Saturday, November 26, 2005

New photos site up

I've been playing around with flickr, and it seems like a good setup. A lot of people online also say it's quite useful, although the 20MB monthly upload limit kinda sucks. So I sprang for the pro and am currently uploading full-resolution photos. This should help act as a way of archiving and backing up my photos, just in case my laptop craps out on me. I've posted new photos also, at least all the new ones I have on my computer, which is up until about mid-October. I haven't been taking many photos lately, since I haven't been anywhere of too much note. And I seem to have misplaced my mini drive that I use to transfer photos (oops!). It's either somewhere deep in my backpack or I left it at the school I was just at. Hopefully it's the former.

Well, I've now spent the sunny hours of the day indoors, I need to get out and do some Xmas shopping. I realized yesterday that they don't sell certain items I wanted to get in this season, which pretty much ruins most of my gift ideas. Time to go shopping and take the practice test for the Proficiency Test in one week(!!!) . This evening I'm going to the house of a friend of Ana's with her and Dam-o for sukiyaki. Should be yummy!


So I found a new website called flickr, and I'm hoping it'll provide a better photo page than my yahoo photo page, which really hasn't been all that great. I want to be able to have subdirectories, and a nice setup. Hope it works. So this is what I'm doing at 2am on a Saturday night. Rather pathetic. And in a fit of recklessness, I bought a Japanese/English electronic dictionary, mostly on the advice of a friend of a friend. It cost me 30,000 yen, so it better be worth it.

Ok, time to crash soon. I almost wish it'd rain one of my days off so I wouldn't feel guilty spending the day inside trying to reorganize my photos and spending some time writing. December 4th is the Japanese Proficiency Test, so I've gotta buckle down and get working.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What I've been doing the past couple weeks

Not much.

No, really. I've been a bit down, what with people leaving and feeling a bit frustrated with Japanese. It's all kind of piled up and has been a bit hard to beat back. I've noticed it before, some kind of depressive cycle where I, for no really apparent reason feel lonely or unwanted or something. Even though I know it's not true, it's still there and weighs on me.

December's a big month for me, what with my Japanese proficiency test coming up, Ana & Damien leaving, and me heading home for a visit. Guess it's looming a little large in my mind. But thanks to my dedicated friends I'm back on my feet and doing better.

Actually, right now I feel pretty woozy because I was out til 5am with people. Last night we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving, so we had a party at Ana's house. We bought a couple of those little game hens from a stall in Hiratsuka, and had a potluck dinner. It turned out quite well, even though some of the people couldn't get there until later. We played trivia games and chatted until about 1:30am, at which point a few of us left for a short karaoke session. We had 2 Australians(Damien and Ana's roommate Kelli), 2 Hoosiers(Ana & I, obviously), a Brit(Julian), a Canadian(Ana's other roommate Erin), and a Japanese(Miwa). Not bad overall. It started off with just 4 of us and snowballed from there.

Today's a national holiday, though I've no clue why. I oughta figure that out one of these days. Last weekend I wanted to get out and see the leaves change color, but to get to the prime viewing place is about $50 roundtrip plus food and such. I can forgo the expense til I have more time/money. I ended up going to Kamakura on Saturday with my workmate Julian, and we did a bit of light hiking.

Kamakura's known for it's temples and a giant bronze Buddha statue. I got to see a nice sunset (the winter sunsets are amazing from here because the sun drops down right beside Mt. Fuji and it's perfectly backlit. We had dinner at Kua'Aina, a Hawaiian hamburger shop in Kamakura. It's a chain that's cashing in on the popularity of all things Hawaiian (!?), but it has some amazing, though pricey, burgers. I had a 1/3 lb. burger with avocado and other toppings, the thing was about 6 inches tall with the bun.

Sunday was steak night, the final one for Ana & Damien, so I think I've overloaded on the beef. I'll have to cut down on my BGH intake.

So that's me recently. I oughta take advantage of the nice weather and go somewhere. I also should probably work on my Japanese. Eek! Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Photos, but not mine and other things

Via Ars, a science photo contest, elaborated on by yours truly. The National Geographic page has some great photos, one of my favorites being this wildlife shot. Nikon has some also.

I've been a tad bummed out lately. The changing weather has given me a sore throat and clogged sinuses, and on top of that, I've just been feeling rather lonely with a touch of homesickness. I don't usually get homesick, and when I do, it's nothing to do with missing home, it's more about something that happens here. But yesterday I chatted with my old roommate Molly, which cheered me up. I also decided to do something new and went to see the goddess of mercy, Kannon, in Ofuna. There's this giant bust statue that sticks up above the trees on top of this hill by the train station. It's visible from the train windows, so I see it often, but I've never been. Turns out that temple is commonly visited by foreigners, especially Asians, when they feel homesick, since Kannon is a ubiquitous symbol in countries with a Buddhist tradition, which is most of Asia.

Today I went to a festival in Oiso, the town just west (away from Tokyo) of Hiratsuka. It was a celebration of the Shubuku, or post station in the town on the old Tokaido road that ran from Tokyo to Osaka during the Edo period. Now it's been replaced by a highway and rail corridor, but some of the old wooden buildings remain. It was a typical festival, with the usual carnival foods and games and such. One interesting thing was stage which had different performers. When I first arrived, there was a Japanese guy in a Mexican getup playing mariachi music. I bought an onsen towel with a map of the 53 waystations on the Tokaido road. I was tempted by a really cool miniature garden about 5 inches long by 3 inches wide with tiny trees and mosses and a little tanuki in the middle. But I resisted temptation. Maybe some other day I'll get one.

Now it's started raining and it's cold, so I have no desire to go outside anymore, so I'll stay in the rest of the evening and talk to my roommate Tracey, who just returned from her trip to Thailand. She got me a couple souvenirs, the best being a carved elephant to go alongside my silver water buffalo from Vietnam.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Well, after 5 nights straight going out and being busy, I've hit a national holiday and a day of rest. It's a good thing, too, I'm wiped out and seem to be getting sick. Seems everyone's got a sore throat and cough, must be changing weather.

It's been a couple months, at least, since I went to Yokohama, and all of a sudden I went there 3 nights in the past 5. Saturday evening I met a friend of Ana's from Narita in Yokohama, since it was sort of halfway. Sunday was a pseudo-pre-Halloween celebration with Miwa. We met her friend Luna, who she met studying in Indiana, for a bit of holiday merriment. We ate at this place called the "Hurricane Deck," a nice little restaurant and did the requisite print club photo shoot.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was my latest foray into the concrete wilderness that is Yokohama. I was going up there with the sole purpose of going with Ana, Damien, & Miwa to see a jazz concert put on by a co-worker of Ana's. But my school had a system-wide meeting so all the teachers took off after 3rd period, so I did too. I took the opportunity to shell out a goodly portion of my paycheck to finish paying for my plane ticket home and then I got a new pair of glasses, always a big deal for someone who is incapacitated without corrective vision. I found a relatively cheap pair of titanium frames and fairly thin lenses for a decent price.

The jazz concert was amazing. Michael Chesnick, the frontman and sax player, came here a little over a year ago. I guess he'd already studied a fair amount of Japanese, but his ability has skyrocketed since coming here. He formed his own band, the Michael Chesnick Quartet, and they've had a couple paying gigs over the past month or so. I guess business isn't enough to quit the EFL biz, but I think he's on his way. And he's pretty talented, which oughta help. According to Ana, who attended his previous gig, the piano player was the same, but the bassist and drummer were different. The musicians were funny to watch, each has his own groove he'd get into and physical ticks and habits.

In other news, I got to see Corpse Bride, the Time Burton spooky Halloween flick. I don't know when it came out back home, might've been last year, might've been last week. I enjoyed it for the most part. It was more for kids, I guess, but I was entertained. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a huge thing over here, so this one probably will be too.

I'd planned on going to the Tokyo Motor Show today, but nobody seems to have a desire to go and I'm under the weather, so I'll have to give it a miss. Maybe I'll go this weekend, the last one, if I can persuade someone. But better I rest and recover. Now that hte exciting week is done, I can go back to being a hermit.