February 2006 Archives

Hello Tokyo 2006


Hello Tokyo's had a facelift, new voiceovers and some updated details. I ended up doing the voiceovers for the transportation section while I was still stuffy. I did my best, but my voice sounds a little strange.

If you'd like to see it, all 11 minutes are available now for free via Google Video:

Despite a few remaining flaws, I premiered it to an audience of 48 newcomers at Tokyo Here and Now this morning, followed by a presentation about some other basic Tokyo bits and bobs, and a long Q & A session. The fun thing about presenting such a general topic is that I always learn something. Did you know that there's a dog taxi service in Tokyo? It's called Angel Buggy

Or that the subway wickets marked with the bright pink labels will accept two Passnet cards at once? I thought they were only for commuter passes + Passnet, but I was wrong. They let you use up the spare change on your Passnet cards, or you can insert a regular ticket and a Passnet card so you don't have to fare adjust. It works great; I tried it this afternoon.

So now I have even more updates to do on Hello Tokyo. Watch for a new version in...2009?

My Station: Korean UK



What's hot on the 'Net today? Anagramming transit maps. I thought "No way could Tokyo's subway map be anagrammed, " but I tried today while waiting for Hello Tokyo renders. And I was surprised at the good anagrams I got. Yotsuya = You Stay!

Here's the Marunouchi line from Ikebukuro out to the branches past Shinjuku:

  • Our UK Bike
  • I Toss A Hunk
  • I Dam Agony
  • Korean UK
  • Change Homo Son
  • Inca Hum Zoo
  • Oh CIA Jaw
  • Omit Each
  • OK Toy
  • A Zing
  • I Game a Uk Kiss
  • Jim Kodak Agio Ike
  • Make Saki Ask Tau
  • You Stay
  • Mushy Ocean Toys
  • Gymnasium Hue Joke
  • Haunches Join Musk
  • Hi U.S. Junk
  • Juicy Sushi Ink, Huh?
  • Hush, I Injun Ski
  • Kane Oak Sauna
  • Enough Jacksonian Hookum
  • Banish Omaha Skin
  • Hijack Foam Union
  • Ann Hooch
  • Hosannah Kin
  • Hiking Shoe JAI
  • She Join Kin
  • Gamy Asia Mania
  • Go UK Bio

Do you want to do the Ginza, Hibiya, Tozai, Chiyoda, Yurakucho, Hanzomon, Namboku, Askausa, Mita, Shinjuku or Oedo lines?

The reference map is rosen_eng.pdf and you'll find the Anagram Server is a big help. If you put your anagrams in the comments, I'll change the text on the map and publish it here.

Flea Market

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Today I joined in with Sachiko and Yuka and sold a lot of stuff at the Shinagawa Intercity flea market.

At 8 am I loaded a suitcase, a backpack, four large paper shopping bags, a carpet, and a giant plastic crate into the van. At 5 pm I unloaded a practically empty suitcase. Almost everything sold. When I emptied my pockets and counted my wadded up notes and wonking fistful of coins, I had over 15,000 yen in profit.

It was hard won, too. Man, some of those thrifty flea market folks were relentless bargainers.

Fat Lady: How much is the skirt?
Me: 200 yen.
Fat Lady: 100 yen.
Me. Uh, no. 200 yen.
Fat Lady: How much is the dress?
Me: 200 yen.
Fat Lady: 100 yen.
Me. Uh, no. 200 yen. 400 yen for both. That's cheap!
Fat Lady: Gee, foreigners are strict.

Ojiisan: How much for the tripod?
Me: 500 yen.
Ojiisan: But it's so big. I'm really looking for a shorter one. 300 yen.
Me. Uh, no. If you want a smaller one, go buy a smaller one.
(he came back later and I sold it to him for 400 yen)

Shopper: How much for this book?
Yuka: 100 yen.
Shopper: I'm checking the original price on my keitai. Just a second.
Yuka: *rolls eyes*
Shopper: And this DVD?
Yuka: 500 yen.
Shopper: I'm checking the original price on my keitai. Just a second.
Yuka: *rolls eyes* It was 4,000 yen new.

So we worked to get rid of our treasures, even at very cheap prices. At the end we had a "tada" pile --free for the taking odds & ends--that made a few people very happy. I'm happy now that there's a bit more space in my house. Which is especially good, because Jeremy picked up a case of Coopers Pale Ale at Costco for me.

Untranslatable Words


My friend Dan, mentioned before re 40x365 and altered books, is collecting words that can't be easily translated from one language to another for a project called untranslatable/

He's put out a call for submissions that I want to pass along:

I would like collect examples of words that are untranslatable and provide a web-based publishing outlet for them to be found.

I am most interested in single words (lacuna) which require phrases, paragraphs, or pages of explanation to try and give a reasonable approximation of their full meaning, but am open to considering anything at all (really, try me) that fits (or answers to, or responds to) the notion of untranslatability.

When submitting, please include:

  1. the native language the word (or phrase) appears in
  2. the target language(s) into which it is known to be untranslatable
  3. as much explanation as you feel is necessary to communicate the full meaning of the word, possibly using a standard dictionary attempt which fails miserably as a starting point (or not, as you see fit)

or, for submissions that don't fit this idealized set of guidelines, a brief note explaining your submission's connection to the concept of untranslatability.

Submissions can be as casual or scholarly as your experience dictates, the format I'm planning will allow multiple approaches to the same translation challenge.

Please address submissions to your favorite word, whatever that may be, at logolalia.com.

The URL is http://www.logolalia.com/untranslatable/

Please circulate this call as widely as possible, to anyone in any country or field of endeavor who might have examples to share. This is an open an ongoing call. I will attempt to accommodate all native and target languages to the best of my abilities.

I submitted a few words today. If you can think of some, Dan would be happy to have them.

Dessicated Garden

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Orange Jasmine dreams of wetter days
Tended by the waterer.


Dragon Tree lets out a strangled roar
Voice tangled in drying locks.


Royal Palm recollects lush green
Twice weekly soakings.

Lost Voice

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Today I sound like a heavy-smoking silver screen siren crossed with a pubescent boy. Gravel and throaty seduction gives way to unexpected sqeaks.

It makes me laugh, but then I fall into coughing spasms.

Video Gear for Sale

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I'm cleaning out the closets and have a lot of video gear that I'd like to get rid of. Except as noted, it's all in good shape. I'm just not doing much shooting anymore and I'd rather not see stuff this gathering dust.

Best offer by Friday the 24th gets it, or it comes to the Shinagawa Intercity flea market with me on Sunday the 26th. Pickup in Tokyo or at the flea market so Tokyo/Japan folks only, please.


Sony Camcorder Setup
Well-loved, much used, slightly abused, and partially broken.
Originally paid about 285,000 yen for everything listed.

  • Sony 3CCD miniDV Camcorder (TRV-900) - needs repair to power and audio systems - includes camera, iLInk cable, remote, AC adapter, floppy disk adapter, F330 & F730 batteries, & manual
  • Sony Gun Zoom Microphone (ECM-HS1) Uses "intelligent shoe", fits TRV series and other models: specs
  • Sony Wireless Microphone System (WCS-999) includes transmitter, receiver, 2 tie-clip lapel microphones, & earbud: specs
  • Sony Hard Carry Case (LCH-TRV900 ) rugged aluminum body, 2-layers, adjustable compartments , includes shoulder strap & keys
  • Special offer: buy all the Sony gear and I'll throw in a basic tripod.

Studio Lighting Kit
Perfect for 3-point lighting setups.
Originally paid 15,380 yen for 3 stands and scene paper

  • Mirano 1-Lamp Studio Light 2 available
    100V-6A, tripod base, ceramic fixture on ball head, switch. Extends to about 2 meters.

  • Mirano Mini Studio Light
    100V-6A, tripod base, ceramic fixture, on ball head switch. Extends to about 1.7 meters

  • Superior Seamless Paper
    suitable for bluescreen work, on 2 meter roll

  • Special offer: buy the studio lights and paper and I'll throw in an assortment of gently used 250 & 500 watt bulbs.

Justy VGA-TV Converter (ConnectTV JTV-05A)
Convert computer monitor to TV or camcorder
Retail 21,400 yen
takes VGA in (from PC, Mac or NEC) and outputs NTSC (S-video or composite)
includes cables, adapters, power supply and converter.

Wireless CCD Camera (CP-952)
Spy on your friends and neighbors, or use in a videocrown like I did.
List Price: 29,800 yen
includes camera, receiver, power supplies and battery pack: specs

Blind Spot in the Window


creative perspectivesMy sister told me about the Johari Window yesterday. I thought I'd share it with you so you can try it. This is a 1950's pyschology tool that gives a glimpse into how everyone's perspective is different.

From a list of 55 adjectives, you select half a dozen that you believe describe yourself. Then you ask others to think about you and select the ones they think fit best. By reviewing the answers, you can see how others perceive you, where your idea of yourself overlaps with others' knowledge of you, and where it doesn't.

There is also the other side of the coin in the Nohari Window. It lists negative adjective with the same instructions to choose 6 you feel apply to you, then get friends and acquaintances to select the ones they believe describe your bad aspects.

Of course someone set up an online version , the Interactive Johari Window. And I played with it yesterday. You're welcome to look at my Johari and my Nohari windows. I invite you to add your own set of adjectives to my results if you like. The more people who add their ideas about me, the more I can see how far off my self-perception is.

Should you choose to give it a spin, and I know you, I'll add another datapoint to your window.

Coughing Chicken

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recipe thursdayCold season continues in the McQuillin household. I'm hungry for home-cooked food but lacking energy to do anything challenging so I made a simple but delicious baked chicken. The ginger-lemon marinade is based on a tisane I like to drink when I have a cough, but I don't think eating the chicken is going to help the same way.

Coughing Chicken
serves 2

2 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp brandy

Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over chicken, turning to coat. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes. Bake skin side up (if you leave the skin on) at 180°C for about 25 minutes or until chicken is done. Pour any extra sauce over the chicken when serving.

Serving suggestion: baked sweet potato and steamed green beans.

Vitamin Bee

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This one doesn't sting

Chasing the Director

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On location at Narita

I'm involved in a film project but this time in front of the camera instead of behind the scenes. It's really difficult not to compose the shots in my head and think about how everything will be edited together. But all I have to do in this film is act like a bossy big sister--and it's shockingly easy.

Our most recent shoot was at Narita airport. While the director did some paperwork, I grabbed the camera and went outside to try to film planes landing. She came out to see what I was up to and I chased her around the observation deck. She snapped this picture as she tried to hide.

I think the "making of" clips might be more fun than the actual film.

7:25 am palette


Orange light across the way

Beef Tea


recipe thursdayTod came home with a cold this evening, his first in many months. How fortunate for me that I'd just discovered the "Invalid" section in the old Argonaut Bookshop cookbook. I passed over the recipes for Fricasseed Brains (there were two different versions) and Treacle Posset, to settle on beef tea as a curative for tomorrow.

Standard Beef Tea

1/2 lb lean, juicy beef
1/2 pint water
salt (if allowed)

Wipe the meat with a damp cloth. remove skin, gristle and fat. Shred with a knife against the grain. Put into a jar with salt and water. Cover and let stand for half an hour to draw out the juices. Place the jar in a saucepan of cold water and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer for two or three hours. Stir and squeeze well. Strain through a coarse strainer and remove fat.

Quickly Made Beef Tea

1/2 lb lean, juicy beef
1/2 pint water
salt, if allowed

Prepare meat as for Standard Beef Tea. Place in a saucepan with salt and water and allow to stand for half and hour. Squeeze and stir well. Heat over a slow fire til a pale brown color, stirring and pressing well with teh back of a wooden spoon. Strain through a coarse strainer.

Raw Beef Tea

Half gill of water (70 ml)
2 oz meat

Prepare the meat as for Standard Beef Tea. Add the water and let stand for an hour. Squeeze well and strain.

Lip synching


This week I've been reworking Hello Tokyo for a presentation that I'm giving later this month at Tokyo Here and Now, the twice-a-year orientation program hosted by the Tokyo American Club. It was high time for a Hello Tokyo update as a few things have changed since the original version.

And now that I've got a few more years of Final Cut Pro experience under my belt (Hello Tokyo was my first project after I switched from Premiere to FCP) , I can fix some of the problems that thwarted me. But one thing I can't do is reshoot the footage. So I decided to re-record sections of the audio in the studio and see if I can't improve it that way.

Have you ever tried to lip synch to yourself? It's harder than it looks. Not only it is a challenge to watch your lips move and say the same thing again, but after you're recorded the dialogue in the studio, you lose all the background sounds. No more noisy traffic, wind, or restaurant plate-clattering. The result sounds a little thin.

So I have to do some foley work to put back the sounds I got rid of and to make the voice fit into its setting. At least this time, I can control the background noises and make them quieter than in the original shot.

So that you can see and hear what I mean about synching and foley, here is a short clip showing three uncompleted versions of the same segment of Hello Tokyo.

playicon.gif ADR & Foley Example 2.7 MB 25" MP4

Night Vision

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Akihabara from Otemachi

By request, a larger version (1024x768) and a bonus image from the same vantage point.

Mom on the Web

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On her 66th birthday, inspired by Dan's 40x365 project, my mother launches her own 66x365.

Mom explained how she made her list chronologically from her childhood forward, then confessed that when she got to about 200 people, she realised she'd forgotten Dad, Jenn & me. Oops. We're there now, tucked in among the more contemporary friends.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Metal Bird Masks

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Copper and brass bird masks

I fashioned these masks for a masquerade ball we attended last week. They are rustic but elegant and not too difficult to make. And if you are careful not to dip your beak in it, you can sip a glass of wine or champagne while wearing your mask.

If you'd like to create one of your own, allow four or five evenings to cut, file, and assemble the mask. The cost of materials for two masks was under $20 (in Tokyo), not including tools.

Materials & Equipment
.2mm copper sheet
.2mm brass sheet
.45 mm copper wire
1.5 m soft ribbon
felt (optional)
pattern (2 MB PDF file)
construction paper
permanent marker
tin snips
drill with 0.8 mm bit & 2.5 mm bit
metal adhesive ("super glue" type)
paper clips (plastic covered ones prevent scratches)
large binder clips
half-round jeweler's files, medium and fine
needle-nose pliers
wire brush
barbecue tongs
gas flame
cold water


I tested a few designs with paper, cutting them to fit my face, before I started in on the metal. The pattern I've provided is my original and you can see the marks I made on it as I worked out the shape. You will need to adjust it for your own face, especially the width of your nose and size of your eyes. If you adjust the nose area, don't forget to reshape the beak to fit.


Trace the paper pattern onto the metal sheets with permanent marker. Cut the metal using tin snips. Use your larger bit to drill starter holes for the eyes and inside of the top feather, then trim them out with the snips. I drilled a hole on each side to accomodate ribbon to tie the mask on.


File the edges of all the pieces until they are smooth enough not to cut flesh, though the thin metal will remain fairly sharp. File in one direction with long strokes that curve slightly around the edge of the metal. File both sides of each piece. This step will probably take you the longest time. Don't skimp on the filing or you will find the mask terribly uncomfortable to wear. Pay careful attention to the eye holes as they may have formed slivers or shards when you cut the inside curves. Blunt the tip of the beak well--it is easy to accidentally scratch someone with this protrusion.


Brass: Use long, straight strokes with the wire brush to dull the brass to a matte finish.

Copper: I recommend experimenting with some scrap copper before you do this to the actual mask.

Prepare a large bowl of cold water. Hold the mask in tongs and heat it over a gas flame (I used the stove in my kitchen, doing half the mask at a time as the burner is not so wide) until it starts to turn dull but being careful not to let it heat to a brassy color--this can happen quickly, so learned to move the copper closer and farther from the heat to adjust. When the metal is hot, sprinkle 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt on it while it is still over the heat. The salt pops and cracks, leaving the mottled blue colors you see in the photo.

A quick plunge into cold water cools the metal and washed off the excess salt. Repeat as necessary to finish the whole surface. Be sure to dry the mask well between saltings of you may end up with streaky, runny bits of salty blue across your mask.


Step 1: Bend the side feathers into a shallow V or C to give them a bit of dimension. Glue the side and central feathers to the curved top band with metal adhesive. Clamp with paperclips or binder clips and allow to dry overnight.

Step 2: With a 0.8mm bit, drill holes approximately 1 cm apart along the brass beak and drill corresponding holes on the copper. Fold the beak in half, using a file to keep the center line straight. Thread the pieces together with .45mm copper wire. The needle-nose pliers will help you tighten the wire as you go along. I found it helpful to temporarily thread the bottom hole on each side to keep the beak from slipping out of place.

Step 3: Glue the assembled brass top along the upper edge of the copper mask. Clamp with paper clips and allow it to dry overnight.


Thread soft ribbon through the side holes and tie behind. You will need to gently bend your mask to the curve of your face. The sides of the mask should touch your temples. You may wish to stick a bit of felt along the inside of the beak for more comfort.

An example of adjusting fit: Tod's mask had to be reworked in two ways. I used the same pattern for both our masks, but his nose is wider than mine and his eyelashes longer. So I cut the threading that held the beak in place, trimmed and re-filed the inverted V nose space on the copper mask, and reattached the beak. Fortunately, I was able to trim within the drill line and didn't need to make any new holes. I gave his mask a more prominent front-to-back curve by bending it and that seemed to pull the mask far enough from his eyes to prevent his lashes from touching it.

Power of a New Pen

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creative perspectivesLast week I found myself in a favorite art supply store to buy some new technical pens. I've worn mine out with all the drawing and travel (pens do not survive many air trips before they get all splurty or dried up).

In the section of disposable technical pens, I found a brush pen with the same ink as my favorite pens. So I bought one to try.

And what a change it brought to my drawings. For the surprises I find myself putting on paper (I won't call them mistakes) make me feel more like I'm painting than penning. The variation of thickness and thinness (not always intentional) is great fun and has led to interesting and lively drawings.

Here's one that made me realise that the pen is influencing my drawing style:


Canadian War Cake


recipe thursdayThis is a recipe from an old cookbook published in Adelaide by the Argonaut Bookshop. Probably around 1945, but since the cover and several pages are missing, I can't tell for sure.

The recipe is for an eggless, butterless, milkless cake, but it isn't vegetarian as it uses lard for levening. It's made by boiling and baking, and though I haven't tried it yet, I suspect it comes out rather dense.

Unfortunately like many old recipes, quantities are a bit sketchy--how much was a "packet" of raisins in Canada during the war? Two ounces, like the little boxes of Sunmaid raisins we can still buy today? A bigger box?

I did some researching on the 'net to discover the correct measure, but this trivial tidbit is not surfacing easily. I wrote to Sunmaid to see if they could tell me (they've been making raisins for over 90 years) but the reply was only a variation of this same recipe--with the quantity "1 box seedless raisins"

I may have hit paydirt, though. M.F.K. Fisher wrote the delightful How to Cook a Wolf in 1942 and includes a War Cake recipe. The ingredients list 1 cup of raisins or other dried fruits. The excerpt I found doesn't include method, just ingredients.

I've included all three recipes for your reference.

Canadian War Cake (Argonaut recipe)
"large cake"

2 c brown sugar
1 packet seedless raisins
2 c hot water
2 Tbsp lard
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
3 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp hot water

Boil the sugar, raisins, lard, spices and salt in two cups of water. Allow to boil five minutes. Remove from heat and cool. When room temperature, dissolve baking soda in 1 teaspoon hot water. Add to mixutre. Stir in flour.

Bake in a "meat tin" (a loaf pan?) for 40-50 minutes at 375/190.

CANADIAN WAR CAKE (Sunmaid recipe)
3 layer cake

2 c. light brown sugar
2 c. cold water
4 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. allspice
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 box seedless raisins
4 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
1 c. hot water
No eggs
No milk

Cook sugar, water, butter, spices and raisins for 5 minutes. Cool and add flour. Put soda in 1 cup hot
water and add to above mixture. Beat well, bake slowly 325 degrees. 3 layer cake.

2 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 c. butter
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. black walnuts
1 c. cold water

Cook butter, sugar, milk slowly until it forms a soft ball. Remove from heat, add vanilla and nuts. Beat
until thick. Spread on cake.

War Cake (M.F.K. Fisher recipe)

1/2 cup shortening (bacon grease can be substituted)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of other spices: cloves, mace, ginger
1 cup chopped raisins or other dried fruits such as prunes or figs
1 cup sugar, brown or white
1 cup water
2 cups flour, white or whole wheat
1/4 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

Wet quake


Is it possible that earthquakes happen more often when it rains? I know that's sort of like saying "every time I wear my blue underpants, the bus is late" but hey, I'm just throwing out a hypothesis.

Today was cold and soggy. This evening at 8:30, we had a nice shake, a magnitude 5.1 centered in Chiba-ken, just a couple dozen kilometers away.

The previous earthquake felt in Tokyo was on Saturday, January 14th. K and I were having a drink at Face Cafe, watching the trash float down the river near Ochanomizu Station. The tremblor at 3:30 was a 4.5 in Ibaraki-ken.

I mentioned the rain connection, and we talked about it a while. Maybe the wet ground transmits the shaking more. Maybe we're usually inside when it rains, and it's easier to feel earthquakes indoors. Maybe it rains because there is an earthquake coming. We didn't come up with a solid answer but I've learned I'm not the only person to wonder about this. There's a Q&A from the US Dept of Energy, though they pretty much dispel the idea.

I think it would be fun to get data on earthquakes and the weather then correlate it to see if I'm experiencing cognitive bias or if there might be something to this idea.

Or maybe I simply should stop wearing the blue underpants.

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