4. Remote Work, What You Can’t Do 遠隔でできない仕事


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For daily ichizoku Vlogs and more, starting December 30th.

A New Year






Here’s a sunset from somewhere by the sea near Kurahashi, Hiroshima.

I just realized this will be the last post of the year.

I truly hope you have a wonderful next year,

and as they say in Japan, Otsukare (honorable tiredness)!

for getting through this year.

A New Project









Photo I randomly shot the other day of our very own genius, Uemoto.

So before we get on with things, I want to announce the new project I’ll be working on.

Of course, I’ll be continuing to do what I’ve been doing with instagram, blogging, and all the internal affairs like translation.


The thing I’m really excited about is a project we call ichizoku.

Basically, stak is going to focus on the area around Hiroshima airport and dive into renovation and local development.

If our right hand is what we’ve been doing – tech and smart home devices – our left hand will be ichizoku.

From an outside perspective, in modern homes as well as rural towns, in the city and in the countryside, stak will be working to manifest a better lifestyle, a way of living with more space and time.










So here’s what I’ll be doing from now on.

I’ll be uploading a video every day starting on December 30th to my channel.

Over the years I’ve spent traveling across practically all of Japan, I’ve found a lot of really fascinating communities. For me, this has been the thing that totally captured my interest in this country. Not even so far away from the city, there are so many communities of people living in some perfect harmony of modern and traditional, happily doing what they really want to do in the way they want to do it. However, I’ve found they’re all doing so really quietly.

Of course, it’s not the case that this is how everyone should live and that this is happiness for everyone. However, I do believe that if everyone knew they could live this way, Japan’s society would find a greater balance and flexibility overall.

So, for our ichizoku Project, I’m going to go around to make connections, and essentially do research. As I go, I’ll make a sort of daily Vlog, along with turning all that footage into one stylish edit to capture the feeling of each place I visit.

It really feels like I’m tying all the experiences of the last 6 years together in a really meaningful way.

So I would be so happy if you follow along with me.

Onwards! 進もう!

Remote Work • 遠隔の仕事

[時間] と [タスク]








Time and Tasks

These are the two things that I believe now are essential,

having learned from experience of the consequences of not managing these well.

What I believe you cannot do is this:

• Tell your employee to find work to do.

Of course, this is a really important notion and way of work. Really, if there’s no one in the company who can take the initiative to create work for themselves to do, and do it, the company probably won’t do too well.

That being said, the employee and the company have to maintain a clear understanding of what specific tasks the company wants done, and what tasks the employee can do of their own accord. Without doing this, time will just disappear without really being spent productively.

In more practical terms, like with us, we started my remote work period having only decided what kinds of things I could do, instead of deciding what I would do. 

This left me nearly every day sitting down to do work in front of my computer, and then spending a disproportionate amount of time considering what thing I could do, instead of doing a thing.






There are also of course a lot of things you simply cannot do when you’re working remotely which are very important.

Not drinking or parties with your coworkers, but simply meeting with them. Talking with them and understanding each other. This is extremely important.

More simply, if you want to take a picture, you cannot. If you don’t send something like a device, you have no way of getting your hands on it. There are lots of obstacles.

In the end, I really think work is the same as romantic relationships. If the connection at its core is good, then it will work out. But long distance does make all things harder. Just saying it’s harder doesn’t really mean anything, so what’s actually hard about it? I think it’s that, when you’re actually together, there are always, constantly, little pleasantries and difficulties that naturally arise, and are naturally resolved through unspoken interactions, like one’s eyes, and the way one moves. All of this happens in the subconscious. So then when suddenly you’re separated, you have to really make a conscious effort to carve out time to take care of all these little difficulties that arise, or else they’ll build up and before you know it have led to distance in the relationship.

It’s really the same in working remotely.









So if I put it simply, to make remote work go well,

each person’s job needs to be very clearly defined.

There ought to be someone that gives out tasks for the workers to do according to their abilities,

or else there will be a lot of time wasted that goes out the window.

Both the worker and company have to know what exactly they can do for the company, even while working remotely.

Then schedule consistent meetings to stay in touch with each other and make sure mutual understanding is maintained.

If you do it right, remote work can be fantastic with efficient time usage and allowing employees their preferred workstyle and work environment.

But understanding the difficulties of remote work before beginning it is essential.

3. Remote Work, What You Can Do • 遠隔で出来る仕事




First off:
Released a small sample commercial for stak recently, check it out below!

More of these to come:



In other news, I found some old documents from the VISA Application process that might be appealing to anyone interested. I’ll edit last week’s post and put them at the bottom so check it out!

さて、今週のブログ。With that, let’s begin.


Remote Work, What You Can Do




Here it is, concisely:

You can do work you are asked to do.

But it’s very hard to do work of your own accord.


While everything depends on the person and the company, I believe having dealt with this for the better part of a year in a really difficult situation, that as a general rule what I said holds true.






Across any line of work, there is no one in our world who spends their entire work shift working at full capacity.

Especially but not limited to Japan, most work in our modern societies is just wasting people’s time.

Just take a boring old office. Any one will do. Really, truly, meaningful things have got to make up like 10% of the workflow. There’s all these things that we could really do much faster, and much more efficiently, but because of x rule and y reason, we have to do it the same as always.

The Japanese phrase Business has to Revolve (circulate, go around) makes sense then. Society has to give everyone stuff to do every day. But what about moving society forward?

Our most core philosophy here at stak is to make sure that we value time more than anything else.

The 80-20 Rule








This is a simple enough rule and it’s good to know. You can google it yourself to learn more about the interesting Richard Branson who came up with it, or check out Tim Ferris’s interview with him.

It says that 80% of x comes from 20%.

80% of our happiness comes from 20% of our day.

80% of our productivity while working comes from 20% of our entire time working.

Keep going.

And if I’m honest, that’s how I am with writing blogs. I mean, if it ends up taking me 2 hours to actually write the darn thing, chances are I spent like 6-8 hours before that thinking about it and lazing around and essentially idling.

What I Did




The first thing to understand (and what I needed to understand at first) is that,

I’ll help out where I can is cripplingly vague. Unworkably so.

Even if you’re good with, say languages, visual media, and small businesses, if someone came up to you and said “Ok, work!” would you be able to work? I did the following.







I tried to turn the things I could do into concrete (and consistent) projects.

With languages I became the staff’s english teacher.

Whenever there was a request for it, I translated anything requested.

I also asked for anything already out there, be it website, documents, or important conversations that might be useful, and translated those into English.

For visual media I had them send me 2 stak’s over to my home in the US, and I dove into for me a new brand of photography with advertising and product shoots. I also took over their instagram.

As for small businesses, I took a long and hard look at the world through the internet, and combed it for companies that seemed like they could potentially work with us in some capacity. Then I contacted them and became the interpreter for any advancements.







Things you’re not sure about. Try!

This is the most important, but the most difficult. Those things that you don’t think you can do.

With International Business, me, who knows nothing… well I tried to put out all my thoughts and opinions.

One thing Bossman Ueda does extremely well is the essence. Knowing it, and coaxing it out of people. The essence of things, the essence of ideas, the essence of what you’re doing. He’ll always say he really seriously wants to hear your thoughts on x or y, and the reason he wanted you in stak in the first place is because of the way you think. So I had to really trust that, and try a bunch of new things.

From that, I got into programming and web design. I’ve always been one with strong opinions and who is comfortable voicing them, but starting to feel comfortable doing that with the company brought me to the point of bringing up a website redesign. I guess he thought that was a good impetus to do so, and promptly gave me the reins on the project. It did end up taking a while, but hey, we got it done.

Of course there are so, so many other things I tried. The blog is one thing I had never done before. While I love writing, I’ve always been a very private writer taking to travel writing and poetry in one of countless journals.

Simple Advice







It’s better to do it earlier than later.

If what you’re doing is producing nothing, give it up.

Habits and systems leads to production. 

Working remotely is already enough flexibility.

Keep a balance of things you can do, and things you want to try.

You need a place (and possible time) that you do your work.

2. Visas and Australia ビザとオーストラリア




こらがstak familyは、みんなに共有したら誰かのためになる情報に思ってる。日本だけではなくて、どんな国からだとしても、海外に住もう、外国人を雇おう、と考える人がこれからの世界では増えていくばっかりだと思われる。

For the 2nd entry in this series, there are two main things I’m going to talk about.

The first will be what exactly it takes to live in Japan, should you think to do so.

The other will be about how I ended up in Australia in the first place.

All of us at stak, after having gone through this process over such a long period with such challenging circumstances, thought this info would be not just interesting, but also probably helpful for a lot of people out there. Really it’s not about Japan, but related to anyone who might want to work abroad, or hire someone from abroad. And in the world we live in today, the number of those people seems like it will do nothing but continue to skyrocket.

観光と旅 • Sightseeing and Traveling






If you’re someone crazy like me you might try to get lost abroad a few times in your life.

I don’t just mean sightseeing, but really traveling. Letting go of your ‘home’ and becoming yourself in a new environment. When you manage that, things change. Unnecessary things fall away, and new things come together. Unexpected things remain, feeling more precious than before, and certain things stay constant.

I cannot recommend enough how important this was for me. But I wouldn’t recommend travel in particular, just recommend following your gut for what you should do.

ビザというモノ • The Thing Called a Visa








To be abroad you need a VISA. Permission to be there.

There are lots of countries out there where tourist visas are not automatic things, and you need to apply beforehand.

Japan gives 3 month tourist visas (you may stay but may not work), and you can use two 3-month periods in a year (though I have never been asked by immigration about this, those are the rules).

To work in Japan you need a working Visa.

Working Holiday: If you’re from a country that participates in the working holiday agreement (not USA), you can do a working holiday in Japan which is a fantastic opportunity. This is what I did last year to try my hand at freelance videography and coffee barista work.

To get a Visa, you need a sponsor. (Usually a company)

Realistically, your paths to getting to Japan are limited to being a student there, teaching English, or if you’re good in your field it’s possible to get hired for an IT company. (If you’re not a student, you’ll likely need a college degree).

The reasons are respectively, English, English, and a linguistically unrestricted field.

If you are the other kind of people who are looking for work in Japan, who speak Japanese, but aren’t doing IT work, you’ll have to deal with what Stak and I did.

日本で外国人を雇う • Hiring a Foreigner in Japan



Of course, if you’re after specific, official information, you can just google to find it. I’ve also found the ministry of foreign affairs website to be relatively good, if a little confusing to navigate.

There are also Visa Sensei’s, whose job it is to orchestrate this circus act of bringing a foreign worker to work in Japan. 

厚生労働省•Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare

外務省•Ministry of Foreign Affairs


However, understanding what you’ll actually have to do with all those applications and information, in normal thinking terms – we can help you there.


  1. お金と時間を柔軟に使えることが必要。ビザ申請が最初から降りるまで、3〜6ヶ月間ぐらいかかる。私たちの場合では、4ヶ月半だった。状況によるけど、それが働けない時期になるかもしれない。
  2. 整理する必要がある。大切な書類をまとめて、キチンとオーガナイズをすること。何がどこにあるかわかって、全てをスキャンとコピーをする。ただ一つの例えだが、大学卒業証書の原本が必要、必要であれば再発行するのと、送るのも時間がかかる。早めに動くのが重要。
  3. 会社がどれだけ信頼してくれてるかわかる。なぜ日本に行く、いつまでいたいと思ってる、どうしてこの会社で働きたいという理由を全部、自分の中ではっきりと理解すべき。
  4. 会社側では、雇う外国人がどれだけ信頼してくれてるというのも尊重すべき。社長だけではなくて、スタフ全員が納得しないと大変なことになるかもしれない。海外に引っ越すのは簡単にやることでは全くないし、日本で働くことが楽勝に思う人が一人もいない。


  1. You need to be able to be flexible. With time, with money, and with relocating. The Visa process can take 3-6 months. It took us about 4.5. Depending on your situation, you might not be able to work during this time.
  2. You need to be organized (not a bad thing to become). Have all your travel/essential documents together, copied, scanned, and clear in your mind. This means everything. This might include mailing your actual college diploma across the world.
  3. You need to respect the commitment the company is making. Know why you’re going to Japan, know how long you want to be there, know you really want to work for the company. It’s not an easy process to get you there.
  4. The company needs to respect you as well. They, all of their employees, need to try to understand the commitment you are making. It is not an easy task to move abroad, nor is it easy to work in Japan.




最終的な目的としては、在留資格認定証明書(CoE) がある。要は、外国にある日本大使館に「この人にビザ出していいよ」って許可を与えるもの。政府との申請がいよいよ通れたら、会社に郵送される。そして、自分がいるところに送る必要があって、大使館に持って行くのが次。場所によるけど、1〜2週間を待ったら、ビザがパスポートに貼ってくれて、それを持って日本に入国できるようになる。入国の際に、ビザがあり次第、空港で在留カードが発行される。



First of all, it will take up to 6 months. You have to have your company documents together, and your employee-to-be’s documents together.

You’ll submit their documents with an application form, written explanations as to why you need the employee, and why the employee wants to come to Japan. You’ll wait. You’ll get stuff back that likely need adjustments. Repeat.

When I came in 2015 to be an English teacher, I didn’t have to really think about it. Like a lot of ALTs and Eikaiwas, they actually had me enter on a tourist visa and start working while we waited on the official paperwork to go through and my working visa to come. Yeah… In our case with Stak, I had to submit a resume (according to their format) complete with educational and employment history. This was checked. I also had to submit a short essay about my thoughts on Japan (“I love Japan”). I had to send in my original diploma, as well as multiple copies of all my documents. I had to answer lots of different questions about my past and my time in Japan (reasonable considering the amount

The overall goal is the get the Certificate of Eligibility COE. This is essentially the green light to the embassy where you live that they can give you a Visa. It will be mailed to the company when the government finally produces it, and then they’ll have to mail it to you. You’ll bring it to the embassy, and wait another period for them to produce your actual VISA. With this, you can go to Japan and receive a residence card upon arrival at the airport during immigration.

Every person’s situation is different which is why this is so difficult for anyone, even government bodies, to explain properly. So, please feel free to comment and ask me -anything- and I will try to help.

マイケル、なぜオーストラリアにいたの? • Why Was I in Australia?




To put it simply, I’d already given up on Japan.

If not for Stak, I wouldn’t be here now.

I spent 2018 saving up money in the USA, then spending 6 months traveling doing different projects in Japan hoping to find something. There were lots of promising things, but nothing worked out. One company I thought was going to hire me turned out to have 0 idea of the Visa process and bailed on me last minute. Luckily, I’d started the working holiday visa process, and spent 2019 in Japan doing that and diving into freelance. I figured if that didn’t work, it just wasn’t meant to be. Nearly at the end of my time in Japan, I found stak.. or rather, stak found me. And now more than a year later, I’m finally back in Japan, here to work for them.

1. The Road Back 帰り道




“We’re really sorry, but all flights are cancelled at this moment. I think it would be best if you make arrangements to stay here in Australia for the foreseeable future.”

I stood there, stock still, in the line at Melbourne Airport.




It was like something out of a book. Because right at that moment, about 30 feet to my side, there came a resounding crack as if someone dropped a laptop down on the hard tile floor. When I looked over however, I could see with disbelief it was not a computer, but a person who had lost consciousness. There was even some blood slowly expanding on the floor from his head.

It was the feeling of chaos.

Me and one other guy went running over to a little medical care center thinking they could help, and were sorely disappointed. However, everyone around there moved around trying to do their part to help, and eventually the guy even sat up and made a joke and everyone laughed in relief.




This was March 26th.

During that week, that one fateful week where my Visa finally came out, countries around the world were closing their borders like dominos.

Following that, I figured my chances were pretty much spent and by some unfortunate twists of fate I wouldn’t be making it back to Japan. However, they still hadn’t closed their borders yet, so maybe if I could find one of the last flights out of Australia, I could make it back to my life that waited for me over there.





My search yielded me flights of about $8000 for any day sooner than April 7th. After choosing that day, and then beginning to pray I’d make it, some miracle occurred and on a whim I decided to check the site again. I could change my flight from the 7th to the 3rd for no additional charge. This also meant full commitment as I’d have to take the 10 hour trip to Sydney and leave my airbnb behind. If I couldn’t take this plane, I’d be in a truly scary situation.

About halfway along the 10 hour train ride, during some blip where I found phone service, I read this announcement online:

Commencing immediately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic,

Japan is closing its borders to all but those who possess Japanese citizenship.





For the next 10 weeks, I’m going to do be doing a series in English and Japanese on the journey that got me here. And by here, I mean at last, at -last-, entering Japan on a work Visa, all thanks to the support of stak family.

It’s gonna be a bit long, but I think there’s countless interesting subjects to cover along with a lot of important information on Visas and such that might come in handy to someone. And I’ve got plenty of stuff planned for after this.

At any rate. This is the end, and for the blog, the start.

See you next week.

1. イントロ • Introduction ← 今週 This week

2. オーストラリア、ビザ、情報 • Australia, Visas, Info.

3. 遠隔でできる仕事 • Work You Can Do Remotely

4. アメリカ • America

5. 日本 • Japan

6. 遠隔でできない仕事 • Work You Can’t Do Remotely

7. 仲間 • 娯楽 • Friendship and Fun

8. 遠距離 • 心の距離 • Long Distance, Emotional Distance

9. 感謝の日 • 家族 • Thanksgiving and Family

10. 再新規入国 • Re-re-entry





Saw this flyer on the ground when all that was happening and just burst out laughing.





















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Laying Down The Tracks

A few things to talk about this week.

A talk with the Bossman.

A broken drone.

Plans for filming.

Thoughts on value.


I imagine it feels like I talk about these philosophical notions on value just about every week.

Buckle up.


Shin and I were talking the other day.

He’d sent me a video made by Toyota that was basically a 1.5 minute CGI sequence of the modern world we see around us transitioning fluidly into a self-sufficient and all-around pleasant future world we could potentially create.

‘Potentially’ meaning, if, you know,

we humans get our shit together.

It was pretty cool, but nothing new. Nor was the CGI. I mean, the whole concept of us creating a better, healthier, happier world through making sustainable decisions and efficient technology.

Who doesn’t love that?

But who’s actually walking the walk…

well that’s a different, and more important question.

So there’s probably a reason you don’t see it asked often.

The ones too busy talking are not walking.


He was telling me how he’d really like to create something like this and was asking if I was interested in learning CGI or if I had any experience in it.

Here were my thoughts:

• CGI costs a lot.

It’s a huge investment to learn it, and a huge investment to purchase it.

Why? Because the only CGI that’s worth putting out there is top quality stuff.

If it’s not the best CGI, chances are it looks like garbage. Let’s be honest. This commercial by Toyota, a world class company with world class cash… it looks like a college student’s end of term project to me.

•You don’t need to make the stuff that’s considered the best, you need to make the stuff you have the best you can.

Can’t figure out a more eloquent way to say that. 

However, I think it’s really true. One of the hardest things about trying to create content while on the other side of the world and stuck in a house with no props or materials was feeling like I couldn’t make anything I wanted to. I was limited by my environment.

But during our talk I thought about Geico. They don’t necessarily have the best quality visuals, the best quality actors, the best product. They just had an idea, a framework for their commercials, and ran with it to pump out content.

In the mass of output that would follow, surely there would not only be a few times they struck gold, but they would build loyalty and recognition with their fans.

Shin’s talked a lot about creating a fanbase of sorts for the company and this has always seemed weird to me.

It was hard for me to look at one product and see a bunch of possibilities for advertising and building a customer/fan base around it.

However, lately I’ve been able to take a step back and see things as I like to see them… that is, the ideas behind the product, not the product themselves.

And stak’s ideas are this: technology creating a better world, creating more time for people so we can enjoy more quality in our lives. 

Now we’re talking. 

Worry less about if you’re making the perfect product, and spend more time perfecting what you’ve got. 

Worry less about finding the perfect idea, and instead perfect the ideas right in front of you.

Other Stuff.

My drone’s gimbal is shot. I guess the Mavic Pro seems to have an issue with some cable inside of it that connects to the gimbal.

I was going to use it to get some shots of Great Falls and other areas around here to use in my last video of here, the first video of the next chapter of my involvement with stak.

Ordered the part and I’m going to try fixing it myself tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

Good news is that stak is in possession of a Mavic Pro 2, so assuming I get back to Japan with no problems (not like last time) we’ll be gravy from here on. Excited to try it out.

I’ve been taking care of so, so many things to get ready to get back there.

The list is endless. Life goes in waves.

Nothing for a while? Everything comes next.

I’ll update about all of that, but for now, it’s focusing on the video to be made here before I leave.

Back at you next week with that.

Getting on Track

I used to journal.

I used to write every day, usually at night, sometimes for hours, working through all the labyrinths and riddles of my mind.

There was a natural process I’d go through without ever really being clear what that process was, or what exactly it was accomplishing. I’d feel sometimes, at the end of writing, that I’d figured everything out. But if I stopped and thought about what I actually had figured out, there was nothing clear or practical there.

It’s probably a lot like how plants grow, or how insects molt – they’re not really sure of what they’re doing, but they’re doing some process that’s right for them to continue on in life’s natural flow.



What are some of your processes that you go through that are vital to your life?

What are some processes you used to have that you’ve fallen away from.

Is it good you’ve stopped them?

What processes or habits would benefit you now?

I’ve been rethinking my idea of meditation lately.

I guess I’ll back up a bit.

Back when I was beginning the whole journaling thing back in freshman/sophomore year of college, I was going through a lot of the existential stuff humans experience when they are growing through something. Negative feelings came on, I began to recognize those feelings as anxiety, and I began looking for a way to deal with it.

My trouble with anxiety is that I was proud. I had the idea that I could think through anything, and if I couldn’t figure something out, more thinking would solve it eventually. This works great until you start thinking about scary things which cause scary feelings, and those feelings get worse and worse cause you keep thinking, and then your feelings cause your thoughts to be scarier.

So my way out was in letting myself accept that there were other ways to exist ‘correctly’ besides thinking. So before I really knew meditation was a thing, I’d prescribed myself with the goal of sitting with my thoughts and not losing myself in them. Seeing through the impermanence, the transience of all the things that ‘I’ experience internally. As long as I sat down on this cushion and didn’t move, there was no thought that could truly harm me. And I realized (read: actualized) this through practice.

I did 30 minutes of meditation a day for 4 years straight.

Then when I got to Japan, I decided to break the habit and quit cold turkey.

I was going into the next phase of whatever this journey was.

Where I rejected what seemed to be the one way to find peace and wisdom, and instead look for peace and wisdom everywhere in the world.


So now, 5 years since then, I’m really rethinking my idea of what meditation is.

There are so many forms.

And there are so many wise, happy people in the world.

So the real essence of what all these self help techniques, all these enlightenment practices, all these get-in-touch-with-God sermons, are getting at – well it’s got to be the same thing.

And that thing must be of the nature that it cannot be defined – that is, stated in a way that will always convey the meaning accurately.

Any person can define happiness, or peace, or introspection, or what they mean by God – but they’ll only ever be getting at their understanding of it. And even then, just getting at it.

So anyways. I guess I’ve become kind of a universalist.

Strongly against the idea that all things are the same, that all things are relative. I hate this idea.

All things have meaning, and that there is never a right answer.

There is only one wrong answer, and that is the thought that you’ve found the answer.

There are kind of two minds you can have when meditating. There are two many practices, in my understanding. Mindfulness and vipassana (concentration). You know, one is broad, open, accepting, all-encompassing, and the other is focused, (not in a negative way) narrow, unified, strong.

In either of these practices, the aim is the same. To see things as they are, to use the technique to bring clarity and compassion to yourself and your world.

You can spend just as much meaningful time on one as the other, and you can spend just as much time appreciating and practicing both, as well as picking one and focusing on it.

This flexibility in the universe is fascinating.




Back when I did all that journaling, and then meditating stuff,

It was the internal preparation for a lot of external movement that followed the next few years.

I’m kind of getting the feeling that all this journaling and thoughtful stuff I’m doing now, and really,

what I’ve been doing during these 12 months of being unable to progress in life…

It’s all to get ready to move again.

So enough of this philosophy stuff.

Let’s move.


Here’s what I’m going to do be doing from now on:

  1. Blogs every week to stay organized, note my plans, and of course talk about anything stak related. Also going to do a 10~ish part series reflecting on my 7 months in quarantine and the process of returning to Japan.
  2. A movie every week. This is going to be my rule. It doesn’t matter what kind of thing, but I have to make one every week.
  3. Build up a youtube page. Channels that follow my interests.
  4. One of these will be a series of videos on learning English for Japanese speakers.
  5. One will be of course, videos I make for stak. I will make one stak commercial every month.
  6. One will probably be a series of music playlists and music videos as I find the time and songs to put them together.
  7. I want to make stuff on games and esports, but I’m not sure what angle to take on this yet.
  8. I want to also make a random series about… thoughts, people? Uncategorized.
  9. It would be cool to one day revisit Sounds of Japan.

I’ll also be you know, moving around again so, back on the photography grind. stak and personal instagrams, let’s go.


I’ll be back next week. Thanks for keeping up.

Collaboration in a Quarantined World

A Reminder.

There are times when even that which is most important to us in our lives can feel devoid of meaning.

I know for me, starting, and then continuing a job remotely has been an immense challenge.

So I suppose this is a reminder, if nothing else, to myself:

The amount of effort you put into a task determines the value.

I think in most cases, it’s not even so important what you’re doing, so much as how.

Most people who are successful, whatever you take that to mean, are in my mind successful not because they did the right thing (very few people can ever tell what that is anyways), but because they did what they were doing the right way. Do that long enough, and eventually you’re going to wind up doing the right thing, and doing it in the right way. There’s very little, if any control, over whether what we are doing is the right thing to do. To a degree, we can tell what the wrong things are, and thus choose something that seems pretty close to our interests. However, what makes x more right than y? Wouldn’t z be better?

However, we have full control over how we do whichever x y or z we’ve come to.

That being said – even though I feel like I am well aware of this, I find myself inevitably searching for new and better whats and running from the hows.

The path to happiness lies in the latter though, or at least in letting the hows guide you to new whats.

The Problem With Blogs

The problem with blogs is often that one writes them with the expectation that people will read them.

And even worse, sometimes with the goal of more readership.

This is counter to the notion of journaling – writing for the process of writing itself.

Of course it’s not always so black and white, but there is a lot to be said for what the act of writing and what it brings you in and of itself.

A recent podcast episode (Tim Ferris Show) I was listening to with Richard Koch mentioned this. When asked about what tricks, tips, methods he has to keeping track of how and what he’s doing, he mentioned that while he doesn’t do the usual therapy or ultra health route, he employs two methods. 1. Bike Rides in the morning. 2. Taking a journal and writing reflections at a nearby pond; also journaling when waking up at night.

With both of these, he is pointing out something I’ve always been fascinated with – the natural, organic flow of your mind and heart should they be given the right environment.

To tie things together – it’s not about thinking the right thought and writing the right word – but providing your mind with the right environment for it to naturally work things out for you, in the midst of all its subconscious and unconscious processes.

So for whatever reason, this is what I’ve been reflecting on the last month.

I feel like I’ve lost my self discipline. And I’d been trying to regain it by force, but not through nurturing it, not through trusting my mind to work through things.

But really, perhaps I just stopped doing all of the things that allow the creative, motivational, happiness, whatever other juices, to flow.

Perhaps that’s all you really need to do. Recognize that which gets you in your flow. Puts you in your element.

They’re not the easy things necessarily.

But nothing that’s worth having comes easy.

And conversely, joy is not manifested through force of will.


So let’s bring it back.

It’s all about how, not what.
The tricky part is in determining the right (subjective) way of doing things.

While the answer to this is obviously dependent on the person, their personality and preferences, the way of building habits around those is often impossible without involving other people in the process.

Surround yourself with people that encourage you to keep the habits that are really good for you, and spend less time with the people that bring out your less healthy or productive tendencies.

One of the best ways to do this is to collaborate.

Over the 6 months I’ve been in unexpected isolation at home in the States, I’ve gone from letting go of just about every hobby, to slowly building them back up again as I see fit.

Every time I’ve met hardship in my life this has been my process, and it always leads to a new chapter of life.

During this time, I’ve started doing weekly talks with my friend about religion and philosophy, which has bolstered not only my feeling of connection and closeness, but my study of those topics which have been so central to my life. We pretty much alternate discussing the western and eastern spheres, my area of expertise being the latter.

Though I’ve been studying programming on my own the last two months, I’m going to dive into freecodecamp with my brother from this week on, and I can’t wait. Discipline and joy lead to the best kind of success.

Something else that has become a core part of my life is running every day, for joy and for challenge. I make sure I do this every day (discipline) but the distance that really feels good so as not to push it, and to make sure I’m running because I enjoy it, not for the numbers.

Areas I’m still struggling with are: sleep schedule, time management with free time and with productive time, balance of current projects and exploring prospects for the future, maintaining a steady flow of video/photo production while stuck in one place.

If there’s something you’re struggling with, identify it. Then create a discussion with someone. Often just this process is enough to get it at the forefront of your subconscious, and the process will carry on naturally from there.

For the trickier (and often productive) areas, maintain that balance of discipline and joy, of structure and freedom. In the isolated world, this is the hardest thing at all.

But in the end, even though we are all on our own right now, we all really are in this together, and are all interconnected and there for each other.

After The First Step

The hardest step is the next one.

In that, I suppose the hardest step is getting yourself to take another step.

I often wonder why that is, what about me or about humans in general makes that the case. What makes it hard to do the right thing? Why is it so hard for us to believe that taking care of what we have to do immediately, instead of putting it off, really would feel better in the long run? Why is it hard for us to invest? What makes us believe so stubbornly that the feeling we get from instant gratification could be better than the feeling that will come after making wise, weathered decisions?

I’ll leave that discussion for another time, because wondering about all that is probably just another mechanism of my brain to distract me from what I really need to be doing, which is, continuing along the path I started on.

After HTML & CSS

Before heading out on a journey, it’s good to have a map.

Perhaps along the way you’ll make a different turn, but at least you’ll know what’s out there.

I’ve been tasked with learning about programming. Specifically, how to make websites.

I went through the basics of HTTP and CSS, but what comes next…

PHP Basics: PHP Grammar, HTTP Domain Types, Transferring Values Between Clients.

Other HTTP Basics: HTTP, WebAPI, REST API, GraphAPI

Database Basics: Creation and Deletion of Tables, Databases, Columns, and Records, Table Relations.

So, the only thing to do when there’s work ahead of you, is to do the work.

So let’s move ahead with:


I’ve found w3schools to be one of the best references – a more educational dictionary perhaps – for learning programming so far. However, there is no one stop shop for learning, and the more resources, the better.

For reference, I’ll try to describe what HTML and CSS are as I understand them, and then look them up to see how I match up.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): The standard programming language for turning a document into a web page. When Googled: “standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser.”
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): Pretty simple – the style sheets that do all the aesthetics for the contents designated in the HTML. Positioning, colors, order, etc.  When Googled: “style sheet language used for describing the presentation [of a HTML/other document].”

So what is PHP? A “general-purpose scripting language especially suited to web development.” or:

PHP is a server scripting language and a powerful tool for making dynamic and interactive Web pages. PHP is a widely-used, free, and efficient alternative to competitors such as Microsoft’s ASP.

Server scripting language. Dynamic web pages. Microsoft’s ASP.

To understand these, let’s Google. Why the word server, before scripting language?

Server-side scripting is a technique used in web development which involves employing scripts on a web server which produce a response customized for each user’s request to the website.

Oh boy. Getting down the rabbit hole. In layman’s terms? I found this very helpful:

Today, a variety of services use server-side scripting to deliver results back to a client as a paid or free service. An example would be WolframAlpha, which is a computational knowledge engine that computes results outside the clients environment and returns the computed result back. A more commonly used service is Google’s proprietary search engine, which searches millions of cached results related to the user specified keyword and returns an ordered list of links back to the client. Apple’s Siri application also employs server-side scripting outside of a web application. The application takes an input, computes a result, and returns the result back to the client.

Now this makes sense. Send something, result gets computed, and comes back. So the ‘work’ of the operation is done server side. Makes sense.

A dynamic web page? “a web page whose construction is controlled by an application server processing server-side scripts.” Or by a more artful definition, a site that “displays different content each time it’s viewed.” Sure.

As a side note, looking up Microsoft’s ASP, apparently it’s a paid alternative to PHP, based on Microsoft’s visuals rather than being done in the C++ coding language, thus fitting larger groups and PHP fitting individuals or start-ups.

PHP Grammar

All right now we get into the good stuff. What I love in language is grammar. It’s the magic that lets us convey meaning, and create poetry, and all the good stuff. It’s the theory behind the music of language. And I found the same to be true so far with programming, though in the programming sphere, grammar and vocabulary seem to be coalesced.

Off the top of my mind, from a month and a half of bootstrap, html, css, here are the core bits of grammar:

div. col/row. I mean these are the building blocks for building blocks.

Jumbotron, textblock, img, a, href, ul, li, etc.

All these start from the most basic functions.

div is just a section of content, col/row organizes that content in a vertical or horizontal space.

For each specific thing you might want to do, for example, put a picture or media file in, there is a corresponding piece of grammar. When you want to do more complex and specific things, you often have to combine. There are rules for each piece of grammar to make sure they work right.

So let’s lay out what I’ll need to learn in PHP, and then dive into it for next week:

Sample PHP:

$txt = “PHP”;
echo “I love $txt!”;

So $ creates a variable like in python. Very interesting.

A PHP script can be placed anywhere in the document. PHP Script being the <?php ___________ ?> bit. Like html the statements end with “;”. Functions etc. are not case-sensitive.  However, variables are.

// or # for commenting single lines, /* ___ */ for multiple. Cute robot.

If, else, while, echo, print.

Echo and print are almost the same, both output data to the screen, but print’s return value is 1 so it can be used in… expressions… hmm. Echo can take multiple parameters, print can take one. echo is faster.

I want to get familiar with all the syntax and placements in this:

$txt1 = “Learn PHP”;
$txt2 = “W3Schools.com”;
$x = 5;
$y = 4;

echo “<h2>” . $txt1 . “</h2>”;
echo “Study PHP at “ . $txt2 . “<br>”;
echo $x + $y;

So I’m going to work on replicating that.

Until next time! For now, a picture from a couple months ago.

































会社員の場合は、基本的に会社の方針に従って仕事をする為、個人の希望を通すのは難しい場面が多く、 また、どんなに努力してもそもそも通らないことも多いです。





































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