiny, and best used for travel; too small for daily adult use. Most adults, anyway. (Sorry, tiny folk.) There is a full-size BT-600 that I have not tried.

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to all. There is much to be thankful for.

November 11, 2006

Thanks to all of you who have offered your thoughtfulness, condolences, and support. The muted colors will remain for a while...but a new addition is the Frappr thingie. Take a look at the column at the right. I hope you can take the time to add yourself, but I do understand those of you still trying to fly under the radar. But remember: bits don't kill, wronged and betrayed friends and lovers do.

Also worth a peek is the great job my students at Kobe College ( 神戸女学院大学) are doing making a Wikipedia site for their school. All their own work.

Finally, thank all of you who voted last Tuesday (11/7/06) and helped me feel good about being American again.

October 25, 2006

ma-and-pa Jeanette Silva 1918 - 2006
Agustin Silva 1909 - 1982
bruce Bruce Clay 1944 - 2006

October 16, 2006

It happened again. Someone tried to compare a friend's (inexplicable) addiction to soccer with my use of computers. It’s always surprising when I'm reminded again how people just don’t get it. It’s not “a computer.” It’s a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a good story or book, a library. It’s my music, photo album, TV shows, Bears’ highlights, the comics, the news. It’s my brother, my friends back in the U.S. and around the world, the friends I don’t get a chance to see as often as I’d like to here in Japan. It’s a public forum of ideas, opinions, and discussion. It’s a tech manual, a cookbook. It’s a canvas, a laboratory, a Rubik’s cube. It’s a link with my students, a tool for creating teaching material, a blank piece of paper in a typewriter. It’s a map, an atlas, a GPS. It’s a Japanese lesson. It’s an employment agency. It’s a record store, a bookstore, a shopping mall. It’s the weatherman. It’s my calendar, my address book, my to do list. It’s my travel agent, may car rental agency, my tour guide. It’s my telephone, my video conference tool. It’s my MacBook.

September 19, 2006

Hope you all enjoyed Talk Like a Pirate Day; for me it was the third day of a marathon teaching weekend, so the festivities were limited to chu-hais on the train home. Arrrr. A bit early, the fall colors are here, on the web page, anyway - the trees here won't be changing until November. Meanwhile, Happy Autumnal Equinox.

September 11, 2006 - Back in the Japans

First, a moment of reflection, remembering those who lost their lives so horribly in 2001. Second, possibly some help in understanding: "The Roots of Muslim Rage," Bernard Lewis, The Atlantic, 1990. Yes, 1990.

Also, fall soon will be here and I can change these silly summer colors. Never were very happy with them. Just back from a great trip back home, especially with a great sub-excursion to see Maine Dave and his wife, Sachiko. Oh, the lobster... (Pictures up...soon? Perhaps.) Plus, Greekfest and Marianne's boat. Actually enough free time (on the plane, but, one takes what one can get) to finish a book. Interesting enough to offer some tidbits for sharing. Real wedding rings, finally, too.

Some of you expressed interest in some of my old plastic models before they are trashed along with boxes and boxes of memories. Here is a look at the collection.

August 4, 2006 - Huh?

Now where the hell did THAT month go? I know way too much of it was spent recovering from a bum hard drive that I had slipped into my new MacBook. Luckily, saved by a recent backup, but still, shuffling data is NOT what one wants to spend precious hours on. At least the classes have ended, the mountain of papers is being scaled, and vacation lies not too far ahead. Oh, and, yes, it's hot here in Osaka, too; but then, it always is this time of year. Not much new aside from updates on both the student download page and the regular student resource page. Oh, and a couple of new friend photo links: Bill's Ireland trip, and Maine Dave's shots of Maine. Nice stuff.

One small addition, an idea brazenly stolen from Esquire: Better in Theory. Their ideas had me in stitches, and I've added a couple of my own, and hope to add more as inspiration strikes. Look over on the left, under the link to the archives.

July 5, 2006 - Still Workin'

Happy Independence Day, all. With wishes for a better time ahead for our nation, a time when we can again be proud to be Americans. Meanwhile, a link to exerpts from an excellent article (unavailable in its entirety, AFAIK) in the March, 2006 Harper's: "The Case for Impeachment," by Lewis H. Lapham. HIGHLY recommended.

Otherwise, enjoying my new 13" MacBook immensely (I went with white). Especially sweet are the bright screen and the built-in iSight camera. The summer mug is with us in Osaka, but still blessedly cool, considering. My students are great (Hi, guys!). No errant North Korean missiles landing anywhere near us as yet. Macsimum News seems to have gone all newsy and jettisoned its foreign correspondents. C'est la vie, しょうがない. No time anyway.

Aimed mostly at men, but for anyone, some of the very best - and practical - health information I've come across, courtesy of Esquire magazine (500kb .zip). To your health.

Ahead lies Tenjin Matsuri, just off our balcony, and a much needed summer vaction.

And what do you mean, you saw a guy that looked just like me in Chicago the weekend of June 23-25? Couldn't have been. Could it? Certainly not in a Hyundai!

May 21, 2006 - Work, Work, Work

Yes, that's about all that's going on here. There should be a new article up at Macsimum News in a day or two. Also, a new page for students to download class materials (see "fair use"). I used Google's dead simple online web page creator; limited, of course, but extremely easy, and 100 MB of storage. Free. A Gmail account is required - let me know if you need one, as I have plenty of invitations left. The big struggle now is finding the patience to wait abit for bugs (heat) to get worked out before taking the plunge - and having to decide...black or white?

May 3, 2006 - Happy Golden Week, Viva el Cinco de Mayo!

Golden week is here, the only real respite in the grueling first semester. The sun is shining and my new Weber is about to get unboxed and broken in later today. For an anniversary gift, I scored a pretty cool little Logitech iPod dock/boombox (thanks, Alison!) , so I'll be cookin'! Friday, El Cinco de Mayo, it'll be some kick-ass fajitas. Wanna join us? Meanwhile, a new article (Size Matters) is up at Macsimum News.

April 18, 2006 - This date in history

April 18, 1991, a jet-lagged and emotionally battered American with two broken toes (おす!) jumps off the plane in Itami, and the next morning begins his teaching career in Japan. Fifteen years. Where did they go?

Also, second piece for Macsimum News now online. Worth a look just for the fun in the comments.

April 12, 2006 - Macsimum News

My first contribution to the Mac website, Macsimum News is now online. Just a short bit about the trials and tribulations of multi-lingual computing. Take a look - you'll find me way at the bottom. Lots of other good Mac news, too. Hopefully more to come. Oh, and a special thanks to all of you who caught my ITS flub. I deserve and welcome your abuse.

Finally, a friendly welcome to any of my new students making their first visit here.

April 4, 2006 - Gradient Desktops

Didn't think the need for therapy would come so quickly. Spent an hour or so playing with Photoshop's batch automation and ended up with a folderful of subtle (mostly) gradient images ideal for simple unobtrusive desktop pictures/patterns. Great for those with small screens or those of you who load up the desktop with stuff. About 130 images. Get them on the files page.

April 2, 2006 - Teacher Surveys

I'd like to ask those of you teaching at colleges and universities in Japan to help me with a couple of surveys. A short explanation and the download links are HERE. Thanks in advance.

April 1, 2006 - Happy Birthday Apple

Happy Birthday Apple, and thank you, Steves. Don't look for too much new here for a few weeks, as the school year now begins and brings with it 60-hour work weeks. Any work here by me will be largely therapeutic. But there have been some updates - new music and links there at the right. One addition I do plan on is a couple of downloadable surveys for those of you teaching English in Japan. Links to the surveys will be here and on the "pro" page of the esl-efl section, and I'd greatly appreciate your help.

Also, for what it's worth, eplaced my aging camera with a new Canon Powershot A540, with an incredible 2" display. Can't wait to play a bit with it. Possibly of interest to Mac users, I am very happy playing with Nisus Writer Express as my word processing program. It's finally grown into a real alternative to Word. Of course, it's still necessary to keep Word around; I just feel a lot cleaner supporting smaller developers and using something else for day to day use. It's on sale, and they offer a nice academic discount. Perhaps in a future entry I'll list some other favorite software.

And thanks to all of you who emailed me with web page suggestions and very generous compliments.

March 21, 2006 - Welcome

Welcome to the new look. Actually, new almost everything. The old site is available, frozen in time in the archive, probably of interest most for the aging gallery of friends, who are aging themselves, and the old photo gallery. Links at left.

Just back from Chicago and the Sicily honeymoon, and the pictures should be up now (link at left). The hope, realistic or not, is to uppdate this page and the photo page more frequently. We'll see. At the very least, I have seasonal color schemes worked out (happy spring, btw), so at least that should change several times a year. Also, note that the pics there are a mix of Alison's and mine unless otherwise noted.

If you want a link to your page(s) posted, please let me know - send the urls and indicate whether they link to a general, photo, or esl/efl site. (Finally, Deano!)

Enjoy, どうぞ, prego...