Guess I’ll stick around for a bit

A couple weeks ago I closed on a place in Plaza Midtown.  Yay for owning property, I suppose if this was the 1800’s, now I’d finally be able to vote with sodapdf esign software tool!

Penthouse 20th floor of the building, 14′ ceilings, granite/stainless/hardwoods, floor to ceiling windows, etc.  Only a few years old.

I still really don’t relish the idea of paying 4.8% interest on hundreds of thousands of dollars… but I imagine the bottom of the worst real estate crash in my lifetime is probably the best time to buy, plus the tax credit, plus interest rates are at an all time low.  I’m still getting moved in, but I like it. When you travel long distances, consider getting a coupon at https://www.groupon.com/coupons/stores/travelocity.com for big discounts.

The view is probably my favorite part.

So yeah.  Guess I won’t be moving for a while … which is fine with me.  Hate moving. Technique classes for men and women, open for beginners! Just call us or visit us directly at Tanzkurs Tango berlin.

Limiting a Flex TileList component’s number of selected items

If you want to set a maximum number of selected items in an ActionScript TileList component, there isn’t any straightforward way to do it built in.  Strangely.

First, catch the itemClick event in your tile list.

<mx:TileList id="foo" ... itemClick="checkMax(event)" />

Then in checkMax, the basic idea is to compare the current count of selected items;  if its too long, unselect the most recently selected item.  In this example I wanted to limit it to a max of 20 selected items.

            private function checkMax(e:Event):void {
                if (foo.selectedItems.length > 20) {
                    var x:int = foo.selectedIndices.indexOf(e.currentTarget.selectedIndex);
                    var tmpArray:ArrayCollection = new ArrayCollection(foo.selectedIndices);
                    tmpArray.removeItemAt(x);
                    foo.selectedIndices = tmpArray.toArray();
                }
            }

Since the Array class doesn’t have the removeItemAt method, we have to create a temporary ArrayCollection object first as a copy of the selectedIndices of our TileList.  Remove the most recently selected item, then save it back to the TileList.  Thanks Micah for helping to figure this out.

Tokyo

Dave and I went to Tokyo a few weeks ago.  It was really a lot of fun, I highly recommend everyone to go visit.

It was basically the same plane flight that I took last year when I went to Shanghai.  Though this time I guess I was awake when we were going over some cooler scenery.

Arriving at the Narita airport, I had about a 3 hour wait until Dave’s plane would arrive.  The airport had this cool open air observation deck from which to watch the planes land and take off.  Even with an airport for as important of a city as Tokyo, it still didn’t seem to have near the volume of traffic as ATL.

After an hour long bus ride into tokyo, we finally arrived at our hotel in the Shinjuku area.  Considering everything I had read about how extraordinarily expensve everything in Tokyo was, we got an extremely nice hotel right in the biggest hub of the city for not that much money.

The view out our hotel window.

The Yamanote line of the Tokyo subway went in a giant loop around the entire city, which was convenient for us.  An all day pass was $7, which took us practically everywhere we wanted to go.

The first full day we had, we visited Oeno, which was the older, more historic part of tokyo that had not modernized itself as much as the other parts.

Here, for some reason, was a japanese teenager leading a group of tourist kids in some kind of lesson in karate or tai chi or something.

Next we visited a Shrine, which reminded me almost exactly of what they were like in Shanghai.  Not so much about reverence, tranquility, or spirituality anymore.  More just places to sell trinkets and flowers and get people to buy donations in exchange for good fortunes.   I wish we had had time to visit some of the lesser visited shrines far outside the city.

I did not feel out of place at all.

When I got back, several people asked me the question “Tokyo?  What is there to do there?”  The immediate answer was “too much”.  In terms of just general “tourist attractions”, there was far far too much to see and do in only 5 days.

The real answer, for me at least, was simply to walk around the city and just see it for what it really was.  I didn’t go there so much to experience any specific thing or attraction, but just to experience as big of a picture of what Tokyo is, whatever that may be.   This part of it I found the most interesting.

Back onto the subway we went, on to the next major hub.

Having never been to New York City, I can’t honestly comment on what Times Square is like.  But I swear I saw pockets of intersections flick by the windows of the train that dwarfed Times Square, let alone the major ones we went to see on purpose.

Now onto the food.  Every single meal we had there was simply delicious.  From the $4 bowl of meat and rice at Yoshinoya to our $100 meals of sushi and kobe beef, everything was just so good.  At no point did I taste or smell anything that was even mediocre, let alone bad.  And, one major distinction between Shanghai, was that Tokyo was much more diverse than I expected.  In addition to what I would call normal japanese food, they had lamb gyro wrap carts, they had indian curry places, they had italian and pizza places, and of course american fast food restaurants.  We ate entirely japanese while there though.

Our first real lunch was at any nondescript conveyor-style sushi place that we ran across.  I’m sure to the Japanese, this was pure crap fast food, nothing special at all.  Yet it still blew away anything I’ve ever had in the united states.

After walking around all day, I just randomly decided to walk into a skyscraper, and there happened to be a hotel at the top of it, so we just happened to ride the elevator to the top, and it just so happened to be an extremely expensive hotel with incredible views, so we felt obligated to sit down (oh darn) and relax and have a drink.

This icecube was hand chipped into a ball as we waited.

And then the views from the top.

Ah, density!

Then, dusk in Shinjuku, and finally home to the hotel to rest.

Good times, with good friends.

The next morning we woke early to get to the Tsukiji Fish Markets, the most famous of fish markets in the world.

And then we got to have breakfast at the most famous of sushi restaurants, which happened to be located right at the fish market itself.  Literally, the worlds freshest sushi.  Words cannot express how good it was.

Traveling on to the manmade island of Odaiba.  The oddities of japanese culture did not escape us.

Then Dave takes a moment to ponder exactly what freedom means to him.

I hope it meant that that statue could come to life and defend us, because when we walked around the corner, we saw this:

Yeah its just an 80 foot tall lifesize Gundam Robot, complete with articulating head, laser beam eyes and smoke that shot from his mouth.  What the hell??

Next we got to see a somewhat smaller, though more advanced, robot.  In real life, no less.  It was pretty cool.

He (she?) ran around, waved at us, played a little soccer.

This was all inside the Tokyo National Science of Emerging Technology And Innovation.  I think it existed for no other reason than for them to say “Wow look at all this cool shit we have.”

Then we got a chance to visit the Imperial Palace, but it was actually quite closed off to visitors.  The guard at the gate said you could request a private appointment but had to do it 2 days in advance.  You couldn’t even really see the palace from any good vantage point, but you did get a nice view of the Ginza skyline.

That night we decided to “go out” and see what the nightlife was like.

We took a taxi to an area known as Roppingi, where there were lots of bars and nightclubs.  We went to one called “911 Black” I think.

Needless to say, “douchebag” is spoken universally the world round, it seems.  The club was hot, crowded, smoky, loud, the drinks were expensive and took forever to get, you couldn’t move around … basically just like any club in any city in the world.  They were, however, playing nothing but american rap and dance hits, especially some Michael Jackson.  Looking back, I think I wish we would have sought out maybe a kareoke bar.

Once out on the street again though, it was back to having a good time.  You could buy ice cold beers in the convenience stores and then just walk around with them, which we did.

Having sufficiently worked up some late night hunger, we stopped at yet another sushi restaurant.

The great part about this was that the combination of hunger, intoxication, and frustration with not being able to speak a word of japanese came to a head .  Instead of pointing and gesturing at pictures and just making pre paleolithic gruntings and mumblings, I just announced exactly what I wanted.  “6 otoro nigiri, no wasabi, hai!!.”

Turns I don’t speak japanese, but I do speak sushi.  He understood every word.

The next morning we woke up absolutely starving.  We stopped in the first place we passed – Yoshinoya.  Apparently quite popular in Japan, they even have a couple in NY and Chicago.  This was quite my favorite meal of the trip if you don’t count any of the sushi.  It was some kind of pork that I later realized was extremely thin, marinated, pork belly.  Otherwise known as BACON.  I could have eaten 5 bowls of it.

The itinerary for the day mostly revolved around the area known as Shibuya.  Shibuya was probably my favorite spot in the whole city that we saw.  It was full of shopping, and people, just like anywhere else, but the roads twisted and led into intimate boulevards lined with shops and pubs and department stores.  Something about it was just a little bit softer, calmer, and more welcoming than the unrelentingly garish and harsh lights and noises of Roppingi the night before.  It almost had a suburban atmosphere coursing through its very urban veins.

It was also home to the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world.  We sat in a two story starbucks and watched it for probably 30 minutes.  Here is the before view…

And then the during.

It’s like a flash mob every 2 minutes.

Spots like this peppered the whole city.

For our final evening, we decided to class it up.

We went into the skyscraper part of Shinjuku, and dined on Sushi and Kobe Beef on the 53rd floor of the Tokyo Opera City Tower.

The view for our meal.

A recurring theme during our trip for that day was actually to follow along the scenes in the movie Lost in Translation. For those not familiar with the film, Bill Murray is an aging movie star who is in Tokyo to film some commercials for a brand of whiskey, Suntory Whiskey. The restaurant had a shockingly inexpensive 750ml bottle of it for 1,450Y.

It was definitely flowing by the time we got around to taking these pictures, but it was a fun time, especially once we got the non-english speaking japanese waitress to help us out.

Next up we visited the top floor of the New York Bar in the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which is where they filmed most of the movie.

There was a pretty hefty cover just to even sit down at a table.  “Fuck it, we’re on vacation”, I said.  I ended up saying that phrase a lot during this trip, which really, you shouldn’t really be saying when you’ve been drinking a bit.

The Macallan 25yr.

I almost — almost — sat down without looking at a menu and said “May I have a glass of your most expensive scotch please.”

In this case,  I am extremely glad I didn’t.

That 52 year Macallan… yeah it was 67,000Y.  Which is about $700USD.  For 1 single fluid oz.  I was on vacation but I wasn’t that far on vacation.

Never the less, it was a very classy evening indeed.

Then a taxi drive back through Shinjuku to the hotel…

Then to sleep with the fluffy pillows amazon we got.

Last day there, had to get up early to catch the bus back to the airport.  One last look out the room.  A bit quieter, now.

The strangest dichotomy existed between the fact that the roads and sidewalks were sparkling clean, free of litter of any kind… and the horrendously frustrating fact that there existed *no* public trash cans.  Plenty of vending machines, but there just simply did not exist trashcans on the streets like there are in america.  It’s impossible to understand what thats like until you’ve been carrying around 3 empty bottles with you all day because you can’t find a trash can anywhere.

And yet, no trash.  No dirt.  No smog, no grime.  No homeless, for that matter.  Not a single pan handler, crackhead, beggar, or bum was seen the entire trip.  We walked fearless down the tiniest of alley ways late at night with our pockets loaded with cash and didn’t think twice about it.  This is, as we read on Wikipedia, quite the norm.

The people themselves were so incredibly polite, almost to the point of absurdity.  Receiving your receipt and change from a cashier involved both hands, cupped together and a deep bow, with constant “ohayu guzaimasu” and “domo arigato”.  There is a cultural mentality shared there that no matter your state in society, no matter your income or your socioeconomic position, you take extreme, concentrated pride in what you do and how you do it.  Regardless if you are working at McDonalds or at the Gucci store.  It was a repeating pattern that enveloped their entire way of being, and it showed in almost every aspect of their culture.  The biggest “culture shock” was really the people themselves, and their eagerness to help you despite the almost absolute barrier of language.

Almost every single place I’ve visited for a vacation yet, I was 100% ready to get on the plane and come back home by the end of it.  At some point, enough is enough, and you just want to be home.

This was the one time it was different.  If I could, I would have stayed another month, maybe two, maybe 6.  I wanted to develop a routine there, and a favorite coffee shop, and come to learn the best late night noodle joints on my own.  The mystifying, confusing, uncomprehendingly baffling subway system seemed understandable now, to the point that I almost stopped carrying a map around with me by the last day.  The different names for the different hubs of the city now had meaning and recognition.  And even our tiny little hotel room felt something like what I’d call home.

I’ll be going back.  Not just to finally climb the summit of Mt Fuji (which thunderstorms prevented us from doing this time), but to visit the other 80% of the city we didn’t get to — and even better, to revisit the parts we did.

Peachtree Road Race 2009

I got the chance, finally, to run the Peachtree Road race this year for the first time.  I’ve wanted to do it for probably the last 10 years, but never managed to get my hands on an AJC newspaper and send in the registration.

This year, they did registration online, so I managed to grab a spot.  A big thanks goes out to Philip and Catherine Manavi for swapping my ~80,000 time group number with a ~30,000 one!  It was really a lot of fun, and the run itself wasn’t even all that bad.  The weather was great, the event was organized extremely well considering the 55,000 people running it, and my friends were even nice enough to meet me at the finish line on a saturday at 9:00 am 🙂

The Midtown Marta station at 6:15 am
The Midtown Marta station at 6:15 am


The finish line


Me and my stupid running belt


My cheering section


Still a lot of people running it even an hour after I finished

Then we went up to buckhead to watch the fireworks from the top of the Hannon Hill parking deck.  Great view!

Portrait image orientation in Mac OS X, and how to fix it

This took me quite a while to google around and find this, so maybe it will help someone else out.

Any time I take a picture with my digital camera and transfer it to my Mac, every app within OSX is reading the EXIF orientation information and automatically orientating portrait-style pictures.  What this means is that when you turned your camera sideways to take a picture, OSX knows that and shows the picture to you in portrait mode, so it looks oriented correctly to you.  It does this in photoshop, preview, Finder, everything I’ve found at least.

The problem with this is that the picture *isn’t* actually oriented that way, so when you go to upload your pictures to the web, or put them on a disk, or email them to a friend, they’re going to be sideways.

If you don’t feel like writing a shell script to cycle through your images and read their EXIF data, then use transjpg or imagemagick to rotate the pictures and then wipe the exif orientation info, then just do the following.

Assuming you’re multi-selecting a batch of photos and then using Preview to scroll through and look at them, whenever you get to a portrait oriented picture (look at the thumbnail), go to

Tools -> Rotate Right.

Then go to Tools -> Rotate Left.

Its confusing, I know.  You’ll start with the picture looking correct to you, then you need to rotate it one direction and then rotate it back, to the way it was.  Then close Preview, and it will ask you if you want to save the images.  Say yes.  What this actually did was do an image transformation to rotate the data itself, then wipe the EXIF orientation info, but you’d never know that just by looking at it.

But, once you upload the image anywhere it will always be oriented correctly.

First World Problems!

Some people on this fine planet of ours are pretty well fucked from the get go.  For the sake of brevity lets just pass on by those poor saps born without a face or an extra arm or something.  There’s kids in africa born into abject poverty who don’t live past 2.  There’s kids in India who grow up wallowing in filth.  Make it to your teens in singapore and you get sold as a sex slave.  Or in china, where you get to spend your life in a factory stapling together Nikes.  People living in mud huts, or catching malaria, or getting aids, or living in the desert, all sorts of just awful crap can befall people living in under developed countries.  In fact, and lets be honest here, pretty much the huge MAJORITY of people living in 3rd world places really don’t have much of a chance to make an outstanding life for themselves, at least compared to a middle class person living in a westernized country.

So lately I’ve just found it kind of amusing the kinds of petty things people complain about.  I think we all do it throughout the day without even noticing it.  It’s actually pretty funny, so I’m going to start keeping a log of the good ones I hear.  After each quote we come across on this blog post, just imagine a group of rambunctious 6 year olds throwing their hands in the air and giving their best bwaa-bwwaahhh faces and in sing-songy voices going “Uh – Oh !  First Woooorld Proooooblems!

These are all actual quotes from friends or family that I’ve heard recently — names were changed to protect the innocent though.

  • Person 1:  “I’m going to pick up donuts from Dunkin tomorrow, for everyone in the office.  How many boxes should I get?”
    Person 2:  “Ugh Dunkin Donuts sucks.  Why the heck can’t you get Krispy Kreme instead?”

    First World Problems!

  • Person 1:  “I hate how this text editor makes me double click on files to open them.  Why the hell can’t I set it to open it by single clicking on a file?”

    First World Problems!

  • Person 1:  “Hey get me a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos from the closet will you?”
    Person 2:  “Looks like we’re out, all we have is Nacho Cheesier Doritos.”
    Person 1:  “Ah what the fuck, come on.”

    First World Problems!

  • Person 1:  “Oh I hate these national brand trash bags.  I can never find where the seams are to tear the next one off of the roll.”

    First World Problems!

  • Person 1:  “800 channels of digital television and not a single one of them is playing Family Guy.  This blows.”

    First World Problems!

  • Person 1: (holding a cigarette) “Hey anyone got a lighter?”
    Person 2: “Nope”
    Person 3: “Not me”
    Person 4: “I don’t smoke”
    Person 1:  “Ugghhh I have to walk all the way out to my car now?”

    First World Problems!

  • Person 1:  “I hate this stupid light.  It takes foreeevvveerrr to give me a green turn signal.”

    First World Problems!

  • Person 1:  “Trying to finish my tax rebate, creating 2 new startups, and having my kitchen & dining room floors refinished. It’s going to be a hell week!”

    First World Problems!

  • … while grilling out steaks and hamburgers for dinner on a beautiful sunday afternoon…
    Person 1:  “I wish there was somewhere to sit out here.”
    Person 2:  “Yeah.  Say, look at the neighbors back yard.  He seems to have a big pile of perfectly sized logs that we could roll over here and sit on.”
    Person 1:  “Good idea.  I’m sure he won’t care, they’ve been there for several months. I’ll ask him about it tomorrow.”
    … next day in an email ..
    Person 1:  “So I’m sitting outside and I can hear the neighbor in his driveway. Cool, I’ll ask him about taking some logs for seats. As soon as I get around the corner I see that he is splitting the very logs up which we wanted to sit.  Sad.”
    Person 2:  “Noooooooooo!”
    Person 3:  “This is bullshit.”

    First World Problems!