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 options...so 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 radio.com, 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.