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A Corner in Kichijyoji
Under The Sea

I was looking at Shoot Newt:Amphibious photography by Brian, and had the urge to put up more photos from the local aquarium shop. Some day I'll have to get myself an underwater camera to go with my unused scuba license

Blue
More Birds

If you're a bird-hater, just hang in there. After this there probably wont be many bird photos for a while.

These photos are from the Seibu department store pet shop in Shibuya. If you are within a couple hours from Tokyo, and planning to buy a bird, I highly recommend you buy there. The prices may be a little more expensive, but if you just go there and hang out for a while, talking to the old man who raises all the baby birds by hand, feeding them the best food (which costs money), you will realize that a little markup in price is worth it. And if you still can't justify the more expensive bird, just remember that when the cheap bird form someplace else dies within a few weeks, you will wind up either paying more, or have wasted all that money anyway.

Lots more photos of these birds here.

Old Chair

Just an old chair in front of an Italian restaurant, across from the tropical fish store.

Photo Dorks

Yes, two posts in one day. Is it because I have so much time, as I made it seem in my last post? No, not really. I'm heading off to a photo dork club outing in Enoshima tomorrow, and I have to clear out my cameras memory stick, and start catching up on the back-logged photos.

I guess that is my theme for this post. Photos of photo-dorks doing their thing... of course, the only photo-dork pictured here is me.

Expect some nice photos to be added to the Japanphotographer website soon.

It Doesn't Get Any Better

It doesn't get any better than this. Waking up early on a sunny (well, today isn't so sunny) morning, cooking some fresh bread for breakfast, a cup of hot tea, Teru Teru Kazoku (don't tell the NHK man), and finally getting the birds ready and walking with Tomoe to the station. She heads off to work, and I continue my walk around the neighborhood with the birds.

I get back home at just about the time I would be arriving at work, get ready to go jogging, grab my camera and hit the jogging path along the kandagawa river. Get back, shower, grab some more tea while I snuggle into my massage chair by the window for my (semi)daily speed-reading training, and once that's done I can get to my work by 1 p.m.. -- and let's not forget being able to listen to NPR with the window open, a spring breeze blowing in, and the birds sunning themselves next to my computer as I work.

Sounds a little lazy I guess... I mean the not starting work until 1 part, and I still have to get over that guilty feeling, having been trained since I was five that the day-time does not belong to me. The light hours are reserved for school and work.

In actuality, I think I feel more stress toward work now than I did before. I seem to spend more time doing it, working much later into the night rather than leaving the office at 6:30, and I don't have the defined boundaries to relieve some of the guilt. Before, even if I knew I had too much to do, I could feel ok in that I was only paid to work eight hours. So long as I was doing my best, if I couldn't fit everything in, I can still go home and feel free to know that I was not breaking any contract or promise. Now however, being paid by the project, I somehow feel that I should be working all the time. If a client calls while I am doing laundry at noon, I feel guilty that I am not sitting at my computer doing their work -even when the project is on schedule. Of course, the nice thing now, is that I own my time again. If I have too much to do, it is my fault, and I have the right/responsibility to reduce my own work-load.

I guess this is all something I have to get used to, but now that I have tasted this lifestyle, I don't know how I could ever give it up for another nine-to-five job where I have no ownership of my own time and life. Maybe that will change though, as I forget what it was like to watch it gradually grow darker through an office window, knowing that another day had just gone by and the only sunlight I saw was on my way to the train station. Maybe I'll forget what it is like to eat real food, because I have a stove to cook lunch and dinner, adn access to fresh veggies. Maybe I'll forget how great it is that I can go to the grocery store any day, not just Saturday, becuase I am not still in the office when it closes. I hope it doesn't happen soon though.

The photos above are of the new leash we bought for the birds. In the beginning they really hated wearing it, and Awii is still pretty stressed out when we put it on him, spending most of his time trying to get out. Klee, on the other hand, is pretty much used to it. Although they both still seem a little frightened outside, once in a while Klee will leave our shoulder to fly around a bit. and if we put her on the ground, she'll do a little exploring.

Clowning Around

Through my high-school years, I was a huge tropical fish enthusiast. I think at one point I had five aquariums running in my room, a fresh-water community tank housing angel fish, neon tetras, zebras and the likes, a tank of African cichlids, a tank with piranha, a tank with two huge South American ciclids, and a large marine aquarium with a variety of creatures, including sea anenomes, clown fish, and my prize lion fish, a member of one of the most poisonous fish families there is.

It was always fun feeding the anemones by hand, with the lion fish swimming by my arm, coming up to grab a bit of the food as well. One stick from his spines, and I would have been paralyzed on the floor within seconds. Of course their poison can be treated, but I can't imagine it would be feel good.

Every time I go into the little aquarium shop nearby my apartment I get the urge to start up again. Now of course, I know a little more about how the live fish trade effects the natural reef environment. The common (though illeagal) practice of fishing with cyanide stuns the fish, but kills the reef and other organisms important the to ecosystem's survival. I find it hard to justify promoting the fish trade. If I could be sure that the fish were caught with more sustainable methods, I might consider it, and of course pay more, but I haven't seen any pet shops around here that make that garantee.

A quick search on google turned up this informative PBS article about the live fish trade.

The tragedy is that a live fish trade would be an excellent source of income for people in tropical countries which have coral reefs if only it was pursued sustainably and without destroying the reef habitat that the fish they depend on require. When the same species are caught using nets close to 98% of the fish reach transshipment points alive versus only about 30% for fish caught with cyanide (and of course, the reef stays healthy and continues to produce fish for the fisher… endlessly). The problem is that using nets is harder work, and the fishermen get, say, three fish for a day's work, rather than the three fish per hour they can get using cyanide.

Not only does the practice of cyanide fishing provide more short-term incentive for the local fishermen, who, despite the fact that the decorative fish trade is an international multimillion dollar business, typically earn only about US$50 per month, it's also very lucrative for the pet-stores and dealers as the article points out.

The vast majority of the fish that make it all the way to ornamental fish markets will die a few months later in living room tanks, having finally succumbed to their exposure to cyanide.
Bikes & Barriers
Inokashira Morning


Photos from a cold morning on the Inokashira-line. Looking at these I am reminded of when I used to take my sketch-pad with me on the train whenever I rode it. Instead of taking photos then, I would sketch all the bored looking masses, absorbed in their mobile phones or catching a few more minutes of sleep before work.

I had all but given up the sketching and painting when I purchased this camera almost a year ago. Last however, a friend who was once an art teacher, and is still a regular member of a sketch club of professional artists and illustrators had an exhibition which I went to (last year I also submited a painting of Guri in the same exhibition). The urge is back, and I hope to be picking up the pencils and brushes again. In fact, Friday I went back to the sketch club for the first time in almost a year.

I still don't know if I will be as keen to continue it as I was before, when I would spend hours each day trying to learn to paint and sketch. After all, I have this camera thing now that takes up a lot of my "artistic" time. Just don't be surprised if you start to see more sketches and paintings up here soon.

Oh yeah, and for those of you who are new readers since last year, I hope your not offended by a little nudity. The sketch club always has nude models, and the sketches do tend to find their way to my site.

Awii Showers

More photos of Awii the cockateil after a shower

One more left-over... This was taken when Awii got out of the shower. Both of them like to come into the shower with me sometimes. They either sit on the side of the tub and get a light shower with small droplets, or they sit right on top of my head, directly under the shower head.

Camera-to-blog

My camera-to-blog procedure of late has changed quite drastically from what I followed last year. Last year I would take my camera out every time I leave the house (I still do that part), and take hundreds of photos. Then, when I get home, I download them to my computer, and sometime within the next two to three days I would prepare them in Photoshop, upload them to the gallery, and post my favorites from that batch to the top page of the Bastish net.

This fell apart when I started learning more about Photoshop and, for better or worse, became more experimental with it. To save myself time, I began preparing and posting large batches of photos to my gallery, and each day selecting a few that seem to fit a certain theme. This saves me from having to process so many photos each week in order to keep a semi-daily posting schedule.

I have now run into two new problems.

1) I still take the same number of photos, but processing them less often has lead to an enormous back-log. I don't expect the photos I took yesterday to appear on the top page here for another three weeks or so.

2) If I try to post on my top page according to themes (often pretty lame themes), there are inevitably some photos I like that don't fit into any theme, and will miss their chance to be seen.

Today's post is a clean-up post. These photos are all photos I liked for one reason or another, yet didn't have the imagination or ambition to think up a theme for. They're the leftovers.

This is an exciting time for me... it means that tomorrow I can upload a new batch of photos (from a few weeks ago).

The Real Japan

Many people have dreams to come live in Japan. Some of the dreams are based on anime and video-games. I often hear complaints about thise type of person, that they have a skewed view of Japan, that it's not all like a cartoon.

I'm here to tell you that it is like a cartoon. On a normal walk through Shinjyuku, lasting only about an hour, I came across this proof. Japan is full of anime characters, stores selling ninja tools, and everything else that fills the japanophiles dreams.

The Bird-sitter

I was straightening up my desk the other day, and I came across this photo. A couple years ago, when I took a vacation for a week, my bosses daughter agreed to take care of Guri. She gave me this photo when I took Guri back, and I pinned it up in her (Guri's, that is) cage until she (again refering to Guri) died.

It did remarkably well, considering that all the other papers and books around my apartment have been destroyed. In fact, the landlord is having some men come in next week to fix a broken window. I'm a little frightened that they will notice the many places where the birds have litereally eaten the walls. In fact, as I am writing this, Awii and Klee are busy eating the wall right above the window to be fixed.

I always knew I will never get the deposit back ($670), but averaged out over 5-6 years, that only comes to less than $20 / month. That's a small price to pay for not having to keep the birds chained up in a tiny cage all day every day.

My only real worry is that the worker will tell the landlord before I am ready... Of course, it can't be much worse than the big hole I accidently sawed in the tatami mat when building the cage.

Wedding II

More photos from my co-worker's wedding.

Still Rotting

The homemade natto post a while back made so many people's mouths water that I thought I should post a follow-up. I just want you all to know, the natto is still rotting away.

Japanese Girl
STM Crew
Taking a Break

In the first photo, an old man is taking a break in a pub at mid-afternoon. (don't ask what I was doing there at that time...). Earlier that day, I saw the two men in uniform taking a cigarette break from their jobs.

I was actually taking a little tour of Shinjyuku with Oli "Boblet" and it was (probably?) he that suggested we head for the bar. Of course I didn't object. I was a little suprised to see so many salary-man dressed single patrons there in the middle of the afternoon. I wonder if they are salesmen who are supposed to be at their clients now.

I have also heard many stories of men loosing their jobs who still leave home early every morning wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. Some are trying to fool their spouse, and some are forced by their spouse to leave the house every day so the neighbors don't catch-on.

Or, maybe they just got off of work a little early.

Wedding

Photos from a co-workers wedding reception in February. They held the ceremony in Hawaii in the beginning of the month, and later came back here to do the reception.

In My Mattress

I hate walking around with change in my pocket, so I never leave the house with it, and every time I walk in the door, the first thing I do is empty any change I have in my pockets into a jar on my desk.

In the six years I have been in Tokyo, that jar has overflowed many times, and soon my change filled a suitcase. In the past month I have made several trips to the bank, lugging along as much as I can carry each time. Only one trip left.

I suppose when this is all done I shoudl take the bank teller out to dinner. Each time I go it takes about an hour of sifting through dirty coins, cakced with bird-crap, to remove any non-Japanese coins, or other little trinkets. There were enough feathers in there to make another small bird.

I'm supprised at how many foreign coins I had in there, and I have no idea where they came from. I did take a trip to Canada a couple years back, so I can explain this Canadian penny, but there was also Korean, Thai, Chinese, and even one coin from some arabic speaking country (I couldn't read it to tell where)

Anyway, I can't figure out what to do with all these coins. I can't throw them out, because it's money, but I really have no way to use them, and they are too small to exchange for yen. So there they go right back into the loose-change jar, waiting to be discovered again in six years.

BTW, the current count is about 550,000 yen. (roughly $5,200)

Caged Bird

There's this little bird that is sitting outside of a local barber shop every day. Morning to night, rain or shine, cold or hot. There used to be a parakeet, but that one disappeared one day, and about a month later this guy showed up.

I can't help be feel sorry for him, trapped in that cage all day, and no one playing with him. It's a real friendly bird too. Whenever we walk by, we always stop and stick our finger in between the bars, and the bird hops right down to get his chin scratched.

I hope Awii and Klee realize how good they have it. Especially now that I am working from home, they get to be out of their (enormous) cage even more. We recently purchased a couple of harnesses to take them out for walks now that the weather is getting nicer. You can bet there will be pictures of their new adventures coming soon.

Random Scenes From Tokyo

Just some random photos that didn't seem to fit in any theme... though I guess they could be considered leftovers from the wall series.

Eating Out

Despite massive efforts to stop eating out, where I have no idea where the food came from, and how it was grown/raised/prepared, somehow I have a bunch of shots from various out-of-home dining experiences.

Last month I think I only ate out twice. This week already I have been out the last two nights, and will be eating out again tonight. Not only is it making it harder for me to live within my less-than 100,000 yen/month goal, but without access to affordable, plentiful vegetables and beans at the restraunts, and the over-use of oils and fats, I can really feel the drag on my body. I feel slow, dull and full all the time, and it takes me longer to wake up. What's more, the pot of bean soup I have been cultiviating since last week is going to start getting rotten soon.

This is a very disturbing trend and it has to stop.

I Can Fly

When I was a kid, I had sequential dreams in which I was learning to fly. I had them over the span of several years, and over the years I got better and better at flying.

In the beginning, I would just jump off of high places, flap my arms like crazy, and fall with a non-lethal thud. As the dreams developed, I was able to gently lower myself to the ground.

After about a year, I was to a point where I could jump off of something tall, and glide several hundred meters (still flapping my arms), always falling gradually closer to the ground.

Soon, I was able to jump off something and fly level for as long as I wanted. But I was unable to generate lift to go higher, hence I was unable to get off the ground.

To make a long story short, through the years, my dreams continued, and in them I learned how to actually take-off from the ground, at first my flying was not as graceful as I would have hoped, but by the end of the dream series, I was able to fly gracefully anywhere I wanted to go, though I always had to flap my arms.

Remembering the dreams, I think I mostly used this skill to either escape danger on the ground, or show-off. I would be in a tall room with lots of people, and for no reason decide to fly up to the ceiling and hover there. I loved it when people would ask how I did that and I could show-off by teaching them.

I never took time to look into what it all meant... maybe some day.

Living with Birds

Just one of the joys of living with Awii and Klee.

Homemade Natto

Recently I took a stab at making my own natto. The big-beaned natto you see above is my third attempt, and first success. The smaller-beaned natto is the store-bought variety.

It's actually quite easy to make, and though it tastes different than the store-bought, it aint half bad. It does have a little bit of a stronger smell. I guess they add something to the packaged natto to supress the oder.

If your interested to try making it yourself...

  1. Soak your soy beans over-night.
  2. Cook the beans. I use a pressure cooker to speed it up.
  3. Use boiling water to sanitize anything that will come into contact with the pre-fermented natto.
  4. In a shallow, sanitized dish, add a little packaged natto (I used a whole paper-cup serving) to some hot water, and melt the goo so that it is a thick liquid. This will add the bacteria you need to ferment your beans.
  5. When the beans are done, add them to the melted goo, and stir well with a sanatized spoon.
  6. Let the natto sit for 24 hours in a warm place. I placed mine on a plate heater for my birds, and wrapped it in a blanket for insulation. The first attempt, we put it in the rice cooker and kept the cooker on the "keep warm" setting, but that seems to have been a little too hot. The bird-heater plate is warm, but not hot, and combined with the blanket, it seemed to be perfect.
Booze Shop

Photos from my favorite little booze shop in Nishi-eifuku. It's a nice family-run place that has a few Belgian beers in stock at all times.

Portraits of Walls II (Japan)

Hmmmm... Japanese walls don't seem as colorful as those in Bay City MI.

Workers not Working

These are a couple of photos I took durring a get-together of member of the Japan Photography Mailing List back in January.

I've been trying to organize a monthly get-together of Japan based photographers, since last year, and the times that we manage to meet-up, we bring our cameras and and hit the streets for a few hours of street photography in Japan.

I've also been working on a web-site to display the results for the group when I have the spare moments, and it seems to be finally reaching a stage where I don't mind showing people (just don't look at hte source code).

Check it out if you have the time, or are looking for various artists photos of Japan.

The web-site also hosts our photo scrims, which are non-competitive photo contests. It highlights the works of list members according to monthly themes.

Here are more of my photos of Roppongi.

Portraits of Walls

This is a collection of wall portraits I took in Bay City in December. Somehow they never made it to the site, and I just ran across them as I was organizing my old photos today.

recent galleries

2005.01.03
2004.12.18
2005.01.28
2005.01.17
2004.12.24
2004.12.11
2004.11.30