Sunday, December 25, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Friday, November 18, 2005
Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old University of Notre Dame lecturer. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the lecturer went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, some plain looking and some expensive and exquisite, telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the lecturer said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the better cups and are eyeing each other's cups."
"Now, if Life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn't change. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it"
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Saturday, September 3, 2005
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
The Azabu-juban Noryo Matsuri (麻布十番納涼祭り) is back again!
About 1'000'000 people (more? less? I do not know, but they were a lot) crowed the streets.
In addition to the rows of old-timey night stalls set up by local shops, there were many entertaining programs such as festive music performance, traditional vaudeville and antique fair.
The famous international bazaar provided well-known products and special food of many countries supported by a number of embassies. Various events took place at the Stage 10 Bang, including street performance, samisen, jazz Hawaiian and charity concert.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Onioshidashi Park is an enormous stream of solidified lava formed by the eruption of Mt. Asama in 1783
The stones of parent and child (親子岩 - おやこいわ)
鬼押出し園 with 浅間山 (mount Asama) in the background
There is always place for an amusement park! ;-)
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Next to Himeji-jo, Matsumoto-jo (松本城) is the next best extant castle donjon in Japan. It is one of the most complete and beautiful among Japan's original castles. It is also a good example of a so called "hirajiro", a castle built on the plain rather than on a hill or mountain.
Built by Ishikawa Kazumasa and his son Yasunaga in 1590, Matsumoto-jo is designated a National Treasure. After Hideyoshi took Odawara he stationed Ishikawa Kazumasa in Matsumoto to govern his eastern provinces.
The history of Matsumoto-jo actually begins with a castle called Fukashi-jo which was built by Shimadachi Sadanaga in 1504. That castle was attacked and captured by Takeda Shingen in 1550.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
A powerful earthquake registering a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 struck northeastern Japan just before noon Tuesday, with at least 27 people reported injured in Miyagi Prefecture, and the temblor jolting extensive areas including Tokyo.
Reports of injuries include one person seriously injured and 14 others receiving slight injuries when the roof of a recently opened indoor pool in Sendai collapsed, the Sendai fire department said. There were 265 people in the pool at the time of the 11:46 a.m. earthquake. In total, at least 27 people had received treatment at hospitals in Miyagi Prefecture as of 1:30 p.m. following the quake, according to a tally compiled by Kyodo News.
The Japan Meteorological Agency initially announced the magnitude as 6.8, but revised it upward. It also warned of the possibility of an aftershock with an intensity of around upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 taking place within a month. The agency issued a tsunami warning and lifted it after waves reaching 10 centimeters high were observed on the coast of Ishinomaki, Miyagi, just after noon.
Town officials in Shizugawa in the same prefecture said a rise of 40 cm in sea level was recorded at the town's port but there were no injuries. The town has urged residents to prepare for evacuation. About 17,000 households in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were without electricity after the quake, Tohoku Electric Power Co. said. Operations at some nuclear power plants in Miyagi and Ibaraki prefectures, including the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi, automatically stopped when the quake struck. Several landslides have been reported in Miyagi Prefecture. Bullet train service on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line remains suspended but there were no reports of derailment or injuries. Train runs on the Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen lines are also suspended. The subway system in Sendai was temporarily shut down. The Tokaido, Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen lines had been suspended but soon resumed. A section of the Tohoku Expressway in Miyagi Prefecture was reopened after being closed off briefly. Runways at Narita and Haneda airports, which serve the Tokyo metropolitan area, were also temporarily closed.
The strong quake prompted the central government in Tokyo, the National Police Agency and the Ground Self-Defense Force to set up respective task forces to respond to quake damage, with the GSDF and Air Self-Defense Force dispatching helicopters to evaluate the conditions.
The government dispatched a team of officials to Miyagi Prefecture to assess the damage as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ordered his staff to do their best to gather information.
The quake originated in the Pacific about 80 kilometers off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture and took place at a thrust fault, the agency said. The focus was about 42 km below the surface of the sea. The Sendai weather observatory said Tuesday's temblor ''originated almost at the same spot as the 1978 (Miyagi) Earthquake but the magnitude was smaller than expected.'' It was referring to the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck Sendai and nearby areas in June 1978, which killed 28 and injured more than 10,000 people. Katsuyuki Abe, a professor at the University of Tokyo, said Tuesday's quake may be the big earthquake that experts have predicted would take place in the region. ''In terms of location and mechanism, this quake bears the features of the Miyagi earthquake scenario,'' Abe said.
A government panel said in January there is 99 percent likelihood a quake of magnitude 7 or above would hit the area within 30 years. Nine quakes of magnitude 6.4 or above, including the latest one, have occurred along the coast off Miyagi Prefecture since 1933. The town of Kawasaki in southern Miyagi Prefecture registered a lower 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, the meteorological agency said. The quake registered 4 on the scale in central Tokyo. An intensity of lower 6 is defined as being capable of damaging wall tiles and windowpanes in many buildings and where many people find it difficult to keep standing.
Monday, August 8, 2005
Monday, August 1, 2005
This is my favourite picture.
In this picture, and in a few others below, there is an interesting rippling effect. I think it was due to the combination of high zoom (200mm), long exposure time (F/9, 1.6 secs in the picture above), not so expensive tripod, and wind.
But I like the final result, the picture is more interesting ^_^
The terrace has one drawback, though. In fact, the wind was pushing the smoke in our direction, so that in the long sequences we got more smoke than fireworks. Despite of this, the picture above suggests clouds and rain, and I like it.
My 2nd best.
My 3rd best.
And you? Which pictures do you like most?
Saturday, July 30, 2005
The first public fireworks festival was held in 1733. The previous year, Japan suffered a great famine, during which more than 900,000 people starved to death. Cholera victims were dying in the street. To "comfort the souls of the dead and drive away pestilence," Shogun Yoshimune organized a fireworks display by the pyrotechnic Tamaya family, who duly set off 20 rockets along Sumida River and caused a sensation.
The competitive element was introduced when a splinter group of the Tamaya family, the Kagiya clan, set up a rival company in 1810 and used the Ryogoku Fireworks Festival as an opportunity to vie for supremacy. To this day, some spectators continue the practice of crying "Tamaya" or "Kagiya" with each fireworks burst.