AYO Grand Finale Concert

"Austin Youth Orchestra" Austin, 2019
“Austin Youth Orchestra” Austin, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

What a busy, but great day, we had! Koa had a percussion competition in the morning down at Texas State University in San Marcos, then in the afternoon, he performed in the Grand Finale Concert of the Austin Youth Orchestra. After that, we headed back down to San Marcos for a percussion master class, and then we found out the results of the competition. And the results were great – Koa received 4th place (out of 29) for his marimba performance!

Not only was the competition great, but the Austin Youth Orchestra performances were fantastic as well. Koa played timpani in a Stravinsky tune (which was really fun to watch), and snare drum in a Tchaikovsky tune. It was awesome. If you have a few moments, give them a watch/listen:

The grand finale concert marks the end of the spring session, and I am pretty sure Koa will want to join AYO again next year. I am happy and amazed that his level is so high at just his freshman year. Looking forward to his future!


Renewing the Chuck Taylor All-Stars

"Old vs. New" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO200
“Old vs. New” Cedar Park, 2019

After a few years of use, it’s time to finally replace my black Chuck Taylor All-Stars. I’m a little sad since I’ve worn these shoes on my travels to New York City, Morocco, Spain, and China. I bet they still have a few grains of sand from the Sahara inside! Lots of great memories were made while wearing these shoes. 😊

But it’s great to have a nice, new pair of high-tops, and there is a nice little design improvement over the old ones: the tongue has a loop to put the laces through so that the tongue stays better aligned straight. Almost every time I wore my old ones, the tongue would drift to the side and I would think to myself that I need to cut slits in the tongue to feed the laces through. I guess the designers at Converse thought the same thing! 👍

"New Tongue" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/20 sec, ISO3200
“New Tongue” Cedar Park, 2019

Anyways, I bought a half-size larger than usual because I really enjoy wearing my semi-thick Darn Tough socks. This combo of sock and shoe is just about perfect now.

While doing a little research on All-Stars, I found some really cool info about them. Did you know that the basic design has been in production since 1922? Coming up on the century mark! Amazing.

By the way, I bought the shoes from Shoes.com, using Rakuten cashback. It’s a really good cash back program, and if you want to sign up using my referral link, we’ll both make out like bandits ($25 for me, $10 for you). 🤑 It’s a nice and easy way to save money… in fact when I bought my barbecue grill at Walmart.com the other day, it earned me a $14.85 check. Pretty nice, right?

I hope you had a great day!


Okko’s Inn (2018) – Movie Review

こんばんは。How’s it going?

My friend and I went to a special showing (only two nights here!) of Okko’s Inn, a Japanese anime directed by Kitaro Kosaka (formerly of Studio Ghibli). The film was awesome! Both my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

********* SPOILER ALERT *********

I had a special interest in the animation and character style, but the story itself blew me away. It was funny, sad, smart, uplifting, and engaging. I especially loved when the character Matsuki would pull out quotes from historical figures. Hilarious! 😆

There were so many elements of the film that I found interesting: the onsen town setting, kaiseki food, the supernatural, and traditional rituals. And the animation was so well-done. The scene where Okko slips on the tatami was great! If you’ve ever felt how slick a tatami mat can be, you’ll know what I mean. It was captured perfectly.

I also liked the fact that there were no overt antagonists in the story. I was expecting Okko’s grandmother or Matsuki to play that role. Although Matsuki started as a rival, she had noble intentions and wasn’t inherently nasty. The lack of any enemies reminded me of Kiki’s Delivery Service or My Neighbor Totoro in that respect. I really appreciate stories like that, especially if they can keep you engaged.

I enjoyed Okko’s Inn even more than some Ghibli movies, like Ponyo, Kaguya, and Arrietty. When I left the theater after seeing those, I felt that I had watched good movies but wasn’t overly excited, but after Okko’s Inn ended, I was pretty stoked, and thought that I’ll definitely need to own the Blu-ray version!

If you didn’t see Okko’s Inn during the special engagement, look for it on video later. It’ll be well worth your time.

My rating: 9/10

Three Movie Saturday

"Chennai Express" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO1600
“Chennai Express” Cedar Park, 2019

こんにちは。How’s it going?

Today I did a lot of work in the backyard, then relaxed in the afternoon and evening, indulging in three movies. Unicorn Store was just okay. It was amusing but really forgettable. I also watched a documentary called A Suitable Girl, which follows three young Indian women, and their arranged marriages, and the circumstances surrounding them. It was fascinating! I really liked it.

But the standout movie for me was the Bollywood blockbuster Chennai Express. I haven’t seen many Bollywood movies, so I cannot compare this to others, but I was thoroughly entertained. It was hilarious, and the costumes and scenery were beautiful! I loved the music and dancing… super! The story itself wasn’t very original, but everything else was great. I had a smile on my face the whole time. Recommended! (find it on Netflix)

I hope you had a relaxing day. 😌


Old, Useful, and Sentimental

"Pen Holder" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO1250
“Pen Holder” Cedar Park, 2019


The title of this post could be used to describe a person, but in this case, I am describing the Suntory beer can that I use to hold pens. I think I bought this just out of college, which would mean it’s been in service holding pens and pencils for 28 years! It’s rested on many desks since then, but it’s always come with me whenever I moved. Just looking at the can, I can imagine it in all those different places, quietly doing its job.

It’s strange that I’ve used such a simple, throwaway item (it’s actually trash), for all these years. But I love it. I guess it’s both useful and sparks joy, which is the sweet spot as far as possessions go. And add the BIFL (buy-it-for-life) aspect on top of that, and this Suntory beer can pen holder is just perfect.

I hope you had a nice day!