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DS106: Open Digital Storytelling

Posted by on Jun 22, 2016 in DS106 | 0 comments

I’m starting a new learning program on digital storytelling put on by the open learning platform called DS106. I will be posting all of my content for this project/class on this blog under the category ds106. I don’t have much to say about the program as I am just getting started. Looks like a lot of fun. Please check it out yourself.

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Racing on the Big Island of Hawaii: Evolution Racing School, Day 2

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Cars and Racing, Enjoying Life | 0 comments

Day two started out about the same as day one, but with even more rain. The track was completely covered in water by the time the first cars were going out.

Rainy track


In addition to the rain, which for the most part didn’t let up all day, we were running more difficult courses. The courses were tighter than the first day and the instructor changed it throughout the day.

The rain was a great teaching tool. Because I had so little grip (wet track and nearly bald tires) every mistake I made was amplified. If I was too aggressive with the gas, slide. Brake too hard, slide. Turn too hard, slide. You get the point.

I did a lot of sliding.

I was able to get more runs on the second day because there were only four of us. I did over 60 runs on the second day for a total of over 100 during the two days. I was exhausted.

I was more focused on racing on Sunday and didn’t take too many pictures. Here is some video instead.


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Racing on the Big Island of Hawaii: Evolution Racing School Day 1

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Cars and Racing, Enjoying Life | 0 comments

Hawaii weather


The day started off like it often does here in Hilo, wet. The above picture is what the weather looked like just before I took my first run on the track.

Having never done auto racing before, I was a little nervous and didn’t quite know what to expect. My first lap was spent between figuring out where I was supposed to be going and sliding around the course. After a very full weekend and around 100 laps later, I can say that this is one of the funnest and most useful things I have ever done.

Hawaii Autocross

Obviously, the focus of the school is to make you faster, and without a doubt I am certainly a much faster driver on the track. More importantly though, I am also a much better driver on the road. A wet track and very worn tires meant that I had the chance to control the car past the limit. We all learn the basic principles of driving. Handling a car that has lost it’s traction that has lost it’s traction is so counter intuitive that you probably won’t make the right choice if you lose it on a regular road. I had the chance to control understeer (car doesn’t turn enough), oversteer (car turns too much) and lost traction again and again.

Autocross should be required for anyone who is getting their license. I really think it makes you a better driver.

After a couple of runs by myself I started to get the hang of it. After a couple of runs with the instructor, my times started getting better. After several runs more runs, I looked at my temperature gauge and realized my engine was overheating. Apparently, one of my fans had stopped working. Leaving the heater on while I was racing took care of the problem. Not the most comfortable solution, but it worked. You’ll notice in the picture below that my hood is up to help cooling.

hawaii race


Below is the full lineup of the cars that attended. The other Miata is just barely in the picture. All together there were six cars: my 2002 Miata, a Mazdaspeed Miata, a 350Z, a Lotus Elise, a BMW M3, and a Porsche Cayman (two drivers were sharing this car).

car lineup


My car on the course later on in the day after the track had dried out.

autocross driving


We spent most of our time on the track getting instruction while driving or while in the passenger seat. This was the really great part of the class. I got to spend so much time behind the wheel. We did have intermittent breaks to discuss what we had learned.

Autocross Class


At the end of the day, I was exhausted. My car was dirty, and I couldn’t wait to come back for more the next day.

dirty miata



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Racing on the Big Island of Hawaii

Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Cars and Racing, Enjoying Life | 0 comments

2002 miata

It’s been a while since I have posted on Simplistic Thoughts. Moving from Japan back to the US, and then moving again to Hawaii meant a lot of changes. We have been here for just over a year and things are going well. Enough about that….onto racing.

For quite a long time now, I have been wanting to get into auto racing. After a bit of searching, I found there is a small racing track and an autocross group. Autocross is a race where a small track  is setup using cones and a solo driver drives the course trying to get the best time possible.

I went out to see the group several months ago. At the time I only had one car and didn’t want to risk anything happening to it. With racing in mind, I picked up another car. It’s a 2002 Miata LS 6 speed. I have been slowly taking care of everything that needed to be fixed/serviced and tomorrow I have my first day of racing.

2002 miata.jpg

As timing would have it, there is a high performance racing class that is taking place this weekend and I signed up. It was quite expensive, but I figure it’s a great way to get started.

I am taking along my cameras and will be shooting as much as possible. I’m really not sure how much time I will have to shoot video since I am supposed to be learning.

Below is a picture of me sporting my new helmet. I was going for “The STIG” pose. Anyone who watches Top Gear will know what I am talking about.

racing helmet.jpg

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Six Months in Hawaii

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Hawaii | 0 comments

I wrote a post a few months back about my journey to Hawaii Island. After nearly eight years living in Japan, my wife and I decided to come back to the US and chose Hawaii as our new home. We just recently passed the six month mark and all is going well.

We were finally able to move from our one room condo in Hilo to a house in Mountain View. We have a little longer drive and it is a little colder, but we wanted to live here for a while before we commit to purchasing. We are hoping it will be a little warmer during the summer months.

My wife found a job working at a tour company that primarily works with Japanese tourist. I recently found a position as the Director of Sales and Marketing for a local company here on the Big Island that makes cookies, candies and chips.

Live in Hawaii

I can’t talk about the rest of Hawaii, but for anyone wanting to live on the Big Island, I really recommend that you do your research. While my wife and I have been lucky enough to find jobs (the ability to speak Japanese helps), I have also heard a lot of stories of people who moved over here and had to return home after not being able to find a suitable position. The the other islands may be different. I would definitely assume that Oahu is.


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DIY Standing Computer Desk

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Health, How To | 0 comments

DIY Standing Desk

I’m not a big fan of heart attacks and I definitely want to avoid back problems. There are a growing number of studies showing how bad sitting all day is for you. The animated video below lists a number of the problems that are caused . (Also see below for what you need to build one yourself)

Unfortunately, I still have to spend a lot of time in front of a computer nearly everyday. When I first learned about people using standing desks I wanted to give it a try. At the time, I knew I would be moving soon and so I never did. I have recently moved to Hawaii and I needed a way to create two work spaces in our condo. There is one built in desk and not a lot of room. The perfect chance to build a standing desk.

Since we are planning to move in the near future, I decided to create something that I can use now as a computer desk and later as a book case. As you will see, there are a couple disadvantages to doing it this way. The advantage is that I can try it out, and if I don’t like it, I end up with a book case. If I do like it, I will be able to still turn this one into a book case and build an even better one later.

DIY Standing Desk FullThe biggest disadvantage is that a bookcase isn’t quite deep enough. Ideally you want your screen about 20-28″ away from your face.  Because a book case is only 12″ deep, my screen sits about 12″ away from my face. I think I can fix this by adding an extension to the keyboard/mouse shelf. Luckily, the screen I am currently using is very small and 12″ isn’t too bad. In fact, 20-28″ might be a little too far away.

I wanted to keep the design as clean as possible, so I used dowels and glue for the joints. This means that my shelves aren’t adjustable. I recommend that you choose a way to make your shelves adjustable. You may find that the shelves shouldn’t go where you thought they should (my computer was sitting to high when I first tested it). Adjustable shelves will also allow multiple people to use the desk.

How I Built it

I had two main goals with this desk/bookshelf. First was price. I didn’t want to spend very much since this would be a tester desk. No reason to spend a lot of money and then hate it. The second was future usability. This would only be used temporarily as a desk, and for much longer as a bookshelf.


There are a number of types of prebuilt shelves you can buy that will work just as good as this. The reason I decided to build my own was cost and aesthetics. I’m not a big fan of particle wood.

  • 3- 1″ x 12″ x 6′ wooden boards
  • wood screws or wooden dowels

I had Home Depot cut one of the boards lengthwise into 4 even pieces to become the legs and the other two pieces cut in half to become the shelves. I measured out where I wanted to put the shelves, drilled the holes, installed the dowels, and then glued it all together. Pretty simple. It’s not perfect, but it works for now. I will put a clear protective coat over it once I have had a chance to sand it.

Altogether the supplies cost about $40.

What would I do differently

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not quite deep enough. It really needs to be about 24-30″ to make this work with a larger screen. I think I could make this current design work, by adding a slide out piece for the keyboard and mouse. I also think I would go a little bit wider. I often work with two monitors and that might get a little tight in this space.

The other thing I would add is a “wrap around” for more desk space. A place for writing and filling out documents, and maybe someplace to put a drink..

Other than that, I am actually quite pleased with it.

Alternate Idea

I enjoy working with my hands and really wanted to make something. If you wanted something more simple, and something that will still be usable later, then I think a heavy duty storage rack will work great. The shelves are adjustable, they have a smooth shelves, and they come with decent dimensions (though maybe a little too shallow). If you don’t like the desk, use can still use the shelving in your garage or pantry.

Alternative DIY Standing Desk

Sitting or standing

It’s still too early to tell. So far though, I really like it. Leaving and returning to the desk is much easier and it does seem to keep me more active. Not that I am leaving my computer more often, but I do tend to move around more. When I do have to leave the desk however, it is easier to get back to work.

The first day my legs were a little tired, but I seem to be getting used to it now. I am sure that my posture is much better.

DIY Desk Using Pallets

If you want a simple, cheap, DIY sit down desk, check out this desk I made a while back out of pallets. I think the whole thing cost me about $25.

DIY Computer Desk




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