June 2003 Archives

Hunt for U101

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idx_pr_img5.jpgA friend in the US offered to send us some of our favorite Middle Eastern food if we'd go shopping for him. He wanted Sony's tiny laptop, the U101, which isn't sold outside Japan.

Well, as of Saturday, it isn't sold in Japan either.

Tod went to Bic Camera on Saturday afternoon, after he'd received the full shopping list of accessories (why buy a computer if you don't get a case, DVD drive and more memory!), but Bic Camera salespeople told him that Sony isn't making the U101 anymore and it's not available for sale.

On Sunday, checked kakaku.com, a website that shows prices all over Japan, then scoured Akihabara. No U101 at Yamagiwa (where he had seen it before), not at Llaox nor at any of a half dozen other stores. Finally he found one, the last one in all of Tokyo it seems, at a store so obscure that their shopping bags sport the name of a florist.

Tod definitely earned his finder's fee.

Double split complementary

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I paint (badly) quickly.Yesterday, I finished all the exercises for the color class--one day ahead of schedule. It's sort of embarrassing.

If I could slow down, maybe I'd be able to observe more finely and paint better. Usually by the end of the day, when I'm tired and make more focussed, my technique is a little more refined than in the morning, but I'm never going to be a pro with paints.

The painting I did is a double split complementary, If you recall the color wheel, red and green are complementary colors. The "split" part means that you take the colors on either side of the complement--so instead of green, you use blue-green and yellow-green. And for red, it's red-orange and red-violet. Which does make for a vivid painting, but I'd never consciously worked with that color scheme before and wanted to try it out.

With that painting completed, I'm not sure what I'll be doing today, but I'll try to make it interesting. I could paint another still life, I suppose. I'm not a good realistic painter, so maybe I'll paint an abstract of yesterday's still life. That way I can focus on color without having to stress about making it look right. Because you can see how well I managed that yesterday. Pffft.

Reflections

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mirror2.jpgThis is the photo I didn't submit to the Mirror Project. The one I sent in was added yesterday as number 16,449.

According to their website, "The Mirror Project is a growing community of like-minded individuals who have photographed themselves in all manner of reflective surfaces."

In blunt words, a bunch of narcissists and exhibitionists. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I've been reflecting lately about the nature of people with personal websites. Why do they have them? Why do they choose to reveal themselves (or not)? Why do they keep up the effort?

All I can do is answer for myself.

Why do I have a website? My first website was an experiment in 1994, when the web was new and we were still inventing Telerama. My site incorporated my resume, some recipes, and a reading list. It's morphed into this site over the years, but I've always aimed to use my site to educate. For now, that includes Hello Tokyo, course materials I've developed (like the DW4 workshop), and recipes.

Why do I reveal myself? My goal in life is to express an experience so that the audience understands it and relates to it. Perhaps this site remains an experiment because I find it interesting to see which posts resonate with comments--usually the ones where I reveal something about myself or ask questions. I have a thick skin, so people saying my site sucks or they think I'm useless really doesn't hurt (anymore).

Why keep up the effort? Because you can't build a body of work without expending effort and you don't earn a good reputation in your field without a body of work. I spend from 10 minutes to an hour every day writing, photographing and preparing entries. Maybe it's a compulsion or perhaps just a habit. Judging from my site stats, it's an effort my audience approves and from time to time an e-mail saying thanks buoys my spirit.

Color match

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colormatch.jpg
I spent last weekend painting color wheels and mixing colors to match fabric. Here's the result of 8 hours of work last Sunday. Not perfect but I learned a lot and used up all my yellow paint in the process.

Don't see much yellow, do you? But it's there. The browns and beiges are based on yellow and violet mixed together with varying amounts of white and red. The green leaf has yellow and red in it. Even the red-violet colors have yellow in them. But nowhere in this painting is there any blue--mainly because I had violet and alizarin crimson paint so I dind't have to mix those colors myself.

Today we're painting a monotone. I guess mine will be red, but not orange, chartreuse or dull purple, all of which contain my missing color. I think I'm going to run into trouble when we paint a still life tomorrow and Sunday.

CEATEC poster girl

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CEATEC is an electronics show that will be held in October. Last week UltraBob, who is working on the CEATEC website, asked the JapanBloggers mailing list for two volunteers to model in a photo shoot for the CEATEC poster.

I caught him on chat and gave him a hard time about asking the Bloggers to model. We're really just a bunch of normal people, not the Beautiful People. Apparently I was the first female to mention it at all and he talked me into doing it. Hmmmm. I'm a little old to be a model, but sure. Experience points.

So this morning, I headed out to Ariake for the shoot. I caught a glimpse of the mock up--a lot of product shots collaged together. Some of the photos had people in them.

But if there is any shot with my face in it, I will be surprised. Maybe the art director agreed with my self assessment of 'aged model.' I believe I have a hand, shoulder, and unkempt hair in one shot, a blurry torso in another, maybe a hand playing with the car navi in another. Seth, the other model and also a Japan Blogger, was more prominently featured--he faces the camera and is even talking on a cell phone in one shot.

Since the focus was on the gear and not on us, the photographer's assistant carefully dusted and polished every bit of equipment that was photographed, but Seth and I didn't even get a glance. No instructions to comb our hair or adjust collars. It was a little bit strange, to be honest. When I photograph people, even when they aren't the primary subject, I do fuss with them a little bit...

Mostly Seth and I waited around and talked about tattoos, writing and the lack of good bagels in Tokyo. It was interesting to be on the other side of the camera, but as I am reminded every time I venture there, I really do prefer being behind the scenes.

Sushi as drug

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On the advice of two women I painted with last weekend, I am trying sushi as a medicine for migraine.

Sushi is not my favorite food, but if it makes me feel better I will chow down.

Today's breakfast is negi-toro maki (tuna and green onion rolls). I'll let you know if it works.

Drab Fashion

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Summer clothes are not so bright and beautiful this year. Look around you on any train and you'll see mostly dark brown, navy blue, and black punctuated with tan and white. I've noticed a fair amount of a subdued blue-green, as well.

Two years ago, everyone was dressed in orange and fucshia. What happened? Is this a "sophisticated" summer season? Is the bad economy dulling fashion? Did the fabric factory have an excess of black dye in stock?

Maybe everyone is waiting until tsuyu is over before wearing their bright summer clothes.

Dad as Dumbledore

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Dad sent all the older kids to Slytherin. (Funny how the newspaper can't spell.)

Mosquito poison

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I hate mosquitos that attack me at night when I'm defenseless.Swatting at them isn't very effective when I'm sleeping. Tod burns campfire-scented mosquito coils on the veranda while he works outside, but the smoke from them doesn't reach the bedroom.

no60aw120.jpgSo I decided to get some mosquito poison for the bedroom. I selected Earth No Mat, liquid DDT in an electric warmer.

DDT was synthesised in Germany in 1874 and hit its peak in the US in 1959 when 80 millions pounds of DDT were deployed. DDT was banned in the US in 1972 because it contaminates groundwater and soil and accumulates in wildlife (and presumably humans as well).

But DDT's used pretty much everywhere else as a general purpose insecticide, so why not jump on the bandwagon? Earth No Mat claims 500,000,000 units sold (World's Number 1!). Yes, I'm sure Rachel Carson is turning over in her grave. But she isn't plagued with Japanese mosquitos.

I don't know if I'll continue using the poison, though I have a 60 day supply. It seems unsporting to gas mosquitos and I am little bit worried about the effect of breathing in DDT, even in small quantities. I guess if I poison the mosquitos, the bedroom will also be free of jumping spiders, which makes me sad.

So I'll have to choose--avoid possible long term health and environmental effects or enjoy blissful mosquito-free sleep? Hmmmm....

(Thanks to all the comments, I'm not so worried about the poison. It's not The DDT, but a synthetic DDT.)

Summer Solstice

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I am celebrating the summer solstice by taking a class on color theory. For five days of the next 10, I will be thinking about colors, making comparison charts and painting. It will be a nice break from all the left-brained programming I've been doing for the past couple of weeks.

Every year my summer solstice celebrations take a different form but they often seem to involve travel and/or being apart from Tod. Five years ago it was a business trip to Sydney. Last year Tod was in Korea at the World Cup and I had dinner alone. In 2001, we were stranded at O'Hare on our way back to Japan. I'll have to hope for the best on my way to class this morning...

Liquid Diet

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blender.jpgThe hot and humid weather has depressed my appetite; I just don't find food appealing when I'm wilting.

But the idea of cold fruity drinks is appealing, so I went out and bought a blender. It's chrome simplicity is backed with a powerful motor and a lot of blade.

In the last 24 hours, every meal has incorporated some cold, liquidy treat: gaspacho, blueberry yogurt smoothie, kiwi-banana juice (with rum!), banana milkshake...

I'm looking forward to a mostly liquid diet this summer.

Garbanzo Salad

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garbanzosalad.jpgThis is an easy dish for a hot summer night. Serve it with some bread, a green salad and a nice wine. No boiling, baking, frying, roasting or toasting required!

Garbanzo Salad
1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1 can water-packed tuna (small size)
1 stalk of celery, diced fine
1/4 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Drain the garbanzo beans and rinse thoroughly. Drain the tuna and mix with the beans. Drizzle with olive oil. Stir in the red pepper and celery. Flavor with garlic, salt and pepper. Lots of freshly cracked black pepper, please! Fine to serve immediately, but even better if you chill for 30 minutes or an hour.

Thunder Dolphin

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The rollercoaster at LaQua climbs a track so high that you can see across the glacial white expanse of Tokyo Dome. Last night the sky was clear and the lights and neon from other parts of the city were so captivating that for a brief moment, I forgot was was about to happen.

It was after a baseball game, nearly closing time, and our companion Ben said, "C'mon, let's go ride!" What a brilliant idea. There was no line. We've seen waits of several hours with people snaking down the stairs and out into the hallway. But we waited the length of one loading and unloading and then it was our turn.

We piled into the back of the roller coaster. Ben and two other friends sat in the last car. Then us. Then a lot of little Japanese folk. After everyone was strapped in and checked, they were about to press the button to release the brake when there was some hand-waving at the front and an announcement.

"There will be a short delay for a safety check. Please wait a moment." And in the operator's booth, they started pulling out manuals. Hmmmm. Maybe they'd never had so many overweight gaijin sitting in the back before. How would that affect the ride? Too much power down the hills? Could we fly off the track on the curves?

After a few minutes, during which a sixth companion (who had bailed in fear) mocked us, they closed the manuals, pushed the big green button and we took off. Up the steep hill with the view and then...

Terror. The first drop plunges nearly straight down. I screamed. People aren't supposed to plunge straight down. I closed my eyes before we hit bottom.

But as soon as I felt the coaster curving up (ah! safe!), I opened them again to see our ward office passing by sideways. The ride was exhilarating and over way too soon.

But we'll go again. I'm happy to contribute to LaQua's money making machine.

Elusive Balance

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What's life, if not a huge pile of things on the To Do list?

I love to accomplish things and be productive but after sleeping most of yesterday to recover from meeting the deadline on my big PHP-Nuke project, I took a look at today's To Do list and wondered "Why? Why am I doing all this crap that stresses me out? I don't need to work. Tod pays the rent and feeds us."

On a typical day, I am at the computer by 7 am and keep going until I fall alseep at night. I juggle eating, errands and housework in with that, of course, but a 10-12 hour workday is pretty typical. If I'm not doing that, I feel like I'm slacking.

On top of that, the fact that a large amount of my "work" is non-paid projects I've initiated (like Hello Tokyo and the silliness at zousan.com) really blurs the boundaries between work and play so I just call it all work. The Zous are demanding bosses.

My trouble seems to be that I don't see a happy middle ground between working too much and not working at all. Black/white. All/nothing. Either I work so hard I exhaust myself and have to spend a full day sleeping or else I'd better get a membership at the local ladies-who-lunch club.

Help me with some suggestions. What do you do to balance your work and the rest of your life?

Homecooked

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Tod & I were talking over dinner the other night about why homecooked meals usually taste so much better than restaurant food.

Is it the fresh ingredients? I don't think so. Restaurants use fresh ingredients and so do I.

Is it the love and care put into a homecooked meal? Nice thought but I doubt it.

I think that what makes homecooked food taste so good is that we are in it. Minute flakes of our skin, eyelash mites, our exhalations. Maybe, if we used the tasting spoon twice, a bit of our saliva.

Sounds gross, doesn't it? But it makes sense.

Our pans are "seasoned" with the oils of things that have cooked in them, so residual flavors contribute to the overall flavor of our efforts in the kitchen. The curry from a week ago blends ever so subtly with tonight's cream sauce. Not that you'd notice but it's there.

Also, since pantry ingredients are stored where they can pick up the odors of cooking and the household in general, even these basics carry along a certain signature scent. My flour smells just like flour to me, but a bloodhound could probably tell my flour apart from my neighbor's.

For centuries, painters have mixed a bit of one pigment they are using with other colors in the same painting to produce colors with a harmonoius tint. It makes the tone of the painting hang together.

Why shouldn't that be true for food, too?

Love ramen

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This ramen shop at LaQua, Ichiran, allows the diner to be almost entirely anonymous--just like a love hotel.

After selecting and paying for your meal at a ticket vending machine, you are handed a slip of paper and sent to your own private eating booth ion a row of similar booths.

The paper lets you choose the amount of garlic and spice in your ramen, how you want your noodles cooked and wheter you want slices of charshiu (Chinese pork) or not. After you circle your selections, you ring the bell and from the other side of the red curtain, hands come forth to take your ticket.

ramen-tod.jpgA perky voice behind the curtain, accompanied by a glimpse of apron-covered midsection, explains that they will make your ramen now and please wait a few minutes. An egg in a bowl appears. You can have this for just 100 yen, if you want it. An empty water glass is set on the counter next to your private tap.

In a few minutes, a steaming bowl of ramen is delivered. The egg, being unwanted, is removed. You are wished a pleasant meal and the bamboo curtain is lowered. Whether this is to keep you from watching the staff moving around mysteriously, or whether it's to spare them the sight of your slurping, I'm not sure.

It's quaint and different. The ramen is good with a Hakata-style broth. I can understand why there is always a queue to get in.

Helen's Crafty Summer

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I'm taking a break today. Today's words courtesy of Jennifer; art by Helen.

octopus.jpg"Ah, summer is here and free time for Helen is expansive. Remember the last day of school? How you slipped the covers off books and played hangman with your best friend, all excited for that last bell to ring? Then you went home to the daily rhythms and schedule of your parents that had been in place all year without you really knowing it.

"From a kid's perspective, the best way to dovetail into that schedule is to whine. Whine a lot and loudly about how bored you are. Eating ice cream for lunch is good too, and don't forget hours of cartoons.


"Yesterday, Helen and I put our creative forces together to create a website that features some of her paperpunch art on various merchandise. The actual art will be available on the wordpainting site soon.(*) Until then, why not shop at Helen's Craft Shop http://www.cafepress.com/wordpainting and support a summer-slogged kid?

"Please spread the word! Helen's saving for something special for her guinea pigs."

(*) Helen's paperpunch art's for sale online at the Wordpainting Bookshop now; I got that done this morning. :-)

Flying Whalebones

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The construction site across the way is using its crane to move roof trusses into place today.

They are huge iron arcs, charcoal ribs gracefully curving from end to end and narrowing to a point decorated with a white flag.

Twisting a little as they are hoisted up and across the building, they give the illusion of a giant Calder mobile.

What a shame when they are welded into place.

Colorful Lunches

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There is folk wisdom to help Japanese Moms pack healthy lunches. "Something from the mountains, something from the sea" is one guideline and another is to use a mix of colors and cooking styles: steamed broccoli, sauteed shitake mushrooms, pickled ginger, scrambled egg, batter-fried fish (meat-colored!) and, of course white rice.

So today's Recipe Thursday lays out a nice Japanese lunch. Maybe you can take this with you on your next picnic. These recipes are derived from "Colorful Obento" published by Toppan (in Japanese). I've tried to avoid the ones with esoteric Japanese ingredients...

All recipes are for 1 portion.

Sauteed Chicken Breast with Nori
80 gr cskinless chicken breast
2 tsp "aonori" (powdered, bright green seaweed)
1/2 tsp oil
pinch salt

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Sautee in oil, add salt. dust with aonori, coating pieces evenly. If you don't have aonori, you could try crushed dried basil or your favorite green herb.

Ebi Mayo
5-6 small shrimp, frozen
1 tsp onion, minced
1/2 tsp butter
1 Tbsp mayonnaise

Sautee the onion in butter until it softens, toss the shrimp in the pan to heat through. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper. When cool, mix with mayo.

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower
40 gr cauliflower (3-4 florettes)
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Steam the cauliflower. Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt. Drizzle the drained cauliflower with the sauce.

Green Beans with Black Sesame
20 gr green beans
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp crushed black sesame seeds

Steam the beans. Drain and toss with soy, sugar and sesame.

Red Cabbage Pickles
50 gr red cabbage, shredded
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
oil and soy sauce to taste

Mix the cabbage and salt, pressing firmly in your hands. allow to sit for five to ten minutes, until it starts to wilt. Rinse and pat dry. Top with vinegar, oil and soy sauce.

Rolled Omlette with Clams
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp canned clams
1 tsp sake
1/4 tsp oil

Mince the clams and mix them with the egg and sake. Over medium high heat, lightly oil a small frying pan. Spread he egg mixture evenly, and cook until done. Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly. Roll the omlette tightly and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Don't forget the rice!

Entering Tsuyu

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Tsuyu, the rainy season, began on Monday. Oddly enough, it rained neither Monday nor today, so how did they know it was tsuyu?

They checked the calendar, then confirmed by looking at satellite photos of the cloud cover.

Himawari, Japan's weather satellite, was retired a few months ago. Now the Japanese weather agency has to rely on American satellites which don't give them 24 hour coverage over Japan. There's a plan to launch a new satellite - MTSAT - later this summer but it won't be in operation until the end of this year.

I suppose tsuyu proclamations don't have to be very precise but it sure would be nice to have good coverage for typhoons.

On the PHP Path

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My current web development project, a PHP-Nuke driven site, is coming together very quickly and very slowly at the same time.

Most of the site is sorted out and for a three-week turnaround, it's been going pretty smoothly. Launch is scheduled for June 15th. The clients are doing double time on getting the content ready while I code. If we pull a few more late nights, we should make it.

But I'm currently tackling an 1800 line chunk of hellish code that manages the user accounts. The client requested a customisation that the system isn't designed to do at all. So I'm rewriting the module. Well, not really rewriting as much as mangling. Which is why things seem to be going rather slowly right now. I keep getting stuck, digging around for answers, reversing, trying again, getting stuck a different way (which I consider excellent progress) asking Tod for help, fixing things, breaking them again, and repeat ad infinitum.

Eventually, I will come out on the other side of this with a deeper understanding of PHP and MySQL. Not that I really want it (I'd rather be making videos) but I guess you get what you get.

Ants in the Office

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This morning, I found a tiny ant crawling across my foot as I sat at my desk. When I went to put him back into the wild outdoors where all ants belong, I discovered his brethren carrying a dead beetle out of my house. It was like a military strike.

While dozens of scouts and support troops scurried around helping and searching, a small platoon had the beetle by its legs and was booking it across the carpet and then down the ethernet cable we have draped across the threshold. In five minutes, the beetle was hauled from beneath the heater, trucked across the veranda and slid under the palm.

In less than ten minutes every ant was out of the house. Their efficiency was extremely impressive. Do you think ants work with the same ants every day? Or do they get assigned to the tasks at random? Do ants get assignments??

Writing in Ireland

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anamcaraheader2.jpgMy sister, Jennifer, is a poet.

Last October she organized a poetry workshop in Ireland that I attended along with my entire immediate family.

It's on again for this October 11 - 18.

I highly recommend it. Not just because it features a talented poet that I used to play Barbies with...though that might have a little bit to do with it.

During our week's stay in Ireland, I learned huge amount of stuff--from practical writing tricks on how to create metaphor and write concrete descriptions to revelations of my personal inner strife that writing poetry seemed to bring to the surface.

And the rugged western coast of County Cork, Ireland, is a beautiful place. It's easy to see why people think Ireland is magical. Rainbows, beautiful skies, so much green. Just like they always say, only better. Not to mention the only-in-Ireland beers in the local pubs.

If you're looking for an interesting, educational and uplifting week's holiday this year, please take a look at the details for the 2003 Anam Cara Poetry Workshop.

Kiln Kristen

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There are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do right now. Or maybe there aren't enough of me.

But in fiction at least, the lack of me can be solved. David Brin hit on a good idea in Kiln People, about a society that is able to make duplicates of themselves that last for only a day. Your memories and skills are imprinted on the double and at the end of the day, after it's gone out to do your work or attend events you don't have time for, you download its memories into your own brain. Bam, two days of productivity for the price of one.

I think I need a half dozen kiln people.

What you hang on to

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I am a keen believer in tossing out kipple so I don't have a lot of keepsakes hanging around in drawers, boxes and closets or collecting dust on shelves. I think that makes looking back at my historical record a revealing exercise. The things I own, I've made an effort to keep.

In a box in my parents' attic, there is a tiny silver bird figurine that was a gift from a college comrade. Some photos & the complete series of The Wizard of Oz. That single box contains other things from my childhood but except for the above listed, the rest is forgotten, its meaning lost, and could be thrown away now. So of my first twenty years, I had one significant friend and some reading material.

mementos.jpgHaving recently pared down my stuff in storage, I pitched out the old love letters, the awards and commendations from jobs long past, and souvenirs of forgotten events. Now I have little more than family photos and my drawings, paintings and prints. I nearly tossed the art, but Tod stopped me and I'm glad he did. That art's not just a relic, it's the true record of me.

The past six years have produced four significant items. Ganesha, overcomer of obstacles, found me in Bangkok. I have a rock from Ireland with a hole worn through it--perfect for focussing on things. A bit of lava I picked up while climbing Mt. Fuji reminds me of what I can do if I try. And a shell Tod found in Hawaii reminds me of beauty, warmth, and love.

Not everything I keep is good or uplifting. I have a disturbing ability to hang on to horrible e-mails: an exchange with someone I apologised to who then demanded an accounting of my actions; a correspondence that was a huge misunderstanding with a formerly close and now regretably distant friend; a draft (unsent) of a frustrated and angry message to a colleague. Why do I keep that stuff? Maybe to remind me of my failings...

What do you hang onto?

Dhahi Rice

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If I had to choose one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, I think it would be Indian. So many styles and flavours! Such delicious, rich spices. Even thinking about Indian food it makes my mouth water.

The other night at Ajanta, we tried a dish we'd never even heard of before--dhahi rice. Chilled rice is mixed with yogurt, cottage cheese and spices. The perfect foil to a spicy chicken chettinadu.

Dhahi Rice
1 cup rice
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup cottage cheese (small curd)
1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 tsp black mustard seed
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
pinch asafetida powder
2 green chiles, split and deseeded
Salt to taste

Wash the rice and soak for 30 minutes, then bring to boil and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice breaks between your fingers but is not hard inside. Drain, then spread to cool.

In the ghee, toast the mustard seed and fenugreek until they pop. Mix with the yogurt and cottage cheese. Add the asafetida powder and salt to taste.

Stir yogurt mixture into cooled rice. The consistency should be similar to oatmeal with milk. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more yogurt or some milk. Top with the chiles and serve.

Good fuel: coffee and the fear of failure

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When confronted with a mental challenge, my first instinct is to say no and run away. I don't think I'm entirely unique in that respect but it's something I really should stop doing.

"Oh, no, I can't do that. Beyond my ability. Maybe we can acheive a similar result in a different way that I already feel comfortable doing," I think to myself. Or maybe I just panic internally.

On the outside, my clients hear a lot of "I'm not sure, I don't know, and that's not as easy as you might think" as I scribble notes about what they want and how I might acheive it. It can't be a pleasant or confidence-inspiring meeting technique but I always promise that I will do my best.

Which is invariably better than I think it's going to be.

After a meeting with WWJ yesterday, I was in full panic mode. They wanted generally reasonable changes to the functionality of their site, completely within their business model. But they all involved custom coding the PHP. I'm a crap coder. How was I going to do any of this?! Yikes.

But fueled with coffee after dinner, I did most of it before I went to bed at 3. And I was up at 7:30 hacking away at PHP-Nuke again.

I've added access restrictions to the content, created a new block to display the top viewed articles, added teaser text to article listings, separated out content by categories and generally made innumerable little changes. Today I am working on the look and feel of the site. I will get this all done!

Cut & Sewn

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Since getting a sewing machine, I've been paying a lot more attention to what people are wearing. This summer's hot trend in shirts weems to be something they are calling "cut and sewn." As if most clothes aren't...?

cutandsewn.gif"Cut and sewn" are knit tops made of lightweight t-shirt fabric. They're gathered along some of the seamed edges--I guess that's why they have to be cut and sewn, rather than merely flat expanses of fabric.

I observed a "cut and sewn" on the train yesterday that was really over the top.

Done up in a pale grey heather t-shirt knit that was so thin it was nearly see-through, it had 3/4 length raglan sleeves (the kind on zoupi's t-shirt), gathered at the crest of the shoulder. But that's not all. It also had a V neckline and an empire waist gathered front and back along the seams. And it was finished with a sporty pastel rainbow ribbing at the cuffs and tunic length hem.

The woman was wearing it with a salmon-pink wool suit skirt and strappy high heels. Repeat after me: fashion victim.

My livingroom, studio

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It never fails to amaze me how odd the perspective is from the camera. What seems perfectly acceptable to our eyes is too far away and too spread out when viewed through the lens.

So to prepare for a video shoot we were doing yesterday afternoon, I squished the table and chairs as close together as possible. The plant is arranged so that it peeks into the frame; the wooden sculpture is just fully in the frame. The top of the palm extends out.

Pretty much everything in my living room has been moved to the corner of the room. And thought it looks strange to the naked eye, it seems totally normal on tape.

Despite the careful positioning of objects and furniture, I'm not happy with the way the footage turned out. Once we added the people, the framing was OK, but not great. Next time, I'm arranging it all another way. I'm glad my furniture is lightweight.

Floppy quest

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"Do you have any spare floppies I could borrow?" Tod asked me 30 minutes ago.

"Uh. No. My computers don't even have floppy drives. Maybe there's an old one in the drawer?" I suggested.

"Already looked."

"Ah. Well, probably the conbini then."

So we walked over to the local 7-11. It's really amazing what you'll find there. Towards the end of the first aisle, between the ball point pens and the cell phone chargers, is the blank media section. MiniDiscs in single, 3- or 5- packs. CD-R and CD-RW. Video tapes of all sorts--VHS (three brands), Hi-8 and miniDV.

And, yes, floppy disks. A three pack of Maxell for 270 yen. Whew.

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