Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New UI For Google Groups

Two people I follow on Google Buzz, Andrew Maxwell and Chris Lang posted about Google Groups new user interface. Which finally got me off my duff to take a look at it. I had been wanting to revisit Google Groups as a possible service to provide for our JANO members to share information. Then around the same time that the transitions to new infrastructure for Google Apps I noticed that Groups was showing up in the pull down of the navigation menu.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

George's Most Recent Work

The following image is a picture I grabbed of George's pc monitor. He is making this robot in a graphics program called Gimp which comes with just about every distribution of Linux.

I'm no artist but that looks amazingly detailed to me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dinner at a Friends

Tonight Arisa and I went to a friends for dinner. And what a great dinner it was.

Arisa made Soki but the pork bones weren't quite as good as they were in Okinawa, but the meat was excellent. Our friends made some great dishes including Salmon with a delicious sauce, grilled chicken with a Satay Sauce pasted on, and Soba.

Great food to go along with a great conversation.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Browns Give Ravens A Christmas Gift

The Cleveland Browns lost to the Baltimore Ravens today, 20-10.  Or rather they gave them the win. Three interceptions and and a fumble lead to 10 points by the Ravens.  A botched onside kick lead to another 7 points.

Poor clock management at the end of the first half by the coaching staff (and Colt McCoy as QB) limited us to another 3 points with only a couple of chances for the end zone instead of a more consistent attack.

These last couple of games have been extremely painful to watch.  And next week against the Steelers will be again, I think.

But I've made my decision.  The coaching staff of the Browns should remain.  What I've seen this year is a vast improvement over last year.  We improved our roster though there were so many holes to fill it was impossible to do it in one year.  But we have some players, Ward and Haden in particular.  Hollis looks good an I'm looking forward to seeing Hardesty if he can remain healthy.

But I've also seen improvements by the coaching staff.  Do they have their foibles.  Of course they do.  But just as Mangini did some major changes to his personal life (at least he lost a lot of weight), I think that they are working on themselves as coaches as much as they are working on coaching the players.  Considering their age, they have lots of time for improvement.

My preference is for consistently good football team not just a year here or a year there.  I think Steelers whom have been good for the last 30 years.  Have they had a few bad years?  Of course they have but they haven't blown it up every time they do either.  The way to get there is to not demand playoff appearances a year or two after rebuilding.  It means staying behind your staff to allow them to grow and learn from their mistakes.  It requires stability.

So the combination of progress on the field, the progress of the coaches themselves, and a desire for stability I've decided that Mangini and crew should stay for the foreseeable future.  As Ken Carpenter said in reply to me on twitter that may mean I'm on crack, but so be it.  And I'll continue to be hard on the coaches, particularly Daboll but I think I'd like to see these guys grow and build the Browns into a consistent powerhouse.


Burke Lakefront and a Dinner Conversation About Cleveland

I saw on today something I had missed earlier this year - a proposal to close Burke Lakefront Airport (PDF) in order to use it for a new port by the Cleveland Port Authority. While I'm not sure I agree with using it as a port, I certainly agree that the airport has to go. Particularly since I've been to Chicago and seen what their lakefront is like. Burke is an eyesore, useless except for the very rich, and an unbelievable waste of lakefront property.

A vast stretch of lakefront property in Chicago is a park, Millenium Park I think it's called. So while we visited on a snowy day in December and there weren't that many people using the park, I can imagine it being absolutely packed during the summer. Of course, Chicago also has the Navy Pier from which the above photo was taken and they have an absolute gorgeous skyline. With current trends in Cleveland, we won't be able to match that but we can certainly do better than what we have right now with Burke Lakefront Airport ruining access to the lake.

Present Report

Santa was good to us again. Elly, Ken and I already received our main presents during thanksgiving due to the kids expiring cell phone contract. We all got T-Mobile MyTouch 4G phones which we are all liking very much. George got his first cell phone for Christmas so we all now have cell phones. What that means is that we'll be cancelling Vonage. I'll update folks on our new "home" phone when the time is right.

We got George the $15 prepaid plan which comes with no "talk" minutes but unlimited texting. Reality is that we really don't call each other very much and George would have to make an awful lot of calls for us to worry about the incurred charges at 10¢ per minute. Since we will be moving George to our plan in 6 months I've set George up with a Google Voice number an associate it to his cell phone number. That way when his phone number changes in six months he doesn't have to worry about upating people on his new phone number.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


アメリカに来てから一番欲しい日本のものってやはりお風呂です。 アメリカは主にシャワー世界ですが、もちろんお風呂場があります。映画でよく出てくるやつですね。 日本お風呂と比べると、細長いですし比較的に奥が薄いでして、座ると腰ぐらいで全身にお湯に入りたいなら寝る形になります。 このようなお風呂って、水面の面積が大きくてすぐに温くなります。冬場に温いというより冷えてしまうわけです。 アメリカに来てからシャワーではなく「お風呂に入った」って片手で数えるのです。 いや、二つの指が十分です。

日本に住んだ頃、小説をもってお風呂に入って体を温めて寝ることが多かったです。 その一息の時間が好きだったんです。 アメリカに来てから借りているアパートと今の家では奥が深くないお風呂とシャワーのもので1回お風呂に入ったのですが、満足感がゼロ。東京に住んだ頃に狭いアパートのユニットバスの方がいいぐらいですよ。 やはり、サンターに日本のお風呂をお願いしたいです。

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas all. I know that not everyone who reads this blog(all two of you) are actually Christians, however, take my Merry Christmas in the spirit it is given regardless of what you believe. As you will see on another post I am preparing I'm not particularly "christian" either. But I've always believed in Christmas as a celebration of family, love and giving. If you can't believe in that regardless of your actual religion, or even lack thereof, then we probably aren't friends. Merry Christmas anyway.

The following is this year's Christmas card that due to technical and time problems we didn't get out this year.

The following is the note that my wife added to the email we sent out in lieu of regular cards this year.

Happy Holidays!

To this email, I attached a picture of the Cleveland Hawkins Family. Included is a picture of Grandpa. We all miss him very much. Here are some quick facts from this past year.

Robert : Robert traveled a lot this year. He currently has 7 projects that he's working on for Hyland. He took Ken on a College tour during the summer and he is very happy that Ken's favorite was Wesleyan.

Arisa(me) : I started a part-time job this year to help support our family. I miss Elly, who is studying hard in American. With only boys(Robert is included) in the house, I constantly worry about the state of our house, and often tell them to clean their rooms because Santa is coming.

Elly : Elly is a Freshman at American University at D.C. She tells us that she enjoys her new freedoms, and life in general. Her major is "International Business". You cannot tell in the pictures, but Elly cut 12 inches off her hair for a new look.

Ken: Ken is a Senior at Mayfield High School. His soccer team made district champions for the 3rd year in a row, and now they have a spot in the school hall of fame. As with Mayfield tradition, Ken bleached then dyed his hair. Ken even cut his hair into a mo-hawk. The soccer shirt he is wearing in the picture is from Grandpa and Grandma Ishii(japan).

George: George joined the soccer team this year. He also got his temporary license, adding some new grey hairs to Rob's head. Although in the picture you cannot tell, He has grown, and is nearly as tall as Ken. The picture is of him tutoring a Japanese boy, which he does every week.

We all hope to see you soon.

The Cleveland Hawkins Family (Rob and Arisa)

As you can tell, Arisa's English isn't perfect. I still think you get a sense of what our year was like. The year started off on a grim note, with us taking a trip down to Charlottesville VA to say good by to my Dad on New Year's day. 10 days later he had passed on, and we made a trip out to Boston for his funeral. The funeral, while a sad event, obviously, was also a really fun time. It has been quite a while since the extended family had gotten together, or at least a long time since my family and I had a chance to participate.

Life goes on though, and Elly was accepted and matriculated to American University. With the exception of one "b", she got all A's and did well enough in Calculus that she didn't need to take the final exam! Ken was on a team representing the State of Ohio at the SkillsUSA contest in Kansas and came home with a gold medal. He played varsity soccer, is in all honors or AP classes at school with the exception of "Chefery", which is what I think they used to call home economics. Several years ago George was labelled "gifted" by the State of Ohio and while I'm still unclear as to what that means, he is also in all honors classes, and getting straight A's. What really surprised me was his joining the soccer team. I certainly didn't expect it. While still not the best player - he had never played before - you could see improvement in foot skills over the season and just as importantly an understanding of how the game is supposed to be played.

Arisa continues to be the rock of this household. This year she is transitioning from focusing on her online business to finding a job. She currently works at Target for a minimum wage job to help the family finances. This job is just a step for her. As she looks for a job one of the things that really hit home is that she needs to improve her English. So she has drastically reduced her efforts in her online business to focus on studying English. I could tell that she's improving, probably not where she needs to be yet, but improving. But more importantly she is really trying, and she will get there. I really appreciated her efforts last night at dinner where she was very talkative and it was clear she was trying to use her English.

The other thing we found was that companies don't really take her online business seriously. Regardless of the fact that the amount of work across the spectrum of the business, from market research to marketing communications, to sales, to customer support(to some of the pickiest customers in the world) and P/L tracking, she is not working for a "company" and therefore it is discounted. So the job at Target is part of the plan. It helps the family finances but gets her working for a "company". The other major part of the plan is already in the works as well. We have gotten her transcript from Japan and it "officially" evaluated to be the equivalent of a B.A. here in the U.S. The next step is for her to take the Social Worker licensing test for the State of Ohio.

While I continue to be a cog in the machine at Hyland, both Arisa and I are active with the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio. I am, not surprisingly, involved with the web team which is probably the most active part of JANO other than our two main events, the Shinnenkai and the Sakura Picnic. We have three other volunteers that make up the web team and they are truly spectacular. One of their more important roles, other than posting to our website, is the "welcome" they give to Japanese nationals that are moving to the area. I am currently tracking an email thread from an individual who will be attending a graduate program beginning next year. Over the last 3 or 4 days, 20 or so emails have gone back and forth over such things as health insurance, places to live, what to bring from Japan, what not to bring from Japan, etc., etc.

For JANO, this support of Japanese coming to Northeast Ohio prior to arrival is a relatively new thing and it has been hugely successful in my mind. Almost every single person we've helped has turned around and become a JANO member. But more importantly, I think they are arriving with substantially increased ease-of-mind. For many of these individuals, moving to Northeast Ohio will be there first time outside of Japan - and moving to another country for anybody can be a worrisome thing just because of the unknowns of a new country and culture. I think it is telling that the vast majority of people these ladies have helped in 2010 became members of JANO.

Thank you ladies!

Obviously, there's a lot more that happened in 2010, but in the end I think it was a good year with the huge exception of losing my Dad. And most of all, looking back on it, I realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by some of the best people in the world - my kids and my wonderful wife. Merry Christmas guys, I love you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

JANO Shinnenkai - 新年会

If you are not a JANO member please send an email to

なお、会場の都合上 お申し込み先着順100名様までとさせて頂きますので、予めご了承ください。
Limited to 100 attendees on a first come, first serve basis.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Grandma Molested at the Airport

Hat tip to Linda Lawry on Buzz for posting this. I got a kick out of it.

The reality of it thought, is that songs like this one help us on our way to accepting the situation. Which I'm not really sure should be the case.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baffling Browns

The Browns lost to the lowly Bills today in a game that has me completely at a loss. I have no idea what to think. I am clearly in the camp that this team has improved drastically this year and therefore the coaching staff should be safe. But a game like this does make me question that.

What I can't understand is how pathetic the offense was today. Is it Daboll or is it Jake Delhomme? Or are our wide receivers so bad that they can never get open so Delhomme has to pass to Hillis at the line of scrimmage? Why does our offense seem better when Colt McCoy plays? Perhaps its because when we stink I give him a rookie pass?

I just don't get it. That was a game worthy of last year's pathetic team - it wasn't competitive and it wasn't fun to watch. It did not represent progress. So clearly while the coaching staff should stay throughout the rest of the season, I'm less convinced they should stay passed it, progress or not.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Med Mart Thoughts

Recently, I read in a Bloomberg article that Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, was quoted as saying this about the Med Mart planned for Cleveland:

“What’s the worst thing that could happen if this fails?” he said. “You have a brand new building and a new convention center. So the downside isn’t too bad.”

This strikes me as complete hubris related to his brainchild. What we get it is an empty new building and 20 years of taxes to pay for a failure.

Note, I am not against the Medical Mart per se. In fact, I like the idea of trying to leverage the Clinic's and University Hospital's expertise in the Medical industry. It's one industry that while it may have ups and downs, you can't export it to a different country.

What bothers me about the plan for the Med Mart and convention center is that there appear to be no plans b and c in case our competitors, Nashville and New York City pound us(Cleveland) in the market place. It seems an awful large burden to place on Cuyahoga County residents with no safety net if it fails to generate the business that they claim.

Now the reality the problem isn't Toby Cosgrove since he simply is pushing for what he thinks is a good idea. My problem comes in with the stewardship of Tim Hagan. He and Dimora (Peter Lawson voted against it I gather) have put all the eggs in the med mart basket with zero risk management or planning in the case it doesn't work. I've heard Tim on the radio a couple of times and I actually kind of like him (the mark of a professional politician), but in this particular instance he has not done the job.

Regardless, now that we are down the path and too far to back out, I'd like to see the Med Mart/Convention center succeed. But I'd also like to see some alternate planning and ideas.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010



Ken's CertificateGeorge's Certificate



Monday, December 06, 2010

Short Trip to Chicago

This last weekend Arisa, Ken, George and I took a little jaunt to Chicago. We were there for two different reasons: to visit the University of Chicago and take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). We left Saturday morning arriving in Chicago at around 1pm Chicago time. Other than me connecting to other flights at O'Hare, it was the first trip to Chicago for all of us. I gotta say, I was impressed with this city which is probably not surprising.

The first thing we did was to check in at the Courtyard Marriott at Midway. After chillin' for a bit, we then went on to see the University of Chicago.