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    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    The last autumn leaves

    A series of photos I took in Yoyogi park recently. Can't quite get over how beautiful nature is.

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    Japanese dogs: the most fashionable in the whole world

    Dog fashions have come on a fair bit in the last few years. Here's some of photos taken in Yoyogi park of the coolest bow wows on the block.

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    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Phase 1 complete

    Tremendous feeling of satisfaction tonight as, at the end of a long day at the office (8 hours + 7.5 hours overtime) I finally completed phase one of my project to digitise / automate as much of the teaching jobs admin process as possible.

    For the past two months or so I've been working on my first ever MS Access database. It's not especially complex - for someone who's created databases before it would probably be very easy - it simply keeps a record of all our current jobs, and produces multiple reports detailing the status of the jobs in different ways for different staff.

    For me it was a huge challenge. There's been countless times when I've come up against a brick wall, unable to come up with the code that would make it do what I wanted it to do. In those situations I found the best thing to do was to think intensively about the different possibilities ...then let go and sleep on it. I can recall several occasions whereby when I went back into the work the following day the answer was there, hanging in the air, waiting for me - PING! and it worked!

    The past couple of weeks have been a little frustrating at times as other work has started to pile up, and I've been unable to put any time aside for making final tweaks to the database to get it from a sort-of-working state to a fully functional bugless thing worthy of putting real data into. Thus the overtime. It's my own choosing - I could not do any overtime and continue along the gradual progression route, but it's reached the stage now where I really want to make the switch.

    For one thing, as of this week I'm responsible for managing certain aspects of jobs in progress. Thus, there's a bit of self-imposed pressure to get this up and running asap so I don't have to use the existing analogue recording techniques (paper and whiteboard). The switch has also necessitated the reorganising and renaming of a complex web of files too, something I started last week but was only able to finish tonight after a few hours on the job. ooooh you should see my hierarchical archives now, boy are they sexy!

    So yes, tonight I feel good. Following a fair bit of testing I started using the database - and it works perfectly! I'll continue to extend it over the next few months in order that it can help simplify tasks for more people in the office. The hope is that within a few months or so everyone is benefiting from it, being able to immediately obtain whatever data they need to get on with their jobs.

    And now it's time for bed.

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    Monday, December 08, 2008

    Cats and choppers

    Today, following a 9.3km run with Tom at 7am, I headed out to see Bibi and his wife (and cat), who live up in the mountains of Western Saitama.

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    One of the reasons for the visit was that I wanted to play with Bibi's big chopper, which some mumblers may recall me talking about a year or so ago.

    Here's Bibi in action:

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    ...and me looking, er, manly?

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    It was lovely to see them both, eat some delicious homemade food, breath in some fresh countryside air. Thank you, may the ankle-healing continue :-)

    The journey there had been a good one too - I played "spot mount Fuji" with the two oba-chans (grannies) sitting opposite me on the train, and had a long conversation with a third obachan about my patchwork jeans, which I spent much of the journey working on, patch, needle and thread in hand.

    This evening our friends S&M came round for dinner. S&M are a great source of inspiration and encouragement for me, and it was lovely to be able to invite them into our home - although in the presence of such experienced hosts I started to realise just how much practice I need. Thank you both for coming.

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    Tomorrow morning I'm off again for a run around the palace at 7am, this time with the Tokyo Vegan Runners - a group I found on Two lessons in the evening, and hopefully some time to breathe during the day.

    oyasumi xxx

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    Saturday, December 06, 2008

    quick check-in

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    It's been another of those non-stop weeks. Work has been dominant, with my learning more about what my role at the company really is, something which had been a little unclear. We also had our end of year party last night, at which I did the half-yearly drinking-way-too-much thing - I was still plastered this morning, but carried out a pretty thorough anti-hangover procedure the details of which I won't share with you here for fear of making you feel sick. Still, it worked.

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    The feeling at the moment is very much one of making the most of every single precious day. Although there is little downtime, I'm feeling a lot of joy and satisfaction in what I'm doing, thus when we do finally get to bed we can rest in peace.

    It's a shame I don't feel it's appropriate to put blogging further up my list of regular activities to be done. Having said that, I've become a compulsive Twitterer as visitors to the web edition of The Daily Mumble will know (those reading via RSS miss out on my 140 character words of, er, stuff, although my tweets are available via this feed). I love posting tweets, gives me an enourmous sense of wellbeing... I love being able to embed links to photo too :-)

    Shibuya, the city that never sleeps. Well, actually, it's quite sleepy at 4am. Note sea of people


    Next thing you know I'll be setting up iJoseph.TV...

    Anyway, must tidy the house. Visitors tomorrow, after a jog in the park and a day spent with Bibi in the mountains :-)


    p.s. Good luck to all those around the world taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test tomorrow (#jlpt)


    Monday, December 01, 2008

    A walk to work

    The other day I decided to get off the subway one stop early and walk the last bit to the office. I took a few photos along the way as I circumnavigated the north-west corner of the grounds of the Imperial Palace.

    Clever map thing courtesy of the iPhone & Everytrail (click to open walk in new window)

    Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

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