December 10, 2006

New Place

So we're moving yet again, this time to an actual apartment! The girl and I have found a nice place just down the street from my current place, and well, as of tomorrow, the 11th, all teh final preparations will have come to an end and ht eactual physical move of all the big things will start. He hope to be mostly unpacked for the new year. I'm getting rid of nearly all of my stuff, with the exception of my A/V and computer equipment, and the various Japanese things i've come to acquire over the years. so i'm "Recycling". In Japan, you can't just chug your trash on the street, no sir, you gotta first go to your local conveninece store and buy a stamp to affix on the crap you're throwing out. for instance, if you're getting rid of a fridge, you pay $80 for the stamp, $50 for a TV, and so on and so forth. if you dont have this, the trash truck will not pick it up, and you will be fined for polluting the streets. So what is the alternative? recycle shops. they come to get your old stuff. some of it they buy, other stuff they take for a smaller fee. in the eand you sorta just break even. A new law was introduced in japan forbidding the sale of used electronics without a new quality assurance seal. that means any electronics bought before that date can't be sold in Japan, and will be making their way to the third world a lot quicker.

Anyway, see ya guys soon!!!

December 05, 2006

I'm back!

Sorry for the delay guys. I've been busy putting together the new website and working on some podcasts. Some new updates. looks like the move is on for this week. I got some stuff moved out of my place yesterday and have already given notice to the landlord about my move.

Here are a couple pics about two experiences I never realy thought i'd encounter in Japan. well, enjoy them!


November 19, 2006

PARTY MONDAY NOV 20th @ 19:30

Party Monday nite. I'll be having a BBQ, bring your own Booze, and if you have any particualr culinary requests do bring it along!

See ya @ the Party!

New Website!!

I've set up a new website on the .Mac service. I've get a bit of everything there, some pics, some sounds and some other tidbits about me. check it out, It'll change your life. You will thank me. You will send me 32.6% of all future income as a token of your appreciation..the addy is:
  • November 15, 2006

    Back-up your stuff

    In an attempt to partition my firewire external drive, I have effectively formatted it and lost...oohhh...about 50 gigs of pictures, music and who knows what else. pretty much everything i'd been storing there for the past year or so. I had backed up up most of the 150 gigs of stuff on it on my LAN drive, and thus was able to rescue some of the older stuff going back 5-6 months, but pretty much, every digital photo taken in Japan is gone. How did this happen? Well, iPhoto 06 kept crapping out, telling me my library had the wrong permissions, so I tried to fix them to no avail. in effect, upgrading to iLife '06 has cost me nearly all of my media.

    Silver lining:
    Now i get to make all new memories again. most of the pics were probably crap anyway, and i had already backed up and copied many of them in other places. Biggest regret though was losing all of my Nicaragua pics. One saving grace is that I burned them on disk and left a copy for my Dad, and another copy for my cousins. So the pics do survive. Oh well, I screwed up !


    November 13, 2006

    Osaka, Year Four

    Today's my thrid annversary in Japan. I'm sick as a dog, spend most of the day in bed. It was an uneventual day. Its was a little sunny today, but chilly. I watched the movie "CARS", and did some reading. That was It. Goldie came by in the evening and she took me to a soba restaurant around the corner. The food was good. She went home and I went to bed for a while but couldn't sleep, so I'm writing this entry. That's it. On to another year in Japan.

    November 12, 2006

    Apartment Hunting

    We continue in our search for our new apartment. We have now looked at almost a dozen potentials in our neighbourhood. some of them are very large, others are very expensive. We have recently narrowed teh search to three potential places. Apartment A is expensive, but HUGE. Apartment B is less expensive and just a hair smaller. Apartment C is well designed and cheaper, but smaller. The difference in price between A and C is roughly $500 bucks a month. Between A and B is negligible however, we get a parking spot inside the building's parking elevator. Neither A nor C have parking available. Both B and C are about 5 minutes walk from the subway. A is 1 minute from the subway. I'm leaning heavily towards Apartment "?" which do you suggest? Should we keep looking?

    November 07, 2006

    Sandinista Victory in Nicaragua

    The Sandinistas are officially elected. What will this mean to Nicaragua's Future? There's a lot of speculation of course, will it be a return to the past, or a bright new future? Ortega says he's a changed man, speaking more of God than Marx. He has made some pledges not to introduce any drastic changes to the economy and respect the private industry. His running mate was a key Contra figure in the 80's. Ortega's theme is "reconciliation". For the time being, nervous investors are having second thoughts. Promises can be broken after all, and I haven't heard of many politicians who keep their word.

    November 04, 2006

    So here's a link to my new blog Celio's Trains. Here I'll be putting more pics of "Japanada" our transgeographical train layout! enjoy!

    October 30, 2006

    Tamara's Visit

    Tamara came over from Korea to visit us this weekend. We got together sunday afternoon after work and went to get some conveyor belt, all you can eat sushi and after that we took a walk around Dotombori. We also strolled by AmeMura to take in some of the local counter culture sights. We met up again this morning near Exit 25, and took the train to Kyoto. We visited the famous Stone Garden and Golden Pavillion temples. After the Ryoenji visit we chowed down on some Tofu at a restaurant on the temple grounds, and saw a crane fish in the garden's pond. I guess it was a DIY buffet for him. We went to Gion after that and strolled around central Kyoto for a while, looking for some souveniers. While Tamara was distracted Goldie got a souvenier for Tamara to take home with her to Korea, its a present for both she and George.

    Here are some pics of
    Tamara's Visit!

    October 27, 2006

    Do you wanna be Catholic?

    Do you want to be a Catholic? Why? What's the coolest thing about being RC? Have you confessed yet? What's the most memorable religious moment you've had? Do you think Japanese Spirituality and Catholicism are incompatible? Do you have any interesting tidbits of Catholic history in Japan? Lemme know!

    October 25, 2006

    What does it mean for you to be Japanese?

    My students usually ask the same few questions:

    How long have you been in Japan?
    What's your favorite Japanese food?
    Can you eat sushi?

    These questions get a bit repetitive, but they are interesting from the point of view that a, its the first thing students want to know about you, and have something to do with our impression and reaction to our japanese environment. So, I've decided to come up with my own questions for Japanese visitors to this blog:

    What does it mean for you to be Japanese?
    What about Japan are you proudest of?
    If you could change one thing about Japan, what would you change?

    Top Ten Experiences This Year

    And now for this year's top ten list of marvelous experiences:

    10 Murphy's law works just fine in Japan.
    9 Saying hello to other foreigners who try to ignore you on the street.
    8 Swearing at people on the street without any reprisals.
    7 Getting a guided tour at a fancy furniture store.
    6 Understanding 70% of simple conversations.
    5 Being able to use appropriate responses in conversations.
    4 Riding the Shinkansen.
    3 Ordering pizza from the web.
    2 Dragging a 50 pound bag across 3 continents and two oceans.
    1 Spending time with my dad in the ole' country.

    So this is the Shinansen eh?

    So this is the Shinkansen, the famed Bullet train… It’s fast, ripping through the countryside at more than 270kph. Feels like we’re reaching that critical speed at which planes take off from the tarmac. This thing goes through cities, farms, and mountains, all in a straight line. Nothing’s blurry out the window, but it feels like I’m fast-forwarding through a fast paced music video.

    It’s my first time on a bullet train. It’s my first time to Tokyo. And it’s the first leg on my trip to Nicaragua. The next stop on the route is Nagoya city. I hear it’s a boring place. The steel ribbons under the train bank to left and to the right. I’m a Top Gun pilot hunting down some bandits at 12 o’clock…hehehehehe…..

    Flying low, under the radar, skimming rooftops and houses barely a few meters away. As the train tracks dip and curve I can feel gravity inching away below me. This is awesome. Rice paddies as far as I can see; now going through another mountain; now exploding into daylight again.

    There are some larger mountains up ahead; some of their sides ripped open by loggers and construction companies bleeding them of resources. Antennae, high-tension wires crisscross the landscape, some above us, some bisecting our vectors.

    Beautiful Japan. God I love this land. The thick fog is beginning to envelop us, another train passes in the opposite direction pushing our train sideways and smashing my ears with increased air pressure. I’m in the death star’s trench, evading Darth and crew.

    Shit, we’re in Nagoya already. Its 9:22am. I left Osaka at 8:40 this morning. This thing’s really fast. Shit, now Gifu Prefecture’s just whizzed by. I’m gonna nap. See you soon.

    Changes, Trips and Projects.....the usual

    So its been a few months since I last wrote anything in here. We had a great summer here, Goerge came to Osaka to visit us and we had a great time here. I went back to Nicaragua to visit my old man whom I hadn't seen in more than 3 years.
    This year i've been playing around with robots, podcasts, DVDs and a couple photo projects. There's more stuff on the pipeline, as you know, my head is full of random throughts all the time. So what's new in the "Changes" department? Well:

    Change #1: I am now working the early morning shift at work, I finish at 3pm and I'm loving it. I'm still getting used to it but it's working out fine. I got a new core group, so this month i've had tons of observations, feedback and training to do. its challenging but exciting too, lots of new faces.

    Change #2: the girl and I are preparing to finally move in together. we've been looking at apartments and have found a couple nice ones just down the street from my place. We're very excited about this move. I'll be putting a bunch of our stuff up for sale, some for adoption, as we won't fit all of our stuff in the new place.

    Change #3: Haven't figured out what change #3's yet. Quit smoking, lose weight, exfoliating alligator skin, embezzeling brownie points, leasing out the speace in my nostrils...too many little time!

    Projects Update:

    Project #1 has become this podcast thingiemagig. i think it's quite cool. i've been listening to whole bunch of podcasts (NHK, CBC, BBC, Escape Pod, La A, EWTN, Planet Japan, and many many many more) and I wanna have a hack at it. For month's I've been working out the content, and have decided to keep it very me, random and chaotic. any topic will go from one of my alter egoes. It'll be politically incorrect and at times intellectually challanged. that I can promise.

    Project #2 has been my venture into robotics. its been awesome. i've learned a lot about how robots work and communicate, how they process instructions and particularly, i've been having a lot of fun with sensors and data collected from these. I gotta take a break tho, as both my brain and wallet were substantially drained with this endeavour.
    Project #3 I expect to have a photo show together by spring. if you know my work you can expect something a little different from my fare up till now. I've taken a more minimal approach, working primarily light and how its affected by various factors.

    Familia Barreto Nicaragua

    Trips Update:

    Nicaragua is very different from what I remember 3 years ago. I was very impressed with the ammount of development that has spurred there, and well, the overall positivism of th epeople in general. Got to see my family again, my cousins and aunts. We had an awesome time. I want to spend more time with my old man now, so Goldie and I are hoping to head over there soon. It's only a 33 hour, 4 trains, 3 connection flights, and car ride anyway.

    June 20, 2006

    Osaka, year three

    Wow, I can't believe its been almost a year since my last update here. I guess I've been really busy with work. At the time of my last entry I'd been promoted at work and have been steadily getting more and more responsibilities. This keeps me very busy every day, and over the past year I've been experimenting with technology. My friend Goerge of "The Scarecrows" fame came to visit me in august '05 and stayed at my place for a few days. I showed him around Osaka a little bit, but he did a lot of exploring on his own. He was the first friend I made when i started Uni so long ago, and we graduated together, litterally, he sat next to me at the ceremony. So, now he lives in Korea and teaches English. The fall came and my younger brother and his wife had a baby. He is absolutely adorable. Christmas came around and it was freaking cold. I think we ate christmas dinner...i can't remember.

    New Years Day was really special. You seee, here in Japan christmas isn't an important holiday. People don't really do anything special, and you can feel the fact that its an adopted holiday. The Christmas Sales posters with a bleeding crucified Christ with an xmas hat should give you a clue. The real special day here's New Years Day. On that day we drove out to Kyoto, to spend the first couple days of the year at our friend Mizuho's parents house. It was a beautiful sunny day, a crisp and clear. We got there about 4pm I think, after having lunch in Nara.

    We arrived at the house and Mizuho and her parents were waiting for us outside the house, welcoming us and exchanging New Year greetings. Goldie had me practice the traditional greeting on the drive there. i have now forgotten it. "(something something) Omedeto gozaimasu!". Mizuho's parents live in souther Kyoto Prefacture, near the border with Nara Pref. Their place is in a small suburb, and their house backs into a thick bamboo forest. It was definitely not the kind of house you find in Osaka. it has a large yard, and the house is quite comfortable and spacious, it feels a lot like houses back home. (Note to self, live in the countryside, bigger homes there.)

    We exchanged gifts as is customary when you visit someone's home in Japan, but i wasn't ready for what awaited me that day. I was astonished by japanese hospitality. Mizuho's parents don"t speak a lot of English, and well, my formal and elegant japanese is virtually non existent in situations when i need to use it, somehow I can only access the basic utterances of an infant at these times. (Sake however, facilitates communication a great deal as i found out later)