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.





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

July 27, 2018


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


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


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.


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:

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

May 25, 2018


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:


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!

Westfield Century City Smart Parking

January 26, 2018

imageI started using Westfield’s Smart Parking system at Century City (the only mall that supports it in the US as far as I know).

Here’s a description of how it works – it may require installing the Westfield app on your Android or iPhone device, although I’ve been told there’s a way to do this online as well.


Before your visit, create a Westfield account, add your vehicle’s license plate, and save your payment card details.


Our cameras will recognize your license plate when you arrive at the parking garage. Watch the gate open automatically. No ticket needed.


When you’re done, validate by scanning a QR code at a participating retailer or just drive out. We’ll bill your card directly and send you a receipt. Simple!

So I’ve actually used it, and it indeed works this way.  The cameras and the entrances & exits automatically recognize your car and let you in & out – automatically charging your credit card on file.  They have a description of the service online here:

WARNING: It appears based on the feedback that I’ve read, that despite the app having a QR code reader built into it to recognize & consume ‘validation’ tickets issued by the AMC Theatres and Guest Services, the validations feature doesn’t work on either iOS or Android so prepare to pay whatever non-discounted fee it is that Westfield charges & not be able to accept validations if you get them at the mall. 

You can download the apps here:

Stockman: ‘Calamity Don’ Has ‘No Idea He’s Presiding over the Biggest Fiscal Disaster in History’

December 22, 2017

David Stockman, former Budget Director for Ronald Reagan, has a whopper of a YouTube channel

Check out this video where he crushes Neil Cavuto on his understanding of the US economy, and it starts with this serve & volley:

Over the next 10 years, the government looks to take in $43 Trillion dollars in revenue & taxes.  That’s a lot of money.

Yeah, but it looks to put out $53 Trillion in spending!

Stockman: ‘Calamity Don’ Has ‘No Idea He’s Presiding over the Biggest Fiscal Disaster in History’

Stockman: Here’s Why Trump’s Tax Plan Won’t Stimulate the Economy Like Reagan’s

December 22, 2017

This video is a simple 10 minute explanation of why Trump’s tax plan won’t work, why reducing corporate taxes doesn’t stimulate job growth, and why our situation today is completely different from the Reagan era from David Stockman, RONALD REAGAN’S BUDGET DIRECTOR as broadcast on the FOX BUSINESS NETWORK.

(…and what should have been done instead.)

Money quote, speaking about Steve Mnuchin & the advocates of the GOP Tax Plan:

“These people are total fakes. I’ve never seen anything that was as content free, as substance-less, as this 9 pager that came out.”

Stockman: Here’s Why Trump’s Tax Plan Won’t Stimulate the Economy Like Reagan’s

“12 Months of Trump’s Mess” – The Parody Project

December 22, 2017

Holy cow, this is amazing.

12 MONTHS OF TRUMP’S MESS (Parody of 12 Days of Christmas)

“Annoyed photographer nearly ignores Mom who walks in at end of workday, then spots her daughter”

December 15, 2017

Wanna read something heartwarming?  I had a crap week and this was a very much needed read for me.  A little chicken soup for the soul, perhaps.


OMG. Omarosa got fired. MegaLOL.

December 13, 2017

Bye Felicia.

Omarosa Manigault dragged off of The White House grounds by security, “She’s Always Had Drama”

Jake Tapper fact checks Roy Moore spokesman

December 13, 2017

Watch Roy Moore’s spokesperson stare into the camera, unable to respond after being caught in his own ignorance.  This video is seriously the textbook definition of #rekt.

Watch the folks on MSNBC’s Morning Joe laugh so hard, they cry

December 13, 2017

This is seriously one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. 

Watch Joe Scarborough and his panel laugh their collective tails off after hearing an obviously fake Robocall that Roy Moore claimed was Washington Post’s reporters soliciting people/paying people for claims against Roy Moore.

Apparently, the GOP’s perpetrators of fraud aren’t that sophisticated in Alabama.

HOWTO: Record a VOIP phone call in OneNote 2016 for Windows

December 13, 2017

UPDATE 1/12/18:
I discovered that hitting MUTE during the call from your VOIP speakerphone may prevent OneNote from recording the audio in both directions (not just audio from your microphone) during the call.  OneNote will record audio while MUTE is off, however when it is on, you may hear long periods of silence.  This may be dependent on your hardware however this is what I’ve seen in my testing on a Polycom CX300 VOIP desk phone.

ORIGINAL POST – 12/13/17:
imageThe other day I received the question:

“How can I record a phone call while using OneNote 2016 for Windows?  For example, if I’m using OneNote to take notes during a phone call with, say, a customer service representative in order to take down their name, the claim/case number they’ve issued me, & the details of what I’ve been told… it’d be great to be able to also record the call using OneNote’s recording feature while I’m taking notes to fully take advantage of things like OneNote’s voice-to-text capabilities, audio search-ability, & audio timemarking to jump to specific spots in the recording & playback.”

[Disclaimer: I’m a tech – not a lawyer.  This is a post about what’s technically possible using OneNote. Please research your state’s laws on this phone recording to ensure you are using this feature in a lawful manner.]

Recording phone calls is simple in OneNote 2016 however there are some pre-requisites.  You must have the following:

  1. VOIP phone solution.  Skype for Business 2015 or 2016, Lync 2013, or Skype (consumer) are all great examples of Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) phone solutions in which you can make phone calls over an Internet connection.
  2. VOIP speakerphone connected to your Windows computer.  This is critical because VOIP headsets (where the speaker & microphone are isolated) will not work.  Only one channel (the microphone) will be recorded if an attempt is made to record a call using a headset, in my tests. You must use a speakerphone in order for both sides of a call to be recorded.

Configuring this within OneNote requires the following:

  1. Set OneNote audio recording device specifically to the “speakerphone”.
    Go to File –> Options: “Audio Video”.  Under “Audio recording settings”, click the “Device” field dropdown list & select the entry matching your speakerphone.
  2. [OPTIONAL] Select & configure the codec/format.
    If you require a crystal clear call recording, you can do the following:

        1. Change codecs
          Under “Audio recording settings”, click the “Codec” field dropdown list & select “Windows Media Audio 10 Professional”.  Warning: This will greatly increase the drive storage requirements by as much as 10x and will balloon your OneNote file size, but your audio quality will be substantially higher. You can hear a pin drop with this codec.  If you anticipate only voice discussions, you may consider simply using the default codec, “Windows Media Audio Voice 9” which compresses audio much, much better and is much more efficient on disk space.
        2. Change audio fidelity.
          Under “Audio recording settings”, click “Format” and select “20 kbps, 22.05 kHz, mono”.  This will increase the sampling rate & provide a much clearer recording.  Again, this will produce a larger audio recording in your OneNote in use more drive storage.
  3. Click Record Audio.
    From the OneNote ribbon, click File –> Insert –> “Record Audio”. (Note: This will be greyed out if you’ve previously recorded something within the active OneNote page.
  4. Press “Stop” when you’re done.


December 8, 2017

I love everything about this spot.

Because you can never have too many dog videos

December 4, 2017

Stuff to save & play back for my son

August 12, 2017