Nice Job Redmond

This past Wednesday, Microsoft announced their new lineup of Surface devices. Panos Panoy, the Chief Product Officer, opened up the presentation and from the moment he began you knew it was going to be good. The passion and emotion that he displays as a speaker is infectious and it just draws you in. He could have been talking about skateboards and I would have listened to the end. But what made me deeply enamored by the announcement was just how inclusive and responsible it was throughout. They talked about sustainability, accessibility, and inclusion while introducing its new class of Surface products. As much as I do not want to be surprised by this and feel like this should be normal practice I realize that this is unfortunately not the case. Microsoft nailed the announcement on many levels and I truly hope that other companies are watching and learning from the high standard that they have set. If you have not watched, please do and be prepared to be inspired all the way to the very end. Nice job Redmond!

Up, Up, in Away: Our NY Trip

Recently my family and I took a trip to New York City. It was our first time on a plane in more than 18 months and it was a real relief to be able to go somewhere by air. It was in early July and during that time it felt like NY was back or at least relatively. People were out and about, walking to work in business attire. In fact, many of them were not wearing masks which tells me that the honor rule was in effect there. We still wore masks in an abundance of caution but truthfully it felt nice to see smiling faces again even if for a short while.

It’s been several weeks since our trip there and now that the delta variant has become front and center nationwide I’m sure the big apple has taking a step back like the rest of the country. But I am so happy that we flew when we did to visit family and connect face to face. The highlight of our trip was to see our kids bond with their cousins. It was like they have been together the whole time since their last visit in Dec 2019 for Christmas. The bond that they share was fun to watch and we were so lucky to watch our nephew in action in a championship baseball game.

Shenanigans in NY
Shenanigans in NY

This trip, even while short, was a reminder that human connection especially with family can’t be replaced by technology. We can’t wait to be back!

A visit to the Oculus

Revisiting SacTown

In 2003 I moved from Madison to Folsom, California to start my professional career after graduate school. I remember spending time during my first week in Sacramento exploring the salsa scene with my buddy Ramon who came with me to help with the move. After leaving Folsom for Tokyo in 2005, I haven’t been back.

A lot has changed since my time here so I decided to spend Memorial weekend in Sacramento and Folsom, the city I used to live before moving to Tokyo. We stayed in downtown Sac and felt that there would be no better place to do dinner than at Mikuni. This Japanese restaurant used to be THE spot to go to for great Japanese eats and to be seen. So I wasn’t surprised to see that it was still in FULL-EFFECT. I had a sake bomb as my first drink which took me back to my years pre-Tokyo. I don’t recall ever having a sake bomb during my 12 years in Japan. The food was good and our kids enjoyed the scene, too.

The next few days we spent sprawling around downtown, checking out the state Capital, Governor’s mansion, Mid-Town, and other areas. We also went back to my old apartment where I lived in Folsom for a couple of years. No surprise here but it looked quite different from what I remembered it to be.

All and all, it was a meaningful time to be back in Sacramento where my Intel career started and staged my life-altering trip to Japan. Thank you Sacramento for being my stomping ground.

Santa Has Ryoko to Thank

2020 was the first time that we celebrated Christmas in California. Every year we go back to my home state but due to shelter in place we made the tough decision to stay home. Despite the challenge of not being with our loved ones this year, we remain thankful that we are all healthy and have a roof over our head. There are so many people out there who were not as lucky over the Holidays. Not being able to put food on the table, stay warm, or let alone how to tell a little one there may be no Santa this Christmas.

Every year I see how important this holiday is to my wife as it brings her back to the days of her childhood. For me I can’t exactly recall up to when I believed in Santa but I do share with her the positive memories and imaginations that she had during her childhood. This is one of the reasons why she wants our children to have a great experience every Christmas. Naturally, because of this, I have come to admire her meticulous nature to ensure our young kids — currently ages 3 and 6 — naturally believe in Santa Claus.

But 2020 is a lot different than the eighties…..

These days, it can be ever so challenging with delivery services that lead to innocent questions from our young ones. On top of that, this current pandemic has led to more questions that I’m sure many parents find it challenging to be ever more creative to address. For example, ““how will Santa be able to practice social distancing?” But more than anything, I adore how my wife thinks about every excruciating detail to ensure there are no holes in the planning for Santa’s visit every Christmas.

As I look back at the days before Christmas, I am grateful that we are able to nurture our kids’ imagination even amongst today’s challenges. I give my partner and crime all the credit for bringing this all together and ensuring that our kids have a childhood just as pure and special as she did in 1985. Thank you Ryoko!

Unremarkable Times, Remarkable Courage

This week we celebrated thanksgiving as a family for the second time in the USA. It was the first time we cooked a whole turkey and ate dinner at a full size table. Last year we had very limited furniture. But it was a reminder that we needed to be more thankful for what we have in spite of today’s challenges and shortcomings.

Before we broke bread each of us went around talking about the things that we are thankful for in 2020. For me, countless words of appreciation could never do justice about how grateful I am that we are together as a family, healthy, and have a roof over our head.

During these unremarkable times there are so many great people out there who have had misfortunes and challenges intensified by COVID-19. Losing a loved one at the dinner table this Thanksgiving is something that many Americans have to experience during the holiday season this year. Also, there are many who do not know how they will be able to pay for presents for their kids this Christmas due to losing a job. There are also many kids who are not only missing their friends at school but may not be able to eat as well as they would have if they were getting lunch at the school cafeteria. Finally, one would be remiss without acknowledging that there are many hard workers who are putting their self at risk just to keep our stores, hospitals, public transportation, and other essential necessities and destinations running. We can never take their courage for granted.

This thanksgiving — perhaps unlike others in the past — we need to not only be thankful for what we have but be mindful of how lucky and fortunate we may be. Not being with my immediate family right now for example is unfortunate but I am grateful that everyone is healthy and thriving during these challenging times.

There are so many remarkable people out there who are fighting and surviving during these unremarkable times. I celebrate and tip my cap for their courage, strength, and will to persevere. I only pray and hope that their next Thanksgiving will be their greatest ever. This is something I hope that all of us can truly understand and not take for granted.