HOWTO: Remove everything from your Facebook account

October 17, 2020

Facebook is a giant time sink and while you rationalize using it for your “knitting group” or hitting up your old high school classmates, the fact is that none of that is actually that valuable.

Meanwhile, Facebook is using you by monetizing your privacy every second of your life through fairly devious means you’re probably not even aware of. For example, did you know that the Facebook Messenger app is collecting all of your SMS text messages and the phone numbers you call/receive on your cell phone? I’ll bet you never agreed to that, did you? Do a search on it. You can even download what they’ve collected from the main Facebook site. Facebook even admitted it.

Look. I get it. You can’t get rid of your Facebook account because you have memberships to X or you get group meeting noticed from Y. Whatever. You need to maintain your memberships & your friends.

What you can do is DELETE EVERYTHING FROM YOUR ACCOUNT. Removing this content eliminates your presence on Facebook, minimizes your digital footprint, and kills Facebook’s ability to monetize your life.

HOW TO DELETE EVERYTHING IN YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT
I deleted 12 years of posts, photos, comments, likes, etc. from my Facebook account. You can too. All you need is Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome.

  • SocialBookPostManagerInstall the “Social Book Post Manager”.
    This is a free installable extension for your web browser that will, like a robot, “batch delete” content in your Facebook account. It is not fast as it emulates a human’s interactions with the Facebook web site so if you have a lot of posts or have many years of content you wish to delete, you may want to install & run it on more than one computer.
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/social-book-post-manager/ljfidlkcmdmmibngdfikhffffdmphjae
  • Login to Facebook and go to the Activity Log.
    Login to Facebook (TM), go to the Activity Log.
    Use activity filters to select a subset of posts to delete.
  • Run Social Book Post Manager & configure what posts/content to remove.
    It allows you to select what timeframe & context you want to remove content from (ex: 2015-2018 & anything with the word “Trump” in it), what content you want to delete (ex: posts, comments, likes, etc.) and how you want it deleted (automatically or user verified).
    Click the extension’s button to open the interface.
    If needed, choose “Year”, “Month”, “Text Contains” and “Text Not Contains” for posts that you want to delete.
  • Run the Social Book Post Manager’s Deletion process
    Click the “Delete Post” button. The extension will scan through your Activity Log and mark all posts matching the conditions.
    The prescan process may take a long time, depending on number of posts to be deleted.
    After the prescan process finishes, there will be a Confirm button shown on top of the Facebook (TM) page. You may verify and uncheck certain posts as desired, then continue to actually delete the posts.
    When done, the extension reports total number of posts deleted.

WARNING: THIS WILL TAKE A LONG TIME
Note that this process may take all day – and may take multiple RUNS – in other words, you might have to do this several times because like any human doing things really really quickly, it misses things. It’s not flawless – and that’s Facebook’s fault.

This is a unique program because it really does work like a robot, deleting posts and “likes”, going through posts & comments one-by-one as fast as it can, as if you yourself were doing the deletions. (You will actually see it do it’s work)

This is because it doesn’t do anything programmatically (using APIs) against the Facebook web site – so Facebook can’t do anything to stop you. (Which they have with other tools that use Facebook APIs directly)

I had to run “Social Book Post Manager” probably 15 times to completely delete all the posts, comments, likes, and other content between 2001 & 2017. And I had it running all night, every night for 4 days across 3 different computers, each deleting a different year in my account. My account is now pristine & clean… and I never log into it unless I have to.


OFFER: Amazon offers 20% discount & $5 giftcard for old Kindle devices

September 15, 2020

Amazon will give 20% off of the purchase of a new Kindle if you trade in your old Kindle.  And they’ve give you $5 in gift credit as well.  If you’re like me, you have ancient Kindles lying around waiting for this opportunity.

The Kindle Oasis, in it’s highest end configuration (32GB, Wifi+3G, no ads) is $349.  20% off is $70 off the retail, bringing it down to $275, if you use the $5 credit.

I’m not even sure that the device needs to be in full working condition to get the 20% off.  It didn’t seem so.  I have a Kindle 3G 3rd generation that doesn’t hold a charge any more that I’m probably going to send in for a discount on another Kindle Paperwhite.

Don’t forget to hard reset your device before you send it in!  (Search this blog for instructions on how to do that.)


Yes, Coinstar accurately counts your coins.

August 25, 2020

Iimage marvel at Coinstar.  I remember the days of having to collect coins and stack them into paper rolls to change them into bills at the bank.  It was such a hassle that some people brought coins home, threw them into bottles or jugs or boxes and forgot about them

I’ve been doing some reorganizing for my mother-in-law would collect coins and stuff them into those paper rolls – 50 pennies, $2 in nickels, $5 in dimes, etc. to turn them into the bank.  Because that’s what you did back in the day when dealing with a lot of coins.

But Coinstar brought automated coin counting to the masses – in grocery and convenience stores, Coinstar machines would count your entire jug of coins in a few minutes and give you back a windfall of unexpected cash.

Since I had these rolls that my mother-in-law had stuffed (in anticipation of someday turning them into the bank) I decided to do the test that I’ve always wondered about: 

“Does Coinstar truly & accurately count coins – or is is gipping us, trimming a coin here, or a coin there, skimming change so to speak to increase profits?”

COINSTAR IS ACCURATE!
I can confidently say that after dumping these “exactly counted” rolls of coins in one-at-a-time and watching Coinstar count the coins – the machine does a 100% accurate count!  It’s really impressive – it never misses a single coin.  I did this for like 15 rolls of coins and it got the exact count on the screen every time, no matter what the coin.

So exchange confidently friends!  Coinstar is legit and it’s not cheating anyone.  And for maximum exchange, always get an eGift card for your coins.  If you select “eGift card” for the value of your coins exchanged, one of two things will happen:

  1. The Coinstar machine will give you a voucher for 100% of your coins for the vendor you chose.  I generally choose Amazon since I buy so much stuff there.
    …the key here is that Coinstar won’t charge you a counting service fee of 10%, which is what they usually do.
  2. If for some reason the Coinstar machine can’t issue an eGift card for the vendor of your choice at that moment, after you’ve turned in all your coins – be sure to stick around!  The machine will give you a CASH VOUCHER for the full amount of your coins without deducting the 10% service fee.

(One note:  I did discover something interesting:  Generally, Coinstar will also spit out/reject dimes & quarters dated 1964 or before. This is important because these coins are real silver, instead of the metal alloy used today.  These are worth much more than the 10 or 25 cents so once again, Coinstar’s doing us a favor!)


Federal & State Taxes deadlines pushed back to at least July 15, 2020 (except VA and MS)

April 12, 2020

Quote:

For all 41 states with personal income tax, the income tax deadlines have been pushed back due to the coronavirus crisis. Most of these states have pushed their income tax deadline (both for filing and payment) to July 15, 2020. However, there are a few exceptions including:

  • Colorado, where the payment deadline has been pushed back to July 15 but the filing deadline has been pushed further to Oct. 15
  • Hawaii, where the payment and filing deadlines are both July 20
  • Iowa, where the payment and filing deadlines are both July 31
  • Mississippi, where the payment and filing deadlines are both May 15
  • Virginia, where the payment deadline is June 1 and the filing deadline is May 1

You should check with your state taxing authority if you’re dealing with estimated quarterly taxes. These deadlines may not apply to those specific payments.

Read more here:


New York City schools ban Zoom – switches to Microsoft Teams

April 7, 2020

I know a certain OTHER major school district  <ahem> that uses Teams as well.  (But they never went Zoom to begin with.)

Good job, New York. Stop using software that treats security & privacy as an afterthought.


Zoom’s SEC filing cites concerns about China-based development creating ‘market scrutiny’ of Zoom’s data security

April 1, 2020

Interesting line from Zoom Video Communication’s SEC filing:

(From Pg 21: “Risk Factors”)

imageMany governments have enacted laws requiring companies to provide notice of data security incidents involving certain types of personal data. In addition, some of our customers require us to notify them of data security breaches. Security compromises experienced by our competitors, by our customers or by us may lead to public disclosures, which may lead to widespread negative publicity. In addition, we have a high concentration of research and development personnel in China, which could expose us to market scrutiny regarding the integrity of our solution or data security features. Any security compromise in our industry, whether actual or perceived, could harm our reputation, erode confidence in the effectiveness of our security measures, negatively affect our ability to attract new customers and hosts, cause existing customers to elect not to renew their subscriptions or subject us to third-party lawsuits, regulatory fines or other action or liability, which could harm our business.

Seems Zoom has a lot of reasons to be concerned about security:


News re: Coronavirus (Non-post)

March 17, 2020

This is a list of reference links that I’m updating for my own personal reference.

How to disinfect N95 Respirators for reuse:
(Assumption is that they will be unavailable for repurchase for a long time)


I discontinued my UCLA football season tickets

January 30, 2020

I’ve been a season ticket holder for UCLA Football for 25 years.  2020 will be the first year in a long time that I will not have “re-upped”.

And apparently, I’m not the only one.  Here’s a count of the season ticket subscriptions sold in the past 40 years:

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EARLY SIGNS OF COACH JIM MORA’S DEMISE (2014-2017)
If you wondered what really caused Jim Mora’s firing in 2017, you need look no further than the season ticket subscriber data. Between 2014 & his firing in 2017, there was an incredible 30% decline in season ticket subscribers.

EXCITEMENT FROM COACH CHIP KELLY’S HIRING (2017)
There was a small 4% increase in subscribers from 2017 & 2018 likely due to excitement from the hiring of a flashy new coach known for high flying offenses.

BAD TEAM PERFORMANCE (2018)
You’ll notice the massive 26% decline in subscribers between 2018 & 2019.  The 2018 campaign with Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach was a disaster.

WITHER 2020?
What can we expect in 2020? Well, UCLA’s 2019 record was 4-8 – one win better than it’s 2018 record of 3-9.  So that’s not great.  And they lost to USC – something they didn’t do even in 2018.

But Bruins have always come to the games regardless of how bad things were… so why would 2020 be any different?

Enter Dan Guerrero.  (Or *exit* depending on your viewpoint.)  UCLA Athletics UTTERLY ABUSED it’s fan base over the last 5 years:

  1. $100 MANDATORY DONATION
    All season ticket holder subscribers were required to “donate” $100 to the Athletic Association whether you liked it or not.  It was the equivalent of a price hike but because it was donation, UCLA gets the benefit of the money not having been part of a sale – i.e. non-taxable.
  2. PARKING
    The privilege of parking on the golf course each game to walk 1/4 mile to the Rose Bowl is now $30.  At the turn of the century it was FREE.  Roughly every other year this fee has gone up $5.
  3. CONCESSIONS
    Nachos are now $18.  Fries are now $15.  6 Buffalo Wings are now $17.  The price of food in the Rose Bowl has officially gotten stupid.
  4. GENTRIFICATION
    The Rose Bowl has always disallowed alcohol within the stadium.  But wait! Now, you can pay for the privilege of being able to purchase & drink alcohol in the venue!
    1. ARE YOU A $1000 DONOR? You get access to the “Beer Garden” – a gated area within the stadium where you can purchase wine & beer.
    2. ARE YOU A SPONSOR?
      If you are, for example, affiliated with TCL, a major sponsor of UCLA football, you get access to their “game party” within the stadium… where alcohol is served.
  5. $100 WORTHLESS TICKETS
    The Oklahoma/UCLA game last year was $100 per ticket & all season ticket holders got 1 ticket.  Guess what game no one wanted to go to?  Never mind that you couldn’t sell your ticket because no one was buying:  The Athletic administration couldn’t even GIVE AWAY tickets to the game.  They sent a mail – in desperation – to all season ticket holders that they were giving away 4 FREE tickets to the Oklahoma/UCLA game to each subscriber.  I stayed home and watched them get slaughtered 48-14.

Besides no longer being fun to watch – who likes being a perennial loser – everywhere you turn at the Rose Bowl, UCLA football games are a constant reminder of how the athletic department treats its fans as nothing more than a revenue source to monetize & milk.

I think many fans understood that a top tier coach is expensive and that operating a team with quality training resources, quality assistant coaches, and facilities to be proud of requires money.  But this is a bridge too far.

I’m done.


Does this sound familiar?

October 9, 2019

imageHere’s 6 character types that might ring some bells:

  1. “My family has voted Republican all our lives.  Our family’s party can’t possibly be in the wrong & our personal need to be “right” is more important than anything.”
  2. “I dislike minorities & believe they’re somehow the cause of all that ails me.”
    1. [Corollary] “I’m a white male & I believe everyone has exactly the same opportunities & are treated equally to me in America, but those ‘other people’ always get more money & stuff – all because of the liberals.  The scales are always weighted against me – when am I gonna get “mine”?”
  3. “I’m a god-fearing Christian & the only policy that I’m concerned with is abortion. I’ll stand with anyone that echoes the same. Or whatever it is that my evangelical preacher tells me is right.”
  4. “I’m wealthy, competitive, & my entire value system is built around money & getting more money.  The fact that I’m a millionaire many times over is irrelevant: I’m tired of you poor people taking my money from me. Taxes are my enemy & anyone raising them is my enemy as well.”
  5. “I’m poor & either lost my job or have a bad job & the only thing that matters to me is getting enough money to stay afloat or getting a better job.. I don’t care how I get it – subsidies, another job, whatever.”
  6. “I love guns. And I’ve convinced myself that “personal security” is the most important thing in the world & thus fighting anything that might restrict my access to the guns of my choice is the centerpiece of my value system.”

Recognizing these character types is important. What to do with them… that’s another story.


AUDIOBOOK: Free recording of The Whistle-Blower Complaint Released by the House Intelligence Committee, 9/26/2019

September 26, 2019

imageA few hours ago, Penguin Audio published a professional audiobook reading of the “Whistle-Blower Complaint” against Donald Trump.

The audio is streamable from Soundcloud and downloadable from there as well.  It is 30min long and the .MP3 is 40MB in size.


COMMENTARY: Verizon Message+ for Windows not working as of 8/31/19

September 11, 2019

UPDATE 9/20/19:
Today, I noticed that the sync started working again for both Verizon Messages (Windows UWP/Microsoft Store app) as well as VZW Message+. (The legacy Win32 app installable that’s no longer available from VZW’s web site.)

There’s been no explanation as to what went wrong but it was clearly a backend service issue because nothing changed on my or anyone else’s computer at all.

(What I’m saying is that the VZW Support’s explanation that “Message+… is not compatible with Windows 10” was & remains totally wrong. If you’re reading this, blaming Windows 10 “compatibility” was a really silly & annoying tactic, Verizon.)

BTW: Props to DavidR_VZW from Verizon Support.  His explanation on the community boards was the most accurate in all the other responses, I’d seen:

We apologize for the issues experienced when using the Message+ Verizon Messages – Windows Desktop application, JoEbY-X. We always want to make sure you’re able to use any available service, and you can rest assured our Message+ team is working on a resolution. DavidR_VZW

UPDATE 9/13/19:
VZW Support chimed in. You can see in the Support forum below, they have spammed the forum with the same canned answer over and over and over again:

The Message+ application is not compatible with Windows 10 computers. The Windows messaging client for Verizon messages is being temporarily removed to prevent syncing issues. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. You can utilize the messaging web client as a windows alternative by following the steps in this link below

https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-54302/ .

I got the same from @vzwsupport on Twitter. Virtually the exact same wording.  No update, no ETA, no commitment that the matter will be fixed.

The fact that they feel it’s better that their customers are ignorant or dissatisfied with their support response tells me something is likely afoot here. 

ORIGINAL POST:

imageOne of the critical apps I install on my PC is called “Verizon Message+”.  It’s a simple Win32 app that allows me to text using my Verizon Wireless account from my desktop as if I were using my phone.  It keeps synced with my phone so I can seamless text from my desktop and continue when I leave with my phone.

On August 31st, the Verizon Message+ apps for Windows & Mac stopped working and the community isn’t very happy about it… to the tune of 35 pages of “feedback” on the VZW community site:
https://community.verizonwireless.com/t5/Verizon-Messages/Message-Plus-not-syncing-with-windows-10/m-p/1129310/highlight/false#M32768

BACKGROUND:
I have the same problems as everyone else.  I suspect they have recently started to have service failures with the Internet gateway they have that connects the SMS text messaging service with user’s Win32 Message+ apps. (Modern App from the Microsoft Store & the old Desktop app that we all love & saved the installers for, amirite?)

Like everyone here, Message+ (Win32 desktop install) stopped working on my workstation on 9/1/19.  I’ve installed the “newer” Modern App version from the Microsoft Store and it suffers from the exact same problem.

The web app at https://web.vma.vzw.com/ times out and doesn’t seem to be able to maintain a dormant HTTPS: connection so that fails somewhat regularly.   My Android device however works with it’s Verizon Message+ (or whatever it’s called on Android) just fine – but I strongly suspect the connectivity is done over their cellular network and not over the Internet, hence it doesn’t use the same gateway that the Win32/Modern App clients use.

I’m a little surprised that they don’t appear to have this as a high priority (Service down???) being that SMS text messages are a revenue-generating service.  But then again, maybe many VZW customers have Unlimited SMS text msg plans and thus this is not a big deal to them.

Its’ September 11th, 2019 now and it’s still not working.  I really do hope they get this resolved.  Based on the thread it appears to have failed before but subsequently resolved  but I guess an issue has reared it’s head on 8/31/19 all over again.

DOWNLOAD:
For those interested in the app for Windows – assuming it gets fixed – there are 3 options:

1) Message+ for Win32:
This is the old desktop app that VZW no longer makes available sadly.  This is the app that long time users have depended on for more than a decade and it has run on everything from Windows Vista on up to Windows 10.  VZW removed the app from their site but the installer is still downloadable from the link below:
https://web.archive.org/web/20150717102459/https://web.vma.vzw.com/downloads/Message+.exe

2) Message+ for Windows 10
This is the new “Modern App” that only works on Windows 10 available for download via the Microsoft Store in Windows that apparently VZW doesn’t advertise either.  Its similar to the Win32 app but requires that you download it from the Store.  It’s downloadable from the link below:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/verizon-messages/9wzdncrdcsnz

3) Message+ Web Client
This is the web page you can sign into that provides similar, but lesser functionality through a web browser.  All you have to do is sign into the link below:
https://web.vma.vzw.com/

————-

HELLO VZWSUPPORT!
Note: I’ve started pinging @VZWsupport on Twitter and referencing the Community forums thread referred to above, in the hopes of getting a status or even a resolution. 

VZW’s been radio silent on the matter.  I have yet to receive a response either on the community forums or on Twitter.
https://twitter.com/kurtsh/status/1171686713837490176


Thank You Chef Nobi

August 6, 2019

Today, I received a terribly sad email.

image

imageIt is with deep regret that we inform you of the passing of Chef Nobi Kusuhara. Chef Nobi came to the United States in 1971, a few days after graduating high school with a dream to be a successful American businessman. At that time, he did not know the passion and love he would have for the sushi business. Nobi struggled, and his life’s journey was filled with peaks and valleys, but he always moved through life with a smile and obstinate optimism. When he said “I want to make you the best sushi”, he really meant it. To his dying day, he loved finding the best fish and serving it the best way possible. He was a few weeks from retirement and was planning to spend his time with his wife that he had been with for 49 years by moving back to Japan. Though he had countless offers over the years to sell his businesses to various large corporations, Nobi always believed it was more important to stay true to his craft and honor the creation of authentic sushi. In the end, he turned the path away from becoming a businessman and found his true passion in becoming a master craftsman in the art of sushi. Chef Nobi decided to pass down his restaurants to the chefs who studied under him. He said, “I want to pass down to my chefs, so the customers can keep eating the same sushi I made. I do not want to inconvenience my loyal customers.” To honor Chef Nobi, we hope you will continue to eat at any and all of the Sasabune locations located in the United States. There are 4 locations in California at West LA, Beverly Hills, Glendale, & Pacific Palisades, also in New York City, & Honolulu.

Though we will not be having a formal memorial service, there will be an informal viewing scheduled on August 11th, 2019 at 4pm. Please feel free to join the Sasabune Family.

August 11th, 2019
4pm
Fukui Mortuary
707 E. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Most Sincerely,

Sasabune Family

I’ve been eating at Sasabune since the mid-90’s when the restaurant had just 2 chefs & was located on Sawtelle Blvd and filled with day traders with hot stock tips and “big market swing” stories. (Those of you who were there know what I’m talking about)

I have a few stories of my own but I’m going to save those for later once I collect myself.

Godspeed Nobi.


It’s not just you: Today’s work environment is getting extreme

May 30, 2019

imageORIGINAL POST 5/30/19:
Seeing more an more of this in just the Twitter posts I read… which is really unsettling.

UPDATE 6/16/19:
Margaret Price, Principal Researcher and Design Strategist at Microsoft, wrote an article on this topic & how to bounce back from burnout.

Off of this site, there’s actually a long series of articles addressing ‘burnout’ in two hashtags:


What’s up?

January 27, 2019

This is a test post.  Please disregard.

image

image

TeamworkMicrosoft365

ManagingModernDesktop


Interesting videos to play for an audience before a large tech presentation (Part 3)

July 27, 2018

AWWWWWWWWWWWWRIGGGHHHHT!

The Expert (Short Comedy Sketch)
Lego Antikythera Mechanism
We’re Gonna Build a Framework!
On The Turing Completeness of PowerPoint (SIGBOVIK)

Interesting videos to play for an audience before a large tech presentation (Part 2)

July 27, 2018

YEEEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!

Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: 1000 Shot NERF Blaster!
The Infinadeck Omnidirectional Treadmill – Smarter Every Day 192 (VR Series)
How Computers Compress Text: Huffman Coding and Huffman Trees
World’s Fastest Rapper on Windows Azure Cloud
Steve Ballmer Developers Music Video

Interesting videos to play for an audience before a large tech presentation (Part 1)

July 27, 2018

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Use Flatscreens
“Turbo Encabulator” the Original
You Give REST a Bad Name

The Mathematics of Winning Monopoly
Metal Refining & Recovery, Episode 22: 15,500$ in Gold?

A story about Rocky & the Benihana chain

June 15, 2018

[Note: This post was originally written November 1st, 2006 for a blog I used to write focused on Japanese sake. I’m reposting it here because I thought it was worth copying to my personal blog]

My wife and I had the opportunity to go to Tokyo with Rocky Aoki and his wife Keiko.  Rocky as some of you may know is the founder of the famous Benihana of Tokyo chains.  Benihana is so successful and so well run, it is one of two Business Administration case studies that almost every MBA student studies.  (The other being Fred Smith & the story of the rise of FedEx.) 

To give you an idea of what makes Benihana of Tokyo so unique, it is considered to be the most efficient restaurant chain in the US, with higher “revenues per square foot” than anywhere else.  This is because Benihana doesn’t have kitchen – meals are prepared in front of customers. 

In addition, everything about the restaurant is designed to get you in, get you served, and get you out.  For example, serving areas are in broad horseshoe shapes – this prevents too much conversational intimacy resulting in prolonged stays by starry-eyed couples or business partners.  You’ll never find people lingering around after dinner at the tables much.  If anything, there is a bar at the restaurant that serves this purpose better – with much higher profit margins as well.  Even things as simple as the ice cream are designed to minimize people’s stay.  The “green tea ice cream” melts faster than most ice creams to encourage faster consumption.

A word about Keiko, Rocky’s wife
Now for the record, I got the chance to spend a good week with Keiko Ono, Rocky’s wife while on the tour to Japan, and watch her ‘operate’.  Being that very few of the folks reading this will ever get this opportunity, I will sum up my opinion about Keiko in just a few words:  Keiko is a self-made success, a shrewd business woman, a lady that really does love Rocky, and a symbol of the evolution of the modern Japanese woman. 

And even as fairly powerful woman, she’s still very nice and very level-headed.

Keiko was Miss Tokyo some 30 years ago which was amazing in it of itself, however she wasn’t a beauty pageant bubblehead.  To the contrary she was involved with various import businesses, not the least of which was her notoriety for being the first person to import and market the push-up bra to women in Japan.  Even more impressively, she founded and built up her own business consultancy, which specialized in helping to optimize and tune operational process.

Huh?  Why’d you write all of that?
I’m wrote the last few paragraphs because there was an article about Rocky Aoki in New York Magazine recently.  A fellow co-worker emailed it to me and I started reading the article and before I read the first 3 paragraphs, the article started talking about the “family war” going on between his children and himself, in great deal, centered around his interaction with Keiko.

The phrase that caught my eye was, “”My daughter Grace is telling me, Daddy, your wife is going to poison you to death. Be careful what you eat…. basically, they think my wife is, like, gold digger.”

WOW.  You see, Rocky is suing a good part of his family – 3 kids including the aforementioned Grace – for trying to gain control over the Benihana empire he created.  And part of their strategy is slandering Keiko by saying she’s taking advantage of an older man and only after her money…

Keiko is VERY COOL.
…which is where I call, ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT.  Keiko is a really cool lady.  Keiko was doing just fine before she met Rocky.  In fact, the way Rocky tells it, if anything, he needed her initially more than she needed him.  Recall that I said that Keiko’s company was basically a right-sizing shop that optimized business process.  Rocky got together with Keiko to help FIX Benihana – which she did.  Only later did they get married.

Rocky’s in his sunset years – let’s not kid ourselves.  He’s 68 and he tends to forget things.  He’s not at all the active guy he used to be – speedboating, hot air ballooning, race car driving, living the high life… all of that.  After recovering from a near fatal accident in a speedboat, and coming down with a illness contracted through a surgical blood transfusion that laid him up in the hospital for months, he’s not quite been the same active guy.  He told me he used to partake in all sort of activities that would make headlines or at least the Style section of the newspaper – anything for a photo stunt, anything to create publicity for his business.

Today, he’s basically a well-dressed, soft-spoken, kind-hearted man with a very specific vision.  During a dinner, he explained that his goal for the rest of the time he has is to help invigorate foreign interest in Japanese culture, language, and tourism.  He believes the Japanese have a lot to offer and by working through the government run Japanese Tourism group “Yokoso Japan!”, he thinks that he can help build bridges between the Japanese and other countries – not the least of which is America.

image

Keiko Ono & Rocky Aoki
(Photo by Kyoko Hamada, Rocky’s former personal assistant)

My quick story about Rocky
I’d heard about Rocky’s infamous kind heart before in other publications.  Others I’d talked to on the tour had mentioned it, but never actually gone into detail about why they believed it so.  I, for one, am one of those people that likes concrete definitions… quantification… precision…. and when someone makes a claim like “Rocky has a good heart”, I’d kind of like to understand the dimensions of the claim through simple examples.  For instance, is he the kind of guy that gives a dollar to the pan handler on the street?  Does he lend his image to good causes?  Does he sponsor and actively participate in children’s charities?  Well, I got my example first hand.  It took place at a dinner that was quite confusing in nature so I’ll try to shave off the details.  The following might be long but believe me – it’s the Cliff Notes version.

Shanghai-ed into dinner
During our tour of Tokyo, Rocky & Keiko through their politeness, got sort of suckered by a Japanese businessman into going to a dinner at a private restaurant in Roppongi that, little did we know, was to be a business proposal meeting.  In order to make the dinner happen, the businessman sponsoring the dinner invited everyone on the tour – all 24 of us. 

My wife and I, for whatever reason, was one of the first people in the restaurant.  While no one was present, the businessman insisted that my wife & I take the worst seat in the restaurant – after all, who was I next to business moguls like Rocky and others on the tour.  Now, I’ve been at my share of dinners where seating had been orchestrated for elbow rubbing purposes, so I said to myself, “Whatever” and let it go.

Now keep in mind that no one knew – including Rocky & Keiko – that this whole dinner was just a giant pitch for a business idea.  I thought the whole thing was just to do some serious ass-kissing. 

Rocky enters the picture
Rocky entered the restaurant and was immediately told by said businessman to sit at the center of the table.  Since I was the only other person in the restaurant, and had been shuffled off into the back corner, Rocky told my wife and I to come have a seat with him. 

The businessman turned red.  He immediately and sternly intervened and told me quite gruffly to go back to my table in the corner.  Rocky then quietly said, “No, no… come.  Sit with me.”  The businessman glared at me.  Uh….awkward?

I locked stares with Rocky and gestured with my eyes toward the businessman, shrugged, and glumly headed back to my table.  Satisfied with where I was sitting, the businessman backed off and went back toward the door.

Until Rocky got up from the center seat and sat down with me and my wife to start talking.  We chatted about Japan and what I thought of the trip so far, and my true interest in sake.  You see, of the people on the trip which was supposed to be oriented around sake appreciation, I think I was one of only a couple folks that actively was interested in sake production and sake consumption.  We talked about good sake and American tastes and bantered about quite normal things.

Oops… there goes the playbook!
Now what I didn’t know was that this completely screwed up the businessman’s plans.  He was livid that Rocky had chosen to sit down next to me… but what could he do?  You don’t tell the “man” that he sat in the wrong chair – especially the man that you’re trying to court for a business opportunity. (we didn’t know this at the time but we figured out everything that had been going on later that night)  He even went so far to try to get Rocky to move but Rocky said “No”.

Keiko came in at this point and Rocky whispered a few things in Japanese to Keiko and continued to talk to my wife and I this time about Japanese American tourism – having more “sansei” and “yonsei” revisit their heritage. (3rd & 4th generation Japanese American citizens)  People began filing in and I didn’t think much about what was going on at the time except that Rocky seemed very calm.

Keiko kicks ass
At this point, Keiko stood up and invited all 4 of us (there was a Yokoso Japan representative with us at the table, a very nice elderly man who had before he retired, been a Japanese Marketing executive) to the main table.  The businessman that had orchestrated the event said loudly, “Madam Keiko, we do not have the room” in reference to the places at the table, to which Keiko said, “Yes we do” and proceeded to instruct people to move more chairs to the main table and “squish” everyone in. 

Next thing we know, we’re sitting at the main table with everyone else in the group.  Now, during dinner, we had a very uncomfortable and awkward business proposal made between the businessman and Rocky & Keiko who graciously took the materials and made no commitment.  And that was the end of dinner. 

We couldn’t get out fast enough.

Revelations of that night
Later that night it dawned on us, after receiving some key information from various folks close to Rocky, that a giant mindgame was being played at dinner.  We’d just witnessed not only a shotgun business proposal by a rather rude businessman that Rocky & Keiko had no relationship whatsoever to, but Rocky had intentionally moved to our table to irritate the businessman.

Rocky Aoki is no dope, folks, and I’m here as a 1st hand witness to this.  You see, Japanese culture is one of subtleties.  For example, most people know that “yes” in Japanese is pronounced “Hai” (HA-ee), which is a positive affirmation.  Few people however know that “no” in Japanese is pronounced “Ie” (EE-yay), because saying “no” is considered rude – it’s just not done.  Instead, when you don’t want something or your response is negative, you say the Japanese equivalent of “Umm… it’s a little…” or “Uh… I’m uncertain…”  Get it?

Rocky & every man’s equality
In the case of the dinner, Rocky, in an effort to ensure everyone was treated with respect and equality, (unlike the businessman that had orchestrated this farce) decided that if I couldn’t come to him, instead of making a scene, he’d come to me and he’d make sure that the guy knew who was boss that night.

Meanwhile, he worked with Keiko to ensure that everyone would be treated nicely and not talked down to as the businessman had to me.  Keiko in turn laid down the law and served notice on everyone that she was orchestrating where people would be sitting.

Every person would be treated equally as Rocky & Keiko’s guests.  No one would have status above another no matter how rich or how successful.

The New York Magazine Article
Now isn’t that cool?  I mean in this day and age, where folks snub others for the social circles they consort in, Rocky & Keiko are different. 

I wrote the above to give people and idea of what what they’re like – an example if you will.  And it’s not the only one I might add.  It’s just the one that I remember most vividly because of the outrageous circumstances we were all in.

So when you read the article below, entitled, “Rocky’s Family Horror Show:  Rocky Aoki and his feuding heirs are bringing out the knives, to slice and dice his Benihana fortune.”  I hope you’ll get an idea of what the two of them are really like.  While the article describes his past as “flashy”, you have to understand that these were strategic moves to draw attention to his business – not unlike what Richard Branson does for Virgin Enterprises.  As for his past indiscretions, all I can vouch for is what he’s like now. 

And I really like the guy.

The article is here:  http://nymag.com/guides/money/2006/23465/


Ever wonder what that “13” on the left field wall of UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium is?

May 25, 2018

KennyWashington13

There’s a retired number on the left field wall of UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium.  I’ve searched quite a bit to verify who’s number this was and strangely, there’s not a whole lot specifically written about the “13” in left field.

…so I’m writing something.

imageNumber 13 is UCLA-great Kenny Washington’s number.  Nicknamed “The Kingfish”, Kenny was actually the first black player on the UCLA baseball team – even though many mistakenly believe it was Jackie Robinson. 

Washington hit .454 in 1937 and .350 in 1938 while at UCLA.  He went on to play professional football, despite his skills at baseball, but after his pro football career ended, signed on with the Angels in 1950 where he had a short stint playing integrated professional baseball.

In 1956, Kenny’s number was the first number retired in UCLA history.  That same year, he was inducted into the the College Football Hall of Fame.

For more information on Kenny Washington’s story, check out:


SPACE FORCE!

March 20, 2018

Trump is is so facepalmingly, headshakingly, mindblowingly stupid, there’s really only one way to get through his childish antics throughout the newscycle and that’s to GO EVEN MORE CHILDISH.

Presenting… SPACE FORCE!