April 19, 2014
Active Day

Bluebonnets

Biking

Today was a good day. At lunchtime I laced up the running shoes and went for a nice run around the neighborhood. I ran about 2 miles and my knee felt pretty good! It is still a little sore but I think it is getting better. I am just glad I can exercise! It is frustrating to have an injury prevent you from doing what you want to do. These days though I have a new appreciation for exercise. Now I am not as concerned about burning calories, but I focus on just being outdoors and seeing the neighborhood and breathing the fresh air. It’s a wonderful feeling to just “be in the moment”. I’m not sure if it is because I am growing older, but I kind of am finding more appreciation in just being alive and not letting stress bother me so much. I think I’ve always been pretty laid-back, but sometimes these days I am at a different state of mind where I cannot even imagine what stress feels like. Of course that doesn’t last long, but it is pretty great when it does happen. And it happens most often when I am out for a run or walk.

Later in the day, I went on a bicycle ride with my son and his friend. Biking is a lot of fun too, and spending time with the youngsters is valuable. There may come a time when they do not want to spend time with the paerental units so I think it is important to be together when we can.

The photo above is of some bluebonnets that I saw while running. They still looked pretty good but I think there’s maybe only another week or two they will be around. The other photo is one I took when we were on our bike ride. It’s not too difficult to hold a small camera while riding, so I took several photos and I think this one came out the best.

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April 19, 2014
aiko – ボーイフレンド (Boy Friend)

Some Aiko for the start of the weekend! This clip is from an NHK special where Aiko sang and also gave an interview, q&a, and talked about her career. It was really cool. I wish I could see her live show sometime!

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April 17, 2014
New shirt from Chuy’s

Chuy’s always has such funny shirts. This is the one Koa got.

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April 17, 2014
森恵 – Swallowtail Butterfly

Megumi Mori sings one of my favorite songs. She’s an amazing singer!

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April 16, 2014
North Face “Router” Backpack

North Face Router Backpack

I finally got a backpack that I am pretty sure I will keep for a long, long time! It’s the North Face “Router” backpack in Cosmic Blue/Asphalt Grey. There is so much about this model that makes it perfect for me. But first let me tell you about my backpack saga…

Not too long ago, I had two backpacks. One of them was a real backpacking pack, the REI Flash 65. I used it to go on a short backpacking camping trip where we had to hike in to the campground carrying all of our gear and food. This pack fit me perfectly and served me well. But, I haven’t gone backpacking since then! So, it’s been sitting in my closet for a couple years. Through the magic of Craigslist I sold that backpack to someone who could actually use it.

My other, more useful backpack was the North Face Base Camp Hot Shot which I loved, and used often. The problem with it was that it was simply too small to hold my camera gear. It has a 30-liter capacity which is a nice size but with the camera padding, it got a little cramped inside. It was however very tough and durable, and extremely water-resistant. Again, using Craigslist I found someone (in the same neighborhood even!) who wanted to buy it from me.

While I still had these packs, I had done my research and decided on the North Face Router model. I visited REI a few times and even brought my camera gear (in the padded insert) to see how it fit in various backpacks. The Router was the best backpack for the camera gear and also my other stuff. Its 41-liter capacity is a big upgrade from the smaller packs. Why didn’t I go for a dedicated camera backpack like a Lowepro or Kata? Well, I wanted something that didn’t look like I was carrying expensive gear around in. I prefer to just get a regular bag, and put in the special padded insert. I do this for my REI messenger bag too, and it works great. (I still use the messenger bag, but a heavy load using just one shoulder gets hard after a while)

Now that I had decided on the right backpack (and color I loved) I just had to find the right price. I waited for a while and finally decided to buy it at REI. I know they often have big sales, and sure enough, along came one such sale: 20% off any single item for REI members. So I went to the REI near my work, but to my dismay, they were all sold out! Just a couple days prior, they had several in stock. But now, I was staring at an empty space where the Router models were supposed to be. And what made it even more exasperating was that no other backpack models were even close to selling out! I did a quick check online to see if either of the other Austin-area stores had them, but they were all sold out too! Just my luck…

Later that evening I was chatting with my brother and he asked if I could get the same discount if I ordered from the REI website. I checked and yes, I could still get 20% off with the online order! So I placed my order and a week later my Router backpack was ready to be picked up at my local REI. I finally got the backpack I had my heart set on!

As some of you may know, I sort of have an obsession with bags. I’ve owned and go through a lot of them. But I am excited about this one because I feel like I am going to keep this pack for a very long time. It’s relatively expensive ($145 list) compared to other backpacks, but it’s very high quality and it has the volume, configuration, and style that I really like. I don’t mind spending more money on something that I know will last a long time.

Besides the main compartment where I keep the camera gear, there are two other large compartments. The one closest to my back is for laptop and tablet. There’s a tablet sleeve that sits kind of in the middle, which is perfect for my Dell Venue 8 Pro and bluetooth keyboard. In the laptop area, I keep a folder with papers in it, my Kindle, and a small notebook. The third large compartment is closest to the outside, and has all the little pockets and places for pens, wallet, etc. Then on what would be considered the outside of the bag is a small fleece-lined cellphone pocket, two vertical “Napoleon” pockets, a water-bottle pouch (I keep my point-and-shoot camera here), and a snug-pocket for I don’t know what… another water-bottle pouch would probably be more useful.

To carry all of this gear, the Router has nicely-shaped padded shoulder straps, fully adjustable with sternum strap (and integrated whistle in the buckle). Also there is a nice light-duty waist strap, which can be stowed away in the ventilated back pad if not being used. The back pad also has a semi-rigid plastic support plate. It’s a very slick setup, and really comfortable!

I have to admit, 41 liters is a lot of space for a daypack, and the Router is probably too big for most people. But I like to carry my camera with me wherever I go, so this bag suits me just fine. I’ve only briefly listed what I carry in it, but maybe in another post I will show a more detailed set-up. I’m still working out what goes where, so it might take a little while to get it all sorted out! I actually think it’s fun to pack stuff, and also see how other people pack their bags. I’m weird like that.

Lastly, if you made it to the end of this long post, ありがとう!! (Thanks!)

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April 14, 2014
Perfume – ワンルーム・ディスコ

Some Perfume “One Room Disco” for a Monday night.

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April 13, 2014
Relax Time

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Saturday morning was spent reading and relaxing at Whole Foods! After dropping off the kids at Japanese school, I have a few hours to just hang out, so that’s exactly what I did!

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April 11, 2014
Djavan – Samurai

I’ve been listening to a lot of Djavan on Spotify lately. I love this song. He’s so cool.

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April 6, 2014
Cold Day for Flag Football

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Today Koa had a flag football game, and it was cooooold! At gametime it was only 55ºF and drizzly. To make matters worse, there was a decent wind as well. But once the game got going I think the kids forgot about the cold and just had a lot of fun. It helped that Koa’s team did great, and won by a score of about 21-6. I say “about” because I can never remember if they make the extra points or not. But Koa did fantastic, with a great run almost for a touchdown, and then catching the touchdown pass two plays later!

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The photo above shows a pretty nice umbrella shelter from the wind. I wish I had one of those! Below is a photo of the team huddle after the game. Koa really enjoys playing sports and is thinking of trying baseball this year sometime. I think he’ll do pretty good!

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April 5, 2014
Happy Birthday @koacola512

His birthday loot (so far):

  • Baseball glove
  • Baseball
  • Amazon gift card
  • Infinity Toys
  • Dodgers T-shirt

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April 4, 2014
Backpack-less

I recently sold my other backpack, the North Face Base Camp Hot Shot, which was a tiny bit too small, and today I sold my REI Flash 65 backpack, so I am officially backpack-less! It might be the first time ever! Well, at least since grade-school oh-so-long ago. But hopefully my new North Face Router backpack will arrive soon. The Flash was perfect the one time I used it for an overnight backpacking camping trip, but after that, it just stayed in the closet… so it’s good that it will find use with a new owner. It’s also good to keep decluttering the house! :)

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April 2, 2014
Up there

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April 1, 2014
Notebook

I love using graph paper notebooks, but the problem is that the graph lines are usually too dark or too thick. I found this notebook at Muji in Los Angeles and it is perfect! Instead of lines, it has faint dots in a grid pattern. It is excellent! I kind of wish I bought a few more of them.

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March 31, 2014
Instant photo

I had a Polaroid Joycam at one time, and this is one of the photos I took with it. I keep it in the car. I recently found some film in a box, but it’s no good anymore and doesn’t develop correctly. Oh well!

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March 31, 2014
Wiped out!

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