china mieville's the scar

I forgive Kevin for getting me started on The Series That Gets Worse and Will Never End, because he also introduced me to My Man China!
The sort of sequal, but not really, to Perdido Street Station, The Scar is more of the same China brilliance. Wonderful world full of interesting humanoid lifeforms, the best blend of "science" and "magic", classically human politics, and a cool story, interesting characters, and vivid location.

japan food tours

Jen is putting together the coolest tour of Japan ever!

100 year old color photos

Check them out. These are not black & white photos colored later. Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) took these photos in the first decade of the 20th century. He took 3 photos in red, green, blue individually and combined them. Amazing what color does; it looks so real, but you're so used to seeing old photos in black & white, it makes you think they must be fake. So often I've seen old photos and thought "what color was her hat? That building? His belt?" And now we know!

strange dream

Woke up this morning and Hiroko asked me "You dream last night? You were flopping all over the place and I hardly slept." She was not happy, still trying to get over her cold.
And as a matter of fact, I did have a wonderfully wacky dream.
Big lasergun tag fight. I needed a weapon. Was in our house in LA. Go into my brother's bedroom and ask him for a gun. He pulls open the low drawers underneath his closet and takes out a big case. From the case he removes all sorts of weapons; swords and knives, rifles and pistols. He tells me to take what I need. I go through the goods and select a smallish firearm with green lasertag assembly. The cop on the beach just outside the window (never mind the fact that the bedroom is on the 2nd floor) is trying to look into the window, suspicious of what's going on inside the room. He is on the enemy team. I hastily grab my weapon, throw everything else back in the case, and shove the case back into the drawer, closing it under the closet. The alarm signals the start of the game...and it's my alarm clock waking me up.
Rudimentary dream analysis: the swords imagery must come from the fact that I went to pratice for this first time in a year, and also saw lots of cool swords on new year's. The green lasers are from all the silly news stories about terrorists using lasers to try and crash planes by blinding pilots. And that's about as much psychoanalysis as I am cabable of.

first practice

First class of 2005. I came early because Nakayama-san wanted to practice kumitaci. I haven't done them in a while, but after an hour I got back into the groove. Was interesting to try and explain to someone else the things I've already struggled through and sort of figured out. Always a great learning experience to teach.
At 7 class started, and we did the really basic basics, like how to sit in seiza and how to stand up. Thing I've been focusing on lately is centerlines. Try to keep my pitch and yaw level when moving. Much much harder than you think. Try this: stand in front of a mirror, relaxed, feet together. Now take a step with your left foot. Watch how far to the left your head and whole body move. You transfer all your weight to your right foot, pick up your left leg, lean your body over to the left, and swing your foot out. Centerline is a mess. Do that while drawing your sword and your right arm gets cut off.
It's a wonderful ego-boost to teach a class full of beginners who are no where near my level...they must feel how I feel when I go to class and get totally flummoxed by Kuroda-sensei or one of his older students.

kashima jingu

kashima jingu
Drove over to Kashima to go to the big shrine for hatsu-mode (first prayer of the year). It was packed, of course. Walked into the back, to the OLD shrine, to pay our respects, and then checked out the sword and armor display before getting some noodles and finally getting on the bus back to Tokyo station.
Here are some photos of the swords and stuff on display.