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Can't Figure Out Where to Be

I can’t **cking decide where to go/be. I feel so stupid to have this freedom and so unable to use it effectively. I’m in Singapore at the moment. In 6 days I’m homeless again meaning I have no place to stay unless I make plans and pick a place!

I’ve thought about doing a vacation place like visiting Bali for a week. What will give me another week to decide yet again, where next. Going alone doesn’t sound that fun to me though I have a friend that’s done it. Could waste time in Australia or go back to Europe for a couple of months just to do it but it feels like I’d just be putting off deciding rather than doing something fun or constructive.

So where to actually plant some roots?

Los Angeles:

I spent 8 months last year back in LA. The first time I’d spent any long time there since 2000. It’s big and sprawling. To visit friends I often had to drive 40-70 minutes. I found I hated driving in LA as well. It was super stressful.

Only good place to live IMO is west side near ocean but LA felt really lonely. No places to get work done. Every cafe was either full or I had to give up my seat in 2 hours to use the restroom. I didn’t feel welcome at most places. Not really sure what that means. Maybe the fact that service workers in the USA all seem to hate their job and their customers. Compare to Japanese service workers. They may or may not hate their jobs, I have no idea, but they certainly don’t let that on most of the time and always do their best to actually provide real service.

I could pick some neighborhood and get an office though that would be lonely as well. Maybe more likely to find collaborators though. There’s a large indie game community in LA as well as a large art community.

Everything closes by 9:30. Want something to eat after 9:30? Fast Food and shitty American convenience stores is all there is. Compared to Tokyo I felt like I was stuck at home after about 9pm.

The weather is awesome and there’s some awesome friends there. My sister and nephew are there as well and my mom for a couple of months a year.

LA now feels like a settle down place as in if I had a wife and kids and lived in some suburb where my life was play with my kids in the yard it would not be bad.

Could live on the east side where all the Asian food is and there’s a few tea houses that are open late but I always feel hated by American Asians. Not my friends of course but just in general.

I tried downtown. It also felt isolating and lonely. Stepping outside seemed scary. Grocery stores seemed far. Again compared to Tokyo where most of the places I’ve stayed in the last couple of years there’s been 3 to 6 24 hour convenience stores with actually good food open 24 hours usually less than 1-3 minutes away by walking. LA has some 24 hour grocery stores but they really aren’t the place to grab a snack. The prepared foods at a 24hr Safeway are pretty horrible. Whole Foods or Trader Joes might be better but they close at 10.

San Francisco:

I have a few friends there but something about those friends so far has not been very inspiring. Sorry, that sounds horrible. Those friends are awesome, amazing and talented but for whatever reason I’m not inspired to be entrepreneurial by them so much. I only say that in comparison to a few friends in LA, Kyoto, and Tokyo. Like I feel like hanging out there is settling for a certain kind of lifestyle which is basically exist and then hang out with friends in a kind of rut like way. I suppose that ends up the same anywhere though. You get a few favorite places and just go there over and over.

SF also has the 2hr cafe problem and not enough of them. The one bright spot is the Workshop Cafe but it’s full often as are many others.

SF is probably really expensive. People say a 600 sq ft apartment for 1 is now around $3000 a month!

Public transportation exists but it feels like ass. Scary people doing scary things. Last time I was a there a group of kids in the back were tearing down the ads on the bus. Ripping up the ads, pulling down the plastic dividers and hitting each other with them. Then getting out their markers and writing on the windows and seats. To a lot of Americans that sounds almost normal and like a rite of passage but having lived in safer places where people actually value the shared public interest it’s actually a very poor reflection on Americans and is one of those reasons that makes me not like my country.

Tokyo:

I don’t like Japanese women. Haha. Actually to put it slightly more objectively if I go on say OkCupid the percent it claims I match based on the answers to questions goes way way WAY down. Like from lots of women in the 80-99% range when in the USA to most women being in the 30-60% range. Of course that might mean absolutely nothing and there are certainly some amazing Japanese women I’ve met. Rather it’s just some small evidence that I’m less likely to meet someone I’m truly compatible with there. Or at least it feels that way. On the other hand I get more attention so maybe that’s means the odds increase in general since I get zero attention anywhere in the USA.

Another thing about Tokyo or Japan in general is applying for a visa will be a PITA. I’ll need to start a company. Which also brings up the number of potential partners and/or employees would seem to be way smaller. The stereotype is that most Japanese want a stable job at a large company. There’s foreigners there but certainly the number of potential candidates is much much smaller than anywhere in the US.

On the plus side I love the late night in Tokyo. I can walk down many streets in Tokyo at 3am on a Monday night and see restaurants and bars busy with people having fun times and conversations. Where else does that happen? No where in LA or SF. Maybe NYC? Although, my impression is that’s a very different scene.

There’s nice, friendly, and safe Starbucks open till 4am. There’s co-working spaces that are 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of anything in LA or SF or SG.

And I have lots of friends there. Or at least enough that I feel like I get to see people socially 2 or 3 times a week which is more than LA or SF. As soon as I think that though I then think “Well I can make friends anywhere. I just have to make it happen” and so I shouldn’t pick Tokyo for that reason.

Kyoto:

I’ve spent about 4 weeks total in Kyoto as a non-tourist. Meaning those 4 weeks I wasn’t visiting temples which is the only thing I’d done the previous 5 or 6 times I’d been to Kyoto.

Kyoto isn’t that small of a city. 1.5 million people is bigger than Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Munich, Brussels, Milan, Stockholm, Prague. Technically it’s bigger than all but 6 cities in the USA including Dallas, San Jose, San Francisco.

But for whatever reason it feels really small. There’s a core area that’s only a few blocks large where most stuff seems to center around. You can bike from one side of the city to the other in 15-20 minutes. Less than SF. If you’re out late a cab ride is unlikely to be more than $10-$20.

There’s a large group of foreign game devs mostly because there’s 3 game companies run by foreigners including Q-Games, Vitei, and 17bit. That means there’s a community that’s easy to jump into.

At the same time Kyoto feels a little like a place to settle down with a family more than a place to be as a single guy. I’d love to be settled down with a family but so far that hasn’t happened. I’ve clearly got some issues there.

Kyoto also seems much cheaper than Tokyo and Tokyo cheaper than SF or LA.

Singapore:

I’ve spent a few months in Singapore. I can’t really say I know it that well. My fiction is that it would be hard to find collaborators. Most people want high paying jobs in finance or IT. Singapore doesn’t have any reputation for creatives whatsoever except maybe in architecture. I don’t know if that has anything to do with reality but it certainly feels that way to me just from looking at what’s on offer in stores, ads, campaigns etc…

It’s also hot year round and everyone is fat. I’m not complaining about fat people only that I can see myself getting fat because the heat means I won’t want to ever walk or go outside and the ubiquity of easy food literally EVERY seems like it would be no time before I’d gained 30lbs.

Singapore also seems boring in some ways. I’ve had some great time there but it really feels like all their is is shopping and eating.

Women wise my impression is I’d be more likely to meet someone there. Then of course I’d probably be stuck in SG. Maybe that would be ok though with an SO.

NYC:

I’ve never lived there and only visited twice a week at a time. I like that there’s public transportation and the busyness of megatropolis like Tokyo but it doesn’t feel safe. Riding the subway in NYC is often depressing and scary. (same in SF actually). At least compared to SG or Tokyo.

There does seem to be a lot going on there related to games and I have one friend there and suspect I’d quickly make more.

The weather sounds like it sucks. Blizzards in the winter. Sweltering heat in the summer.

I guess I’m mostly intrigued as just a new experience to live somewhere new. Of course all my stereotypes also turn me away like I expect all the women want a rich guy from wall street and that NYC will be super expensive. I’ll need roommates and won’t be able to really experience the parts of the city that make it so attractive.

Berlin:

I don’t even know why this is on the list. I suppose I could add a bunch of other European cities here including London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. I have no idea how I’d immigrate but I guess the excitement is just that they’d be really new experiences. Berlin in particular is supposed to be reasonably priced and I got a relatively good vibe while there. If I picked any of those except London I’d have to learn a new language but that’s a also a draw.

I feel like if I had a girlfriend and she was into any of these I’d totally do it. I don’t know why that feels more compelling than just going alone.

I met an American guy that lived in Kyoto for 12 years and his plan is to move to Berlin. Not sure how that’s relevant except as an anecdote that others are excited about Berlin. I’ve heard lots of other people bring it up as one of the places they are most fond of in Europe including lots of Europeans.

Other:

On top of all of that like I mentioned above about “I can make friends anywhere”. When I think how like the nightlife aspect of Tokyo and the co-working spaces another, a more logical side thinks “Why do I care about night life. It’s not like I actually take advantage of it that often and as I age or if I finally meet someone it’s likely to become very unimportant”. Similarly with co-working spaces and cafes. Most likely I should rent an office and once I do that cafes and co-working spaces have no meaning. Of course my impression right now is even an office is cheaper and easier to rent in Tokyo or Kyoto than LA or SF or NYC. No idea how easy it is in Europe. I’d guess Berlin is easy and the rest hard.

One friend said “just pick a place and try it for a year” but like I said previously I won’t plant roots if I don’t commit to a place.

Some people say “make a list”. Well that list is above. It’s not helping.

Anyway I **cking can’t decide!!

Cause I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

There’s probably a post exactly like this a few weeks or month from before but hey, it’s what’s on my mind. I write this stuff more for myself to think out loud although I’d love to hear wise and sage advice or opinions if you have any.

I’m un-glued from a “normal” life (whatever that is). I’m not sure I actually like it. I guess this is kind of called the “digital nomad” life although my impression is digital nomads usually have work they have to do.

I have 2 big questions: Where should I live and what should I do. My friend Chris said as for a place to live I should just pick some place, any place and give it a year. If it sucks leave. Maybe that’s good advice? I kind of feel like picking a place is like getting married. I have to commit. Committing means working on making it my place. Get house or apartment, start decorating, nesting. Join clubs, sign up for classes, volunteer, make local friends. Basically plant roots. If I don’t plant roots I wouldn’t really being experiencing the place in a way that would make me want to stay. So, if I say “just a year”, in the back of my mind I won’t plant any roots, it will all just be temporary.

Right now I’m in Tokyo again. This time I’ve been here for 2 months. I’m in a tiny apartment but it’s one of the nicer places I’ve stayed. It’s also the cheapest place I’ve stayed in the last 2 years. Hotels are expensive, go on Booking.com and see, the bottom level is hostels. The next level up is what I’ve been shooting for. That’s still $90-$150 at DAY!!!! OUCH!!! Yea, I’m getting poor living this way. Another reason I need to rent an apartment.

I was in LA from July 2014 to Feb 2015. I’m from there but had not lived there for 14 years. I forgot how good the weather is! I really liked hanging out with my friends in Pasadena but I gotta say of all the places being alone Tokyo seems best. There’s lots of things I loved but as a single guy I didn’t like trying to find places to work (cafes, co-working spaces, etc…) and I didn’t really enjoy eating out alone (like what is there?) and it sucked that the city closes at like 9pm. Here in Tokyo, especially where I’m living there’s hundreds of restaurants, bars, and even cafes I can visit at 3am.

I probably wouldn’t care about that if I was on a project and/or had a girlfriend or family. I’d have something to go to in the day (work, project) and something to come home to at night (girlfriend, wife) but as it is I’m single. I find that I run into far more friends in Tokyo than anywhere else. In SF I have a ~3 friends I see regularly but it’s limited to about 4 hours a week. That sucks. LA was similarly lonely. At the same time my logical self reminds me that if I made the effort I could probably have a ton of friends no matter where I am. I could start a meetup. I could invite people out. I could host parties. Take classes. Go to meetups. etc… So, it seems irrational to choose Tokyo for the reasons above. Especially if I finally find a girlfriend and/or a project most of those advantages will disappear.

My point being, I can’t figure out a criteria for choosing which place is best.

Then there’s projects. I’ve basically spent a year working on HappyFunTimes. It’s doesn’t look like it I’m sure but it’s a gawd damn full time job. There are days I’ve spent 14 hours straight trying to get shit done for it. It’s getting harder and harder as well. As I add more platforms and options testing them all is becoming impossible. I can try to set up more automated testing, that alone would probably take several weeks of full time work. It’s complicated by the fact that HappyFunTimes is made from several parts. So for example I need to test if the app can be installed and runs in Windows and OSX and that every feature works. Since Windows and OSX use different path formats it’s possible I broke something on one if I don’t test.

I also need to test iOS and Android. Testing those means setting up temp servers. Each one of those platforms would take several days to get a testing infrustructure setup and most testing infrustructures assume a single app that only works locally. Not an app that connects both to a local server and a remote server. Anyway, I’m just whining I guess. My point is HappyFunTimes has been a fulltime job and while I’d like to see it become a popular library there’s no plan to make money from it.

AirBnB not all roses

AirBnB hasn’t been all roses. My first experience in Hawaii was awesome but most experiences since then have been less than stellar.
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Feeling out of place in a Record Store

The other day my sister, nephew, and I were touring around LA by subway. We decided to go check out Amoeba records which is one of the largest record/cd stores left in the USA. I’d been before but it’s been years.
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The Tyranny of the +1

I’m sure someone else has already written about this far better than me but this has really been bugging me lately. That is, that +1s or Likes or even more specifically -1s seem like they’re squashing discussion.
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Sometimes meeting your idols can be the worst thing

To put my fandom in perspective I arguably got interested in Japanese partly because of Nomiya Maki. Back when I lived in the Bay Area in 93-95, just about the time I starte studying, Live 105 was playing her song with Pizzicato Five, “Twiggy Twiggy” which I instantly liked.

I proceeded to find all the Pizzicato Five music I could find. That’s a lot of music because they’ve released something like 75 CDs. Sometimes I would study the lyrics. I got laughed at by a co-worker for liking their music. She thought it was “those weird Japanese”.
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Enable Japanese to English Dictionary in iOS

Right after figuring out how to enable the built in Japanese to English dictionary in OSX a friend was like “Awesome! Now they just need it for iOS” to which I thought, hmm, I wonder.

A few clicks later and BAM! Same feature is in iOS
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Turn on the built in Japanese/English Dictionary in OSX

I recently read this article about just how awesome the Webster’s dictionary is compared to other dictionaries.. I highly recommend it.

After reading that I installed that dictionary in OSX. Then a few days later I needed to look up a Japanese word. I usually go to WWWJDIC to look things up but it’s annoying to have to be online.

Then I got to thinking, Hmmm, if I was able to install a dictionary into OSX I’ll bet there’s a Japanese or Japanese to English dictionary. A few clicks later and BAM!, turns out there’s one built in. All you have to do is turn it on.
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Notes about Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice

I took my first trip to Italy. I started in Rome, then Florence, Milan, and finally Venice.

The short version is, Milan was best but over all I Italy didn’t live up to the hype for me.
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Manoa Falls

I was in Honolulu looking up a restaurant or something on Google maps and I saw a marker for “Manoa Falls”. I had never been and I assumed it would be like Opaekaa Falls or Wailua Falls in Kauai. Both of those are just off the road. You get out of your car, walk 50 feet, see the waterfall, get back into your car. At worst I thought it might be like Akaka Falls on Hawaii which is nice paved with steps and walkways with rails.

Instead it was a dirt path about 1 mile long. It was a drizzly day and so it was all really muddy and slippery.
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