April 2003 Archives

Deleting comments


delete.jpgWhen I opened my weblog for comments last July, I knew I'd get some stupid ones and feared I'd take a lot of criticism. Happily for me, the comments I get on fresh posts are generally positive.

But on older posts, ones that people have found via Googling, I get some extremely strange notes. I thought I'd leave them in situ just for kicks. But really, what's the point? Today I went through and culled out some of the lamest ones. Oddly enough, they centered around 3 posts.

Rebuilding Afghanistan had seven comments with weirdness like "We wish you a merry Christmas" and "hello, buddeee." Beginner's playground? A message drop for spies? I don't know. They are all gone now.

Nipponjin with Scissors collected 21 lengthy "comments" from Pakistani scissors manufacturers soliciting my business. And the post I made about this blog spam received a spam itself. Pffft.

Here's the one that irks me most. i-mode penetration gets frequent notes complaining that the reader thinks the site is useless, he can't find what he's are looking for, etc. One included 43 exclamation points to back up his frustration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Oh, I can't compete.)

Why does everyone hate that post? Because it mentions Japan's population and most of these commentators are misguided schoolchildren. One said I was wrong and she thought the population of Japan was 8 million. Maybe she confused Tokyo with Japan, but greater Tokyo has more than 12 million. Another even suggested that I update the population numbers for 2003. I guess she doesn't realise that Japan takes a census, but not annually.

Hey kids, get a clue--this is a weblog, not a valid source of information for your school reports. Check out the CIA World Factbook.

[Addendum, 9:39 am. As if on cue! To my July 6, 2001 post about resting in bed with my laptop, I just received this rather unusual comment: "I don't mean to be too forward, but hearing you talk about your fat rolls turns me on. Fat is so sexy. Tell me more please?" Should I delete this one or keep it? I'll let you decide...]

Grandfather Philip


grandfatherphilip.jpgI'm not sure if it counts as work or a labor of love, but this week I set up a Moveable Type weblog for my father. He's a stained glass artist outside Philadephia, PA.

Although he didn't persue it as a profession, he always loved art and his hobbies were creative. When I was growing up he did some rather odd projects, like hand painting (with a brush and enamel paints)our Jeep-like truck camoflauge. We lived in the woods and it was a little scary to drive it during deer hunting season. He also built furniture, dollhouses and minatures and Dad still draws the family Christmas cards every year.

But after retiring from a job in chemical R&D, he took up stained glass. His ability to combine technical detail with design, color and light makes his work excellent. He gets commissions and wins awards, so I think we'll count that as a success!

For the weblog, I set up category archives to make it easy to browse just the glass images and included his funny retirement story in the sidebar. Dad will never really retire, but he does wear the hat...

Grandfather Philip's Stained Glass

Right Brain Research

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rbr-art.jpgThis might be the longest-running web project I've worked on. Maybe I should say have worked "on-and-off" on.

Kristin Newton and I met to discuss revising her site in spring 2001. I started logging hours on the project in August 2001 but it only went live last week. Needless to say, the site underwent a number of setbacks and changes in plan over the course of two years. There's still content pending but at least it is up and running!

The site is for Right Brain Research, an art and creativity school here in Tokyo--where I've taken classes, including the workshop on creative problem solving last week. If you're looking for a way to jumpstart your brain or train your eyes and hands to draw, this is the place to come.



pinbike.jpgToday is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Thanks to lil's excellent photoblog, esthet, I found out in time to sign up for a pinhole photography workshop here in Tokyo.

Last night was a talk by Edward Levinson, our instructor, and then we made our cameras. Today we took pictures and developed them.

Pinhole cameras are lensless, so they have no focus--or rather they have infinite focus. And becasue the apeture is small, they have great depth of field. Everything is in focus from close up to far away. Unless it moves...

We made our cameras from boxes and cans, painted black on the inside and taped to keep light out. We punched pinholes through aluminum, then attached the pinholes to the boxes with tape. Another bit of tape covered the hole.

That's all there is to it. You stick in some film or photographic paper, peel off the tape, count the seconds (or minutes) until you've properly exposed and then you put the tape back on. That's what we did all day today, interspersed with running up to the darkroom to develop out images.

pinthree.jpgIt was my first time in a darkroom, believe it or not ,and I loved it. It's like magic to see the images develop. Photoshop is great but I learned to dodge for real!

Sometimes the negatives turned out better than the positives. I like the negative of this image, taken with Ed's three-hole camera. The lines from the shutter I sat in front ove overlap nicely. But the positive reveals entirely too much facial detail.

One photo I took (and one of Tod's, too) will be in the online event gallery which includes photos from all over the world. You can see the photos from our workshop in person in at Tokyo Photographic Culture Centre (Akasaka 3-9-1) from May 10 - early June.

(click the images here for larger versions)

Video Saturdays


rest-frame.jpgSince I can't really have a pajama party to finish Hello, Tokyo, I will resort to method number 2 (take that as you will) for getting this project finished: fear of public humiliation.

From now until it's done, you can expect to see a clip of work in progress every Saturday. To start off Video Saturdays, here's a rough cut of the restaurants portion of the Food segment.

play video Restaurants. (720K Quicktime)

10 ingredients


As I wrote in a previous entry, Japan's nutritional guidelines specify 30 different foods a day.

If you eat a traditional Japanese diet, this isn't too hard to do. A classic Japanese meal is a variety of small servings: a simmered dish with carrot, diakon, taro, konnyaku; grilled fish served with ginger; pickled cabbage and cucumbers, a slice or two of sashimi, a salad of hijiki and beans; miso soup with clams; and of course, rice. Right there, you've got 14 foods out of the way!

But if you eat a more Western diet, getting up to 30 is really a challenge. Western portions are bigger and there are fewer dishes per meal. Steak, potato, cooked vegetable, bread, butter. That's only 5...maybe six if you eat the parsley garnish.

But the companies that make bento for convenience stores have hit upon a great idea. The "10 Things" food. It started out with salads. Today I bought a "10 Things" sandwich. It was pretty good for a conbini sando.

What was in it?

  1. brown rice bread
  2. chicken
  3. hijiki
  4. corn
  5. carrot
  6. soy beans
  7. lettuce
  8. greens
  9. milk solids
  10. mayonnaise

So that, combined with my fruits-and-vegetable juice (7 vegetables and 4 fruits), a container of yogurt and some raisins brings me up to 23 foods for today. 24 if coffee counts as a food.

All I need to do to reach the quota is remember to eat the garnish at dinner tonight...

Crazy Bread


This recipe comes via the next door neighbor of an ex-boyfriend. I never met his neighbor, but her recipe is one of my stand-bys. It's nearly a meal in itself but I usually serve it with soup or a salad.

This recipe thrives on almost any adjustment you want to make to the recipe: double the garlic, reduce the butter, use whatever cheese you have on hand. But do be generous with the parsley, especially if you opt for more butter or cheese!

Crazy Bread
1 loaf French bread
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup shredded cheese

Slice the loaf in half lengthwise. Melt the butter and stir in garlic. Spread garlic butter on bread. Pile on the parsley, sprinkle with lemon juice and top with cheese. Broil until the cheese bubbles and browns. Cut into slices and serve.

Mfop and mailing lists

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mfop-badge.jpgMoblogging, sending entries to your weblog via your mobile phone, is all the rage in Tokyo right now. With camera-equipped phones it's easy to capture the essence of an event and post about it "live." Or maybe just bore the pants off your readers while you amuse yourself taking photos on the train.

Regardless of what content you offer, you need a gateway to take the mail from your phone and get it into your weblog. Kevin Cameron wrote one called Mfop - Moblogging for Other People.

At last week's Webloggers meetup, Kevin asked if I'd do him up a button that people could use to link their Mfop sites back to his.

jbml.gifI'd just finished a quickie logo/button for Stuart Woodward's Japan Bloggers mailing list and was in the spotlight as the Queen of Ten Minute Logos.

For Mfop, I created the button using one of Kevin's awesome bird photos, and threw in a page logo and design ideas as a bonus. Kevin implemented the design to match another one of his pages and now Mfop is looking pretty stylish.

Election time


This Sunday, Tokyo wards elect their mayors and Diet representitives. Forty five men and women are running for the Diet. Only two men are hoping to be Bunkyo's mayor. Election signboards like this one are placed at intersections and other public property.

But campaigns aren't entirely neat and tidy. People also paste posters to their garden walls and other surfaces. Things get pretty colorful around election time.

They get noisy, too. Many of the candidates have loudspeakers mounted on little vans and they drive around the city waving out the windows and thanking everyone for their support. They stop at train stations to get out and give speeches that none of the harried commuters listen to.

Creative problem solving


Tonight I attended a creative problem solving workshop at Right Brain Research. Kenji Konishi showed us his three step technique for breaking through tough problems. And it worked!

My problem is an inability to finish my own projects. Client work, no problem. I always get that done on deadline. But my personal stuff tends to languish. Maybe I get bored or distracted or frustrated. Whatever it is, I'd like to get rid of this backlog of half-done videos, books, and other things.

So how did I come up with a solution? Well, after brainstorming a bunch of possible ways to finish my projects (everything from 'bribe myself' to 'hire an assistant'), I randomly selected two and tried to combine them. That was hard! How do you combine "stop sleeping" with "collaborate by breaking project into dependent tasks"? I did it, as you'll see.

I did this a combination step few times and entered the results on a mind map--a drawing of the main theme and ideas branching off, with sub-ideas and so on.

Then, once I was satisfied with my mind map, I wrote out a story using the mind map as a guide. While writing the story, all of the unrelated ideas on the map seemed to come together into an actual workable solution.

pajama.gifAnd the solution? Plan a pajama party where all the guests come ready to work on a project of the hostess' choosing (which would, of course, be one of my unfinished projects!). Divide everyone into teams and set them a task. Maybe it would be "create the title frames for the video" or "edit the soundtrack." Something that could reasonably be accomplished before everyone falls asleep. Before going to bed, we'd put all the pieces together to complete the project.

In the morning, after a nice breakfast, everyone brings out their own unfinshed project and gets to trade with someone. So MJ might have a Flash navigation she is having trouble with and Miki might be frustrated by setting up a postcard server. They trade, set a deadline to get the work done and voila! Hurdles overcome, new ideas and techniques shared and it's fun, too.

Now I just have to find enough willing people with similar skill sets. Anybody interested in a video editing sleepover??

Cha cha


chacha2.jpgSpotted in Kanda: nostalgic advertising. The coffee shop doesn't seem to be there anymore but the sign lives on.

I think it's from the early 60s, judging from the building its painted on, the typeface, drawing style, and the name--cha cha hit its peak as a dance fad in the late 50s. And the name's a pun. Cha means 'tea' in Japanese. But with the dog pictured, I wonder if this Cha Cha was the owner's pet?

Just below the sign is a koban, a neighborhood police station, complete with policeman on display with his patrol bike:


Cartesian Coordinates


play video Cartesian Coordinates. hi-bandwidth (5 MB Quicktime)

play video Cartesian Coordinates. lo-bandwidth (1.2 MB Quicktime)

cart-frame.jpgCartesian Coordinates is four minute film class project I shot and edited in 1997 on 8mm.

But 8mm projectors were as uncommon then as now, so I transferred it to VHS by projecting it onto a translucent screen and taping from behind. I flipped the reversed image in Premiere and sent it out to tape.

When the old tape arrived in the box this week, I recorded it into the DV camera, then captured it to my computer and compressed it. The result is extremely high-contrast and grainy, but still more-or-less watchable. Stay for the credits!

Dan stars as a tired worker putting away one last overhead projector before going home. What happens late at night in the halls of the building?

The weekend we shot this project, friends drove in from out of state and half of my university staff came to help wrangle carts for the animated sections. We didn't get a lot of sleep, the campus police kept us on our toes (even though I did have permission to be there,) and despite my careful preparations and measurements in the building, we had a few glitches with camera angles.

But in the end the film did well in class though my instructor thought I should have directed Dan to move faster. He didn't know that wouldn't have worked; I couldn't keep up with the camera! I guess now I could speed things up a bit digitally and add some sound...stay tuned.

99 luftCDs

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cd-box.jpgThe cookbooks weren't the only precious things in the box we shipped. We've reunited our CD collection.

We unearthed the last 99 CDs (give or take a dozen) while visiting the US in February. These were the CDs I had with me in Pittsburgh before we moved to Singapore in 1998. Tod shipped his CDs from Chicago, but I preferred to have my computer for my allotted weight.

As Tod unpacked and presented the long-lost music, we both exclaimed our surprise. We haven't seen these things in over five years. Some we thought we had with us. Others we'd both forgotten about completely.

"Oh, yeah, I missed that one. How did we go so long without hearing it?"

"Hey what's this? Did you buy this one?"
"Do we have two copies of that?"

cds-tod.jpgSurprisingly, there are only three CDs that we have duplicates of: G.Love & Special Sauce, Red Hot + Rio, and Squirrel Nut Zippers' Hot!. Free to a good home, just ask.

Here, Tod's examining stack of CDs that includes Holst's The Planets and Sting's Nothing Like the Sun. Our tastes are eccletic. We range from rap to chanting monks, from blues to punk. I like female vocalists; Tod likes jazz; we both like electronica and hip-hop. Most anyone who comes for dinner can find something they like to listen to. And even more so now.

We were up til 2 am, listening and singing along to old favorites (gomen to the neighbors!) and shelving them in alphabetical order. Our collection numbers about 500. Sort of old-fashioned in these days of MP3s, isn't it?

Boxing Stadium Roast Chicken


thaicookbook.jpgTucked inside a box shipped back from the US, two cookbooks. In honor of this windfall, I present a recipe from "Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchens" by Malulee Pinsuvana. I've never made anything from this 1976 cookbook, but I bought it in Thailand and it's in Thai and English, so how bad can it be?

Ms. Pinsuvana describes the dish, "Roast chicken, Northeastern style is a speciality found in a row of restaurants behind the famous Rajdumnern Boxing stadium where all Tourists go to see Thai boxing matches. It is so identified that when you refer to this dish you call it "Boxing Stadium roast chicken," just as famous as Kentucky fried chicken, I suppose."

Cabbage Salad, Roast Chicken

Roasted Chicken
1 young chicken, cut into 4 pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 slice ginger root
1 teaspoon minced corriander root
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 Tblsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt

Pound together the garlic, ginger, pepper, salt and corriander root. Add oil and marinate chicken for 1-2 hours. Bake in a 375 F oven for 30-40 minutes. Serve with cabbage salad.

Cabbage Salad
1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
2 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup carrots, finely grated
1 teaspoon lime peel
1 Tblsp dry shrimp, crushed
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tblsp lime juice
2-3 hot chili peppers, crushed

Mix vegetables together, season with garlic salt, lime peel and sugar. Top with crushed chili and dry shrimp.

Luck falls down


Tod is looking very thoughtful as he waits for a plate of fried rice at a restaruant in Suidobashi.

Above his head, hanging over the door, is a small tapestry embroidered with the kanji for "luck." It caught my eye because it's hanging upside down.

"Oh, yeah. Luck falls from heaven," Tod explained. "So you hang the kanji upside down."

Just like putting a lucky horseshoe over the door with the opening at the top so the luck doesn't fall out.



gaijincard-old.jpgIt's hard to believe, but I've been living in Japan for long enough to have my gaikokujintourokusho, foreigner registration card, expire. Today I went to have it renewed. That's a once-every-five-years event. I feel like a long-time resident now...getting there, anyway.

So sayonara to the old tourokusho with my smudgy fingerprint. They don't subject us untrustworthy foreigners to the criminal-feeling inky finger anymore. I wonder what will go in that space?

I'm looking forward to being able to read the new one--the ink on the old one was starting to get rubbed off. Every time I had to copy down my registration number I had to think hard about whether it was a 3 or a 5 that I was looking at.

My original purple card was issued in Meguro-ku where we lived when we first arrived in Japan. My new card from Bunkyo-ku will be another color, I believe. I saw someone picking theirs up today and it was sort of salmon-pink colored. It's a fitting color for this ward, more subtle and refined than the brash violet of funky, urban Meguro-ku.

giajincard-photo.jpgI am happily saying goodbye to the bad photo circa 1998 from when my hair was growing out and I had to pull it back to keep it out of my eyes.

But now I'll have this one instead. Just as bad, but different. I'm not so crazy about seeing my face aged five years but I like this haircut better, even though it's a little too long right now and looks like a lopsided helmet.

Five years in Tokyo has made me look my age, at least in this picture. Maybe when I'm moving around and smiling I look a little younger. I hope so.

But what can I expect? ID photos are rarely attractive and I don't make any effort to look great. It's too much fun to whip out the old IDs at drunken get-togethers and compare to see which is least like the person it belongs to.

Erased evidence

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I hosted guests for two weeks but the holiday's over. I now return to my regularly scheduled life.

After we waved goodbye at the train station yesterday morning, I came home and cleaned. The sheets and towels are washed, the futons aired, inevitable clutter is put away. Everything is dusted, shined and tidy. Tod meticulously vacuumed the apartment.

Evidence of guests has been erased.

Except for one final hint. My To Do list is populated with all the things I didn't do for the past half month. Three big projects and a few smaller bits all have sub-tasks and looming deadlines. It seems pretty daunting, but I'll get through it if I drink enough coffee.



I love a nice bridge.

play video Bounce. 56K version (190 KB Quicktime)

play video Bounce. Broadband version (742 KB Quicktime)

Vitamin stockings


vitaminplus1.jpgI couldn't resist these pantyhose when I saw them in the store. They are enriched with amino acid and vitamin C. We dressed up to go out to dinner tonight and I slipped them on.

Do I feel any genkier? No, though the drinks I had with dinner went right to my head. Maybe vitamin C and amino acid is an alcohol catalyst.

I wondered if these health-impregnated pantyhose would give me a rash, but my legs seem to be unblemished.

vitaminplus2.jpgThe package shows that you can wash them and the vitamins stay in becasue they are "pro vitamins." Amateurs always come out in the wash.

There are several ranges of pantyhose like these--some are fortified with specific vitamins, others claim to give you relaxation or superpowers or the ability to get through a difficult work day. All of them are aimed at female office workers. I wonder if we'll soon see an equivalent product for men? Maybe vitamin Y-fronts.

Ikaho onsen


Yesterday's get-away to Ikaho in Gunma prefecture was a refreshing escape from the city. We climbed up to the top of one of the local peaks. There were signs warning us of bears and wild boars, but we didn't see any.

Ikaho is an onsen resort town, so it's fine to wear your yukata out on the street. The main corridor is a long flight of stairs lined with shops and ryokan.

We stayed at Kishigon ryokan which has been run by the same family since the town was founded in 1576. The current matron is an Aoyama University graduate who speaks fluent English. Look carefully and you'll see my name on the sign greeting the day's guests.

The food at the hotel was amazing. These are fish and skewered potatoes that we grilled at our table. We were served 36 dishes for dinner--truly a feast.

After climbing a mountain, eating dinner and enjoying three onsen baths, we were ready to collaspe on the lovely futon. Ah, sleep!

Sea bass with mango chutney


Recipe Thursday presents fish with a tropical flavor because it's mango season here in Tokyo. Tod invented this recipe two years ago and we've been making variations on it ever since.

Sea Bass with Mango Chutney
serves 4

4 sea bass (suzuki) fillets
1 onion, minced
2 small mangoes, chopped
1.5 cups (300 g) pineapple, chopped
1 inch (3 cm) fresh ginger, grated
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons green peppercorns in liquid
2.5 cups water

In wide saucepan, bring 1 cup water to boil. Add onion and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add mango and pineapple and simmer for 15 minutes, adding water as necessary to keep the sauce wet. Add red pepper, then lay the fish fillets on top. Cook until the fish is flaky, turning once. Toss in peppercorns and serve.

Variations: leave the pineapple out; substitute toasted pinenuts for peppercorns; substitute snow peas for red pepper; increase red pepper. For a drier sauce, sautee the vegetables and fruit instead of cooking in water.

Weird war


From a report on news.com.au

"The Iraqis could use Western journalists as hostages, Defence force spokesman Brigadier Mike Hannan has said. "

Doesn't that sound as though the Brigadier is giving permission to use Western journalists as hostages? "Well, they could use the journalists, or we could let them use the supply seargants. Either way, we think that these populations make good hostages."

Journalists really have been getting themselves in harm's way which is either extremely admirable or quite stupid. 21 journalists have died in this conflict. I don't know how many are out there overall, but it can't be that many can it?

Private post


yubinlogo.gifThe postal services in Japan were privatised on the April 1. All the post offices changed their logos, took down the cute seasonal decorations and the postal workers look slightly more grumpy. Other than that, not too much seems to have changed.

But now that mail delivery is a commercial venture, the parcel services are keen to get a piece of the action. Kuroneko Mail will take your 50 gram letter for 80 yen. It costs 90 yen at Japan Post. Sagawa, another parcel delivery company, also runs mail services.

But Japan Post is fighting back. Starting later this month, they're planning a package delivery service, EXPACK 500. It will cost only 500 yen within the central business areas of Tokyo.



fabric.jpgShopping for fabric makes my head spin.

There are some excellent shops in Tokyo and my favorite is Kinkado in Ikebukuro.

Traditional Japanese textures and colors are lovely and Kinkado stocks scads of Western colors, too, but it is so hard to choose. I'm lucky to have a wealth of gorgeous fabrics to work with but it takes hours to look at everything and come to a decision.

I used to have a big trunk full of fabric from projects I wanted to do but never started, or started but didn't finish. I am not letting that happen again. I've decided that I am not going to buy more than what I need for one project at a time, so I can't allow myself to be indecisive. One fabric, the notions to complete the project and that's all. Even if there's beautiful wool on sale or flannel that would be perfect for pajamas next winter.

After two hours of shopping today, I ended up with biege cotton printed with brush-style Japanese writing that I'll make into casual pants for summer. It's in the wash now and I'll cut it tomorrow.

Scenes from Takao

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A sacred cypress.

Hunting for spot-bellied tree shrews.

Fence details.

Self-portrait with sun.

Rainy day activities

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Wet Tokyo with visitors isn't too much fun. It's pouring rain and chilly today. We opted to stay in this morning and read books, order in a bento lunch and just relax.

What are we reading?

John: Kiln People by David Brin. Souls can be copied and imprinted onto clay bodies, effectively allowing you to make disposable clones to do all your boring work and mankind's dangerous jobs. A detective story within a detective story to discover what makes a person a person.

Kris: Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. Murakami is a contemporary Japanese author whose work is a blend of Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut. This is my favorite of his books--weird occult dreamscapes set to jazz with a mystery to solve as well.

Tod: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. Witty British novel and a sequel to The Eyre Affair, about a literary detective, Thursday Next, and her exploits with the LiteraTecs and JurisFiction. It's full of things that made me laugh aloud. Can you beat a book that has Miss Havisham and the Cheshire Cat in the same room?

Me: The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson. What if the Chinese took over the world after the plague in the Middle Ages? Told as a series of stories following a group of souls' reincarnations progressing through time. An interesting premise but slow reading.

In contrast to today's slothy agenda, we hope that tomorrow's forecast sunny weather will let us go out to Mt. Takao for a walk.

Ham fighters

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nippon-us.jpgThe Nippon Ham Fighters lost tonight. But it wasn't due to a lack of cheering by us.

Baseball teams in Japan are not known by their hometown, as in the US, but by their sponsor. Nippon Ham owns the Fighters. But Nippon Ham Fighters? It's so tempting to call them the "Ham Fighters."

Tonight, maybe 'ham fisted' would have been a better moniker. They dropped the game 5-1 to the Daiei Hawks.

nippon-ebisu.jpgBut let's be totally honest. Baseball in Japan is not about the game. It's about the Beer Girls. These hard-working hotties run up and down the aisles in satin shorts selling beer, whiskey and confections.

Here, Tod's happily paying 800 yen for another cup of Ebisu draft beer. The beer girls are cute.

I enjoy drinking too much beer and shouting at the players. It's a lot of fun. I'm sure the people around me, all the salarymen in their suits and ties (direct from the office), are disturbed by my loud gaijin catcalls. But I'm having fun.

They're having fun, too. They make notes in little notebooks, go off to the smoking area frequently, and order lots of beer from the beer girls. The beer girls smile no matter what. It's amazing.

nipponham.jpgAfter the Ham Fighters' pathetic showing, we decided they must be the Chicago Cubs of the Japan league (or whatever the Japanese baseball consortium calls itself) and we had to have shirts. Here, John and I are modelling our new baseball jerseys. We've almost managed to get close enough for the shirts to spell out "Nippon Ham" across us.

I've never owned a sports jersey before, though I wore my friend Mike's hockey jerseys from time to time "back in the day." I'm not sure how to accessorise a baseball jersey...

Basil tapenade

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This is one of my favorite party foods. I don't know if I like it becasue it tastes so good or because it's one of those rare grey foods. Serve it spread on rounds of toasted (or not) french bread. It's best made the day before so the flavors mellow a bit.

Basil Tapenade

1 cup pitted black olives
1 cup fresh basil
4 anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Blend everything except the mayo in a food processor (I use my Bamix blender). The consistency should be even and spreadable, but a little bit lumpy. Add in the mayonnaise by hand. Allow to sit for at least few hours before serving.



janome1.jpgHere's me working with my new sewing machine!

It's a Janome 2860, last year's model in Janome's range of basic mechanical machines. Janome also makes computerized sewing machines with RS-232 and USB ports, touch screen displays and super-complicated interfaces that can embroier you a Winnie the Pooh at the touch of a button, but I don't need that. I love my 2860; it's everything I need to sew a huge range of stuff and it was on sale. :-)

It has a very clever needle threader, an overlock stitch that I've already fallen in love with, and a blind hemming foot that works well. (The last one I had was a nightmare.) Something that new to me is a free arm for sewing cuffs and such with out having to turn them inside out. What a blessing.

Now I just need to decide what to sew first.

Party hat


All the fun begins when you put on the party hat.

(Putting your hand in the bucket helps, too.)

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