Archive for the 'General' Category

General posts

Revisiting Kyoto’s Fall Colors: Shugakuin Imperial Villa Last November (Part 2)

I guess this is a continuation of a post three months ago looking back to last November's trip to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa in Kyoto. We're still two months away from fall foliage season in Kyoto, but it's just around the corner for much of the Northern Hemisphere, so I guess this is a getting-in-the-mood-for-Autumn kind of post.

We'd left of on that previous post having headed up a hill to a nice view. The same view with an 85mm at f/1.6 sort of has a slightly-unreal look, as if it's a close up of a model...

As described in [...]

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My Best (and Last) Score in the 2048 Game: 76,936

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 [...]

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Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 1: Factory Tour

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:

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 [...]

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Tasty Yakiniku Near Kyoto: Hieidaira’s Nanzan

For the first time in ages, this evening we had a grill-at-your-table dinner at Yakiniku Nanzan (Hieidaira location).

I didn't have my camera with me, so I'm putting some photos from 2007 (seven years ago!) that I found in my image library.

We go in fits and spurts, but I think this might be the first time this year. It didn't disappoint.

I always order karubi (marinated short-rib beef), and today had six portions, which are described as for a single person but they're pretty small. It wasn't quite the gluttons affair of the now-closed all-you-can-eat beer/BBQ buffet that I [...]

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A Day with Sergey Kolychev in Kyoto

I'm finally getting around to photos from last November, when old Yahoo co-worker Sergey Kolychev paid me a visit. (He's not old, our co-worker status is).

In the intervening three years since his prior visit he'd become fluent in Japanese to the point that he can read novels, which just blows my mind. Japanese is at least his fourth language (after Ukrainian, Russian, and English), so maybe they get easier as they stack up.

We packed quite a bit into one day. We started out with a visit to the Heian Shrine...

We then popped over to the Nanzen Temple...

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Sand Sculptures at Kyoto’s Silver Pavilion Temple

Last fall I visited the Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺, the "silver pavilion") in north-east Kyoto. It's named for a building that was intended to be coated in silver leaf (comparable to how the golden pavilion is coated in gold leaf). Apparently they never got around to actually applying the silver, but the name stuck.

As it is today, the temple is noted for its sculptured sand, including a huge Mt. Fuji shaped cone.

The minor entrance stone garden is not particularly special, with similar features easily found at other temples. But the main garden raises the level considerably...

There's also a [...]

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Testing a Couple of Watches: Stührling and Citizen

As I mentioned in the comments on last month's post about horrid watch-marketing copy, I've been looking for a nice watch with a combination of features and simplicity and size that no one seems to make. So after years of keeping my eye out, I finally decided that "perfect is the enemy of good enough" and went ahead and bought some cheap watches just to try.

I'm glad I did because I found out some new ways in which what you see in advertisements is not necessarily what you get, and I also found that what I though was important [...]

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Sigh, Lost All Email For the Last Day

I've used Emacs as my primary email client since about 1982, and for the first time in those 30+ years it inexplicably deleted my entire queue of unread mail (about 1,400 messages) when I tried to load the last day's worth of new mail this morning. Doh!

The thought of losing 1,400 messages awaiting my attention was both frightening and liberating. Sadly, I keep good automatic backups (in this case with Crashplan), so I was able to recover my mail queue as it stood a few hours ago.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've not been too attentive to email lately [...]

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Back in Kyoto (with some Cousin-Play Pics from Ohio)

I'm back in Kyoto after a couple of weeks visiting my folks in Ohio and a friend in Milwaukee.

I've accomplished a lot in the week I've been back:

Gotten over jetlag

That's an impressive list for me after a transpacific trip.

I also got a new MacBook pro set up (upgrading from a circa 2010 model) and replaced, for the umpteenth time, failing Seagate Barracuda hard drives in my NAS (giving some Western Digital NAD drives a try this time).

"What I haven't gotten done since returning" is a much longer list, including processing photos from the trip, writing [...]

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Ohio-Trip Roundup: Misc Fun Photos

Our trip to visit my folks in Ohio ends tomorrow with a long trip back to Kyoto. I've still much to post from this short two weeks, but here are some random photos to fill out my last night...

We ended up visiting ZipCity four times. I posted about it earlier, and will again I'm sure.

My brother Mike and his wife ran a local 5,000-meter race. Mike came in first overall, which is better than he did earlier in the summer in an 56-mile ultramarathon. Chickee came in third in her age group.

The older kids doing a zipline [...]

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More Summer-Trip Fun: Zipline in the Backyard

More fun at Grandma and Grandpa's in Ohio.... a zipline! アメリカのおじいちゃんとおばあちゃんの裏庭にジップラインを作りました。

Continued here...

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Visit to Milwaukee, Day 2

On Day Two of our short trip to visit my friends Ram and Julia, we woke up to a Julia's preparations for breakfast. I normally don't eat breakfast, and when I do I'm a bowl-of-cereal kind of guy, so this was a nice slice of class...

Julia was about to start the eggs, but at our insistence let Anthony do them. In his school's home-ec class, Anthony had come up with a really great way to make scrambled eggs, so he put that to use for everyone.

After breakfast we headed out to the local dog run to give their [...]

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Visit To Milwaukee, Day 1

It's been ages since I've been able to visit my friend and best man at my wedding Ram Kulkarni and his wife Julia, so I took a long weekend to pop over to visit him at his house in suburban Milwaukee. (I had been scheduled to visit last January, but had that canceled by the "arctic freeze".)

Popping over from Ohio involves an hour flight to Chicago, and then a 20-minute flight to Milwaukee...

It was my first time to meet his boys Shiv (8) and Arjun (4), and for Ram and Julia to meet Anthony (11).

The nearest shore [...]

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Trampoline Dodgeball

We made a visit to ZipCity trampoline and zipline park in Streetsboro Ohio the other day. We did some zip-lining, but mostly jumped on the trampolines.

We had the place mostly to ourselves at first, but it eventually got crowded enough that they organized dodgeball games....

We were both dog tired after 2½ hours of nonstop play, and I came down with a cold later that evening. Two days later I'm feeling better, so we'll probably go again tomorrow (with three of Anthony's cousins, who came in last night).

Continued here...

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Too Good To Be True: a United Airlines Flight That Almost Went Smoothly

I'm in Ohio to visit my folks for a couple of week, having flown out of Osaka on Friday afternoon, via Tokyo and Chicago to arrive in Akron, Ohio on Friday evening. Unlike many previous trips where I had some form of harrowing experience (such as this, this, or this), this trip went perfectly smoothly.... until we arrived.

The 12-hour Tokyo-to-Chicago flight seemed to go quickly thanks to copious amounts of Ambien, and arriving half an hour early helped make immigration/customs and making the connecting flight much better. We arrived in Akron on time and my Dad was waiting, and [...]
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Rich Wood Views Inside Kyoto’s Zuishin Temple

One of the famous spots in Kyoto for plum blossoms is the Zuishin Temple (随心院) in Yamashina ward, and its blossoms appeared on my blog eight years(!) ago in "Plum Blossoms and Photographers". The style of both my blog presentation and photography has changed quite a bit in the intervening years.

Anyway, I made a visit this past March during plum-blossom season, but having already enjoyed the plum at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, I decided this time to actually venture inside the temple building for the first time. I was joined by Damien [...]

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Invicta Watches: Lowering the Average I.Q. of Humanity One Watch at a Time

Poking around on Amazon.com, I got sidetracked browsing some truly horrid-looking watches, and came across the most meaningless marketing fluff I've ever seen, for any product, anywhere.

The "product description" has four beefy sentences barely able to contain all 576 words, yet not weighted down by even the slightest actual fact or hint of useful information:

A vision quest indeed. Not knowing ahead of time what this was "describing", I think many would be hard pressed to realize it's supposed to be about a watch. "Swiss movements" is perhaps a good hint, but it could just as easily get lost [...]

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Photo Shoot with Alice Gordenker in Kyoto

I've been a fan of Alice Gordenker's monthly "So What The Heck Is That?" column in the Japan Times for years. I first mentioned her writing on my blog more than seven years go when referring to an article she wrote about Gold Poop. (Yes, Gold Poop. Go ahead and read about gold poop, I'll wait.)

She writes a variety of articles for the Japan Times, and also has a blog where she often goes into more detail on whatever the newspaper article was about.

Somewhere along the lines we became acquainted via email, and a couple of years ago [...]

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A Few More Off-Season Spring Blossoms

I'd prepared a few other "off-season spring-blossom" photos that didn't fit into yesterday's post, so I thought I'd just post them today. All but the last two are from April 2013.

This was from the same trip that produced a wonderful bonanza of pictures that I've barely scratched the surface of.

The last few are from the amazing Haradanien Garden (原谷苑), which I've posted about at length in the past starting here.

I haven't done all that much blossom photography over the last two years, but I did snap this shot of the late-April blossoms on our recent trip to [...]

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Revisiting Kyoto’s Fall Colors: Shugakuin Imperial Villa Last November

Chatting with a visitor to Kyoto yesterday, she said that she really wanted to see Japan's fall foliage sometime. That prompts me to dip into my archives for a fall-foliage post today, with photos from a visit last November to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa in north-east Kyoto.

It was a brilliantly bright day and even with my polarizer filter (which normally has a wonderful effect with fall colors) the photos seem washed out to me, but some are still not too bad.

This is my second visit, the first having been covered starting in "My First Visit To Kyoto’s Shugakuin [...]

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