The week that was (05-31-19)

“We are now in uncharted territory” said the announcer at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. After 5 and a half hours one day and 3 and a half the next, an unprecedented eight contestants remained and, for the first time, shared the championship.

A motorist in Germany avoided a speeding ticket when a dove flew in front of the automatic speed trap camera. Police will not pursue charges because of what they jokingly said was divine intervention.

Owners of of a theme park that features a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark are suing their insurance company for rain damage.

The We Build The Wall group was temporarily thwarted from construction of a privately-funded border wall when the city government informed them that the group had not filed the proper work permits. Work resumed later once inspections were passed and permits issued for their half-mile barrier with Mexico.

In an abundance of caution, an elementary school in Scranton, PA closed for the day after reviewing security camera footage showing a naked man strolling the hallways pouring Murphy’s Oil Soap all over the floor.

A rapper in North Carolina is facing life in prison for murder. Part of the evidence are the lyrics in his piece, Cookies, in which he rapped about the incident.

Tornados swept through the Midwest but people would rather watch the Bachelorette.

Photo credit: Reddit user: hobbsarelie83


The week that was (05-24-19)

Police in Edinburgh asked the local McDonalds to halt sales of all milk shakes and ice cream just ahead of a Nigel Farage rally for fear that people would pelt the Brexit Party politician with the milky desserts. Apparently, milkshaking is a thing.

The official definition of the kilogram changed.

Kami Rita, a Nepalese Sherpa, set a new Mount Everest record, making it to the top for the 24th time – with his second summit in only seven days. The feat is even more incredible considering how crowded it gets these days.

A paper plate once used by Kurt Cobain to eat pizza sold for $22,400.

The quilting world erupted in controversy over a pair of scissors.

A technician restoring an old synthesizer from the Sixties absorbed LSD through his fingers and started what became a nine-hour trip. Apparently the avant-garde musician that used the instrument in the 60s used to dip the wires into LSD to inspire the musicians (and music?).

The St. Louis Blues beat the San Jose Sharks and will play in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1970. In celebration, the local radio station played the Laura Branigan hit “Gloria” for 24 hours straight.

Visitors to Florida woke to discover an alligator in their AirBnB’s pool lounging on top of a blow-up alligator.

President Trump will attend the Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo this weekend. He will present the winner with a custom, “Trump Award” but is causing much consternation because he has asked to sit in a chair and not on a traditional Japanese zabuton cushion like everyone else.

California is debating a law that allows veterinarians to prescribe medical marijuana to pets. No word on when recreational weed for pets will be made available.

Photo credit: Reddit user Splicani_


The week that was (05-17-19)

A man took a submarine down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot in the ocean. Down there, at 36,000 feet below the surface, he found trash.

Burger King has stated a pilot service delivering burgers & fries to those stuck in traffic in Los Angeles and Mexico City. Doesn’t this just make the traffic worse?

A town in Spain was forced to shut down a slide that connected two streets, saving a 10-minute walk. Many people using it hurt themselves after getting ejected off the bottom of the slide’s 33-degree slope.

Arizona followed New York’s lead and lifted a ban on nunchucks. “I find it interesting that a state that allows you to walk around with a gun on your hip worries about nunchucks being a problem,” said Shawn Sample, an Arizona karate instructor. No word on Alabama.

A Key West woman was arrested on a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a coconut.

A student in South Africa apparently got away with posing as “someone from headquarters” as he helped himself to free KFC in the name of quality control. Bold move for sure but bonus points for getting away with it for a year.

Electric driverless delivery trucks began rolling on public roads in Sweden. Don’t get caught behind one though, the trucks are limited to speeds of 5km/hr.

Photo credit: elevator under construction by reddit user Sorktastic


Reminds me of something

A team from Vice News flew to Huawei headquarters in China at the invitation of the company. It was clearly a PR junket. Huawei has been accused of copying Apple before and after seeing the video of their company store, I can see that they have a point.


How we met

Izumi and I have told this story countless times so it’s ironic that I have never posted anything about it here, this place where I post stories to share. When people ask either of us, “So how did you two meet?” This is that story.

When I was living in Tokyo I worked at a Japanese company, Kyodo. My division was with a joint-venture Kyodo had with Dow Jones called Kyodo Tsushin. We sold financial news and market data to banks and financial firms. I was with a group that served Western financial firms so in our group there were some native English speakers as well as Japanese that spoke excellent English.

One evening our group went out for drinks and I struck up a conversation with Izumi who had recently joined our team. I was struck with how she had no trace of an accent and asked her where she learned English.

“Oh, I was born in Brooklyn and went to Montessori school there. English was actually my first language but my parents moved back to Japan when I was seven so I grew up in Japan.”

Thinking that was quite specific but also surprised because her experience matched my circumstances. I mentioned that I too was born in Brooklyn and I too went to Montessori school. We also discovered we were both discovered that we were both about the same age but left it at that.

The next day Izumi came in to tell me that there was a good chance we went to the same nursery school in Brooklyn. She told me that she went home and told her mother that she had “met a Mr. Kennedy who also went to Montessori school in Brooklyn” and her mom immediately asked, “Do you mean Ian? Did he have curly hair?” Izumi’s mom remembered my name, after all those years!

A couple of days later Izumi brought in an old, faded photo of me at her house for her birthday party.

Check out the clip-on ties!

Floored to see this old photo, I then went to visit my parents who live in Japan now and went thru the shoe box that is our family photo album and found this photo of Izumi, at the same birthday party, from a different camera.

White stockings were all the rage in the 70s.

Our two parents knew each other in Brooklyn.

The Japanese have a phrase called “the red thread” ( 赤い糸) which is like this invisible thread that was strung between us, over all these years since we’ve been apart. Within a year of the photos taken above Izumi and her parents moved back to Japan where she grew up and I stayed on the East Coast and grew up there. It was only after 25 years that we came together again, halfway around the world from Brooklyn.

I went back to the photo box at my parent’s house and later found this, our class photo from that Montessori school in Brooklyn. Can you spot us below?

Try now.


We discovered later that there were several other connections between our two families. My father, a restaurant critic, was a huge fan of Izumi’s aunt’s restaurant Marie Claude and had included one of his reviews of her restaurants in his book, Good Tokyo Restaurants.

Furthermore, my parents were eating at an izakaya in Jiyugaoka and sat next to Izumi’s parents. When they struck up a conversation, they made the connection that Izumi’s mom was the sister of Kazuko, the chef behind Marie Claude. While they celebrated making that connection, they did not realize the deeper connection, that they knew each other from Brooklyn at the time.

One final note of symmetry. My father was born on the longest day of the year, Izumi’s on the shortest. I have a younger sister and am the oldest of two siblings. Izumi has a younger brother and is the oldest of two siblings. Both our younger siblings are the same number of years apart from us.

I guess you could say the connection is strong 💪 Happy Mother’s Day everyone!


The Week That Was (5-10-19)

Ben Hsu fell asleep with two Airpods but in the morning could only find one. He used his iPhone’s “Find my Airpods” tracking feature which causes the Airpod to chirp so you can locate it. ‘I checked under my blanket and looked around but couldn’t find it – then I realised the sound was coming from my stomach.’

Two teenagers skipping school from Christ’s Church Academy in Florida were pulled out to sea while swimming at the beach. Realizing the gravity of their situation, they cried out to God for help. A sailboat heading up the coast happened to see them and rescued them. The boat’s name? Amen

The Pentagon has decided to end a training program for Afghan Air Force pilots after 40% of them went AWOL while in America and never came back.

A supermarket cashier made history by being the first woman to join Queen Elizabeth’s 359-year-old Household Cavalry. Meanwhile, Prince Charles announced he has opened a B&B in Scotland. Oh, and a baby was born.

An iguana is in protective custody awaiting court permission to receive medical treatment after its owner hurled it at a restaurant owner. After finding 41 small turtles in a bag in the back of her car, police asked a Florida woman if she “had anything else.” That’s when she pulled a foot-long alligator out of her yoga pants.

Fifteen sheep were enrolled at a primary school in the French Alps after parents feared falling student numbers would see some classes closed.

In another shuffle towards self-awareness, Tesla extended the capability of their car to self-diagnose itself so that now the car can even pre-order spare parts in advance.

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang promised to deliver his State of the Union address with accompanying PowerPoint slides. In response, the crowd erupted in what must be the world’s first instance of a collective chant for “PowerPoint! PowerPoint!”

Photo credit: The winning sand sculpture of 2019’s Texas Sand Sculpture Festival


Tommy Lee Jones in Japan

The actor Tommy Lee Jones has been the celebrity spokesperson for Suntory’s Boss canned coffee since 2006. Many Western celebrities do commercials in Japan, it’s a quick way to make a buck. But TLJ has been doing it for so long he has become synonymous with Boss coffee and his face firmly part of Japanese popular culture.

In all his commercials he is cast as an outsider, watching Japanese society as a melancholy observer. Over time, we discover he is an alien, sent to investigate the Japanese. He takes a series of odd jobs to get closer to his subjects but he is always removed, watching, alone, with his can of coffee. Stoic.

Last week the Emperor of Japan voluntarily stepped down and a younger generation took his place. It was the end of the Heisei era and the beginning of the next. Everyone in Japan was given 10 days off to reflect and, while I’m not there, I can imagine it must be a time of great retrospection as people look back on the past 30 years and how the country has changed.

The Tommy Lee Jones character is no different so in celebration, Suntory ran this 2 minute super cut of TLJ’s greatest hits as a nostalgia piece.

Further Reading


The week that was (05-03-19)

As the Japanese Emperor rides off into the sunset and the country resets the Imperial Calendar, transition products are all the rage including one enterprising vendor who is selling cans of Heiwa-era air.

A Santa Rosa man lost his prosthetic leg while skydiving over the Northern California vineyards. “I tried to watch where it was falling, but I was so overwhelmed in that moment I could not keep track.” The leg was found by workers in a nearby lumberyard and reunited with its owner.

Matt Easton, the valedictorian at the Brigham Young University, came out in front of the entire university as part of his commencement speech announcing publicly, for the first time, that he is “proud to be a gay son of God.”

Cleveland’s very own “semi-pro” Quidditch team had tryouts last weekend. Yes, professional Quidditch is a thing.

Over 193 million citizens cast their vote on April 17th national election in Indonesia. In the two weeks since then, over 7 million people have been counting the ballots by hand. Because of the long hours, the General Elections Commission, said 1,878 staff had fallen ill and 270 people have died from exhaustion. They expect to have a final count by May 22nd.

For the first time, a donor organ was delivered for transplant by a drone. A kidney was flown a few miles from a site in West Baltimore to the University of Maryland Medical Center across town.

Philadelphia residents gathered in an abandoned lot because of a mysterious letter about a “steel furnace” that went viral. People had a lot of fun meeting each other and residents hope to make it an annual event.

Photo credit: Reddit userZzyzzy_ZzyzzysonK