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March 27, 2009

A dawn I was lucky to see but wish I didn't have to

Dawn After a Spring SnowDawn After a Spring SnowDawn After a Spring Snow

What was supposed to be just "another all-nighter" in order to get our work off to the printer in time to meet the end-of-March-or-lose-it-all deadline, turned into an "all of two days and two nighter - and still not finished". The headaches I got from ca fine withdrawal when I stopped pumping the (instant) good-stuff into my veins for just a one-hour nap was a wake-up call. At around 4 pm, after what was either dinner or lunch or brunch or dinfast (meals have lost any tempral reference point) we went to bed. I just woke up a bit before 9pm, feeling rested and ready to forge on. I felt so good that I was, at first, very much alarmed to see the clock, assuming it must be 9 AM! It took a while for the darkness to register, however, and I soon realized that I had only slept around five hours. Suddenly I became sleepy again, but not sleepy enough to overcome the can't-sleep-when-there's-work-to-do stress. Hence, here I am.

That was about 30 minutes ago. So far I have done no work yet, just building a roaring fire, getting up several times to get the roaring-ness "just right", creating a new You Tube play list for the day (Ben Sollee, Taj Mahal, Ben Harper, Regina Spektor, Keziah Jones, Betty Davis, and more), and transferring some of the photos I got yesterday(?) morning during a dawn(?) go-outside-to-breathe break of the new snow that was gone by mid-morning(?).

We are certainly not getting enough money from this grant - yet this is a project we had wanted to do for the village and our customers, and would have been working on in our free time anyway for free. It would have taken a lot longer, (with a lot less stress), and so it seems a waste to miss getting the cash, so we forge on, throwing our health and mental well-being to the wind.

These photos are from yesterday morning. As I wrote above, the snow was gone by around 10am. It started snowing again that afternoon, and at the time of writing this (9pm) there is a healthy dose of white that will hopefully be waiting for me at my next early morning lets-go-outside-for-five-minutes-before-we-go-crazy break.

Some links from the feeder that made me feel happy when I had a few minutes to surf the web, waiting for Illustrator to load or save this file or that...

  • Animals Getting Along Splendidly from Zooillogix (BTW, this blog hold the record for most links I pass on to Tomoe with a note saying "Just check this out... you'll like it")
  • OBSERVATIONS OF AN ECONOMIST ENVIRONMENTALIST asks, "What happened to whistling?"
  • Video footage showing that my god-daughter is possessed (check out her eyes at the end of the "Irene is walking!" video.)
  • More Fridge-less living links from Star Cooked. We were pretty much fridge-less for a long time after moving here, until we had to "plug in" for a large group of customers last fall. Since then the small freezer has been serving to preserve some foods we thought we might want to eat during the winter. As it turns out, we rarely, if ever, open the fridge/freezer door. We know now that we don't really need a fridge of freezer. Even buying eight liters of fresh milk from the local dairy guy, which we used over a period of two weeks, we had little use for the fridge. Try it. You may be suprised.
  • Man Collects Penises. a video complete with an interview of the curator of the "Icelandic Penis Museum". Some excerpts...
    ...boasts a collection of 143 penises from 43 mammals. [...] lit by a collection of ram's testicle lamps
    one comment I often get is "Why do this?". My answer is, "Well, somebody has to do this... I just have the fate of having to start it."
    . Please watch all 1:45 of this video. It is worth it.
  • Finally, Zoologic, Student Academy Award winner, somewhat related to the Animals Getting Along Splendidly video, but found on a completely unrelated blog (Drawn) I enjoy about illustration.

There are more (I have "wasted" a lot of time these past few days) but I really have to meet this deadline...

Dawn After a Spring SnowDawn After a Spring Snow

Finally (for real this time), maybe its just because I am sleep deprived, but the most recent Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me had me laughing loud enough to wake Tomoe up.

Dawn After a Spring SnowDawn After a Spring SnowDawn After a Spring Snow

March 21, 2009

Child Labor at the White House

house and nozawana

The Obama administration disgusts me! Now they are openly using child labor in the whitehouse farm.

Granted, Michelle is helping out a bit, and I do enjoy her choice of farm-wear.

Finally, I don't know who the White House press photographer is, but I am sure I could get better photos of the event than that. Maybe I should apply for a job.

The photo above is not the white house - just our house and the nozawana patch I have spent the last week staring at outside our living room window.

Why it Snows in the Snow Country


Finally a bright moment as Tomoe and I work on this educational map of the village. I was trying to make an image to show why it snows so much here. After a few cups of coffee and some feel-good 80's tunes, I was in the mood to make this little drawing. I would love to use this as-is on the map, but I am guessing that Tomoe will not let me...

Basically, it is showing how the cold dry air comes from China, passes over the warm Japan Sea, picks up moisture and speed, slams into the mountain range that separates us from the coast, shoots up into the colder atmosphere, freezes, and dumps down on us as snow.

The only real problem I see with my drawing is that, scientifically speaking, the clouds coming from china would be moving into the cloud mans ass, instead of out of it.

March 20, 2009


Shinanoyuki Masu (trout)fukinoto

The last few days have seen record high temps for March. The fukinoto is already out and blooming. Its best to pick them when they are still buds - before the little yellow flowers appear, but we have been locked up inside the house for so long that we didn't even notice they were blooming and completely missed the "easy" harvest near the house. Of course, there are still many fukinoto in the mountains that still have some snow on them to keep them from blooming, so we will be enjoying them for dinner

The trout in the back pond are also eating again. While they have been out and about on clear days over the winter, they didn't eat. Yesterday I threw in a handful of food and they went crazy.

Below is a shot of our hamlet (our house is just out of sight in the background) showing how little snow we have this year. Last year it didn't look like this until well into April.

Spring in Tsukioka

March 18, 2009

Party Break


Only a few more weeks until we are freed from the chains of this grant project! I can almost smell the fresh air.

We did have a bit of a vacation this weekend, as a group of 10 repeaters came from Tokyo to visit some of the friends they had met the last time they were here. Last time they were here to learn about the village and issues facing endangered farming villages like it around Japan. This time they just came to party.

DSC_0076 copyDSC_0023 copyDSC_0052 copyDSC_0019 copyDSC_0005 copy

March 08, 2009

Fish Dinner


A few days ago our neighbor found a sick fish in his pond, and this variety is not up to their standards in terms of flavor, so he gave it to me. Sure, it wasn't the greatest tasting trout I have ever had (they are much better when they are smaller), it still made for a great lunch surprise. We had planned to eat the eggs and head the next day, but never got around to it, so they eventually ended up in the compost.

And just to add some value for those who don't care that I ate fish... A link for your listening pleasure: Leonard Cohen, Live From The Beacon Theatre

March 02, 2009

Sleepless... but warm

Yukifumi toubanSnow @ Einokami in Akiyamago

Its 5 am and I finally decided to stop laying, as I have been since 11pm, there hoping I will fall asleep. Too much stress from too much work in too many different areas with too many deadlines too close together (and too many unanswered emails). And still I am sitting here doing everything but work. (Well, I did reply to a few emails - and watched the snow fall.

We are currently working on a project we are receiving a government grant for. We are supposed to be making a map of the area that highlights some of the more educational aspects, rather than just the normal hot-springs and gift-shops. According to the plan, it is also to include a neato-fun scavenger-hunt/orienteering style game that people can play with their cell-phones in order to help them notice things in the smaller hamlets that rarely (if ever) have outside visitors.

With only a month left before the strict deadline that determines if we get reimbursed for all the money and time we have already invested, my biggest worry is that we will be forced to submit something sub-par from what we have in mind. If that happens, we will continue to work on the project on our own time and money, and upgrade it to what we know we can do, but my big worry is mostly for the local official who wrote us a letter of recommendation. If we muck this up, he/the village may have a hard time getting another grant for other projects.

So I guess I should get back to work.

The photos are from the biggest snow storm we had all year (not that big) only a week ago. The majority of the snow had melted again by the time I went to bed last night, but as I lay awake, the sound of rain was eventually replaced by the sound of snow sliding off our roof. While it is only a few centimeters, it give me some cheer to look at, even though I will not get a chance to play in it.

I'm probably not the only one who is not sleeping though... a cyclist who is making his way around the world and stopped by for his first few dry nights under a roof, in a futon and with a warm bath since he left Jake's home on Feb 12. It was sunny and warm when he left us to head North, but the forecast calls for four days of snow. I hope he has found a shrine to pitch tent inside of. If not, I wont be surprised if he makes a u-turn. At least now he is armed with a newspaper article that was in our local paper explaining who he is an what he is doing. Since he can't speak Japanese, that should help him to get mooch hot meals and hopefully a dry place to sleep.

Finally Snow in Akiyamago
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