September 2008 Archives

Mock Juror

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Last week I participated in a mock trial held to demonstrate how lawyers work within a peer jury system. Japan will introduce "lay judges" to judicial system in May 2009.

I was one of five American mock jurors. Most of us were long-term Japan residents and none of us had ever been on a jury before. We all agreed that this felt like discharging our civic duty and took it seriously.

It was hard work! The event, with an audience of about 300 lawyers and law students, lasted 5 hours. There were two witnesses on each side and each was examined and cross examined about various letters, contracts, e-mails and internal business communications. The witnesses/actors and lawyers were prepared, but nothing was scripted. Paying attention to two eminent and persuasive trial lawyers (William Price and John Quinn from Quinn Emmanuel) both going full-on at one another while trying to keep the facts straight and the point of the lawsuit in mind was boggling.

During witness questioning, they highlighted sections of documents and enlarged them so that the rest of the page was obscured. What was the full context around the highlighted text? Sometimes the same document came up again and further detail could be gleaned with quick reading. But wow... There were a dozen key pages and I never managed to read one all the way through.

In addition soaking in details about the case, I was also meta-thinking about the trial system and the changes it will being to Japan's legal process. At the same time, I was noting how the personalities of the two lawyers affected the way I thought about their points. Mr. Price was very strict - he aggressively pushed semantic arguments and made lots of objections. Mr. Quinn was more personable; he engaged the witnesses gently and his questions usually aimed to help the jury understand the more difficult points. They both were able to sway my mind when they spoke.

By the time the closing arguments rolled around, I had completely forgotten what the opening ones were. I had formed an opinion, though, which I verified through my scribbled notes. The judge read us our instructions, a list of "If you think A, then B must be false. If you think C, then you also must believe D, E & F are true." It was very complicated and not written down. I hope that is different in real life.

We deliberated in the open, so that the audience could hear what a jury thinks. There were actually two juries - the Americans and another panel of five Japanese jurors. We deliberated separately and although we reached exactly the same conclusion, our methods were different. The Americans each briefly stated their view, "I'd find for the plaintiff because Y", then we discussed our differences of opinion. "You say X but did you consider Y? Because X seems to be an emotional argument, rather than law." Then we voted. The Japanese jurors each gave longer more detailed (it seemed) opinions, then they voted. No discussions. But that might have been a factor of time limitations.

It was a fascinating experience. But I am very glad this was only a mock trial and not a real one.

Hoop Weekend

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Zoupi needs a smaller hoop

Our hoop-up in the park on Saturday turned out to be great fun. Christina, Amanda, Lauren, Tracey, Steph and Paulette from class turned up, plus we had many impromptu joiners: a university English club of a dozen students, a fashion photo shoot, two hungry boys, a portly gentleman with a great attitude, random picnickers, and several unexpected friends from our Niijima camping trip. There were uncountable photographs taken of us and I'm looking forward to discovering them on Flickr or wherever they turn up.

BYOH Saturday Hoop Up was a great success and we'll repeat it next Saturday.

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Hosei University English club tries hooping with encouragement from Amanda

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Photo shoot with hoops & hoopers in the background: Christina, Amanda, and Lauren.

On Sunday, Amanda and I met again for more hooping (after an Indian lunch and some shopping at the Namaste India festival) and Yuka joined us. We hooped more lazily than on Saturday, but I racked up almost ten hours of hooping for the weekend. Tod, Rob, & Amanda's friend, Melanie, turned up to watch and we all went for dinner. On the way home, Yuka and I hooped in the corridors of Higashi-Shinjuku station. It's so hard to stop!

BYOH Saturday Hoop Up

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Come along for some casual hooping pleasure in the park this weekend. Everyone's welcome.

BYOH Saturday Hoop Up
Yoyogi Park (here)
Saturday, September 27
1:00 pm until everyone falls down

Bring your hoop, plus water, snack, bug spray, and accessories as you like. We have a couple of spare hoops, but not as many as Deanne carries, so if you have extras, please bring them to share the hoop fun.

If it rains (and it might) we'll postpone til Sunday.

Weather Service SNS

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tenkiSNS.png

I am not quite sure why they've done this, but I am amused. The Japan Weather Association's website, tenki.jp, have included some social networking tools in their latest upgrade. You can twitter (hitokoto) about your weather, upload photos, add friends, ask questions.

Unfortunately, you can't do anything useful like set a particular area forecast as your start page or even create bookmarks to the pages you use most frequently. Maybe in the next release.

A Pox on Tod?

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Tod was cursed two weeks ago by the god of the samurai.

Taira no Masakado was a traitorous go-getter who lived over a thousand years ago. After he was beheaded for having misstepped in politics and family life, his head was brought to the fishing village that would later become Tokyo. Masakado's spirit and his head in a wooden bucket were enshrined on a little hill overlooking Tokyo Bay. The hill is located in what is now Otemachi, the heart of Tokyo's financial district. Tod passes by on his bike almost every day.

Masakado is as powerful in death as he wanted to be in life. When his shrine is neglected or falls into disrepair, bad things seem to happen - businesses fail, natural disasters occur. Plans have been made to move him, but they are always canceled. People fear his spirit so much that the buildings around "The Hill of Masakado's Head" do not have windows opening towards it. In the surrounding offices, desks are oriented to face towards the shrine. In Tod's office the corporate services people have verified this and if you are unlucky enough to get a rare desk with your back to Masakado, they will give you a special amulet to attach to your chair to ward off any evil.

Shortly after Tod dug into this old legend, bad things began to happen to him. Someone ran into the street without looking just as Tod whizzed by on his bike. Both men went down, but only Tod was injured. It was quite dramatic as blood coursed down his arm while I patched him up at the convenience store.

He was halfway healed when he tumbled off his bike again. This second accident left him with another big scrape on his arm and a bruised imprint of the road the size of a dinner plate along his thigh.

When he mentioned these incidents to his Japanese teacher at class the next week, she was well aware of Masakado and his abilities. She urged Tod go to a temple and get himself a yakuyoke charm and an exorcism. He paid his respects at Masakado's shrine, and made a visit to our local temple for a more formal and powerful cleansing.

Since he bought his evil repellent charm and hung it on the bicycle, he's been safe. I hope that Masakado leaves him alone now and that telling this tale isn't going to get me into trouble.

Shinjuku Hooping

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After a four hour class with Deanne from Hooplovers, Tracey, Amanda and I had built up enough energy to hoop some more. We headed to the square in Kabukicho, where the homeless men hang out, and hooped there for an hour before finally heading off to dinner.

I don't think people hoop there too often, so we attracted a lot of attention. It was fun to have an audience and many photos were taken. Even better was an audience who interacted with us. One professorial but slightly crazy guy spoke at me about America for at least ten minutes; it was good listening practice. Two cute Chinese girls came over to play and take pictures. One of the homeless guys wanted to try the hoop, but was more interested in getting us to perform for him. An entire family joined in and played wit the hoops. It was a good time for everyone.

We shot the video intending to study our form as we practiced, but it was just too good not to edit a bit and share.

Enoshima Aquarium

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MJ arranged an outing to Enoshima for Tracey's parents to meet Elliot Mason. We spent most of the day at the Aquarium, where Barbara took charge of the baby, Jim pushed the pram, Tracey figured out the show schedules, MJ shot still photos and I took a bit of video.

Time Travel Kit

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I gave it lots of thought and solicited the suggestions of valued fellow paranoids to come up with a reasonable starting point for a time travel kit. My list is:

  • Fire: matches and/or a lighter. Handy in many situations and critical in some.
  • Medicine: aspirin and an antibiotic ointment will go a long way.
  • Food & water: an emergency supply to get you through the first couple of days. Water purification tablets would be smart, too.
  • Time: a mechanical watch will help you observe durations, soothe a baby to sleep, etc.
  • Needles: useful for so many things, including sewing and suturing. Bring some thread, too.
  • Knife: this is one of the most versatile tools ever and indispensable in any time period.
  • Notebook & pencil: you're going to be learning a lot. writing things down will be useful
  • Towel: an homage to Douglas Adams, and just as handy as he explained.
  • Reference books: Henley's Formulas will help you brew up all sorts of things; a self-sufficiency manual will help you farm and build shelter.
  • Metal cup: can be used to eat from, cook in, mix things in, carry water and small objects.
  • Rug or mat: useful for sleeping on, claiming your space, use as a makeshift shelter, for warmth in cold weather.
  • Tobacco seeds: Earn some money in whatever the current currency is.
  • Umbrella: use as a rain shelter, cane, stabbing weapon, to hook branches, or use it for parts.

Imagine oou have no idea if you will be thrust into the future or the past, nor how far. What would you take with you?

Three pints and a towel

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According to some, the world will cease to exist tomorrow when the Large Hadron Collider does its "first beam" at 9:30 CET (that's 4:30 pm in Tokyo). Others posit that LHC's man made black holes will fling us about in time. The scientists say we're safe, but haven't they said that about other experiments that turned out to be rather dangerous? I guess we will have to wait and see.

I'm planning to hedge my bets and have a pint or three in advance of the first beam ala Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I will have my towel in hand. Wonder if I should pack an emergency time travel kit? I can't even imagine what I would I put in it.

Magical Mushrooms

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On Saturday, Tod & I went off to the edge of Tokyo to explore around one of the city reservoirs, Tamako. We wandered through a forested park and saw a surprising variety of mushrooms: the green one pictured above, a patch of bright red ones, a few shaped like snowmen, purple ones, orange ones, yellow ones, globular ones, and one as big as a dinner plate. They were delightful.

The rest of the exploration was mainly along 7km of long paved cycling route that runs around the reservoir. The lake itself is mostly drained as they shore up the dam, so that was a bit disappointing. Despite that, we observed nature on the boundary of the cycling road and the forest and had a good afternoon's walk.

Hooping Tricks List and Videos

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There are a stunning number of hoop tricks and many wonderful video demonstrations and tutorials on how to do them. The same trick can have many names and lots of minor variations, so it gets confusing. As Deanne explained to me, "The hoop trick names appear to be like some kind of slang depending on where you hoop, where you learned, what style you prefer, who invented them." The names of tricks are a crazy-mixed up world!

Seems impossible to get everything organised into a cohesive directory, but I've made a start by categorising the moves by where they are done on the body, their orientation (most tricks are either horizontal or vertical), and what sort of video it is - detailed tutorial, demo of a specific move, or inspiring full performance.

hooping tricks

This page will always display the most recent additions. Click the name of the trick to see the video.

To see all the tricks in the list and to search them go here: Hooping Tricks

add a trick

Have a favorite trick tutorial that you want to share? Feel free to add it to the list. Just fill in the form below and it will show up in the list above (and in the main list, too)

Happy hooping!

(Thanks to lazybase for their free service. It's barebones database perfection.)

Hoop Places

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Practicing hoop dancing is impossible in the house unless I am standing on the dinner table or the bed, neither of which is a very good practice platform, so I do my practices outside.

On dry days, I can dance in the little patch of grass behind our building. The grass feels nice on my bare feet and I can look up at the sky as I move. But I cannot do do any "off-body" tricks that might end with my hoop flung over the fence onto the Marunouchi line tracks - I like my hoops too much to lose them.

On wet days, I practice in the garage/carport. Concrete is not as good on the feet and the ceiling restricts the high-reaching tricks, but it works out fine enough. There's lots of room to practice walking and to really dance. Sometimes I run from one end to the other with the hoop in motion. That's kinda fun. And my presence entertains the building staff and neighbors, which is another kind of fun.

I've only been down to the park once. It was good but a little too far away for a daily play. Walking along in workout clothes with my hoop over my shoulder got a few interesting looks, and even more when I gave in to an irresistible urge and hand hooped down Kasuga Dori.

Everywhere I go now, I see good places to hoop in public. As I improve my skills, or maybe just as the weather cools down a little, I can imagine myself hooping in the courtyard of the science museum, at the war memorial, and on the train platform (actually, I did the last night after class).

I am amusing the heck out of myself.

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