Kris' Blog - the world according to a vegan, skateboarding, taiko nut

Recent book reviews — February 2015

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


Kris’ last blog post

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Today, Shoji and Maz have asked me to step down from On Ensemble and I have conceded.

Although I am sad to go, I have only fond memories our 14 years together and feel no ill will to them. I very much hope we can continue to work together where the opportunity arises.

(In the coming weeks I’ll find a new place to blog about the random, wacky things I get myself into. Speaking of which, Hiro and I are moving this month, but just down the street. 2015 is all change!)

Thank you to Yoshihiko Miyamoto and the wonderful staff of Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten who have supported On Ensemble from the beginning in 2001… even when it included me, a total newbie to taiko.

Thank you to the FoundatiOn Team whose donations made so many of our Works in Progress concerts and audio recordings possible.

Thank you to all our fans and friends who encouraged me through the crazy compositions, crazy tours, and crazy fun.

Thank you!

Recent book reviews — January 2015

Saturday, January 17th, 2015


Kris starting two new taiko groups

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Now recruiting inaugural members

I’m really excited about two new taiko groups I’m starting at LATI: Mochi Mochi and Matsuri Crashers. If you’re interested in a taiko challenge in 2015, let me know!


About Mochi Mochi

Mochi Mochi is a rice-pounding and taiko performing group developing a 30-minute performance for debut in December 2015, and with the goal of regular, public performance. Practices will involve beta and naname nagado taiko forms, plus small-drum technique, ensemble togetherness, and timing. Musical challenges range from accessible to advanced, with individual roles tailored for growth. The long-term vision of Mochi Mochi is to utilize the “mochitsuki” tradition of rice pounding as a compelling, artistic structure for sharing music, culture, food, and fun.


About Matsuri Crashers

Matsuri Crashers tackle the high-bar of slant-drum soloing, and encompass the Rock Solids base-beat crew who support the soloists. Using lighthearted competition inspired by the hip-hop world, Matsuri Crashers host “battles” where players go head-to-head and the audience votes. Weekly practices teach new moves and improvisation with guided individual practice. Members can focus on slant-drum development or small-drum jiuchi, and all members learn the challenging battle structures. Fast-paced and demanding, Matsuri Crashers is seeking advanced players.

Kris’ carbon tally for 2014

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

In April of last year, I laid out my plan to reduce my CO2 production, from 16.9 tons in 2013 to 2 tons by 2023. My budget was 10.5 tons for 2014 and I’m pleased to say, I came in well under that, at 6.2 tons! Still far from a sustainable level, but a huge improvement for me!

2014 CO2 production from travel

Purpose Notes CO2 (in tons) Offset
Jun Japan trip LAX –> HND 1.9 2014/12/24
HND <-> KUM 0.2 2014/12/24
Jul England trip HND –> LON 2.1 2014/12/24
LON –> LAX 2.0 2014/12/24
Dec Vermont trip LAX <-> BBF cancelled
TOTAL — 6.2

If you’re concerned about climate change, I thoroughly recommend this 10-year plan! It lets you start from where you are, measure your improvements, and see progress. Throughout last year when I took courses on climate change and read the most recent studies, I was continually relieved to have the plan. Scientists’ warnings about climate change are growing more dire. We need to reduce our CO2 by 10 percent per year if we’re going to avoid committing the earth to more than 2 degrees warming. For me, the 10-year plan makes the task clear and manageable. Join me!

CoMotion Americano Rohloff: first 4000 miles on an $8000 bike

Sunday, December 28th, 2014


In November of 2012, I gave up my car and committed to riding my bike. Although the transition was much easier than expected, I quickly came to understand the limitations of my hand-me-down bicycle. The gear range of my Schwin Tempo road bike was too limited for hill climbing and I would regularly break spokes when weighed down with my gear. My internet search for a new bicycle began with, “best touring bicycle”, plus a list of the dream parts: “Rohloff Speedhub, Gates Carbon drive, disc brakes”. One bike in particular looked perfect: the Co-Motion Americano Rohloff. So on New Year’s 2014, Hiro and I made our way to Eugene OR to see the factory and meet the people at Co-Motion.




Radiddlepa composition stats

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

My new year’s resolution for 2014 was to write Radiddlepa. Composition is difficult for me, but for whatever reason Radiddlepa went fairly smoothly and I debuted the piece in Devon, England in July. The resolution worked!

I wrote Radiddlepa over the course of an 8-month period, during which I practiced almost exclusively tsukeshime, including lots of experimentation with new sounds and techniques. I’d search until I found a rhythm or technique I liked, I’d record it on video or audio, set it aside, and then continue searching. Once I had a large set of recordings, I then grouped them together based on the bachi (or lack of bachi) required; both hands, one hand and one “take” (bamboo) bachi, one “take” and one mallet, two “ho” (magnolia) bachi, two “hinoki” (cypress), one “take” and one “hinoki” in one hand and a mallet in the other, etc. These groupings became the rough sections of the piece and from here I enjoyed a long stretch of very technical practice, trying to figure out how to get between the sections and what was indeed possible to perform. The final stretch involved structural practice and struggling to improve the still-finicky techniques.

During all this, I carefully labeled every chunk of my practice, so I now have a record of how many minutes I spent practicing Radiddlepa, from inception to debut. For the first time with this composition, I know how many hours of drum time it took to write the piece. These hours don’t include the time composing on paper or reviewing and organizing video footage, probably about equal to the time on the drum.

Here are the stats.

Start date — Oct 13, 2013
Debut — July 6, 2014
Days of practice involving Radiddlepa prior to debut — 109
Total hours on drum prior to debut — 166.85
Average hours per practice session — 1.5
Total “idea recordings” from experimentation phase — 114

When I first tallied the total, I was surprised it’s not more than 166.85 hours. Although that’s a big chunk of time, considering it was completed over an 8-month period, it doesn’t seem like much. And looking at my 10,000 hours of practice graph (below), Radiddlepa doesn’t even register.

This tells me that the limiting factor to my daily practice hours is something more fundamental than practice topic or inspiration. Even when totally committed to an exciting new project, I average about an hour a day of drum time. To be honest, it feels like that might be the limit of my creativity. Beyond about an hour a day (and the other hour or two of research/prep/planning time required to make that hour effective), I run out of ideas for how to get better. It will be interesting to see if I can become more creative toward this end in 2015. Perhaps another new year’s resolution?


DIY 13-roll toilet paper dispenser

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The 13-roll toilet paper holder I made has been upgraded. It’s now a dispenser!

It was fun to figure out how to support the rolls stacked above while dropping a new roll into position. I found a solution involving three pegs and five holes. I worked out an explanation with five steps, a diagram, and letters, and planned to make a placard that I’d attach to the dispenser. Upon trying the new roll switch for the first time, however, I realized it’s much more fun to not have any instructions and to treat it like a puzzle.

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