.
My Best (and Last) Score in the 2048 Game: 76,936
Final score of 76,936 in Gabriele Cirulli's game 2014
My Most Recent (and Final) Score
in the game called 2048

This won't mean a thing if you don't know this game, but if you do, I hope your jaw is suitably on the floor at that score.

When I still had the cold that I recently got over, I would sometimes pass the time playing the simple game 2048. I played on my phone, but anyone can play for free at the creator's website. It's fun and addictive.

During this sick time a game would last a few minutes, and I could get a score of about 2,000. Anthony and I had a running competition, and at first he could do better than me. But as my cold subsided, I got better, and with luck, could get a score of 5,000 and once even 7,000.

Then a few days ago I got one hint of strategy online, and boom, my scores started going up. This hint got me paying attention to the gameplay in a different way, and from there I came up with some important rules of thumb that really caused my scores to explode. 12,000 then 29,700, then 33,000.

Unfortunately, the games started lasting longer and longer, and when I'm not sick I just don't have the time to waste on games. If I could limit myself to filling lost time (like in the bathroom or while stretching at the gym) I do it, but I don't have that kind of willpower, because it's quite fun.

Today's last game was sweet. Things were just humming along perfectly like a machine. Here's a screenshot I took at one really nice moment... this means nothing if you don't know the game, but if you do, you can imagine what the next few moves will yield...


Moments Before My First 4096 Tile

Typical Scene Later On
nice and orderly

Things started to unravel when I allowed myself to get into a situation where I had no choice but to move down, along the lines of this mockup I made in Photoshop:


Bad Situation
( mockup made in Photoshop )

So I had to move down, and of course a 2 tile pops up right where the 4096 tile was, and that started things falling apart.

By the way, if you're a programmer, this long thread at Stack Overflow, on computer algorithms to play the game, is fun reading. One guy's program could score 377,792(!)


Celebrating the End of My Cold With Some Pretty Photos From 2008

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 at an effective 202mm — 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
A Metaphor For Me
a dead sunflower and pretty flowers,
representing the cold I just got over, and the getting over of the cold

I'm finally over the nagging cold I had for the last two weeks. It had relented a bit early on enough for me to write the posts on the gargoyle workshop, then returned and stuck with me until I finally went to the doctor the other day. He gave me antibiotics, and I started feeling much felt better the next day.

やっと風邪治っ、二週間ぶり元気です。手当たり次第に2008年の写真色々を見せます。

I couldn't concentrate on much while I had the cold, but to try to eke out some productivity, I picked a year (2008) and started going through my photo archive with and eye to delete cruft — stuff I no longer need, or never needed but had been too lazy to go through and get rid of. I got through about 90% of the 14,299 photos that I still have for the year, and identified a third as low-hanging-fruit that I can delete.

Wanting to post something now that I'm finally feeling better, here are a few pretty-ish shots from 2008. They're all taken with a Nikon D200, which was my first dSLR.


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 at an effective 25mm — 1/400 sec, f/5, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Garden Lake
Heian Shrine, Kyoto Japan
平安神宮

From the same trip that produced Snowy Gardens of the Heian Shrine.

And a tree in the local park, during cherry-blossom peak:


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 at an effective 240mm — 1/180 sec, f/4, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Weeping Cherry at Full Bloom

From the same day as Cherry-Blossom “Snow”.


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 at an effective 300mm — 1/500 sec, f/3.5, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Kids Playing

I don't know who the kids are, but I like the feeling of action the shot captures. From this day.


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 at an effective 127mm — 1/3000 sec, f/2.2, ISO 160 — map & image datanearby photos
A Pretty Sunset is a Pretty Sunset
from the day that started here

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR at an effective 27mm — 1/160 sec, f/4.5, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Wisteria Vertigo
from this outing

Nothing super great, and without the story that I normally like to write, but sometimes you just want to see colors.

Though here's a little story: after selecting the photos for today's post, and while starting to write it up, I went back to my archive see what other blog posts I'd written from the same outings these photos came from. It turns out that I'd already published a photo very similar to the one that leads this post, with the same metaphor of the dead flower representing my having a cold. Six and a half years ago, it was the lead photo on Venting About My (sort of) Cursed Vacation.

If nothing else, I'm consistent.


Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 2: Crafting the Clay
The Devil's In the Details temple-roof demon end-piece tile during fabrication at the Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 52mm — 1/100 sec, f/4.5, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
The Devil's In the Details
temple-roof demon end-piece tile during fabrication
at the Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房)

Picking up from yesterday's Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 1: Factory Tour, we'll look a bit on how these complex decorative tiles are made.

Old and New Mr. Minabe shows a current replication project ( his father is the current head of household ) -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Old and New
Mr. Minabe shows a current replication project
( his father is the current head of household )
High-Tech Methods everything is done by hand -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
High-Tech Methods
everything is done by hand

These are essentially pottery, so crafting is simple: create the shape you want out of clay, let it air dry for a few months, then fire it in a kiln for 30 hours at a bazillion degrees.

It's not that simple, of course. First off, with the lead time to the final firing measured in months, they can't afford to have pieces crack in the kiln, so they've developed crafting and firing techniques that completely avoids cracks. I didn't realize how extraordinary this was until someone else on the tour who happened to be a potter exclaimed her shock. Apparently some loss during firing is always expected.

Another complication is that the clay shrinks about 13% when fired, so they have to take that into account when building a replacement piece whose final size must exactly match the original. They deal with this 13% shrinkage (building everything 13% larger) day in and day out, so after a lifetime it must all be second nature.

In Need of a Fang -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 31mm — 1/60 sec, f/4.5, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
In Need of a Fang

It's perhaps difficult to tell in the photo above, but the fang in the near-side edge of the mouth is missing in the version being crafted. As part of the tour, Mr. Minobe showed a bit how he models the clay, and in doing so added that fang...

Mold the Shape by Hand -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/160 sec, f/4.5, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Mold the Shape by Hand

This is probably the most difficult part, especially for someone like me without an artistic bone in my body. He's got to get the general shape, 13% larger than the final desired size.

Preparing to Attach -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 62mm — 1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Preparing to Attach

To create a good bond, he places rough groves in the clay using the fork-like tool that was the subject of my recent What am I? quiz. A lot of people guessed the fork-like tool had something to do with clay, but no one had the proper answer that it's for scoring a surface to be attached to another surface.

Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/160 sec, f/4.5, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos

Another bad photo, sorry, but if you look carefully you can see the fang has been attached. He's then using another tool to smooth part of the brow.

Of course, this is just the roughing in of the basic shape. I'm sure there's quite a bit of work and artistry to get the final sculpture ready for the kiln, 13% larger than the actual target size.

Here's a closeup of yesterday's Massive Tile Awaiting the Kiln...

desktop background image of a closeup of the face on a clay gargoyle tile prior to being fired in a kiln, at the Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) in Otsu Japan -- Babyface -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 2800 — map & image datanearby photos
Babyface
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Old and New replacement reproduction (background) air drys before heading to the kiln -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Old and New
replacement reproduction (background) air drys before heading to the kiln

At one point while allowed some free time to wander around the workshop, I noticed the current head of the household, Kei-ich Minobe, working on a project. As it happens, he was about to attach a strip of clay to a work in progress, so he was just starting to score the clay with the aforementioned fork-like tool...

Scoring the Strip to be Added the Mozart of clay -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Scoring the Strip to be Added
the Mozart of clay
Scoring the Attach Point -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Scoring the Attach Point
Master Craftsman Kei-ichi Minobe At Work 美濃邉惠一さん -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Master Craftsman Kei-ichi Minobe At Work
美濃邉惠一さん

He was the subject of episode #57 in the NHK TV Professional series, in 2007. I've found it on the web here.

美濃邉さんはNHKの番組「プロフェッショナル 仕事流儀」出演しました「鬼師 美濃邉惠一」

Placing the New Piece -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Placing the New Piece
Pressing It Firm -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Pressing It Firm
Strengthening The “ Weld ” -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Strengthening The Weld

As I mentioned in the previous post, my visit to the workshop was as a guinea pig during a test run of Tour du Lac Biwa's Special Japanese Gargoyle Workshop and Hot Spring Tour. I also got to do the other parts of the tour (all for free!), except we had to cut the hot-spring visit short because a typhoon was coming in and we worried that the train line would shut down, and I had to be home for a late-afternoon appointment that I couldn't take a chance on missing.

I've much else to post from this tour, and from other tours I got to take part in. Sadly, a lingering cold this week caused me to miss a tour that involved zip-lining and kayaking. Maybe next time!


Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 1: Factory Tour
desktop background image of an ornamental temple-roof tile, at the Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) in Otsu Japan -- Ornamental Temple Roof Tile in need of a roof at the Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房), Otsu Japan -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Ornamental Temple Roof Tile
in need of a roof
at the Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房), Otsu Japan
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Japanese temples generally have tiled roofs, with ornamental tiles of various sizes and meanings sprinkled liberally throughout. For example, the demon-face tile seen the other day on this post:

Peak of a Temple Roof -- Shoju Raijoji Temple (聖衆来迎寺) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/800 sec, f/2.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Peak of a Temple Roof

In Japanese these ornamental tiles are called onigawara (鬼 瓦) — literally demon tile — though the word is used for any complex decorative tile, with or without a demon. The English word gargoyle is often used for these; it's not really the right word, but it's evocative of the same concept, and I can't think of anything better.

Earlier in the summer I had a fantastic opportunity (more on that later) to get a private tour of the Minobe family workshop, which has been entrusted to make these tiles for generations. Subject over the years to weather, earthquakes, war, and vandalism, the tiles end up lasting only a few hundred years, so much of their current work is recreating and replacing the ornamental tiles that earlier generations of the family had created for famous Kyoto temples.

Mr. Minobe Shows the Kiln his father is the current head of a household that's been in business for generations -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/2.8, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Mr. Minobe Shows the Kiln
his father is the current head of a household that's been in business for generations
Storage Area Above the Kiln it was hot -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Storage Area Above the Kiln
it was hot

The huge decorative tiles seen above are still called onigawara (demon tiles), even though they don't have demons or ogres or devils, or anything else like that. Here's the detail from the one on the right, of what looks to me like a phoenix...

desktop background image of an ornamental temple-roof tile, at the Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) in Otsu Japan -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Desktop-Background Versions
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More Storage -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
More Storage
Garden Gnomes ( sort of ) -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 42mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Garden Gnomes
( sort of )
Ebisu the Japanese god of fishermen, luck, the working man, and children's health -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Ebisu
the Japanese god of fishermen, luck, the working man, and children's health

Side note; Ebisu is the namesake for one of Japan's oldest beers, archaically transliterated on the label as Yebisu but pronounced the same. To facilitate distribution of this beer, the company made a train station near the brewery in 1901 and named it after the beer. The Ebisu neighborhood of Tokyo then grew up around it. So the station and the neighborhood are named after a beer, but the beer is named after an ancient deity.

desktop background image of an ornamental temple-roof tile, at the Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) in Otsu Japan -- Kirin another part of mythology that lends its name to a Japanese beer -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Kirin
another part of mythology that lends its name to a Japanese beer
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In front of the kirin is a title with a simple flower. There were also things like birds and fish, and all had meanings. I might be remembering this incorrectly, but having a bird on your roof (or in your garden) would mean people would flock there in larger numbers, and having a fish means that people would return time and again. The point is that there's meaning to all of this that goes back centuries; it's not just decoration.

Wide Variety of Demon Tiles -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Wide Variety of Demon Tiles
Massive Tile Awaiting the Kiln -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Massive Tile Awaiting the Kiln

This workshop is not normally open to the public, but can now be visited as part of an exclusive tour by Tour du Lac Biwa (Lake Biwa Tours), a new company devoted to English-language off-the-beaten-path tours in Shiga, near Kyoto.

Prior to them opening their tour business to the public, I attended a test tour for free, as a guinea pig. I had a great time, and contributed my photos to their cause, so you'll see some of my photos (and photos of me) on the tour page.

(I've taken a number of their tours as a test guinea pig, but couldn't write about it on my blog until they started business officially. Now that they have, I can start to write about some of the wonderful experiences I had.)

Delicate prior to firing, the drying clay looks quite fragile -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Delicate
prior to firing, the drying clay looks quite fragile
Freshly Fired it looks much more substantial -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 28mm — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Freshly Fired
it looks much more substantial

The huge demon tile above is the one that I whimsically labeled as the Japanese Gargoyle of Email Destruction in my post about lost email the other day:

“ Japanese Gargoyle of Email Destruction ” my whimsical name; I don't know the real name -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 38mm — 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Japanese Gargoyle of Email Destruction
my whimsical name; I don't know the real name

It's interesting to compare the eyes on this one to some of the others. With most of these demon-face tiles, the eyes are bulged out like the huge awaiting-the-kiln unit above, or like that with deep indentations for the pupils. But with this one right above, the eyes are empty tubes all the way in, which means that they'll turn into deep holes of black once mounted. (In the photo above, what looks like pupils are really holes in the mounting bracket at the back of the tile, which would normally not be lit when actually mounted. The lining up to appear as pupils in this photo was quite intentional.)

Jumble of Old Pieces that serve as reference for recreations -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 2800 — map & image datanearby photos
Jumble of Old Pieces
that serve as reference for recreations
Old and New creating a replacement for an old damaged piece -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Old and New
creating a replacement for an old damaged piece

Mr. Minobe gave a demonstration of how they work, which will become part two of this writeup.

Continued here...


A Fork-Like “What am I?” Quiz
What am I? これ何? -- Minobe Onigawara Workshop (美濃邉鬼瓦工房) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/160 sec, f/4.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
What am I?
これ何?

I came across these fork-like tools on a craftman's workbench, and thought they'd make a good What am I? Quiz. What, exactly, are these fork-like tools used for?

クゥイズ:この工具は何のためでしょうか?