Archive for February, 2009

The company’s 30th Anniversary Celebration

Chinese opera

Mad day today. Started off with my spotting a Tweet (on Twitter) by Kamasami Kong of Tokyo Metropolis Podcast

Looking for someone who went to Eric Clapton’s concert in Tokyo. Did any of you go? I need a report for the MetPod. Thanks!

I replied to his message via Twitter, and shot him an email too: five minutes later he was recording my review of Eric Clapton’s concert, which has since gone out 36 minutes into this weeks Metropolis Podcast.

Listening to it tonight I can’t help but laugh at how much I talk. He barely got a word in edgeways. Also surprised by how crappy the signal is – will have to use Skype next time.

It was an interesting experience, seeing how Kong did it all so quickly. We had a little chat after the interview too, which gave me further encouragement to move forwards with my next podcast.

Following that it was a mad dash to work to pick up the video camera and tripod, then to Shinjuku in the snow to pick up some DVD RAM disks for the picked-up camera (a word of advice – NEVER buy a camera that writes straight to DVD disk and cannot be controlled from a laptop, absolute pants), and finally to Nakano Sun Plaza where the company’s 30th anniversary celebration was to be held.

Mr. D
Friend and colleague Mr. D, one of the nicest folks you could hope to meet in Tokyo, all dressed up for the celebrations.

It was an ‘interesting’ event. I think if you imagine what a Virgin 30th anniversary party might be like, and then invert it, you’d get a good idea. I gather that that sort of thing is quite normal for Japan: lots of thanks, speeches, lots of formality.

I did enjoy the speech by the university lecturer who specialised in the economy of the geisha industry. Learnt quite a bit there, about how they are diversifying and adapting to deal with the modern economic situation.

tiltshift umbrella_3581
A tiltshift Yellow Umbrella, taken from the party venue window

The food was great too. There was an idea that as the hosts we shouldn’t eat or drink until after the guests had left. Whilst all of the Japanese staff stuck to this expectation, us naughty foreigners decided to forgo social norms and be naughty foreigners.

Caw It was nice!

Following that there were another few speeches (pretty entertaining really – the chap in charge of training at a large shipping company gave a short speech in Chinese to demonstrate what he’s learnt when he took one of our courses. I was damn impressed.

Chinese operaThe main surprise came though when I heard that the lady who I’ve sat next to at the office for the past 5 months was about to perform. Perform what? I thought. Turns out that she was a professional opera singer in China before coming to Japan. I was flabbergasted – she was great!

There was a nice sense of groupism by the end of the day. A bunch of us took the same train to our respective homes, each clutching a big bunch of lilies that had been given to the company by its founder. We chatted away like a bunch of gaijin, ignoring the silence around us.

It was especially nice to get a chance to talk to one of the new staff who just started last year. She’s had a real tough time, and a few of us try to look after her. She’s obviously been working hard to improve her English too, as it’s way better than it was last October. I find her inspiring in that way.

Back home I’m shattered. Tomorrow should be a relatively quiet day, I’ll be working till 4pm (editing videos between phone calls I think), then back home to create some loops for the podcast.

izumi_3561
Izumi

It really has felt that life has taken over this week, with routines being kicked to the side in the wake of incessant urgent demands. I hope next week is a little more orderly.

TTFN

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Live video streaming from the iPhone (again)

Having enabled video on my iPhone, I thought it would be fun to check out the possibility of live streaming to the net – via 3G, out on the streets.

I’ve done two short tests today, both of which can be seen here. (The first is below, the second one is very long, and dull, although I was hopelessly excited as I had two viewers watching at the time sending me their feedback via the built-in chat function.)

Will think about how I can use this technology in the future. Love it.

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First ever live videocast from Qik-enabled iPhone

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Good People Networking Event

NetworkingI’ve just woken up from a pretty surreal night of dreams about social networking and web 2.0 technologies. It was fuelled by the experience last night of spending a few hours at a networking event held in Ebisu, where I was able to meet some really interesting folks (about 134% of whom were iPhone users) doing some good stuff in Japan.

This was the first time I’d been to an event with a primary tag of ‘networking’, and I must say, I really enjoyed it. It was especially good to meet Andrew Shuttleworth, someone who I felt I almost knew due to his web activity, but had yet to meet face-to-face.

Andrew is also the first person I’ve met who has jail-broken their iPhone …and I’m tempted. I’m especially interested in Qik (live video streaming from your iPhone), oh and also by the prospect of tethering it to my Macbook to provide mobile internet access for my Macbook. I may give it a go this week.

In other techy news – have you downloaded Safari 4? It is looking mightily sexy.

Anyway, time for me to go network with the bath. TTFN.

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Volunteering, earthquakes and my dream house

purple flowers_0101As I mentioned on Twitter, *Twinkle’s* come down with a nasty itchy rash covering her whole body. It’s pretty spectacular. What’s equally spectacular is how quickly it appeared, and how much it’s faded following a night of rest. She’s still not 100% though, so is taking the day off, and is as snug as an itchy bug in a rug on the futon behind me.

We’re pretty sure its due to tiredness (last week’s conference saw her doing crazy hours) – so rest is what she needs. Incidentally, I used the NHS (National Health Service) Self-help guide – highly recommended.

I spent a couple of hours at Meguro ward city hall this morning, discussing how I might be of assistance to the Meguro International Friendship Association (MIFA). My motivation for volunteering was the frustration I’ve felt at not putting myself in situations where I have to use Japanese, which has resulted in a slip in my language abilities. This seems ideal. My main role is to give advice and feedback on their services, from the gaijin perspective. I’ll also be helping them get their website up to date (spent quite a while trying to explain RSS today!), and figuring out new ways of reaching foreigners in the area who are unaware of the services they provide.

I also did some translation and proof-reading. I’m glad I did that as it made me realise that *Twinkle’s* not emptying the bath after using it was not laziness, but is actually something that everyone is recommended to do in case of earthquake.

It’s also prompted me to decided to get provisions in for when the earthquake does strike. We’ll be getting a few sacks of no-wash rice later today (to be used in rotation), and a variety of other food for emergency use, oh, and a cardboard-box toilet.

The dangerous (tall and heavy) items we do have are already secured to the walls, so that’s cool.

Whilst of course there’s no way of telling whether the big quake will strike in our lifetimes, I think it’s worth taking precautions just in case.

Yesterday was a pretty interesting day. Following a run from Shinjuku to Roppongi via the Imperial Palace, I taught English for an hour in a Shibuya cafe, then headed out to visit someone who owns an Amway business, and had built a pretty stunning house on a hilltop next to a large ‘wild’ park.

It was a really funky place. To reach the entrance you climb a short flight of stairs and then cross some stepping-stones across a big (shallow) pond, which is actually the roof of their garage (which houses a very sexy talking Mercedes). Passing by the lift (for when they get old and are unable to use the stairs), you enter tatami-floored reception room. Going upstairs you’re greeted by a huge glass-walled living room, featuring one of the longest tables I’ve seen outside of a film, and a grand piano (that had to be lifted in by crane through the window).

Photos were not allowed – the home security company complained that they could not do their job with so many photos of the place floating around online.

We laughed when we were shown the wife’s bedroom closet – it was almost big enough to fit our entire flat in!

Dinner was the freshest seafood (caught by their fisherman friend), washed down with some rather nice champagne.

Personally, nice though it was, I wouldn’t choose to live in such a house.

My dream house is entirely self-sufficient in terms of energy generation / use, and has a vegee garden that keeps us going in fresh produce for much of the year. It has every energy-saving gadget installed you could imagine – the toilet even does a self-assement of its contents before flushing, and adjusts the flush accordingly. We have a garden on the roof too. Flowers, deckchairs, and a special light funnel channelling natural warmth and light to the rooms below, including the branch office of our charitable organisation.

The house systems are fully controllable from my iPhone, wherever I am in the world.

It’s mounted on large ball bearings so as to prevent earthquake damage [demo].

There is ample room for guests in the annex, which has its own kitchen and bathroom, and an open-door policy. Both short and long stays are possible for those either on holiday in Japan, or in trouble.

The whole house is networked with a main server acting as a central entertainment repository whilst also maintaining the house systems. It runs Mac OS (XI?).

There is a car in the garage. It is an Audi that runs on compressed air. Zero emissions.

The point of having such a house is not just to be happy with the home we live in. We hold frequent open days to demonstrate the steps people can take to reduce their impact on the environment, and offer a consultancy service to those interested in reducing their own home carbon footprints.

We have a log-cabin retreat in the woods too, comfortably housing up to 30 people at a time, where various holistic sessions are run year round.

Is this just a dream? At the moment, yes of course, but it’s a dream I believe will come true.

Best get to work then.

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Out now on DVD – Joseph Tame in Fuji TV’s ‘Bizan’ with Tokiwa Takako

Stills from Fuji TVs 'Bizan' Featuring Tokiwa Takako starring alongside Joseph Tame

18 months after the filming, I’ve finally got around to locating my scene in the Fuji TV production of Bizan, starring Tokiwa Takako, and that guy. And me.

For some reason I was under the impression that it had yet to be released, thus didn’t realise that the copy of ‘Bizan’ I’d rented from Tsutaya a while back was actually the one I was in. It was only a few nights ago when looking to see what I had on the ‘waiting to be watched’ hard drive that I skimmed through the drama, and noticed that Tokiwa Takako’s dress looked strangely similar to the one I’d surreptitiously photographed her in in 2007.

stills-from-fuji-tvs-bizan-featuring-tokiwa-takako-and-joseph-tame-2

It’s always amazing how so many hours of filming become compressed – in this case two days down into just under two minutes. Of which I, er, ‘star’ in for a total of about 15 seconds.

In the photo above, the tour guide is kindly teaching me how to say “dog” in Japanese (‘inu’).

Joseph in Bizan, Yoyogi park

You may recall that one of the things I had to agree to in order to be in the drama was to keep my hat on. For the audition, I’d had quite a lot of hair, but then a few days later, forgetting all about the program, I shaved it all off in preparation for the 9000 mile train ride home. When I got the call telling me I was in, I suddenly realised the implications of what I’d done. That’s when my precious Tilley Hat came to my rescue. The director said they’d use me, provided I keep my hat on (I had quite a job doing so in the windy Yoygi park where the above scene was shot.

Doing part time acting work is quite fun, and I’d recommend anyone who fancies trying it contact the agency I use, Group Echo, who should not be judged by their home page.

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Conformity, Eric Clapton and tiltshift taxis

Tiltshift TaxiI’m sitting in one of the two Starbucks near Kudanshita station. Whilst the one outside exit 2 is a place for colleagues to go and chat, this one is definitely for reading and studying. All around me there are salarymen and women buried in their books, some with highlighters in hand, marking passages and copying extracts into notebooks. There’s 22 of us in here. It’s almost silent. My key taps are almost disturbing the peace.
Whilst I’m not a great fan of conformity, at times I’m grateful for it. Especially so on the morning trains. It’s almost unbelievable how silent a packed carriage can be. Hundreds of people wedged in, the only sound is that of silent breathing. You rarely hear a phone ring as everyone conforms to the Manner Mode policy (Mana~ Mode being Japanese for silent mode) – I estimate that I only hear a phone actually ring about once a week on my commute.

I think that whilst the silence is partly the result of conformity / fear of being the nail that sticks up, it is also a manifestation of an individual and collective effort to preserve sanity. Being jammed into a mobile sardine tin with so many people is not natural, and, were the ears to be bombarded with noise, were we to be constantly reminded that we were in this overcrowded tin, I’m sure that for some, claustrophobic panic would not be far off.
However, with silence, no matter how crowded the train, the journey can become the perfect opportunity to take a few minutes to meditate. With or without iPod, if you close your eyes, you could be almost anywhere – including nowhere.

There is one thing that I really do object to though, and that’s those people who deliberately push really hard against you when getting on, when there is blatantly no need to do so. They step on the train, turn around to face the open door, and then push backwards to make space for the 30 other people to get on who aren’t actually there. My impression is that they have a lot of pent-up emotion, and this is one of their few chances to let it out through silent violence.Eric Claption and Jeff Beck

So, I went to see Eric Clapton and Geoff Beck last night. I’ve not listened to Clapton for many years – perhaps since I was a teenager, but with the offer of a half-price ticket and good company at the gig just five minutes from the office, I thought it daft not to go.

Ten minutes into the show I was having a good time, feet tapping, head nodding, charged memories of teenage years coming back to me. Crikey, he really is a great guitarist, I thought.
Being a concert for the ‘mature’ generation (and being in a seated venue, Budokan), most people sat quietly, clapping when prompted to, cheering between songs. There was one man on our row however, who seemed pretty insane. Dressed in a bright white shirt, he spent much of the concert yelling declarations of love at Clapton, and booing when Geoff Beck took the lead. He also played the drums on the rail in front of him, sending vibrations along the entire row. It was quite amusing to watch, although had he been next to me I think I would have pushed him over the edge of the balcony ☺

Following the concert, I made my way to the Ariake Washington Hotel, next to Tokyo Big Site out in Tokyo Bay. *Twinkle* works for an events company that has spent the past six months organsing a three-day nanotechnology conference, and part of the deal has been to stay in a hotel next to the venue during the show.

I’m a big fan of that part of town. Being on one of several relatively new man-made islands, there’s a lot of breathing space around the venue, and some really interesting architecture. The trainspotter in me loves the monorail too. Unfortunately I didn’t get many photos as it was dark when I arrived, and it’s raining this morning. I did however find some prime tiltshift shots – one of which is shown above. I’m quite pleased with my miniature taxi.
It’s been a busy week. I’ve spent much of my spare time trying out different microphones and voice recorders. With the reassigning of the house contract from *Twinkle*s sister to us there’s two month’s deposit to pay, thus not much money for recording equipment, so in the end I decided to work with what I’ve got, and bought the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo – a mic attachment for a video iPod. On the whole it’s very good, but (and this is a BIG but), it does pick up the sound of the iPod’s hard drive whirring into action every 20 seconds in quiet environments. However, when used with an additional external mic (I have a really cute little stereo Sony) it’s fine. My old Video iPod has finally found a new vocation having been almost redundant since my acquisition of an iPhone last September.

The best mobile audio recorder I’ve found yet though is actually the iPhone itself. The sound quality is definitely good enough for my purposes, and having installed Griffin’s excellent iTalk app, transferring files to my computer via wifi is ultra simple, and pretty fast too – thanks to the MacBook’s ability to create it’s own wireless wifi network, I don’t have to be anywhere near an existing network to make the transfer (for some reason this doesn’t work for all apps, e.g. iAnki Server seems to require a standard wifi network). The length of recordings is only limited by iPhone disk space, although in reality it’s actually determined by how much battery life you are prepared to sacrifice! I can see myself getting that 12,000yen battery pack that have in the Apple Store in due course (the name of which I forget).
I’ve also been trying out the new version of Garageband that comes as a part of Apple’s iLife09. I’m really impressed by the new equaliser settings – and the number of loops and effects too (I didn’t realise that these had to be installed separately after installing Garageband from DVD – the download was over 1GB – thank heavens for 30mbps internet connections!).

Anyway, I’d best be off to work. There’s no internet connection here at Starbucks, and as yet I can’t upload via the iPhone’s 3G connection. Yet.

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Valentines Day 2009

roppongi-hills-illuminations_1503

After work last night, I came home to find the house stinking of rancid steamed broccoli – we’d forgotten to put a dish of it away in the fridge before heading off to Saitama the previous day, and what with these spring-like temperatures it had rapidly deteriorated. Windows open, air purifier on full blast …soon it was safe to breathe, and safe to tackle the washing up.

An hour or two later I headed out to Shibuya to meet *Twinkle* for our Valentines Date. It’s rare for us to spend time together doing stuff that isn’t related to business, so for a few minutes we were at a loss as to what to do. Food seemed like a good idea. What to have? I checked the Hot Pepper app on my iPhone (a directory of eateries with discount vouchers) – it brought back a google map of the street we were on with pinmarks showing the restaurants in its listings – click a pin to see a photo of the place, a description, and access the discount ticket.

We settled on sushi, and spent half an hour or so working our way through a stack of plates. Very nice. Cheap too. (I couldn’t manage the ones with the 2cm squidlets lying on top though, it seemed to me horrendous that anyone could eat such little babies).

Back on the streets of Shibuya, we thought about what to do next. Karaoke? Cinema? Nice cafe somewhere. It was then that we spotted a bus about to depart for Roppongi Hills – a clear sign that that was where we were supposed to go.

I like taking buses in Tokyo. Going overground is a novel experience, and much like my journey back to the UK by train in 2007, provides one with a sense of the connections between points on a subway map. These days you don’t have to worry about how much to pay or where to get off either – use your Pasmo (or Suica) IC card for the former (one card is good for virtually all public transport) , and your GPS enabled phone for the latter.

Roppongi Hills is an incredible place. The main 53-storey Mori tower fills me with wonder – how can humans have made something so huge?! On the lower floors there’s a lot of fashion outlets, good cafes and restaurants, interesting architecture and a giant spider.

We decided to visit Niwaka to look at wedding rings. They have a beautiful range – I like a lot of their range, which is unusual for me as I’m not a very ringy person. They’re also more affordable now, with prices having been lowered in response to the economic downturn.

Having decided upon the designs that we’d like (when we can afford them), we headed down the road to the Starbucks-equipped Tsutaya for a coffee and planning session. Out came my notepad and pen, and I started to draw a spider diagram of the business I’m building.

*Twinkle* has a great mind for business. I must admit, I forget it sometimes, but she really has got her head screwed on when it comes to business plans. She pointed out some holes, suggested amendments and action steps, and encouraged me to push forward even though it may not be profitable for a couple of years – and will involve a lot of work.

At about half eleven we headed back home. Stopped off to pick up a DVD at our local Tsutaya, and once home created a home cinema out of all our bedding and the flat-screen panel given to us by my sister-in-law.

Must have been about 3am when we finally dozed off.

This morning’s been relaxing too. Cooking, talking. Looking down at empty plot of land next door feeling happy that construction has now been indefinitely postponed. Oh, my hyacinths are flowering too, giving off a wonderful scent.

We’re both off out now. *Twinkle* to meet an ex-colleague of hers who’s interested in starting an Amway business, myself to teach English in a book store cafe.

Oh, and this time we won’t be leaving any cooked broccoli on the kitchen table.

TTFN

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Picking it up again

Little Pink Hat

Another of my favourites from Tokyo – the little pink-hat girl rides high above the crowds (Shibuya’s Hachiko crossing).

Posts / pages, pages / posts… Ah, the complexities of the English language. Apologies to those of you who received an ‘About the Tame’ post via my feed, my mistake when attempting to transfer some of the static content on TameGoesWild to this WP database.

The last few days have been pretty tricky, with the work-project-home balance being tipped right up causing the kind of grief that can be crippling to general wellbeingness. Still, got things more-or-less back on track now.

It’s reminded me though of one thing I’ve come to accept as OK this past year – the stops and starts that naturally accompany efforts to create new habitual actions (something that’s pretty relevant 6 weeks into a new year). Such actions might be exercise, eating healthily, writing, learning a language or good posture. In the past, I might maintain a new good habit for a week or two, then one morning find myself ‘too busy’ or ‘too stressed’ to make time for it that day.

I’d then use that slip-up as an excuse to not to do it the next day either, and then stop altogether. “Oh, well, I failed at that. I’ll do it again one day”, perceiving the effort to restart the habit so enormous that it would require weeks of mental preparation.

Which of course it doesn’t. It just requires an instantaneous decision followed by action.

Knowing this has saved me a fair bit of grief. It means I’ve been able to give up being down on myself for ‘failing’, and allowed me to restart whatever positive habitual habit is without this sense that it’s a huge struggle in which I will have ‘succeed’ or ‘fail’.


We visited my in-laws last night. With a trip to go and see granny in Western Tokyo on the cards for today, the whole family had gathered. It was a really fun evening! Great food, a lot of laughter, oh, and they also happen to speak Japanese, thus resulting in me revelling in the language bath.

I actually have very few chances to use my Japanese, thus, when the opportunity arises there’s no shutting me up. I’m actually planning to start doing some kind of voluntary work that will enable me to use my Japanese – I’m thinking one evening a week, local neighbourhood organisation, befriending oldies etc. Either that, or find some hypnosis technique to help *Twinkle* forget her English when at home.

Anyway, best get on.

ttfn

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Coldplay Live

coldplay, Live at Saitama Super Stadium, Feb 2009
It was around 8.55am when I got an email from my friend and teacher Nami. Would I like to go and see Coldplay perform live at Saitama Super Stadium tonight? She’d got a couple of tickets for 3500 yen each – almost a third of the normal price.

With telephone conversation calls going on until 7pm, there was no way I was going to get there for the (7pm) start, but fortunately they had a support act, and then there was a short delay, so in the end they only appeared on stage after I’d arrived.

Good of them to wait.

It was bloomin amazing.

Those who know the ins and outs of my Japan story may recall that Coldplay have in a way been the soundtrack to the last 7 years of my life, releasing a new album to mark the start of each new era. Thus, it was a pretty emotional experience for me right from the start.

But more than past lifetimes, it was the band’s achievements that I was moved by. I mean, look at this amazing sight. Thousands of fans loving what they were doing. The four of them loving what they were doing.

Ha. That’s pretty damn groovy I thought.

And I thought again of that quote.

Don’t die with your music still in you.

night

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Budding potential

gazanias_77001

The past few days have been tremendously exciting. Having made the decision to actively pursue my passion, which centres around podcasting but has various attachments (podcasting alone not being a sustainable business), I’ve found myself becoming increasingly excited. For the first time in a long time I can feel that passion, that excitement that comes when you commit to tackling a big challenge.

I’ve long wanted to get back into podcasting, ever since I made my first poorly-produced and almost embarrassingly crap podcast (which has now seen approximately 9000 downloads). The only reason I’m not embarrassed about it is because being embarrassed about it wouldn’t actually be helpful to me. Instead, I’m using it as a lesson in what not to do.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days doing research (learning that podcasts in themselves don’t really generate revenue was the first important lesson!) scribbling down ideas, transferring them to a business plan, talking about them with friends, and then scribbling down a whole load more ideas and adjusting the plan. I’ve been loving it. Today, sitting in a local cafe for a couple of hours I could barely contain my excitement as I came up with a bunch of ideas that magically tied the podcast-centric idea to the online publishing company that myself and two friends started setting up last year.

I see this project as being inclusive, supporting the non-Japanese community in Japan, and producing original, engaging material for people both local and abroad who have an interest in the country.

I also see it as being a lot of fun. And having a bit of a weird name that sticks in people’s minds. Oh, and time consuming.

The more I think about it though, the more I see how in a way a lot of what I’ve done up until now leads to this idea.

I’m also aware that this is not my ultimate goal, but rather the next big step I need to take.

Deciding to ‘grow up’ has been a helpful decision to make. Whilst it doesn’t mean changing my personality or abandoning the sense of wonder I feel on a daily basis as I go about life, it does mean that in situations where in the past I may have backed out through fear, I can now tell myself that it’s OK, and continue.

I mean, come on, there is no failure, there’s only learning.

Incidentally, now feels like an exceptionally good time for a new start as the first blossoms are appearing in the local parks. Spring is my favourite season, and often seems me walking around gazing at the emerging leaves and flowers in amazement at their beauty. Just writing about it brings a grin to my face. The thought of all that ‘potential’ held in the buds now forming, amazing.

Anyway, I’d best get to bed. Today’s photo by the way is one that you may be familiar with – it’s one of mum and dad’s gazanias, which are extraordinarily beautiful. One of my favourites.

Good night.

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Hello to a fresh start

The Daily Mumble (of old)

To mark the fresh start, I’ve finally said goodbye to Blogger.com, and the blue-theme of The Daily Mumble – my personal blog that on Tuesday will be celebrating its 7th birthday.

As a result of the move, the new-look Mumble can now be found at http://www.tamegoeswild.com/words. Please update your bookmarks.

If you are reading this post in an RSS reader, you do not need to do anything – the feed address remains the same.

The new site also has a mobile version – just go to the same address with your mobile device to get a list of the latest posts.

The new Mumble is powered by WordPress. I’ll be gradually transferring all of the other wordy pages from www.tamegoeswild.com (essentially my whole site except the photo section) – but along with fixing a few formatting issues on this site, that’s not a priority, so for the time being The Daily Mumble will look distinctly different from the rest of TGW, and a little odd.

I will enable thumbnail images in due course to make things a little brighter.

Using a WP database to power The Daily Mumble gives me a lot more flexibiity, and provides endless opportunities for enhancments, which will come over time.


The change is good. Whilst I have done a fair bit physically in terms of furthering my business ideas, I’m also doing a lot of mental adjustment to this new approach to life. It’s tremendously exciting, and feels like a lot (years)  of preparation is finally starting to pay off.

I am determined to not let this one pass me by.

Thanks to those of you who have reaffirmed your belief in me, I truly appreciate your support.


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Time to grow up?

bogey changing belarus 05
Changing the bogeys – crossing the border from Russia to Belarus, Sep 2007. Photo taken from an adjoining carriage that’s also jacked right up.

Listening to Branson’s autobiography again today has really hit me hard.

That, and talk with my colleague George (who is rapidly becoming an entrepreneur extraordinaire) regarding several ideas for ventures here in Tokyo that is pushing me to face my fears and get on and do what I need to do.

I’ve come a long way I know, but I still see myself being held back by a big nagging doubt about whether I can suceed in business or not.

The balance between talk and action in my life is way out. Look at me now. I’m blogging, not acting.

Ok, so I’ve created a (yet to be launched) website for my venture, but I can feel myself resisting stepping forward and acting to do what’s needed in the real world. I tend to do things bit by bit, avoiding looking the plan in the eye, skirting the edges. I’ve built websites before, I can do that. They’re within my comfort zone, no matter what the content (within reason).

By going out there and interviewing people, networking in real life, actually producing something other than a website – this is outside of my comfort zone and the fear is only too apparent.

There’s never been a better time for action though. I’ve met someone who shares my passion for my idea, and will make a great co-producer. As of today I’m hooked up with a couple of entrepreneurial networks (via Linked in), and have been invited to speak at an upcoming event for the sake of furthering my idea / carrying out research.

We have no dependents, we can afford to take risks (within reason) – without some risk nothing will change.

I spoke with *Twinkle* tonight about this strong feeling that things have to change – her reaction was one of delight. ‘It’s about time you grew up’ – exactly what I’ve been thinking myself all week.

She has been concerned that Joseph would never grow up sufficiently to be a father – she’s not said this before, but I’m not surprised. I identify wholly with what she is telling me. (I hope you see the irony following my privious post.

It’s time I assert myself. Remain humble and eager to learn from others, but stop kowtowing to fear, and stop thinking that everyone knows better than me.

I desperately want to succeed in the business realm. I’m not motivated by money (although the need for money by those around me does motivate me to a certain extent). I’m motivated by wanting to create something amazing that makes a positive difference to others in some way, by the idea of doing what I love every day, being free to put my precious limited time towards what I consider to be the most important thing that I can put my time towards.

It really is time I grew up.


I’d like to express my thanks to my family, friends and Mumblers who have consistently expressed their belief in my ability to realise my dreams. I invite you to continue to stay tuned and see what happens here over the next 1, 3 and 5 years.

Ok. So let’s do it.

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Teddy on the slopes

When coming to Japan last year, I had to make some harsh decisions, such as what to leave behind.

One victim of BA’s baggage limit was Teddy. Not wanting him to get lonely, I left him in the very capable hands of mum #2 in Monmouth.

Since then he seems to have got up to all sorts – including getting drunk at New Year and having an affair with another teddy.

His latest escapades have seen him out in the #uksnow – a setting that I think suits him pretty well.

Thanks to Mum#2 for looking after him – and sending the photo!

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The thrill that is life


Feeling really gripped by life at the moment. The feeling of adventure is almost tangible. My desire to make the most of every moment has resulted in my feeling like I’m sitting in the front car of a rollercoaster. It’s a fantastic ride – what will the next corner bring? Excitement as we persevere in climbing the incline, imagining the view that awaits us above. Reaching the top, excitement is replaced by joy as we see the sun-drenched landscape way below us, giving us an idea of just how high we’ve climbed. Then comes the thrilling descent – we’re moving forward at tremendous speed, propelled by the result of all our hard work up until now.

Just as we get used to the incredible cruise, a violent corner sees us lurch to the left, stomachs left behind. Nauseous, wanting the bend to end …but OK as we know the bend will end.

This is how it feels.

Just walking back from the station, I felt as if I was moving at 100mph.


Home. Our new England-themed business cards have arrived – these are joint cards featuring both *Twinkle* and I: fifty of my photos on the front given new acquaintances a choice, the same shot from our wedding on the back of each one so people remember who we are – how many times have you found yourself with a stack of business cards trying to put names to faces held in your noggins?

I love these cards, and I’m excited by the idea of giving them away.


I’ve spent the last two days attempting to transfer a completed wordpress blog from my local server (Mamp on my MacBook) to a live server – crikey o’Reily, will I ever figure it out?! I’m new to sql databases, and somewhat confuzzed. Will feel good when I do eventually succeed though – and I WILL succeed.


Really starting to feel the benefits of the sub-experiment which I began in 2006/2007, that of accepting that there is a good reason for everything that happens, although I may never know what the reason is. Only this week I marvelled at how much better I was able to deal with some interpersonal conflict. Two years back I would have been knocked for six by energy-sapping negative feelings directed towards myself and the other, but instead I was able to look on the bright side of the situation before the badness even kicked in, trusting that this was the right thing to happen. What a powerful thing thinking is.

I am fortunate in that there are very few negative people around me. I wonder if that’s a coincidence…

I should add, I am yet to be truly tested here. My life has been pretty blessed these past, er, 31 years.

Crikey. I’m 31.


My love goes out to Mr. Indi, and his wife. If you have some spare positive thoughts, I’d encourage you to subscribe to Is This All There Is? and send them their way.

It’s an emotional journey, and I’m not even the one living it.


The getting-up-at-6am thing is going really well. I whole-heartedly recommend it for anyone who doesn’t like mornings. It can make you super-productive, get your day off to a gorgeously satisfying start, puts you in sync with the natural cycle of the earth. (It does require going to bed before midnight though).


Going back to the power of thought, I’ve just been listening to The Field by Lynne McTaggart, as recommended by my mate Stuballs.

Based on interviews with today’s cutting-edge scientists, investigative journalist Lynne McTaggart wrote The Field, a compelling presentation of the theory that there is a measurable “life force” in the universe.

She cites some pretty interesting scientific experiments in which the power of thought to influence both people and machines is demonstrated. It’s not a great book in terms of writing style, but very interesting nonetheless.

I’m also still half way through Bill Bryson’s A short history of nearly everything.

I am forever more convinced of the power of thought when it comes to shaping our lives, yet remain a poor practitioner. There’s always more work to be done! Incidentally, whilst on the subject, I recommend Walking Through Walls by Phillip Smith – thanks to orchid64 for gifting me a copy (which I am loving, at the rate of about one chapter a week!)


Recently I have purposefully subscribed to a lot of blogs written by expats in Japan. It’s incredible to find this thriving community, where everyone ‘knows’ everyone else. There’s a real feeling of friendship, much of it revolving around Twitter – are you on Twitter yet? If not, you will be, so you might as well sign up now… 🙂 (I’m @tamegoeswild).

Japan Soc is another major gathering place. If you blog about Japan you might be interested in participating in a new effort to build a mutually beneficial community here. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Speaking of which, I think I’ll have a cup of tea.


Ok, I needed to say all that. Feel relieved now. On with the ride.

much love xxx

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