Archive for the 'General' Category

General posts

Gave The Cycling Shoes a Try; Wasn’t So Bad


After posting "Trepidation and Anticipation: Moving Up to Cycling Shoes" yesterday, I put the pedals on my bike and today I went out for a short test ride with them.

It was much easier than I had feared.

After putting the pedals on yesterday, I tried mounting the bike stationary in my house, and I had a lot of difficulty unclipping the shoes from the pedals, so my fear of falling over went way up. But then it was suggested that perhaps the bolts weren't tight enough, and indeed that was the problem. Once I tightented things properly, it [...]

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Trepidation and Anticipation: Moving Up to Cycling Shoes

Since getting bit by the cycling bug earlier in the year, I've been slowly inching my way deeper into it. I took the opportunity of my recent trip back to The States to buy some "real" cycling clothes in my hard-to-find-anywhere-but-particularly-in-Japan size, and this includes for the first time real cycling shoes that firmly attach to the pedals.

Not many shoes come in European size 48 or 49 (cycling shoes seem to use the same scale worldwide, which is really convenient), but I found and ordered three pair at (which I'm always pleased with) from three companies in sizes [...]

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Heading Into Antelope Canyon

My three weeks in The States visiting my folks is about to end, so I thought I'd post some photos from the previous trip in March, where we drove around the American southwest in a camper. It was a bit overwhelming, and I've barely looked at the photos yet.

今日の記事は今回のアメリカへの旅行の事じゃなくて、三月の旅からの写真です。 その時にはキャップカーでアメリカ合衆国南西部にうるうろ行きました。写真写るが良い所が多いですが、一番良いのは アンテロープ・キャニオンでした。

One of the most photogenic places on earth is Antelope Canyon, near Page Arizona. I posted one photo from it at the time, here.

At first it doesn't seem promising, as the whole area is bleak and desolate...

Visits to the canyon are via tour only. We went [...]

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Ping Pong Rematch Against Vernon!

Today we stopped by to play ping pong again with Vernon Weingart, now 91 years 1 day old, to make good on my promised rematch from his beating me the other day.


After knocking the ball around for a while with Anthony and me, Vernon and I played our first best-of-three match, and he easily beat me in two games. He was much stronger than the last time.

We all knocked the ball around again for a while, and we then played another match. This time I won the first game after having gone to deuce a dozen times.... [...]

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I Played Ping Pong with a 91-Year-Old, and Almost Didn’t Lose

I played a bit of ping-pong today with a family friend, 91-year-old Vernon Weingart. I almost didn't lose.

今日は91歳の友達と一緒に卓球をさせてもらいました。 もうチョットで勝ちそうでしたが、結局負けました。 約十年前、高齢者オリンピックでアメリカの二位だった方です。 今でも強いです!

He was the USA National 2nd-place champion, back when he was younger (in his 80s), and Ohio State Champion five or six times along the way. Some of his trophies and medals...

He is the personification of "kindly grandfather type", who walks slowly and with purpose, always has a kind word and an easy smile.

We all knocked the ball around for a while, then as we were about to leave, he suggested an actual game. A real [...]

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Delight and Dismay at the Apple Store

The other day I got to witness the most amazing experience of watching a lady in her 70s touch an iPad for the first time, and right before my eyes the delight and sparkle on her face transformed her into a young girl again. It was magical.

Yet this experience at an Apple Store in Ohio was marred by some shockingly un-Apple bumps in the road.

I'm in America visiting my folks, and took the opportunity of being here to help Ann, a family friend in her 70s, buy her first computer. Until now her most technically-advanced electronics were a [...]
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The Solemn Uniqueness of Kyoto’s Kuginuki Jizo Temple

Without question, the most unique and solemn temple I've ever come across in Japan is the small but emotionally-packed Kuginuki Jizo Temple here in Kyoto.

今まで出会ったお寺の中で、一番面白いな、いかめしいお寺は京都にある釘抜地蔵です。 日本語で説明は難しいですが、ウィキペディアでは説明があるはず。

Its official name is The Shakushoji Temple (石像寺), but its name in the local vernacular, kuginuki jizou (more or less "nail-pulling guardian deity") reflects the images of nail and spike pullers that permeate the temple grounds...

Until you understand the meaning behind it, it certainly feels quite odd. But once you understand the meaning (which we'll get to below), you'll understand why the temple is so solemn.

As is common with jizo statues [...]

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Obama Hosts My First Bicycle Visit to the Sea

Tuesday was the "Sea Day" holiday in Japan, so I took the opportunity to make my first bicycle ride to the sea. Kyoto is about as far from the sea as a big city gets in Japan, so even though I've been to a lake that looks like an ocean, I'd not yet been by bicycle to the actual ocean.

この間のは海の日で初めての海までのサイクリングをしました、京都市内から。二時間の帰り電車を含めて17時間掛かりました。157キロを走って、一番山が多い道を選びました。 獲得高度は2,800mでした。 楽しかった。

It was a long trip.

I left the house at 4:24am, and returned 17 hours later at 9:33pm, though two hours of that was the return from the ocean by train. All in all it was 151km [...]

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My First Ascent of The Most-Heinous Momoi Pass East

I had quite the ride yesterday, finally tackling one of the last big mountain passes in Kyoto, Momoi Pass (百井峠) from the east. It was gruesomely long and steep.

The plan was to start with some relatively-relaxing climbs, but Mone somewhow got a flat as she arrived, so Andy, the gentleman that he is, stepped in to change it...

Wheel on to wheel off was 5½ minutes, which seems pretty fast to me. It's apparently possible to change a tube in less than a minute, but in the real world you have to spend the time to investigate why the [...]

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Riding Kyoto’s “Heart Loop” With Friends

Yesterday I finally did the "Heart Loop" route that seems to be a local favorite. It goes over three not-very-big passes, which in the counter-clockwise order that I did it yesterday are Ebumi (江文峠), Mochikoshi (持越峠), and Kyomi (京見峠). Total elevation gain is only 800m (2,600'), so it's not very challenging unless you choose to make it so by really pushing.

昨日、やっと「ハートルップ」と言うサイクリングコースをやってみました。 名前の意味は「♡形の一周」です。距離は55キロ、獲得高度は800メートルです。

My previous few rides have been in the rain, and so my camera lens got a layer of something on it that I neglected to clean off, and so the photos are all hazy and indistinct.

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Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 2


I'm finally getting around to continue the story from "Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 1", a 230km (143 mile) ride I did with a few friends a month ago. I've done a bunch of long rides since (115km, 143km, 147km, 145km, 50km, and 140km), but this remains my longest ride so far.

Here I'll repeat the map that leads the first post:

In the upper-rightish is the city of Nagahama, and that's about where the first post ended, so that's where this one picks up. We're moving around the lake in a counter-clockwise direction, so we're still [...]

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That Kyoto Temple With the Many Whimsical Statues

After so many cycling-related posts lately, it's time I get back to my basics with some pretty photos.


I've been meaning to write about the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple (愛宕念仏寺) temple for years, and indeed all the photos on this post are from 2012 (from visits to the temple in April and December of that year). A few of the photos appeared a year ago in "A Few Desktop Backgrounds from the Delightfully Whimsical Otaginenbutsuji Temple", and one appears as the subject of my Photo-Development Challenge #2.

It's at the far north end of the Arashiyama area that is already [...]

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Many Lessons Learned on Yesterday’s Group Ride

I went on a bicycle ride yesterday that involved 13 people, the largest group I'd been on to date. It was fun, but I also learned some important lessons.

It was quite the international gathering, with folks from Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Japan, Norway, Philippines, and The States.

The first lesson I learned was to pay attention to what weather forecast I looked at. Yesterday in Kyoto city proper the actual weather (spritzy rain in the morning; otherwise sunny all day) sort of matched the forecast (10% chance of rain all day), but our ride into the mountains was in [...]

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Cycling Along the River from Kyoto To Osaka Castle


For our Wednesday ride this week, the plan was to cycle down to Osaka and see the city a bit, then slog up through the dense suburbia to the mountains, then up and over them back to Kyoto.

This post is about 49-km (31-mile) ride from Kyoto to Osaka, primarily on bike paths along the rivers that cut through the concrete jungle filling the flatlands between mountains (the concrete jungle seen in this long shot of the Osaka skyline from Kyoto).

This time I've based the time ("+9 min" above) and distance ("2.8 km" above) under each photo on [...]

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Manseki on the Attack: Serendipitous Camera Mistake

昨日サイクリングをして大阪へ行きました。途中で金光万石さんの写真を撮ったけれども、カメラの設定のミスのせいでかなり露出過度にしまった。 写真は良くなかったが、ソフトで調整してから上の結果を出せました。結果は本人と同じ位格好良いだと思います。

Out on a cycle ride to Osaka yesterday, I snapped a photo of cycling buddy Manseki Kanemitsu as we road. The photo was wildly overexposed due to a camera-settings mistake on my part, but with some futzing in Lightroom I made something of it that I like.

I was using the new Panasonic LX100 that I wrote about the other day, but trying it in a different mode where I control both the shutter speed and aperture, and let the camera adjust the image-sensor sensitivity to suit the specific brightness of the moment. In this case I wanted [...]

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Cycling to Miyama with Gorm

On Wednesday Gorm and I did a 140km (88 mile) cycling ride to Miyama. It had 2,350m (7,800') of vertical climb, and though just a few days prior I had done a much tougher ride, this is the one that wiped me out.

The "7:31 AM (+1h 8m) - 13 km (8 miles)" note under the photo above means that it was taken at 7:31am, an hour and 8 minutes of rest and travel (and 13km of travel) after I'd left my house; this kind of note is under each photo to help give a sense of travel.

Our route [...]

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Fixing a Fuzzy Viewfinder on a Panasonic LX100

As I posted the other day, I've got a new camera to use while cycling, a Panasonic LX100. I used it on yesterday's 140km mountain ride, but couldn't use the viewfinder because the viewfinder focus (the "diopter control") stopped working, and the view via the viewfinder was completely fuzzy (including the information displays that should be sharp and clear even if the image through the lens is not yet focused).

A search on the web quickly showed that this was a common problem sometimes fixed by fiddling with the diopter dial, but usually resulting in a return or a replacement [...]

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Informal Camera Comparison: Panasonic LX100 vs. Nikon D4

Paul Barr at the Toji-in Temple (等持院) in Kyoto, Japan, in photos taken by two different cameras (whose names are included in the data under each photo).

最近小さいカメラ(パナソニックLX100)を買いました、サイクリングをする時に使うと思います。 僕の普通のカメラ(大きいなニコンのD4)と比べると質はどうでしょうか。京都市の等持院でテストをしました、同時二つのカメラを使って、だいたい同じ写真二枚を撮った。結局LX100は結構良かった。この記事の写真の下にカメラ名が付いている。

When I started cycling earlier in the year, I brought along my big Nikon D4, carried slung across my back like this so that I'd have it ready to shoot when I wanted (like this).

It's a heavy camera to carry, especially on steep uphill mountain rides, but I like the quality of photograph that it allows me to get. I don't think I'd be able to get these kinds [...]

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Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 1

I had a nice bicycle outing on Wednesday with friends, riding around Lake Biwa (the largest lake in Japan). I ended up covering about 230km (143 miles).

Despite being almost twice as long as my previously-longest ride, it was much easier for two reasons: it was mostly flat (just 1,600m / 5,250' of vertical climb over the 230km, compared to, for example, 2,500m / 8,300' over 99km), and I was much better at keeping myself filled with calories. I'm starting to discover that it's easier to ride the bicycle when you have energy.

To explain the last line of the [...]

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Conquering Kyoto’s Seryo Pass with Manu Mohan

Today I went with Manu Mohan on his first "real" cycling ride.

Manu is a National Scholar student of linguists at Kyoto University who happens to part-time at the convenience store near me, and his easy smile and cheerful attitude made me want to connect with him beyond the 30-seconds snippets at the cash register. When he saw on Facebook that I was into cycling, he expressed interest.

So today we got together for an easy, untaxing first ride.

I somehow had it in my head that he lived near Nijo Castle halfway across town from me, so I suggested [...]

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