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August 4, 2010
Last Washington Painting
The City Paper reports on how "The Last Washington Painting" became "The Lost Washington Painting" -- Alan Sonneman's apocalyptic image of nuclear doom.

July 30, 2010
  • My location, back Inside the Beltway for a couple weeks, DC in August. But in local Silicon Valley news, the closing of the legendary Blue Cube. I've never been inside but had co-workers who'd been, my first three months in NorCal when I was at Lockheed-Martin.They said it was horrible, a bleak, dingy, windowless warren housing ancient (ie 1970s) technology.

  • American media had an on&off focus on the Gulf oil spill for a hundred days, but did you hear about China? Dalian is a NE city located at the end of a penninsula, like San Francisco, and I'd like to visit because it's supposed to be beautiful, with clean air, due to its maritime location. But last week, they had an oil pipeline explosion and spill which has been nightmarishly documented at the Big Picture (scroll down if you need their link). Obama said ours was the worst environmental disaster; I was glad it didn't quite resemble the Lakeview Gusher which is one of those mentioned in Where Gulf Spill Might Place on the Roll of Disasters in the NY Times.

  • Also in the Times, Doubt is Cast on Many Reports of Food Allergies -- although 30% of the population believe they have food allergies...the true incidence of food allergies is only about 8% for children and less than 5% for adults according to some doctor. The rest of you just have intolerance.

  • Environmental Graffiti documents the Ten Most Amazing Stained Glass Ceilings.

July 27, 2010

July 25, 2010

July 24, 2010
  • Among some other time-lapse video reported here last summer was one by Sam Cockeday, here's two more of his -- a new, more ambient Tokyo called Floating Point as well as (Autumn) which has views of Fuji plus the big torii gate at Miyajima -- was real close to the latter in '04, next door actually but didn't go as the excursion supposedly takes up a whole day, which I didn't have.

July 21, 2010
  • Harvey Pekar in the Metro, a listing of short columns he did for that free Silicon Valley paper, mostly it seems between '96-'97, just before I got here. Note -- what's online doesn't include the comics sampled in the obit-special print edition.

July 17, 2010
  • Great 'cruises' on YouTube by egawaueman, with more destinations in the sidebar: Tokyo Cruise 2010 ...Osaka Cruise 2009 ...Kyoto Cruise 2009. Thanks to Chie, who tells me the latest Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki film (based on 'The Borrowers') has just opened in Tokyo. Those cruises are wonderful, somebody walking around with a steadycam, and great sound recording -- maximize and watch with headphones. This is why some people think cyber-tourism could replace actual travel. But what about the smells, and tastes?

  • Two more from Dark Roast Blend: Streamlined Train Wonders of the Art Deco Era and Kitchen Appliances that Bite. I once spotted #10, the Medieval Espresso Machine, in a Swiss shop window, but it was late at night, closed.

  • Since the Jetsons got a mention here, equal time for that Stone Age Fam-i-ly. An extensive listing of celebrities dead via tobacco, directly or indirectly, has many lurid details, like this quote from 'Wilma's son: Everybody on the Flintstones smoked and all of them ended up dying of smoking-related diseases...That little cute laugh that Betty and Wilma did with their mouths closed? They came up with that because when they laughed normally, because they were smokers, they coughed.

July 16, 2010
RIP Harvey Pekar.

July 11, 2010
Action-packed weekend, sort-of -- said goodby to Rieko and family, they're unexpectedly returned to Japan, very sad to see them go, but I'll visit them in Kyoto, possibly as soon as next February. Later on Friday, after riding my bike all over town all day, blew it in the final stretch, loaded down with purchases, bumping a sign and then wiping out just a few blocks from home. Only real casualty was a bottle of (Zinnfandel) two-buck-Chuck but spent a few hours at the hospital yesterday anyway due to fear of internal injury/fracture. A little comedy there; didn't drive but got a ride from Ichiro and before leaving me, he rustled up a wheelchair, actually the standard blue Kaiser-issue chair with only little wheels, which traps the passenger, forcing him to rely totally on whoever's pushing -- if anyone's there to push. But just inside, we passed an idle, REAL wheelchair (tasteful black, with a Radiology Dept stencil) and I insisted on transferring, and was hence fully mobile in the rooms waiting; for doctor, X-Ray, and then doctor again. Also seeing how fast I could make the wheelchair go, in the deserted weekend corridors, thinking of handicapped marathon racers. Hours later, on the way out, after summoning dear friend Chie (Ichiro's wife) for pickup, a familiar, scolding voice at my ear said "Teacher, you can't take our wheelchair!" and it was Mabel from Hong Kong, an older woman who attended my Conversation class twice and there told us now, she was a Christian but never seemed too happy about that. I remembered then she'd said she volunteered at Kaiser and once I was comfortably situated on the park bench outside, she rolled away their (one good?) wheelchair. Later, my student Kumiko read on Facebook about my tribulations and insisted on bringing over a shopping bag full of groceries this morning -- some delicious homemade food, and fruit and chocolate from Trader Joes. At that time I wasn't sure if I could drive, my left leg's so tender I'll be needing a cane to get around for at least a few days, and walkin's real slow; but I'm OK, had no trouble with the clutch pedal.
  • Because of Spain's World Cup win I'll be discussing things Hispanic in my class tomorrow, utilyzing my copy of Latino USA - a Cartoon History by Ilan Stevens, illustrated by Lalo Alcaraz who I used to read in the LA Weekly, his single-frame comic, La Cucaracha. How about the updated Jetsons Señor Lalo did for Smithsonian magazine, based on current demographic trends? Not bad though reducing Astro to a chihuahua is an outrage never to be forgotten.

  • All kinds of interesting data in a recent lengthy AskMe which the mods allowed to continue even as it violated chat-filter guidelines: What in life did it take you a surprisingly long time to realize you've been doing wrong all along?

  • Now and Then -- 49 pairs of photos: How rock stars have changed. Roger Daltrey should've been been included, to make it 50 -- "Hope I die before I get old." The sequence begins with Mick Jagger and I remember an article from a long-ago Rolling Stone interviewing various musical personalities on the occasion of their 30th birthday and he said "We've got to learn to age gracefully," wise advice I've found personally useful.

July 7, 2010
  • In der Spiegel, How the East Was Lost -- assessing reunification, twenty years on.

  • Update in Slate on those enigmatic short-wave 'numbers' stations. Seems the recently busted Russian spies were using them. And during the short-lived hard-liners' attempted coup at the very end of the USSR, instead of the usual strings of digits some were just broadcasting "5... 5... 5... 5... 5..."

  • Dentistry breakthrough? A new gel could soon eliminate painful fillings and root canals. Ah, but not so fast: The technology doesn't prevent cavities; it heals teeth by regenerating them... That said, regenerating a tooth from within would only be useful in a relatively small number of cases.

  • Vanity Fair had a panel of 52 experts list the 21 most important works of architecture created since 1980. I've only visited three of these Modern Marvels of Architecture.

July Fourth 2010
  • Long NY Times story about Norman Rockwell and how big directors Spielberg and Lucas collect his work. Their holdings are on loan to the Smithsonian for a show at the American Art Museum, a building which has seemingly become unavoidable whenever I go downtown now, so there's a chance I'll see it during my two weeks in DC in August.

  • At the ever-reliable Dark Roast Blend, amazing photos, three ruined urban areas -- in Japan, Gunkanjima (Battleship Island); Kowloon Walled City; and San Zhi, a future-ruin on Taiwan somewhere.

  • A pair of YouTubes: American Food in the ethnic section of ein Deutschen Supermarkt, and Pyongyang Traffic Girls From The Sky. Surely the sub-titles in the latter don't match the Korean being spoken.

  • Wooden USB keyboard /  mouse, the less-than-$18 price has me dubious. More skepticism about the 'easy conversion' required for the USB Typewriter.

  • As Deutschland nears World Cup victory, local columnist Gary Singh reminisces about watching "Soccer: Made in Germany" on PBS, back in the 1980s before the US team even qualified.

  • At the World's Best Ever (newly added to my blog-roll), No Big Deal. Just go.

June 29, 2010
More new products!
  • Did you ever see The Man Who Fell to Earth? A key point is a bit of advanced technology the alien character Thomas Newton (played by David Bowie) introduces, thereby becoming wealthy. It's a camera and/or film which makes instant prints -- in the scene where it's demonstrated, a couple takes pictures of each other while fooling around, then open the camera and pull the already-developed 35mm film off the spool. Digital cameras have leap-frogged all that, in a way, and yet the film's mid-70s futuristic vision has arrived -- the Fujifilm PIVI MP-300 Portable Printer which doesn't use ink, but special paper. The unit also contains a camera, and it extrudes a business-card-sized photo in about 40 seconds. Only available in Japan but a guy selling 'em on eBay's posted a FAQ.

  • Airstream-style Pet Camper, for the pampered pooch.

  • Toothbrush designed like a Tumble-Doll Stands Upright.
Ah, but you know the rule -- New Is Worse. Therefore, a useful listing: 21 Things You Should Never Buy New.

June 24, 2010

June 19, 2010

June 15, 2010

June 11, 2010

June 6th - D-Day
the Fremont High class
The Monday/Wednesday evenings class; tomorrow our last session. This my first time teaching at Fremont High, the school I lived across the street from last year -- a physically appealing campus as the buildings are Spanish-Colonial style, like the older structures at nearby Moffett Field -- red tile roofs; arched, paired windows, corbeling, etc.

May 30, 2010

May 27, 2010
Advance ESL I
The morning class, my Advanced group, lots of turnover and a real challenge at times (but now, because of, good experience answering difficult grammar questions.) It seems that a subset of these women will be attending my summer school class.

May 21, 2010
origami cubes
Recently picked up the rudiments of a style of modular origami which has been baffling hitherto. On the left, a cube a student named Yuko gave me just before returning home a year ago, one of many examples (and she tried to 'splain the technique then); on the right, the second cube I've made after mastering the trick. Both utilize the same base form, or menko, and I've since replicated Yuko's original design as well as others because a couple weeks ago a very nice package arrived from Shiga prefecture (near Kyoto) which included several photocopies of key pages from a how-to book. She also sent more paper & etc and now I'm pondering the most appropriate gift to send in return.

May 13, 2010
Tino TuTh class
The school year is winding down; here, the evening Cupertino class I've had since September. Lots of turnover but over 2/3 have been coming since the first day.

Pink is for girls and blue is for boys -- but in Japan, where green was once thought to be merely a shade of blue, pink and red are for girls, whereas blue and green are for boys. Or so they tell me -- a baby shower is coming.

May 8, 2010

May 3, 2010

May 2, 2010

April 29, 2010

in the studio, 64
Been evaluating some of the new re-mastered Beatle CDs and really like this studio photo, labeled February 25th, 1964, from the "Hard Day's Night" booklet. (Click for hi-res file, 200K.) Note the little table with Cokes, lower right -- later, John had one. And yes, the sound is incredible. The title track's never been stereo, before.
  • For a forgotten reason, J-Walk slid off my blog-roll years ago. Here he wonders, What do you call a small neighborhood store that sells stuff like candy, beer, lottery tickets, and an assortment of groceries? The Japanese term is konbini and also unmentioned is the C-STORE nomenclature I've found perplexing out on the interstate in like Missouri and Indiana.

  • Doing a Total Background Check on Yourself -- the Consumerist provides the linkage. I hardly ever do this, 'cause there's never anything there.

  • Random Internet Quote of the Day, from the end of an AskMetaFilter thread, the OP coming back later, and telling what happened, after requesting info before a first trip there:
      All in the all the beautiful things in Japan were much more beautiful than I expected and the "differentness" of Tokyo (and Japan in general) was much much more so.
      I felt I could go back there again and again, not like a "vacation."
    However, according to the New York Times, not everybody's happy in Nihon -- Japan Tries to Face Up to Growing Poverty Problem.

  • One more random quote from cyberspace -- according to user lianamaeby.
      Pennies are only useful as a tool for avoiding other pennies.

April 24, 2010
...and one more product, which at clase range allegedly confuses most canines such that they stop barking -- the ultrasonic Dog Dazer 2, only $24 at Amazon.

April 18, 2010
It's been too long since the new products were reviewed here. Three for personal transportation, just a video, may not be real, the electric YikeBike, way more stylish than Segway; lightweight and collapsable. Michael Jenkins' big Wheel Skates are compared to chariots, very intriguing but too expensive; and as for the Martin Jet-Pack, everybody wants one, but nobody gets one. More like that -- Ridiculously Expensive Every Day Items. The $1,000 pizza sounds tasty, but for that price it better pass The Test (of crispyness). Another collection, Tiny Gadgets that make your day -- at the end, I don't believe the Colored Flame Tea Lights (else they'd be everywhere), but want more info about Tengu. The Body Groomer is for shaving anywhere; the Wi-Fi Detector T-shirt utilyzes a stick-on display; and if you'd like to replace your plastic items with more traditional merchandise you might find at Life Without

April 16, 2010
Candles in Poland
  • The Boston Globe's Big Picture continues to amaze; should check it daily. Above sample, a sea of candles in #32 from Poland in Mourning. (Regarding that 1940 Katyn Massacre -- hard to believe it was all the work of a single NKVD executioner, using a pistol.) Different topic completely, many great Big Picture photos of the current ISS mission.

  • In the New York Times, Unshaven Women: Free Spirits or Unkempt? At a screening of Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" right at the beginning, some women wave at the statue of Jesus flying overhead, hanging from a helicopter. When they raised their arms (exposing their European armpit hair) a gasp went through the audience. Anyway, it's said the Times will soon be locking up everything behind the subscription firewall again, so get it while you can.

  • Shortcuts and info about Google Translate and Google Dictionary. Babbelfish may no longer be the optimum choice for translation.

April 12, 2010
A view of the sacred, ancient tree at the Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura which I snapped in 2004. A couple weeks back, it blew down in a storm, so now they're trying to clone it, from cuttings -- but there's complications, when a sacred ginkgo tree falls in Japan. First saw this article in The Economist print edition, but its source seems to be the Winnepeg Free Press.

Malcolm McLaren also died, last week. Not that I really care about a hustler like MMcL but the first paragraphs in Steve Sailor's obit are excellent, tracking rap 'music' back to the square-dance caller.

April 9, 2010

April 5, 2010

April 1, 2010
late 20th c. Bulgarian postage w/ Purple Turkey
Noticed among the detritus of an overflowing Dumpster yesterday, a box of old correspondance from Bulgaria -- two examples, for the postage, novel air mail design and address (yes, backwards). Also, a 1992 diary, inside, a well-worn set of these banknotes -- 1, 2, 5, 10, and on up to 20, 100, 200 and a newer 1000 leva note (which could've been exchanged for a single Deutschmark in the late 1990s).
  • Animation video on youTube: First, a Disney mashup demonstrates their recycling; and Second, an old favorite from the festivals, "The Man Who Planted Trees" (part one of three).

  • Some say bacon improves any dish, and should therefore be added to any food item. Hence, at the garish This Is Why You're Fat, Angel Food, Bacon and Chocolate On A Stick from a mid-western State Fair where the selection of "on a stick" foods is remarkable.

  • Niagara Falls, illuminated. In 1966 I made a couple blurry hand-held exposures there, experiments with my first roll of color slide film. At Yosemite in 2003, at the great lodge where the falls are so splendidly viewed through great windows, they were aghast when, as night fell, I suggested they be flood-lit too... just so contrary to night-time in the Sierra Nevada.

March 28, 2010
  • Leveling the playing field -- Shoes that make everyone the same height. Reminds me of that Vonnegut story everyone used to know 'cause it was on a PBS show (Between Time and Timbuktu), but the name's difficult to remember -- easy if it was "Handicaps" but instead, the protagonist's name, Harrison Bergeron.

  • Fascinating: in the New York Review of Books, A Mushroom Cloud, Recollected -- witnessing two Nevada tests in 1957. Related, an English Russia post on the October 30 1961 Tsar Bomb detonation, the biggest ever.

  • Video and text report of a recent expedition out to the enormous rubbish-gyre in the Pacific Ocean.

  • Texas, California, New York and Hawaiian -- these are the states of McDonalds Japan's Big America Burgers.

March 21, 2010

March 16, 2010

March 12, 2010
The 'Ten-Eleven' was how our big boss referred to the next school year in the meeting today where she formerly announced certain teachers in all likelihood wouldn't be working then, or at least not the for-me financially adequate 20 hrs/week I've been doing since mid-Six-Seven. With the economy and my lack of senority, the inevitable letting-go; liberating actually, time to do something new, getting a little burned out. Thinking back on all my classes, four year's worth; such a rich experience.

Meanwhile in these pages you've occasionally noted science-fiction book and magazine cover art links... For a long time, decades, I've wanted an ID - the source of many of those 1950s paperbacks I love, the artist who made abstract-expressionistic blobs look futuristic -- and now we know! Richard Powers -- his cover archive is an internet treasure.

March 4-5, 2010
cherry tree in Cupertino
Cherry Tree with sakura blossoms in a Cupertino parking lot.

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