In & Over My Head

I’m about to sit in on a Coloft Academy class called Elasticsearch, An Introduction. As it’s title suggests, it’s a class that introduces you to Elasticsearch, a “flexible and powerful open source, distributed real-time search and analytics engine for the cloud.” Long story short, I’m pretty lost already.

Other students of this class include the CTO of DocStoc, and devs from Science and Demand Media. Definitely going to be lost…

In my experience though, pushing your limits is a great way to speed up learning. I assume I’ll be completely lost during this class, and perhaps a few years later I’ll remember this class and notice how far I’ve come along.

Mostly, I’m writing this blog post so I can type up all the words I don’t understand:

  • “Clustered” database
  • Dynamo
  • Riak
  • Cassandra
  • Lucene – a set of Java libraries to perform search
  • NFS
  • top-level namespace
  • “clustering”
  • boolean filters

Huh, surprisingly I was able to follow most of the class. Baller.

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The Heartfelt College Application Letter That Got Me Into College (Unedited).

I recently dug up my college application letter that got me into Claremont McKenna College. This was written by an 18 year old Yohei, and 8 years later, I must say I’m surprised at how consistent I’ve been. Please excuse my writing, I had just spent three years at a high school in Japan and my english had deteriorated quite a bit.

Definitely read the signature at the bottom, it’s the most ridiculous part of the application letter.

Dear people that are going to read this letter,

My name is Yohei Nakajima. I was raised in a Japanese family of four; I have one younger brother. After moving to Seattle at the age of two, I spent thirteen years of my life there until I moved to Japan for the last 3 years of high school. The reason I moved to Japan was because my parents wanted me to have some sort of Japanese education before I decided a country in which to go to college to. While many students had trouble deciding a college within the United States, I was first faced with two big choices, whether to go to college in Japan or in the United States. Since all of my friends from high school are moving onto college in Japan, it was a hard decision, but I decided that I would like to continue my education in the United States. Japan is a very college-conscious society, and people are based on the college they go to, and not how hard they study there. This results in many Japanese college students to party for four years. I believe that I know myself well, and I knew it would make it a lot easier for me to study when surrounded by peers with high aspirations.

When people ask me why I chose Claremont McKenna College, I tell them “love at first sight.”

After convincing my parents, who wanted me to go to a Japanese college, to visit American colleges with me, I spent a spring and a summer to visit over 15 college on both the east and west coast. I was looking for a small college where I could get to know everybody very well. I was looking for a college far enough from the city that people would stay on campus, but close enough to go on the weekends. I was looking for a college where students were there to study, but ready to have fun. I was looking for a college that would give me chances to meet people that would have a positive effect on me. I had an extremely specific idea of the college I wanted to spend four years at. I didn’t think any college would fit my idea of an “idea college”, but I was wrong. When people ask me why I chose Claremont McKenna College, I tell them “love at first sight.” It was no question. I had actually fallen in love with the campus and the atmosphere.

In the future, I am looking to be an entrepreneur.

In the future, I am looking to be an entrepreneur. I was thinking about dual majoring in economics and legal studies. I want to meet people I could work with after college, and I want to become close friends with many of these people. My academic strengths are in the math and sciences but learning those subjects and the jobs in those subjects did not appeal to me. This is one of the reasons I am choosing entrepreneurship for my future, because I would always start a company that had to do with technology, and I thought my strength could help me there. Through the people I meet, and through the many subjects I study at CMC, I hope to find an interest, which I may later continue as an entrepreneur.

I am confident that I will lead one of the most fun, most educational, and most fulfilling college life that anybody has ever lead.

I do not have any concerns for college, and I am confident that I will lead one of the most fun, most educational, and most fulfilling college life that anybody has ever lead. My only expectation from college is to be part of my great college life. I hope to become a leading member of the college and be one of the most involved students with the college.

People value many things in life, and I happen to value happiness the most. I consider myself to be one of the happiest people in the world, I have always been this way, and plan to stay this way.

I consider myself to be very “go with the flow” kind of person. I keep my goals extremely high, but I keep my expectations extremely low. This allows me to work hard and keep trying, but to stay happy. People value many things in life, and I happen to value happiness the most. I consider myself to be one of the happiest people in the world, I have always been this way, and plan to stay this way. I see the best things in life, and ignore all the bad things in life. Although many people would think of this as ignorant, I would have to ask those people why being ignorant is bad if it can keep you happy. I truly believe in the phrase “ignorance is bliss” from the Matrix, but this does not mean I do not have aspiration. There are many things in life that still motivate me to grow to my potential, which I believe is extremely high (Note: I am full of myself, and extremely aware of it, but I love myself for it, and it makes me happy).

…we have become engaged…We both also understand that it may not work and in that case we shall both go on with life.

One of the things that motivate me is something I would like to share. She is a girl I met in my years at Japan and is extremely important to me. Although we both understand it may seem hasty, we have become engaged. She will spend four years of college in Japan while I study at CMC, and she plans to move to the United States after that. Although we both understand that in most cases a four year long term relationship does not work, we are going to try. We both also understand that it may not work and in that case we shall both go on with life. With Akane in my life, I believe I will be able to concentrate on my studying and social life. I’m going to make and assumption that I am the only person to write about the fiancé in their introduction letter, so you can tell how much she means to me.

this is something people will figure out quickly, and something people will not forget: I love everybody.

Now if I may, I want to make one last point that I am actually a very fun guy. I wasn’t sure if this introduction letter was a formal one or not, so I decided to go ahead and try to write a formal letter. My writing is something I know I must work on. It has never been my strong point, and living in Japan for three years didn’t help too much. Oh, this is actually going to be my last point, and this is something people will figure out quickly, and something people will not forget: I love everybody.

Yes, I love you too, and I can’t wait to see you,

Your loving friend,


PS: I really can’t wait to start college at CMC.

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Life Is Beautiful

Early Morning: 15 minutes of yoga, 20 minute bike ride, made & ate breakfast (omelet & banana)!

I was looking at my new year’s resolutions yesterday and realized that some simple activities would tackle multiple resolutions. For example, “stress less about small things” and “maintain an awesome body” (read: work out more) can be knocked out with a little yoga and bike ride in the morning. Cooking and eating breakfast is also something that always makes my whole day better. Not for the first time, I decide these are things I’ll do more often.

Late Morning: Set up classes for tech entrepreneurs!

I’m looking forward to the classes coming up at Coloft Academy. I can’t deny that there are still difficulties I’m facing with growing the program, but I’m noticeably improving across the board with my job. Today, both owners of Coloft (Avesta & Cam) came in, which is basically enough to make my day – they’re both so awesome.

Lunch: Big group lunch!

Our monthly lunch where the members of the shared workspace I work for eat lunch together that we order from Z Garden. The fact that we always get Z Garden is now a running joke (I guess there used to be more variety?), but I love that it’s turning into a comfort food I associate with Coloft.

Afternoon: Listening and giving feedback to pitches!

Half-way through the 5-week tech accelerator program we’re doing with the high school kids. Today, they did a practice pitch for the first time, and both teams did great. The students in the program, the organizers, and David (who teaches with me) are all great to work with. Definitely makes me wonder if teaching is something I’d want to get into.

Early Evening: Group Bowling!

Well, that was fun. Throwing heavy balls across a room, knocking things down. Definitely slightly disappointed that I was stood up (?) by a really cute girl I was hoping to get to know better, but everything happens for a reason. Bonding with work friends outside of work is fun, I should do that more often. Bowling is also awesome, everyone should do it more often.

Late Evening: ~*~Spiritual gathering~*~

My friend Snap Chatted me the picture of a squiggly colorful light thing that seemed to float in the air. On my drive home, I see this squiggly light against a window of a place called The Source. Feeling drawn to it, I park my car and walk up to the window on the second story. I meet a guy named Nate who invites me to the Source Cafe downstairs, and met some people with great energy including an amazing raw food chef (I should say supposedly since I didn’t actually try his food yet, but I will soon). I step outside after a bit and notice the door to the upstairs open (it wasn’t earlier) and step into a gorgeous space that was once a christian church, then a hari krishna church, and now a multi-faith spiritual community center. My friend is there to introduce me to his friends (they’d just finished a 2 hour meditation session), and I decide I’ll try out their Sunday/Wednesday meditation sessions sometime soon.

Nighttime: Write & relax…

Wrote this up. Not trying to proofread, just wanted to share my wonderful day with anybody who his might energize. Now I’m going to snack a little more, and chiiiiill, before I go to bed.

Good night!

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Santa Monica Youth Tech Academy: Day 1 of Week 2

I know this is kind of jumping ahead because I didn’t document anything from the first week of the 5-week Santa Monica Youth Tech Program that I’m teaching this summer. But as part of today’s exercise, we had all the students type non-stop for 5 minutes. This was what I wrote up.

We had an awesome first day for the second week of the Santa Monica Youth Tech Program. Although I would have loved to continue covering customer development (which is what we did last week), due to the objectives of the course (to have them understand the different roles/functions of a startup), we have to move onto design this week.

For the first class, I spent the first half talking about design jobs in the tech startup world. I explained to them that design is increasingly becoming focused on the people using a product, aka UX. Looking at various job titles and median incomes it became clear to them that “graphic design” is only a small portion of the design world. Today, the best paid designers know UI/UX and even front-end development that makes them valuable.

For the second half of the class, we had Ben Fathi come in and talk about his experience as a designer, what he loves about it, and how he got into it. He then dove into a basic Photoshop tutorial and had each student do a web site mock up using layers, guides, clipping masks, and other functions he finds himself using. Because he’s been doing this for so long (and does a great job at it!), I knew the students would learn specifically the features of Photoshop that a designer actually uses (Photoshop has a lot of features and mastering all of them would take too long to fit into this course).

I’m very excited to have Chris Brereton from Picture Healing come in tomorrow and introduce them to Illustrator tomorrow. Considering these kids are building civic tech startups, I think it’ll be awesome for them to hear about his experience building a social enterprise focused on tech, the pivot he’s gone through, etc.

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Why You Should Trust the Government

It seems today that many people don’t trust the government, and for a good reason I guess. However, I’d like to propose that we do trust the government. Why? Because by not trusting the government and telling others not to, you’re making matters worse.

The government, while it has many flaws, is set up so that problems can be fixed. But many of the problems we see today aren’t simply a problem with the government, but rooted in problems with our society. In a democracy, people run the government.

What we need to do is to trust the government and believe that we can work with today’s systems to solve today’s problems. Like with any conflict (in this case between citizens and the government), the best way to solve problems is to develop trust, open communication, and work on a solution together.

Like with any change, this will be slow and difficult. But trust me when I say it’s easier to convince people (in this case the government) to make changes if they believe you have their best interest at heart. So don’t hate on the government.

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This is my legacy.

There are few defining moments in your life; I had one in college. It was in the Spring of 2007, I was the elected Social Activities Committee Chair at CMC, and was thinking back at party themes from my freshman year. I remembered the Pirate vs Ninja party vividly.

It was at night, and there was one inflatable pirate ship. About a third of the people were dressed as pirates and the everyone else was wearing all black. I liked somethings about the party, like dressing up as a pirate. I didn’t like other parts of the party, like the cop out ninja costumes (few were really cool).

That was the moment I decided to kill off the ninjas, and go all in on pirate. The pirate party would be a celebration of free will, nature, and camaraderie. It would start during the day. We would have not one, but two pirate ships (otherwise, how could we battle?). We would pre-fill 200 water balloons and hide them in trash cans until the battle mid-way through. We would have plenty of eye patches, bandanas, and temporary tattoos for the people who won’t put effort into dressing up.

That spring, all of this happened and more. 7 years later, it continues to be an annual party. The Pirate Party is my legacy.

You have no idea how happy that makes me, I put so much love, effort and thought into this party for three years. A big thank you to this year’s students who captured the party’s essence:

Here’s a time lapse from 2012.

Other random facts:

  • For the last two years, invitations to this party were extended to all alumni through the school’s alumni association.
  • The first two years, it was in the middle of North Quad. The slip and slide was added the third year when it moved to Green Beach.
  • The first few years, too many guys enjoyed wearing eye liner (including myself).
  • Not ready to grow up, I continue to host Pirate Parties in LA (haven’t in a while…).
  • One of those was on a boat out of Marina Del Rey called the Tiki Mermaid.
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Productivity Methods & Techniques

There are a number of what’s called productivity methods. The Pomodoro Technique is a personal productivity method that is very popular. Agile software development is a set of methodologies used by teams, very popular in the tech industry. Productivity methods are used to increase production, both in speed and quality. Common themes focus on better estimation of time spent on tasks, increased focus for short amounts of time, knowing what to work on at any moment in time (better organization), and better communication (for teams).

I’m considering trying many of these methods and documenting the experience. I’d like to be able to help people better understand which ones suit them well, because I’m … paradox of choice.

I have a few techniques I’ve developed for myself. They’re mostly things I’ve tried to remove stress from my life.

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Coacheller 2013


Saudade is a Portugese word that describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It’s how I feel for sometimes week after returning from Coachella.

My favorite thing about Coachella is being surrounded by almost a hundred thousand people living in the moment. I think that’s why I like camping, because these are the thousand of people who can truly be in that state for three days straight. Because when you’re camping, your crew, your food, the place you sleep is all within the Coachella grounds. You have no concern of what’s happening outside of the Coachella. Try keeping your phone off for a few days, which is what I do during these festivals, the experience is therapeutic.

I enjoy the music at Coachella not because I get to hear my favorite artists, but because I come to love the music I hear there. The artists I love more because of this trip are: Dillon Francis, Wolfgang Gartner, the XX, Phoenix, Knife Party, Booka Shade, Pretty Lights, Hardwell, Wu Tang, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. There are of course other artist I really enjoyed, but those are the artist that stuck with me, in part because of their music, but largely because of the specific experience (people I was with, atmosphere, temperature, lighting, etc.).

Also, we partied with some 40 year olds awesome people from Idaho camping next to us who gave me a first place ribbon for always dancing and put me up on their website, #awesome



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