July 2004 Archives

About Kristen, mediatinker

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Q & A
Who are you?
I'm a kindergartner who was excited to learn that she'd be a grown up in the new millennium.

Why do you live in Japan?
It was a six-month job assignment back in 1998. Japan suits me so well that I haven't left yet and don't intend to.

Why do you have a weblog?
I use my weblog to entertain (and sometimes enlighten) friends and strangers. It also anchors me to my computer. I started out with a regular website (1994) and a mailing list (1998). When weblog software reached my radar in 2000, I converted.

You come across as such a know-it-all sometimes...
I used to be a know-it-all but now Google knows more than I do. Fortunately, I'm only one search away from knowing it all again. Don't ask me for facts when I'm not at my computer.

What do you do?
I make videos. I write stuff. I do web things from time to time. I'm for hire, so please take a look at my resume and portfolio, then contact me if you're interested.

What else do you do?
When I drag myself away from the virtual world, I am usually swimming, cooking, taking long walks, scratching in notebooks, or reading. I also run around doing stupid things with my very smart friends.

What do you like?
Vanilla. Strong coffee. Black. Good words. Water. The sound of wind through pines. The night sky. And Tod--I like him very much.

Can you recommend what to see in Tokyo?
Yes, I can. Check out the Hello Tokyo page. Buy a copy of my DVD. Please.

Can I send you an e-mail?
Of course, but no guarantee of a reply. kristen@mediatinker.com

Where is my mind?

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I am not sure how I spaced out so badly, but Thursday and Friday both passed without the vaguest flitter in my mind that I had columns to write. So for those of you anxious about Recipe Thursday and Creative Perspectives, never fear. They will be back on schedule next week.

And in the meantime, I'm going to post twice today because I realise that nowhere in the weblog do I have a bio or summary of the author. Who am I, anyway? So I'll be writing up a little Q&A style "about mediatinker" thing today. Check back later--and feel free to suggest some questions. I'll do with the answers without the aid of my peanut gallery (and yes, UltraBob, I do mean you. ;-)

Marshmallow Spike summer

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MJ of Marshmallow SpikeMarshmallow Spike played in Yotsuya last night--their first show inside the Yamanote. Tod took lots of photos.

They get better and better every time I see them. MJ even smiled last night while she played and her MC patter had the audience cracking up. Sweaty men on trains, indeed...

And they know who the fans are: Yoshi dedicated "Stolen Umbrella" (download the MP3) to me last night with a quick "for Kristen" before playing the first chords, and he gave me his backstage pass after the show. (Am I almost famous now?) MJ's pass went to Tracey, who also got her CD signed. We're such groupies.

The next show is in Yokohama on August 11th. See you there?

Other people's clips

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Another two-man video crew in town, so another odd job for Mediatinker. This time I'm logging LA interview tapes and rounding up Japanese women for interviews about personal style, "transculturalism" and shoes.

Thanks to all my J-girlfriends and their friends who've responded. I hope you have fun.

Oh, and a tip for your interview: pause before answering the questions. The person who logs the tapes will love you for that.

New chip flavor

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yuzu-chips.jpgHere's a product you're not likely to find in American grocery stores. These potato chips are yuzu-shichimi flavoured.

I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to fried potato snacks--salt is sufficient seasoning--but these are pretty good for doctored chips. The yuzu is subtle; the shichimi is barely there. If you want a blast of overpoweringly spicy citrus flavour, these are not the snack for you. But if you are looking for something gently different, then I recommend them.

Yamayoshi also makes the popular WasaBeef (wasabi beef) chips and a host of others. They have a website with dancing bobble-headed cows in their TV commercials and online shopping, but they don't ship outside Japan.

Diary of a migraine

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Sorry this is not terribly interesting and sounds sort of whinging. Today is Day 4 of a fairly bad migraine. I'm not looking for sympathy or help, just noting the progress of the symptoms for my own future reference.

Day 1: Notice some blinking white spots in front of my eyes but they are not my usual visual disturbances. Feeling a little tired, assume it's the hot weather. Don't really twig that this could be a migraine.

Day 2: Nauseated. Pupils are unevenly dilated. Flat surfaces seem to buckle and melt. The left side of my head feels bigger than the right side and I can't speak straight--the words come out in the wrong order. No bad pain, so I get on with the day, go to the beach, have a bbq with friends. No alcohol since I know that will make it worse.

Day 3: Sharp pains begin stabbing my head in the morning. Try to nap, but they keep waking me up. Spend the entire day in bed, reading. In the late afternoon, I discover I am slightly feverish. Fall asleep by 10:15.

Day 4: Wake to occasional stabs and cold explosions in my head. Some nausea, but tolerable. My entire left side feels dulled and swollen (of course it's not any bigger than normal) Everything is too loud and bright. Still feverish. Pupils uneven again. Eyes hurt. Shiatsu took away some of the dullness, but none of the pain.

I am annoyed with how long this is going on. I have things to do but no energy to do them. C'mon body, behave.

Typewriter

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I want a typewriter. I want to unplug from the digital world for a while and reconnect with the physical.

As a kid, I used my grandfather's portable manual typewriter to produce newspapers, menus, play programs, and all the other essential printed matter of my fantasies.

One of my first purchases as a working teenager was an electric typewriter. I typed out every issue of the West Hazleton High School "We-Ha" during my tenure as editor, then I carried it with me to university and used it for all my papers. And a few play programs.

But those old machines are both gone, as is the early 20th century Royal I found at a flea market. Now it's just me and the computers.

And I'm dissatisfied. I'd like to write without being distracted by incoming e-mail, IM, and RSS feed updates. You're thinking, "Well, don't launch those programs when you write." But I get antsy wondering might be missing some key communication. Does someone want to go to lunch with me? Have any of my friends updated their weblogs? Critical information--who'd want to miss that?

I'd like to return to fact-checking by referring to books instead of Google. My capacity to store facts and trivia was once legend, but has dwindled to nearly nothing. My brain is full of key-combinations to effect changes in my documents, but I can't remember the population of Tokyo or recall when I should use 'effect' or 'affect.'

Ironically, I've just purchased a new G5 with an amazingly large screen so that I can do my video editing in double-quick time. It arrives in 5 weeks. I'm doomed.

Traditional Tokyo

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redlantern.jpg
manChild.jpgKagurazaka is one of Tokyo's well known "traditional" neighborhoods. Despite encroaching fast food chains and convenience stores, it's still an authentic working neighborhood, not at all staged or quaint. Kagurazaka charms by its utter lack of pretense.

The sloping street leading from the station to the temple is lined with family owned shops and restaurants. The side streets teem with tiny bars displaying red lanterns for signs. Shop owners come out in the afternoon wet down the street and cool things off. Cats roam the alleys.

Many lively precincts like Kagurazaka are fading memories. There was a similar neighborhood feel in Koishikawa, on the other side of the river in Bunkyo-ku, but it has been wiped out by developers who snatched up the old 2-story storefronts and constructed towering luxury condo highrises. Where there used to be three streets of shotengai, now there are 7 or 8 giant apartment blocks. Ironically, they use the neighborhood's former charm as a selling point.

But Kagurazaka holds out for now. Walking through yesterday, we stumbled upon the annual matsuri and watched the awaodori dancers milling around before their performances and all of the spectators dressed in yukata. Although most of the people wearing yukata were women (young or old, but not too many in the middle years), a few men dressed for the occasion, too. A double dose of tradition to tide us over for a while.

Summer sausage

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When I put on my bathing suit, I look like a lumpy breakfast link.

Common wisdom has it that you lose weight during the summer. Maybe because you get outside and exercise more, eat lots of fresh veggies, sweat it all away, or something. Whatever it is, shedding pounds is a summertime occupation according to every women's magazine and most of my friends.

But it's a lie! I gain weight in the summer. Maybe that's because I try to stay cool with increased intake of alcohol and frozen sugary things (in combination whenever possible). I eat out because it's too hot to cook.

Worst of all, I don't go out for long walks or exert myself too much.

I turn an alarming, vivid pink if I do much more than breathe on a hot day. Childhood neighbors used to drag me out of the playgroup and feed me lemonade and cookies in their air-conditioned kitchens because they thought I'd have heatstroke. It's a peaches-and-cream complexion, blotchy British-heritage thing. Ugly but unavoidable.

So from long-standing habit and to prevent alarm, my athleticism is limited to swimming a couple of times a week. I'm not going for any extended rambles through the city until the weather cools off some.

Maybe I should brave the heat, sweat off the weight, ignore my beetroot face, and stay away from rum-infused frozen drinks, but then what would I blog about when it's too hot to think?

All for free

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creative perspectivesA newcomer to Tokyo was going on about the expense of keeping entertained in the city. When I countered that there are lots of low-cost and no-cost things to do, he challenged me to list them.

And I did, but what struck me is that most of the things I do to amuse myself are creative. If I have a camera with me, or a sketchbook, video camera, or notebook, I spend my time observing and recording things around me. If I don't have a device to record, I simply watch.

(Or I run into a shop to buy a notebook and pan--I'm the owner of countless notebooks and pens purchased because of an urgent need to write in the field.)

So while my tools may cost me a bit of cash, I occupy my time using them at very little cost. If I'm lucky, they sometimes make me money, too. Being a creative person has hidden fiscal advantages.

Granita

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recipe thursdayTokyo's heat wave got me thinking about ices and I've mixed up a lot of granitas this week. They're simple to prepare and taste delicious.

Viennese Coffee Granita
serves 4

2 cups coffee
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the coffee, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Pour into a shallow pan and freeze. Once an hour until it freezes, use a fork to stir and scrape the ice, breaking up the lumps.

In a separate pan, mix the milk, vanilla and remaining sugar. Freeze, scraping hourly as above. The milk will take a little longer to freeze than the coffee.

Serve the coffee granita topped with the sweet milky granita.

Blueberry-Ginger Granita
serves 4

2 cups blueberries
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 lime, juiced

Whirl the blueberries, ginger and sugar in a blender. Strain the solids from the liquid, using a fine sieve. To the liquid, add the water and lime juice. Pour into a shallow pan and freeze. Once an hour until it freezes, use a fork to stir and scrape the ice, breaking up the lumps.

Shiso Lemon Granita
serves 4

8 leaves shiso
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced

Roughly chop the shiso leaves, then whirls in a blender with the water and sugar. Strain the solids from the liquid with a fine sieve. add the lemon juice. Pour into a shallow pan and freeze. Once an hour until it freezes, use a fork to stir and scrape the ice, breaking up the lumps.

39.5

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It's bloody hot here. Yesterday the weather service recorded Tokyo's highest temperature since they began measurements in 1923--it was 39.5 (just over 103 F) in Otemachi. 210 people were treated for heatstroke, but I don't think anyone died.

Being outside was like walking through blood.

Today was slightly cooler at 37.2 (99 F) but I had to dress up for the CEATEC poster photo shoot, so I was wearing cosmetics, pantyhose, and a suit. Atsuiiiiii!

The average temperature in Tokyo for 7/21 is 25.8 but today's average is 33.3. I can only hope that this ends very soon or I am going to melt.

Mom & Mom Tour

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My mother and mother-in-law are coming (together) to visit for two weeks this autumn. My mother's never visited Japan. Jean, Tod's mom, has been here once before.

I've been thinking of things to make their trip special. I'm sharing my list here, because if I don't I'll forget everything (and there's no Google search on "what to do with your mother in Tokyo"), but also I'd like to hear what you've done with your folks when they've been to visit.

(And yes, Mom & Jean, you're welcome to suggest anything you like!)

  • Onsen ryokan - Kishigon at Ikaho or Araki Kosen Onsen in Chichibu
  • Taste of Culture class
  • Takarazuka Review show
  • Party to show off friends to mothers (or vice versa)
  • Dinner at Goenmon (tofu in Hakusan) and Hantei (kushiage in Nezu)
  • Hakone day trip or overnight (should be good momiji season)
  • Asakusa - river taxi - Hamaryuku - Ginza
  • Lots of grocery shopping and cooking at home
  • Plenty of just hanging out doing nothing days, too.

Portrait of a Kissaten

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Originally published in Epicure Exchange in 1997; photos taken on July 17, 2004
kissaten2.jpg

Unlike the dying breed of classic American coffee shops of the 1950s, the traditional coffee shop in Tokyo still thrives. These family owned coffeehouses, called kissaten (kee-sah-ten), have been around since WWII. Although most of them seem to have undergone a redecoration phase in the late sixties or early seventies, they haven't changed much since the forties.

Walk into a kissaten on a hot summer day and you are greeted with a cheery "Irasshaimase!" from the owner's wife, who tends the cash register and serves the coffee. Her liveliness is in contrast with her surroundings, which are dark and dank. An almost overpowering smell of mildew-- the residue from years of rainy season and hot, humid summers--wafts through the room as the door closes.

Containment

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barbedwire.jpg
Cemetery wall, Bunkyo-ku

Does the barbed wire keep the ghosts in or the graverobbers out?

RSS Slipup

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Every once in a while Japan Today's RSS feed includes an internal memo. This one appeared this morning under "National Headlines"

MESSAGE TO JANE

Hi Jane, I moderated until 12:00am (0:00) on the message boards. There are some not so nice things going on so be careful on the people who are posting especially on Jenkins and the gay marrige issues. After you are done moderating for the day,...

Oops. I've also noticed partly-edited articles in their feed that turn up fully edited under a different headline later.

This glimpse inside the inner workings of JT isn't too compromising. But imagine a major news agency or corporation feeding something before it was ready: scoops, scandals, and all sorts of informational mayhem.

Any bets on when and where it will happen first?

Spectator

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creative perspectivesLast night I went to a festival with two photographers. I didn't have a camera, so I spent my night watching them taking pictures.

"Oh, this is going to be dreadfully dull," I thought. I knew I'd be frustrated as I saw things to photograph but didn't have an instrument to do it.

As it turned out, it was an engaging evening and I had plenty to occupy me. I studied their techniques and choice of subjects. I started to guess how each would approach the lanterns, the dancers, the food stalls, the lights. They rarely took the same shots. I compared theirs to what I would do with camera in hand.

I was an active spectator. I paid attention to what was going on around me and my assiduity paid back new perspectives on seeing the world through a lens.

Banana-Cointreau Lassi

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recipe thursdayIt's too hot to eat, but not too hot for fruity drinks. I invented this one last night. The garam masala adds a subtle spice and the Cointreau sweetens the bite of the yogurt.

Banana-Cointreau Lassi
Makes 2 generous servings

2 or 3 cups ice
2 bananas, peeled
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
2 oz Cointreau

Put it all in a powerful blender. Blend until smooth. Serve over ice.

Mad about Cows

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Two articles today about mad cow testing. First from the US (via Reuters)

A government investigation on Tuesday gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture poor marks in testing cattle for mad cow disease, saying the agency was neglecting to test the majority of cattle most at risk.

"The problems identified during our review, if not corrected, may ... reduce the credibility of any assertion regarding the prevalence of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the United States," said the USDA's Office of Inspector General.

And now this news from Japan (via UPI):

A top Japanese official said Tuesday blanket mad cow testing may end soon, a move widely seen as opening the door to resumption of U.S. beef imports.

Hiroyuki Hosoda, chief cabinet secretary, made the comment ahead of beef talks to be held in Tokyo in late July between experts and government officials from Japan and the United States, the Kyodo news agency said.

The question of whether all slaughtered cattle should be tested for mad cow disease should not be dealt with "politically," Hosoda said, indicating Japan may end its blanket testing if experts find it unnecessary.

Tokyo has blocked U.S. beef imports since the first U.S. case of mad cow disease was found in a Canadian-born cow in the state of Washington last December.

To remove the import ban, Tokyo has been asking the U.S. government to test all slaughtered cattle for the disease or provide equivalent safety assurance.

U.S. officials respond that blanket testing is unscientific.

Right hand, may I introduce Mr. Left Hand?

Extended life

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Why do people (I mean citizens of industrialised nations) insist on prolonged life? So many people seek medical intervention when they get old, or their unhealthy lives catch up with them, or a genetic predisposition to ailments becomes clear. But why?

This excerpt from a Reuters article today is what set my blood boiling:

New U.S. cholesterol guidelines issued on Monday set the lowest level yet for high-risk patients, with recommendations for aggressive use of drugs to get levels down.

The new recommendations also stress no patient should rely on drugs alone to lower cholesterol, but should also take responsibility for the right diet and exercise to keep the heart and arteries healthy.

Living things get old, fall ill, and die: that's Nature's cycle. It makes me furious that people like us try to cheat death with "aggressive use of drugs" and medical procedures. Doesn't "should also take responsibility" sound as if being responsible for your actions is secondary to getting the right medication?

Cripes! Make your choices and live (or die) with them.

I grant that some folks are late bloomers and that numerous key figures in history were bolstered by medical arts. But if they hadn't survived, we'd be familiar with some other character's paintings or polemics.

Reasons to accept medical intervention strike closer to home, too. My own father has recently undergone multiple heart surgeries to clear blocked arteries. Both my parents take medication daily to maintain their health.

But neither history nor family changes my mind. I think it's wrong to meddle with the decay of the body.

I advocate an aggressive sense of mortality.

Gokiburi attack

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In the last two weeks, cockroaches seem to have taken up residence in our bathroom. On alternate evenings, I spy a reddish-brown monster the size of my thumb hanging out near the sink or in the shower.

Gokiburi are not my my list of Things I Can Kill, so we chase them around the room, trap them in a glass and fling them over the veranda into the garden below.

I'm sure the neighbors love us.

Word gift

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Language is full of words that people rarely use. The average English speaker's vocabulary is about 10,000 words from the 620,000 available in the OED. Shakespeare used 29,066 different words in his works and you have to imagine that he knew quite a few he didn't commit to paper.

Although I have no clue how large my lexicon is, I take pleasure in knowing odd words. Authors with large vocabularies, correctly used, make me smile, especially when our word-banks overlap.

This morning as I was reading Neal Stephenson's The Confusion, I came across a word that I love but have never, ever seen in context.

"The Armenian boy whispered up on slippered feet, bearing on a gaudy silver salver a tiny beaker of coffee clenched in a writhen silver zarf."

Zarf, along with vug, is a gift from my grandfather and his sister, Louise, who were both avid Scrabble players. My sister has the unabridged dictionary they used as their arbiter, but I received the pleasure of reading a word I'd only known as a curiosity from their games.

What a great way to begin a week.

Skating

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jinguskate.jpgJingu Skate Rink is an oasis in summer.

If you overlook the slightly choppy ice surface, unsharpened rental skates, and a few crazies on the ice, this is the best place to spend a 34 degree afternoon that I can think of. It's cool. It's athletic. And it's not too crowded on a Saturday.

We went yesterday. Tod hadn't skated in about ten years, but within minutes he was skating backwards and zipping around the rink. I can only skate forwards, a little shakily, but I loosened up after a couple of laps. Even with a wobble, I love to skate.

I turned around the rink with Lionel Belasco tunes running through my head, and the first few lines from Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age

"The bells of St. Mark's were ringing changes up on the mountain when Bud skated over to the mod parlor to upgrade his skull gun. Bud had a nice new pair of blades with a top speed of anywhere from a hundred to a hundred and fifty kilometers, depending on how fat you were and whether or not you wore aero."

Later on, Stephenson describes Bud as "a little hinky on those skates" which is exactly how I see myself. Only I don't have the skull gun.

Info on the skating ring (in Japanese): http://www.meijijingu.or.jp/gaien/05.htm

Coffee shots

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Tod recently bought a new camera--the awesome Nikon D-70 digital SLR. He's been having a field day photographing everything. I particularly liked this shot of coffee he snapped the other morning:

coffee-d70.jpg

And keeping with the coffee theme, I took these pictures at a friend's house:

espresso.jpg

tod-drinks.jpg

Whitewashing the fence

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creative perspectivesToday's creative solution to heat-induced stupor and writer's block in the form of a transcript of a conversation on iChat

Kristen: I need to write my Creative Perspectives column
Kristen: I've started it four or five times
Kristen: but I can't get my head wrapped around anything
MJ: hmmm
MJ: what's the focus today?
Kristen: well, it might have been scent, or rearranging space, or a couple of other things
Kristen: but when I started writing, the words failed to come to me
Kristen: and I gave up on all of them
MJ: hmmmm
MJ: how about writing about fighting writer's block?
Kristen: hehehe. I'm sure that wouldn't go anywhere either
Kristen: but maybe I can try.
MJ: well let's see what to do when you have writer's block....
MJ: you can:
MJ: try a different scene (go for a walk, go to a cafe)
MJ: start working on something else and let your subconscious mind tackle it for a while
MJ: what do you usually do?
Kristen: I walk away and come back to it later
Kristen: Or I get you to write my column for me. :-)

Thanks, MJ

Cucumber and Peach Salad

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recipe thursdayInspired by a recipe for cucumber and peach salsa and my recent trend towards fruit with pepper, I added a Japanese flair and served this salad at a dinner party last week with Eric Gower, author of the Breakaway Japanese Kitchen.

Cucumber and Peach Salad
Makes about 6 cups

4 Japanese cucumbers
3 peaches
1/4 cup pistachios
3 leaves shiso
1/2 bulb myoga
1 or 2 limes, juiced
1/2 tsp yuzu vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the cucumbers and peaches into bite-sized pieces. Mince the shiso and myoga, whisk together with lime juice and yuzu vinegar. Pour over salad. Toss in the nuts. Season with salt and plenty of freshly crushed black pepper.

Note: if using American cucumbers, two should be enough. You may want to de-seed them, though.

Tanabata 2004

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tanabata2004.jpg
play videoShonan Hiratsuka Tanabata festival
2'20" (14.1 MB MP4)

Altair and Vega get together in the Milky Way and I catch it all on video. OK, maybe not, but I did document the matsuri in Kanagawa.

Molly goes mad

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Summer heat and humidity was making my mop too frizzy to handle, so I cut my hair. I did it myself at home, see:

pilesofhair.jpg

(Anyone want a lock of mediatinker hair?)

The initial cut was a bit nerve-wracking, just like making the first sketch in a new notebook or writing the first page of a story. But after I sliced off a 10 cm chunk, I was committed and could relax and have fun with it. Twist, snip, twist, snip, twist snip. I hardly even looked at what I was doing. Tod calls it the "Molly goes mad with scissors" cut. It does look a bit like a three year old had at me while I was napping.

molly.jpg

Can't decide about the single long strand. I like the asymmetry, but it sort of gets in my way. Should fashion (such as it is) come first or should function reign? What do you think? Your opinions are welcome...but please be gentle.

Tanabata

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tanabata-shoot.jpg
Yesterday we reprised last year's Tanabata matsuri festivities with MJ & Yoshi. I brought my DV camera; Tod carried his new D-70 digital camera. Dressed in men's indigo jinbei (traditional loose jackets with shorts), we captured the festival thoroughly and probably turned a few heads--henna gaijin (weird foreigners) wearing Japanese clothes.

I hoped to make a short film about Altair and Vega, the stars of the matsuri, but Tod declined to be my leading man. Still, I shot a lot of footage and you'll see a brief documentary, "Scenes from Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata," on Wednesday the 7th, the actual date of Tanabata.

Tears in Hiroshima

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14 August 1999

I was apprehensively cheerful when I woke. My next sleep would be in my own bed and I was looking forward to my own pillows and blankets--the first sign that I was ready to go home. But before I got to go home, I knew I was in for a difficult, emotional day.

Tod & I had discussed visiting Hiroshima many times. It’s an important place to visit. But we knew that it would depress us. I dreaded it. The horror of what happened during the war--and not just that war, that bomb, but all bombs, all wars--would affect me. Human stupidity at it’s very worst.

But the trip had to be made and when I planned the visit to Shikoku, it seemed logical to conclude it by meeting Tod in Hiroshima on the weekend. Get this out of the way, like a dentist’s appointment or a family reunion picnic.

Fire flowers over Miyajima

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13 August 1999

Tod was scheduled to arrive at Hiroshima at about quarter to one in the afternoon and I had no intention of running around to see things without him, so my morning was relaxed. I caught the 11:00 train to Hiroshima and arrived with plenty of time to scope out the coin lockers, load up on brochures at the tourist information desk and even to have a cup of coffee.

All my free time pointed out a delightful opportunity of good timing (finally!). While sipping my coffee and reading the tourist brochures, I discovered that Miyajima, a small island that was the destination for the next day, was holding its annual hanabi (fireworks) festival that night. So if we adjusted our itinerary we could see Miyajima’s today and visit the Hiroshima sights the next day. Which we did.

When Tod’s train came in, we went off for lunch. Hiroshima is known for two delicacies: oysters and okonomiyaki. Oysters are not my favorite food, so we opted for okonomiyaki for lunch.

Skinning cats

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creative perspectivesWhen faced with a creative challenge--or even a mundane one-- I devise a list of 10 ways to face the quandary. I end up with the usual, obvious answers and some off-the-wall notions, but there's always one line in the list that will work.

There's more than one way to skin a cat and making a list proves it.

For example, let's say the task at hand is to photograph merchandise so that it can be sold on a website. We're talking logo t-shirts, totebags and coffee mugs--dull, standard products--but the company is fun and creative and wants to bring that across in their online shop. What to do?

  1. Take standard studio product shots
  2. Photograph items in locations around the shop/office/city
  3. Photograph in a film noir style
  4. Show happy people using the products
  5. Create 360 degree views (Quicktime VR?)
  6. Show alternate uses (i.e. ferns in the coffee mug, t-shirt as towel)
  7. Combine product shots with manga-style mascots
  8. Use the products as screens over nude women ala "Calendar Girls"
  9. Don't photograph at all--use drawings instead
  10. Photograph details but not the whole product

By the time I reach ten, I'm usually ready to add more, and often do. But starting out with a set goal of ten gets me past the usual ideas and into the realm of creative thoughts.

Try it, you'll see what I mean.

Fruit and pepper

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recipe thursdayTokyo's turned hot and humid early this year (making up for last summer's unseasonable coolness, I imagine) and I don't want to cook. It's time to dine on raw fruits and vegetables, icy drinks, and chilled soups.

But fruits get boring, even when they are delectably ripe. Tod discovered a new way to enjoy them--dusted with freshly cracked black pepper. The sweetness of the fruit with the earthy tang of pepper is a surprising combination, but ever so wonderful.

Fruit with Black Pepper

Seasonal fruits: strawberries, sweet plums, peaches, etc
Whole black peppercorns
Pepper mill

Slice (or bite open) the fruit. Grind pepper generously on top. Enjoy.

Vary the recipe with pink, white, brown or green peppercorns. Each has its own flavor that enhances the fruit in delightful ways.

Recent Comments

  • Robert Parent: I have learned to not let pass the subtle hints read more
  • Jenn(y): This is a good, goal-oriented way to approach the new read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): I am such a loser - sent off my cards read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): Hi Babe, Haven't seen you in ages it seems. Ash read more
  • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlBlcLTfxgMWRgxf2_TuNkGW8AwePJPekQ: Hi Kristen, Tell me about it. Our last (3 month) read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): "We deeply apologize to our customers for the heavy burden," read more
  • Carolyn Farwell: Oh the gif you've created is so funny! You have read more
  • Tracey Northcott (@keitaigoddess): I am going to miss you!! read more
  • Eric Smith: Hey Kristen: Met you on a train a couple of read more
  • sar: Hey beautiful !! you have some mad drawing skills ! read more

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