July 2003 Archives



Ushi no Hi, traditionally the hottest day of the year, has come and gone and the weather remains cooler than usual. But the thermometer and hygrometer are inching up into the hot and humid territory, so for today's Recipe Thursday, I'm going to head off the heat with a cool noodle recipe--somen.

Somen are very thin Japanese noodles made of wheat flour and just the thing for a hot summer day when you don't feel like eating.

Chilled Somen
serves 2

200 grams somen noodles (4 bundles)
water for boiling

1 cup water
40 ml mirin
40 ml soy sauce
sprinkling of bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

grated ginger
white sesame seeds, toasted
very, very thinly sliced strips of: green onion; shiso (Japanese aromatic herb, similar in taste to cilantro or basil); myoga (young ginger)

To make the broth, boil the mirin and soy sauce together briefly, then add the water. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with katsuobushi and wait two minutes, then strain broth and chill.

To boil somen, there is a trick because they cook quickly (under 2 minutes) Put the somen into boiling water, then add enough just cold water to stop the boiling without reducing the temperature very much. Bring the water back to a boil and remove the somen. Wash well under cold water to remove excess starch. This method cooks the somen without making them mushy on the outside.

To serve, arrange the somen in bowls and gently pour the broth over top. Garnish. Alternatively, you can put the somen in bowls of ice and serve the broth on the side for dipping.

Team work


Last night, I media tinkered for a friend who needed more hands and time than she had available. By taking on the content formatting tasks for a web project that's gone into overtime, I saved her and her team 13 hours. Time they used for tweaking the Flash files and hunting down the inevitable code gremlins while I formatted, copied and pasted English and Japanese text into their CMS.

It was refreshing to do a job that was so simple.

Don't forget that when you are running out of time and the To Do list is getting longer instead of shorter, there are helping hands right over here at Media Tinker.

(How's that for silly marketing copy? But it's true. I'm here. Use me.)

Uchi mawari

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Yesterday between 3 and 7 pm, I travelled counter-clockwise around the Yamanote line to capture images for Yamanote29. I rode through all 29 stations and stopped at most of them, though for a few, I was so quick that I got back on the same train I jumped out of. Got my picture and a few bemused looks from the other passengers.

I decided to walk between Komagome and Sugamo, and between Shinjuku and Yoyogi. Those pairs are pretty close together and I made detours to two of my favorite places in the city: Rikugien, a 300 year old garden in Komagome, and the 45th floor observatory at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Lovely views at both places, but they couldn't be more different.

I skipped a few stations so that I'd end up back at Tokyo station in time to meet Tod for dinner, so I will have to go back for pictures at Harajuku, Shibuya, Ebisu and Meguro.

But I got plenty of photos to keep me busy--I filled up my digital camera's 64 Mb memory card. Slowly but surely the site is getting ready to launch. And I've already received two contributions. (Thanks, and keep them coming, please!)

Under construction

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Every new apartment building that goes up in our neighborhood has a silly name and a website with Flash animations. Imagine the prices!* Or look for yourself...

PIAS (Personal & Intellectual Architecture Space)
Park Square
Atlas Tower
Viequ Court

*These apartments range from 19,800,000 yen to 135,000,000 yen (about $166,500 to $1,134,500)

Summer critters


I'm not sure what sort of beetle this is, but it's lovely, isn't it? I spotted it on the steps in a park near Kourakuen station.

mantis.jpg frog.jpg

The praying mantis appeared in the same location the day after the beetle. The toad, bufo japonicus formosus, also known as Azuma-Hiki Gaeru or Common Eastern Toad, also lives in the park. There are dozens of them and they like to hop around on rainy nights.

Title Sequence


ht-title-seq.jpgAt long last, another edition of Video Saturday.

This time, I've got the title sequence. The plan with Hello Tokyo is that it will be a series of videos on different aspects of life in Japan so this sequence will be reused in several videos. Getting the right pace and tone was important and not a little intimidating. But I'm very happy with the results.

The music is composed by Jeff, a Tokyo-based musician and producer, especially for Hello Tokyo. I love the bouncy guitar--the tune gets somewhat more complex as the piece goes on and I'll feature sections of as the video progresses.

Now that I have the title done, I can rethink the look of the rest of the video. I hope to incorporate the circles into section transitions and make the whole thing fresher and more fun.

Go on, take a peek...

play video Hello Tokyo title sequence. 0'46" (4.8 MB MP4)


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Yesterday a friend introduced me to a clever poetic form, the abecedarium. It's just 26 words in alphabetical order.

They are great fun to develop and the last three words (x, y, z) present an interesting challenge. I went to bed last night thinking them up and woke up this morning early to write them down.


Angry but calm.
Deflecting energy from gloved hands.
It's just karate love.
Me: No! Other people quarrel.
Really. Stop thumping; use valour.
We xoxo.
You zing.


Angels bring confusion.
Don't ever forget god's hand
Is juggling knives like man's nature.
Occultists properly question reality.
Saints travel unbroken vigils
without x-ing yesterday's zodiac.


Algebra's big calculating drama:
Evaluate for G.
History is jute knotted like math notations.
Over previous quotients
Romans sought to undermine V with X.
Y ≠ Z

Go ahead, try one...your next poem is just twenty six words away.

Shrimp Scampi Po'Boy

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My uncle George introduced me to shrimp scampi when I was 12 and I've loved it ever since. Slap it in a crispy-chewy baguette and you've got a heavenly po'boy sandwich. I make mine heavy on the garlic, so feel free to adjust to your own tastes.

Shrimp Scampi Po'Boy
serves 2

1 long baguette or loaf of French bread
2 Tblsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion or scallion
4 cloves garlic, minced
250 g (1/2 lb) peeled, steamed shrimp
big splash white wine
1/8 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
garnish (optional): lettuce, tomato, red onion
hot sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the round ends off the loaf, then cut two 15-20 cm (6-8 inch) pieces and slice them lengthwise for the sandwiches. Toast or not, as you desire.

Take the round ends make fresh bread crumbs by shopping or grating the ends, then toasting in the toaster oven or under the broiler. Be careful not to burn them.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add onion and garlic, sauteeing until soft. Add shrimp and heat through. Splash with white wine. Stir in bread crumbs and optional cheese. Season to taste.

Pile the shrimp mixture on the bread and squash flat. The shrimp love to escape while you eat, so be prepared to chase them.

Your po'boy can be garnished with lettuce, tomato and thinly sliced red onion...or not, as you choose. Hot sauce optional but highly recommended.

WWJ launches today

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WWJ isn't World Wrestling Japan, but Wireless Watch Japan, a wireless industry publication featuring news and exclusive video interviews with the movers and shakers in the Japanese mobile phone markets.

I helped to revamp their website by implementing a PHP-Nuke content management system integrating e-commerce and customizations in a tight 3-week turnaround.

Congratulations to WWJ on the relaunch of their site today.



To celebrate three years of blogging at Media Tinker, today I'm announcing a new project. You are invited to take a peek at this pre-release of this "celebration of the Yamanote Line."


You are cordially encouraged to contribute photos, stories, video, or audio relating to the Yamanote line, its stations, rolling stock, people and neighborhoods. (See the Submission Guidelines for details.)

Your feedback on improvements is also welcome. I'll be seeding the site with more video and photos so that there will be a representative entry for each station before the official launch on August 15th.

Hope you enjoy what's there now...

Four girls and a captor

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In the news is the story of four 11 and 12 year old girls who were held captive in Akasaka from Sunday to Thursday last week.

I'm not sure whether the true substance of the story is about poor parenting, bad police work, the naivete of little girls, or whether it's just about a social deviant.

Kotaro Yoshisato, a 29 year old man from from Saitama just west of Tokyo, lured the girls to his condo in the city on the pretense of discussing part-time jobs at his fictitious shop, Petit Angel. In reality, he was looking for girls for his prostitution business. For the past few years, he's paid high school girls as talent scouts to find new, youthful recruits.

He'd met one of the four 6th graders previously and persuaded her to do "part time work" for him and offered her a bonus if she would bring her friends, too. When they all met him again last Sunday, he handcuffed the four to heavy objects, blindfolded them, then bound them hand and feet. On Wednesday night, he committed suicide by poisoning himself with carbon monoxide from a charcoal stove.

One of the girls escaped from her handcuffs on Thursday and went for help. The four sets of parents, all from a Tokyo suburb called Inagi, were very relieved to have their daughters home unscathed but you have to wonder why they let their the girls go into Shibuya unaccompanied.

On Friday, 3500 police officers and social welfare workers spent the day in the area around Shibuya station, reminding young people of the dangers of talking to strangers. According to Kyodo News, they talked to about 1500 kids--2/3 of them boys.

To add to the drama, Kotaro Yoshisato was investigated a few years ago on suspicion of selling illegal pornographic tapes featuring young women. But despite the evidence of sales flyers, a client list and 1000 video tapes, the investigation was dropped.

Day off

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It's unusual for me to take a day off from blogging but as regular readers may have noticed, I didn't post yesterday and today's entry is quite late.

I had planned to have a Video Saturday entry prepared, but didn't get it done. I'm making quiet progress in the background on the Hello Tokyo project but there's nothing to show yet. Keep your eyes peeled next Saturday when I do hope to have something spectacular for you.

Yesterday I was also in a black temper. I'm not sure why but everything seemed bleak and impossible. It was the sort of self-pitying, self-indulgent mood where I see all humans as the gross organisms that we are--giants bags of water spending their time ingesting, digesting, reproducing--and question the point of my existence. Definitely not a good emotional space to be writing from.

So instead of inflicting any of that bile on you, I broke down to my dearest darling and then went to visit friends in Zushi where my mood lightened and I was (I hope) better company.

And tomorrow I will return to being a better entertainer. But for now, to bed!



I rescued a butterfly.

It was struggling against the electric breezes in the hallway between the Oedo line and Mita line at Kasuga.

A sucker for struggling creatures, I bent down to help it. As I extended a hand to shield it from the breeze, it crawled onto my finger then clung on for three minutes while I carried it through the station to the nearest exit.

It kept its white wings, fringed in butter underneath, folded as we took the escalator up. Its darkly striped antennae held perfectly still during the journey but as we crested the top of the escalator, it gracefully uncurled a steel blue proboscis longer than its fuzzy pale green body. I couldn't feel it tasting my finger.

When we drew near the exit, I gave it a quiet word of encouragement, said goodbye then tried to sit it on the edge of a sign. It fluttered off, alighting briefly on the wickets before heading up the stairs to the fresh air.

Then I turned back and caught the train to work.

Seafood Newburg

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A simplified version of a French classic makes a rich, celebratory evening meal. Light the candles and uncork the wine!

Seafood Newburg

1/2 pint cream or half and half (one small carton)
3 Tblsp butter
1/2 cup onion or scallion, minced
8-10 button mushrooms, sliced
2 small fillets of fish, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 - 1 cup shrimp, fresh or frozen
1/4 - 1/2 cup crab, real or imitation
1/4 c peas, frozen
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
Sherry (optional)
2 slices of bread, toasted and cut into triangles

In a heavy frying pan, sautee the onion and mushrooms in butter. Add the seafood and allow to cook until about half done. Lower the heat and slowly stir in the cream. Season with salt, plenty of crushed black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. A splash of sherry is optional. Add the peas. Reduce cream until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Arrange toast triangles on the plate and ladle the newburg over them. Serves 2.

Note: The classic newburg is lobster with a more complicated cream sauce. You can use just about any sort of mild, white fish in this recipe and the ultra-simple cream sauce means you can bring this dish from raw ingredients to table in about 20 minutes.

A love story


Today marks our arrival in Japan five years ago. We were coming for a three month assignment and here we still are. Happy as clams. Japan, and Tokyo in particular, is a great place to live.

There is a certain element of fantasy living in Tokyo.

Here I am, part of a tradition of expatriate artists. Granted that this isn't Paris in the 1930s and getting here doesn't involve steamer trunks and a month-long journey over water, but Tokyo in 2003 is kin to that history. There is a thriving community of expatriate artists here: writers, web folk, filmmakers, fine artists, musicians. I'm fortunate to know some of them and to collaborate with a few. Perhaps someday our connections and contributions to society will be noted as an artistic force in this era.

Reality is great, too.

I can live without a car and never feel the need to have one. The weather is mild and pleasant for 10 months of the year. The city bustles with activity and the mountains and seaside are only an hour's train ride away. Seafood is fresh; fruits are delicious; there are a zillion restaurants. Strangers are polite and the streets are safe.

Naturally, not everything is rosy. I've struggled.

Learning a new language is challenging and I progress very slowly. Tokyo is an expensive place to live. Expatriate friends come and go. I will never be welcomed into any part of Japanese society. Despite all these annoyances and more, I've learned to accept them and the benefits of living here outweigh the traumas.

Will we ever leave Japan? Probably so, but who knows when or for where? I hope not to go back to the US. I'd love to try Rome or Beijing. But for the foreseeable future I am perfectly content with Tokyo.

Come as you are


comeasyouare.jpgThe "come as you are" party is a surprise party for the guests. The idea is to catch people unaware and persuade them to come enjoy a casual party on the spur of the moment. No dressing up or preparing, just drop everything and join in the fun.

Washing hair? Wrap your head in a towel and come along. Napping? Rub the sleep from your eyes and put on some slippers. It was great hoots forty years ago when life had more rigid social conventions.

When I tried this for a birthday party in the 1970s, it failed. There wasn't much difference between school clothes, play clothes, and dress-up. Nobody turned up in their bathrobe or pajamas. No embarrassing outfits. Well, it was the 70s. Everyone wore an embarrassing outfit.

The 2003 Tokyo lifestyle is a little bit more formal. People dress to go out and rarely drop in on one another unannounced. Maybe a "come as you are" party would be successful now.

Let's imagine what would happen if I rang people for brunch on a Sunday morning:

Tod - stumbles from the bedroom bleary eyed and wearing his yukata.
MJ - has been up all night but can't tear herself away from work.
UltraBob - attempts to change the venue to Zushi because he has a deadline.
Mike G - arrives neatly dressed with an interesting CD to share.
Mike R - sets up a webcam from Erie.
Terri - needs a break, but has too much work to get done.
Peter - comes in his car with the whole family "as they are". Yes!
Kristen - arrives fashionably late in a gorgeous peignoir and lipstick.
Kristin - is teaching a painting class and can't make it
Sayaka - hops a train from Oita, arrives in time for leftovers.
Tracey - is sleepy but not in pajamas as she dressed right after waking up.
John - turns up for brunch on Tuesday--it's a long flight.
Kris - arrives with John and looks absolutely fabulous.
Dave - comes with John and Kris; brings a suitcase full of toys.
Jenn - wears nice travel clothes; spends her flight writing Ode to a Brunch
Helen - sports pale blue with glittery accents; thinks my food is weird.
Dan - dons green sweatpants with holes. Joins me in the kitchen on Tuesday.

The guest list goes on, but you get the idea. Lots of my friends are busy or not in Tokyo. And I wonder why I don't have many parties...

Menu design

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Way back when I started my career as a media tinker, I worked for a food service supplier. I spent my days designing sale flyers and advertising on early desktop publishing systems. Eventually, I left that job but food service design still comes into my life from time to time.

Recently, FCCJ asked me to redesign their menus. It's been ten yeas since I last did a menu layout, but I'm quite pleased with the results. This is the elegant dinner menu. There is also a more casual lunch menu that features an old fashioned typewriter theme--just right for a journalists' club.

If you're dining in the Pen and Quill from August when these menus make their debut, drop me a line and let me know what you think.

26 things


For the past couple of days I've been playing a photography scavenger hunt called 26 Things. The idea is to take one creative photo of each of 26 themes then make a web gallery and mail the URL to the organizers on August 1st.

So far, I've captured six themes: food, water, colour, little things, and time.

But there are some tricky ones. A creative depiction of love? Footwear? A sunset? I'm not even sure where to begin getting creative with a sunset.

Sometimes I'm not sure which theme to assign to a photo. Take this one, for instance. Is it authority, transport, construction, or signage?


Maybe it's just badly spelled.

J/E magazines


I met Sayaka when we were volunteering for a local magazine called Yanesen.

Actually, Sayaka found me through my weblog, figured out that I lived in the neighborhood and recruited me. I was happy to help, though I don't think the English edition we worked on together ever went to press.

Now Sayaka lives in Oita and publishes a weekly mail magazine for Japanese speakers wanting to improve their English. It's called "Sayaka and Kristen's Simple and Useful Lunchtime English."

Despite the prominence of my name in the title, I don't do anything. Sayaka uses entries from my weblog and other sources, deconstructs them, explains the weird things that I write, gives a brief lesson on vocabulary, idiom or a grammar point, then asks comprehension questions.

Tuesday's lesson is followed by the answers on Friday. On Fridays our names are reversed in the masthead--Kristen and Sayaka. That's Sayaka being very humble (though she does all the work and should take all the credit) but I think it's also quietly proving that I have all the answers. Hehehehe.

I've noticed that Sayaka is catching up with me. It used to be that the entries she selected were older ones, but this week's issue featured the one on shopping for the U101. I'd better write a few exclusives for the magazine, otherwise Sayaka's going to have to deconstruct and explain the kitten post!

If you're interested in paging through the back issues or subscribing (it's free), visit Macky, a Japanese e-zine clearinghouse.

Reference kitten


When I was a teenager with her first job, I developed a financial coping skill that I will share with you, though I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. I think of buying, selling, earning, and saving in terms of an object I care about whose price I know.

At age sixteen, I used a $40 wool sweater as a reference. I earned about a sweater a day as a lifeguard during the summer.

As a college student, my reference was pizza. The $4.99 Corleone's large cheese special (with two 32 ounce Cokes) was usually out of my budget, but it made a fine comparison tool.

After we bought a house, my reference became our mortgage payment. The apartment the company rented for us when we first arrived in Japan was eight mortgage payments. Yikes!

My latest reference is a lovely Abssynian kitten for sale at "Dog and Cat Nana." He is priced at 120,000 yen--about a thousand dollars. So now I think of things in terms of kittens. "That job just earned me 1.5 kittens."

Economics via Kittens

1 kitten = 1000 vending machine drinks
1 kitten = 136 Zoupi
1 kitten = 120 rides on the LaQua rollercoaster
1 kitten = 50 CDs
1 kitten = 42 Zousan
1 kitten = 30 dinners at Ampresso
1 kitten = 10 pairs of jeans
1 kitten = 10 kg of Japanese beef
2.5 kittens = 1 month's rent
5.2 kittens = 1 G5 + cinema display
7.3 kittens = 1 1996 VW Beetle 1600i
350 kittens = 2LDK apartment at Lions Square
6,662,369,081 kittens = 1 US national debt

Money seems so much cuter and accessible now.



A cream cheese and avocado spread from the kitchen of UltraBob and his UltraGirl in Zushi.

UltraSpread with Avocado
1/4 box of Philly cream cheese
1/2 tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
cilantro, chopped
lemon juice

Cream all ingredients together until smooth and pale green, using lemon juice to adjust the consistency.

"Put it on some bread with other stuff and put it in your piehole. Make sounds of appreciation," says UltraBob. "Would be really good with a chicken sandwich."

Cool, cool summer

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It's been unseasonably chilly the past few weeks. I am grateful for the extended coolness.

The average high temperature for July 9th over the last 30 years is 28 degrees (82F) with a low of 21 degrees (72F). This year's going to drag the average down; JWA's forecast a high of 24 and a low of 20 (75/66F).

No doubt the mercury will creep up as July heads towards hot, sticky August. I hope that in the middle of the wilting season next month, I can look back and remember this cool morning when my feet felt chilly and I could see the steam rising off my coffee.

Three tongue twisters


niwatori.jpgSumomo mo momo mo momo no uchi.
Plum and peach are both in the peach family.

This tongue twister turns around the word momo which means peach. Sumomo is a plum and all those extra mo are roughly equivalent to 'and' and 'also.'

Niwa no niwa ni wa, niwa no niwatori wa niwaka ni wani wo tabeta.
In Mr. Niwa's garden, two chickens suddenly ate a crocodile.

The key word here is niwa which means garden. Niwatori is a chicken, niwa means two chickens, niwaka ni means suddenly and wani is a crocodile. All the extra ni and wa are particles that emphasis the preceding words or give them a location, sort of like 'in the.'

There is another "niwa" tongue twister that I can't say:

Uraniwa niwa niwa niwa niwa niwa niwatori ga iru.
There are two chickens in the back yard and two in the front yard.

Uraniwa is the backyard. I can't figure out which of the niwa are 'two', 'in the' and 'garden.' Ack!



Today is Tanabata, a day honoring the legend of the stars Vega and Altair in the Milky Way. Really it's just a great excuse for a festival.

A sea of people came to Hiratsuka in Kanagawa Prefecture to wander the streets and look at the decorations.

But it's not all decorations. There are games, too. Catching bright rubber balls from a swiftly moving stream is very popular with little kids.

Older kids (including me) like the fish game. And MJ is the proud owner of two tiny turtles that she won by scooping them from the water with a monaka, like a cup-shaped ice cream cone that droops when it gets wet.

Mmmm, festival food. This is okonomiyaki a cross between pancake and omelet. My favorite is the choco-banana but I was too busy eating them to get any photos.



My Japanese sandals. (inset: inter-toe blister)

No other footwear is appropriate with yukata and kimono. Unfortunately, geta hurt. The price of fashion, I suppose.

Company Night Out

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Last night was a "knees-up" with the office clan. My knees stayed down, pretty much, and I headed home before last train while Tod and the boys went off for nijiikai and probably sanjikai at various bars and hostess clubs in Roppongi (he's still sleeping so I can't ask him).

The party was an increasingly rare occasion of corporate-fielded drunkenness. Back in the giddy Y2K days when I was working for Perot, there were drinking nights all the time--mostly informal but plenty of sponsored ones--as the myriad short-term expats drowned their sorrows. Now those folk are gone and the remaining gaijin are happily here for the long haul. Quite a contrast to the situation three or four years ago.

Last night's event was in honor of two high-ranking visitors, Robin and Brian, and seemed to be going on in the traditional style. Lots of beer, snacks, and loud conversation at an izakaya near the office until they kicked us out.

Next, a tipsy conference ensued outside the izakaya, as usual. The clever few faded away without saying goodbye while the rest debated about where to go next. Kylie and I wouldn't leave without saying goodbye to our partners and so were subject to much sweet persuasion to come along which we ignored.

Our refusal was a great relief to Tod and Andy, I'm sure, who were not constrained by our presence. Having your wife tag along to the hostess club is such a wet blanket, even if she is enjoying herself and chatting up your coworkers. Wherever they went off to, they came home before three this morning, but I am sure that Brian was out all night--he will be getting on a plane to London about now, assuming he made it back to his hotel in time to get the shuttle to the airport.

So even though it's not as common as it once was, the office social scene still follow the same plan. Lots of drinking, escapes and escapades, and one person needing to catch a plane home.

Your Horoscope


mockingbird.jpgYou were born in the year of the Mockingbird. Mockingbirds are impatient but willing to wait when necessary. Strong willed and talkative, you believe that you can be beautiful or smart but not both.

Special color: chartreuse.
Lucky number: 11,357.
Best mate: Turtles or Hornets

Today you will find yourself thinking about the future but don't let that stop you from living in the moment. Wiggle your toes in the sands of time!

If you don't like this summary of your personality and forecast of your future, try one of these other horoscopes:
Yahoo! Astrology
Horoscope Universe

Kiwi Yogurt Drink


Yogurt is a healthy way to start the day, and this blender drink goes down easy, even on hot and sticky summer mornings.

Kiwi Yogurt Breakfast Drink
2 kiwi, quartered
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 - 1/2 cup orange juice
10 ice cubes

Blend the kiwi, yogurt and ice cubes until the ice is well crushed. Add the juice a little at a time until you reach a consistency you like. Serve over ice.

Notes: Unripe kiwi are pretty bitter, so be sure you use ripe ones. You can use any soft fruit--peaches, berries, bananas--but then you can't call it Kiwi Yogurt Breakfast Drink.

Virile or vile


On June 19th, five students from three of Japan's prestigious universities were arrested for gang raping a woman after getting her drunk at a bar.

Apparently these five and others had a party promotion business/student society with 20 members. Gang rape was one of their sidelines. There's a story in the Mainichi with details.

Last Thursday during a public debate on youth crime and the declining birth rate in Japan, a 57 year old Diet member, Seiichi Ota, said that the declining child population is due to Japanese men being afraid to commit to marriage. When asked by the moderator if that meant the university gang rapists did it because they lacked the courage to propose, Ota replied,

"Gang rape shows the people who do it are still virile, and that is okay. I think that might make them close to normal. I know I'll get in trouble for saying that, though."

Naturally, he did get into trouble. There was outrage from his party, the Prime Minister, and a lot of women legislators. He apologised publicly, so all will be forgiven soon and I'll bet he gets reelected.

Making of Act II scene 2


When the Zous decided to put on a play, I was all for it. And Hamlet is a favorite, so I was really happy that Zoupi had selected it. But I had no idea what a huge production it would become. Costumes, set, endless rehearsals.

The real work started when we decided to put it on the web. There were many options for presenting it--Flash, video with subtitles or dubs, stop-motion animation, still photography, and animated gifs. I tried and abandoned at least half the options before settling on a simple still gallery.

Even that took hours of work to get finished; the photography was spotty and everything had to be double checked for continuity. The Zous were very impatient and I was sorry that it took so long. But as of today, you can enjoy Hamlet, Act II scene 2 as presented by The Zous.

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