Week 290 / Tokyo

Actually, weeks 289 and 290 since I did something interesting enough last week to warrant mentioning it still a week later.

Was fortunate enough to visit Tokyo again for week 289 – I think for the 6th or 7th time now? – and spend the week there with Alex between two of his business trips. It was very cold and snowed a couple of times, but fun as always. I really want to do a 6 month-ish trip there and really get to know my way around more.

People often ask me what I eat there, since I’m vegetarian (including no fish) but I’ve never starved. There’s one place in particular I’m fond of called SoraNoiro which does this amazingly thick and rich ramen in a carrot based soup with the most perfectly boiled egg in it, but a surprisingly large number of ramen places do “rainbow ramen” which is usually a vegan bowl. A new place this time that fed me well was a tempura place called ippoh cooking the lightest and most delicate mushrooms and vegetables in batter I’ve ever had. Also had a good time at a shabu shabu place called “Let us” with a friend of ours that lets you have your own personal cooking bowl, so you don’t have to share the meat oil bowl if you don’t want to. I had an interesting combination of a soy milk cook bowl with vegetables and tofu and ended with rice and cheese that uses the left over soy milk to create risotto. Very interesting.

There are a couple caveats, though. I’m not going to freak out if something is cooked in the same oil as animal-items and I’ve eaten more dashi than I would in a country where I can speak the language and specify not to have it, but if you are super strict, the trick is to look for food designed with Japan’s strict buddhists in mind – shojin ryori – and you’ll eat like a king.

Also, to be clear, I also eat a lot of tiny perfect sandwiches. I could honestly eat an egg lunch pack every day for the rest of my life.

The platonic ideal of a tiny perfect sandwich

We saw some good art in Tokyo.

The TeamLab installations are amazing and we visited 2 of them – Planets and Borderless. I preferred Planets over Borderless, mostly because it’s a more curated experience with few people. They’re both very engaging digital, full body art things, both share some features like interactive projections, LED crystal infinity rooms and perspective tricks. Planets, though, is probably especially memorable for having to wade up to your knees in a room filled with warm, cloudy, water with projections of colourful koi and flower petals. It’s really impressively done. It would never work outside of Japan – folks just wouldn’t behave anywhere else.

The other good art was a big lifetime retrospective of Hokusai. I’d seen a few of them before, but never the more funny character pieces. I particularly enjoyed his drawing manuals.

The other thing I spotted was commentary about pieces labelled as X of Y – like 50 illustrations of ghosts or something – and the curators can only ever find 5 or 6 of them. So, they assumed Hokusai never finished the set – he just stopped after 5 or 6. I love that – even extremely successful and well-known artists can’t stick to their 30 day projects. Maybe there’s hope for the rest of us.

Week 290 can mostly be summarised as: jetlag, coughing, 10 thousand meetings.

Week 287 / older

I had a birthday. That was pretty good. I think of myself as a person with not many friends, but the ones I do have are pretty top notch. Jake came to town, and brought me 21 cans of Heinz Baked Beans from London, for one, and I was given some really lovely cards (including a handmade bird one from Monica) and various odd objects including my first pitcher plant from Dana. I’m really very lucky.

I wasn’t joking.

On the flip side, I also did my first work meeting cry. Frustration is frustrating and I mention it in the same vein as Alice’s weaknote mentions of crying in that it’s kind of normal and just happens sometimes.

While we had visitors, we finally got around to visiting Flora Grubb Gardens which is basically my dream garden and I got a weird coral-looking plant. Adding the general vibe to my “when I retire” list of things to do. It’s a combi-nursery and coffee shop and twee as anything and if it wasn’t in a particularly shitty area of San Francisco, it would be perma-mobbed.

Japanese class continues to be quite challenging, but I’m powering through. Last week I learned to say where things are in relation to other things and this week I did a really bad job at deconstructing provided answers to derive the probable question asked. Japanese counters can also jump off a cliff.

Some additional random things:

  • I got a new quantified-self-type toy. An Oura ring. Giving it a couple of weeks before I declare it naff or not, but it is a bit chunky and generous with its step counts.
  • Finally listened to the podcast Alex recorded about PWAs. It’s good but I had to laugh that it had to be split into two parts. Very on brand.
  • Talking of podcasts, The Dream is pretty thorough if you’ve ever wondered about MLMs and Dirty John for the more personal con. I love a good scam story. For the more visual experience, the Ted Bundy series on Netflix is unsurprisingly great.

Week 285 / all-hands

Couple days late, but I’m just now somewhere I can do my weeknotes. The week before I was taken out by a particularly viscious/viscous cold and spent a majority of my time in bed.

This week was our company all-hands and had us all down in Santa Cruz for a couple nights and doing stuff back in SF for the rest.

It was really good fun and actually a really good way to start the working year off. I ate a lot, drank, and stayed up too many nights so I’m very grateful that tomorrow (Monday, MLK) is a day off for us.

I got to meet a lot of my product team face to face for the first time, as well, so that was pretty rad.

I also started Japanese lessons this week. I’m taking Beginning 2 at the Japan Society and needless to say I am RUSTY (I last took a Japanese class in 2004) and the first class was brutal (it was a review class to see what we knew and blimey…). I’ve got homework for next week and I think I’ll be OK. Ikebana classes have started back up so I’ll have somewhere to practice.

Things I’ve learned this week:

  • It’s important to clarify with your boss who is giving the company roadmap talk multiple times before the scheduled session.
  • I’m capable of making a slide deck in 10 minutes and giving an ad-libbed roadmap talk.

Week 282 / Hong Kong

One of my more bourgeois week notes this time, but I’m currently sat in the Cathay Pacific first lounge in Hong Kong waiting for our flight home.

We just finished up a really lovely Christmas trip to HK. My first time here and Alex’s second. We ate a lot of good food, saw a very big Buddha and did a lot of uphill wandering.

Alex in his dim sum element

I walked about 50 miles total over the last 7 days.

Happy 2018. See you next year!

Week 280

I’m in the kitchen at work mourning the loss of my intern. She’s not dead or anything, but today is her last day and we’re all very sad about this fact.

I also just got back from a trip to London to visit the family for an early Christmas-ish type trip. London is good for sparkly lights, mince pies, fancy dinners and having breakfast at the next table over from George Lucas!

Just before I left, I was gifted a copy of Public Digital‘s new little bright yellow magazine, Signals (thank you, Ben!). Still working through it. It’s a collection of short pieces of writing by various people about working the public sector.

Very yellow

On Wednesday, I had possibly the most wholesome holiday party, ever – a semi-competitive flower-arranging game and sake with my ikebana class. I forgot to take a picture, but needless to say everyone was a winner.

Weeks 276/277

This last two weeks felt long. I don’t remember why I missed week notes last week, but I am betting it was something to do with being asleep.

Notable events:

  • Chrome Dev Summit was both good (PWA book!) and bad (yay, sexism, again!). It was a particularly excellent week for seeing people I like a lot because they all had to come to the event for work, though. We forced many of them to visit our home for brunch.
  • California caught fire, again. It’s really extremely sad, so I don’t even think I should be allowed to complain that the ashes of people’s lives, homes and businesses raining down on San Francisco were a reason I had to stay inside for 5 days straight.
  • Our friends from England working on Poplar came to visit and we had a really fun and interesting evening talking about their work over at Stamen HQ.
  • Two thirds of Poplar went on a jaunt with Alex and I to Stinson beach.
  • It’s Thanksgiving and this year I am thankful for not having to go anywhere or see anyone and being allowed to play Fallout 76.

Gifts from an aforementioned friend visiting for CDS

A Book Apart: Progressive Web Apps

This time last year, I was at Chrome Dev Summit. I ran into Jason Grigsby, who I am always glad to chat with. He mentioned, slightly off-hand, that he was writing a new book about Progressive Web Apps and jokingly suggested that I would be a good person to contribute to a foreword.

Well. He wasn’t joking.

His wonderful new book is out now, published by A Book Apart.

Picture of the PWA book
A real book made of trees!

The foreword is written by myself and Alex, and we mean every word we say in it. We couldn’t be happier with how Jason’s book turned out and it’s really the only book you need if you want to understand why, and how, you should be building PWAs.

I’m very thankful for his kindness and the opportunity to contribute in a tiny way to his amazing work.

Week 274/5 Red Dead

Missed a week due to being on a plane to Long Beach for a wedding. The way I’ve been managing to do week notes again is by literally putting a 15 minute placeholder in my calendar so nothing gets scheduled over it, in a time I’m usually free, which obviously fails when I’m not.

In the last couple weeks we had our big company sponsored event – JAMstack_conf. I am generally kind of exhausted and bored by a lot of events these days (that’s a me problem rather than a problem with events), but I found this one very invigorating and not just because we were hosting. There’s something really fresh, and yet old-skool, going on with the JAMstack – people making sites that are best for the platform and that work really well on the open web – feels like the same wave that’s causing everyone to start publishing back to their own sites and blogs again. I love it.

I’ve also done two of my civic duties as an American this week – I voted in the midterms and I did jury duty! Sadly, I didn’t actually get called in for a court case. Maybe next time.

Mostly, though, I have been playing Red Dead Redemption 2. 36% complete.

Week 272

I got a new phone, which is literally the most exciting thing that happened this week, so take of that what you will. It’s a Pixel 3, so of course, the main thing is having to retrain my thumb to do whichever arbitrary change their UI designers have made to task switching. This time, it’s removing the whole button. Joy. Also, turns out some folks don’t know that you can control a lot of things about Chrome by using chrome://flags – like, for example, getting rid of the bloody news feed and recent bookmarks. I do like the wireless charging, though, this feels closer to the future I was promised.

I picked up a book a couple of weeks ago about felting (it’s in Japanese, I can’t read it). I’m not intending to get into felting – I simply bought it because the photos were so cute – but then I accidentally bought some felting wool. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It’s all bird felting projects, too.

Very cheap daiso felting wool

Giving this week’s some halloween vibes