Who am I?

I'm Patrick. I'm an American living in Tokyo, where I have been for three years. I am in the process of launching a social network to connect Japanese and English speakers around the world. Most websites for meeting people quickly degenerate into debauchery; I'm hoping that mine can be different, and the design of the website reflects that desire.

I also maintain Nihongo Pera Pera, a guide to learning Japanese and preparing for the JLPT, and I serve as volunteer webmaster for The Mnemosyne Project, an excellent piece of free software for memorizing anything. Since I do all my websites in Drupal now, you can often find me hanging out on Drupal Answers.

My hobbies include movies (both making and watching), writing, reading, and taking long walks with no particular destination in mind (although starting off from the Sumida river is always nice). For more about me, check out my blog below or one of my social network profiles to the right.

Posted: 07/10/2013 - 01:09

If God is such a great designer, why didn't he feel the need to stick his name on everything like Fendi or Louis Vuitton?

Posted: 06/19/2013 - 00:23

PHP -> Behat
Ruby -> Cucumber
Python -> Lettuce
.NET -> SpecFlow

If I didn't know any better, just looking at this list I would conclude that somebody just pulled these names out of thin air-- except the two from Microsoft, which compared to the others show a complete lack of imagination.

Posted: 06/17/2013 - 00:45

Taking my Sunday evening walk, I felt something wasn't quite right. But I couldn't quite place the feeling...

And then I remembered the box I placed in my backpack on Friday, full of whipped cream and apple pie.

Posted: 06/16/2013 - 00:48

Amazon refunded me $0.04. They apparently think sending two e-mails is acceptable in this situation.

While I generally think Amazon has great customer service, my time to process two e-mails is worth more than $0.04-- and I would imagine that's true for most everyone, even if you make minimum wage.


Greetings from Amazon.com.

You saved $0.04 with Amazon.com's Pre-order Price Guarantee!

The price of the item(s) decreased after you ordered them, and we gave you the lowest price.

Total Savings: $0.04

You will receive an additional e-mail when this refund is processed.

Posted: 05/16/2013 - 11:40

If you are making, say, a payment form, and you want to throw an error if a user inputs an invalid address, you should give an error message specific to which field of the address is wrong. I just spent 15 minutes attempting to reformat my Japanese address for Amazon Web Services until I figured out that you have to put a "-" in Japanese zip codes. (Coincidentally, the IRS will reject your electronic tax return if you put a "-" in your Japanese zip code.)

Had the error been "Invalid zip code" instead of "Please check your address," I would be a much happier customer right now.

Posted: 04/26/2013 - 00:08

So Eric Cantor refers to his legislative package as "Making life work"? What does that even mean? That life is broken and needs to be made to work? Or that life should be made into work, and we all ought to be wage slaves? It certainly seems to imply that something is wrong with life-- most likely my own life-- and so the problem is in me?

I know politicians like short slogans, but I wish they would put a little more thought into them. If you're not going to bother fixing the country's problems, at least look like you're trying to.

Previously, I thought Obama's "Making work pay" was pretty bad, as the problem isn't that work doesn't pay, it's that it doesn't pay enough, and would another word really hurt? But Mr. Cantor serves as a reminder that one can always sink a little lower in Washington.

This generation of politicians is a bit too fond of making off the cuff remarks about the short attention spans of the MTV generation, given the vapidity of the three-word phrases they stand behind.

For example, isn't this better? "Meaningful jobs for everyone." Granted, it's four words long. But it only took me thirty seconds to come up with that.

Posted: 04/14/2013 - 22:01

Today I released the result of the past two weeks of development efforts on my website (Oh My Japan). I am trying to make it work better on mobile phones, especially smartphones, without harming the experience for people accessing it on "regular" computers.

Developing for mobile phones feels like using one-- my hands are too big, the phone is too small, and when I try to zoom in on the tiny letters of the screen my thumb presses something by mistake and I'm suddenly somewhere else in the system.

Posted: 04/01/2013 - 23:39

Today, on April Fool's, my favorite holiday, I realized that I am in fact the fool.

Why? Because I allowed my boss to talk me into working today when I had intended to take the whole day off to prank people.

I made a fair bit of money today, but upon reflection, not enough compared to the mischief I could have, should have caused.

Posted: 03/22/2013 - 17:42

I'm on the phone with an Amazon Japan representative and she couldn't understand how to spell my name, so I start spelling it out with words. When I get to "N as in Nintendo," she asks, "Did you mean N as in nose or M as in mouse?"

I'm sorry, but it's "N as in Nintendo, not M as in Mario."

Posted: 03/18/2013 - 23:14

Every year it takes longer and longer for me to do my taxes.

This year, I had the joy of filing:
* Japanese national/prefectural (finished in under an hour even though it's not my native language; believe it or not, some countries manage to fit their entire tax return on a single page and don't require additional schedules for everyday stuff)
* US federal/Indiana state (about three hours plus the time I needed to tabulate my business earnings)
* Corporate US federal/Delaware (quick because I made no money)

This year, Japanese taxes consumed 34% of my Japanese income, while US taxes took 32% of my US income. But my Japanese income was double my US income, and the Japanese taxes include health insurance (no deductible, free annual checkup/lecture on why you need to drink less, etc.)

And in what to me is a somewhat bizarre circumstance, a part of both my US and Japanese taxes go to the US military, since the Japanese government pays the US government for the bases here. Unfortunately, although there are quite a few different deductions and credits, there isn't one for that.


My Food Blog

The Epic Journey into my Stomach

pictures of most of the things I eat