My Custom Coffee Tumbler – Spring 2013



Spring is almost upon us here in Tokyo so I thought that it was time to move on from winter and embrace spring. To reflect this I have designed a new grande cup liner for my custom coffee tumbler to add a bit more of a spring feel. I have also designed a tall size version for those with tall size cups. Although I am not super fond of pink it really did work best as the background for the most popular spring flower here: 桜 (Japanese cherry). To tell the truth, I think we have more cherry blossoms in my hometown in Canada than one would typically see in Tokyo, but people in Japan tend to associate cherry blossoms with being a very Japanese thing and the strongest association with the coming of spring. As they tend to bloom here for not much more than a week in each area it can be a bit of a briefly dramatic spectacle. It is a nice time to go to Shinjuku Gyouen (新宿御苑) on a weekday and have a picnic, shoot some photos and relax. Go to a local park on the weekend and you will be lucky if you can sit down never mind picnic.

I think that by the time cherry blossoms have come and gone I will be happy to do another cup design that is not quite so pink 😉

Update: By printing it on 和紙 (Japanese traditional paper) that is slightly off-white I have managed to make it look a bit more classic and a lot less pink!

My Custom Coffee Tumbler – Winter 2012

Shiro Winter 2012 GrandeWhen I go to Starbucks (one of the few consistently non-smoking coffee establishments in Japan that serves decent straight iced tea) I tend to prefer to use my own tumbler, both for the discount and for its ability to hold liquid at temperature a bit longer than thin PET. Over the years I have had a few of these cups but as they were all plastic they tended not to be as effective at holding temperature as the stainless tumbler I had and I was always a bit torn which to use. Enter the stainless-core design-my-own-tumbler. This summer Starbucks in Japan started to sell my dream custom tumbler.

I picked one up and have been using it since fall. As the weather has moved into winter it was time to replace the falling leaves motif I went with for the fall months with something more season appropriate. Yesterday I designed, printed and prepared my winter tumbler (Shiro Snowflake version 2012). The dog (Shiro) design is one I did a number of years ago and still use on occasion in a variety of applications. Pretty nice, eh?

Steve Jobs has passed away

Whether one is a Mac fanboy, a anti-Mac hater or somewhere in-between it is hard to challenge the success that Steve Jobs had in his life. Being an innovator who knew to support other innovators, Steve was one to often surprise the world. From game-changing products to media, his ability to create and repackage things to capture the imagination of the world led him to become one of the best known CEO’s in history, both loved and hated. How many other leaders of industry have been mourned in such a way after they have passed on? His loss has not passed without remark; from the person-on-the-street to the president of the United States kind words have been said in many languages around the world. The things he created give the world another small piece of common ground. Perhaps this is the most important legacy of his life and career.

Steve Jobs will be missed.

First Plant in the Apartment: Everfresh Tree (Pithecellobium Confertum)

2011-05-30 at 13-14-06

Well, having a plant or two has always been an essential part of feeling at home in any place that I have lived, but until this weekend the room was feeling a bit barren. Luckily, this weekend we got the first houseplant for our new place. Having fallen in love with this type of tropical tree the first time I saw one, I was pretty determined to get it eventually but recently they have been harder and harder to find in stores and have gone up in price. Luckily, we found one at a flower shop this weekend while shopping for some kitchen goods and managed to get a nice one for a pretty good price. Carrying it home was a bit of a challenge but much better than paying 50% over the price of the plant to have it shipped!

It is a good plant for the place I am living in now as it prefers indirect sunlight. My place is not dark by any means, but only gets direct sun in the morning. I will have to be careful to keep it well watered as it tends to get pests and wilt if it dries out for too long. At least it is easy to tell when it is a bit dry as it will keep the leaves closed even during the day to conserve moisture (it closes its leaves from evening to morning which is kind of interesting, not unlike a prayer plant). It has to be fertilized with Magamp once a month from April to October, and with Hyponex every few weeks so it is a bit demanding, but that is not unusual with flowering tropical trees.

I hope that it will last a good many years, but I have had fairly bad luck with plants in Japan and destructive pests. I hope that by keeping it properly watered and fertilized it can stave off its enemies on its own!

I have put together a set of English care instructions for Everfresh Trees here as it is very hard to find info in English.

Sitting by the fire

No matter how high-tech and efficient life seems to get, nothing really seems to replace the feeling of sitting in front of a fire and relaxing. Whether making love or loving a book, a more comfortable place to do those activities is hard to image. Central heating or space heaters just can’t replace the experience. Although it is true that I might just be sentimental as it is an increasingly rare experience, I believe that it is more fundamental than that. Our link to fire goes back a long way and I can see no reason why we should so quickly lose such a long relationship due to quick progress in heating technology. In truth, I hope we never do lose the ability to appreciate the simple things as we embrace the future.

My Daily Courier Bag 2.0: Timbuk2 Custom Messenger

New Small BagFor the second time, I have bought a small Timbuk2 courier bag for daily use. My last custom built Timbuk2 survived 3 years of daily use in many conditions, and I expect the new one to last even longer. Hand-built in San Francisco to order, they do not seem to suffer from any build quality issues. My last one only had to be retired because the primary fabric I chose for it was more fancy that durable, but at 3 years I think it did pretty well. I have several other Timbuk2 bags for riding and for my laptop, but I generally prefer a small one for daily use. Carrying my street camera, iPad, a light jacket, snacks and sunglasses, I generally feel ready for pretty much any daily situation.

Why a courier bag? Some of us are too hot to always wear jackets, too moderate or fashionable to always wear large pocket combat-style cargos, and not willing to carry everything in hand all the time. Actually, the main reason I switched to courier bags is that they are easy to commute with, whether on a train, a bus, on foot or on a bicycle. They are pretty useful.

Well, here’s hoping that the new bag holds on for at least as long as the old one!

Quiet Sunday

Here I am at Starbucks reading a book and relaxing again. When you don’t have any real plans, it is raining out and you don’t have any friends, why not settle into a comfy chair, put your feet up in front of a fire and enjoy reading a book. I know that chances for these free moments in life are to be valued, and I do try to enjoy them. Surrounded by like-minded, anonymous face-less strangers it is oddly comfortable. It is not the same as having people I care about close, but there is a certain simple happiness in sharing anonymity with others. I guess that we really are social creatures. It is hard to imagine another social ape sitting around surrounded by other unrelated apes and feeling at peace.

Around me, people smiling, laughing, reading, drinking, sleeping, eating, thinking and crying. It is interesting to see so many different lives inter-lapping in a small cafe. People who think that cities are cold, soul-less places should just take a look around and see the amazing orchestrated complexity that is urban life.