Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wacky Wednesday: Origami Money お金の折り紙

Here's a funny little website I found on a fresh spin on origami. Hasegawa Yosuke uses internationl banknotes instead of traditional washi (和紙) paper. As you can see, his style is to whimsically isolate the face of whatever national figure is found on the note (nice hat
Khomeini!). Check out the website for more examples. I wish I could tell you more, but my computer didn't have support the particular Japanese font Hasegawa-san used on his site; so instead of gibberish I only partially understand, it was gibberish that noone could understand. Oh...and if that whet you appetite for far eastern paper folding techniques check out this New Yorker article on physicist-turned- origami master Robert Lang.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Foodie Fursday: Happy Belated Thanksgiving

Last weekend Kat and I whipped up a respectable Thanksgiving dinner, even though we had Chicken and ate it on a Saturday night; it’s the spirit that makes it Thanksgiving, right? Anywho, Kat handled most of the meal, while I played sous chef for the evening. Here’s what was on the menu:

Honey/Thyme/Apple brined chicken
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes with dill and carrots
Greek style braised grean beans
Carrot leek soup with thyme
Spiced persimmon brulee
Mulled apple cider

There were some successes: the potatoes and the cider were particularly popular, some things that fell short of the mark: the beans were a bit spicy and the chicken a bit salty, and some outright disasters: I still have the persimmon “brulee” in my fridge. In all though, the meal left me fat/content and stocked with leftovers that lasted me for the next few days. Oh…and to top it all off, we watched Elf while we dined. Not too shabby.

Prepped veggies

Rosemary that we may or may not have stolen from a bush outside the supermarket.

Kat stirrin' beans

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Things I like

1. Spoon
2. Tokyo
3. Amorphous dancing robots

Well what do ya know....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nara Deer

Some pictures of everyone's favorite map-eatin', camera-sniffin', hat-wearin', squealin' deer. If there was ever any question as to why these little scamps are considered sacred, observe:

Summer Vacation- My favorite Pics

Over the break my brother Ryan and my sister-in-law Lissa came to visit and explore the country. Here are some of my favorite photos from the first week.

Nanzen-ji, Kyoto

Imperial Palace, Tokyo

Mori Building, Roppongi, Tokyo

Moss Garden, Hakone

Tenryu-ji, Arashiyama, Kyoto

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Lord knows that, at any given time, I have a slew of movies I'm excited about. That being said....YES!!!

Watch the trailer

Friday, July 20, 2007


I'm surrounded on all sides by rice paddies. Why can't they be as cool as these? That's all I'm saying.

Click here to see more

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Don't Panic...

Typhoons, earthquakes, nuclear power plant leaks. All within 48 hours. Dare I say…”Yikes” But, like the title suggests, I’m still here and in one piece. The typhoon was pretty tame by the time it got up north. That’s pretty typical around these parts; nothing flashy, just abnormally rainy and windy. The earthquake was more of the same. Although it took place only 150 miles away, I didn’t even feel the quake, though maps suggest that I should have. I did, however, feel a pretty hearty aftershock about 12 hours later. Again, nothing terror inducing, just enough to get my attention. Take a peek at the maps- the first is a map of the first quake and the second is of the aftershock. On both, I put the purple dot in to represent where I am. What's impressive about both is the total area that each covers; thems big quakes. So, to recap: not dead, not blown away, not glowing with radioactive waste. If you feel the need to be concerned, I do have a headache.

Didn't feel it.

Felt it.

Friday, July 06, 2007

You're eating what?!??!

I’d like to relay an experience I go through every time I visit an elementary school (usually twice a week). Now, I understand that interacting with a foreigner must be a pretty interesting experience for them and the attention they lavish on me can be a solid ego massage, but occasionally their enthusiasm borders on the absurd. Take lunchtime. Long ago I gave up paying for the school lunch, primarily due to dietary restrictions but also because it occasionally made me kinda gaggy, and started packing my own lunch. Since that time here’s a pretty typical conversation I have with the little sprats. I have, of course, translated it for everyone to enjoy.

Student 1: What’s that!?!

Me: It’s a sandwich.

Student 1: A sandwich!! AMAZING!

Student 2: Did you make it yourself?

Me: Yep, sure did?


Thinking to myself: Yes, truly perfecting the art of layering sliced bread and cold cuts was a daunting task. Learning how to portion mustard to bread cost me nearly a year of your life. Don’t go down this road kids. It’s not worth it.

Student 3: What are those?

Me: They’re plums.

At this time a crowd usually begins to form around me. Often this culminates in kids lifting the top off of my Tupperware and peaking in. I’d say my favorite thing is when the kids touch my food. Awesome….just awesome.

Students: PLUMS!?!?! You’re so lucky! I want to eat plums for lunch!

Thinking to myself: You know you can get a dozen of them for about 4 bucks this time of year. They’re practically giving them away. Go tell Mom and Pop.

A little later-

Student 4: Is your food delicious?

Me: Yes…yes it is.

This is when I congratulate myself for packing food I like instead of utter crap.

Now, in their defense, sandwiches and even fruits are relatively uncommon foods to have for lunch, so I suppose a little surprise isn’t unwarranted. Oddly enough, the truly esoteric items (e.g. cous cous) usually leave them so nonplussed that they don’t know whether they should be covetous or not. (They should’ve been…it was delicious) What’s truly baffling is when I elicit this reaction with Japanese food. Take soba (buckwheat noodles) for example. I’ve had the exact same interaction as above with soba even though you could close your eyes and run into a soba shop here. They also point out how delicious soba is and how they wish they were eating it instead of their lousy school lunch. I can’t help but wonder why though. As good as soba is, it’s certainly not a unique flavor savored only on special occasions. While good, in the Japanese milieu I’d say soba is fairly pedestrian. I often wonder if I took the school lunch from the day before and repacked it into Tupperware containers if they would be as amazed and envious. I suppose the grass is always greener.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

New Hotness

So my recent obsession has been news binging. I was skeptical of news aggregators at first, but I was shown the light a few months ago when Bloglines entered my life. As great as it was I was eventually wooed away by the unstoppable behemoth that is Google. So now, in addition to handling my email and my blogging, they now provide me with my news. What I'm getting at is that, in lieu of actual human contact, Google has become my new best friend. The next step in this relationship is integration; now when I think a story I read via Google Reader is particularly interesting I can post it on the blog for everyone else to judge its worth (and my own by proxy I suppose). And what story did I choose for this historical day in information synergy? The closing of the last Rax in Indiana. If you don't know what Rax is (or was) then you've lived a sheltered and meaningless life. RIP Uncle Alligator.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hakone Trains, Trams and Gondolas

Hakone Open Air Museum

Tokyo Disney

The Philippines

So...the first big trip I took recently was to the Philippines. I went with a number of other JET participants during Golden Week, a group of holidays that coincide roughly within the same week. The Philippines is an amazingly beautiful country if not a bit odd due its hodge-podge of cultural influences. Nearly everyone speaks at least some English (many quite well), Spanish cultural influences are also pervasive as are Southeastern Asian and native cultural artifacts. The trip was both a vacation and a volunteer opportunity as we spent the majority of our time building houses for Habitat for Humanity. This gave the trip a distinctly odd feel; we would spend half our time doing distinctively altruistic things followed by uber-touristy things like trips to the beach. I had a great time doing both, it was just an odd mix of activities.

For transportation we relied nearly entirely on Jeepneys, a remnant of the US military presence in the Philippines. These outfitted Jeep/Buses made for an interesting (read: harrowing) commute everyday.

Thanks to Kelso Gordon for the picture.

Of course, the bulk of our time was spent building. This was a ground-up operation where we did everything from make our own bricks, to fetching water from the near-by river to mix our own cement, to creating intricate relay teams to transport the aforementioned bricks and water.

Thanks to Kelso Gordon for the picture.

Thanks to Johnathan for the picture.

Not surprisingly, the Philippines was damn hot. A number of us came out with some rather impressive sunburns, or for the lucky ones, extreme tan-lines. To beat the heat, we drank enough water to drown the city of Manila. It's good to know what good we did for the world was grossly offset by the pollution we created via our bottled water.

It may not look like much, but this is our final product. Keep in mind that we started with a whole in the ground and, as I mentioned, did everything from scratch. The foundation work is, without a doubt, the most time consuming work. I would say our house is probably 60% done. In the background you can see a more complete house.

As a side trip we went to an orphanage one night to play with the children there. This was, by far, the most poignant moment of the trip; as we didn't have any real contact with the families whose houses we were building, playing with the children was a more concrete manifestation of how our work can make a difference. Here I am juggling for the kids. I should mention that, although they enjoyed this, they were far more amused when I made my arms into a circle and pretended to be a basketball hoop for them.

Thanks to Aiko Harman for the picture.

Of course, we didn't work the entire time. We were on vacation after all. We took two notable side trips during our stay. The first was to a waterfall at the foot of a dormant volcano. After a 20 minute hike or so, the forest opened to a beautiful pool where we took in the scenery, did some swimming and some waterfall diving for the bolder members of the group. The second trip was a day at the beach where, after a short boat ride to an island, we partook in snorkeling, feasting on grilled fish and general, well-earned relaxing.

Thanks to Nigel Dixon for the picture.

Thanks to Adam Taylor for the picture.

Hey....remember that one time....

...that I actually updated this thing? neither. Anyway, it's been a while hasn't it? Early April by my reckoning. A lot has been going on. I admit this is a lame excuse for a lack of communication, but it is what it is. My next two posts will cover the two big trips I took over the past few months: one to the Philippines and one to Tokyo. If, by the grace of God, I can be more diligent, I'll try to start posting more.....don't hold your breath. Hope everyone is well. Holler at me with what's new in your respective life. I promise to get back to you before the rapture.