When in Scotland

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a couple talks at the University of Edinburgh. I was invited over by Michael Clouser of the Edinburgh-Stanford Link program. My talks were on starting an Internet company in the 21st century and on utilizing blogs and wikis for business. I had a great time and met a lot of great people.

While there, I was invited to a formal dinner for entrepreneurs at the Edinburgh castle. I was

given the option of wearing a traditional tuxedo, or going with a kilt. Of course I had to choose the kilt. As an American, I had never had the opportunity to wear a kilt. It was a lot of fun, and quite warm. There are a surprising number of parts to a kilt outfit, and it took about 20 minutes (with help) to put the entire thing on. Interestingly, when you walk through Edinburgh wearing a kilt, people will ask if they can take your picture. Unfortunately, they were always disappointed to learn that I was an American. But that didn’t stop them from taking the picture.

Also while in Edinburgh, I had the opportunity to try a traditional Scottish delicacy. I am referring to a deep-fried Mars Bar candy bar. It was a wholly unique experience. The chocolate was warm and gooey, and then there was the breading and the oil. I’m not exactly sure why I bothered going with a Diet Coke for this particular meal.

Tokyo, Part The End

I returned from Tokyo on Friday and am now somewhat back on West Coast time. Which is just great, as I’m hoping on a plane in a couple of hours to NYC for the Syndicate Conference, where I’m moderating a panel on Wednesday. The rest of my time in Tokyo was great. I can’t wait to return; luckily enough I’ll be back there in late June.
For another post on our Tokyo trip, along with some pictures, see Jim Lanzone’s post over on the Ask Blog. In what is clearly going to be a date-limiting move on my part (who says I won’t do anything for a laugh?), here’s what happens when you put a box of Beard Papa in front of me:
Ate My Beard Papa

Tokyo Part Deux

Yesterday we had the big press conference. It was a very interesting experience. We were at the auditorium at 9:30am, even though the press conference didn’t start until 1pm. We did a couple of walk throughs and met with the translators to go over our presentations. Soon enough it was time for lunch and soon after that the press conference began. I would say close to 100 reporters attended, and I think it went very well. All told, it lasted a little over 2 hours. At the end, we were asked to stand on stage while the reporters took our picture. You can see this in this report on the conference (English translation).
After the press conference, we had a couple of hours to kill, so we walked around Shibuya. I got to experience the wonders of Beard Papa, which is the name of a small stand by the train station that sells cream puffs. It was the best Beard Papa I’ve ever had, and no, I never thought I’d ever type that sentence.
Soon enough it was time to head over to Ask Jeeves Japan, and then off to dinner with the entire office. The dinner was great, and very entertaining. We each had to get up and give a speech. After each speech, the group asked us questions. Everybody in the office was really nice, and we had a lot of fun.
Lunch today was with Masataka Okuda, President of Transcosmos, the company that owns half of Ask Jeeves Japan. It was at Chen, a Szechwan restaraunt here in the hotel. The chef at Chen is one of the Iron Chefs from the TV show, and it was one of the best Chinese meals I’ve ever had. Traveling to Japan has been very bad for my waistline.


I arrived in Tokyo Saturday afternoon (It’s Monday afternoon as I type this). I’m more or less over the jetlag, which actually wasn’t that bad, and I’ve been playing tourist. I’ve never been to Asia before, and Tokyo is an amazing city. The Yamanote train line circles the city, so it’s easy to get around. Yesterday, I did the full circle on the train, walked around Shinjuku and then walked around Shibuya, where my hotel is. Today, I went to central Tokyo and walked around the Ginza area. I then took the train a couple of stops to Akihabara, where all the electronics shops are.
One neat thing I saw was over at the NHK Hall on Sunday. In a park, some 20 bands had set up and were playing. They ranged from acoustic duos to full on rock bands. The bands lined a road, on both sides, packed right next to each other, facing bands on the other side of the road. You think that’d just lead to a cacophony of noise, but somehow it worked.
I’m recovering from a cold, and this is a great town to do so. It seems like every other restaraunt is a noodle house. A noodle bowl is the perfect comfort food for getting over a cold.
My Treo doesn’t work here, but at least I’m able to use it as a camera. I didn’t bring my connector cable, so I’ll have to wait until I return to the states to upload the photos.
The weather is actually quite nice. It has drizzled once or twice, and is a bit hazy as I look out the window from my hotel room, but today I was wishing that I had brought a pair of shorts. The sun seems a bit more intense here for some reason.
Finally, I’ve noticed that there seem to be a rather large number of black crows here (the bird, not the band).
There is talk of having a blogger dinner here sometime this week before I leave on Friday, but I don’t know what my schedule is yet. If we’re able to figure something out, I’ll post a notice here.