January 2013


One of the huge benefits of “stuff reduction” is that it removes a layer of clutter from your mind allowing you to spend more time on the decisions you want to make and less time on the decisions you have to make. There are schools of thought that suggest we have a limited number of X available to us each day (or in a lifetime for that matter) and once we hit that number we have no more available to us. In this equation X can be anything – it could be steps, breaths or decisions. Running gets you to the finish line sooner, so slow down and enjoy the journey instead. Focusing on your breathing keeps you calm, so if you make an effort to breath slower because you think there is a countdown clock running then you end up with a more relaxed life. The same could be said for decisions – if you only have so many available, once you run out you simply can’t make any more.

I’m not saying this is factual, but it’s an interesting thought experiment. Let’s say you are in the kitchen getting ready to prepare dinner and you find that you need a knife. If you open the drawer and are presented with 10 knifes of different shapes and sizes then you have to decide which one is best for the job. Then you have to consider the others just to make sure you’ve made the right decision first. Now you have to make sure this knife is sharp enough for your needs; when was the last time you sharpened it? You sharpened a knife last week, but was it this one? Wait, is this the knife with the shipped blade? Etc..

If instead you have just one knife, then you don’t think about any of that, you just grab it and get to work. You already know it’s the right one, because – having decided to just have one knife – you took the time to select the best one for whatever job might come up. You don’t have to wonder when it was last sharpened, you already know because you only have one knife that you concern yourself with. So in this case, rather than spending decisions points (so to speak) on which knife, you get to spend them on what to do with the knife.


Yesterday my (almost) 3 year old broke his leg and had a full leg cast put on. This is a kid who has been potty trained for barely 2 months, and now has to rely on us to help him even roll over in bed. We didn’t know how he would handle it.

You know how he spent the day today? Taking one lick of the lollipop he got from the Doctors office every few hours because “he didn’t want it to go away too fast.” Figuring out how to pull himself on his chest and get around the house. Figuring out how to stand up on his one good leg so he can pull himself up onto the couch. Hugging the dog that knocked him over yesterday. Telling his parents that he loved them. Saying that his cast looked cool. Playing with his trains on the floor. Being excited that he gets to use the big toilet since he can’t bend his leg to use the small one anymore. Going on with his life as if nothing was any different.

You how how he didn’t spend the day today? Complaining. Moping. Feeling sorry for himself. Being angry. Lashing out. Using this as an excuse why he cant do something. Asking “what if?” or even thinking about why.

I watched this with incredible fascination. This huge wrench just got thrown into his life and he couldn’t care less. He hasn’t let it impact him in the slightest bit. He knows what he has on his plate right now and is using that to his advantage, not wasting his time worrying about what could be there or why he doesn’t have something else. He’s just going full steam ahead, just like he was yesterday.

There’s a lesson here. I hope I learn it.



Since the second Ripley was born I’ve been terrified of the day we have to rush him to the emergency room. And I know full well it’s a “when” not an “if” – kinda goes hand in hand with having kids, right? You spend 18 years trying to not to let them kill themselves by doing something stupid. So I guess I should be relieved that it ended up happening this way.

This afternoon after we’d just spent an hour walking along the LA River, Ripley and Tara were playing outside with the soccer ball and Sidney (the dog) ran over and somehow bumped into Rips or something – Not really sure what happened but Ripley fell down and we all heard a large “crack” – I was inside in the kitchen and I even heard it. Rips screamed like he’s never screamed before. Which in itself is odd because the kid usually bounces off walls without a hitch. He didn’t shake it off right away and said he couldn’t move it. We knew something was up. Tara carried him into the house and propped him up on the couch and assessed the situation. He couldn’t stand on it. It hurt to touch. He could wiggle his toes, but a bump was starting to show on his shin. I was pretty sure it was broken.

I called the insurance to ask if we needed to do anything special. We have “got hit by a bus” insurance which will basically prevent us from going bankrupt in a catastrophe but doesn’t cover dick in the mean time, so I was already anticipating massive bills. They lived up the cliché and basically told us that since we didn’t have a professional to tell us it was an emergency we were going to get fucked if we went to the emergency room. They suggested that we A) make an appointment with an in-network doctor to get a professional opinion or B) Stop by a local pharmacy to see if the pharmacist on duty could recommend something. I pointed out again that my two year old likely had a broken leg, and asked if any of the things they just suggested made any sense at all. They just reiterated that they didn’t encourage emergency room visits without a doctor recommendation. God bless America!

Punk Rock: A History of Political (In)action and Social Response

Earlier this evening a friend tweeted:

“Punk Rock: A History of Political (In)action and Social Response.” This is a class I would attend. Any teachers out there?

And my head instantly exploded. Because obviously this should already exist, yet for some reason dosen’t. Which means I have no other course of action then to try and rectify that.

One of the main draws to punk rock for me when I was going up was that here was a group of people who by all accounts had been rejected by the society around them – they were the freaks and the weirdos – yet this small group refused to sit still and was going to actively play a roll in shaping the world around them. This was incredibly appealing to me on so many levels, and shaped much of my world view going forward. I’ve never questioned that a small group of dedicated individuals could have a huge impact on whatever they set their sights on, and I’ve always scoffed at the people who assume individuals can’t make a difference.


Dogenzaka, pre-snow

Making my way from Shibuya back to Atwater Village is time travel. It’s distorting and confusing and exhausting, but somehow it works. This is how my day played out, which isn’t too different than many of Japan->US travel days.

7am Wake up, Shibuya.
7:30am shower, email, etc.. My original flight had been cancelled since it was on a 787 and they seem to have this “bursting into flames” problem, so United rebooked me on a new flight. I double check to make sure it’s confirmed and see they’ve assigned me a bulkhead seat which is nice because of the legroom but crappy because you can’t keep your carry on with you during take off and landing. Also no way to confirm at this late hour if they’ve processed my vegan meal on the new flight – Oh well.
8am Breakfast at hotel
9am Walk to train station and buy day-of Narita Express tickets, then back to the hotel to pack bags. Often I’ll buy round trip tickets from the airport when I arrive but if the JR office is closed when I arrive that isn’t possible.
10am Checkout of hotel, but leave bags at hotel desk. This trip, like many others, I have one small roller board suitcase and my backpack – everything fits in those two.
11am Last minute errands. Today that included helping Naim and Levi and Noa see a little of Tokyo besides the Safecast office. We walked through Shibuya to Tokyu Hands then up Cat Street making our way to Omote Sando for food.
12:30pm Lunch at Brown Rice Cafe
1:30pm Jump on the train back to Shibuya, then rush out to the hotel to pick up bags, then turn right around and go back to the train station to catch the 2:16pm NE’X to the airport.
2:16pm Get on the NE’X. Trains in Japan are on time to the second, so if you don’t get there early you miss it. I usually try and get to the platform 15 minutes early to be safe. Today I got there 3 minutes early, with elevated heart rate. The trip from Shibuya to Narita Airport is about an hour and a half.
3:47pm Arrive at NRT, get out of train station, return the WiFi hotspot I rented last week then make my way to the 4F departure floor where I’m lucky enough to have airline status that gets me an express line to pick up my boarding pass and then head to security. Laptop out, keep shoes on – That’s how they do it in Japan. No pornoscanners so no worries.
4:00pm Clear passport control and head to the airport lounge to get everything in order for the flight.
4:10pm Arrive at ANA/Star Alliance Gold lounge. This is a serious protip here- the United lounge at Narita is a piece of shit. They have no food, crappy drinks and barely a power outlet in the whole place. At the far end of the terminal is the ANA lounge and being Star Alliance Gold gets you into it – it’s a walk but it’s worth it. They have a noodle bar in the lounge, endless Inari sushi and CC Lemon on tap. As well as many other options. This lounge rocks, and usually it’s empty. Today it was packed and I had to stand for 10 minutes or so until a seat opened up. I get some food and catch my breath.
5:00pm Leave the lounge and head back to my gate. Lounge is near gate 47 and I’m flying out of 37, boarding is scheduled for 5:05 but today it’s delayed a little and everyone stands around WTFing until about 5:20.
5:20pm board the plane with first batch of folks. Head to the bulkhead seat and get settled.
5:25pm Dude sits down next to me and immediately starts chatting me up. Was I on that other cancelled flight too? Was LA my final destination? How long had I been in Japan? Business?
5:30pm Another dude shows up and has a boarding pass for the seat I’m in. I check mine and see that sometime between when I looked this morning and when I got to the airport I had been moved 2 rows back. YES! Dodged that bullet. I leave Mr. Chatty pants and go back to a totally empty row.
5:50pm I’m in the window seat and a guy sits down in the isle seat and immediately falls asleep. Flight crew announce all passengers are seated and we’re about to take off. Awesome, middle seat is empty.
6:25pm Take off!
6:45pm I confirm that United fucked up my meal request and they only have beef or salmon to offer me. I’m annoyed but I should have known and I kick myself for not grabbing some snacks earlier in the day.

The next 9 hours are a blur of short naps, light reading and watching movies I’ve already seen on the tiny screen built into the back of the seat in front of me. At some point I remember that I also have a few episodes of something on my laptop and pull that out, a much more rewarding experience.

10:29am land at LAX. Yes, I’ve just landed about 8 hours earlier than I took off on the same day. Time travel!
10:45am get to the gate and get off the plane
10:55am skip the customs line and head to the Global Entry kiosk and scan my passport, then hand the print out to the CBP dude. Get waved through.
11:05 jump in an Uber Taxi outside the airport and head home
11:29 Arrive home. Possibly a new record time.

I spend the next few hours playing with Ripley and telling him I missed him, then he says he’s tired and I am too so we snuggle up and take a nap.

6pm wake up, think about how long the day has been. Welcome Tara home from work, wrangle up some food, hang on the couch with the family for a while.
9pm The family crashes, I try to catch up on some work that I might have missed during the epicly long day I just had.
11:00pm Remember I need to blog today and tell this story. Then head to sleep.


Bird, Shibuya

I’m flying back to Los Angeles tomorrow (though not on the 787 I was initially booked on thanks to the whole “bursting into flames” thing). I haven’t wanted to go home this much in a very long time. I’ve been away for almost 2 months at this point with the exception of a few stop overs to do laundry and change luggage for climate appropriate garb and then off to my next destination. Especially difficult was the drastic change of being with Tara and Ripley basically every waking hour of every day in December and then the moment we got home turning around and flying solo to Japan where I only get to see them for a few minutes a day via skype or facetime. I’ve missed my family. I’ve missed my home and my bed and my friends.

Ripley starts preschool shortly and his development has become super obvious to me during this trip, even though (or maybe because) my interaction with him has been sparse. Used to be that Tara would show him the video chat and he’d say hi and maybe blow kisses but generally just nod and smile. I haven’t been away from him for any stretch in 4 months or so, and this time he’s got lots to say. Telling me about his day, showing me stuff through the camera, telling me he misses me. I was not prepared for the grip this little guy has on my heart. So yeah, I’m looking forward to getting home soon.

That said, this trip was very productive. I’ve got a lot more to write about it in the coming days, but need to process my thoughts and notes first. Completely exhausting 20 hour days back to back, but really productive and beneficial for a number of reasons. I took a ton of photos as well, and have been posting them a few at a time on flickr in case you care to check those out. Almost 2am, so I’m calling it a night.


While I try not to anticipate the reaction anything I write will get, I can’t help but know that certain topics will attract the attention of certain people. Yesterday’s post about quitting your job for example, I have a group of friends who I’ve had this discussion with in person for a long time. Some who already knew it and some who had recently come to that same conclusion. It’s a challenging position on a challenging topic, but I knew these people would be supportive.

I hoped there would be some others who might have been thinking along those lines but had been to afraid to make a move and seeing a post like that might encourage them to make a change in their lives for the better.

I’ve talked about this topic before and I had an idea what reactions I might expect. The haters were new, though perhaps shouldn’t have been surprising. That post, like this one is about fear. It’s about identifying that fear, addressing it and pushing past it. That’s the ideal anyway, some people are afraid and rather than face that they lash out.

Some people think that quitting their job means they will be broke and then homeless and then starve. When I hear someone use that argument – and I’ve heard it a lot – what is really clear is that those people are afraid that they have no worth. They think they are lucky to have the job they have and if they walked away they’d never be able to get another job. Because they aren’t good enough. They are afraid. Some of them might be right. But this argument says more about the person making it than the opportunities available. And my point is that many opportunities don’t present themselves until you are in a position to take advantage of them.

Self worth is a huge piece of this, because if you think you have some value in this world, then you have to trust that someone else might agree you have value, and if someone else agrees you have value then you can always find a job because you are a valuable person. So if you leave one job, the possibility that you will never get another job isn’t even something to consider. You are trying to get a better job, and if you can’t, you can always get one just the one you already had. If you think you can’t get a job like the one you have now, then you think you aren’t worthy of the job you currently have.

Some people think it’s crazy to take a step until they know exactly where that step will land. I can’t agree. I think planning out every single step prevents you from taking chances, and if you don’t take chances then you can’t ever expect to have a chance work in your favor. Some people are afraid of taking chances. I can’t imagine living under that kind of fear. I just don’t think that lowly of myself.

Whoever you are, I think you can do something awesome. And I want your life to be awesome. That’s why I keep pushing. And I don’t plan on stopping.

Quit your job. Today.

If you are standing on the ledge looking over and need a little push I’m here to kick you square in the ass and push you the hell off the roof. You’ll learn to fly or you die at the bottom, but you know that I’m right when I tell you that either of those options are better than just standing on that ledge forever. At least they are action.

Here’s the thing, you only get one life. And in the big scope of things it’s pretty short. So why would you waste a single moment of it doing something that isn’t awesome? If you love your job and can barely tell the difference between when you are working or not then I’m not talking to you. But if you dread going to work every day and count the seconds until you are finished for the day I might as well have put your name in the title of this post.

Yes you.

What are you waiting for?

There’s never going to be a right time. There will never be a safety net. It will never be comfortable. It will never be easy. But change and growth isn’t supposed to be. It’s scary. It’s nerve wracking. It’s terrifying. It’s also the only option you have if you don’t want to look back and think you wasted your life. It’s the only option you have if you want to be happy. It’s the only option you have if you want to do anything besides just sit still being depressed. And it’s the most rewarding thing you will ever do. Really, what are you waiting for?

You know full well you don’t like what you are doing. So do something else. The worst thing that can happen is that you won’t like it. In which case you are exactly where you are right now. Every other potential out come puts you in a better position. I know this, because the people who can’t do something else, the people with no vision to do something else, the people with no dreams to do something else don’t ever consider it. They don’t even know there is a ledge they could be looking off of. They are clueless to the better options laid out before them. But you know about the ledge, you know about the options, you are just scared to reach for them.

Don’t be scared. Be excited.

If you don’t try you are assured to fail. 100% guarantee that you won’t pull it off if you don’t go for it.

So go for it. Stop fucking around and talking yourself out of it. The next thing you do will be awesome. You just have to believe that, and then do it. What are you waiting for?