We went on the subway this weekend. I've always been struck by these two signs:
PASSENGER EMERGENCY INTERCOM|
UNIT AT END OF CAR.
SISTEMA DE INTERCOMUNICACION|
PARA PASAJEROS EN CASO DE EMERGENCIA
SITUADO AL EXTREMO DEL TREN.
Link of the Moment
There has been 4 of 5 cartoons in the What The Drugs Taught Me series up for a while, don't know if the fifth one is ever going to show up. (UPDATE: Here's the Final Cartoon) I like the narrator's mom's rule, a two year statute of limitations, after that you can admit anything and she can't get bad. (Other favorite quote: "Maybe everything I've been told is bad... is good!" Such a goofy sophomoric way of looking at the world.)(10 comments)
I ended up having fewer interesting photos from Texas than I expected.
Here's one oddity....the room had a note waiting for me that said, in part:
Please let us know what you think of our new bedding package. At this time, we are still waiting on two items that will complete this initiative; bed skirts and bed scarves. We have been waiting on these items for the last several weeks and could not, in good conscience, wait any longer to let you feel the new bedding.What amuses me is the "in good conscience" bit. I never thought bedding would carry such a moral imperative... Here's a photo of the bed once they got to adding the "bed scarf":
I have to admit, the scarf didn't seem that great to me. It was there just for my final night, and actually had fallen on the floor by the next morning. The rest of the bedding was excellent, and I don't see that a decorative scratchy throw adds to it that much.
Anyway...one other bit of Texas ephemera...
Beek jerky in convenient (?) "chewing tobacco" shredded form. Pretty gross. It was pretty finely shredded, I was expecting something more like "big league chew".
So, the only shots I really like are of these flocks of birds in Addison...
Umm, don't park your car under the trees in that area. But full size versions of the images are on my desktop backgrounds page.
Finally, the ugliest self-portrait I've ever taken...
So this is Seattle! I got in town around 4 last night, so I figured it might be the best chance to explore a bit. And I splurged a tad and decided to give Canon one more chance, with its weirdly PSP-looking SD630.
These photos aren't all that stupendous even as far as vacation shots go, but I guess I can't blame the camera for that.
This taxi was parked as my own more normal cab pulled up to the hotel. At first I thought it was some odd Hummer-derived monstrosity, but then I realized it does sport wheelchair access, so it's not just for show.
I believe that this funky building, right by my hotel, is the library.
Downtown Seattle is on a slope. After driving San Franscisco for a day (well, maybe the outskirts) and walking this place's downtown, I'd say Seattle at least gives it a run for its money.
I took Max's suggestion and checked out the Pike Place Market... and yeah, lunch would have been better, since some things start to close at 5 or 6 but I got to see some neat stuff, including a bit of the famous fish flinging.
I had dinner at "Soundview Café"... some great salmon on a bulky roll with beer. The view was lovely... the waitress mentioned she was glad to see this cruise ship headed out, I think the implication was it was just too many people there to be docked for that long, like a floating city.
So I bid a fond farewell to Seattle. I think my consulting role went well, though I had to put in some brutally late nights, and it was one of those things that never feels perfectly resolved.
Got a chance to wander the city a bit more on my last evening there.
I even found a very fun little arcade at the lakefront. I think the arcade games were set at their easier settings for the most part, which I appreciated. I played Star Wars Tilogy Arcade, destroyed the Deathstar which is always enjoyable. I also played ticket games, I usually don't go for that but they had this one mallet game, sort of a virtual Whack-A-Mole but with a real mallet on a big screen.
So see ya, Seattle... I'll miss you, and how you have the Daily Show on at a decent hour. Plus my hotel had the NFL Channell... man, as much as I enjoy following the Patriots and gaving a game on in the background, 24/7 football coverage is kind of creepy.
LAN3 showed me the inside of the Seattle Public Library. It's oddball on the inside as well!
Space Needle, as seen from my hotel...
It really looks like the rain forest is trying to reclaim the city... there's some beauttiful greenery, a bit like, say, Vermont but more... moist.
The arcade had a carousel!
The city from the pier... more rainforest takeover.
And a final view, yet another boat sailing off into the distance.
Fortune of the Moment
"You may find if you relax that you dream a thousand new paths and awake to walk your old one."
--Excerpt from the card I got from the Arcade's mechanical fortune teller. It was a lot better than the one from the mechanical Elvis at the Pike Place magic show that started "You are nature's stepchild. You enjoy nature and thrive when you spend time outdoors." Damn, Mechanical Elvis just doesn't know me at all, does he...
- "There is never a time in the future in which we will work out out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now." --James Baldwin... I thought it was interesting to compare that to Henry Miller's "There are no 'facts'-- there is only *the fact* that man, every man everywhere in the world, is on his way to ordination. Some men take the long route and some take the short route. Every man is working out his own way and nobody can be of help except by being kind, generous, and patient."
- The 60 Second Novelist
- On "Allison"
In theory my jetlag "isn't so bad", but then again I'm writing this at 4AM (3PM Boston time.)
I now have the technology and 'net access to try travelloging in real time. This likely means my observations will be extra facile and I'll be less likely to know if they represent just what I see, or Japan as a whole. And so it's going to be more raw and mundane than if I were pulling it together after. So, those disclaimers out of the way:
My connection flight to Chicago got changed to a sidetrip to Washington Dulles. I got to stop at a mini-Fuddrucker I remembered from business trips, and my final arrival in Japan was only 2 hours later than first scheduled. Plus I got to see this ATM:
The flight on ANA (All Nippon Airways) was fine. Inseat video technology has improved since my last international flight, or Japan does it better. Jet Blue had DirecTV, but on this flight every chair had its own video library, so you could pick from about 20-odd films, pause, rewind, etc. There were also some basic time killing video games and the old standby channels of music etc.
My last minute seat change had put me in the "families with kids" section, but I admired the little bassinet things the attendants could fasten to the wall in front of the seats:
My friend Josh met me at the airport. He's lived a total of 9 years in Japan, and lives just outside of Tokyo with his wife Tomomi and their young daughter Erin. We took a few trains from Narita (an airport built kind of against the will of the rice farmers who were living there, but certain concessions were made) to his place in Chiba. The train seating was "subway" style, but often the seats were nicely padded and cushy:
Same car a bit later, giving more of a feel of it:
Josh describes the vibe of Chiba as being roughly "Coolidge Corner"-ish. I could see that, with the caveat that stores and buildings tend to be brighter and more garish than their American counterparts. Here's Chiba on a rainy Friday night:
A few other notes:
- I noticed more people who seemed to have more mundane tasks than in the USA: an airport employee at the luggage carousel, wrangling bags coming out of the chute to make sure they didn't get stuck, a man making a pass through the train with a mop (it being a rainy day), and then at the rail station, a man with a construction uniform and a megaphone warning people getting off the train to be careful about the construction going on. Josh talked to me about the pride and work ethic entailed even at these "low level" jobs, but more striking to me was the-- attention to detail, I guess I'd say, that it was worth having someone responsible for these particular things.
- I'll probably get some photos of this later, but the department store we ducked through is interesting, because it wasn't really a department store... it rather looked like one, but each section was a separate vendor with its own cashier. So while there are other "proper" department stores around, there's also this "evolution of the bazaar" in effect.
- Josh and Tomomi live four or five stories up, and the stairs to their building are exposed to the outside... Josh says this is extremely common in Japan.
- The Society for Barefoot Living Most important facts: 1 It is healthy for your feet to go barefoot. 2 It is not against the law to go barefoot into any kind of establishment including restaurants. 3 It is also not against any health department regulation. 4 It is not against the law to drive barefoot.
- A log of SciFi Dreams Coming True.
- languagemonitor.com: interesting content, terrible webdesign, at least in Firefox.
So, Saturday. Josh played tour guide and we hit Kamakura, with dozens of temples and a giant Buddha, and then the port area around Yokohama. I appear to have gone a bit crazy nuts with the photos this day.
I adore the controls of Josh and Tomomi's microwave/toaster/convection oven. Why haven't I seen color icons on one of these type of products before?
At the risk of stereotyping, the Japanese love their umbrellas:
Sidewalks in big cities and walkways at train stations have interesting tactile paths for the blind. They combine these lines with another tile pattern more like rivets, for indicating when the path is no long a straight line:
There is a drink called "Calpis". The phonetic reading of that is not a coincidence, but actually it's very tasty, a kind of lemony milky flavor. (Better than the infamous Pocari Sweat, which is kind of a bland gatorade flavor.)
Japan is 13 hours into the future, and it shows: modern trains have these useful video screens over the doors. They even tell you if they're the side that's going to open or not!
An image of Kannon, overlooking where Josh used to live, photo from the train.
After about 2 hours of train rides - with 3 train changes, painless but I'm dreading doing them on my own a bit - Josh and I first visited Engaku-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple, actually a series of buildings, full of Buddhas and giant bells perfectly set among the steep hills and cedars. An image from there:
At the risk of being stupid... hey look! The Triforce from Nintendo's Legend of Zelda! (Mitigating factor: at least I didn't take photos of and make dumb jokes about the reverse swastika. These guys had prior dibs!)
Giant bell, rung on New Year's, at the top of a STEEP set of stairs that might've helped prime a bit of a sore knee later (nothing some advil didn't more or less clear up though.)
So another thing the Japanese love: vending machines! Outside of stores:
Near Zen Temples:
And in giant quantities in town:
So after a lunch of soba noodles ("Foreigners!" exclaimed one of the hostesses at the little noodle place as we entered. "Foreigners who speak Japanese," clarified Josh) we headed to the Shinto shrine Tsurugaoka Hachiman temple.
Shinto temples have a trough with dippers for washing of hands. Plus, you often see the guardians "Ah" and "Un" (err, the names are aout the Japanese equivalent of "A" and "Z" or maybe "Alpha" and "Omega", more info)
Typical view of the temple and its stairs:
Me and Josh in front of a giant wall of Saki, probably all sponsors of the shrine. Damn, I need to start tucking that shirt in, I think it unfairly looks like maternity wear on me:
This photo illustrates two things: there are pigeons at Tsurugaoka that will actually fly in to land on you. Also, many, many Japanese wear these surgical mask looking things this time of year to keep out the pollen. After a while it moves from the weird to the intriguingly mysterious, sort of a "what's behind the veil" kind of thing.
Just a billboard I liked, also gives kind of a feel of the surrounding town.
Pseudo-artsy closeup of random kanji for the word Inside, I think Josh said, from a larger monument.
So cars in Japan are: A. narrow, but tall. and B. generally replaced every 3 years or so because of a prohibitive tax on older cars (kind of the reverse of how it is in the USA) There are a few SUVs though, which get extra mirrors attached, I guess to help see around on narrow streets:
Josh tells me that Japanese people put out bottles of water in a belief that cats won't pee there. Josh himself doesn't feel that this theory - err - holds water:
There were also a lot of political posters, mostly with guys making fists.
Then up another steep hill to a Shinto cave (Zeniarai Benten) to engage in some good-luck money laundering. Well, washing:
Finally off to Daibutsu, the giant Buddha!
No seriously, this is a BIG Buddha... 750 years old, cast in bronze, you can pay 20 yen (about a quarter) and walk around inside. Between that and the giant bells I was looking at before, I figured that they really had metallurgy down back then! After a Tsunami, this Buddha was all that was left in the area...
My first photo idea was dancing to I LIKE BIG BUDDHAS AND I CANNOT LIE - the photos weren't so great, but I like the expression of the girls behind me.
I don't know much Japanese but I think it says "beware of men in uniform who will put your hat on a stick and lower it to the kanji below".
Train station billboard. I post it hear only to admit that yes, I actually asked Josh what a "Lo-Cal" train would be about, like some kind of diet thing?
Then we took a few more trains to Yokohama. This is the Landmark Tower, Japan's tallest building. "Only" 69 stories or so (or at least that's where the Sky Garden is) but it has the world's fastest elevator:
A great view. There area also has a mini-amusement park, with what was the world's biggest Ferris Wheel 'til the London Eye showed up:
Just to be clear, the ferris wheel boasts a GIANT DIGITAL CLOCK. Complete with blinking seconds indicator. I <3 Japan.
Attached is 5 stories of shopping goodness at the Landmark Plaza...
...which had the only curving escalator I remember seeing in my whole life... weirdly disconcerting in its elegance, you just don't expect an escalator to DO that:
Random Engrish T-shirts, I like the one that says LOCAL ONLY: Enjoy The Life More Because It Is Short
PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN - WHERE AT LEAST I KNOW I HAVE A MINIMUM OF 36 KINDS OF MUFFIN
To end the day we stopped at Yokohama's China Town: yes, I know it seems a bit ornery to go to a Chinatown in Japan, but Josh was very familiar with the restaurants in the area and we had a really tasty dinner. This is the traditional gate marking the entrance to the area:
Then on the train home, I found a poster advertising the upcoming Red Sox vs A's Opener in Japan:
Finally, back in Chiba, I found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut last night...
On that note....good night! (9 comments)
- - this is the "Rhino" truck from the show "Mask", the last toy series I got into, after Transformers and GI Joe. Ever since then I always get the feeling that the back end hitch part of trailerless semis I see should be able to roll around independently, as shown here.
- Gary Kitchen's Gamemaker was a very cool program for the C=64. That link is an attempt to collect games people made on it for posterity.
Special relativity is the girl you meet at the dorm party while you're dating electrodynamics. You make out. It's not really cheating because it's not like you call her back. But you have a sneaking suspicion she knows electrodynamics and told her everything.from http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/lists/physical.html
Another amazing day with Josh. I'm going to be traveling to Hiroshima and Kyoto on my own by rail, so I might not be posting quite so extensively for a bit...
This is what a Tokyo rail and subway map looks like. It is not a simple thing:
You do see more uniforms in Japan, I imagine it's an aspect of the pride in their work. This lady is one of those folks I mentione meant to warn people getting off the train about the construction:
Shin-Matsudo station, near where Josh lives:
First glimpse of Akihabara, the electronic district of Tokyo. We met up with my old college buddy Alex who lives in Tokyo.
The first thing we hit seemed to be a bit of a hobbyist center, 5 or 6 floors, each about a different hobby. Here is a racetrack on the second floor, one of the model builders behind:
Next floor: guns! CO2 and battery powered.
Some political commentary on the gun floor:
The basement was about, well, porno. Though I can't imagine what this was, must be some kind of novelty cup holder.
We then went to the grand department store Yodobashi-Akiba, like 9 or 10 stories. Here's what it looks like on the outside, including the electronic billboard.
An on the inside, you can see it's pretty hopping!
On the ninth floor we went to "Pepper Lunch". You place your order using a vending machine that gives you the appropriate coupon which you give to the waitstaff. Like many vending machines here, especially ones that have products at different prices, a light shines next to each selection for which you've inserted enough yen.
My meal, which was some tasty pepper steak, served raw-ish on a hot skillet, so you get to cook it yourself... fun, and tasty!
Typical Japanese hand drier... almost a matter of trust as you hold both hands in the mouth of the thing:
Back to the department store! A few places around the district I saw these kid-sized arcade games...
Including Pokemon, where you could battle people at other machines.
So this store tended to have vast selections of many things, like dozens and dozens of Playstation Portable cases. Or in this case, LOTS of watchbands:
Near some other exercise/health equipment, some kinf of vaguely obscene-looking saddle things that would shake and shimmy. Kind of like a small scale mechanical bull:
Josh and Alex indulging me in a goofy photo, holding a very odd one handed keyboard device designed for gamers.
So on Sundays certain streets in Tokyo get blocked off, and they have things kind of like street fairs. (Corner of one of those streets, mostly I just liked the banners.)
More buildings and a fearsome Space Invaders. (I remember hearing how the original Space Invaders caused a shortage of ten yen coins...)
So one recent addition to the scene are "maid cafes" where you can be attended to by highly attentive young ladies. (I guess it ranges from the innocent to the err...more detailed services.) We thought these gals were advertising one of those but no, they were just playing dressup, which happened a lot at the Akihabara street fair thing:
As amusing as the girls in dressup, all the men taking their photo...
Another cute girl:
Alex and me at the The House of the Venerable and Inscrutable Colonel.
I liked the sci-fi vibe of these escalators:
And who doesn't like Snoopy? "Snoopy Towns" seemed even more prevelant than "Disney Stores"
Gate for Takeshita Street, super-fashion-trendy...
But don't take my word for it:
One of the more common jobs are people outside of stores saying "welcome welcome" and otherwise trying to interest you in the store. Often they have megaphones. Lordy, the Japanese seem to love their megaphones.... in the department stores, you have the same thing, only for individual products.
I didn't know Chevrolet made bikes:
The ritzier high fashion district Harajuku: so many people!
Alex and Josh outside of a Wendy's
This photo doesn't show it well but it was the most hopping Wendy's I'd ever scene, very youth-centric. Also smokey despite the signs against it.
There was actually some kind of Irish festival going on: (I saw a small Irish group, complete with some hooligan lookin' fella shouting at random intervals to the music.)
Errr... buildings. I liked the billboards.
Injoke: "pedobear is that you?" (It actually might be where the infamous parody character came from.)
I'm very fond of corporations co-opting hippy-ish sentiment. Maybe they even mean it!
Funky building. An Audi dealership I think.
What does it say about Americans that I want to call any any big construction vehicle that's not a crane or a dumptruck a bulldozer? Anyway, these cute purple vehicles were all over Japan.
The Hummer and the Zen Temple.
Famous Scramble Intersection... this is under the same billboard with the giant walking dinosaur in "Lost in Translation"
Random cultural note: most restaurants give you a oshiburi before your meal, a hot wet facecloth for your hands and face. Refreshing!
The universal sign for exit in Japan:
Tokyo at Night.
Finally two examples of kawaii, "Japanese Cute". Josh notes that it seems to be losing popularity... now you see more computer rendered 3D characters. Still, I dig this aesthetic a bit more, like the peanut I posted yesterday:
* Users must be given obvious and easy control over color usage. Different people have very different combinations of monitors, background colors, limitations in color perception, and general preferences. There is no single choice of colors that will work for any substantial portion of the user community.
* The basic nature of the human visual system is that it separates objects based on intensity differences, not color differences. If you are designing colors for a white-background display, every color you use must be, with few exceptions, a low-intensity color. Hot pink on white may look snazzy, but people will have to work hard to read it.
* Dark blue should never be used for anything somebody is expected to read. Short wavelength colors tend to focus just in front of the retina, and will thus always be a little bit blurry.
-- The Grumpy Editor's guide to terminal emulators
- Crappy Movie Pitches -- the older ones are a bit punchier than the stuff that's on the front page.
So I thought Monday would be mostly travel, but I got to see some important things. I braved the Tokyo subway and then the bullet trains all on my own, got to Hiroshima, and then determined to heed Josh's admonition to "don't be that girl from Lost in Translation" (i.e. sitting moping around a hotel room) I headed out for a few hours of exploration.
So, the trains. It's too bad that "and the trains ran on time" has such a negative connotation, because it's actually quite handy. They are extremely punctual, except when someone stepped in front of one... a not uncommon occurrence, maybe 2 or 3 a month - infamously the result of a nation that has A. a strong and idiosyncratic sense of honor, B. not much of a religious prohibition against suicide, and in fact a social precedent for it (A Spitzer in Japan would be dead by his own hand by this point, Josh says) and C. Really, really fast trains.
They also have thse little strips that reliably indicate where the doors of the train will open. People line up behind 'em one or two abreast, and it likely helps speed things along:
So back in the day there was a game called "Koronis Rift", that had a distinctive fractal-based landscape-- I have a strong memory of the way the game used color to show hills fading into the distance:
I always assumed that was a game conceit, but really, Japan from rail looks a bit like that:
Hiroshima Station has a huge hoard of taxis waiting outside:
I decided to walk rather than take the tram (but, oy, I'm starting to feel all this walking) and this is a temple I saw, a bit elevated:
Plus I found this posture-based poster a little amusing.
Here's another view of the pavement inserts for the blind, here you can see how some parts are linear while other parts (intersections and endpoints) are more generalized:
I tried to play it like I wanted a picture of the statue but really I was more interested in the guy:
My hotel, the Rihga Royal, was surprisingly swanky, I got a really good deal on Expedia the day before. The giant sweep of lobby:
I got in after many of the attractions were closed, but I made one important trip: The Atomic Bomb Dome was just a few blocks away. This was the "Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall" until the first atomic bomb exploded about 150 meters away.
I know in my stupid blog here it's going to sound trite, but I was moved to the point of tears by its stark presence and broken grandeur. The intellectual part of me knows more people died in firebombings and massacres, and there's always the rightwingers argument that more would have died in a full invasion but... the sheer brutal efficiency of the engines of war has made humanity's chance at making it for the long haul that much worse, so in that way the blast still echoes for us all. And what does it matter that this wasn't the "worst" tragedy humanity has inflicted on itself; it was a tragedy, and I can mourn for the lives destroyed.
The dome is by the Motoyasu river.
There was a surprising amount of seaglass there on the sandy bank. Maybe not worn enough to be seaglass; and some of it seemed like shards of china and other things. I gathered a few pieces.
Later that evening I headed to the Hondori shopping area. I was thinking I wanted to try the cliche of checking out the McDondalds, but since I didn't want to subject my friends to it it seemed like a perfect time. (We didn't actually get anything at Wendy's before.) I...uh... think this had some kind of egg on it...
Hondori is pretty cool, almost like a normal street with a ceiling, and tons of stores. You can see the traffic light here, it's so odd to feel a bit like you're in a mall but you still have to watch for traffic:
I checked out a Sega arcade, including the fun of Mario Kart 2 (it even has a builtin webcam and puts a mario mustache on you). Also, I liked the Beatles with coffee cups on their heads:
On my way back to the hotel,I was startled when what I thought was just a simple underpass and tramstop turned out to be more extensive, going on for a few blocks:
Finally a note on television: many shows have a little subpicture showing what looks like audience reaction. Josh explained "the japanese are big on group activity. The panel/audience guides the crowd reaction--shows them what to do." Which sounds kind of bad, but really that makes it a visual laugh track, but with real people.
More tomorrow or thereabouts.
- I know I scanned this once, and may have even posted it, but one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons is just a brick with this caption above it:
FOUR HUNDRED SELECTIONS OF THE WORLD'S FINEST MUSIC, OVER ONE THOUSAND FULL-COLOR REPRODUCTIONS OF MANKIND'S GREATEST PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES, AND TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-ONE TIMELESS CLASSICS OF WESTERN LITERATURE COMPACTED INTO A TWO-BY-THREE-BY-SIX INCH BRICKYou know... I'm sure it misses the joke but you could probably get that all on a 100Gb drive these days.
- Random idea I had for a short story: a very realistic study of a guy's reaction when a teammate on his football team does something incredibly and surreal-y awful to a member of the other team, like knock him unconcious and rip off his testicles.
- You can't get too much geekier than a Geocities page full of alien fonts from the scifi show Babylon 5
Travelog of the Moment
Running late but I wanted to get this in... sorry if some of the descriptions are rushed --
View of the palace from my hotel room in Hiroshima. Not bad! But I wasn't brilliant at managing my time that day (too much walking, and anxiety at making it to the train station) so I didn't go for a tour there.
I walked to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This is women attending to the Memorial Cenotaph.
I then went to the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall. Some moving stuff there, giving the background and results of what happened in an even-handed manner that makes it even more wrenching. This is a large (oh jeez, I was going to say "blown up") panoramic view a few weeks after the blast.
A model of before the blast...
After every nuclear test, the mayor of Hiroshima writes to the leaders of that country urging them to stop such tests and strive for nuclear disarmament.
The nuclear powers...each of the large missiles represents a large number of missiles. I was also struck by the "globe on its side" view, useful since all the nuclear players seem to be in the Northern Hemisphere.
A full size reproduction of a shattered building. They had some more gruesome reproductions of horribly burned victims walking through the ruins...
One word I hadn't heard before my time in Hiroshima: "hypocenter", a strict word for "ground zero". This is a smaller model of the city, with a red ball indicating where the blast occurred. (One letter made reference to girls watching the parachute, which seems such a human thing to do, and that would be the last thing they would see.)
Model of Little Boy.
Hiroshima Rooftiles... the sign says you can touch, and reassures you they are safe.
The Memorial Park is laid out in a line; I'm in the museum, there's the cenotaph, the eternal flame, and the atomic dome.
I then decided to walk to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I admit my bias about art and culture, the present usually catches my attention more than the past.
Yet another vending machine. With some of these machines and in convenience stores, coffee in can comes hot or cold.
Gas station. Gas is very expensive, about 6 bucks a gallon (though America is working its way up there.) I was kind of struck by the high-mounted gas hoses, but I guess that was just a quirk of this place. Also, highway tolls work out to be about a buck a kilometer!
Walking on my own, I'd take reflection shots, a kind of "dude! YOU'RE IN JAPAN" reminder to maintain a sense of wonder and observation.
I was a bit surprised what a climb the museum turned out to be...
The city below, with a cemetery nearer.
I haven't put TOO much "Engrish" here, as it seems uncharitable; I'm grateful for all the English they provide. (Actually I realize I start to take Romaji (transcription into the Latin alphabet) and odd English words for granted, its so prevalent that when it almost seems more striking when it's not there.)
I couldn't take photos of the temporary exhibition. But I think this work was "Atomic Dome Model 5", an obvious reference.
Heh, ok, less artsy. Just a note, Japanese public restrooms tend to have full doors, like little closets, and Josh mentioned Japanese visitors to the USA tend not to like our half-walled stalls. I can see that!
In the permanent exhibit, Venus Bleue by Yves Klen was SO very blue. I guess they had to put her in glass or everyone would touch.
There were so many attendants (guards? what's the term) sitting so still and quietly that it struck me as a form of performance art itself.
Ugh, don't have time to look up this yellow guy, but a variety of works featuring him (it's some kind of radiation suit, and this is him supposedly in Chernobyl) were the center of the temporary exhibit.
Outside, "Little Bird".
Woman taking photo of some cats.
Another view of a cemetery. I'm struck by how much they resemble model cities.
Also way up in the same park: a Manga Library! I had no idea they would have libraries just for that form, it seemed pretty busy in there.
Inside the library, they had what I assumed were the winners of a local single panel manga contest. Here is a Japanese view of MLB taking away Japanese players:
I had an easier time descending when I found this giant escalator.
More names a native speaker of English might not pick:
A few places (like a train station barber shop) I've seen this idea: a tall glass window will return some privacy by a carefully placed painted section. It works surprisingly well.
I just liked this billboard as I walked back to Hiroshima station.
The poster reminded me I wasn't having enough fruit this trip! So I bought a bag of something that might be clementines.... maybe something different? They had a certain, sharper, "cactus-y" tone, just subtly different.
Oh, Hiroshima. I'm sorry what you had to go through, and how that mighty mushroom cloud might influence some of your public art, but... this looks like a butt.
The sleek nose of a bullet train.
For being a country known for working well on a small scale, I've seen more impressive cavernous indoor spaces this trip... this is Kyoto station.
Finally, this poster (I'm still not sure if Porta is the shopping center or what) had many slogans in English: "Catching my breath for this good taste.", "Delicious stuff is all around here.", "Things I want to have-there are a lot of them here", "I have found my favorite thing.", "I'm in a good mood, full of joy.", and "Pleasure to find something." I guess that's the power of positive thinking!
If the size of a man's components matched how many nerve endings were contained therein. I gotta be honest, I'm almost a little surprised he's not more well hung.
- 10 most wanted Design Bugs
- fishhighway, Habitrol for Fish...
Travelog of the Moment
So Wednesday I went on a bus tour of Kyoto and Nara. I wasn't utterly blown away by the tourguides (who may have been gearing for people who did zero reading about Japan in general) but it was the best way to get to these geographically diverse sites. Plus, a day with more riding and less walking seemed like a nice idea for my feet.
Also I met some nice people from Norway and Finland (dropped my Nokia street cred) and to be honest often they seemed more interesting than the tourguide's spiel.
Japanese do love their umbrellas! The standard umbrella is only a couple of bucks and is transparent, which makes a lot of sense.
This picture and the last were from our first stop, Nijo Castle, or "Nijo-jo" (heh). Both shoes and photography were forbidden inside.
Nijo Castle was built by the Shogun Iemitsu, so we saw where the feudal lords would pay tribute to him, and then where he had to sit below the platform of the emperor's messenger. Some of the work inside and out was really lovely.
Close-up of that...
One of the more interesting features was a clever "Nightingale Floor" in all the hallways; this clever system of metal bits that squeaked in a melodious way and prevented people from sneaking around. They say there are all sorts of hidden passageways and what not there. This is the view from underneath.
Trying to find nice and balanced shots of the grounds outside.
The outer wall looked strong.
After we went to the Golden Pavillion / Rokuon-Ji Temple. This is a detail of a map billboard there, I liked the art style.
The Golden Pavilion is a terrific building, centuries old, and covered in gold leaf. I think my ISO settings were messed up, so its beauty isn't coming through, or maybe it's me next to it.
Crane in the pond by the Pavilion.
Waterfall on the grounds there.
Finally we headed out to the Imperial Palace. Security was weirdly uptight there and we had to line up in 4s. But I liked the bright orange construction and fireproof white plaster:
And I saw my first blossoming cherry tree! Unfortunately I was fumbling with my camera battery and didn't get a picture of the guy stationed there to protect it. Maybe he had to be there, one girl seemed to try and make a dash for the tree and he angrily chased her away, though I'm not 100% sure if she would have tried if he hadn't been there.
From there to the 7 stories of the Kyoto Craft Center. And yes, I took a photo of this just for the obvious giggle about the Internet Cafe name.
I then switched to the Nara afternoon group. Nara's single biggest attraction (in both senses of "biggest") is Todai-ji temple, biggest wooden building in the world, and home of one of the largest Buddhas. This is just the outer gate.
The outer gate has two guardian figures, though I didn't quite catch the names:
(I don't think they were the Shinto ones) Still awfully fearsome...
Just a nature scene, with a groundskeeper in blue looking awfully small...
So there is the temple--those are people looking very, very small themselves. One detail is a "peekaboo" door the Buddha can peek out of...
Looking up at the Temple's entrance. They mentioned that the original building, which got destroyed, was about 30% wider, and there were models showing the old and current versions inside.
The Buddha! There are some priests in front for scale.
The Buddha was flanked by attendants... here's one--
--and the other. This Buddha was bigger than Kamakura's, but somehow... I don't know, I preferred the Buddha under the great wide open sky.
The temple had other guardians, one for each direction, but two were only heads. Here's one of the full bodied ones:
So for a 1000 Yen (~$10) donation, you could paint a tile that would be used in some new construction. (Also good luck forever I think!) You were asked to paint your Name, Address, Country, and Wish. This is me and my wish: "That we figure this thing out or learn to love the figuring"
So, one thing I've neglected to mention: the grounds were crawling with deer. For 150 Yen ($1.50) you could get a stack of ten cookies, like pizelles, to feed them. But... what's this sign warning about? Angry deer? Huh?
AAAAAAH DEER GET THEM OFF ME AAAAAH! (Seriously in general they were pretty decent, but the ones standing around the cookie stands would butt and nip you if they thought you were a bit slow with the goods.
Finally Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Lots of stone lanterns and I got to learn more details about Shinto practice. I must confess to a small dose of shrine fatigue at this point. Anyway, here is my afternoon tourguide climbing the stairs.
Back at the hotel. Tug of War is a serious sport here?
Finally on my run for dinner, I found three anti-smoking posters...well, not anti-smoking, just watch where you put your butts... the cowboy approach
the crime approach...
and then the love of pets technique...
- I made a note to write about this one Arby's ad they had playing in Cleveland circa...I dunno, 1986 or so? It just had this goofy nebbish guy going "I want BEEF - LOTS of BEEF -- eee arrr!" I think he then knocks down some columns, obviously designed for easy knocking-downage, ala Samson. I think the close then had him say, sounding almost chastened "Arby's, for a manly kind of guy". Something like that.
I just wanted to share that somewhere in my brain are some cells that fire almost anytime I hear BEEF discussed.
- Learn about the homeless by what they carry on their persons.
- "Recall: it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slowly."
-- autoblog. Of course girlfriend cmg thinks I drive like a grandparent anyway.
Today I took trains to Osaka, third largest city of Japan. Osaka is know for its cuisine, its dialect Osaka-ben (confession: it all sounded like Japanese to me), and the easy-going nature of its people. Scheduled to be in Tokyo, I was worried I didn't have enough time, and while a daytrip is never enough to really take in a city, I got to hit the major things Josh suggested.
So, like I was saying, the Japanese love their umbrellas. Here's a "lock it and leave it" stand for them that wasn't uncommon.
I just like the 70s computer font used on this part of the hotel elevator.
Here I just like the bold colors of the beer billboard. Funny that it's "emerald" and the main color is such a bold blue...
Osaka-Jo is the main castle...
It's surrounded by a large moat with high walls. But what I like in this photo is how the walls seem to be floating above the water...
View of the main tower. Crows circling above.
View from the top of the tower. There are museum exhibits inside, including some popular ones where they project movies of people in period costume acting out scenes of the place's construction onto miniature dioramas (no pictures allowed, though)
Little bird way up high.
I don't read much Japanese, but I'm pretty sure this is says: "WARNING: Bond Foe 'Odd Job' in Area!"
One of my favorite snacks, Calamari from a stick out side the castle.
Another view of the outer walls. Josh points out the building in the background looks like the I.M.Pei building in Boston.
Walking to the train station, by a live plant market. I like the color of the girl's raincoat in this photo, it really "pops".
It's not as distinct in this photo but the whole side of this building is an electronic billboard...
America-Mura is a bit of a "Chinatown" but for America. Lots of T-shirt shops with Western music blaring, and the youth culture was strong there.
It also had these interesting sculptures for advertising and maybe light. Also, cameras.
Sexy Dynamite baby!
So this is Lupin the 2nd. "Lupin the 3rd" is a famous anime character. This sign suggests
Please enjoy the best clammy mat playI didn't know what that was but instincts told me to steer clear...
that can be tasted only
by 'Genuine service' that not is in daily life.
I had another SUPER TASTY thing from a vendor, some kind of soba sandwich/taco on that styrofoam-like pink stuff you sometimes see at chinese restaurants. It was a delicious messy wonder.
So I thought I learned something about the classic Japanese R/L mixup. Josh says you enter Kanji into a phone by typing it in phonetically, and then the phone offers the kanji choices...
...so if that's how they handle their own language, and they don't really distinguish Ls from Rs, I can see why it makes it into various signage...
Cutest. Truck. Ever.
From there to the Dotombori district... a gourmet's paradise, and not so bad for me either!
Famous crab restaurant sign.
Josh's wife Tomomi confirms this little robot drummer clown guy is a real landmark. Lots of people were having their picture taken.
Dotombori had more of those covered plazas, and was really vibrant with life and energy and people. (In part because it was just after lunch hour.)
A video! I just liked this little animated video outside a restaurant there:
Bic Camera had pachinko in the basement, which had this invocation written all over the place:
Outside another pachinko parlor, signs saying you must be over 18, and don't bring in your kids. The cartoon guy is made of pachninko balls.
Interesting fluorescent light arrangement.
What's that, on top of the "Hep 5" building? A ferris wheel??
So of course I had to try that. View of the city and the railyards I'd be on shortly thereafter.
Coke vs Pepsi, Pepsi vs Coke.
Round1 bowling! (bad photo though, I was trying to get the text so I missed the bowling pin on top.) The first part tells you it's not about winning and losing and then
Do you like bowling?
Lets play bowling
Breaking down the pins
and get hot communication
Structure of the ferris wheel, looking down.
More names you might not see in the USA, this one for yet another underground shopping area:
It had a little clockwork blimp model inside. With a digital clock. (Kind of interesting, that Yokohama ferris wheel with a digitial clock had one of its light patterns look a bit like an analog clock. It's funny to see visual references to both digital and analog timekeeping together.
At the Shin-Osaka trainstation.... Mannekan is a stand to get tasty belgian waffles, and yes, the figure is Manneken Pis, the statue of the peeing german boy.
This was kind of a creepy thing to be looking at the whole ride back to Tokyo.
For a while I was thinking most bikes were left unlocked in Japan, but on the walk back to their apartment Josh pointed out the small clamp lock on the back wheel. Also cities have official guys who will shuffle parked bikes around, and leave paper slips if your bike is badly placed, and you might well find it taken away if you leave it in a bad spot.
Admittedly the heavy use of Engrish is a bit offensive, but I do kind enjoy Misinformers Playstation 3 Sneak Preview from way back when:
mis: So you mean, you can plug a phone line into it, and play multi-player games online, like with the Dreamcast?
Sony: Dreamcast? Ha ha, funny stupid yankee! You dishonor me with your mention of this Dreamcast. The Praystation 3 does not connect to internet, Praystation 3 CONTAIN the internet. You prugga in the computer to the port, the internet isa all there. We copy it inside machine for fast access.
mis: Wait, so you're saying that you copied every single file on the internet into this box? That doesn't even make any sense! The internet is a constantly changing network of millions of individual machines. How does the PS3 update its so called "internet" if it has no connections to the real network?
Sony: Thasa right. No connections. Praystation 3 get internet from outerspace.
mis: And its power?
Sony: It run on love.
- Nice photoblog: Derilect New England
- Ken Perlin seems to have some interesting toys on his site.
Fairly relaxed day today.
Started by walking with Josh to take his daughter Erin to kindergarten.
Then we headed into Tokyo, the Ginza and Asakusa areas. The area is known for its kitchen and food supply stores, and we seemed to go through an area with lots of Buddhist-ware. I liked this little guy next to the sidewalk selling custom stamps; people's official seals, their names in Kanji symbols.
Store selling domestic shrines.
This looked like it might be some kind of workshop manufacturing the guardian figures.
Giant Chef Head and stack of teacups.
We stopped at a place called MOS Burger. (Josh says it stands for Mountain Ocean Sea, and back in the day it used to be blatantly a McDondalds clone. But it was pretty distinct, and tasty. Served notably hot. But again, I'm weirdly amused by the way the table thingy had a picture of a cow. Americans are so shy of thinking about the animals that they eat!
The Tokyo Honganji, HQ of the Hifashi Hongunji sect. Some kind of lecture was going on.
The row of vendors heading up to Sensoji Temple, one of the biggest attractions of Tokyo.
A pagoda behind the latterns.
More lanterns. Big stuff!
This vendor was makin' some intriguing seafood products, somewhat resembling the calamari I had the day before, but we settled for chocolate bananas.
Another cook in the vendor's row.
I liked this lone Buddha off to the side, a bit apart from all the action.
Looking down the other way, towards the crowds.
Josh pointed this out as a nice example of old style Japanese architecture, repurposed as a storefront.
We decided to check out some Kabuki! This is Kabuki-Za, one of the main theaters. We got 1000 yen (~$10) seats in the nosebleeds. It was pretty cool, but I was grateful for the English live audio track.
Post for the Kabuki theaters - some big names! No photos inside, sadly.
It Came From The Vending Machine -- odd diet coke can/bottle.
Josh says this used to be a high end Italian restaurant.
Side of a Hello Kitty Bus.
In fact, Hello Kitty seemed to be riding the Hello Kitty Bus.
So that was it for the day. We came home and then got a giant platter of sushi, take-out, nice way to end a Friday. So I thought I'd shoe you Josh and Tomomi's bathroom. They live along with their daughter Erin in a small apartment in Shin-Matsudo. It's cozy for three, and they have to live fairly precisely, but it seems to work pretty well.
First stop: a bit of a prefab medicine cabinet... not too exciting, but I admire that it has built in lights, and the toothbrush holder actually seems big enough to, you know, hold modern toothbrushes, which is something I don't see a lot of in America.
The tub is short but gratifyingly deep. Plus, though the shot doesn't show it, the whole room is a shower! You can see a run for drainage on the floor. It took me a while to get used to it being ok that all the water wasn't going into the tub...
Plus, digital water temperature setting. BRILLIANT! Even better than my German friends'.
Finally, the toilet. No Washlet (the infamous gadget that shoots water up your bum), but a very clever design with a small sink for cleaning your hands, using the water heading in to refill the tank.
AAAAAIIE! scary skimasks scary skimasks scary skimasks!!!
- ATI's classic show-off-your-videocard CGI percussion video. Heh, you know, now that full video is cheap and easy, no non-interactive video playback is going to be all that impressive to me.
- Designer Challenge: it's video of 9 chairs that can pack into a FedEx box. Most are just stools, and some are just wrecks, but a few are clever, and it's amusing to see the staff of CITY try to figure them out.
So today was another day taken at a leisurely place, sight-seeing-wise, but with plenty of hiking. Josh and I headed out to Hakone, near the base of Fuji, and then went toa traditional Hot Spring.
First off: today was clear enough that you could JUST see Mt. Fuji from the patio... this is gamma-corrected to make it more visible...
Back inside the apartment, Josh is doing a good job raising Erin:
Proof Japan is living 15 minutes into the future: their magnadoodles have TWO colors! AMAZING!
This Disenyfied bus was at Odawara on the way there.
Attractive restaurant by the roadside.
So, none of my pictures from the bus showing the lovely valleys or the constant hairpin turns really came out, so, uh, I give you this one:
Really dull American-tourist style shot at Hakone-Machi. We got some corn on the cob on a stick there, grilled, basted in soy sauce, wonderful. I wish I had taken a picture of the vendor pounding in the sticks with a mallet, it (sigh) would've made quite a nice shot.
An American-steamer themed ship "Frontier". Note the deer head at the top. Nice! Also, swan and panda boats on the other side of the dock.
So we started some hiking around the volcanic-crater lake. At one point, we came across this guy. At first we couldn't tell if he was, err, a guy, or some kind of recumbent scarecrow or something, and then we were suddenly thinking "bizarre horror film tableau" and hurried on our way.
There was a tree in the path.
The path was rather steep.
My attempt at a typical Japanese tourist photo.
Fuji behind trees.
Nice village view with boats, probably needs to be expanded.
Fuji and a Shinto Tori Gate.
Badly reflective shot of a neat stylized version of "hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil." Missing monkey for "so just do it!"
So, weirdly washed-out view of the Onsen, traditional hot springs spa. I saw many naked Japanese men. I like how they (and I, when in Rome etc) carried arond small white towels in front of their thingies, and then put those same white towels on their heads when relaxing in the hot water.
So, on the walk back to Moto-Hakone (village with the fishmonger and stylized monkeys) I saw this protective fence, stopping rocks from falling on innocent passerbys such as me and Josh. At one point the chain link had a hole cut in it for chainlink to pass through but I had to wonder, how did they get the tree through the hole? Or the rest of the fence around the tree? The tree branches out quite a bit. Kind of a Ship-in-Bottle situation.
Crane, Water, Rocks.
Josh does not think this is a very pretty river.
Finally, back in Shim-Matsudo. I like this logo on the side of a vending machine. Tommy Lee Jones used to advertise this stuff.
Finally, ending where we began, sign for the supermarket below Josh and Tomomi's apartment. I was more interested in it when he mentioned it was family owned, only two of 'em around Japan.
- Popular Mechanics debunks 9/11 myths.
- Odd anecdote: when I was a wee lad I was eating too many grapes so my mom put the bowl on... a piano, I think it is, out of reach. She comes in later to find me clambering up over the piano to get the little treasures, and my all-innocent response to her fierce look: "gapes... I yike gapes". That's a bit of a family catchphrase to this day.
- Thoughts of a 90-something year old guy -- all the way back to when he was an 88-year old guy!
Now reading: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This is actually a profoundly wonderful book, thanks for the suggestion Lex!
You know, I've taken almost 1,200 shots so far this trip. Yeesh!
Today was a bit of a repeat of last week, visiting the electronics store area Akihabra and meeting up with old college buddy Alex.
LAN3 asked for a shot of 7-11/iHoldings... here 'tis. Not too exciting.
Japanese shops usually put a sticker on stuff you just bought if there is no bag, or seal the bag if present...
So note the complexity of the Tokyo Japan Rail subway map. Also not the complexity of the ticket machines. Also ponder the difficulty in using said machines, which have an English mode, but often the maps don't have the place names written in Romanji, so figuring how much of a ticket you need is tough.
I was trying to make a balanced photo of the next subway train over.
Josh and I returned to Electric City Akihabra... this is the Taito Station arcade previously photographed, some gal DDRing, and a drummer drumming.
I was kind of surprised to see sit-down arcade machines, with little stools. When I met with Alex later he said this had been common for a long while.
This shop had nothing but those "gumball machine" type toy dispensers. My favorites were the Super Mario noise makers that played a sample from the game (200 Yen, ~$2 each) I have secret hopes that in a few years they'll be able to dispense little LCD video games. I mean they make those things for Happy Meals, why not here? Come on, get with it Japan!
Retro videogame store. I enjoyed the Pac-Man ghost wearing Mario's hat.
So I bought this random CD of Jpop (Alex was telling me something how it was actually some kind of synth voice) and when Josh and I came back to the store there was a costumed gal hawking it, so I got my picture taken.
So what I called a "department store" last week was actually just a "camera store", though it had pretty much the same range as a Best Buy, actually quite a bit more. Anyway, outside the store there was a robot for taking pictures with.
This was in a different store, "Bic Camera". Josh says "Bic" is probably Engrish for "Big". Which might explain these binoculars. My faith in Japanese miniaturization techniques is diminished.
Just a note on Tokyo fashion; this is a conservative version of what seems to be the most popular look, short skirt, and then either boots or socks almost up to the knee. I gotta admit, it's a pretty good look.
The 50 minute wait for Krispey Kreme donut. Oddly they were giving people in line free donuts to bribe them into waiting longer. But what if a single donut was all they wanted in the first place?
Demolishing some building or other...
Engrish on Alex's bag... "It is felt familiar always. SHELTER SPORTS. The time of when is also active and aiding people with a dream is continued."
NTT/DoCoMo tower, with lots of cellular and communication equipment.
At this point Josh headed back home to be with his wife and child so it was just Alex and me. Alex says this store is not actually pronounced "My Lord" even though it looks like "mylord"
Alex also had a bit of scorn for extremely strict Japanese interpretation of promising to meet someone "under the AltaVision" (Shown here). Waiting, you know, in the near area isn't enough... you have to be UNDER the SIGN.
Shinjuku district, entertainment and more.
Seperated at birth: this Tokyo building circa 2008, and the Northcal Headquarters of the Atari Technology And Research Institute, circa a 2005 that never was?
Design school ad image. It would seem to be a girltank.
Intriguing Traffic Halo.
Alex suggested this would be a cute photograph. He's probably right.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Its design is a little disturbing, this kind of modern reinterpretation of gothic spires.
The court area at the base of the building. Alex and I observed it looks like the area for a final boss battle. "Just break these statues on the outer part to reveal health powerups if you get damaged"
So you can go up that building, about 42 or so floors, and visit toy stores and see a pretty fantastic view of TOkyo.
The Eye of
Shinjuku at night.
I would have liked this shot more except for the guy at the bottom.
So Shinjuku is a bit of a redlight district, which was kind of fun, we had a few offers of various entertainments, nothing too exciting. And we decided against this Stewardess cafe. That kind of things not my bag, baby.
So we went to a Shabu-Shabu restaurant, where there's a big simmering dish with broth and veggies in the middle, and you cook thin pieces of beef and pork in it. All you can eat in 90 minutes for around 20 bucks! Tasty.
Terrible shot of the nightlife. They had a number of little bands setup. The odd thing was that it seems like the most important instrumentalists of these buskers were the drummers. I saw some solo drummers, and even one case that had a prerecorded background, a live singer, and a live drummer. That's what you can't see in the back center of this photo.
I navigated to Shim-Matsudo on my own for the first time, but I had done it enough with Josh that it was pretty easy. Especially for the train to Ueno, that had this helpful digital map of the Tokyo loop.
Finally, like the free English lesson on the monitor next said, time to call it a day...
- Random anecdote: We tried to get a "pep band" going for basketball games in high school but we were getting too much flak about not being able to play during the course of the game. I remember thinking how lame Mr. A's (the band director's) arguments were, something along the lines of... don't the refs use whistles? And aren't whistles tones? And aren't tones a form of music? So let the band play!
- Ah, the age old Satanic Lyrics when you play songs in reverse.
- "If one were to take the 25,000 word Oxford Pocket English Dictionary and take away the redundancies of our rich language and eliminate the words that can be made by putting together simpler words, we find that 90% of the concepts in that dictionary can be achieved with 850 words." --Ogden's Basic English. You wonder about the other 10%... how much is just technical? How much is poetry?
So today I set off once again on my own to Kanazawa on Japan's west coast.
It was a rainy day in Shim-Matsudo, though... I was impressed by all the people on bikes with umbrellas.
I was braving my first full-on Tokyo commute, but it wasn't bad as all that. I think I managed to avoid the worst of it by choosing cars at the ends, but I did see the classic image of uniformed railroad employees shoving folks in a bit further so the doors could close. I also saw these women with giant wicker baskets on their backs...
A beer ad I like, Josh says he's a well-known comedian.
Random digital annoucment board.I was just impressed because between the resolution and the font, it was the least electronic looking announcement billboard I've seen.
They generally have women cleaning all of the bathrooms, and guys just ignore them utterly and do what they need to do.
Sometimes, when two bullet trains love each other very much...
Shot from the train. I was in the bottom part of a 2 floor car, and the ground-level view was kind of neat as we sped past the platforms.
I changed trains in Echigo-Yuzawa. Outside the station things were covered with snow! (I was worried that I hadn't brought my fleece, but Kanazawa was only a bit brisker than Tokyo had been)
The scene outside the train was really beautiful;
I was thinking about how I had seen the image of snow used in Japanese art, and now I know why...
The train passed through tunnels (with a sudden pressure change to make your ears pop a bit) and eventually we got to
At the Kanazawa train station, I think this is some kind of advertisement for Hermes.
More lovely big architecture that you so often find by the train stations here.
They also had a very clever fountaint, again with a digital clock, and then messages in English and Japanese.
Close up of the "K" in "Kanazawa"
Kanazawa is a very art-minded town, from their historical arts and crafts to more modern fare. Statues grace many intersections...
Sometimes they're all nekkid!
This is the Shinmon outside the Oyama Jinja shrine. It has stained glass at top, was made in co-operation with some Dutch, and once acted as a bit of a lighthouse.
It had a lovely garden inside; Kanazawa has a lovely formal garden I'll be seeing, but this was a lovely contrast.
I like the walkway over the water.
And a water strider! Hadn't seen one of those since summer camp in upstate NY!
Close up of the map at the Shrine, showing the garden. I was thinking the street maps are odd here, because none of them seem to agree which direction to put North at. It occured to me that some of them may try to make it so the map is oriented with the way the viewer is standing, but even printed material can't agree.
For some reason I wanted to take a picture of the lone figure in the park, but I like how the shot came out in general.
I stopped by the Noh museum. I'm kind of intrigued by the oldest living drama form, but even most Japanese don't understand it well. The museum didn't have a lot to it, really, but there was a nice video on Kanazawa in general that you could watch in English.
Again, I don't know what it is with me and random Japanese people, and how I take a picture of them but pretend to be mostly interested in something else. Guy and a bike and a cherry tree.
Finally, to the hotel. It's near a pretty happening place, as you can see out the window...
I'm at a funny level of "connectedness" when I'm on a trip on my own. On the one hand, sometimes I end up wishing I had rented a cellphone so I could dial up Josh and ask him things as they occur to me, othr times I think it's good to not be quite that wired. (Plus, maybe not having that security blanket is a positive for both me and Josh...) But I'm able to get online wherever I go, and make this travelog and e-mail and msg with people in the mornings and evenings, and that's a far cry from days of old, and there's a bit less adventure for that.
Also I think about how the camera changes my logging style; I think it's very cool and visual but I'm not writing quite as much, or as deeply. Maybe at the end I'll try to rectify that and go over some topics, for people here and for my future self. I hope people have been enjoying it this far, maybe the picture style helps people ahare in the experience a bit...
This woman is inspecting what is supposedly Rasputin's Dong.
- For some reason, 3 years ago LAN3 provided me with a link about Carter getting attacked by a 'swamp rabbit'
- I've always wondered where the phrase "throw ___ under the bus" comes from, usually in the sense of "make ___ the scapegoat". It's seems a rather peculiar choice of metaphor... its not like buses demand sacrifices, or throwing someone under one will do much to slow down the bus. Maybe it's for better traction under ice conditions?
Mornings in hotels I tend to watch kids' tv, it's more interesting that the news and I like watching people teach English. There's this one show with muppet-like folk, they all play instruments along with a human pianist. I'm impressed with how much fidelity the instruments seem to be handled; they're not just holding them and flailing, which seems to be the standard for puppet musicianship.
Another show has a big dog, a little girl who also dances and sings, and then a bunch of younger kids who wander around and try to follow around. It's so very cute.
My breakfast from Mister Donut! (Nice counterpoint to Boston's Mister Sushi.) The shop seemed busier in the afternoon.
Japan is so 10 minutes into the future... Kit Kat with green tea AND Kit Kat with apple!
"Ah" and "Un" at the local Shinto temple. Thought I'd start the day making a token offering and asking for a good day taking in Kanazawa.
Since rain was forecasted for later I thought I'd start at Kenrokuen Garden, of Japan's best three gardens it's widely viewed as the finest. But many trees had supports to see it through the winter snows; I especially liked this one's crutch.
Midoritaki Waterfall; I guess waterfalls aren't common in this kind of garden, but I liked the way it breaks over rocks.
Nearby is Kaisekito Pagoda, nice stone structure.
I got interested in finding the source of the waterfall. This is part of the stream to it, I like how the path is broken by the small stream.
Another bridge, Gankobashi -- reminiscent of a geese in formation if taken as a whole, or of tortoise shells if taken individually.
The Neagarinomatsu Pine, majestic.
Plum blossom, purty.
In my typical attempt to find beauty just a little off the beaten path, a well...
Next to the teahouse it was SO GREEN.
I took green tea there, but was two shy to take this one shot of the lady serving it to us.
So I spent a few hours just walking around. After I headed over to neighboring Kanazawa castle. This is the corner of its wall.
Later, the view from where the last shot was pointing.
It strikes me Japanese is great for this kind of signpost, since you can write it vertically.
There's like a small forest up there. I of course got lost, because that's what I do in forests.
Who, me Tourist? I'm not sure if I found the actual castle or not. There was some part of something that was under heavy construction, and I never really went into anything. They had some storehouses but that was about it. So, not a very good tourist.
Many attractions in Japan have models of the area. I like that.
I really liked the 21st Century Contemporary Art Museum. These reminded me of my tuba playing days.
By far my favorite modern art work of the trip is Argentinian Leandro Erlich's "Swimming Pool"
Artwork you can really get into!
View from inside.
Another neat work was "Liminal Air", this kind of cloud of string things you could push your way through, like a stringy fog... very neat.
Don't know if it was art or design or what but I liked this rabbit ear chairs.
Compared to "Swimming Pool", American James Turrel's "Blue Planet Sky" was rather static...
So, that was the museum. I headed back and scouted out the territory near the hotel... lots of bars etc, the Kanazawa Scramble district, which I think is a refernce to the intersection where people can cross any of the six ways. Here's a scooter sporting something I've seen on a few bikes as well, odd handlebar mitts...
This is assembled from a snapshot of a McDonalds placemat (I know, I know... but they had this "Shaka Shaka Chicken" I wanted to try... kind of like DIY shake and bake. The lemon pepper version I had was really great, actually.) Anyway the placemat sported six people saying something about McDonalds, and ending with the same catchphrase (have to ask what it is.) Anyway, it got me thinking about people's handwriting with Kanji, which generally seems less robust to me than English letters... how bad can your Kanji be and still be legible?
Back at my hotel I realized... tonight is the season opener for the Red Sox! And they're in Japan too, so the time of day works out for me... here's Dice K warming up.
Here's Big Papi. The Sox struggle a bit at first, and I could kind of sense how the Japanese announcer was rooting for them... especially Dice K, it might well be a point of national pride there, seeing how one of their former stars is doing in American baseball...
Besides the grunts of disapproval and excitement at big plays, I like how the symbol for "Red Sox" (behind 0-2 in the 5th) kind of looks like a sock:
I see that scientists have decided that all blue eyed people have a common ancestor. Is there anything scientists can't do?
I think that this is patently bullshit.
How can it be that there is any possibility that I might be related to the fucking cretin that uses my Tabasco sauce without my express or implied permission?
--Things I Hate About My Flatmate
- The 10 Best Internet Fads.
- How to Make Friends by Telephone are some pointers from the early days of Bell... my favorite bits are "GLUB-GLUB-MO-BLON!" as what you sound like if you shout too loud, and "Speak TO the person at the other end of the line - - not TO the telephone - - then you're more apt to be pleasant and understanding" which, somewhat modified, is good advice for the Internet today.
So today, back to Tokyo. Kind of melancholy, I can feel a part of myself working to say good-bye to Japan, knowing that while a return trip isn't out of the question, it's not assured either.
A side note from the previous day... this is a close up of my stamped ticket for the gardens at Kanazawa. I was wondering why in printing the date they would put the first two digits of the year and not the final two, but, duh, that's just a coincidence... that's the "Emperor Year", 20 years into the Heisei era...
LAN3, dunno if your interest in Japan's take on 7-11 extends to "Sunkus", a similar store that seems to be borrowing the color scheme...
Man, Japan stores have a wide variety of drinks. I guess stores in the USA do to, but here there's a better variety of teas and coffees and fruit waters, not just colas and gatorades.
Including one called "Collagen Water". Tomomi says that's made of marrow of some kind. That's kind of gross. And very unkosher.
Went to a different Mister Donut. (Just a block or two from yesterdays
I suppose a truck full of asphalt chunks isn't particularly Japanese, but still.
So, Josh assures me this ain't a menorah. Actually it's satellite-based distance learning center.
So, besides being a photo of a pretty gal, this shows the result of what seemed like a magic trick... most seats in these express trains rotate 180 degrees! I was startled when one of the women fiddled with some leverish thing and whoop, there it went, facing the other way. A casual inspection of nearby seats didn't reveal the mechanism, so I was kind of relieved when a businessman guy turned that seat back; at least I knew it wasn't my imagination.
A sudden business meeting meant Josh couldn't meet me in Tokyo so I was on my own. I had two goals: get to the famous no-brand brand store "Muji" in Ginza, and then track down a store I had seen some gifts I wanted to pick up in the Electric District Akihabara. First mission accomplished:
Muji is kind of cool. It's probably most like Ikea (also like Ikea: it has a cafeteria. And like Ikea I got obsessed with it by reputation, the way I romanticize retail and chain restaurants I don't get to see). There's also a touch of, like, what the Gap was doing in the "Basic Pocket T" days. All this vehemently unbranded yet elegantly put-together stuff, it's kind of cool...
Back to Shim-Matsudo. I dunno if this is a gal cosplaying an anime character or an anime character designed to look like the gal, but either way the composition was interesting.
Ah, farewell to the Shim-Matsudo train station. I mean, I guess I'll see it on my way to the airport tomorrow, but still, it won't be the same.
Josh thinks that the Japanese aren't really big into flavors; like at Baskin-Robbins, a majority of people still go for Vanilla...
I just enjoyed the name of this breakfast place in Shim-Matsudo.... "Eggs Country!"
Really random note about Toyota cars here... this is is the Ist, the original of my Scion xA. But instead of a generic maker logo on the front, it's customized for the model... an interesting touch.
My final dinner in Japan; Pizza Hut! Josh is amused how this place lives up to the Hut-part of the name, just a little shack under the train tracks.
They had delivery scooters. I've seen similar scooters on the road elsewhere; it's crazy watching them take turns, the whole cargo section and seat tilts while the bottom section stays rock steady.
But it wasn't just America pizza.... it was Korean Barbecue Pizza! SO TASTY!
Pizza is pretty expensive here (like, $30 of expensive). So I guess they come up with stuff like this: hey... what if we put a HOTDOG into the crust? Or scratch that...a CHEESE HOTDOG!! But in this I'm afraid that Japan might be only like 4 or 5 minutes into the future and the USA will be hot on its heels.
So, this is probably my last daily update for the trip. I'll be doing some wrapup and summary stuff I'm sure, but tomorrow I fly back! I'll miss the place, I've had a great trip and I've enjoyed journaling it here, for folks to see and for my future self.
So during my trip I kept a list of "Japan Topics" on my iPhone, a few words to remind me of a topic I wanted to mention in the travelog... the thing was my daily updates were often done for speed, so most days I just selected, picked, and captioned the photos without so much verbiage.
On the plane ride back I decided to type up what I had to say while Japan was still fresh in my mind. It got pretty wordy though (also some if it reads as if I was typing on a tiny laptop keyboard while sleep deprived on a plane) so rather than taking up all the space here (or breaking it up over a course of days...) I made each iPhone note a link to display/hide what I wrote about that on the plane. Or just hit "Show All" and see just how wordy I got... there are a few last photos lurking in there to.
"biggest/ seems like land w.o. enough to do"
"there is a lot of language to ignore people don't read anyway - also USA fairly multilingual"
"land of cell ringtones"
"josh on students consulting each other"
"point cards / loyalty programs"
"internet cafe / overnight"
"frission of earthquake"
"thankful for robot"
"Einstein letter to FDR / military police committee minutes"
"little sense of big cities small when talking tickets"
"ask showing fingers over five"
"doorways step up over"
"use of please"
"rr pass envy and reserve seats"
"Japanese foreplay = 'brace yourself!'"
"formula at register / and tray / seasonal foods"
"green spot / eyelids Japanese"
"build boat on lake water?"
"fedora and alex"
"libraries in museums"
"tipping, lack thereof.. sales tax wired in / most coins clearly labled... big bills ok"
"rice balls are neither, sort of"
"stairs more for disembarking"
"trains and naps, warm... plus heated seats"
"conductor and cart ladies on train always bow"
"train timing makes up for not knowing Japanese"
"loyalty to objects I travel with"
So thanks again Josh and Tomomi and Erin... I had a fantastic great neat time there and it was all over way too soon...
OK, I know I've written an awful lot about Japan, and this should be my penultimate entry (assuming I get to assembling the list of interesting man hole covers I photographed...) While I really enjoyed assembling each day's travelog just after it happened, I kind of longed for a summary like I had for some previous trips -- a way of telling my future self, where the heck did those 14 days go? As well as having a single URL.
It's kind of odd that each day's entry starts with three random quotes or links, but oh well.
Fly to Japan, via DC instead of Chicago. Josh meets me at Narita Airport and we take trains to his place in Shim-Matsudo in Chiba.
Kamakura and Yokohama
Josh and I head to Kamakura. We hike all over place and see the Zen temple Engaku-ji, the larger Shinto temple Tsurugaoka Hachiman, wash money in (Zeniarai Benten) and adore Daibutsu, the outdoor giant Buddha. After we head back east to Yokohama, go up Japan's tallest building the Landmark Tower, hop the water-taxi, and then have dinner in Chinatown.
Akihabara, Takeshita Street and Harajuku
Josh and I meet up with my college buddy Alex. We geek out at the Electric City Akihabara, taking in one of the giant stores (Yodobashi-Akiba) and the weekly street fair. Then we see super-you-threndy Takeshita Street and chic Harajuku. Finally we have dinner near the famous scramble intersection (as seen in Lost in Translation when it had the giant dinosaur on the electronic billboard.)
I head out on my own to Hiroshima, walk to my posh (but cheap) hotel and pay my respects at the Atomic Bomb Dome. After I go gift hunting in the impressive Hondori shopping arcade.
I visit the Peace Memorial Park and with a heavy heart view the displays at the Memorial Hall. Then I hike across the city and up to the Museum of Contemporary Art and check out the Manga Library. Finally a train to Kyoto.
I take a bus tour of Kyoto along with some friend Finns and Norwegians. The rainy day tour features the elegant Nijo-jo with its Nightingale floors, the Golden Pavilion shrine, and the Imperial Palace. After a buffet lunch and light shopping at the Kyoto Craft Center I switch to the Nara tour for the afternoon, getting attacked by friendly but hungry deer outside Todai-ji, world's largest wooden building and home of a Buddha even larger than Daibutsu. I paint a tile there, the tour makes one last stop at the Shinto shrine Kasuga Taisha, and then it's back to the hotel, damp but happy.
I hop the train to Osaka, the third largest and most generally easy-going big city of Japan. I go to the of Osaka-Jo, have some squid on a stick, enjoy seeing a slightly twisted version of home in America-Mura, have more great vendor food, and then witness the restaurant apocalypse that is the Dotombori district. Finally I ride the Hep Five Ferris Wheel (starting on the 7th floor of the shopping center and spinning its way up) and catch the bullet train back to Tokyo
Ginza and Asakusa
Josh and I head through the Ginza and Asakusa district and take in Sensoji Temple, with its giant lanterns and huge festive row of vendors. Then we watch two great programs of Kabuki.
Josh and I journey out to Hakone, near the base of Mt. Fuji. We take a bus over steep climbs and scary hairpin turns and do a bit of hiking. We drink in magnificent views of the lake and Mt. Fuji, as well as a visiting a few neat shops. Finally I try the Japanese Onsen, natural springs, with nary but a little towel to hide my junk and then sit folded on my hand as I decompress in the hot water
Akihabra Again and Shinjuku
Another day in Tokyo. Josh and I go back to see some stuff we missed in Akihabra then we again meet up with Alex. After a brief respite in Starbucks Josh heads home and Alex and I head to the top of the neo-Gothic Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for more great views. We then see a bit of Shinjuku and have some great conversation over some Shabu-Shabu hot pot cooking.
to Kanazawa via Echigo-Yuzawa
Time to head to the west coast on my own, this time to Kanazawa. The snow covered landscape near the Echigo-Yuzawa station is just breathtaking. I walk to my hotel, taking in some cool public sculptures and then see the Oyama Jinja shrine with its lovely rustic pond gardens. I get a feel for the city watching a video at the minimalist Noh Museum and then head to my hotel, right in the heart of the Katamachi scramble area.
A brief stop at a Shinto Shrine and then I spend hours exploring Kenrokuen Garden, arguably Japan's finest. I follow the water, see some shops, and take tea. Then I get lost in small forest of Kanazawa Castle, never sure if the storehouses I saw were all there were to see because of the construction or if I was just lost. I then experience the delight of the 21st Century Contemporary Art Museum, including the so-brilliant permanent installation Swimming Pool. A quick dinner at McDonalds (lemon pepper shaka shaka chicken is weirdly good) and then I see the Red Sox opening the season against the A's.
I walk to the train station and then head back to Tokyo. On my own I hunt down the brandless brand store Muji (at last!) as well as a particular shop in Akahabra I wanted to check out for some gifts. Back one final time to Shim-Matsudo where Josh and I head out for some pizza - Pizza Hut, but Korean BBQ style!
All the things I didn't have time to fully ramble about when putting together the previous updates.
A quick postscript, manhole covers that seemed a little interesting at the time.
Ugh, break-up today.
Sigh, like Milan Kundera wrote "We never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come."
Japan of the Moment
So one odd series of photograph I took in Japan were manhole covers. Not every one I saw, but I saw a few that caught my eye, either because of design, or with a splash of cover, or because the hole was in grass instead of asphault, etc...
That last one probably is the one that got me noticing them on one of the first days, but I didn't think to photograph it 'til the end.
So, like I suggested yesterday, EB and EBSO and EBB and I went to the Topsfield Fair...
EBM and Mac, faithful canine, seeing us off.
It is getting to be foliage season. (Sigh, nature's beautiful coma.) I like the layer effect and motion in this photo.
One of the other rides they had there was the "Earthquake"... I loved the art on the side...
But you know, if you were really trying to survive during a major geological upheaval and resulting catastrophe, maybe it would be better NOT TO HAVE A LIT STICK OF DYNAMITE IN YOUR HAND. Just sayin'.
I guess a more recent variant on "Calvin peeing on a [Chevy|Ford] Symbol" is "Calvin kneeling at the Cross".
EBSO+EBB, nice mother/daughter photo.
So we saw us some agriculture and livestock... Topsfield is the oldest agricultural fair in the USA (since 1818!)
They had big pumpkins...
REALLY BIG pumpkins.
I tried to capture the stately dignity of a cow.
[INSERT JOKING ABOUT HAVING ALL YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW HERE]
Of course one of the best parts of any fair are those giant turkey legs...
O jeez this is awkward.
Not only working today but there's the regular all-division townhall meeting at 8:30... Nokia Finnish overlords know not from Columbus!
<<we've got a long way to go / it's beyond Martin Luther, upgrade computer>>
Listening to MP3 playlist versions of R+B mixtapes I made for my car in 1996. The 90s were a good decade for mixtapes.
"Now lets take it on home! 'Cause ummm.... we gotta go home!" --Marge Simpson, "Springfield Soul Stew" (2 comments)
--impressed by the deftness of this Python/Trek mashup. (via)
Photoblog of the Moment
So I'm not sure if I'll be able to match the photoblog I made in Japan last year, in terms of # of photos, in terms of internet access, in terms of Europe not being as exotic as Japan. (Heck, in terms of me lying about the apartment too much, though I'll try not to overdo that)
Still, here's a day of it. Because I didn't think things through, I ended up having an overnight stay in London. But it worked out ok, I got to see a little bit more than I would have otherwise, and maybe a layover in an English-speaking but foreign country helped ease the transition...
So, leaving Friday...
I'm on a plane! I'm on a plane! (not a boat - that would be slow.)
For reasons that are not clear to me, for the London-Lisbon hop I went for an aisle seat, and missed some better photops, but here's a castle on the way to London...
Like I mentioned, I love the "Look Right"/"Look Left" warnings they paint near the curb. (Of course, England seems to be very fond of posting lots of conservative, safety-minded warnings and disclaimers.)
Teehee, they call them "Bedrooms". Which I guess is accurate. But still cute.
I decided my schedule would be tight enough the next morning that I didn't want to risk travelling into London proper, so I explored the neighborhood near the Thistle Heathrow. The neighborhood seems to be strongly against the addition of a 3rd runway.
I thought I noticed a pub as the shuttle was approaching the hotel... The White Horse pours a good pint. (I decided not to be all touristy and photopgraph the interior, though I love the classic barman outfit.)
Again, the British fondness for safety. (Like, most people on bikes seemed to have dayglo vests with reflect stripes, the kind of stuff I usually associate with rescue workers.)I like the glowiness of these markers.
Finally, back at the hotel, one of the channels had this: no sound, no movement, just this:
Photoblog of the Moment
Open Photo GalleryAt Heathrow, people working the hotel information desk will cheerfully tell you the wrong shuttle #. And people at hotel desks will gladly inform you of the wrong terminal to show up at the next morning.
Still Heatrhow Terminal 3 looks pretty surreal before dawn - the purple lights are very odd...
We took a bus to the plane rather than boarding at a gate, which is always kind of a nice view.
In Lisbon! I kind of was ok calling this just a travel day, without too much touristy stuff, chilling out and at night doing the Glorious Trainwrecks Klik of the Month Klub.
The tags in Lisbon are often that nice, full, "West Coast" style... (Cue discussion with my host Johnny about whether "tags" are considered "graffiti" or if the latter is something seperate.)
View from Johnny's sixth floor flat:
Portuguese Chinese Food - Johnny suggested (correctly) that it's always kind of neat to see how the core of Chinese food gets interpreted in various countries...
English has a big vocabulary, but Portuguese has a word, "brinde", for the secret toy surprises you get inside, say cracker jack or cereal.
--Time Lapse from an AMAZING $150 space balloon photography project - brilliant!
Photoblog of the Moment
Yesterday I walked around Lisbon on my own after getting up at the crack of 1PM. (Those external blackout shades they have here, with the pullcord on the inside, are terrific for that, just wonderful.)
Open Photo GalleryI just liked the variety of vibrant trees outside of Johnny's place.>br?
Oh, Portugal. Really?
It turned out that the Metro station was hiding behind that Chili's. These are the steps leading out of Rossio station ... you can see the Castelo de São Jorge...
Fountain at Praça de Dom Pedro IV
The colors didn't look like that when I took the picture, I thought--
There were some tents setup for some moped sellers, and I like this box that raised up out of the ground to provide electrical outlets.
The nearby Praça de Figueira--
The thing you notice about this part of town is height, like these people on a high patio.
At this point I had gotten a bit confused (mixing up the train station with the metro on the map) so I decided to go...up! To the castle, since I figured if I kept climbing I wouldn't miss it.
I kept digging much of the graffiti there, though I could see it getting old after awhile.
Policeman and pigeon.
Boy Toy! Boy Toy?
And they stickered things too.
Already you can see I'm gaining some altitude...
Nice tile work.
Cops in a "ramona". And a woman in a black and white dress.
The view from the top of the castle was superb!
So much bustle.
But I'm not at the top yet...
Just kind of liked this shot, with people.
Cat, fascinated by the door of a restaurant kitchen up there.
Then you turn the corner and AAH! STATUE ASS!
I was really struck by the trees up there, such a blend of stone and wood.
It was getting to be early evening, so the shadows were nice.
Again, more trees.
So, right, a bit higher up.
And at the base of that flag pole.
This woman had the greatest T-shirt but I was too shy to take a photo when she was facing me, so I snuck this one in.
"Photography isn't about photos. Photos never come out right. It's about ADVENTURE."
Another cat. In Portugal it seems to be not uncommon to leave food out outside for stray and outdoor cats.
And I was surprised a bit by the cats up there, but peacocks! I had no idea.
Nice slab of a table with benches.
Again, the place had a nice visual complexity.
And I love the cobblestones
More tiles. Not the best ones they had, but orange. (Miss you Amber!)
I'm not sure what my camera was focusing on, but I like how this one came out.
Elevador de Santa Justa - odd little thing to see...
Man, where can I rent one of these?
Skater gal outside a the Archaeological Museum...
More graffiti, back near Johnny's...
You know, if you're gonna name a car "Picasso", shouldn't you have a more creative distribution of wheels, steering column, gear shift, etc?
Johnny made Chickpea salad (Chickpeas and Tuna (or dried salted codfish), seasoned with Olive Oil, Vinegar, Onion, Salt, and Parsley. She didn't like how it came out but I thought it was super-tasty.
I cut the onions. I had the hardest time with this knife though-- luckily it wasn't super sharp because I kept using it backwards (!) Here the sharp side is on the left, and of course it's obvious if you're looking for it - but something about the general shape of the knife, the curve being on the dull side, was very confusing...
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/opinion/20cameron.html?_r=1 - "I want to ask if it is in your heart to forgive me. You don't have to." and other last words on Texas' Death Row. (12 comments)
Photoblog of the Moment
So the day started off kind of oddly - we thought we had ordered tickets for me for a quick hop over to Madrid, but the airline didn't get the message, so after some fumbling with getting around the airpot I took a bus over to the Oriente area. Near the Metro stop I saw this brilliant tacky old-Mini Cooper...
Open Photo Gallery
With a matching limo. Sweet!
Man with Orange Tie (hi Amber!) Actually, Johnny pointed out that photos with people are more interesting than just architectural type photos.
Err, despite that, here's a boring old architectural photo, but I like the kind of Mediterranean colors.
I dunno, I just thought it interesting that "Real Indiana" would not make a good name for an Indian restaurant in the USA.
So I decided to spend the day at the Oceanário, the world's second biggest aquarium and Europe's largest. Also, in the back here is a Gondola ride I later took.
Heh, unlike Japan I haven't taken many photos of manhole covers...
Sea Monster art there.
There central aquarium is so big and beautiful. The theme is "One Ocean, One World" emphasizing the interconnectedness, and they say the tanks recreating all these different environments of the world are actually still connected, echoing the theme.
Even with sharks, this bruiser (Ocean sunfish aka
Alcids! (Puffins are a type of those but these are a different type.)
So much dignity.
No wait, is that a Puffin after all?
...and another view of the bruiser.
Everyone loves Penguins. The signs said they're very proud of having a successful and breeding colony.
Johnny, who is on the verge of finishing up her thesis to become a vet, spent a year at the Oceanário - working with penguins and alcids! She says she was the first the penguins trusted enough to take food from her.
They mention for kids they have a "sleeping with sharks" program, where kids set up sleeping bags etc and drift off with these guys there. Sweet dreams kids!
A face only an ichthyologist could love.
The famous "dude vacuuming fish poo" fish.
It's also fun to watch the humans watching the fish.
Hard to duplicate the great sense of depth the central tank offered.
Actually, Monday is one of the feeding days, so I kind of lucked out.
Cool little shrimpy dude.
All done! There were some interesting tile patterns outside.
Interesting restroom symbol. Johnny thinks it might mean telling about co-ed kind of stalls... (maybe where parents can go in with children?)
The Oceanário is near the Expo '98 grounds, and there's some neat stuff, a lot of large scale exhiibits playing with water, music, and other enchanting and somewhat educational things.
They had these stepping stone paths.
One of the toys, filled with a slow moving viscous liquid you could see pour itself around the bits inside.
On the Gondola...
...view of the area.
Oddly sexy fountain...
And an interesting take on mermaids.
I was wondered if it was really ok to park a smart car sideways... guess so!
Interesting take on a hot dog, with pickled carrots, bacon, mayo and crispy bits. Texture- and flavor-wise it reminded me of that "kind of soba sandwich/taco on that styrofoam-like pink stuff you sometimes see at chinese restaurants" Osaka, Japan...
Took the metro back to Johnny's flat, and then we decided to head for a walk on the beach at Caparica... got my feet wet (kind of a ritual requirement for me when I'm oceanside even when the water is bracingly cold, like here) on this side of the Atlantic for the first time.
Johnny and her dog Papoila. She lives with 2 cats (one with only 3 legs after a 6 story fall) and this beauty, and I've never seen a more smoothly running pet-ish household.
Dunno why I like these trees so much, and the public art.
We ended with a nice meal. I got meat on a skewer. Damn but I love things grilled on skewers. She got fish eggs still in the ... like, wherever fish keep their eggs. But they're tiny tiny, not like caviar, just enough to make an interesting, faintly crumbly texture. Tasted good though especially with a bit of olive oil and lemon.
Finally we ended up going to an arts and crafts kind of minfair, maybe more of a bazaar...
Heh, had to love the "knickers as dreamcatchers" setup they used to display their wares...
Traditional Portuguese bags for groceries etc.
Finally tasty traditional Farturas (technically Porras), the traditional way for thees folks to get their necessary allotment of fairground fat-and-dough. I had mine filled with doce de leite...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8201997.stm - hunting for fun/goofy leading economic indicators. (6 comments)
Open Photo Gallery
--skip to 1:00 or so
Photoblog of the Moment
Another beautiful day in Lisbon. Some youngish girls pointed out that today the Metro was free. And later I found out, so was the bus, and the train.
Anyway, my shadow with some modern art gracing a parking garage near Baixa-Chiado.
Portugal has some of the old trams kicking around. They seem to use them kind of interchangably with diesel and electric buses.
Random beautiful building out the window of the bus. Gorgeousness is everywhere in this city!
Another random and beautiful wall.
So my goal was "Feira da Ladra" - literally (in Spanglish) "Bandita's Fair" - a giant twice weekly flea market of sorts- (NB: Johnny objects strenuously to the use of Spanglish to translate when there is a perfectly good word "Bandida")
Lots of activity! It was pretty big.
Not atypical setup--
Presumably this cluster of women wasn't for sale, though they're kind of set out the same way.
The fair was in the shadow of the National Pantheon (was going to be a church 'til the money ran out) --
View up the Pantheon from the outside.
The Pantheon was almost an afterthought but man -- it was HUUUGE and GORGEOUS.
The dome at the top was so high up...
Amália was a much beloved singer who is entombed there, and they seemed to be having some kind of special exhibit about her, with a looping video presentation about half way up - here she is in an old ad.
So I climbed all the way up - this the view
There weren't many tourists there (maybe they realized quicker than I did that the outside patio was closed for repairs, so I missed another nice view of the city, but hey.) Still I had a nice moment sitting in the coolth, reviewing my plans with my copy of "Let's Go!", and listening to the kind of haunting echoes of Amália's fado.
Such a cute little car. Smells when it runs, though.
So after a little more getting lost I hopped on a (free!) train to Cascais, a nice little beach town. The train is treated a bit like the extension of the metro, I'd say: tickets are checked by automated gates, rather than onboard.
Palm-lined streets there.
Popped into the mall for some sunscreen. I think this is the outside of a cinema there.
I was a little stunned to see a Game Stop that was pretty much exactly the same as every other Game Stop in the world.
Sort of like holding the knife the wrong way, based on some expectations and visual cues, I almost got on the wrong escalator. I guess I'm really used to escalators set up so you can just turn the corner and go up the next one. Johnny says they're generally all like this in Portugal.
Ok, other bit of random culture: the new default shopping cart is this deep basket with wheels and a handle... it used to be regular carts or hand baskets only, this seems like a smart compromise.
I've seen this odd little module ice cream stores a lot of places as well.
Street entertainer, one of those pseudo-statue guys. He gives you a lolipop.
I saw this in downtown Lisbon as well - a street performer making big bubbles.
I think the beaches were more swimming-friendly a bit down the coast, but I pseudo-ritually got my feet wet.
Oh and the beach had pigeons.
I still dig the kind of yellow wall motif that shows up so much.
So, one of the big appeals of Cascais is "Boca do Inferno", "Hell's Mouth". They say you can hear the devil whispering in the sound of the waves splashing on rock. Here it looks like it took a bite out of the sign...
Oh, and roll-y billboards are pretty common around here, mostly I've seen them in malls and stuff in the states.
View from the back of Hell's Mouth.
Fishrmen doin' their fishermen thing.
Front of Hell's Mouth.
There was this little shaded nook I wanted to crawl into and read and listen to the water.
Unfortunately, instead of the devil whispering I mostly heard this woman yamering on her cellphone, so I figured it was time to move on.
Final view of the inside...
I liked this dog towel better when I thought the dog was wearing a little red and white party hat.
I don't know if this structure has a name, but I hope it translates as "heck's mouth".
Odd, minimalist car dealership.
Cute red car though.
This Eau de Toilette bottle was just sitting there. And it was labeled "Alone" appropriately enough.
Woman regarding some modern art outside the fortress. I liked how her hat kind of reflects the art.
The smart car "forfour". Not sure I get the point.
I decided it would be clever to walk through the shady streets and of course got lost. Again.
Heheh. "Beer boutique".
Oh so THAT'S why all the trains etc were free...
I don't know if it's Portuguese or European or just a city thing, but I love the small elevators here, with each floor having a rather normal door that you just you know, open - there's no extra safety door, but it's well put together so you don't really have to worry getting a finger caught or anything. Here is a horrible and useless picture of it.
From space, astronauts can see people making love as a tiny speck of light. Not light, exactly, but a glow that could be mistaken for light--a coital radiance that takes generations to pour like honey through the darkness to the astronaut's eyes.
In about one and a half centuries--after the lovers who made the glow will have long since been laid permanently on their backs--metropolises will be seen from space. They will glow all year. Smaller cities will also be seen, but with great difficulty. Shtetls will be virtually impossible to spot. Individual couples, invisible.
The glow is born from the sum of thousands of loves: newlyweds and teenagers who spark like lighters out of butane, pairs of men who burn fast and bright, pairs of women who illuminate for hours with soft multiple glows, orgies like rock and flint toys sold at festivals, couples trying unsuccessfully to have children who burn their frustrated image on the continent like the bloom a bright light leaves on the eye after you turn away from it.
--Jonathan Safran Foer, "Everything is Illuminated"
"You've gotta choose people who aren't much more motivated than you are - but don't surround yourself with total narcissists. Otherwise, things start to be about something other than you."
--Wonderfalls (14 comments)
Photoblog of the Moment
Open Photo GalleryÉvora was the destination today... another rise around dawn and tons of tromping around.
My camera battery started giving warnings early on, so I used the foggy glass viewfinder all day - everything looked like a crappy old postcard, and it was tough to frame things correctly. Don't know if that will show up for other people in the day's set--
Football stadium near Johnny's flat- parking at her place is fun on game nights.
Interesting comic-ish mural at Oriente station.
Oriente train station has some very cool architecture, and the whole place has this sci-fi vibe. The word "Oriente" means Eastern, like our "Orient" and a few times when I've actually used the sun to navigate, I figure that must be where the word comes from...
Capela dos Ossos - the "Chapel of Bones" - "We bones here, for yours await" (WARNING: spooky stuff awaits...)
AAHH! The cleaning lady!
Seriously, this place is the ultimate Memento Mori...
A translation of a poem by Padre António da Ascenção posted there:
Where are you going in such a hurry traveler?
Pause ... do not advance your travel;
You have no greater concern,
Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.
Recall how many have passed from this world,
Reflect on your similar end,
There is good reason to reflect
If only all did the same.
Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
Among all the many concerns of the world,
So little do you reflect on death;
If by chance you glance at this place,
Stop ï¿½ for the sake of your journey,
The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.
Saint Francis Church, and the path to that chapel.
The inside of St. Francis was huge and breathtaking.
St. Theresa -
Hit of stained glass light -
Squat toilets near the public garden. Word of these in Portugal and not, say, North Africa dismays Johnny.
Roman ruins abound this town. Actually the whole town is an exercise in building towns on top of other towns.
Just a note, this is how they label streets in Portugal, on the side of buildings on the corner.
"Temple of Diana", though every guidebook is way too quick to point out that it probably was just dedicate to the general imperial cult, not Diana.
The Graça church!
With figures of Atlas. They have 4 of 'em there!
Incidentally, these little ice cream freezers are everywhere here (or at least in all the touristy bits) I think I remember that from last time I was here. (Heh, the closest thing I've seen in the USA are those "Circus Time" or something ones up in Boston 'burbs, kind of ghetto.)
I took an audio walking tour, which made me feel like a bit of a tool, but I learned more than I would have otherwise.
Guy at the university...
Random fountain at a traffic roundabout. I was kind of bummed you couldn't really go up to it.
It's good to be king, baby!
So it was a day of gentle(ish) hazing for students beginning university... lots of marching hand-on-shoulder, singing this one song to the tune of "Oh when the saints", etc etc...
They were bossed around by older students in suits and capes.
The Cathedral of Évora -
- they let you walk around the roof of it, for reals!
Beautiful view up there. I found a shady spot and read for a bit.
Hi there! (You know, I kind of dig offering to take a picture of a couple together who are taking photos of each other, and then seeing how their shot of me comes out.)
So, yeah, another building of outstanding age and tremendous beauty, yadda yadda. No, I kid, it was pretty neat, but I was cranky I couldn't take photos of the art and stuff.
My train ticket was for pretty late, so I had some time to kill. One of the discoveries I made was this nifty small gallery of great moments in design, the collection of Paulo Parra...
Heh, would Lego feel different if it came in neat boxes like that?
The gallery was in an old chapel - I'm sure the proximity of this to the old sacred relics was deliberate.
Bye town square! And good bye camera battery - everything after this I took with my iPhone.
Super Bock is the big local beer. Johnny says it has a great reputation - at first I thought it was a bit thin, but I kind of warmed up to it.
At the train station, it was kind of funny how the guy just climbed in and - you know, started up the train. I don't know why that struck me as strange, to start a truck kinda like a big old diesel truck, but still.
We set a course for a lovely sunset.
I guess it's rude to take photos of strangers without getting permission, but I just loved the relaxed pose of these girls heading home on the subway.
Finally, for no particular reasons, 3 fire hydrants (2 from earlier in the day)
MOMWARNING: Very, very weird, and just a tad homoerotic. But fun!
Open Photo GalleryPhotoblog of the Moment
A more lowkey day today, after all the hiking around I kind of needed it.
Pigeons in the park...
We went for a drive to Johnny's university, so she could hand in a revision of her veterinary thesis (she showed it to me, and the image of the post-surgery albino rat was... really something. Like a Zombie Rat from Beyond the Grave...) Anyway, I was surprised to see so much woodland so near Lisbon.
Johnny reports that these are hookers!
The view from the vet school was awesome, the river, the bridge...
...the monastery, I think she said.
Johnny reports many, many hours studying at this table.
Interesting Coke Light can.
But it can't all be Diet Coke cans - they have lovely trees as well!
Monument honoring a Portugal->Brazil plane trip.
Belém Tower was the main stop here, this excellent old sea fortification. ("Belém" is Bethlehem in Portuguese.) It used to have cannons and guarded the river.
Recognized the stone crest from the flag, I think...
Again just some neat stone work.
Reproduction of an old engraving of a rhinoceros.
I like the dark/light stone tiles. and the light in this one.
The funny thing was, there was only one skinny spiral staircase up and down, so groups of tourists had to form trains to withstand the trffic jams.
Pretty view up top.
Johnny's car is down there, along in the distance is a monument celebrating the Portuguese explorers and sense of exploration.
View down the other way.
The little turrets for people to sit and keep watch...
This was one of the best smelling monuments I've seen 'cause it smells like the beach. And I don't know all the words but who doesn't know the language of a heart written on sand?
Model of the place, for a different perspective.
Again, I dig this bridge-
It's so big, the trucks look so small on it.
More interestingly colored buildings.
Johnny outside her flat... at this point I'm getting ready to bid her a grateful adieu...
...waiting for Marcos outside the Telheiras Metro
My mom and I hosted Marcos for a year of AFS back in Cleveland, '91-'92. And somewhere along the way he became a very decent cook--
He grilled pork and beef and veggies on some electric grills outside.
His house, where he lives with Eliane and their two kids, in a neighborhood right by the top of the aquaduct and right under the planes, is very nifty, with a courtyard with a small pool. I'm standing on the guest bedroom, and in front of an office they're renovating- I'm so jealous they live in a place where you can sensibly have part of your house just open to the sky...
Handsome devil, Marcos.
We chatted pretty late, but we had a little help...
...in case you couldn't tell.
SPECIAL BONUS Alright, photos not taken by me, to placate "Secret Admirer" (and beause Johnny feels bad for vetoing the results of my attempt to get a "family portrait")
J.I.P., Hum-Hum (pronounced "Whom" but with the Hanukkah-style H), and Papoila--
Same beach we were at this week...
Papoila has an endearing habit of attempting to dig for Tibet when at the beach--
Botswanan roads are famous for having big potholes and big wildlife to avoid. There's a joke among South African overland drivers: if you see two eyes in the middle of the road while driving through Botswana at night, chances are it's a giraffe standing in a pothole.
--Conor Woodman "The Adventure Capitalist"
--Thanks to the (maybe meanspirited?) People of Walmart site, many many more people now know the inexplicable video genius of RickyTic3
Photoblog of the Moment
My antepenultimate morning in Portugal! That pretty much stretched right into my penultimate morning in Portugal...
Open Photo Gallery
Breakfast, rolls with cheese and/or nutella-
I guess Marcos' street can be pretty quiet...
So Marcos and I set out for the "Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art". Here is an action shot of a tram he liked...
I think this is the monastary--
Amber-- DISASTER FILM! (I actually have little idea what that's about.)
Marcos thought the architecture blended in with the area well - actually this is kind of across the street from the Bethlehem Tower.
Abstract work of green glass outside the museum,
or rather, of many wine bottles-
A call to arms to create!
"Google Plane" had a sky painte underneath and aeriel shots of the ground painted on top. This is where a helpful guy told us that while the area is littered with banners mentioning the free ticket nature of Berardo, it's not actually, you know, available as they switch stuff around over this month.
Its ok though - one of the exhibits they did have was "quick, quick, slow" (and a right sexy name for an exhibit that is), a part of a multi-site "EXD'09 Experimental Design" set of exhibits. "quick, quick, slow", subtitled "word, image, and time" had some cool historical bits as well as some web- and java-based things not unlike some of the Java processing stuff I do. You can see this Calendar that John Maeda made for Shiseido in 1997. (I need to check out the rest of his site)
One of the historical pieces, this one was showing the divorce rate in German in the first part of the 20th century.
Another one of those things you could see online - it had a potentially interesting study in historical and comissioned screensavers, but as soon as you wiggled the mouse it just went back to this not so interesting page, with some links.
They also had a collection of great movie opening credits, from "North by Northwest" to "Lost in Translation". Back in the lobby, I liked how they showed what you can and can't do in the place.
Then we had lunch with Marcos' best friend Diogo... the riverside restaurant had a great setting.
Man, rental scooters - you'd have to be a bit brave to take one of those around town I think.
We happened to see his kids heading home with the sitter so we gave them a lift... sleepy family moment.
Then Marcos and I set out to see the aqueduct from the top--
It's kind of nice how it curves along. There were just too sleepy park guard types at one end, I'm sort of surprised its not more popular, but then again, maybe not.
At one point because of some construction you have to duck inside and go across.
Overlooking the town
Looked like a model trainset...
Coming back the sky looked threatening, but you know, I've never seen rain in Portugal.
Dunno what kind of berries these are--
Ahh, beautiful time to lay back and watch the planes...
Ok, enough of that, time for futebol!
So for dinner, 10ish (it is striking how much more night-oriented life is here) we went to the restaurants and bars riverside. They had fish--
Marcos and Eliane--
It was under the bridge - the howl of the traffic was something. As were the fish...
These fish are the river's equivalent of scroungy pigeons or rats--
So we came home, then around midnight it was time to head out. We met up with his older brother Manuel and HIS friend Diogo, and then we went to Bica-- I think this is the "Elevador da Bica" for the long and steep-ish street. Most of the life seems to be spilled out on the street, as you can kind of see behind the trolley.
In one of the bars, they had one of those claw machines, but it was crumpled up, original signed and numbered artwork.
Working the crowd was a guy selling veggie burgers...
Alright, time to look for another bar.
Entrance to the next place was kind of under the bridge--
Not many worthwhile shots from inside, where it some kind of book launch party was wrapping up, but by the time we were done it was - yees, 4?
We had to go walk for Marcos' car--
but we'd have to rush back / to the towns best baker / to get the first bread of the morning / there's more to life than this...
...for example, at the other bakers, there are those super tasty Berliner-type dounts.
Marcos family has an apartment right next to brilliant poet Fernando Pessoa, he of the Heteronyms...
http://www.universityonyouthanddevelopment.org/ - Marcos set this up, with his role in the Council of Europe (sort of a non-defunct European League of Nations)
--from a Series of Video Game makeovers. Would be fun to use graphics like this in a real game.
Photoblog of the Moment
My final day in Portugal! Marcos and I decided to hit Sintra.
Open Photo GallerySaturday morning cartoons - this one seemed pretty good, sort of a "fantastic voyage" thing, here I think they're exploring follicles and goosebumps.
Random Portugal: these bookshelves seemed rather popular (read: I saw them both at Marcos' and Johnny's), along with those kind of folders for magazines and papers and stuff.
My own footsteps outside the bath amused me.
It's nice being easily amused.
Yo Dawg, I heard you like garage doors...
Random Portugal: you order "café", espresso is the default.
Random Portugal: I think the European standard plug might make more sense than the American/Japan. It just seems more durable.
Plus, you can have light, non-grounded versions.
At the museum yesterday I boguht a book about "Contemporary Photography as Art" so now I'm all pretentious.
One thing I forgot to mention is, political season is in full swing here - todays the "day of reflection", the day between when all campaigns have to be ended and the voting on Sunday. Here are some of the party billboards:
So today was the highup attractions of Sintra. Marcos mentioned that the mountain the palace is on has its own microclimate.
But before we tackle the castle, lets see the toy museum! It was kind of dominated by Playmobil.
Marcos was really taken by the floor of toy soliders... actually, many of the photos from here on him were by him.
Man, that man ruined a perfectly reasonable mustache option, forever. Among other things.
A cleansing dash of Boy Scouts.
Soldiers of ancient times were also present. Lots of action here.
And the Egyptians
And naked cavewoman???
Oh, come on! You can't fight with your junk all out in the open like that!
Game about getting to heaven, I think.
Marcos points out dolls can be really, really creepy.
And creepily gothy.
They had a neat model of a German town on the ground floor (and, yeah, Portugal and all of Europe #s its floors starting with "zero", which appeals to the computer geek in me)
You know what this world needed? Vodka in a tube.
So we grabbed the bus up the road. The winding road had hairpin turns everywhere, the driver was kind of amazing.
Even at the end of the bus line, there was plenty of climbing to be done. The photo doesn't show it well, but the foliage is this crazy blend from all over the world.
The castle is a nice blend as well.
Kind of expensive though, and the high cost relative to other just as interesting things combined with their "don't photograph anything inside" shtick made me cranky, as you can see here.
The view was expansive.
Only in Japan had I previously seen hills that fade into the mist like in the game "Koronis Rift".
Marcos lookin' like he owns the place.
Kirk lookin' like... I dunno, an angry genie?
See ya later, castle.
Cheese-based sweet - "queijadas de Sintra" - the area is known for - awesome, especially the crispy texture of the outer crust.
Here kitty kitty...
The Salvation Army!
Castle in the distance.
Guess it's always nice to see construction during economic down times. The Portuguese just refer to it as "the crisis". (One T-shirt on Bica street last night said "F*** the Crisis", sans the *s)
Finally back home, we watched Marcos' and his son's favorite team "Sporting Lisbon" take on Porto - here's Tomás right before Porto's single and deciding goal.
Tomás and Laura dressed in team colors.
Tomás' pretty inventive maneuver to retrieve the pool'd ball.
Jeez those are cute kids!
--Best Fight Scene Ever? Cracked has analysis and a few other candidates
Open Photo GalleryPhotoblog of the Moment
Home again, home again.
Again I wish I knew why footprints amuse me so.
Again, I wish I knew why having an active communist party (getting a solid 8-9% of the vote, though with a demographic that is skewing older) fascinates me so.
Again, I wish I knew why airplanes grab my attention so.
I know I shouldn't be taking so many photos in airports, lest I look like a security risk. Still, the way they had all the planes lined up in the open was neat. A sign claimed that some kind of regulation forces them to have the shuttlebus system, I was wondering what the issue was.
This is the new "Flight Connections" logo for Heathrow. (On one video screen I saw an older version where the planes are both level)
...the thing is, Heathrow, at smaller scales those planes totally look like moose antlers.
I again was a moron about my flight times, and had a totally gratuitous amount of layover at Heathrow. I guess I was thining that I wanted to arrive in Boston as late as possible in order to have a bit more time in Portugal, but, duh, I just ended up with a longer layover in Heathrow, having arrived in plenty of time to see an earlier British Airways Flight to Boston head out. At least the gate had a nice view of the airfield.
Some random notes:
- British Airways can be a bit crap. They were super-slow at the checkin in Boston, the plane to London had a messed up A/V system so that only half the channels had the right sound (and I guess some of the other TVs were just out, so they kept trying to reboot the system, taking it down for 20 minutes for everyone), that same flight, the armrest over the remote control deal-y was busted, and on my way back the magazine holder thing in front me was kind of ripped, banging into my knees. Nitpicks, yeah, but still. (oh, boingboing points out another anecdote)
- Some Portuguese men are really superb whistlers.
- I'm a little surprised that the same difference in cartons (where a lot of things like juice and milk come in squared off containers) that I noted 17 years ago is still around, that there hasn't been some kind of convergence.
- Young Portuguese folk, and maybe many many Europeans in general, REALLY love Obama, find him very inspirational, and people in favor of European Constructionism (i.e. a more federalist model) might sorta wish they had a similar kind of guy to rally around.
--100 years of Special FX (via via BB - click either the movie or that link to get to a list of the fims)
"Woman in Central Square wearing pajamas and reading cable TV manual loudly. If she were in Harvard Square, it would be performance art."
"I love my puppy ... I love that he is so young and full of life ... And that he will still die first."
"Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen."
--John le Carre, "The Chancellor Who Agreed To Play Spy", The New York Times, May 8, 1974 (5 comments)
Table of Contents for my vacation to Portugal ... (by coincidence, exactly a year and a half after my Japan wrapup)
castle of são jorge
feira da ladra e cascais
torre de belém e marcos
berardo / aqueduct / bica
back to boston
http://gawker.com/5369364/william-safires-finest-speech - the speech ready if the Apollo moon landing had left the astronauts stranded. RIP, William Safire.
"HULK feel pain, too! If Wolverine prick us with claws do Hulk not bleed green? If General Thunderbolt Ross tickle Hulk with Apache gunships do Hulk not throw tanks? If gamma bomb poison Hulk do we not become Hulk? And if Ducky ignore us for Kenya-born Nazi Commie, shall Hulk not weep like little Disney Princess?"
--excerpt from The Incredible Merchant of Venice: Merchants of MENACE!, Stan Lee Shakespeare, pub. 1596 (via Bill http://www.thoughtviper.com/newest.html )
"Hi Kirk, Hope you are doing in the best of the mood!!" -- random recruiter spam to me. Nice to see the recruiters out I guess...
dumb kosher-ness thought: babies drinking breast milk. Isn't that like drinking milk from a bottle made of meat? (Some googling explains breast milks is pareve, ok to eat with meat or dairy) (1 comment)
Yours 'Til Niagara Falls of the Moment
Amber and I kicked off our Cleveland trip with a jaunt up to Niagara Falls... we got there a bit before sunset, and caught some nice light...
I kind of like these guys. "Gee where at one of the major geographical wonders of North America... lets get our photo taken in front of a picture of it!
On the other hand they probably didn't get misted on quite as much as we did...
"Whoa, thought I was just super dizzy after my nap...it was an earthquake!!"
Little Caesar's pizza! Man how I've missed it, the old after church standby. Still frickin' cheap, $5 for a pretty big pie (but no longer square :-( )
Of all the criticisms of the iPad, "no multitasking" is probably the least real to me. Except for, like, IM-notification, you're only doing one thing at once anyway, and a fast context switch is good enough.
The iPad feels like the future. Despite the unfortunate name, it IS "more intimate" somehow-Still this generation feels a bit gimmicky, and the lack of Flash is a bummer.
Watching Butler lose at the final second, along side 2 folks who worked there, was heartbreaking. Screw Duke and their recruited freaks. (2 comments)
Yours 'Til Niagara Falls of the Moment
After we took in the falls we headed over to Clifton Hill, which is a crazy mashup of glitzy and lowbrow rides and attractions. Amber consented to go on the big old ferris wheel the Sky...
View of the falls from the thing... we were losing the light a bit...
To be honest Amber doesn't like big rides like I do. (Actually, she's not even crazy about driving over big bidges...) So this is her gradually getting a bit more freaked out (but putting a brave face on it...)
Me on the other hand...
View of Clifton Hill...
Catching the last of the sunset...
I think this final shot came out really well, so stark, but with the hit of blue...
"It’s humbling, actually. When you devote your entire life to the endless, selfless quest to improve the lives of others; when you live a monk-like existence, and focus all of your power and genius on the singular goal of creating objects that nourish souls and transform people’s lives with magic and wonder; and when people tell you that this is, indeed, what you’ve done — well, it’s gratifying. Namaste, entire population of Spaceship Earth. I honor the place where your desire to consume becomes one with my desire to create."
--Fake Steve Jobs, http://www.fakesteve.net/2010/04/an-open-letter-to-the-people-of-the-world.html
http://www.metafilter.com/90762/LADYGAGA-for-14-points#3028153 - alternate rules for board games (in honor of the "dumbing down" of Scrabble) - I wonder if Candyland could be fun with those rules?
"You know what I think will really revolutionize comics? People making better f*cking comics."
--,http://twitter.com/Michael_Cho (6 comments)
Yours 'Til Niagara Falls of the Moment
After the SkyWheel we went to Brick City, an interesting lego exhibit thing...
I guess after seeing the scale of, say, Legoland, a single great big room isn't as impressive, but still it was pretty nifty...
One of the flat lego portraits of Marilyn Monroe, but I like Amber's shadow beneath--
It seemed like an odd choice to be playing "Highway to Hell" for the background music at an exhibit ostensibly for children, but it made a bit more sense when we saw the AC/DC mockup.
Mockup of the general area, including falls and ferris wheel...
I wonder what the building was before? It had a dome top that, while it was cool to have, Brick City probably wasn't making such great use of the space.
Finally was this personal message, except it's unsigned so to speak, and now I'm wondering about the history of the place. Couldn't find much about it after Googling...
"The truth is always a compound of two half-truths, and you never reach it, because there is always something more to say."
Man, I can't find an iPad sketch app with really good webpublishing options... Some of that critique of it not being a creating tool is true
My kingdom for a pixel-centric iPad sketch app... I want flood fill, cropping, and resizing/anti-aliasing as the last step, damn it.
At Michael "Iron Chef" Symon's restaurant "Lolita" (corner of "Professor" and "Literary"). I'm like the Humbert Humbert of Cleveland dining!
Man- between being a bit more southerly than Boston and more westerly in the time zone, Cleveland is much lighter later. 8pm was still light! (1 comment)
In Cleveland I took a side trip down to Coshocton to see my dad's grave. "He Made Us Laugh". Dunno if it's morbid or goth or something to have so much of your own reflection in a grave photo...
The house where he grew up (and where I was conceived or so I've been told)
The house is, sadly, abandoned, or at least empty. But, someone who lived there after my Grandma put in this pretty kickin' treehouse...
On the way back, we made a stop in Salamanca, NY, where I lived from about preschool 'til third grade. I'm glad I was warned that the combination church building / apartment where we lived is now a grassy lot...
I went down the street to my old school St. Pats. Here's a shot into the gym where I got my extra dimple added to my left cheek during a roller skating event there...
Anyway. Going back earlier in the trip... Cleveland has its troubles, but it also has some really cool and funky neighborhoods in a way I'm not sure that Boston does. One of them is Coventry in Cleveland Heights-- even there benches are cool.
They have a super cool store called "Big Fun", full of funky old toys and retro stuff...
We ate at a restaurant called Pacific East - I liked the dragon-y way they handled this peel.
OK, more tomorrow -- including the return of proper bowling!(2 comments)
Tremont is another cool neighborhood around Cleveland... random art, one of a series it seems...
We went to Michael "Iron Chef" Symons' restaurant Lolita-- I liked the ceiling and light fixtures--
We also hit the Cleveland Museum of Art - and things were just starting to blossom in the area.
They have some mighty cool armor at that place.
Finally, we went bowling with my good high school friend Mike and his daughter.
Here is a good bowling shot of my butt.
Amber watching her shot.
Mike giving some instruction-
And rolling' himself.
Two minor Cleveland Landmarks in one shot: Lolly the Trolly and the Church of the Holy Oil Can.
We drove through East Cleveland. This is a combination Pest Control and Christian Book Store. Bibles and Roach Spray!
Finally, something I'd never seen before: stop signs with air holes.
Sad how Outlook 2010 is trying so hard with discussion threading, and failing. A search should show you results, not hide stuff in threads!
New in iPhone OS 4: The Full App-by-App Breakdown - not much interests me except for folder for playlists and the homescreen, and FINALLY maybe the option to have an SMS character count. Still no sign of a "Ctrl-F"-style search in page feature for Safari.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/11/weekinreview/11giridharadas.html - interesting NY Times bit on 3rd world use of the "humble" cellphone.
Dylan and his man Dan
Amber and Me, ready to row.
Amber kayaking. Much easier than rowboating!
I think this is Dan's friend Stacie waving. Or drowning. Probably waving.
We went Apple Picking. No further comment on this photo.
Amber offering up a shiny apple!
Food prep was very important.
I think this is Stacy and Adam ready to grill up some corn...
...and Dylan later watched over the meat.
There was also a firepit. So primeval. We made smores.
http://www.thesandwichfair.com/ -Amber wants to go to the 3-day "Sandwich Fair" I was psyched, but it turns out Sandwich is a place name :-( (4 comments)
So, one thing Lake George has is nature!
There's water, of course...
This shot was taken from a kayak.
As was this one, the island near the center of Gull Bay...
This is what happens when iPhone 4's "HDR" system
tries to work its magic on a campfire.
On the way to apple picking was this amazing bird's nest...
Closer shot. Anyone know what it is?
At apple picking, there were frogs.
And it just wouldn't be camp without a few friendly spiders and bugs!
Dan saved this lady bug from drowning.
Things I learned about this weekend: "Nose Grease", a convenient lubricant at hand for carpenters and people with chapped lips and what not.
Things I learned about this weekend: I observed again how a star-filled, low-light-pollution sky really looks like a sky dome arched above.
Things I learned about this weekend: if there's no such thing as a "Jacksi-One" (Pepsi One and Jack) maybe there oughta be. (Why no love for Pepsi products as mixers in general?)
http://is.gd/fbWGN This spoof video and that Chappelle Show w/ Wayne Brady had that "shushing while strangling" thing- where's that from?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/13/charlie-brooker-google-instant -- Google's War on our attention spans.
Technically, my job wouldn't be impossible without jQuery and Firebug, but man, it's pretty close!
"If I ever saw an amputee being hanged, I would just start yelling out letters."
--Kalyn, http://www.lamebook.com/2010/09/14/rapid-remarks/ (5 comments)
I like how the red cab has its own name, Shangri-La -- such a nice early-20th-century vibe! (The other two associated with Dylan's family are "The Pines" and "The Cedars")
Dylan's checklist of things to do to close up the cabin.
The Glens Falls Salvation Army Community Center - we lived in an apartment in there from when I was in 3rd grade 'til halfway through 6th.
My elementary school -- I had forgotten that the side street had my middle name.
I remember the old half-buried giant tires from the place... Amber says her school also had one of those "USA on the pavement" things that might've sparked an interest in geography in her.
Finally, from a gas station in NY. Why would someone be tempted to place the gas cap in the nozzle? Would it even fit?
"...at Jabba the Hutt's palace with Oola the slave girl, who, it turns out, has a rather long 'jabba' where her 'hutt' should be..."
--MAD, "What caused Anakin Skywalker to become Darth Vader?"
Maybe I should replace the Larry-the-Cable-Guy's "Git-R-Done" with Tim Gunn's "Make It Work" for describing crunchtime work methodology.
"How to spot a geek: have them make a list of scary words and see if they include "non-Euclidian.""
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsmaker/college-safety-rankings/ --yeesh, my alma mater Tufts "Most Dangerous College"? Harvard #3, MIT #14.
Merri - Vue|
extends to you -
a hesitant invitation
to come on up and grab a cup
of gin, or hooch libation .......
we've stripped the joint, so there's
no point to limit jubilation ....
besides our thirst, Anthea durst
have a birthday celebration .....
bring bob along (we may be wrong)
it's quite an education, to see him
drink and slowly sink in quiet stupification .
..... our john's inside, we say with pride
no need for constipation! ...........
so tell ivân to use the can*,
fur coats are his temptation .........
black tie and tails, long dresses, veils,
just use the imagination ..........
the date is Sun*, we'll go to Mon .
to miss. hyatt's consternation .........
come one; come all to the merry brawl
the seasons wind-up celebration ......
|"Hi! I'm Princess Laidup! Note that I'm wearing less clothes in this movie than before! That's because my Figure's improved! Unfortunately my acting HASN'T!"|
--Leia from MAD's parody of Return of the Jedi... I remember being kind of fascinated by this drawing back in 1983 or so
Today Amber, Kjersten and I went to the 100th Anniversary Sandwich Fair in New Hampshire. We had a lot of great fair food, but, ironically enough, there were absolutely no sandwiches to be had.
Open Photo Gallery
Plenty of livestock, though!
And the place to go to see comically oversized pumpkins.
They had a nice ferris wheel...
View of the people below.
Amber was much better than last time on a ferris wheel but was still a bit on edge.
These were the folks running the rides. I note that A. being from Tennessee, they must be frickin' cold -- we were freezing ourselves, especially in the morning. B. They certainly make that "High Voltage / Keep Out" arrow awfully inviting.
Kjersten and I braved the "Cliff Hanger" -- "up, up, and around!"
I was on my own for "Air Force One" though.
Man, that thing was pretty high...
I won a rhino for Amber! And Kjersten wielded a fierce plastic sword.
Amber in Kjersten's glasses.
And me in further reflection...
Our visit started and ended walking by the antique tractor section. It was interesting hearing how a lot of the old tractors were still "working tractors" as the guy said, not just old machines fired up for special occasions.
"The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums."
-- G. K. Chesterton
So is Gap inviting people to do their logo for free because their Helvetica one is so bad, or was that the result of asking for free work?
For example, my cellphone has a virtual button "Speaker On", and if the other person isn't talking, I don't know if that means the speaker is on, or will turn on if I press that button.
I see this a lot with music players... there's the convention of the right pointing triangle for "play" (and a square or two vertical lines for "pause") but often it's a guess if it means "playing" or "play".
Photos of the Moment
For technical reasons, at least for the time being I'm going to have to be very selective about how many photos I publish here, just saving the truly odd or visually decent ones...
One of the first things we did was putter around our neighborhood in the 11th arrondissement, and they had a kind of amazing farmers market on the Rue d'Aligre. Including this street performer who was balancing a fishbowl on his head.
After heading back to the apartment we're renting for a nap, we headed to the museée du quai Branly. We may head back to this cultural museum and its first peoples exhibits, but for now we just got a all-Paris museum pass and then admired the greenery.
I think you may know this gal.
Tilt-shifted view from atop the Tower.. it doesn't really look like toys from up there.
Safely in Paris. loving the app CityMaps2Go-- even without paying for data roaming you can preload maps and then know where you are! (1 comment)
RIP Jim Henson, September 24, 1936 - May 16, 1990
We slept in way later than we have before, like 1PM... must be a bit of jet lag... then we headed to the Modern and Contemporary collections at Centre Pompidou...
Why, IMO, OSX sucks: no Irfanview. Think about installing ImageMagick. Installer for that requires Xcode. WTF. I just don't jive with Macs.
"half the shit in my Netflix cuecould be listed as:
Things A Better Version Of Me Would Actually Sit Through"
--http://twitter.com/mat_johnson (The other half of mine tends to be "might contain boobies")
Paris of the Moment
Oddly, despite being at the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe and the cabaret, it wasn't a super-photogenic day.
Miller's turtles on display at the Louvre!
This is how you see the Mona Lisa. It's not that bad, actually, if your patient you can get a front row view, and take it in albeit from a bit of a distance. It was more exciting when the guy was accusing another guy of being a pickpocket.
Amber framing a shot.
Sculptures at the Louvre. The scale of the place is breathtaking... some of the canvases are just... I've lived in apartments with less floor space than some of these.
At the risk of sounding like "un poseur"ubiquitous cheap baguette and very good inexpensive table wine is a nice way to live.
Hooray for FC Porto... your fans were making a hell of a lot of noise around the Arc de Triomphe tonight! (1 comment)
Europe of the Moment
Our final full day in Paris...
Paris has some mean looking pigeons including these bruisers near the L'Orangerie.
L'Orangerie, the old greenhouse for the Louvre, has two magnificent oval rooms for viewing Monet's Waterlilies. Here an artist was painting a work in the second room. The work appears to be some kind of Impression of Impressionism, sharing the colors but damn little of the form. Metaimpressionism?
Near Belleville, Amber noticed this rather scorched apartment building.
After a rest, we headed out to Sacre-Coeur. Pretty!
It was probably the most tourist-y space we went to save the Louvre... a ton of street performers, including this guy doing tricks and acrobatics with a black soccer ball or somesuch.
I'm sure someone has pointed out the poetically just descent from the Sacred to the Profane, going from the basilica at the peak down to the Red Light District. Here is the famous Moulin Rouge windmill, though the shot is a little off because it's not night.
Finally, back to our temporary home away from home for a final night. We had one meal here at Le Pure Cafe, and drinks another night. Talk about picturesque... during the day today the street had been blocked off for a full film crew with crazy lighting rigs and stinky generator trucks filming at tables in front.
--They were saying this is one of germany's favorites...thought I'd post it since I should be there now!
Germany of the Moment
Yes, past, pre-publishing me, I am in Germany now! Today we went to Heidelberg.
The old ruined castle is just amazing. On the way in we wiki'd up the history, and what an influence the sense of ruin and fallen grandeur was for former generations.
Detail from a fountain in the upper courtyard.
I love how part of the castle behind the wall is there, and part not.
Far beneath the castle is the university town.
There was a protest rally in the middle of town by the church, but the protestors were outnumbered by the loaded-for-bear riot police around (including mounted officers and these motorbike guys) but all the cops were pretty relaxed and amused by the whole thing.
Volker and Caroline...
Finally, the river Necker.
Since I'm in a land of "funny lookin' money"... ideas for US Currency redesign by Michael Tyznik
Germany of the Moment
Visiting Miltenberg today...
We saw "Zum Riesen", with a claim to being Germany's oldest tavern
Lovely old castle town, though the main castle was undergoing renovation.
Still, the nature was pretty amazing on the walkways up there... at the bottom is Volker and Coraline.
Oh rats, we forgot to get escargot in Paris!
The view of the vineyard-laden hills by the nearby monastery were grand.
Germans have a tradition of eating delicious cake on Sunday afternoon. I highly approve of this tradition.
--More fun with American currency
Germany of the Moment
Today Volker was at work, the kids were at Kindergarten, and we went with Veronika to Aschaffenburg, a perfectly lovely little town.
It has its own castle. Frankfurt airport is nearby, and all over the place the sky is crossed with contrails.
Also a fine little shoppig district.
You get the Max for the Minimum at... T K Maxx? Huh.
Germans love board games. This wasn't even a specialty store, just the toy department of a pharmacy-turned-department-store.
Click for fullsize... it was on a new system where I was having a Bad Chrome Day.
Germany of the Moment
Yesterday included Shoenbusch, a lovely free city park with a great hedge maze labyrinth, ponds with awesome little bridges, and even its own little castle...
http://www.slate.com/id/2295128/ The GOP: once the party of Lincoln. Then realism. Now, utter delusion and denial. (1 comment)
-H.R. Puffnstuff. Man, if you didn't grow up with this -- and I didn't - it seems really weird and nightmarish...
London Calling of the Moment
A fond Auf Wiedersehen to our friends in Germany and we head to London... take the train in, find our apartment, rest for a bit, then start wandering...
View from near where we're staying... blue skies thus far, though tomorrow might not be so great. That's BT's tower I think.
Wait, what? Obama is in town? Did they pre-announce this or was it a surprise?
Good old Big Ben in his tower...
Why people think OSX is good is beyond me-File management sucks- coverflow view is no substitute for drag select region and cmd-c,x,v shortcuts
"There's something haunting and sad about this: antiquity had its own antiquity. http://on.io9.com/ilQm4n "
Plus OSX finder and Chrome have this ridiculous gesture short cut to zoom in- I accidentally make it all the time, no idea how to reverse.
And then Preview's "Previous" and "Next" buttons don't think "maybe I want the next image in the directory", I had to "open" 'em all. DUH! Maybe I could cmd-A select all, then "Open with" but I don't have a simple way to unselect the 5 .mov files so that Open with is there. With Windows, I could, say, click the first, hit shift-end, then shift-arrow back up. MACBOOK DOESN'T HAVE AN END KEY. Do Mac users type? Keyboard support is so bad, simple file manipulation so poor, the App-not-Task model is so weak-amazing iOS is so good, when OSX is so bad.
--I love the drama of the character name introductions, and the cleverness of the mapping to "realistic" characters. Tomorrow: live action!
London of the Moment
Today we went to the Tate Modern and saw "The Mousetrap"...
First rainy day of the whole trip, as witnessed by this guy at the Southwark tube stop.
Lovely view of the Thames, with St. Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge.
Cobie's turtles on display at the Tate Modern.
The Tate Modern is not a small space. I think his guy is in the space that recently held the installation of Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds.
Finally, after "The Mousetrap" (Sussed it during the first act, btw) we passed through the Chinatown near Soho... mm mmm good!
"For English-speakers, that notorious language barrier is about two feet high. It keeps many people out of Europe, but with a few communication tricks and a polite approach, the English-only traveller can step right over it."
--Rick Steves. Very true- smile, "s'il vous plait", point...the folks are willing to meet you more than halfway. (8 comments)
--I downloaded the explicit MP3 first, as is my wont... man, it's much funnier with Mario noises than with gratuitous F-bombs...
London of the Moment
View from our apartment peephole on Hanson St in Fitzrovia, London
Man, here in London they seem to take their feminine grooming DAMN SERIOUSLY.
This is not London Bridge. London Bridge is a lot more boring than this, the Tower Bridge, which, you know, looks like it could be "falling down, falling down, falling down"...
Dragon made of weapons inside the Tower of London's White Tower.
Piece at the Tracey Emin show at the Hayward Gallery. (We went to right after stumbling into the Festival of Britain, there at Southbank -- great food from all over the world, which is really the main strength of London cuisine.)
Hayward Gallery's men's room. Entertaining pipework for the sinks...
Reflection, again at the Haywrd.
Finally on the way back we hit Hamleys Toy Store, where we meet Boba Fett in a hoodie!
"Wow, this may be New York's best riot ever http://bit.ly/kWlpeT via @IBHirsch"
"I'm all for anarchy, but then again, who will keep up the roads?"
"Coworker quote of the day: "I just realized that if you combine Lil' John and Lil' Wayne you get one full sized John Wayne.""
So f'in irritated that (ironically, since I'm checking from London) US folk can't get the Kindle "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency". Money to be made here, get your stupid "rights" act together. Off to look for a bootleg PDF to supplement my well-paid for paper copy. (1 comment)
A frame from every Loony Tune from 1930-1969... When the merry-go-round broke down, indeed!
Final Views from London of the Moment
Amber on the Tube. I like the sense of motion.
We had about half a day to play with, and Rick Steves guide (recommended!) suggested the Imperial War Museum -- good call.
Lots of cool stuff there including this poster. KNIT DAMN YOU!
Finally, terrible shot, but a terribly good idea: some EMT-types at Heathrow airport ride bikes around. It's a little weird to see but makes a ton of sense.
Man, this has been a good trip. Good to get home, too.(3 comments)
"So are you saying we're related to monkeys?"
"I'm saying you're related to yeast."
--Throwback Parent and High School Biology Teacher
I'm not sure if Netflix's streaming selection is strong enough to stand alone. Not having "ok, physical delivery" as a fallback will hurt. I think Netflix will now mostly be good for watching seasons of TV shows- otherwise might as well buy things a la carte with Vudu or whatevs.
"I refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one."
--making the rounds
Do people know the expression "net-net"? As in the bottom line, getting to the point AFTER weighing pros/cons? Realizing it might be obscure
At my UU Science and Spirituality group, the idea that Evil isn't "choosing bad" per se, it's choosing bad BECAUSE it's bad. Which goes along with my idea that deliberate, subjectively recognized evil is rareish; but people might be prioritizing an "ungood" good...
1. Something must be done
2. This is something
3. Therefore, this must be done.
--Bryan Caplan (7 comments)
Took a fun little jaunt to DC with my buddy JZ, partially to see the "Art of the Video Game" exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery...
US Navy Memorial Plaza:
JZ in front of a rock at the Air and Space Museum.
Me reflected in their model of Sputnik.
An important note on early flight! From the gift store there...
Dragon at an Asian Culture Street Fair.
Hippo at the Natural History Museum.
Cool atrium inside the buildings that make up the portrait gallery.
Finally we went to a DC United Soccer game...
at the cleveland airshow
the blue angels, tight formation
come for the airplanes, stay for the hot dogs!
kirk and amber (outside of pier w)
This day we took a boat tour of Glacier Bay on the Good Ship St. Phillip (A "Jet Powered Catamaran", technically.) None of the wildlife photos really came out, but there were sea lions, eagles, mountain goats, whales, and lots of interesting birds including puffins.
Open Photo GalleryAfter we took a hike. (Where we met a small(ish) Black Bear also taking a hike)
The dock at Glacier Bay National Park
Alaska is beautiful.
Natural waterfall. St. Phillip was also dropping off and picking up teams of kayakers out for one- to two-week camping/kayaking expeditions.
Margerie Glacier. That's a fullsized cruise ship there, for contrast. It is nearly impossible to get a sense of scale of things in Alaska; things are so often much farther and much larger than they appear.
KERPLUNK! A future iceberg calves off of Margerie.
After the boat ride we hiked the Bartlett River trail. GO HOME TREE YOU'RE DRUNK.
I forget the name of this plant but it was vibrant! (PS it's "horsetail")
Pausing to reflect.
The temperate rainforest was so lovely.
Bartlett River -time for skinny dipping! I admired the planks-covered-with-netting they had out for some of the muddy parts of the trail.
Scalia is a disgusting troll, a "strict originalist" only when it's convenient to him and people like him. Disgraceful. (Another good view on this kind of strict constructionism )
Fun Quora about common knowledge at your place, astonishing everywhere else The Software Engineering one wasn't 100% right, but wasn't too far off. (3 comments)
It was the only overcast and rainy day I had in Alaska-- most years, that would be atypical, but it has been a sunny summer there. Perfect for kayaking Glacier Bay since we were going to be wet anyway.
Open Photo Gallery
The dock in Glacier Bay, near where we departed from.
Things were prone to rising out of the mist.
The photo doesn't show it well, but bull kelp is really interesting... its vines are like tough thick tentacles.
The rock where we had lunch. Tide was coming in; when we sat to eat, the waterline was a good couple of meters away.
I didn't get good photos of the wildlife that we say: otters, and an inquisitive sea lion that kept checking us out, lots of sea birds, porpoises, whales in the distance... still this is a pretty shot.
Fog rolled in. Water and sky kind of merged.
I was nervous since we couldn't actually see the shore when it was time to make our crossing but stalwart navigator Riana was pretty reassuring.
This handsome boat told us we were near the dock.
Grateful to see the dock! A ranger came down and asked who we were, the kayak company had given them a heads up. (We were an hour later than officially due back, but an hour earlier than the latest time we were told.)
It wasn't a good hair day for me, honestly.
Back to the cabin. Wanted to give a shoutout to the borrowed Subaru that made life a bit easier in terms of getting to the park and back.
The only thing can stop a bad guy with a gun is... Antoinette Tuff is amazing.
"My Halloween costume is gonna be Slutty Howard Taft. Oooo, ooo, someone help, I'm stuck in this hot, wet, sudsy bathtub, ooo"
Open Photo Gallery
Like the punch line to one of my favorite jokes: "Some dew!" "I don't!"
Biking around. Riana bikes everywhere anyway, so she had to hold back so I could keep up.
There were some interesting ruined things in Gustavus - shell of an old truck
Shell of an old boat
An old outhouse
There was a donkey next to our cabin.
Pretty flight back to Juneau.
Disheartening things about directing movers alone for big stuff, then spending day on dregs: 1. aloneness 2. too much big stuff 3. too many dregs. I'm so far removed from a minimal kind of way I( think I)'d prefer to be. (1 comment)
Mt. Roberts is a mountain directly behinf Juneau's downtown area. It has a steep tramway you can ride to a decent visitor's center 1800 feet up -- but taking the tram up would have been too easy and insufficiently nature-y...
Open Photo Gallery
Wait... Blockbuster still exists?
I stopped huffing and puffing long enough to take this photo- nice light!
View from the viewing platform. That's a fullsized, many-story cruise ship down there.
But Riana pushed on to the next set of peaks, there she goes!
I didn't want to hold her back so I just kicked around, enjoyed the view, and read a bit.
Am digging unwinding from moving with Saints Row 4. GTA meets Hulk Ultimate Destruction via Crackdown and Bioshock.
Open Photo Gallery
Again, it's so difficult to judge the immensity of the glaciers (or anything) in Alaska when you're there, never mind capture it in a photo. This is a shot from later in the day from a walking trail that at least shows off the glacier and the nearby nugget falls.
This earlier shot shows some the icebergs. The glacier had calved underwater a week prior - time lapse video of that - most of the rangers around and in the information center were pretty chill, but this one ranger sounded SO psyched about the "multiple calving event".
Soon after we first got there, I waded in and picked up a tiny tiny iceberg that had drifted near shore.
Alas, poor iceberg, I knew him, Horatio. (I also tasted it. Very fresh, but salty from the bay)
Trying to get some of the sense of scale of the icebergs... a group of 4 were on these interesting pontoon rowboats, a beach-looking chair mounted on frame with 2 pontoons. They seemed maybe even more agile than kayaks, able to scoot forwards, backwards, and pivot.
Also, a sense of scale for nugget falls. There's an easy walk to a beach immediately next to them.
Riana takes a moment. Mist rainbow!
On the way there we had seen some salmon in the dappled water...
And from a viewing platform, a young bear...
Bear meets salmon. It doesn't turn out well for the salmon. (Riana snapped this one.)
I didn't want to leave you on that visual, so here is a (badly exposed) panorama from the nearby "Trail of Time" Of course the news is even sadder than a bear having a snack - the glacier is fairly rapidly retreating... less than a century ago, this platform would have been under ice, and there are major changes even from the 80s and 90s... like Nugget Falls used to cut THROUGH the glacier.
Open Photo Gallery
Riana has major food from the woods mojo. We had a couple terrific meals of that Chicken of the Woods mushroom and kale she had from her friend's garden.
The Alaska State Museum had an exhibit of local artists facing various developmental challenges. These birds were by Maryann James. Her placard said, in part:
The birds have stories. Birds say "tweet, tweet" and drink water.
Tell them [people coming to the show] that I say "water", "owl", "shark", and "heaven".
I like when people say "good job".
The state museum also had a lot about the Tlingit who were in this land way before white folks. I liked this frog hat.
Lighthouse Fresnel lens. I took some footage for my "One Second Everyday", and accidentally had the camera light on, and it came out really cool:
Finally, a big piece of machinery at the Last Chance Mining Museum. I took in the place and chilled while Riana went on another very vertical hike. Later we went to our B+Bs social hour and then the jacuzzi.
With EB and his two daughters yesterday-- we followed the fine Rockport tradition of going down to the waterfront and sketching and painting. I'm not sure if I've ever tried to do a landscape before... moderately pleased with the results.
Photo of the same scene:
Open Photo Gallery
Excited for the ziplining
They also had wobbly bridges.
The whole ziplining thing was over an old failed mine, and there was still some cool hardware around.
Again, cruise ships are SO BIG.
All geared up for kayaking
Finally, a Tlingit mural in the city. I also found a Pacman Battle Royale while wandering on my own but didn't have 3 other people to play against, just a computer opponent.
"We're basically the descendants of nervous monkeys."
--Bill Duane, meditation teacher for Google, in a Wired article on the popularity of meditation and mindfulness in Silicon Valley.
"As the crickets' soft autumn hum
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and the hills."
"My hand is able to touch things only because my hand is itself a touchable thing."
--David Abram, "The Spell of the Sensuous"
"It was as though after the demise of the ancestral, pagan gods, Western civilization's burnt offerings had become ever more constant, more extravagant, more acrid--as though we were petitioning some unknown and slumbering power, trying to stir some vast dragon, striving to invoke some unknown or long-forgotten power that, awakening, might call us back into relation with something other than ourselves and our own designs."
--David Abram, "The Spell of the Sensuous" on our factories and vehicles constantly pouring out their exhaust into the air Cardiff, Wales: LAND OF JUXTAPOSITIONS
Ox Flavo(u)r and Crisps. (And I thought Canada and Ketchup Chips was odd)
Rhubarb and Custard was totally great, though.
Dragons and Zombies, presumably?
Nick and Street art.
Dream thought: In our universe, mechanistic or quantum, every decision is Hobson's Choice. But the Self isn't Hobson's customer; We are the horse, galloping heedlessly into the night.
Slate on he Tea Party "Heroes" Oh man, I had forgotten going after Clinton via impeachment- since the 90s, after losing an usual 3 candidate race, Republicans have been tantrum-throwing toddlers whenever they lose the presidency. (And when they got the presidency, the neocon agenda got us into Iraq- brilliant!)
Skipped out of work early with my office/travelmate to see Cardiff Castle before heading to London. Quote of the day, from some informational signage outside the main house:
In some large houses, a 'Long Gallery' on the upper floor was used for exercise during poor weather. The 'Ladies Walk' at Cardiff Castle is an outdoor version. It allowed genteel exercise away from the smells of the medieval town of Cardiff.
The town was quite attractive
Norman Keep on a manmade hill
View inside the Keep
Some of the rooms had some intriguing statuary and the like... each of these figures had a tablet in a different ancient language.
The possibly unfortunately named but lovely, lovely "Arab Room"
Officemate Nick and I are squeezing in a day or two of London into our business trip to Cardiff. I took so many crap photos today. Here are some of the ok ones, including a fortuitous rainbow over the Thames.
Quote of the moment, from a placard at the Tate Modern:
"For example, most of the cells in our face have migrated forward from a region at the back of our head."View from the London Eye Ferris Wheel:
Nick took this shot as we went around the London Eye Ferris Wheel in the moring. Not the way I would have framed it but I kind of like it now.
Panoramic shot from a Tower of London walkway. I really appreciate how London is striving to make a modern skyline.
Pikeman statue on a Tower of London walkway.
Random totem-pole-ish thing walking to the Tate Modern. (UPDATE: My mom says it's the "Seven Stages of Man", she used to walk by it on her daily commute.)
View outside the Tate Modern - rainbow panorama!
"Rpgs are a terrible genre for romance. Relationships aren't guaranteed if you do all the right things. They're more suited to roguelikes..."
--http://twitter.com/hoskingc (35 comments)
Finishing off London with another mad dash, not helped by having almost the whole dang Northern Line being closed, and then bus stops randomly shut down. We hit the New Globe Theater, Camden Markets, and the British Museum before heading off to Heathrow.
The Blackfriar's Railway Bridge, and the columns of the old one next to it.
We were on our way to the Globe Theather, where we had some time in the exhibits before the tour. These are a type of shoe called "Chopines", originally met to keep ladies out of the muck. I think the style is long due for a comeback!
The buildings on the roads near Camden Markets had some cool stuff.
Also: torosos. I dig torsos. I'd like to think my drawing class gives me more appreciation of them, but... torsos.
Don't think this reflection shot on the Tube was taken at the very end of the weekend, but it pretty much looks how Nick and I felt.
"Getting drunk is like having a 3rd base coach that waves you on no matter what"
"'And what could be smaller than something that *doesn't exist*?' 'Whoa, whoa there, Saint Augustine!'"
Animated GIFs before there were computers
Haha, Sound FX from Atari 2600 Donkey Kong ride again... so funny to hear in the safety video on British Airways.
"I have nothing to say, and I am saying it."
"We both came to live in this modern city. Are we not B(3) Middle people? Even your excrement would have proper market value if packaged properly."
--Brian W. Aldiss, "The Mighty Mi Tok of Beijing" Yesterday I went White River Rafting with some coworkers on Maine's Penobscot River with Northern Outdoors- their final rafting day of the year, which is too bad because it was GREAT! Here's a montage (crudely iMovie'd-- cripes, what a frustrating UI'd program) of the "One Second Everyday" footage I took with my waterproof Canon.
Highlights of the day included M. getting swept out of the boat on the very first (admittedly Category 5) rapids, gentle life jacket swimming, shooting numerous rapids and getting lots of water in the face, an excellent lunch with a choice of "river" chicken, steak, or salmon, getting flipped trying to "surf" (getting the raft to stay in one place on an Eddy - it's great, reminded me of staying on a bucking bronco), a fun plunge down a small waterfall (hauling the raft back up some rocks for repeated trips), an awesome prolonged "surf" in that same area, again leaving the raft to do some bodysurfing down the "waterslide", then using oars as crude sails, pushed along by a tailwind from stormy weather behind us.
A set of photos from the day, cunningly arranged to imply a totally misleading story:
"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. [...] Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love."
--From Thomas Jefferson's letter to his nephew Peter Carr, written Paris, August 10, 1787
A+W makes, like, the worst, weakest Diet Root Beer. At least until you realize that it's Cream Soda. Then it's pretty good, actually.
Open Photo Galleryat the Chalet du Mont-Royal terrace...
I dig the squirrel gargoyles at the chalet!
Croix du mont Royal
The Oratory had some interesting light stuff inside the main area...
The shadows were cool outside as well
The interior has kind of a melgange of different art styles, and this detail from the previous photo seems to show the 60s roots...
A light dinner of Ketchup Potato Chips and Red Wine following a Kinder-Egg Amuse-Bouche. Some of why I love Québec!
Open Photo GalleryPlace d'Armes - I liked the contrast of ornamentation.
Place d'Armes, Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. Today's theme is a walking tour of Vieux Port.
Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal interior. We got lucky and entered just as the English guided tour was going on... such a beautiful interior, this amazing blue color
Inside the HÃ´tel de ville (Townhall) - I assume the chandalier was lowered for cleaning?
Window at the "Sailor's Church" Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours.
Facing North from the tower of the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours...
and Facing South, the dome of the MarchÃ© Bonsecours there.
I liked the "shadow" of the old building on the brick.
Open Photo GalleryMusée de Beux-Arts...
Chairs always make me think of my friend Sarah...
I'd love to have these last two curvy ones around.
Do people Ski-Bob?
Wall of Stuffed Animals...
Rainy night view...
AOL #DefFest2016 in Ireland...
Open Photo Gallery
A silver lining to my wonky flight schedule including a layover in Germany was having enough time for an ice cream treat with Veronika and Volker and the kinder... I admired the design of the ice cream float spoon, that can perch on the edge of the glass...
I'm resigned to not getting a lot of touring in, but after I got to the hotel I walked around a bit.
St. Stephen's Green. There were a ton of young folks lying around. I asked what the special event was, but turns out nothing more than a particularly nice day!
Later I realized we were near enough Trinity College that it might be some connection to that, kind of like a virtual quad.
I found this herd of Pokemon Go players, though...
Stopped at a tiny pub. Like 4 or 5 lines of Guinness and a big variety of whisky on the shelf behind.
I just like the sentiment - gum on the sidewalk is a fantastic way of ruining someone's afternoon.
Dublin architecture and shadows.
View from the hotel's gym room.
It took an embarrassingly long time for me to realize that room 615 was to the right. I blamed being tired but really it was writing the range backwards that confused me
Sand Sculpture on - Dawson Street, I think? Tuesday evening.
I wasn't sure how much tourist time I'd get in Ireland during AOL #DevFest2016, but a 2 hour walking tour on Thursday, ending at the AOL office and with a great guide Sean of LetzGo City Tours showed us quite a lot in the two or so hours we had.
I also liked this mounted table top, carved with people's names, presumably students?
Detail - I like some of the typefaces some of them used.
After conference Wednesday was dinner The Guinness Storehouse... the industrial scale inside is impressive. They also have a "learn to pour the perfect pint" certificate class. Can I put this on my Linked In?
Atop the storehouse is "The Gravity Bar" with a great panorama view of Dublin - probably cooler in the daytime?
Can I say, most Americans become big fans of the toilet stalls that are actually little rooms? USA stalls with their gaps and what not must seem awfully low-rent to Europeans.
@ Trinity College, first big stop for the walking tour.
Alleyway, festive for the upcoming Galway and Tipperary football match
It's the centennial of the Easter Rising, an important time for Irish Independence.
Dublin Castle has an interesting mishmash of styles on this wall!
It's worth reading up on the The Statue of Justice (mark well her station / her face to the castle / and her arse to the nation) but my photo of her companion came out better.
Detail from grounds of a viking house remnant. Before this trip I had no idea about the Viking influence in the culture. (Or the Spanish, "Black Irish"/"Northern Spaniards" connection, as our guide Sean put it.)
Castle and Linens.
View down the River Liffey.
Oh, Ireland. :-(
Well, Ireland maybe there will be hope for you yet.
The fortress of Guinness!
Panorama from AOL Dublin. On the left is the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and grounds, Phoenix Park (Europe's largest) and the Wellington Monument on the right... take that tooth, Napoleon's Toothbrush!
Can I just say, this Gas is $5.24 by my calculations. I know the USA is a larger country, but how would we be if our gas prices were anywhere near there?
More Viking Love.
The Science Gallery had an exhibit "Seeing: What Are You Looking At?". I disagree with most of this poster, except maybe the ending. Seeing is pretty awesome, and a remarkably detailed way of putting together a view of the world, though like the poster says, it's easy to mistake the map for the territory.
This piece was cool, sounds from the speakers, and screens that seemed empty until you used the maginifying-glass like filters to see the animation.
Piece by The Oakes Twins, they draw on concave paper.
Finally, even the men's room sink was cool at this place.
I know I'm being dense but I don't get the graphical message here. The text is implying things are cheap here (~$4.70 for a small bottle of soda not withstanding) but unless they're making a really bold claim about relative currency evaluations, it doesn't make a lot of sense? how do I parse this?
I think that the pain in the ass factor of our customs and immigration process relative to other wealthy democracies says loads. and not in the USA's favor. It's not that we're THAT much more popular, we're just a big old C.Y.A. nation.
Weird happenings in Arlington - Accused FBI Impersonator Tried to Enter Arlington Home - my housemate reports seeing a news van right outside our house.
When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism. I'd prefer to be a citizen of the world myself, but we need to understand people who put nation over humanity. And sometimes there's something to be said for the view in the United States, there are many things we get right, and paths to improvement. Unfortunately the white-america first got this know-nothing elected.
"A kissing booth at a fair is basically a PG rated glory hole."
"[How is half of such an advanced country so hell-bent on going back to the 18th century?] Because the same people that like to mock "safe spaces" and "participation awards" and "the pussification of America" are fucking ignorant cowards who are intimidated that women and minorities might actually be edging to equality to the point where simply being a barely high school educated white male isn't enough to stay ahead of the curve."
Are. You. F'in. Kidding. Me. :
"Returning home to Trump Tower from the White House may not be Mr. Trump's only embrace of the familiar. His aides say he has also expressed interest in continuing to hold the large rallies that were a staple of his candidacy. He likes the instant gratification and adulation that the cheering crowds provide, and his aides are discussing how they might accommodate his demand."
My dad accidentally texted me with voice recognition...while playing the tuba...
Open Photo Gallery
"Relationships are all about asking people to hold things."
--Melissa. (This was especially true in the context she said this, the airport, as we both played that game of 'Ok do I have everything? Ok do I still have everything? Let me check again. How about now?')
My iPhone 6 was sort of on its last legs so I upgraded - but I went for the iPhone SE, which is the old iPhone 5 body with a 6S camera. There's something great about that old form factor, how easy it is to manage for quick camera shots etc. (Remember when smaller was considered better for electronics?)
Open Photo Gallery
--from Concept art of vehicles driven by Toads from Mario Strikers Charged. via Supper Mario Broth
"I think I just summarized my life philosophy really succinctly to my roommate:
'you do what you gotta do. and sometimes you do it in heels'"
Open Photo GalleryMe in an excavator:
Here I am, still being briefed by Carrie Anne, who was our guide... excavators have two sticks in front (with optional foot pedals) for steering the treads (exactly like the old arcade game Battlezone) , a joystick on the right for raising/lowering the "boom" (main arm) and the angle of the bucket, and a joystick on the right that raises/lower (lower arm, so to speak) and pivots the main cabin ("house")...
They have some games for you to play, like dig out a post, and find-a-tire. Along with the obvious "dig a hole" and "fill in a hole" which was extremely satisfying.
Melissa in a bulldozer...
...surprisingly, these are actually more complicated to drive around than the excavators - there's a stick on the left that sets in neutral, forward, or reverse, and you can press to combine the forward or reverse with side motion - the unintuitive bit is that there's a pedal that feels like a gas pedal but is "reversed" - you press it when you don't want full power. (We had some extra time so I took a turn.)
If you have a bit of extra dough to spend - they'll bring out an old junked car, sans tire, engine, etc. Here I am with my victim, an old Honda CRV. (Before I began they gave me the H badge as a momento.)
Time to Crush!
Once you've flattened it you roll over it a few time, really show it who's boss.
I feel a bit like a trophy hunter, only for goofy, cathartic consumer excess instead of animal cruelty...