April 30, 2005

Colon Booth

Colon Booth

I guess it should't come as any surprise that the country that brought us "Everybody Poops" also has a drugstore called Colon Booth.

Posted by pmk at 8:02 PM | Comments (0)

Nighttime Fun in Fukuoka

Nighttime Fun in Fukuoka

Posted by pmk at 5:59 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2005

Fukuoka Haiku

We're in Kyushu this weekend for a quick getaway. While looking at ruins of the ancient Kyushu Capitol I saw a "haiku/tanka box". You were supposed to take some paper and a pencil from the box, write a haiku then drop it into the box. Four times a year they choose 15 winners. Here's my entry--I'll be sure to post again when I receive my prize.

sweet blossoming plum
wafts over ancient ruins
the stones are unmoved

Fukuoka Haiku

Posted by pmk at 10:22 PM | Comments (3)

Everything is Better on a Stick

Get on the stick, people! The Japanese are lightyears ahead of us in donut-on-a-stick technology!

Everything is Better on a Stick

Posted by pmk at 7:03 PM | Comments (0)

Stores You Didn't Know Existed

When Yukari announced last weekend that she wanted to go to a button store in daikanyama I was a little surprised.How could a store that only sold buttons make it in trendy (and expensive!) daikanyama?

Even more surprisingly, Yukari wasn't able to find a button to her liking in a store that was wall-to-wall buttons. Go figure.

Stores You Didn't Know Existed

Posted by pmk at 12:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

Into the Fish's Mouth

As anyone who has taken the patrick.com Japan Food Tour can attest, fried things on sticks are an integral part of Japanese cuisine.

This cusine, known as kushiage (literally, fried things on sticks) or kushikatsu (fried pork cutlet on a stick), comes from the Kansai area of Japan and is artery-cloggingly good. But, then again, I guess almost anything skewered, dipped in egg batter, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried tastes delicious.

Having been left to my own devices for dinner, I went out for kushiage this evening. It's far more fun with friends, I must say, but I still enjoyed the meal.

The place that I went to, kushinobo, is a chain that has outlets all around Japan. The chef cooks up various fried things on sticks for you, you eat them and then stuff the sticks into the mouth of a ceramic fish.

I took a picture of my fish after I was done eating. This was a fairly lackluster performance. Typically the fish gets emptied once and still ends up looking like this.

Posted by pmk at 8:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005

patrick.com QR code

My brother Ryan says:

I think we should get a barcode on you.. so I can scan you and get the most recent patrick.com

I'm not quite ready to get a patrick.com tattoo, but if you are, here's what you need to have inked:

Posted by pmk at 8:47 AM | Comments (0)

Cool 2D Barcode App

They've been upgrading the signage in the Tokyo subway system recently. One cool, new feature on the signs are 2D barcodes, known as QR codes here, that you can scan with your cameraphone. After you scan one, you can go to a cellphone-friendly website to view a neighborhood map and get other local information.

These codes have been around for years here, but this is the first really useful (to me, least) application that I've seen. Since directions in Japan tend to be landmark-based (go to the convenient store, turn left and then turn right at the third temple), having an easy way to get a map is actually pretty darn useful.

Of course, it wouldn't be a patrick.com post if there wasn't some random snarky comment. Prepare yourself, 'cause here it comes. When they designed these signs, they didn't take autofocus mechanisms into account. The barcode, along with the rest of the actual sign text, sits under about a half-inch of plexiglass. Unfortunately, this means that ifyour cameraphone has autofocus, it focuses on the plexiglass, instead of the barcode, making it very difficult to successfully scan the code. It took me about 10 tries to get the QR code at the Hiroo station to finally scan.

Pic below.

PS - This entry was done on my cell while waiting for Yukari to show up for dinner. Thanks Flickr!

Cool 2d Barcode App

Posted by pmk at 7:14 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005

Come and Get Me, Japanese Admongers!

Without further ado, I give you the first Japanese subway advertisement, of any length, that I've been able to read. It says:

"Don't take this headache medicine before eating", he might have said. I think.

It's an ad for Tylenol A. The A is for anytime.

(Update: Well, all the kanji were right, but Yukari points out that it actually says “What would you say if we said you didn’t have to eat anything before you took this headache medicine?”. Stupid Japanese grammar.)

Posted by pmk at 11:42 PM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2005

Ada Jacket!

Our dog, immortalized in jacket form.

I saw this guy riding a bike in Osaka and had to chase him down. All the while trying to get the digital camera out of the crazy macro/manual focus mode that it had somehow ended up in.

Good times.

Posted by pmk at 7:39 PM | Comments (1)

April 19, 2005

Flickr Zen

Flickr, the best photo-sharing site around, shows you a few random photos from other folks every time you login. Every once in a while, one really catches my eye. Here's one that made me pause this evening. It sure puts my shaky phonecam work to shame, although I'm pretty sure it's stolen from somewhere, not actually taken by the Flickr user who posted it:

Posted by pmk at 5:16 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2005

Silly Dog

Our dog, Ada, has never been able to sit correctly. Since she was a puppy, her legs would always splay out whenever she sat. She's either too long, or not long enough. In any event, something is wrong with her geometry.

My dad caught her in this particularly unlady-like pose and sent a picture along.

Posted by pmk at 5:33 AM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2005

Keep out!

We were in Osaka last weekend for a cherry blossom party that my father-in-law was having. The morning of the party, we went walking through his neighborhood, sakura no miya, which happens to be one of the most famous places for cherry blossoms in Osaka. Not surprising, I guess, since the sakura in sakura no miya means cherry blossom!

As we walked along the river, we saw many spots like the one in this photo where someone had put down a tarp or blanket, but this guy went one step further and cordoned the whole area off.

The signs says "Ten-something-something-something". Literally translated, this means "keep out of here -- I staked this spot out weeks ago to drink and watch cherry blossoms. This means you too, foreigner."

(Note: The above used to be a picture. Then Yukari deleted it from Flickr. Sniffle.)

Posted by pmk at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

My Crusoe Makes a New Friend

I rode my bike to Napule, my favorite Italian place here in Tokyo (and beloved by actual Italians!) for dinner last night.

As usual, I locked my Bike Friday Crusoe on aoyoma dori and walked about 100 feet to the restaurant.

When I came back after dinner (insalata caprese and tagliatelle stracchino), I discovered my bike had made a new friend! A navy blue Bike Friday was parked right next to it. After admiring the bike (I think I might like the navy blue better than my brighter blue), I wrote a little note with my email address and the patrick.com URL and attached it to the bike via velcro folding strap.

Maybe I'll hear from this guy soon!

Posted by pmk at 12:24 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2005

Robotically Served Soft Serve

A few weeks ago, Yukari and I went to Matsumoto, in Nagano prefecture, along with our friend Carrie, who was visiting us. Mastsumoto is home to a famous castle and a bunch of onsen.

Whenever we go someplace new in Japan, we make inevitable stops at two kinds of stores: ceramics and Japanese sweets. We now have way more teacups than friends, thanks to Yukari's pottery mania.

In Matsumoto, a friend of Yukari's had recommended she go to one particular Japanese sweets shop. I'm pretty cool on traditional Japanese candies. The kind of desserts are, not surprisingly, heavily conditioned by your childhood. Give me a Butterfinger and I'll definitely be jonesin' for another. A little ball of sweetened rice stuffed with red bean paste just doesn't do it for me.

So, it was with a stifled yawn that I went into the shop with Yukari and Carrie. It was huge -- easily larger than our house in Chicago. All sorts of rice-y treats lay inside of perfectly cleaned display cases.

As I looked around, I saw a bunch of people eating ice cream at one end of the shop. This was a bit odd, because the temperature was positively arctic. When I went down to check it out, though, I almost wet myself. These guys had taken an industrial robot, stuck some wacky details on it and taught it how to dispense soft serve ice cream!

It was pure genius. Until you placed your order, the robotic arm went through this cool attract routine. It would pick up a little sponge and pretend to clean with a slick little sweeping motion. It had a little flag, on which the flavor of the day was written, that it would wave around. It preened, it flexed.

Needless to say, I ordered a cone (flavor of the day: banana). The ice cream was fine, but watching the robot dispense it was totally worth the 250 yen (~$2.50).

Picture below -- I also have a little video I recorded that I'll try to get online soon.

Posted by pmk at 4:27 AM | Comments (3)

April 11, 2005

Clean Office

The weather outside has been so nice that I decided to move my desk closer to the window. This was also an exucse to do the annual de-crapping of my room, making it suitable for human habitation for at least a week or two.

In honor of this event, I present a guided tour of my office. Mouse over the pics for all sorts of patrick.com office trivia!

My desk:

Under my desk:

The rest of my office:

The kicker is, ever since I moved my desk, the weather has been dark and rainy.

PS - If you don't see any pictures above, click below to see the annotated pics:

My desk | Under my desk | The rest of the office

Posted by pmk at 8:46 PM | Comments (2)

April 10, 2005

Blossoms!

The view outside my office window (click the pic for a 7 megapixel monster):

The cherry blossoms are here! It was positively arctic in Tokyo for the entire month of March, so we didn't see any blossoms at all until well into the first week of April, much to the chagrin of our March visitors.

Last weekend they were marvelous, now they are already on their way out.

The view was so great that I decided to take the chance to rearrange my office and put my desk closer to the window. Pics of the fleeting organizedness that resulted tomorrow...

Posted by pmk at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)