Asatte Press Book on Sale at Kinokuniya

Asatte Press Book on Sale at Kinokunia Books in San Francisco

Asatte Press Book on Sale at Kinokunia Books in San Francisco

Recently we have had a major win for Asatte Press. This photo shows our new book on sale at Kinokuniya Books in San Francisco. We are thrilled! For the Japanese speaking world, Kinokuniya Books is the equivalent of Barnes and Noble. Even better, they found two other books with very similar topics and similar covers to put ours next to. From a book marketing point of view, it doesn’t get any better than this!

BURUSHITTO! Bullshit! - Front Cover

BURUSHITTO! Bullshit! – Front Cover

The title of the book is “ブルシット! Bullshit!” and is the first book by Tomoko Hetherington. The book covers the rich variety of less-than-polite expressions related to the word “shit” that Tomoko learned from her three bilingual children. The bull on the front of the book is saying something to the effect of: “Totally wrong. This here is HORSEshit.”

BURUSHITTO! Bullshit! - Rear Cover

BURUSHITTO! Bullshit! – Rear Cover

On the rear of the book, we can see the same bull (from the other end) saying: “Nope. No bovine manure here.”

In order to avoid confusing readers of our technical and engineering books, we created a separate imprint “Texas Hirame” (which happens to be Tomoko’s blogging pen name) and are marketing the book under that alias. This kind of thing is done all of the time. Most major publishing companies have dozens of different imprints targeted at specific markets.

Better Get Your Boots On, The Shit is Getting Deep

Better Get Your Boots On, The Shit is Getting Deep

The cover artwork was done by Tomoko herself as were the numerous illustrations in the book. Here we see a helpful illustration for the expression: “Better get your boots on. The shit is getting deep.”

This is Horseshit

This is Horseshit

Shit from several different major animals (bull, horse, chicken, bat, ape) is introduced and the nuances of each type of shit are discussed in some detail.

Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle

Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle

Other expressions that describe various types of difficult situations are clarified as well.

The book is offered in print from It is also available in Kindle and iBooks versions on and iTunes respectively.

The iBooks version also includes a number of convenient embedded audio segments. For example:

Provides Japanese speakers with a convenient audio example that they can practice with and emulate until they can smoothly make sarcastic remarks about dim colleagues discovering the obvious.

Links to all of the major stores are available here:

Chevy Volt Key Fob Battery Replacement

So, recently my 2014 Chevy Volt has begun honking at me at random times. Since this is a relatively new phenomenon, my guess is that the key fob battery is getting low. That is, as the radio gets weaker, the car may be having difficulty deciding whether I am inside or outside of the car. In any case, I use my key fob actively (remotely locking and unlocking) almost every day and it is reasonable to expect that the battery would need replacing after a year and a half.

The owner’s manual does provide instructions on how to replace this battery, but they are brief. The owner’s manual does not provide any diagrams and it is not visually obvious looking at the key fob where the battery compartment is. So… I have posted a few photos here in case anyone else is looking for guidance.

picture of a pack of two batteries

Replacement battery is CR 2032

The battery is a CR 2032, available in a pack of two at Walgreens for $7-8. Going forward, I will put this on my annual calendar and replace batteries in both key fobs once per year.

picture shows key fob with blade extended

First, extend the key blade

First, extend the key blade.

picture shows key fob with cover removed.

Flip key fob over and pop off lower half of case

Flip the key fob over so the buttons are facing down. You can pop the lower half of the rear of the case off by pressing up on one side. Once the case is open, remove the old battery and replace it. The manual cautions that you should be careful not to touch the internal circuits with your finger as static electricity from your body could damage the electronics.

Note that some brands of batteries have a paper sticker on one side. If your new battery comes with such a sticker, be sure to remove the sticker before inserting the battery into the key fob.

Once the battery has been replaced, carefully put the cover back on and squeeze it gently with your fingers to snap it back into the closed position.

Valentine’s Day

vase of pink roses with some blue garnish

Pink Roses

Our son Tye has been working part time as a waiter at a restaurant here in Austin for the last few years while he finishes his computer science degree. That restaurant asked Tye to work on Saturday which was Valentine’s Day. We thought “Great! We’ll come in for dinner!” but he warned us off, explaining that the restaurant would be packed, food preparation would be necessarily slow, and that everyone would be pretty stressed.

Given Tye’s input, we decided to do a nice meal at home instead. The start for the day was some nice pink roses from a local grocery store – much cheaper than a formal bouquet from a florist and very pleasant in a laid-back sort of way.

Dinner – Bacon-Wrapped Fillet Steaks

picture shows a dining table, two plates, two glasses of champagne, a lit candle.

Dinner, Bacon-Wrapped Fillet

Tomoko was in charge of dinner, which was as shown:

  1. Petite bacon-wrapped fillet steaks on a bed of fresh greens
  2. Grilled portabello mushrooms in a sort of pureed pepper bisque
  3. A bottle of New Zealand champagne that we had received as a gift

As usual, we had a small candle on the table for atmosphere.

Start with a Toast

Picture shows Tomoko holding two glasses of Champagne

Toasting with New Zealand Champagne

Of course, drinking Champagne calls for a toast.
Strictly speaking, this beverage should be called “New Zealand Champagne-style Sparkling Wine” or something awkward like that. The Europeans are very touchy about their geographical trademarks.
That having been said, I liked this one better than the real French champagne which I generally find too sour for my taste. Likewise, I don’t like the Italian products either because they tend to be too sweet. The German products produced in the Rhine region around and in Mainz are wonderful – sparkling wine made with Riesling grapes. Unfortunately, the production quantities are quite small and they more or less impossible to get in the United States. This New Zealand product was similar to the German ones: not sour; fruity, but not overpoweringly sweet.

After-Dinner Snacks

Picture shows a cutting board with cheese, salumi, crackers, and Spanish Almonts

Cheese and Salumi

I was in charge of the less healthy after-dinner snacks. You really can’t re-cork a bottle of champagne… we would be needing something to help us finish the bottle. The salumi was from the local grocery store, nice, but not expensive. The cheese was my favorite Dutch Leyden caraway cheese. I also found some very nice Spanish almonds at Costco. Spanish almonds are very tasty, but they are also usually outrageously expensive. These were very nice and moderately priced.

Strawberries and Japanese Television

Bowl of strawberries


We finished the evening eating strawberries (Tomoko’s department again) and watching two episodes of a Japanese television mini-series called “Ghostwriter” on Viki TV – an interesting operation that gets television shows from around the world and crowd-sources the creation of subtitles for them. Recently they have been monetizing the site slightly by showing a few commercials before each episode. However, once it starts they don’t interrupt the actual program. This mini-series has one of my favorite Japanese actresses: Nakatani Miki playing an aging star author (think J.K. Rowling) who is suffering from writer’s block and gets into a complicated relationship with an ambitious young female novelist. It was a lot of fun – a nice way to finish the New Zealand champagne and end the evening.

Superbowl XLIX – Top 5 Commercials

Great game! Amazing finish. Here are my picks for the best (and worst) commercials.

The Top 5 Commercials of Superbowl XLIX

#1 – Acacados from Mexico

This was my favorite! Really fun, original idea, not sponsored by a multi-$10b manufacturing behemoth.

#2 – Fiat Blue Pill

Fiat commercials are always a lot of fun!

#3 – Clash of the Clans Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson satirizing himself!

#4 – Doritos Middle Seat

Not that I (ah-hem) have ever tried to psych out who might sit in the seat next to me…

#5 – Budweiser Lost Dog

Really pretty. This seems to have been Tomoko Hetherington’s pick for number 1.

Buzzkill Commercials

What was new this year was a series of commercials put out by various organizations that just couldn’t tolerate the idea that America might **GASP*** be ENJOYING ITSELF during the Superbowl. These self-appointed guardians of public morality felt the need to bludgeon everyone with extremely heavy-handed buzzkill messages designed to stifle all of that inordinate merriment and shame everyone into reaching for their checkbooks to donate to something or another. Here are three annoyingly heavy-handed commercials that aired during the Superbowl:

#X – Nationwide Dead Children Commercial

What arrogance. Preventable accidents are an important topic, but there is a time and a place for everything and the middle of the national enjoyment festival is neither the time nor the place to browbeat the public with this sort of guilt message.

#Y – Like a Girl Commercial

Attention all men. Line up to be flogged…

NO MORE’s Domestic Violence Advertisement

Any men who did not get flogged for the previous commercial, line up for a flogging for this one. In the early 1990s I had several years of experience as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician and got to see the domestic violence issue live and in person. It is not nearly as neat and clear-cut as this sort of advocacy group would have you believe. In fact, the most severe domestic violence injuries (and deaths) in the little community I was serving during the time I was there turned out to be those inflicted on men by their furious girlfriends. One guy in particular enjoyed dancing with the wrong woman at a bar and ended up needing to be flown back to Austin for 180+ stitches courtesy of his jealous girlfriend. In any event, domestic violence is a serious issue, but the Superbowl is neither the right time, nor the right place to browbeat America’s men with such a heavy-handed commercial.

New Year’s Eve at the Swissôtel Merchant Court

Youjin Smiling

Youjin Welcomes us to the Bar around 11PM

A year of commuting to Singapore to help a shipyard with the software systems integration of the systems on an offshore oil rig wrapped up with a 28-day visit starting in early December. Since we knew far in advance that this visit would cover Christmas and New Years, we focused our family festivities on Thanksgiving. Tomoko accompanied me to Singapore and our three grown children were on their own.

Dave, Countdown

Dave, Countdown

So…what to do for New Year’s eve?  It rapidly became clear that *THE EVENT* for New Year’s Eve in Singapore is fireworks at Marina Bay.  However, everyone wetalked with described massive crowding and congestion. Also, December is really not the best season to visit Singapore – it is monsoon season, constantly soggy. Finally, I had to work the day of New Year’s eve.  We decided to simply hang around the vicinity of our hotel: the Swissôtel Merchant Court which is conveniently right on the river at Clarke Quay. That proved to be an excellent decision.

Tomoko, Countdown

Tomoko, Countdown

After packing up – we would be departing early on January 1st – we had drinks in the hotel’s club lounge on the 11th floor. Luckily, we caught a break on the weather. It was dry and pleasant. We had a very nice light dinner outside by the river at SQUE behind Central. After that, we returned to the bar at the Merchant Court.

Emily Takes a Picture

Emily Takes a Picture

We arrived at the bar just before 11PM and were pleased to see “Team Korea” on duty. That is, during 2014 I visited the Merchant Court bar quite a few times to have a cup of tea or a glass of wine before bedtime. Of course, the entire staff of the hotel was very nice to me during the year, but four of the bar staff in particular – two from Korea and two from the Philippines – spent a lot of time chatting with me. It was very pleasant and made the place feel quite a bit like home. In any event, Emily and Youjin from Korea were on-duty at the bar for New Year’s Eve.

Tomoko Was Drinking Tea

Tomoko Was Drinking Tea

Tomoko was actually drinking the hotel’s very nice TWG Tea “Moroccan Mint Tea” which I also had on any number of evenings during the year. It was served in a very nice little pot with a cookie on the side – very pleasant.

Team Korea - Emily and Youjin

Team Korea – Emily and Youjin

As midnight approached, there was a lot of activity. The bar manager put a bucket of champagne bottles in ice on the bar. These were purchased quickly by the large number of customers. I was fine drinking a glass of white wine and Tomoko was sticking with the Moroccan Mint Tea.

Emily and Dave Just After Midnight

Emily and Dave Just After Midnight

There was a large-screen TV in the bar and it counted down the seconds at Marina Bay where a large stage show was in progress. The show alternated performers from each of Singapore’s different ethnic communities. It was very nice!

Tomoko and Dave Just After Midnight

Tomoko and Dave Just After Midnight

After Midnight, everyone cheered and took pictures…

Balloons Everywhere

Balloons Everywhere

The bar staff also unleashed a huge cluster of balloons which more-or-less filled the bar. Customers were running around kicking the balloons and throwing them at each other. Meanwhile, the national stage show was playing music on the large screen TV. It was quite fun and relaxing!

Team Philippines - Mae and Elle

Team Philippines – Mae and Elle

After around 30 minutes, we settled our bill and wandered out side. The first stop was the outdoor bar hut by the river which is also run by the hotel. Team Philippines – Mae and Elle – were on duty. They were really busy, but they stopped for a second so I could take their picture.

Clarke Quay - No Selfie-Stick Zone

Clarke Quay – No Selfie-Stick Zone

Wandering across the bridge into Clarke Quay proper, we encountered this sign. Those selfie-sticks certainly are a menace. The Singapore government had thoughtfully declared Clarke Quay to be a “No Selfie-Stick Zone” for the evening and put up this warning sign.

Singaporeans Celebrate New Years on their Smartphones

Singaporeans Celebrate New Years on their Smartphones while Waiting for a Table

Just around 1AM, things were hoping at Clarke Quay. There was a throbbing crowd. Bands were playing in all the clubs. It was really lively. This group of young Singaporean friends was out on Clarke Quay, waiting for a seat at a restaurant, taking in the ambiance, and furiously tapping on their smartphones.

Asatte Press 4th Annual Shareholders and Directors Meetings

Asatte Press held its fourth annual shareholders and directors meetings Friday 1 August 2014 at BB Rovers in Austin, Texas. That is, given that our first meetings were the formation meetings, we have been in business for three years now.

Fourth Annual Shareholders Meeting

The fourth annual meeting of shareholders of the corporation was held at B. B. Rovers, 12101 Jollyville Road, Austin in the state of Texas, on 1 August 2014, at 8:30PM for the purpose of electing directors of the corporation.

David Hetherington acted as chairperson, and Tomoko Hetherington acted as secretary of the meeting.

Dave and Tomoko drinking beer

Meeting of the Shareholders is Called to Order

The secretary announced that the meeting was called by the chairperson

The secretary announced that the meeting was held pursuant to notice, if and as required under the bylaws of this corporation, or that notice had been waived by all shareholders entitled to receive notice under the bylaws. Copies of any certificates of mailing of notice prepared by the secretary of the corporation and any written waivers signed by shareholders entitled to receive notice of this meeting were attached to these minutes by the secretary.

The chairperson then presented the (written) annual report to the shareholders of Asatte Press, Inc.

Accomplishments for FY 2014

Services Engagement

We were able to secure our first model-based systems engineering (MBSE) contract with Athens Group to perform services on their behalf at a shipyard in Singapore. This engagement is planned to continue through March of 2016.

  1. The structure of the engagement is a 28-sday on/off cycle.
  2. Asatte Press president David Hetherington departs early on a Friday morning for Singapore.
  3. He arrives in Singapore the following Sunday in the early hours of the morning.
  4. Consulting begins the following morning and continues for four weeks or 20 days.
  5. The Saturday after the last day of consulting, he returns home arriving on the same day in the late afternoon.
  6. Athens Group pays all travel expenses and bills the shipyard.
  7. Departure for the next 28-day cycle is on Friday of the 4th week after return or 27 days later.
screen shot of Asatte Press web site

New Website Design

Website Redesign

The Asatte Press website was redesigned completely to deliver a message focused on systems engineering.

The Asatte Press Store was closed as previously planned.




Modeling Conferences

In April 2014, David Hetherington attended “Code Generation 2014” at Cambridge University in England and gave a presentation on using SysML Requirements Traceability to design a training game.

Page from presentation

Presentation from Code Generation 2014

Several more paper submissions were not accepted. However, a paper submission has been accepted for the key IADC Advanced Rig Technology Conference in September 2014. Even better, the IADC has invited an article to accompany the presentation for publication in their Drilling Contractor Magazine.

Management Discussion


Fiscal Year 2014 (hereafter FY 2014) was a year of transition for Asatte Press. As planned, we pivoted from Social Media to Systems Engineering. The contract with Athens has been very important to build both our credibility and depth of practical experience. We are now profitable and positioned well to grow organically. We are not pursuing investors at this point.

Description of Business

Asatte Press is transitioning to be a mixed product and services company. Our planned product and services mix is as follows:


We will continue to offer our existing lifestyle books as eBooks and on a print-on-demand basis. We will not put significant further effort into promoting them. Our new products will be in the following areas:

  1. Technical Books – During FY 2015 we plan to produce one or more narrowly focused technical books, most likely on using SysML tools to handle requirements traceability and other elementary systems engineering tasks. The primary target for these books will be eBook format. However, we also should be able to offer paper editions priced to be profitable on a unit-by-unit, print-on-demand basis.
  2. 3D Visualization Software – With the addition of Tye Hetherington to the team, we are now positioning to pursue software development for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. During FY 2015, we expect to explore the potential of this market.


Our current services offering revolves around using SysML and other Model-Based Systems Engineering techniques to assist customers in designing ocean drilling equipment.

Financial Outlook

Asatte Press is now paying salaries to the founders and is operating at a profit. We do not expect to need further funding from the founders or from other investors during FY 2015.


Fourth Annual Directors Meeting

Wings and Rings

Meeting of the Directors is Called to Order

The fourth annual meeting of the board of directors of the corporation was held at B. B. Rovers, 12101 Jollyville Road, Austin in the state of Texas, on 1 August 2014, at 7:00PM for the purpose of reviewing the prior year’s business, discussing corporate operations for the upcoming year, and for the transaction of any other business that may properly come before the meeting.

David Hetherington acted as chairperson, and Tomoko Hetherington acted as secretary of the meeting

The Meeting of the Board of Directors is Called to Order

The chairperson called the meeting to order.

The secretary announced that the meeting was called by the chairperson

The secretary announced that the meeting was held pursuant to notice, if and as required under the bylaws of this corporation, or that notice had been waived by all directors entitled to receive notice under the bylaws. Copies of any certificates of mailing of notice prepared by the secretary of the corporation and any written waivers signed by directors entitled to receive notice of this meeting were attached to these minutes by the secretary.

The secretary announced that the following directors were present at the meeting:

Name of Director
David Hetherington
Tomoko Hetherington

The above directors, having been elected to serve on the board for a one-year term by the shareholders at the fourth annual meeting of shareholders held on 1 August 2014, accepted their positions on the board. The secretary then announced that the presence of these directors at the meeting represented a quorum of the board of directors as defined in the bylaws of this corporation.

The chairperson presented the near-term cash-flow plan for the corporation. The directors approved the cash-flow and spending plan.

The chairperson announced that the next item of business was the appointment of the officers and of standing committee members of the corporation to an initial one-year term of office. After discussion, the following persons were appointed to serve in the following capacities as officers, committee members or in other roles in the service of the corporation for the upcoming year:

Name Title
David Hetherington President
David Hetherington Treasurer
Tomoko Hetherington Secretary

The next item of business was the determination of compensation or fringe benefits to be paid or awarded for services rendered the corporation by employees and staff. After discussion, it was determined that no compensation could be planned at this time.
There were no further resolutions at the meeting.

There being no further business to come before the meeting, it was adjourned on motion duly made and carried.

iPhone 3 Retires as an Alarm Clock

shows iPhone 3 on bedside table next to conventional alarm clock

iPhone 3 Retires as an Alarm Clock

Earlier this year, I upgraded from an iPhone 3 to an iPhone 5s. The previous iPhone 3 had served me well and had withstood an amazing amount of physical abuse. However, after four years of service, its battery was starting to fail and the rear of the case was cracked. So, I went to the Apple Store and purchased an unlocked iPhone 5 which I am now using with T-Mobile’s “Simple Choice” plan that allows global data roaming (an excellent concept that they are gradually working out the kinks in).

So what to do with the previous iPhone 3? When we looked online, amazingly it still seemed to have a market value of more than $100. However, given the cracked case and obvious imminent total battery failure, I simply would not have been comfortable selling it to someone else. Throw it away? I hate throwing away machines that are still usable. The answer? Alarm Clock. While the iPhone 3 would could no longer perform adequately as a mobile phone, it was still more than capable of performing as an excellent alarm clock, much more functional than any stand-alone alarm clock.

  1. First I got a longer cable. I wanted to be able to freely pickup and handle the phone without constantly having to fiddle with the cable. A two-meter cable was more than enough. By the way, for this purpose, a cheapo after-market cable was fine. All we needed was power.
  2. The phone still needed a SIM card. Even after transferring my service to the iPhone 5, I still needed a SIM card to make the iPhone 3 boot. I ordered a basic prepaid SIM card from Amazon for $1.50.
  3. That was basically it. Plug in the SIM card, plug in the power. Ready to go.
  4. The only additional thing I did was connect to our household wireless LAN so that the phone would be able to keep its clock up to date.
  5. I still keep the conventional clock so that I can see the display in the middle of the night without fumbling around to find the iPhone.

Reduce. Recycle. Reuse.

Eden East, Three Little Pigs, East End Wines

With things going well recently, we decided to celebrate a little in advance of my next longer overseas trip. Last year during Art Night East, we had visited Eden East at Springdale Farm and were intrigued. The restaurant is only open two days per week, serves a fixed menu in communal seating, and sources all of its food locally. The food and drink samples during the Art Night tour had been excellent – we definitely wanted to give the full dinner a try.
As I went to make reservations, I determined that this restaurant is really popular. The only available seating was for 9PM. I also noted that Eden East is a bring-your-own-bottle restaurant and that they recommended East End Wines as a good place to get said bottle.
That sounded good to me. We are very familiar with East End Wines, a wonderful wine store built into a Victorian home in East Austin.

The plan became:

  1. Buy Wine at East End Wines
  2. Appetizers at Three Little Pigs Trailer
  3. Dinner at Eden East

East End Wines

Wine Tasting at East End Wines

Wine Tasting at East End Wines

First stop: East End Wines. We were lucky that they were having a wine tasting that evening. East End Wines has frequent wine tastings and I am on their mailing list. Friday’s tasting was Italian wines. They were uniformly excellent. We selected a nice Nero d’Avola for our dinner wine and a white Argentine wine for appetizers.

Three Little Pigs

Tomoko at Three Little Pigs

Tomoko at Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs trailer is located conveniently in the parking lot of East End Wines. These two businesses cooperate: there are picnic tables for seating and East End Wines will happily provide loaner glasses. This arrangement makes for a very easy light meal. Wine and glasses from East End Wines, food from Three Little Pigs.

Asian Fried Chicken at Three Little Pigs

Asian Fried Chicken at Three Little Pigs



We ordered two appetizers. The first was Asian Fried Chicken. This dish is their take on Japanese Karaage. It is authentic in a contemporary sense. That is, all over Asia, this dish has recently been interpreted as having a sort of powdery dry batter, enhanced perhaps with mayonnaise. Being an ancient dinosaur myself, I prefer the more traditional version which had thinner breading and a more moist surface. This difference is similar to the difference between Southern Fried Chicken (Church’s) and traditional recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken. I prefer the traditional Kentucky version.

Korean Style BBQ at Three Little Pigs

Korean Style BBQ at Three Little Pigs

The other dish was an interpretation of Korean barbecue with some nice Kimichi and rice. By the way, both dishes had excellent vegetables. We did not actually eat all of these two dishes. Rather we just nibbled a bit, picked up to-go boxes from the trailer, and took them home to our son who finished them off.

Dave at Three Little Pigs

Dave at Three Little Pigs









Eden East at Springdale Farm

Menu for Our Eden East Dinner

Menu for Our Eden East Dinner

We arrived at Eden East at 9PM as scheduled and were seated at a communal table. Seating is outside under some really large, beautiful trees. The temperature was perfect. The tables were lit with gas lamps. Eden East warns you that this is “slow food” – expect to stay for a few hours. If you need to get in and out in a hurry, you will be better served at MacDonalds.

The restaurant is directly attached to the Springdale farm which grows organic produce. Much of what is served is directly from Springdale farms. The rest (both meats and vegetables) is from other nearby Texas producers.

After a few minutes, our enthusiastic young server arrived and introduced herself as “Taylor” She promptly opened our bottle of wine and gave us an overview of the evening. Things would simply arrive at 15-20 minute interviews. If we felt like taking a stroll around the farm, she could slow the pace down for us.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

The first item served was not on the internet menu, although if you look carefully it was on the printed menu on the table. This was an “Amuse Bouche” a layer of slices of different kinds of local heirloom tomatoes, with basil and local Texas olive oil. It was really tasty!

Tomoko Approves

Tomoko Approves


The appetizer met with Tomoko’s approval.

The Kitchen

The Kitchen


The kitchen was actually in a trailer next to the seating area. This was an interesting variation on the open kitchens one often finds in fancier restaurants.

Sorrel and Red Carrot Salad

Sorrel and Red Carrot Salad


Next up, a salad of sorrel and red carrots – very tasty!

Perspective of Our Table Mates

Perspective of Our Table Mates


By this team we were getting acquainted with our table mates, a couple who owned a home not far from our former home and their friends two interior designers. One of the interior designers took this photo.

Grilled Beef Hearts

Grilled Beef Hearts


The grilled beef heats were excellent. I am used to thinking of beef heart as tough, but these thin slices were delicate like a slice of fine fillet. Note that heart is an internal organ, but it is a muscle. It does not have the intestinal taste of kidney, or well… intestines.

Rabbit Ravioli

Rabbit Ravioli


Rabbit Ravioli was also excellent. Neither Tomoko nor I are big fans of rabbit which is usually tough and very gamey. However, this ravioli was tasty and delicate. the pomadoro from local tomatoes was also very tasty.

Collage of Heirloom Tomatoes

Collage of Heirloom Tomatoes


At this point, I was ready for a stroll. Inside their farmhouse (which also happened to contain the restroom) they had this interesting collage of fresh heirloom tomatoes.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes


Heirloom tomatoes are varieties that survived the enormous pressure in the agriculture megabusiness to genetically engineer bland, tasteless, perfectly round things. Heirlooms are varieties that were passed from generation to generation within families. In recent years, operations like Springdale Farm have gone out and scoured the small, rural towms looking for these. They are NOT perfectly round, They DO have blemishes. And…they also have interesting, rich, subtle tastes and textures.

Overall Dining Area

Overall Dining Area


Here we see the dining area as I came back from my stroll.

Roasted Lamb Chops

Roasted Lamb Chops


The final meat course was local Texas lamb chops. Again, these were excellent.

Raw Chocolate Tea Cake and Zabajone

Raw Chocolate Tea Cake and Zabajone


I don’t actually know what “Zabajone” is. I take it to be the white cream sauce with the dessert. They were out of the local blackberries by the time we were served and provided blueberries instead.

All in all, it was a very pleasant evening.

Three Years In – How is it Going?!

Dinner at Harry's by the River in Singapore

Dinner at Harry’s by the River in Singapore

It’s been three years since I strapped on my parachute, gave notice at IBM, and “stepped off the cliff” – So how is it going?

Well, in the interim, there was a lot of stress. We blew through almost all of our retirement savings. We sold our house. We downsized. We made business mistakes. That is, we made MAJOR business mistakes. We had our life views and assumptions on all sorts of things turned on their head and re-scrambled.

That having been said, I am sitting here writing this blog post at the bar of the Park Regis hotel in Singapore. I am working 28-days-on/28-days-off in Singapore helping a major shipyard with the complex software systems integration involved in putting together a state-of-the-art, highly-automated, jackup oil rig destined for the North Sea. The work is cutting edge. I am using SysML to make a model of the system-of-systems in question. The shipyard staff is young and enthusiastic.

I have basically solved all the problems that were driving me nuts at IBM.

  1. I have my own company.
  2. I am doing cutting edge development of real products with a future.
  3. I am flying business class again.
  4. I am doing business in Asia. That is, I am doing useful business in Asia and having fun doing it.
  5. I am starting to build a personal brand. I will be speaking at Codegeneration 2014 at Cambridge University in April
  6. The road in front of me is blossoming with opportunity.
  7. I am controlling my own destiny.

The personal side is great too:

  1. We sold our house. That was traumatic. I felt absolutely miserable last year as my lovely wife Tomoko spent Mother’s Day scrubbing and cleaning the house so we could hand it over to the buyer. However, the move forced us to dump huge amounts of physical baggage and we are now reveling in the new lightweight, apartment lifestyle.
  2. On the bright side, sharing the business with Tomoko has been wonderful – a real shared adventure. It keeps us both sharp.
  3. The evening before I departed on the current trip, I took delivery on a brand-new Chevy Volt. We rent a little single-car garage in our apartment complex and it has an electrical outlet. It will charge slowly since we will have it on the most conservative 110 volt charging mode, but the outlook is that I will rarely need to buy gas for the vehicle. So now, I get to explore the amazing amount of electronic control built into the thing. The best feature is that you can remote-start it from your iPhone so that it is all cooled down by the time you get to it in the parking lot. HIn blazing hot Texas, I expect that one feature to be worth the money to buy the car.
  4. For Christmas, we bought ourselves a large, state-of-the-art Samsung Smart TV. It connects directly to the internet and we are now watching all kinds of silly Japanese comedy and crime dramas on

Has it been worth it? Absolutely!

What I would say is that anyone who:

  • finds themselves working for an employer that pours a constant stream of negative messaging on them
  • anyone who is a little older but still feels like they have value to contribute – even though their employer is giving them a constant stream of feedback about being a useless, over-the-hill, overhead expense
  • anyone who is flying 27 hour flights crammed into economy class so some fat cat executives can show off to Wall Street
  • anyone who finds themselves working for a set of executives that have lost the will to develop good products
  • anyone who finds themselves dragging themselves to an office with the atmosphere of a morgue
  • anyone who finds themselves being stampeded into a quota sales position because the fat cats would rather milk numbers than develop competitive valuable products
  • anyone who finds themselves working for the pale shadow of what was once a great company

To those people I would say: “Don’t sit there riding the conveyor belt to your grave, waiting for the inevitable layoff notice”
Take some risk. Branch out. Give it your best. Be terrified. Be frustrated. Be exhilarated. Live life rather than watching it flow by.

Step off the Cliff.

Art Night EAST 2013

Tomoko and Dave at Delta Millworks

Tomoko and Dave at Delta Millworks

Friday’s entertainment was Austin Art Night EAST 2013 by Art Alliance Austin.

This is the third “Art Night” event that we have attended. The other two were in the center of Austin. While all of the events are fun, this one is interesting in that East Austin is where the art actually gets created. The central Austin tour consists of galleries, that is: sales outlets. Artists generally can’t afford the rent in the central part of Austin. The studios are in East Austin.

The basic format of the event is about three hours in the evening that is a shuttle bus tour. Each studio shows its art, restaurants provide appetizers (advertising) and various beverage distributors provide liquid refreshments.

Although all the Art Night events attract a wide range of ages, there was a subtle difference between the central and EAST versions and that was the clothing. The central version has a sort of cocktail party vibe: lots of high heels, cocktail dresses and generally festive attire. The EAST version heads more in the “Keep Austin Weird” direction. My blue blazer was perfect for the central Austin event, but was distinctly overdressed for the Austin EAST event. Next year I will break out the linen coat, a more colorful necktie, and perhaps make a few other adjustments.

Tomoko At Big Medium

Tomoko At Big Medium

The recommended first stop was Big Medium because it had the largest parking lot. At Big Medium they had a table with a list of people who had purchased tickets online. They checked your name and gave you a wristband.

Big Medium is a large facility with a lot of different artists. We spent a bit of time with one ceramic artist who produces sets of handmade plates for restaurants. They were gorgeous. This studio earned our first “After we become millionaires, we will be back” rating for the evening. (Currently, to the extent that we need anything in the kitchen it is made of plastic and purchased at Walgreens).

Dave Samples at Eden East

Dave Samples at Eden East

The first pleasant surprise of the tour was that location (2) wasn’t a restaurant at all, but rather a very interesting restaurant called Eden East. This restaurant is closely associated with the Springdale Farm and serves a variety of Texas local produce and meat.

They had a trailer setup with samples of appetizers which were outstanding. Some guests rushed through gobbling one after the other. I took it more slowly, stepping away to enjoy one at a time. Coming back for the fourth sample, I had a chance to talk with one of the young chefs. It is a very interesting restaurant, open only on Friday and Saturday. It has a fixed menu and reservations are required. The menu changes every week. As we know from talking with other chefs, this sort of restaurant design is ideal for chefs, as one of the biggest challenges for chefs is the sheer boredom of making the same thing several thousand times in a row.

Tomoko Makes Smores at Eden East

Tomoko Makes Smores at Eden East

In addition to the great appetizers, Eden east had a wonderful beverage: a hot toddy made of “Devils Cut” Bourbon, lemon grass tea, and orange juice. The evening was cool and this beverage hit the spot. They also had chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows at the end of the appetizer line. Smores are not a particularly Japanese cuisine item, but Tomoko put three children through girl scouts and boy scouts. She knew exactly what to do with the ingredients. These provided a wonderful warm, sweet snack as we waited for the shuttle bus. That shuttle bus ended up getting delayed slightly as one of two elder men on the bus wandered off to get another hot toddy.

As the shuttle pulled up to the next location, I was thrilled to see that it was a mill works. That is, the definition of “art” for the EAST night is much more expansive than the definition for the central night. That is, the central night focuses on galleries which compels a definition of art as “stuff that hangs on walls”. The EAST night includes mill works, which expands the focus to include fine handmade woodwork – very exciting for me since I have dabbled in this art myself.

Delta Millworks

Delta Millworks

The two elder gentleman mentioned earlier were likewise excited since one of them had come regularly to the Delta Millworks in the 1960s to get framing timber for houses. Apparently, he was a hired hand at the time.

Delta Millworks had a disk jockey, a spray paint artist, and a counter serving hand-made/tailored margaritas. They also had appetizers from the Buenos Aires Cafe.

We spent a lot of time talking to a young man who runs Deep Fried Design He had a beautiful dining table that he had re-milled from the bed of a delivery truck. It was made of red and white oak and he had disassembled it, re-milled the wood, and reassembled it into a dining table. This was our second “After We Become Millionaires” award for the evening.

Milled Tabletop at Fort Tillery

Milled Tabletop at Fort Tillery

Next stop: Fort Tillery

Another mill works and general artist creative space, Fort Tillery housed Michael Yates Design. We spent quite a bit of time talking to Michael Yates and admiring his elegant walnut chairs. He is trained in architecture and is an obsessive designer. As he showed us, he basically makes his own walnut plywood by laminating thin layers of shaved walnut using a vacuum press to make the exact shapes he needs for his chairs. They are extremely elegant. His work won our third “When We Become Millionaires” award for the evening. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture of his work – the milled tabletop shown is from another artist.

Tomoko and Jules Buck Jones at MASS Gallery

Tomoko and Jules Buck Jones at MASS Gallery

The final stop on the Art Night tour was MASS Gallery. The particular art on display was the works of two artists who were channeling Picasso. Not my first choice in artistic styles. I respect Picasso because he dedicated the first part of his career to achieving a fine mastery of classical techniques before he went abstract. Nevertheless, the super-abstract style just does not float my boat so to speak. Nevertheless, this stop was fun because Tomoko ran into one of her instructors from the University of Texas Studio Art program who is one of the people who runs the studio.

Checking Out the Classic Cars at the Afterparty

Checking Out the Classic Cars at the Afterparty

With that, it was back to the “After Party” at the Getaway Motor Club It was a lot of fun, with a live band, music, pizza, and drinks. I had quite a bit of fun with another guy speculating whether this vehicle – which was displaying a pristine 1962 Texas registration sticker – had actually been rolled into a warehouse in 1962….

It was a great evening! We plan to keep participating (with some wardrobe adjustments on my part) and encourage our friends to participate as well!