Koenji, the world and elsewhere

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If your company is named S’well, your product shouldn’t suck.

I first came across S’well bottles three years ago, in a retail shop by Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station. I liked the look of them and they made big claims:

HARD WORKING Triple-walled Therma-S’well technology keeps beverages cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 12, and maintains a condensation-free exterior.

Seeing as I was in the market for a new tumbler (as they’re called in Japan), S’well was on my radar. However, the bottles were ¥6,000 (~$60 USD) so it wasn’t exactly an impulse buy.

A month later, while visiting BC, I came across them again, in the Capilano Suspension Bridge gift shop. They were a steal at $45. Canadian!

I bought it.

I was happy with it. For a very short amount of time.

Firstly, It kept my water cold. Granted, I never kept it filled long enough to see if it would do so for 24 hours.

It also kept my coffee hot. But I typically drink my coffee within an hour. However, the occasion soon came when I had my coffee for a few hours, and I quickly realized S’well’s 12-hour hot promise is complete bullshit.

Oh well, what did I expect from New York marketing? I’d just have to drink my coffee quicker.

Then came S’well’s real Fuck You moment. Less than a month after purchasing my $45 water bottle, I dropped it.

From waist level. (ie: about 3-feet.)

Its fancy beveled bottom dented and it was never able to stand up again. Actually, it could technically stand, but would fall over if a mosquito flew past it. I put it down on a Starbucks table and it fell over all on its own, putting a huge dent in its lid.

The bottle may as well be made out of papier-mâché.

So, I contacted S’well Customer Service.

The cheerily told me to take it up with the retailer. Because, it empowers the stores. Not because it absolves S’well of any responsibility.

Don’t you love it when Customer Service doesn’t solve your problem, then signs off with something like this?

Have a great rest of the day!
S’well Engagement Team

I replied that I bought it in Vancouver, but live in Tokyo. He told me they can’t ship to Japan. (I guess the bottles they sell here are grown on trees at the foot of Mt. Fuji.)

He then gave me this helpful tip.

You can always attempt to make an exchange through your local retailer, but I honestly don’t believe they will give you a new S’well.

Fuck. You.

Fed up and furious, I put back in its precious cylindrical box and put on the top shelf of the cupboard, where I keep the useless things I’ve yet to throw out. (Too bad they didn’t put as much effort into the product as they did the packaging. It’s a really nice box.)

I then bought a Zojirushi tumbler for ¥2,000 (~$20 USD) on Amazon. It’s not as pretty as my S’well junk, but it’s got an easy one-hand pop-top and can take a beating. It’s gone smashing into the road while cycling, been on countless hikes, rides, and excursions, and dropped countless times over the past three years, and it keeps on working.

Sure, it’s got a few scratches, but it can stand up.

Oh, and it keeps coffee scorching hot for hours.


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My “Japanada” Flag Misunderstood as Socialist

Six years ago (this week in fact) I designed an image for the Wikipedia user template Canadian Living in Japan. It created a hybrid of two flags: The National Flag of Canada and the Rising Sun Flag (旭日旗 Kyokujitsu-ki) of the Japanese Navy. I uploaded this “Flag of Japanada” to Wikipedia under the auspices of the Creative Commons, granting “any entity the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.”

Today, I discovered that in January 2008 someone had uploaded my image to some social/humour/gaming website called, describing it as “The New Socialist Canadian Flag.” I gather the user doesn’t know much about socialism or politics or Japan, but it was mildly entertaining for me to see it posted there.

Japanada Flag

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The Last Lazysupper

The Last Lazysupper

The Last Lazysupper

As I got too busy with work and other things, I got quite negligent of my online commitments.

And unfortunately I allowed my original domain name (which is now a parked domain by some misguided entrepreneur) and web hosting account to slip away.

With that, I lost five years of extremely insightful blogging. And a lot of stupid stuff. And it’s rather sad, actually.

Fortunately, some of it can still be found on the Way Back Machine at the Internet Archive and I may repost a few up here once in a while.

So for the time being I’ll settle in here at and post intermittently as always.