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 Amazon.com. It is also available in Kindle and iBooks versions on Amazon.com 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: TexasHirame.com

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

Overview

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:

Products

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.

Services

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.

Asatte Press New Website

Asatte Press New Website

Asatte Press New Website

Today we completed the top to bottom redesign of our website.

As discussed in my previous post Asatte Press 3rd Annual Shareholders and Directors Meetings we are shifting away from consumer and personal skills toward Systems and Software Engineering.

Actually, this shift is not as dramatic as it might seem.  The conception of Asatte Press began in the Fall of 2010 with a command to me from Tomoko: “Dave, just quit! This job is killing you!” Followed by the next command: “And do something fun for a year.”  It was quite a revelation and it took almost a year to rearrange our life to transition.

However, it was the “And do something fun” part that led us into publishing.  I have always been very interested in typesetting. When I was an undergraduate at UC San Diego, I worked on a volunteer basis for a history professor who was using TROFF to photo-typeset complex academic texts. I wrote a series of very intricate macros to help him make parallel sets of footnotes in multiple languages (Greek, Latin, German, etc….)

Later when ROLM was purchased by IBM, I got to know GML and BookMaster. IBM GML was one of the key ancestors of SGML which begat XML and HTML. While BookMaster was definitely not in my job description, I was fascinated. I ordered all the manuals and dug in.  Where other engineers would produce specifications that were a few pages long and looked like they had been done on a typewriter, I went all-in and produced polished manuals that were hundreds of pages long with custom table formats, indexes, embedded graphics, you name it.

So, when the “just do something fun” chance came up, I jumped at the chance to go deep into XML technology. For Systematic Martini Lifestyle,  I developed my own XML-based markup language called APDOC. I then used XSLT 2.0 to write XML-to-XML transformations to turn that into XSL-FO, the Apache page formatting language from which I could use a high-end Japanese page rendering package (Antenna House Formatter) to produce the camera-ready PDFs for the book.  I also wrote a second set of transforms to produce EPUB2.0 versions of segments of the book which I released for the Kindle, iPad and Nook platforms.

Lots of fun! And it completely met my objectives of immersion in the XML technology space. However, we also learned that it almost impossible to make a living from consumer-oriented information products and social media. Time to think about the next step.

Well, it turns out that another technology I had a chance to work with at IBM is the formal modeling languages: UML and SysML. In 2003, IBM purchased a company called Rational that was a pioneer in the development of “Unified Modeling Language” (UML) which enabled the graphical modeling and design of complex software applications. In 2006, the Object Management Group  (OMG – the owner of the UML standard) and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) announced the adoption of SysML or “Systems Modeling Language” for System Engineering.  SysML is an extension of UML that enables the design of complex combinations of hardware, software, natural elements, political factions – whatever one might have in a system.

UML and SysML, however, are both XML technologies. Furthermore, one of the key challenges in deploying these technologies involves model-to-model transformations, which are basically just the next step in the XSLT transformation technology I developed in the last two years. The Systems Engineering part of the equation builds on the rich variety of software and system engineering experiences I had in almost three decades with IBM and the companies it purchased.

So far, this is looking really fun and I am really excited!

As for the website, we did a careful study of technology company websites, especially in the oil industry (a target customer set for us). I rewrote the site from scratch using the latest HTML5 and CSS3 techniques, which are much better and simpler than the partial implementations of two years ago.

Tomoko put together the front image. I gave her some XSLT code from my APDOC to XSL-FO transformation and she super-imposed it on a collage of some interesting architectural photos she had taken on her last trip to Tokyo. I think it gives a great abstract impression of our new mission.

Please stop by and take a look at our new website at http://AsattePress.com

 

 

Asatte Press 3rd Annual Shareholders and Directors Meetings

Asatte Press held its third annual shareholders and directors meetings Saturday 6 July 2013 at BB Rovers in Austin, Texas.

Third Annual Shareholders Meeting

The third annual meeting of shareholders of the corporation was held at B. B. Rovers, 12101 Jollyville Road, Austin in the state of Texas, on 6 July 2013, 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.

David and Tomoko raise glasses of beer in a toast.

The 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.

Tomoko squeezing the seal

The Secretary Affixes the Corporate Seal to the FY 2013 Annual Report

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

Accomplishments for FY 2013

Systematic Martini Lifestyle

We released our first book “Systematic Martini Lifestyle” in October 2012. The book is 320 pages of full color content.

The book takes a young man through a series of carefully scripted cocktail parties and gives him an overview of the ins-and-outs of sophisticated entertainment along the way.

Simple Series Books

We released the first two eBooks in our “Simple” series. We implemented semi-automatic conversion to allow us to take targeted content from “Systematic Martini Lifestyle” and release eBooks. The first two books released are:

  1. Simple Buy a Men’s Shirt
  2. Simple Buy Men’s Shoes

These eBooks are in ePub 2.0 format and are available from:

  1. Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon.com)
  2. iBooks (Apple)
  3. Nook (Barnes & Noble)

Social Media Presence

During FY 2013 we ramped up and fully implemented a social media marketing strategy consisting of the following components:

  1. Facebook – We invested considerable effort in the Asatte Press Facebook page. We tried hard to build our following. We ran an entire series of control experiments to investigate which paid advertising strategies would yield results. We had two for-credit interns from the University of Texas Advertising and PR program spend most of Spring Semester 2013 attempting to build traffic to our Facebook page.
  2. Blogs – We expanded our blog offering to cover a variety of subjects including:
    1. Systematic Martini Lifestyle
    2. Systematic Dating
    3. Systematic Diet
    4. Systematic Business Chinese
    5. Systematic Cloud Business
    6. Systematic Job Search
  3. Twitter – We explored all the recommended strategies for building a following on Twitter.
  4. Pinterest and Tumbler – We built out pages on both Pinterest and Tumbler and posted numerous pretty pictures as a means to try to drive traffic to our blog pages and to our store.

Asatte Press Store and Amazon.com

We created and fully populated the AsattePressStore.com web store, hosted by BigCommerce.com. In addition to our own “Systematic Martini Lifestyle” book, we also created a series of lifestyle products. We also listed “The Gift of Job Loss” from Austin author Michael Froehls. We put considerable effort into purchasing Google and Facebook advertisements to drive traffic to the store.On Amazon.com, we listed our products. We also have been using Amazon.com to sell surplus computer technical books and other used books donated by the owners of the company.

Management’s Analysis

Fiscal Year 2013 was a year of learning for Asatte Press. We completed our first major product, the book “Systematic Martini Lifestyle”. We spun up a complete social media marketing effort. We did a major college recruiting campaign. We hosted three waves of interns. We put out our first eBooks. We gained a rich and detailed understanding of the challenges of marketing a product to consumers in the current era.

As planned, we pursued a total commitment strategy in taking our first products to market in FY 2013. We put it all on the line. Unfortunately, we also learned that marketing information products to the public is extremely difficult, basically economically impossible. The exorbitant cost of purchasing tiny amounts of the public’s attention makes the marketing of almost any information product to the public completely economically infeasible.

As FY 2014 starts, we are getting ready to shift Asatte Press to a completely different “business to business” focus centered around Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE).

What’s Ahead

During FY 2014 we plan to get on a footing to offer high-value Systems Engineering services to industrial clients.

  1. Systematic Software Development Using MBSE – Our second book will be a highly technical book that teaches a detailed method for using Model-Based Systems Engineering techniques for software development. This book will form the credibility platform for engaging industrial clients in legacy systems reverse engineering projects.
  2. Modeling Conferences – Starting in July 2013, we will begin aggressively submitting paper proposals for systems engineering and software conferences in calendar 2014. These conferences will be an important platform for driving recognition of our capability and technical value.
  3. Website Redesign – In July 2013, we will completely redesign our website to bring it into line with current style trends and focus attention on our systems and software engineering capability.
  4. AsattePressStore.com – We will phase out our online store. We will keep our Amazon.com commercial seller’s account, but remove everything other than our books.
  5. Social Media – We will scale back our blogs and social media engagement.
  6. Consumer Books – We will suspend efforts to create any further consumer books. We will finish out the series of five “Simple” series eBooks derived from Systematic Martini Lifestyle and then suspend further eBook activity until such time as there is an obviously profitable opportunity in that area.
  7. Investor Funding – We will defer pursuing investor funding until 2014 at the earliest.

Third Annual Directors Meeting

The third 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 6 July 2013, at 9:00PM 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

Picture of a basket of hot wings and celery

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 third annual meeting of shareholders held on 6 July 2013, 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.

Tomoko signing the stock certificates.

The Secretary Signs the Newly Issued Stock Certificates

The board approved the issuance of additional shares of stock to the investors in exchange for a fresh infusion of operating capital.

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

Game Day at Asatte Press

We spent Monday afternoon at Asatte Press playing games with our Spring 2013 interns.

No, we weren’t just goofing off. Asatte Press is now working on its first mobile game/training app for iOS. We have been very lucky to onboard an intern named Alex Hernandez who graduated from Full Sail University with a specialized degree in game software design and he has been working on a more formal design process. The first step in most software game design efforts is to prototype the game with paper and cardboard and test it to see whether it is fun to play or not.

Game Objectives

This game is actually the first of several concepts we are pursuing. All of our games are learning oriented with an eye to assisting the oil industry with its current training challenges.

This cocktail party game focuses on the problem of transferring historical knowledge from an older generation of workers to an incoming younger generation. The oil industry refers to this problem as the “Crew Change”. The game sets up a mildly competitive test in which the younger workers vie to show mastery of historical information in several different subject areas. During testing we actually discovered by accident that the most effective way to play this game is to have the older worker (me in this case) be the moderator and let the younger workers compete against each other. Done properly, this setup allows the older worker to jump in and explain the peculiar background behind some of the seemingly obscure “trivia” questions.

Initial Design of the Game Board

The game board is in the form of a gear with 8 spokes and a trail of colored mini-gears tracing the circumference,

Initial Game Board Design

Since we don’t yet have an adequate base of knowledge for the oil industry, we decided to base our game instead on the knowledge base encapsulated in our Systematic Martini Lifestyle book.

We decided to implement the prototype game as a around-the-board game similar to Monopoly or Parcheesi. We chose a gear motif to match our Systematic Logo. Tomoko created the board using the Inkscape Scalable Graphic Editor and partitioned it into four pieces which we printed on 11″x17″ paper using our large format Epson printer. Cutting and pasting these together, we were able to come up with a reasonably sized playing board.

Initial Rules of Play

The board has five colors of tip cards as well as some plastic figures.

Prototype Board

We used the Systematic Martini Lifestyle tips developed by our Summer 2013 interns as the knowledge base. We divided the tips into five categories:

  1. Red = Wine
  2. Orange = Food
  3. Yellow = Utensils
  4. Green = Liquor
  5. Blue = Clothing

The tip database includes difficulty levels from 1 (easy) to 4 (difficult). However, for the initial test we did not differentiate and instead used all the tips together.

Tomoko went to the hobby store and found some small plastic players to use as avatars during the game.

The initial playing/scoring approach was as follows:

  1. Each player selects a plastic piece.
  2. Each player places his/her plastic piece on the red gear on one of the spokes of the larger gear.
  3. Players take turns rolling a single six-sided die.
  4. Each player moves forward clockwise around the outer path of small gears according to the roll of the die.
  5. When the player lands on a small gear, the color of the gear determines which category of question will be asked. White is a pass (no question).
  6. Each question is multiple choice with four answers, only one of which is correct.
  7. The first player to have one correct answer in all five categories wins.

Results of Play Testing

Score Sheet from 4/28

Score Sheet from 4/28

We actually did two rounds of testing, one on Sunday 4/27 and one on Monday 4/28.

During the initial game on Sunday, we started out with me as one of the players. However, part way through the game, a late guest arrived and we had her take over my position. Before she arrived, we had been taking turns reading the questions to each other. After she arrived, we switched to me being the master of ceremonies as shown in the video clip. We discovered that this arrangement enhanced both the play (making it a little more festive) and the education factor, in that it created natural opportunities to explain the quirky back stories behind the tips.

Another change between day 1 and day 2 is that we switched to from playing for 3 correct in each category to only playing for 1 correct in each category. This change shortened the play time to about 35 minutes for 5 players. It also created an interesting dynamic towards the end of the game in which players had to pass a lot, because they had already finished the color they landed on. This forced passing in turn enabled lagging players to catch up. This game dynamic is not unusual, a lot of games play this way and we have decided for the moment that this dynamic is a positive feature.

What’s Next

We are going to go ahead and implement this game for iOS and probably for Android too. Although the style and game play approach is different from the prototype we used last summer, we will be able to reused the Google App Engine design that our Summer 2012 interns did in Java (on the Google App Engine) and Objective C (on IOS). After we release this as a “Cocktail Party” game for the general public, we will start pursuing opportunities to customize it to specific knowledge domains for the oil industry.

Asatte Press Second Annual Christmas Party

Dave and Tomoko at Olive and June

Dave and Tomoko at Olive and June

On Friday, we celebrated the second annual Asatte Press Christmas party. Once again, attendance was excellent with all two employees participating.
Actually, over the summer we were up to 12 employees. However, 10 of those employees were summer interns and have since returned to their studies or moved on to other activities.

At any rate, we started the evening with the remaining two employees at Olive and June in Austin. Olive and June is the newest restaurant from Parkside chef Shawn Cirkiel. It is an Italian restaurant, housed in beautiful, multistory, modern house with decks on multiple levels. Since we were there for happy hour (4:30PM to 6:30PM) we headed for the second level. It had been sprinkling on and off all afternoon, so we went inside and sat at the bar.

Campari Soda, Paula's Artichoke

Campari Soda, Paula’s Artichoke

After examining the specialty cocktail menu, Tomoko ordered a Campari and Soda. I decided to explore a bit and ordered one of their specialty drinks, the “Paula’s Artichoke” which consisted of local Waterloo Gin and several other interesting ingredients. Both of these are shown at the right. Very nice, a bit bitter. I followed mine with a classic, dirty Martini, Bombay Sapphire gin. The Martini was also very good. Most importantly, the Martini came with two very-high quality queen olives. I am an olive guy and always get severely disappointed when a drinking establishment attempts to save money by serving inferior quality olives with its Martinis.

Seafood Fritto Misto

Seafood Fritto Misto

While at Olive and June, we sampled several of their excellent appetizers. The “Seafood Fritto Misto” is show at the left. This was a spin on the classic calamari. In addition to the usual squid, it had shrimp, baby octopi and other fish. It was light and crisp, very nice. Next we tried “Crudo Salmon” which was a small series of delicate Salmon belly with dabs of cauliflower purée. Finally, we tried the Spicy Chickpeas which were very nice and provided a little fiber. Fiber is very important when you are drinking. It soaks up the excess fat and alcohol in your system.

We were also lucky to encounter Chris, my favorite bartender at the Westin Austin at the Domain  – another favorite place. If was Chris’s night off and we had a very lively conversation about the Austin bar/restaurant scene, careers in the hospitality industry and assorted other topics.

Party Continues at Ichiban

Party Continues at Ichiban

From there, we moved to our “二次会” (“Nijikai” = 2nd Party of the Evening) at Ichiban on Burnet Road. We have been eating at Ichiban for around twenty years. This low-key, comfortable restaurant serves sushi and a mixture of Japanese and Korean traditional dishes.

Recently Ichiban has moved up on our favorites list a bit because our son Tye is a waiter there, working several nights a week to pay for his college and automotive costs.

Sole, Sea Bass, and Red Snapper

Sole, Sea Bass, and Red Snapper

Since we knew that we would be taking pictures, we asked them to bring out something they were proud of and this plate certainly fit the bill. This plate had three white roses sculpted from sashimi. Each rose was a different fish, from left to right: Flounder, Sea Bass, and Snapper. The roses were plated in small pools of spicy Korean chili sauce. There was also a generous portion of wasabi and of course soy sauce on the table. This plate was Asian fusion at its finest. The sashimi was really quite nice with just the Korean chili sauce or with the traditional Japanese wasabi and soy sauce combination. Dipping a piece of the fish first in the Korean chili sauce and then in the wasabi/soy combination was really nice, a very nice littler choir of different flavors.

Specialty Rolls

Specialty Rolls

Next came a large plate with two specialty rolls.

  1. White Blanco – This roll consisted of white tuna drizzled with honey-wasabi and garlic.
  2. Spicy Susan – Spicy tuna with slices of mango drizzled with spicy mayo, panko flakes, honey-wasabi and tobiko (Flying Fish Roe).

These rolls were really good, but the portion was gigantic. We ended up sharing some of them with the serving staff.

Tye Holding the Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake)

Tye Holding the Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake)

The capstone of the evening was the Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake). You can see Tye holding the Haemul Pajeon in the photo at the left. This is a rich pancake made with green onions, assorted seafood, eggs and both wheat and rice flour. It comes with a spicy dipping sauce and it is a classic Korean comfort food. Again, the portion was very generous and we ended up some of this home for further nibbling during the evening.

We Shipped Our First Gift-Wrapped Orders!

Asatte Press First Gift-Wrapped Orders

Asatte Press First Gift-Wrapped Orders

One of the features of our store is a gift wrapping option. We set this option up several weeks ago in preparation for the Christmas season and Tomoko did some research into gift wrapping papers.

I definitely defer things like gift wrapping to Tomoko. Japanese are exquisitely skilled at wrapping things – my presents usually end up looking like they were wrapped by a drunken orangutan.

We also have the option of shipping a personal message on a card. Again, transcribing the message to the card falls to Tomoko. With her years of experience in Japanese brush calligraphy, her handwriting looks much better than mine. Which is to say, mine is non-existent. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher Mrs. Allenius (who had started teaching at the end of the last ice age) looked at me one day and announced: “David Hetherington, I hereby excuse you from writing in cursive for the rest of your life. You can print. Period.” And I did.  Starting that very instant. Interestingly enough no other teacher ever complained or even commented about the switch.

Asatte Press Vice President of Product Fullfillment Wrapping Presents

Asatte Press Vice President of Product Fulfillment Wrapping Presents

Tomoko did experiment with wrapping these presents in the Japanese fashion. This interesting approach involves setting the rectangular object at a 30 degree angle to the rectangular sheet of paper and repeatedly flipping the object over while carefully making triangular folds in the paper to end up with a rectangular object with angular wrapping seams. Properly executed, this sort of wrapping looks really neat. However, the Japanese wrapping approach requires crisp, thin paper. The foil paper she had chosen did not work well with the Japanese technique, so Tomoko reverted to the Western gift-wrapping approach.

Asatte Press 2012 Thanksgiving Party

Asatte Press 2012 Thanksgiving Party

Asatte Press 2012 Thanksgiving Party

The 2012 Asatte Press Thanksgiving party was a great success with the entire management team attending along with special guest Tye Hetherington, the model for our book Systematic Martini Lifestyle.

The venue was Brick House Tavern on Research Blvd in Austin. This is one of my favorite nearby restaurants. I frequently stop by on a Saturday, eat lunch and catch up on my technical reading.

Our server Janelle made the event extra special, putting a lot of energy and enthusiasm into hosting us. In fact, although I was filling the beer glass in this picture at the beginning of the party, she stopped by frequently during the rest of the party to refill our glasses from the beer bong.  As a certified middle-aged guy, I definitely like that kind of friendly service.

Calamari

Calamari

We timed the party to start at the kickoff of the football game between the University of Texas and Texas Christian University. Our first appetizer – Calamari – arrived just as TCU was kicking off to UT.

By the time UT had received the ball, been stopped and was ready to start their first offensive play, the Calamari was pretty much gone. I was busy scooping up the salty fried hot peppers that were left over. Both Tye and I had gone running before the party and we were hungry.

Greek Meatballs

Greek Meatballs

We ordered several more appetizers including the Greek Meatballs shown to the left. I really like these. For a restaurant of this caliber, these are a rather ambitious appetizer. These are quite tasty. Each one is on a tiny crostini with a pickle wedge and a little bit of tatziki in between. They are a little bit mechanically challenging to eat. You either have to have a very large mouth and consume them all in one gulp, or you have to be very deft at somehow biting them into two pieces.

Thai Chicken Salad

Thai Chicken Salad

After finishing several plates of this sort of appetizer, we moved into the healthier section of the menu and ordered the Thai chicken salad which the restaurant kindly split into three portions for us.

I seriously doubt that anyone from Thailand would recognize this dish. However, it is pretty good with a slightly sweet sauce and a lot of very fibrous cabbage. All of that fiber is very important on an occasion like this as it gets into the digestive tract and soaks up all the fat, salt and alcohol from the other dishes that you consume. The effect is much like Kitty Litter or some of the specialized bioremediation products they use to clean up oil spills.

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

By the end of the first half, UT was down 14 to 3 and we were feeling our energy levels dropping a bit. Fortunately, the restaurant was good enough to provide the Apple Crisp at the left. This energy-packed survival food gave us that extra burst of energy we needed to crawl to the car and drive home.

Once we got home, we all collapsed into deep comas and did not awake until the following morning.

A very successful party indeed!

 

We Shipped Our First Order!

We Shipped Our First Order

We Shipped Our First Order

Yesterday we received and shipped our first real order for the Asatte Press Store!

The order was for one copy of Systematic Martini Lifestyle.

Needless to say – our first product shipment was a major milestone for us and we did stop by Eddie V’s in the Arboretum to celebrate!

 

By the way, we have put quite a bit of effort into coming up with an ecofriendly packaging concept for our store.

  1. Bubble Mailer – We use a special reusable and biodegradable bubble mailer from EcoEnclose.
  2. Cardboard – We shrink wrap the book to a recyclable corrugated cardboard substrate.
  3. Shrinkwrap – Our shrinkwrap is Biolefin which is a special biodegradable form of Polyolefin produced by National Shrinkwrap.
  4. Shipping Peanuts – for larger shipments, we pack the merchandise with biodegradable shipping peanuts that are made from cornstarch. These are really interesting. They look like normal Styrofoam shipping peanuts, but when you hold them under the running water faucet, they simply dissolve.

On another note, if you haven’t seen our recently completed promotional video for “Systematic Martini Lifestyle” on Youtube, you can see it here:

 

 

About that Virtual Cloud Mobile Social Media

Swimming in the constant onslaught of breathless patter from the technology pundits, one would easily get the impression that the entire planet is now fully virtualized, in the Cloud, using social media for everything and using mobile apps to run its life. Indeed the only stragglers would seem to be the few holdouts who are not using SIRI to give elegant high-level commands to all that wonderful stuff in the cloud to make their every heart’s desire come true.

Uline Rolodex Card

Uline Rolodex Card

Every now and then, it is refreshing when the window opens and a breath of “reality” blows in. Yes, it can be downright bracing as all the technobabble circles the drain and goes gurgling down into obscurity.

This week I had one of those moments. Uline, the North American hegemon in the packing and shipping materials space, sent me my very own ROLODEX card! That’s right, they didn’t send me an app. They didn’t “like” me on Facebook. They didn’t “Tweet” me. They sent me a nice physical, plastic card – complete with my customer number hand-lettered with a sharpie -ready for me to snap into my “Rolodex” on my desktop! Obviously, there are a lot of people who still have their trusty Rolodex on their desktop. Mobile? Virtual? Cloud Computing? Twitter? Facebook?  Nope! None of the above. When the going gets tough, they reach for their Rolodex.

Nice to have a reality check every now and then 🙂