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Howdy. I'm Justin Hall, a freelance writer living in Oakland California. I spent much of the last two years living in Japan, researching the social impact of new technologies and electronic entertainment. Now I write articles, contribute to Chanpon, Game Girl Advance and TheFeature.

Thanks for stopping by this old web site.

My memories of


Thus spake:
> Meyers Ben on happy halloween
> Eric K on Great Gosh Almighty...
> RIO on escapee
> nekkid on body body rant, body body rant
> Shann on Shingular
> anjela on bumpy head
> Dave on Links.net Internship
> Howard on so
> Petersen Dave on Computer News
> Carlo Suares on filthy, cluttered
> kurt on stopped in flight
> alison on full blast cold
> Paris Hilton Video on Writing Broadly: TGS2k3
> on Mobile Religious Ringtones
> robin on Robin Rocks
> Lulu on Triple Teamed at Barber DoDo
> atiku abubaka on Mobile Japan Fall Gallery posted
> Damanda on i have to use the bath robe
> Marie on email the government
> justin on small hours in seoul
> mark on spametry
> Tina Menon on tears for two
> Dustin on my link to ODB
> stuzzy on provoked
> Taylor on Pathetic, or just busy? I can't decide.
> Dan on Reaching Robots at all
> roulette on Personal Plug-In

waka waka! by Robin


Photo by: Robin Hunicke

I saw this girl at the Tokyo Game Show wearing these totally rad glasses. I asked if she was a game designer; she said she was just talent, a model, a booth babe sort of. But she looked like a young artist! Quirkily arrayed. I encouraged her to take her funky wardrobe and make some software. Then my disappointment was offset when she offered to let me wear her glasses after I heaped praise on them. And Robin snapped this photo!

October 2004

face front archives

I write for Game Girl Advance quite often - here's a list of my last few posts there:


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October 30, 2003

happy halloween

miscalculation tonight. saline flush first, before inserting the tube. pushing the plastic plunger down is always the reintroduction to the process. it's painful, like someone pressing on a bruise. but then cool - the liquid is cooler than my warm flesh. so that's soothing.

but the bruise didn't stop. and i heard a squishy sound. i saw some fluid under the clear tape holding the needle in my arm. a little backup - no big deal. i inserted the IV, typed in 115 ml, to be delivered over one hour. i sat through the waning scenes of full eclipse as i felt the slow bruising continue. finally the pain got so bad i stopped the machine. i called the nurses they told me to pull the rig from my arm and wait until the morning, when one of them would visit. I pulled off the tape and most of my arm hair, finally extracting the tubes and needles fully from my body. i inspected my forearm - it was abnormally swollen. i'd been injecting the glucose into my arm improperly - probably my vein seized up. now my trackmark is leaking watery blood. ow.

the night nurse: you flooded your tissues with the medicine. it'll be swollen and painful, probably for a few days. but that's not unusual. your body will absorb it. put a bandaid on it real tight.

this is my right arm.

two days ago a nurse came to my house to remove an IV needle from my left arm, because it was hurting too bad - all the time, even when i wasn't injecting. she tried another place on my left arm, but my vein was seized up - it wouldn't let fluid in and it hurt mightily. where are they going to try next?

Posted by Justin at 11:24 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Great Gosh Almighty...

...been a long time coming:

plug lovea whiter shade of pale

Korea 2003

Posted by Justin at 09:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 29, 2003


escapeePhoto: Austin Wrist-prepped for shower; taking temperature and flashing West side.
Carrying my load of spanikopita and humus I stride out of the Emeryville Public Market - a broad collection of stores attracting all manner of East Bay folks. Amongst these many human types, I feel awkward - a short sleeve shirt missing a few buttons at the bottom reveals a needle in my arm and a long tube wrapped around my wrist. I feel like an escapee - on temporary leave from a hospital situation.

And so I am. Dressed up nicer, in a long-sleeved shirt, only the hint of a medical wrap extending past my sleeve, I fit in fine. An accountant is advising me on incorporation and taxation at a Mexican restaurant near my house. I ordered lemonade and some guacamole. I've drank two glasses now and I still feel dehydrated. I can't eat the guacamole, that's something I've never been able to say before in my life. I mean I could eat guacamole if it was spread on shit. Unless is was that liquified gucamole that doesn't need refrigeration. Youch.

And I start to feel it - the call of my couch. My head is beginning to droop. I have to hold it up. It's not like I'm falling asleep in class, it's like my entire body is beginning to shut down. Weariness is setting in rapidly - I excuse myself from the meeting and drive home with Siouxsie, happily parking myself at the computer before I recline fully to recover from my brief sojurn away from my medicine. I feel like Elric, without Stormbringer.

Posted by Justin at 07:05 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

October 28, 2003

body body rant, body body rant

Shingles, Fall 2003rant

My last IV - from an Appendix removal, in 1995
Shingles, Fall 2003
Starting the IV. I can't help but think of it as plugging in.
Shingles, Fall 2003
Needle in my wrist; most of the time I'll keep it covered with a "sockette" a wrist band sort of thing.
Shingles, Fall 2003
All week I get to play with needles - pulling solution from one bottle and injecting it into another, switching to a large needle, pulling that mixture out and pumping it into an IV bag. All those needles get tossed into the "sharps bin" - a red trash can marked biohazard that I'm free to keep after this whole regimine.
Shingles, Fall 2003
With the nice nurse Allison, this is my buddy, my pumping machine, my Flo-Gard 6201. Just in time for Halloween! I'm trying to figure out how to work this whol thing into a costume. And I'm trying to figure out if I can connect this pump to my computer, to the internet, to finally mainline data.
Shingles, Fall 2003
A minor case of ringworm - barely visible, but still itchy. Not so bad as Mark's serious sore in Roatonga!
Shingles, Fall 2003
At my desk, plugged into the pump and two computers with three screens. Feel the flow! (details shot)
This fucking sucks. I have about four drugs coursing through me. I feel woozy and distended.

Last night a kind and energetic nurse came to the house. She discovered ringworm on my scalp, separate from the Shingles on my forehead. My head is aching and itchy and gross, covered in sores and lesions. And now I have drug side effects to add to the mix.

My throat is both dry and swampy. I have a layer of snot in my mouth. I feel woozy. I already mentioned that - my brain is half asleep and the living cells are screaming. In my shoulders and wrist there's pain. In my fucking left arm there's a needle sticking out. FOR A WEEK!

I have to wear a little wristband to keep this needle in check. When I use my left arm I'm reminded that I've been stuck, that I'm hooked up to a medical machine all week. Yesterday I went to the doctor looking for a topical anti-biotic or something to take care of my rash. And now I wonder if I'll be leaving the house this week. You know? I just feel like shit, and I have to medicate myself the whole time.

AAAhhhhhh. Pardon me. And meanwhile? A most dear friend's mother is having serious surgery to see about her colon - she might not live. That's tears-worthy. Me? I'm just addled. Really! Just wobbly-headed.

And I have an incredible batch of friends and strangers giving me comfort and advice online. Knowledge and explanation, vignette and opinion. It's helpful - the living part of my mind has more to chew on because if it.

And I have an incredible house full of tools and toys that I get to spend a week with. I'm thinking to take the living room back to the two or three TV layout; that way I can power-veg while I'm hooked up to the drip. I have fucking satellite television with 500 channels that I haven't watched for more than twenty minutes in about three months! Piles of DVDs and games never watched and never played, amidst a growing sea of medical products and medical waste.

Ouch, my stomach hurts. And maybe what I want is someone to be taking care of things. "Do you want a glass of water?" "Can I make you some eggs?" "Shall I fetch you an XBox?" And I find that the debris from my recent fun or eating has been cleared and I'm free to putter around in circles. My lot is mental stimulation this week, and companionship another time. I'm working to control my neediness. And bitterness! Austin is here, he makes jokes and takes photos of me; that helps.

I asked the nurse last night after reading the briefing of my treatment she provided - this medication causes nausea? (This morning I think this medication causes shooting sharp stomach pains). She replied, "It mostly causes nausea if you read that page and think about it." So I purge my sad angry self up here, pardon me, and then I proceed with the positive. I've got photographs to process from recent wonderful trips (I just bought some database software - ACDSee, now I can catalog my 14,000 digital pix)! Ouch ouch ouch - I've got to breathe differently. I suspect by the end of this week I'll have learned some things about my body and my mind.

Posted by Justin at 06:29 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

October 27, 2003


Thanks for all the replies to my head-growth picture post. I think the worst part of having some strange thing on my head was not knowing what it was, not being familiar with my little hostile hitchhikers. As they grew and itched and demanded my attention, I needed first a name, a story, a metaphor to attach, and then something I could do about them. I've done a fair amount of research into alternative medicines and spirituality, but I didn't feel competant to diagnose or treat this thing. Especially because along with the painful itching red bumps on my head, there's a swollen aching lump next to my ear. My whole head seems to be freaking out.

The two are related, as it turns out. I hit the phones at 8am when the doctors' offices opened and I had an appointment by 9.15 - my first doctor's visit in seven years. A Doctor R. Huang in Berkeley saw me - she was smiling, full of energy and comforting in her competance. Listening to my symptoms, examining my head, she concluded that I have a kind of herpes of the head. That's a rather uncharitable way to describe it, I think. Like imagining I've been having anal-cranial sex or something. Rather, I prefer to describe it as an adult resurfacing of the Chicken Pox, commonly known as Shingles (as Professor Burke described).

The formal name is the Herpes Zoster Virus. It has infected the first branch of my trigenial nerve, located in my forehead. The bumps I currently see are following the line of a nerve in my head, she explained. And my lymph node near my ear has swollen to compensate. If I wait a while, it might go away. But the risk is that the virus could move into the second branch of my trigeminal nerve, infecting the area around my eyes and causing an eye infection, with possible permanent side-effects. Either way, my swollen node next to my ear and my itching head are bugging me. And the idea of a pox-filled eye doesn't quite delight.

Immediately she prescribed Acyclovir, an anti-viral medication. That's a common prescription for this condition; she decided on IV administration of the drug to speed up the delivery, to keep the illness from reaching my eyes. In about two hours a nurse is coming to my house to show me how to hook myself up to an IV drug-delivery device. Then for the next five days, every eight hours, I have to plug myself into this drug machine for an hour, while the medicine courses through my veins. Anyone got anything good I can toss in with the Acyclovir?

I did get some Neurontin which dulls the pain that comes from my lymph node swelling against my ear. It's supposed to make me quite drowsy, though due to the selective nature of its pain relief, it should be quite useless when this is all over. In addition, I picked up some Clotrimazole and Betamethasone Dipropionate Cream, for an unrelated fungal infection in my scalp. Mmmm, tasty! I'm just falling apart here.

My last drug pickup today was Ambien, a sleeping medication. For the last few days I've been sleeping about five hours a night, from 9pm until 2am or so, and then an hour or two in the day. Jet lag and a restless mind. The Ambien should help me sleep (you bet it should - even with a touch of health insurance 30 pills cost me $75). Doctor Huang said my Herpes/Pox/Shingles problem could be caused by stress - travel and worry slowing my immune system. I landed from Korea Wendesday and I'm leaving for London Sunday. I asked her if I should cancel my trip, she didn't think that was necessarily necessary.

I'm happy that I have some understanding of what's happening, and some drugs - I'm curious to watch the sideeffects, illness and remedies wage war in my flesh. I should learn to relax. That's a separate post. In the meantime, I'll take some breaths, cancel a bunch of appointments, fire up the DVD player and see how I feel after a few days of IV drug use.

Posted by Justin at 03:18 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

October 26, 2003

bumpy head

Pardon me - I'm in a bit of pain today.

My head itched a little bit in Seoul. I thought I was just indulging, scratching a bit. I stopped, and it went away. Then in the last few days since I landed, a constellation of nasty painful bumps has appeared on my forehead. My vanity is saved by hair, but as time goes on they get increasingly painful.

I'm not sure if these bumps are related. I'm definitely not scratching them. I thought about putting some kind of ointment or aloe vera on them (sweet, cool aloe. You know they have aloe-flavored carbonated drinks in Korea? With chunks of Aloe floating in them! Mmmmm.) But as my roommate Austin said, I'm best off not messing with it.

Until I can see a doctor, that is. I leave for London in a week. I haven't been to see a doctor in about five years. Deffered maintenance I guess. I'll have to call up my $50/month health insurance provider and get them to recommend me someone I can see in a hurry.

While I was musing over this I realized two things - one, maybe I'm stressed out and my body is telling me. I could surmise that these bumps are the result of a relationship ending and two and a half months out of the last four spent on the road. I'm trying to figure out how to relax. I've made some plans to visit a ranch in Texas and go hiking in California. I'm not sure what relaxing is exactly - I love processing, thinking, making media, wherever, whenever.

Anyhow, before I get caught up in all that, I was admiring my roommates pierced ear, and poking around at my own lobes when I felt a large bump under the skin near my left ear. I rubbed at it a bit, it moves under the surface of my skin. There's nothing like it on the other side of my head - symmetry would be comforting. The bump began to hurt as soon as I rubbed it, and it's continued hurting ever since.

As it so happens, Austin has a cyst in that spot, next to his right ear. I wondered if I was developing a sympathy cyst? "If it hurts, it's not a cyst," he intoned. Well, it hurts too. So I got two different kinds of painful bumps on my head and I'm not happy about it. I'm going to go buy some bacon.

I'm posting some pictures of my visible bumps beyond this link; if you have any idea what I might be dealing with, please comment. Thanks.

bumps on me headbumps on me head

When I was in Korea, I had drinks with a Korean friend and his girlfriend. She didn't speak much English; he translated between us. She asked for my impressions of Korea, I shared them (as I will on my site in the next day or so). He asked for my impression of her - it was very cursory, of course, since we couldn't directly communicate. But I said she seemed to have some strong sense of herself, some pride, and she was very attractive. He translated her impression of me - he said, "she says you are like Harry Potter." I'd heard this in Japan, when I was wearing my glasses. Dorky looking white guy with glasses - a visual match. I laughed. He looked surprised, "In Korea, Harry Potter stands for loyalty and intelligence and he's handsome." I was to take the comparison as high praise.

Well it looks like I'm developing a sort of lightning bolt made of zits on my forehead - I'll have to send her the picture.

Posted by Justin at 12:19 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

October 25, 2003

Links.net Internship

I am a freelance writer, a speaker, a planner, an information architect and an advisor. My professional life is made up of projects, coordinated between dozens of individuals in a few different countries.

I am currently able to do about 90% of the work I have accepted. Through juggling, I am able to pass all my tests, so to speak. But in order to perform with the kind of excellence that I aspire to, I need to adjust the way that I work. If I can do good with the projects I have underway, there are more projects waiting in the wings; I thrive on media connections between disparate communities.

I'm imagining an internship - someone who wants to learn how to do this kind of work. How to be a freelancer, how to work the network to share media. Someone who wants to have a hand in making things yet-undiscovered.

Help me with web production. I send you a document, you make a web-ready layout including photos drawn from search terms and a few choice in-line links (like I did for this article).

Help me research. I email you a concept or a link, you google it down and write it up. That blurb, under your name, ends up online somewhere.

Help me promote. I'll give you email addresses and URLs for interesting people, you write them letters on behalf of an idea or article.

What do you get in return? Professional and personal contact with creative people and new media projects. Writing and web work feedback from a veteran online correspondent. Stimulating assignments and odd drudgery - insight into the life of a far-ranging freelancer. A framework for a fledgling media professional. Maybe even money if you need it, and if your work helps me make money faster from home.

I don't care if you don't live in my city, state or country (though that might be nice). Just live on the internet. Interested? Impress me: justin at bud dot com.

Posted by Justin at 10:05 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


yes, I have bathed!

Posted by Justin at 08:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 24, 2003

Computer News

Inspired in part by Matt's web work, a new design up here. Extended rantings flanked by informational columns! Let me know if this web design looks bad in your browser! If you can even read this text. hmmm.

On your left, a recent picture, personal introduction, recent comments, and context on this site (including links to webtoys like Upcoming). On your right, stories from Japan and beyond load randomly, adding a little unpredicted picture and history to your browsing. Below them, the return of the free 160 pixel square advertisements. Got a project you want to promote?

And below that a list of recent freelance articles. What you can't see immediately, and what took so long, was shedding ever more of my historical sense of web production, finally ditching my beloved table layouts in favor of the sheets of style those kids use. Centralized style allows me to restyle and adopt parts of this site faster. Much of the same rationale I used for adapting web publishing software over hand-coding. It was only a matter of time before I merged with the great database; I feel closer to my computer now.

This front page is actually three Movable Type databases ("web logs") feeding into one source. The central column with comments is the central database of Links.net. The picture in the corner comes from another weblog database, so I can add a new personal snapshot easily, and preserve the old ones in a certain order (each snapshot now links to a little bit of context). Then there's a third weblog, listing my published articles.

Besides that, there's about five other databases I've started here I haven't yet integrated into my content flow. Experimentation with web tools and technologies! This morning I had a Mama's Royal breakfast meeting with Patrick and James of TongueWag - online webcam video editing and inline distribution. Make a webcam video weblog! That's the promise of their technology. I worked to imagine how I might make and view a web page with lots of tiny videos embedded in it; James pointed out that viral video sites like TTR2 are popular early uses. They have built it - who will come?

I'm sitting in my chair, at my desk, ten days until I leave for November in London. Infrastructure construction continues - stabilizing and improving those parts of my life within reach, so I can continue travelling for this fall. Maybe I have a broken heart; the last two days since I've been back I've spent at least twenty minutes a day holding a very soft baby, prone to smile. That's real swell and soothing.

clementine wave

One example of personal infrastructure - a few weeks back I finally set aside an afternoon to figure out spam filtering. Since September 3, until today October 24, fully 9569 pieces of spam have been filtered out by SpamAssassin. That's an astonishing number - not nearly so astonishing as remembering the many hours I spent before September filtering out all spam by hand - almost 200 messages a day.

(Preservation: old design, sample old individual page. Raw Front Page Layout Archive)

Posted by Justin at 02:15 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

October 23, 2003

filthy, cluttered

I haven't showered since Korea. Two days ago? I would shower, but I'm busy. Working - cranking, making webthings. It feels good! Even better since I found Room Full of Mirrors online (saved me having to rip it from LP), now playing on repeat. Now if I could just stop scratching my head - a phantom itch is turning into something irritated; I haven't cut my nails since Tokyo.

That and I managed to go to Aikido again. A morning session, in the middle of my work day. I woke up at 3am, put on my aikido robes and sat there for five hours until class started. Still haven't changed clothes. So work indicators are favorable; personal hygeine is in the early conceptual stages. I did scrub the kitchen down today though; that's cleaner than I am.

All this comes up in part because I have a houseguest. Actually two. I knew I'd be gone for about three months this fall, so I needed someone to roost in my home machines. Writer Austin is staying here, between apartments. With his cat, and all of his possessions. He wrote me email a few days before I came back:

Just to warn you, there's a slight problem with my stuff. Basically I had more stuff than I anticipated, and it's kinda filling up your house. ... it currently looks like one of those hyperspace accidents where one space ship appears inside another, and everyone dies.
I tend to give a lot of slack to people who make me laugh; most people make me laugh. Austin makes me laugh. And he makes me want to clean the kitchen - about the only room in this hobbit-warren house where half-empty suitcases and boxes filled with papers aren't overtaking human seating and resting places.

Posted by Justin at 02:47 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 22, 2003

stopped in flight

I have a choice right now, as always - how to spend my time. There's a folder full of pictures to sort through; when I look at them I think of words and stories surrounding them, how they might be thumbnailed and laid out for the web. People seem to like my travel stories, more when there are pictures. I could do that, and people might be happy. I like looking back on my pictures as well - it reminds me that I've been places, seen things, participated in things.

There's a number of photos of me in this batch - other people grabbed the camera, or I set it up that way. Jane noticed that I'm often aware of a camera. She noted that in a sort of disdainful way, and perhaps I can see that in these faces - that abnormally young visage grasping machines and extending tongues and poking fun. How much fun can you have on screen?

The movie ended and I crept across my asile-seatmate to the bathroom. In the mirror I saw my reddened eyes. I laughed at myself, the site of my bespectacled self still teary. I had been choking up for the last forty minutes, and just as I shook out the last of my clear piss, I fell against the wall of the bathroom for another sob.

Acceptance of a father, I thought, that's what she wanted. Manifesting her own power and being proud. And he? He wanted to understand things, in context.

I feel so trapped. Perhaps slightly less so when I manage to cry at a well-crafted film. Whale Rider sews up its plot with some mysticism and comforting resolution. I used to dream about whales; long tales extending beyond my vision, dark amidst the deep blue, pushing forward as I followed behind. Even that memory holds some chest jerking power now if I remember it properly - linger with the picture in my mind. This film put that picture onscreen, with an estranged young woman reaching into it.

I don't have much adversity in my life - death, absence and ignorance. I have time to worry about customer service and upgrades. I'm just trying to get along, to comfort myself amidst auto-generated chaos and trevail. It's not exactly guilt that challenges me today. I don't linger and I think I do it on purpose.

There's a lot of smoking in Korea. I sense the outer edge of a thin cloud and I quickly inhale, holding all the air I can. It pushes up at the top of my ribs, arching sensation through my shoulders. I feel completely constrained, I realize how shallow my breathing is. I'm on edge, you could say, or ready I propose, breathing sallow to stay awake.

Maybe someday I'll tired of being awake. I don't want to miss things. But I'm looking at this boy around me and I've been slowly studying what it means to be an adult. Money was easy - there's media about money all around me. I have good advice to follow from my step-father George and my brother Colin spends his days watching dollar signs. I'm just beginning to understand how to increase money in my life, how to play with it, how to restrain it and watch it grow.

That's a ready challenge; my world demands it. Can't be a steady roaming freelancer without some idea of where your next meal comes from. And for my leisure days I must provide - some security when I no longer wish to pound pavement and keyboard to craft the spun truth of the day.

I've turned more professional over time, you know? Still I have comments on my web site now, a few more voices in my head as I'm crafting stories. Here's an emerging belief of mine - if I want to write personally on the web, but still maintain the composed exterior of a strategic visionary's web site, I can bury my thoughts and feelings deep in extended pieces of text. I watch myself as a guide in this regard - I would seldom if ever read something this long online.

All this adulthood is fine and good, I'm wondering what longer-term challenge I might face. Howard is my teacher, I'm proud to say. I tell people who dig into my story in person, people who don't know me - I found a writing mentor and boss and he's now my best friend. Howard surrounds himself with images drawn from the psychic recesses of disparate traditions. Extra-geometric eagles stare down somnulent leaf-faced wood spirits. Last year, before he began sculpting in earnest, he was gazing into misty landscapes drawn in staggered dimensions. Peering into old souls - he quoted Han Shan. Howard has handed me books before; the last one I picked up spoke simply of elemental systems.

Eating with two pescatarians, I ordered the live octopus. I had heard some tales of food tentacles moving on a plate; struggling against eaten. And there they came, nerve-ending's life, to be quenched between my teeth. Should I write shorter? Condense these thoughts into line and verse - mercifully loaded with images, the work to be carried out later in mind and on tongue, saving eyeball time to scan all these lines. I think of little poems penned by Ikkyu that inspire me now - he laments his desire to consume eight-legged ocean dwellers as he remembers his calling to enlightenment. In far less space than I consume!

Ikkyu's calling could have been place and time specific. There are many Ikkyus, perhaps - energetic buddhist priests then and now - some animated on television, some told by a Daitokuji tour guide in Kyoto - Ikkyu remade the temple after the wars, remade it and remade the faith. Perhaps this woman sensed my auto-generated sense of comraderie with a corpse now absorbed into the earth - he brought abstraction to faith. Abstraction grounded in desire, understanding! He wore a red thread.

On a plane arching over the internet buried deep in the ocean, Whale Rider seems to be a film made to charge tradition with new current. How to combat a sense of drift and social ills with modern Maori? With the art and ritual that girded the loins that built and shoveled for this civilization. Wherever it is. My recent tradition is professionalism. And good conduct -

My mother is a lawyer, tell her that. Kim leans over towards his girlfriend and translates, inflecting some small surprise in his voice. She took one week off from work to have me. One week? he asks, eyes wide, incredulous. Yes, one week to make me and then back to work. He translates again, and before he can finish I am speaking again, "and now she's helped make a school to teach young women math and science and technology." He is kind to continue translating my admiration, though my mother's kind deeds hold slightly less sensation in Seoul than the story of a working woman with little leave for maternity.

I travel the developed world - countries where you're likely to find wireless connections (and I'm likely to write about them). Even there they have problems - problems that confound me as the basic needs being met amplify social imbalances. I found Korea very chauvenist. Is that something I should write about on my web page? For whom? For Christine, who might add a story, a rebuttal or confirmation? For Jane, so she might see that I'm attuned to gender oppression in her absence? For myself, to understand what I care about?

If we measure my cares by my words, the only unpaid writing I've done in the last few days before this screed was to pen ideas for an internship. I want some company is all of this.

Write a new bible. Run for office. Speak a prayer. Be the first to dance. Visit a friend. My love is large, my needs as well. I can push myself to so much; I lack the means to measure the proper use of my remaining moments. I can learn a million things - watch me. I'll share my notes here, those I make time to transcribe.

Reaching for the door bolt in the bathroom, next month I might go to Europe. Another plane ride like this. Would I work my way up to business class again? Those thoughts were gone fast - replaced by memorized desire - other challenges. New challenges! Like a vow of silence and long days spend out of the running for anything. I could be a spiritual person, I thought, a technology journalist who stopped buying things.

Posted by Justin at 05:19 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 20, 2003

full blast cold

It's probably from travelling for a month - staying out late and eating irregularly. I've been swabbing the inside of my nose out with Zinc each day for a week. And drinking Vitamin C tablets! But five days ago we lost the remote control for the air conditioner in this hotel room, and the AC unit up in the wall has been blowing cold air hard on us as we slept ever since. We can't shut it off! And then we drank Brian's contact lenses by accident. So it's been lively. And unhealthy.

Except perhaps yesterday morning; I finally got Brian into the bathhouse below our hotel. We showered and soaked with the other Korean men somehow able to luxuriate in water in the middle of a Monday. Having been there before - I felt slightly bold and familiar. I requested a "te mele" for us - a Korean body scrub. Armed with a stiff, somewhat scratchy towel, this gentleman in boxer shorts scrubbed over all of our skin as we lay naked before him on a rubber table. I watched him work over my arms - his stiff towel pulled off my first few layers of skin. Shortly, aftter just a bit of scrubbing, there were piles of gray, dead old Justin laying there on the table. Astonishing to lose things you couldn't even see! Am I constantly a little bit gray?

After this Korean body scrub, I was a little bit pink. Relief came as warm water was tossed over my exfoliated body, and he finished up by covering me completely with suds, soaping and massaging my skin. What a wonderful twenty minutes.

Now Brian is gone. I have less than 24 hours left in Seoul - two meetings, and perhaps a chance to keep these sniffles, coughing and sneezing down to a minimum before the long flight back to America. An ass-pocket full of photos and a boy looking forward to a long time in his bed.

Posted by Justin at 08:47 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

October 15, 2003

Writing Broadly: TGS2k3

My recent trip to Tokyo was based around the Tokyo Game Show 2003 - a place to take the pulse of the Japanese video game industry. I spent the week after in a series long trips to various game company offices, collecting photos and interviews. Then I followed up by email, amassing impressions.

hall_index_lg.jpgI spent the first five days in Korea sifting through all of that material to make a linked-up, image-rich Event Wrap-Up: Tokyo Game Show 2003 piece for the web site of Game Developer Magazine. (You'll probably need a name and password to see the article - free to read after registration). I didn't get enough sleep and I pushed myself towards a body breakdown, but I'm proud of this article, the first commission I've had to research and write broadly about the Japanese game industry.

After the conference, I struck up conversation with a smiling foreigner in a Tokyo hotel elevator. He turned out to be Bill Swartz, someone who had been working between Japan and the USA for decades, with a strong sense of the state of the industry. A perfect, if unlikely connection. I'm finding that random interactions with friendly strangers can yield fantastic contacts for future stories.

Posted by Justin at 06:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 14, 2003

Mobile Religious Ringtones

A recent post on BoingBoing inspired this question: should your mobile phone profess undying devotion to your diety?

Posted by Justin at 03:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2003

Robin Rocks

robinAvid photographer Robin Hunicke snuck up on the web and posted reams of photos from our week together in Tokyo. We went to the fish market, here's her Tsukiji Tokyo Fish Market Photos (including my favourite - quel atmosphere!). It's fun to see another set of eyes on my Tokyo travels, including my footwear! Heck, all her photos are good looking. Here's an astonishing photo of the guy who is staying with me in Oakland, Austin. Don't see much of him these days though. In the last month, I've seen more of Robin!

Posted by Justin at 05:47 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Triple Teamed at Barber DoDo

In the second basement of the Coatel Chereville, there is a small health club with a lot of machines for exercising. Nearby is a "sauna" they call it, with a number of bathing facilities. There's the "amythyst room" with large chunks of quarts stuck in the ceiling, a poppy rendered in mosaic. There you sit in hot, wet air. There's the "yellow soil room" - pans filled with hot earthy chunks sit near an electric heater in a large wood walled, clay ceilinged space. Nearby are three tubs - hot, hot with jets, and a cold cold pool. Near there are sitting and standing shower facilities, and past those, two rooms for snoozing.

Access to that will cost you five thousand won. I paid and I was only in there for thirty minutes. While I have the capacity to spend half a day in a tub and sauna arrangement, I wanted to use the facilities to clean up and relax a bit - I was going to have a massage.

When I was leaving Tokyo last week, I got halfway from Shinjuku to Narita airport when I realized I'd left my passport at the hotel. I had been running very early for my flight; having to double-back was going to make me very late. I wasn't sure I was going to make it. The next express train to Naria would have me disembarking at 6.27pm, and my flight left at 7. That's not a lot of time for ticketing, security, customs and immigration. I spent the late afternoon in a quandry, a panic. Where would I sleep? At the airport? Was it even worth making the effort to get there so late? I called United and warned them, and I decided to push on, in the face of no compelling alternative option. I wanted to get to Korea that night.

I got off the train at 6.30pm. I ran through all stations. Once I was ticketed, a member of the United staff went along with me through security and immigration. The flight was leaving from gate 36, the last gate in the airport. I was running with my bag, hup hup hup - not in very good shape. Every hundred meters, someone from United would say "Are you Mister Hall?" and then they'd radio in that I was on my way.

I made it to the plane by 6.44pm. Un believable - 14 minutes for checkin on an international flight. I was drenched in sweat, breathing ragged, and totally relieved to have made it on the plane.

Still I had run back and forth across Tokyo, heaving my bags up and down staircases. I had so much stress in my neck, I felt deeply clenched. As I wiped heat and sweat off my glasses I thought to myself, I'm going to have a massage when I get to Seoul.

In the first basement of the Coatel Chereville in Seoul, there is a barbershop, "Barbershop DoDo." They have signs promoting "female massage" all over the hotel. An ambiguous tagline - for females? by females? of or pertaining to female things? I didn't care - after I was clean from a sauna, I went in for the full course, the body massage.

I undressed, put on a pair of boxer shorts and sat in a sort of swiss army chair. It looked like a normal barber's chair, in a small private room, but over the course of the next hour, it would unfold and extend and raise and twist to accomodate my long bulk.

A woman joined me, dressed in a black and red polyester skirt uniform. She reclined me in this technology seat, and proceeded to gently wash my feet and each of my toes. Then she flipped me over, oiled my back and worked me with her elbows. She followed deep rubbing with incredibly hot towels, laid across on my back, and covered with some kind of tarp. Then while my skin steamed, she went to work on my thighs in similar fashion. Reaching back up, she pounded my back through the towels, then removed the towels and pounded me some more. She kneaded my neck, my shoulders and my back. She climbed on top of me and walked on me with her knees. Then she flipped around and lifted and manipulated my legs. I was exhaling as much as I could - speaking no Korean save for thank you and excuse me, I tried to express my appreciation by grunting and giving the okay thumb-and-forefinger sign. And saying thank you a lot.

She flipped me over, and asked me if I wanted a face massage. Sure! I tend towards the full experience. A second woman came in, wheeling a large apparatus. She stuck a giant nozzle near my head and ran steam over me as she rubbed oil on my face, massaging my forehead and cheeks. Meanwhile, the first woman had climbed up into my chair and she was somehow bending my knees around my other knees and pulling and hitting my legs. It all felt fantastic. One woman rubbed my oiled chest, while the first woman kneaded my oiled thighs. Two sets of oiled hands working over my oiled flesh - I felt quite lucky. I was shocked that I didn't have a giant erection. I felt too relaxed and astonished to be sexxed up.

I think they were making jokes. They would ask me things and I would smile and shake my head and say thank you. So instead they talked to themselves, gesturing at my body and laughing. Eventually the second woman left and I was alone with the first woman. She went to work on my arms - a total relief since I have been computing near constantly since I landed. Finally I realized that she had been saying things to me all along; I hadn't understood them: she was telling me the parts of the body in Korean. I learned the words for hand, and fingers and arm and shoulder and chest. Maybe I learned the word for good, but it's hard to use a shared vocabulary of "okay" and "thank you" to build abstract concepts like "good" and "wonderful" and "gosh, please don't ever stop rubbing my shoulder."

Another woman dropped by, it was closing time. She had a perm and a frilly shirt on. She oogled my chest and pointed at my nipples and my eyelashes. Look at how long his eyelashes are! I believe she said to my massaging compatriot. She dangled a wet towel over my chest and gave a throaty laugh. She left.

The first woman gave me a glass of orange juice. I was feeling blissfully woozy. I looked down at my feet. In metal, the footrest of the chair read "Utopia." She asked me if I wanted a shampoo; the second lady had rubbed massage oil through my hair so I figured I might as well get it cleaned. A man joined us and wrapped my torso in matte silver plastic, ordering me to sit up facing the sink. Instead of leaning my head in backwards, as most hairdressers do in the states, he used a hand nozzle to wet rinse my hair as I sat up, the water and suds running down this sheet into the sink. Meanwhile, my old friend, my language teacher, was lightly pounding and rubbing my back. One set of hands rubbing my scalp, the other keeping pressure on behind me. I felt truly blessed.

She gave me some mouthwash to rinse and spit out on my plastic sheet. Then I sat up and the man blow dried my hair as she stood by. He asked where I was from, and how old I was. California 28. He finished and left. She brought out my clothes and turned away as I changed underwear. Then she helped me button my shirt. We bowed at each other, said thank you and I left for the cash register.

As I took out my wallet my hands were shaking. Lazy man's exercise - my muscles haven't been that stimulated since I hit the road and stopped going to Aikido. And travelling alone now, I hadn't been touched, sustainedly, by another person, in weeks.

How much would you pay? One hour (it seemed like three, a good three, a blissful three). I figured each of the questions, "do you want a face massage?" "do you want shampoo?" - they had all been upsells. I was prepared to pay over $200 and chalk it up to experience. Wonderful experience.

Instead, the bill was 100,000 won. Roughly US$ 85. For three people working on everything from my toes to my tits. The staff had gathered in the foyer and they were watching me. I could barely stand and I was completely happy. After I paid, the woman said, "Tip!" and I gave her another 10,000. I should have given her 20,000 or 30,000!

I left thinking that I should figure out a way that I can afford the time and money to have a massage like that every day.

Posted by Justin at 02:37 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 11, 2003

Mobile Japan Fall Gallery posted

fall 2003 mobile phone Japan galleryfall 2003 mobile phone Japan galleryfall 2003 mobile phone Japan gallery Pictures from the Mobile Japan Gallery
Posted by Justin at 09:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

i have to use the bath robe

"Front desk, may I help you?"
"Hello, can I have a bath robe?"
"You have one already."
"I do? Where? I didn't see it."
"When you enter the door to your room, near there."
"Oh! Okay, I'll look again."

a few minutes later:

"Front desk, may I help you?"
"Hello, can I have a bath robe?"
"Yes, I'll send someone right up."

Shortly a maid arrives with some tissues and toilet paper.

After sixteen rings, "Front desk, may I help you?"
"Hello, can I have a bath robe? You know, like clothing, you wear after a shower."
"You have a bath robe in your room!"
"Where? I looked."
"When you enter your room, it is on the right or left."
"I don't see it!"
Positively mystified, "I'll send someone up."

A few minutes later, a young man in a suit shows up - "You don't know where your bath room is?" he points to the open door leading to the shower, toilet and sink.
"A bath robe, like you wear after a shower," gesturing with two hands over shoulders, over a bare chest, wearing only a towel.
"Oh, if you go to the second basement, there is a spa. You can wear a robe there."
"Can I bring one up to my room?"
"No, I'm sorry."
"I'll pay money."
"No, I'm sorry."
"How about if I hide one inside my shirt, and sneak back up to my room with it?"
"No, I'm sorry."
"Okay, thank you."

Posted by Justin at 01:00 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

October 10, 2003

email the government

A few months ago I finally joined the EFF. I was primarily interested in their struggle to preserve the rights of people with computers to continue to express themselves freely, and to share those expressions online.

There's been an unending series of sad legislation coming through the US and EU congresses/parliaments, threatening to limit these freedoms. Perhaps the internet will continue to treat censorship as damage and route around it. But there is a mightly load of money, fear and recalcitrance working to curtail the potential of digital citizens. In case innovation needs some help, I lended my voice to a recent campaign to stop the "broadcast flag" legislation:

The best inventions of humanity are made by people with access to tools and ideas. Those people make life better for everyone when they are able to share the results of their experiments.

There is a legitimate commercial interest in buying and selling media. But the primary interest of people is to solve our problems, together. I am concerned about upcoming legislation like the FCC-mandated adoption of "broadcast flag" technology for digital television. I worry that legislation like this will restrict our access to tools and ideas in favor of commercial interests, and this will slow the development of technology and culture.

At best, other people and other countries will step in to take America's place as a leading home for free thinkers. At worst, we will lead the world with blinders and earplugs, aware primarily of the loudest and largest things on the screen. There is a lot that is human and important in the margins.

American media companies, and media companies worldwide, have managed so far to keep up with a incredible torrent of technological change. They should learn to work with their audiences to make more exciting means of telling stories, instead of asking the government to help them tithe and restrain citizens from thought and commerce that comes naturally with our new and exciting machines.

This proposed broadcast flag technology is trying to solve a problem of values. Perhaps taxpayer money and political time could be better spent endorsing the importance of shared intellectual property. A discussion of the importance of the stories undergirding this culture might lead people to treat media differently, with more respect. With more participation! It seems reasonable to believe that respectful participation should be among the highest goals of this democracy. Certainly that makes more sense than trying to legislate morality with regards to media production.

Please do not mandate broadcast flag technology for digital television. Thank you for your time.

Lend your voice as well! Email the government.

Posted by Justin at 01:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 09, 2003

small hours in seoul

I'm completely ensconsed in the Coatel Chereville in Kangnam, working on deadline pieces, leaving Korean TV off and the fabulous broadband on on on baby!

At the nearby Woosung martet in Kangnam, I managed yesterday to go grocery shopping - a gesture of responsibility. When I'm computing hard, I tend not to travel further than ten paces to eat or drink. So I wanted food goods within easy reach for my two week stay.

woosung market shopping in seoul
woosung market shopping in seoul
woosung market shopping in seoul
woosung market shopping in seoul
From left to right:
  • Packages of Korean "nori" dried pounded seaweed. Let's hope it's as salty as Korean seaweed usually is! Yum snack.
  • Cafri beer
  • The Hite Stout beer
  • OB beer
  • Hite Prime beer
  • Fanta Lemon
  • Charming Vitamin Shampoo
  • Shower Mate - "Makes you soft, makes you smooth, makes you happy."
  • "Barley Hardtack" - this luxurious sounding snack has been most frequently in my mouth since purchasing. A nice non-sweet starch treat!
  • Einstein brand milk
  • Organic Koala Crisp - aside from the beer, Fanta and Hershey's milk, it was the one product/brand here I'd seen before in the states.
  • Butter corn snack - in a resealable bag, for brief but fresh guilty snacking power!
  • Chilsung Cider - I thought it was Ginseng cider from the script on the can, but I got it home and discovered I had bought Korean Sprite.
  • Pepero - looks enough like Pocky to me! With big long chocolate head guy. Bring it on!
  • Aloe Farm aloe-flavored drink, I presume.
  • Hershey's chocolate milk.
  • Natuur brand Green Tea ice cream
  • Solar wash powder, for the washing machine conveniently located in this hotel room.
  • Sansachun - "Sansa is a fruit bearing, broad leafed, plant belonging to the rose species. Red and a pleasant scent. Good for treating weak stomachs, backaches and cut." And presumedly good for treating a lack of alcohol.
  • Apples and bananas - I like to eat eat.

(click for grocery 281k super zoom! )

Total: 51800 won

The Coatel has a hotplate and fridge; I was a bit overwhelmed by the meat and cooking options at Woosung and opted instead for mostly snacks and easy-prep foods. It's a lot of food and drink; fortunately I'll be joined in just a few days by Brian of Blue and Orange, who decided to combine a week off of game programming and a cheap internet plane ticket to make some spontaneous Seoulling. All this should serve to distract me from a personal crossroads. Increasingly the context of foreign travel and revolving co-conspirators seems less like a sideshow and more like the main attraction.

small hours at the parkside, oakland - photo by lisa nolaThe title of today's post comes from The Small Hours, blasting moody swagger through my small speakers.

As an added bonus, there's a short video I shot amidst the basement food vendors in the basement of a Yokohama department store, just before I left Japan. I had my Mom in mind, because she loves markets. My innocent purpose was lost on one of the old ladies saleswomen; listen closely and you can see her saying, "Yamete, kudasai, yamete. Yamete! Sacho, Shacho -" Which roughly translates to, "Stop filming me. Stop filming my fish. Stop filming! Boss - boss, deal with this pesky guy!" Her boss responded, I don't think you can hear it on the video - "Don't worry about him." In spite of the boss's vindication, it seems like another failure of culture ambassadorship. For all the drama that went into making it, the video itself is a rather tame 3.6 megabyte AVI.

Posted by Justin at 09:28 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


At the bottom of a spam message about finding hot dates online (from http://alwaysfeelgreat1.com/romance/), there was this paragraph:

"Does your company have a policy regarding concealed weapons?" `So had the stairs.' Candidate said he never finished high school because he was kidnapped and kept in a closet in Mexico. `Oh good,' said Arthur. dbvgckyqnlhpjtojvc
Presumed to be random sentences grabbed from the net to fool SpamAssassin. Machine generated poetry, sampling human expression. Silicon serendipity.

Can you tell I'm procrastinating? Got an article due today. I'm using the Korea-California time difference to my advantage!

Posted by Justin at 07:20 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

tears for two

So let's weep for a moment, let some water fall between us for the promise held by two people. And if it was not held right, hands cupped, leaking barely drops between fingers, then it shall be something to remember for next time, when two hands come near. Maybe they will be ours, maybe those hands will belong to no one we've met yet. Hands cupping water must remember, hold tight. Or let go and spill? Feelig flow. I haven't yet understood. Either way I am wet, in a place with no paper towels. There are plenty of electric hand blowers though. The pat of paper, all that earth ever gave, the rantings of the lovelorn lead still to the grave. If I shake your hand, should we be buried together?

Japanese people are perhaps the most self-conscious people [of East Asians] he said. The last conversation in my long day of interviews - four mobile contents companies, four urban Tokyo regions, some English spoken, some Japanese. One game company office set up as an astrological temple, replete with a Taurus rug. I was tired when I met this man, so we mostly skipped the specifics of his company or mine. Instead he tried to fish information on his competitors and the US mobile contents market out of me, and I encouraged him to generalize about people and regions in Asia.

Japanese people are perhaps the most self-conscious people, he offered without prompting. And I feel quite self-conscious as well but I can't remember if I deliberately ignore those parts of me that bother other people or I'm just very selectively self-conscious. I pay an enormous amount of attention to my fingers on the keys and my words on the web, but not much attention to my hair or chewing with my mouth closed. Most all my senses of self seem heightened now, travelling alone again.

Posted by Justin at 06:51 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

October 06, 2003

my link to ODB

Somehow stumbled upon Wu-Tang's first album, a record I bought near the end of my high school career maybe? Because I liked their Thelonius Monk piano samples. But the totally ragged rough lyrics, surreal violence and inconsistent pacing threw me off.

Today I'm listening to "Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'" for about the thirty-fifth time. Masta Killa's pronouncements and delivery, last in the song, are just astounding. Consistent and clean and provocative. Expert and inspiring.

odb, from VH1Of course, there's Old Dirty Bastard singing wildly between all those young men working to seem tough. And ODB is just crazy - referencing himself as a rap grocery store, throwing his voice scratchy operatic and making you laugh and marvel. I do a search online and find ODB classics like "I want pussy (for free)" - the lament of a man tired of paying child support? It's a song made by someone with permission, probably because he intimidated or inspired someone at the door to the studio, who in turn said fine, let this guy at the microphone, as they buried their laughter and terror into their open hand. The song is just insane, pained wailings of a hungry man with little common social compunction!

I've just scratched the surface - ODB has been prolific in recording and merchandising, under at least two pseudonyms (his latest: "Dirt McGirt" - he'll be recording and releasing clothes under that name. I'm way behind on my pseudonym development!)

Late nights spent in Shibuya on the computer, typing stories, tweaking servers and processing my expenses, I take a break to explore Ol' Dirty Bastard's biography. Here's a man who has been attacked and challenged and lauded and incarcerated. Shifting identities, exploding with creativity and vulgarity. Out of sorts, ahead of fashion, amidst conspiracy, celebrity and crack cocaine. Frankly astonishing behavior! Admiring his biography from an efficiency hotel in Tokyo, it seems like the life of an artiste. But drugs and unhappiness are likely a thick part of his doings. How does a man who sings songs demanding pussy for free get along with the women in his life?

All this to say that I wonder if I'm working too hard for sobriety and balance, spending nights withdrawn from Tokyo with the zany TV on, processing personal finance and email interviews. I'm progressing towards a very comfortable lifetime wicker chair - rickety and thin but solid and comfortable enough if the weather is warm. Just when I get myself situated, isn't that when I should leave? Comfort-zone is a launching pad for upended understanding: recompiling worldview assimilates new information and expands social interface capacity. Will I age into calcified resistence? I don't regret that I'm not out in the cold night looking for company. I know where company is, and when I meet them I don't want to have to worry about my bills.

Controlling the sense of urgency that creates chaos. Wednesday I leave for two weeks in Seoul, Republic of Korea - that will be an upending. New language! Nearby military hostiles! A rental apartment and broadband internet - my retreat, but, still, my link to ODB. (pic courtesy of VH1)

Posted by Justin at 09:30 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

October 04, 2003


academic meeting
A Committee meets to develop game culture curriculum for Tokyo University - actually, they discussed schedules, as best I could tell. I couldn't tell much! Not their fault, but mine. Before my descent into tired ignorance, I did get an expert interview out of Shin-san, Tokyo IGDA pioneer, in the blue shirt, smiling as he so often does.
I am feeling provoked from silence. I spent over 15 hours in the last two days in conference rooms in Japan, largely surrounded by a language I barely understand, left with a few diversion devices and not much to say for myself in terms of adventure. Day 1, I was hunting a story, scraping game developers in Japan for an angle on the Tokyo Game Show and the seeming nadir of Japanese game development. The scuttlebutt is that the industry here is moribund - somehow I ended up sitting in the back row during a meeting of college students debating when to schedule their next meeting for the gaming academics committee. It may have been scintillating stuff; all I could say was jesus thank you Nintendo I'm glad I brought my game boy advance for three hours of overhot conference room in two layers of shirt and sitting through all this crap for what I hope is a good tip at the end of the meeting,
Aki - a generous warm-heated associate professor studying the video game business here in Japan.
some nugget of insight or slight that explains why Japan is falling off as the world's electronic entertainment leader. Instead, I was recommended to go see zatoichi by a guy who seemed to Jane on another occasion like he might be the ryan junell of japan, at least in countenance and disposition. and I went to dinner with him and two college students at a good indian restaurant. he was smart and chatty and kind. but i was still not much closer to the truth. maybe the truth is within me, a story hatching from the heat expiring from my constantly sitting buttocks -

today i came to this conference room at 11.30, at neoteny, for a chanpon.org hackery session. when I'm surfing fascinating news and culture and posting it on the site and tracking down writers and posting their pieces, I feel like a goddamned international correspondent winner.

Kuri, Junko and Justin after fourteen hours of tech support, pocky and pringles.
But when I've been sitting here for 12 hours, in the same aeron chair in the same conference room, eating pringles and waiting for the US web hosting provider to wake up so I can inquire after DNS settings on their cheap servers, I feel like a total wasteoid - the only person in the room who can speak children's Japanese and idiot's tech, the man fated to sit with a phone in his lap, waiting for some clean cut young man in Utah to answer the phone so I can tell him I've been waiting for "24-hour tech support" to open for over 11 hours now. this particular company, westhost, was recommended to Mimi as a good web host - we signed up right as they were initiating a massive clusterfuck - migrating all their servers to some new software that turned all their customers into rabid enemies with a series jones for telephone help. So the "we will always answer the phone!" that was originally a selling point became "please bear with us through our recent tragedy." and I'm a compassionate guy, but I wonder, should I really be sitting around waiting for this head-in-ass company to get their fucking phones plugged back in, so I can join a shitstorm of unhappy clients clamboring for conversation with beleagured tech boys? or should I engineer another massive data and DNS migration to yet another web host that has yet to be hunted?

or maybe I'm in the wrong business to be wondering about any of this. Skipping dinner was a bad idea. I'm left to chew on my mother's accountant's advice for me - "everyone has three or four things they are working on, and only one or two that they are really good at." Like Pamela Anderson TV - has that really taken off? I've got so many flaming red irons that I'm juggling, should I be sitting on my ass in this conference room with a phone in my lap, fuming irrationally about mormon tech support technicians? I'd likely be sitting in another room, on the same internet, perusing mindlessly or creating other problems. what else could I be doing? there's a sex club in Shibuya happening right now - I've been there, I can tell you all about it. I'll bet it's now over 2/3rds populated by Italian photographers tonight - I was partially blamed for its watering down after my web report.

video hackey
Video Hackery at the MEMProject. My host Kobayashi-san, stands on the right - I found MEM from his second business card he handed me, the night I was introduced by Yu-sama.

vj hibiki
Hibiki holds his box of DV tapes - a video jockey on the go.

Amidst all of this, I have dreams still - I had this notion I might study sculpture, electronic - 3D modelling. When? Where? Correspondence course in future rendering. Seems like a useful skill to have! This was confirmed by attendance at MEM Project last night - I wouldn't have gone if SecoBar wasn't a block away from my cheap fabulous lodgings and I probably wouldn't have stayed if some girl I never talked to in white ripped jeans didn't smile at me. I drank alone and watched videos, until I had my mind blown by Hibiki - this slight manboy confirmed my dreams - text is the material digitally I feel most close to and he took text and made a world of them. text in flowing motion, text as the trenches of atari's star wars game. I sipped green tea liqueur and dropped my jaw in admiration, I stood inspired to make my story in some other form -

It's all my story, from me, and then I die. Jane is staying at her aunt's house, I'm staying at a hotel in the city. we've made a date tomorrow. a date today - it's sunday already. I'm going to see Jane later today. after I sleep, alone in a business hotel. what does that say about my life? what does that say about my life? what can i say about my life? all that business, some mobile technology, biased grousing, food details. nothing i ate i can show you now! we made a date, but it's casual. really!

Posted by Justin at 09:06 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

October 02, 2003

Pathetic, or just busy? I can't decide.

I have a task list on my desk here, written out by hand on stationary from the fourth of five hotels I've stayed at during my ten days in Tokyo. It contains the to-do item: "cut nails." Cut nails has been on my task list for three days now.

Posted by Justin at 11:01 AM | Comments (27) | TrackBack

October 01, 2003

Reaching Robots at all

I expected to find a mobile video game angle at the Tokyo Game Show. I spent two days wandering booths, poking at buttons and collecting brochures and business cards. Meanwhile, turns out I had missed the mobile gaming workshop - evidently a hotbed of discourse on the state of portable entertainment.

My mental deadline was September 30. But travelling between hotels and appointments and good smart friends kept me writing until late October 1. So I was stuck with some strong impressions of physical action games that were only tangentially wireless and the memory of directly controlling a physical object with a mobile phone. Working the latter angle resulted in a fun article that didn't come together until later than I'd hoped or expected: TheFeature :: Mobile Reaching Robots.

Continue reading "Reaching Robots at all"

Posted by Justin at 05:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Personal Plug-In

I used to think I wanted to have microchips implanted in my skull. I wasn't sure what they'd do exactly, but it seemed like a fun way to experiment with human machine potential.

Now I know better - I don't want a chip implanted in my skull, I want a slot! I want a slot somewhere in me so I can swap in different microchips, depending on my task or mood. Of course, I'm definitely going to wait for implant technology to stabilize a bit before I pick my particular slot. I may be an eager early adaptor for gadgets, but I'm not sure I can handle beta-testing biotechnology.

Posted by Justin at 02:32 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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