Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Holidays

A bit late, but Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

p.s. I moved at the end of the summer; sorry for not letting people know. I plan to open a Facebook account *gasp* in order to try to keep in better contact with people.

p.p.s. I just had the most fantastic evening at The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. I'll post pictures later. I have to say that my friend's red wine was marvelous and I don't even like wine. One of my favorites was the caviar and poached quail egg appetizer. The fragrance of the trapped wood smoke (hickory?!?) was delicious and satisfying in and of itself. Who knew a scent could be so filling? But the caviar was savory and smoky and well balanced by the mild poached egg. The sommeliers were charming too. Exquisite food and fantastic service.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Food blogs

Some interesting blogs I've run across lately:

* Kuidaore which roughly translates as "eat till you drop," which is so clever a title that I am envious I didn't think of it :P The blogger is based in Singapore and has the most gorgeous food photos. She seems to be quite the chef.

* Mad About Shanghai: Shanghai Food, a self-evidently titled blog.

I leave you with a picture from a recent Indonesian meal in Singapore. The grilled squid was marvelously tender and smoky.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

ny bacon

I love bacon. In all its incarnations. Again proving that I love anything unhealthy, practically. It's a good thing that I like healthy stuff too.

Anyway, you lucky New Yorkers out there should try this restaurant and tell me what it's like.
The first thing you notice about Char No. 4 is the smell. It's an aroma you could eat with a spoon—smoky, full-bodied, and porky. It turns out that the chef makes his own bacon, and, consequently, the entire place smells like the inside of a smoker. Even after you leave, the smoke clings to you; when I got home, my dog tried to eat me.
- Sarah DiGregorio

Channel [V] kicks MTV's ass

Who plays more music? [V]. [V] wins hands down.

MTV has this annoying 5 sec. clip of some wanna-be rapper that they play over and over and over. Ugh. Can't they make more interesting content?

Is Kylie Minogue big in Asia? She's on all the music channels. I haven't really heard much from her, but I wonder if her proximity to Asia helps her popularity here. I don't think she's that big in Japan or the U.S. but I could be wrong.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish everyone the best.

Although evil people should remove themselves from society if they can't stop being evil.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the awesomest sleeping cat photo ever

See Baobao here. The other photos are fantastic too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

people who cannot cook

really ought to know better than to hazard mixing random ingredients in the hope of making something appetizing. Unless it's tried-and-true combinations like chocolate and fruit, or yogurt and fruit, or something similar, it's doomed to failure.

Doomed.

Yet I persist, lately. I'm not sure why.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tracy Chapman

I'm listening to Mutya Buena covering Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car." Great song. The cover is lovely, but I guess I've heard Chapman sing it too often; I crave her deeper voice on it.

How timely! Her new album comes out in mid November, and she's going on tour! Sadly not coming to Japan yet though. Poo. You can listen to her new single "Sing for You," available for download via mp3 at Amazon. I'm listening to it at the moment; it's lovely.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Beijing


Still here. Just really busy. The weather has cooled down nicely in Tokyo, although it has been rather rainy lately. I've noticed a sweet, nostalgic smell in the air the past few days. It reminds me of Taiwan for some reason. I wonder if it's a local plant.

Anyway, a picture from August: the parking lot of a shopping area/condo complex in a suburb of Beijing.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

If you're visiting Kappabashi

Kappabashi is an area near Ueno that sells all manner of kitchen/restaurant related goods. A friend of mine found a charming noren (kind of a split curtain often hung up at restaurant entrances when they're open) there that I intend to track down someday.

This site lets you search for shops that sell specific items of interest (Japanese only):
http://www.kappabashi.or.jp/index.html

However, no tofu molds came up. Who knew it was so hard to find a mold for making tofu! (A request from a friend). I've only been able to find wooden ones, nothing like this one here. Tokyu Hands no longer carries the stainless steel model pictured in the post

Monday, July 14, 2008

tech: an OOP primer

As the wikipedia article is less than ideal, I was happy to come across this well-written article on Object-Oriented Programming. It's good to review the basics.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sweet and Bitter Matcha, and a surprise from Zurich!

Good stuff. 抹茶スイーツティ (matcha sweet tea) actually lives up to its English labeling. It's both sweet and bitter, reminiscent of matcha ice cream, but not as creamy, heh.

I may be addicted.

I will post later about my surprise from Zurich! And papier d'armenie, which I found in a local organic food store! Of all the random places. The store also carries Primavera products, but sadly nothing in the way of facial products.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

pics: Overdrive cafe, Bloodstone

From Overdrive Cafe in Shimokitazawa,
Japanese-style tarako (small fish eggs) pasta, to which I am addicted







Their excellent lasagna








From a traditional little izakaya hidden in Ginza,
Fried sea-eel dinner set








An innocuous-looking pub called
Blood Stone

6 years ago

"February 7, 2002. America lost a little of its greatness that day. We lost our position as the world’s leading defender of human rights, as the champion of justice and fairness and the rule of law. But it is a testament to the continuing greatness of this nation, that I, a lowly Air Force Reserve Major, can stand here before you today, with the world watching, without fear of retribution, retaliation or reprisal, and speak truth to power. I can call a spade a spade, and I can call torture, torture."

— Air Force Major, David J. R. Frakt. From Closing Argument in Favor of Dismissal of the Case Against Mohammad Jawad

Discourse.net has some interesting posts on related topics.

A senior Justice Department official, charged with reworking the administration's legal position on torture in 2004 became so concerned about the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding that he decided to experience it firsthand, sources told ABC News.

According to retired Rear Adm. John Hutson, "There is no question this is torture -- this is a technique by which an individual is strapped to a board, elevated by his feet and either dunked into water or water poured over his face over a towel or a blanket."

Bush Administration Blocked Waterboarding Critic

I have two points regarding this article.

Point 1: It's really nice to hear about people who are thorough about their jobs and investigate things properly.
Point 2: It figures that the Bush Administration removes the people who are actually good at their jobs.

You know, the news is really depressing. Still, it's important to know that McCain is against banning waterboarding (double negatives suck, but I can't really say that McCain is for waterboarding, just that he doesn't want to ban it).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

fun Spanish bar in Shibuya

They also have a branch in Ikebukuro, but I visited Casa Del Bueno in Shibuya (Tokyo) recently. It's a lively, authentic-feeling Spanish bar. The tortilla espanola is quite good, and they seem to have a lot of interesting tapas available. I really enjoyed the Spanish music and am going to track down a few of the songs I heard there. The staff is friendly and very attentive.

I found the restaurant through Hanako-net, which has been pretty reliable for discovering good places.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

tuna noodle

casserole! I tried my hand at an omelette today, in an effort to use up the stuff in my kitchen. The omelette looked terrible but was quite edible so it was all in all a success. I guess my desire to cook yet clings to life.

At some point I want to try one of these microwave tuna noodle casserole recipes.
* Microwave Tuna Noodle Casserole
* Tuna Noodle Casserole II
Lacking an oven, the regular baking method is infeasible for me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ciara - Like a Boy

One of the best songs I can think of, recently.

The lyrics are great, but the video is a compelling match to the song.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

whoa

A guy lost it and ran through Akihabara running over and stabbing people this afternoon. 7 people passed away. I'm speechless.

Friday, June 06, 2008

NY Ramen!

Ippudo, a Hakata style pork-bone broth ramen shop, has opened up a branch in NY! If you're in the area, I recommend a visit. The branch I've visited in Yokohama has a great thick broth and the thin, straight noodles characteristic of Hakata, Kyushu ramen. The soup can be a bit heavy though. I recommend you save the garlic toppings for later trips. Adding a bowl of rice to the leftover broth is only for advanced eaters. Seriously. You don't want to push your body too quickly.

Heh.

It puzzles me that the NY site is not as aesthetically pleasing as the regular Japanese site. The text may contain rather a bit of hyperbole - I've never heard of this ramen king, but who knows?

Oh yes, I recommend the Shiromaru soup - the white broth. I've never tried the red one though...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

world's smallest bowl of ramen!

Sadly inedible though. Those Tokyo University researchers...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

perfume: not fit for polite company

Or civil conversations, apparently!

I spent an embarrassingly decadent day shopping and then eating.

I started off the day with a purchase of the Lunasol quad I posted about earlier. Yes, I have no will power. I got powder foundation, makeup primer, and skin care samples too though. Foundation samples are my favorite things lately. There's just no way to properly test out foundation without samples.

Then came all the perfume sniffing in Ginza. My friend is a big fan of Chanel so we went over to sniff the standard department store offerings. She doesn't seem to be very conscious of the differences between the various strengths - she and the saleslady both agreed that the concentrations both vary in lasting power only, while I tried to suggest that there might be slight differences between parfum and eau de toilette in terms of the scent itself. Anyway, I'm unable to appreciate the fabled No.5, and I don't like Chance much at all. I think my friend was a bit disappointed that I didn't like anything.

Afterwards, I dragged her off to Hermes to sniff the Hermessences. I happily resniffed Vetiver Tonka and Rose Ikebana, and sprayed Osmanthe Yunnan on myself, then Kelly Caleche. Both are quite nice, but for some reason my nose gets used to Osmanthe Yunnan quite quickly and I'm unable to smell it. It's a pity. Next time I'll try on Vetiver Tonka - I love it on paper. Brin de Reglisse seemed quite nice but a standard lavender during the time that I smelled it, and I didn't stick around to see how the drydown was.

It was interesting to realize that the Jean Claude Ellena creations are not her idea of perfume at all. She was quite baffled at them and said they weren't scents that she would ever think of wanting to wear as a perfume (while pointing to Poivre Samarcande, which I am not particularly drawn to either). But she's also baffled by the idea of tea scents, so... She found the Hermessences very natural and not anything that would appeal to her seasonal fragrance cravings. Apparently we like quite different things in fragrance. I was a little insulted that being light and natural should disqualify a fragrance from being "real fragrance."

My friend (who is Korean) surmised that the Hermessences were probably very popular with the Japanese public, being quite light fragrances. I found it curious that she likes Incanto Shine and all Chanels but is unable to see the appeal in the Hermessences. She also was quite insistent about staying away from men's perfumes - apparently someone told her that she smelled like a man when she tried a men's fragrance once. I believe it traumatized her. I sniffed the men's offerings anyway.

By the way, the Hermes staff were quite nice about letting us sniff all of the Hermessences and talk about them. I recommend a visit if you're in Ginza, as the only other store in Japan which carries the Hermessences is the duty-free shop at Narita airport Terminal 1.

At this point, I wasn't sure if we could enjoy sniffing perfumes together, given our quite disparate tastes in fragrances, but we were able to focus on the fun of sniffing at the Chanel boutique, where they were also quite friendly about our leisurely exploration. My friend was surprised that they had more fragrances available there than in the department stores.

I was delighted to see Les Exclusifs for the first time, and we sniffed them all. I brought home labeled cards with spritzes of all them. 28 La Pausa (eau de toilette) intrigued me but Bois de Iles (parfum) was better on skin. Sycomore (eau de toilette) was nice at first but got too resiny after a while. My friend loved No. 22 (eau de toilette), which was straight powder on paper. Apparently she loves the smell of powder. I told her she should try Caron stuff, as that's all powdery to me! Oddly enough they only had Bois de Iles, No. 22, Cuir de Russie, and Gardenia testers out in parfum concentration, and they didn't have a tester of Bois de Iles out in eau de toilette concentration. The 200ml eau de toilette is 30,000 yen! The 15ml parfum is about 24,000 yen. My friend complained about the size of the EDTs and the boring bottles - they reminded her of liquor bottles. Chanel really should make smaller sized sets. She would have bought No. 22 if it had been available in a 50ml or 100ml size, but 200ml for 30,000 was steep even for the daily wearer of No. 5.

Lastly, the food: I finally made it to Les Mignardises in Daimaru department store at Tokyo station. They have the cutest and most expensive macarons ever. I enjoy the free slice of cake you can get with each purchase. If you're special like a friend of mine, you can get a small cup of coffee too. It's worth a visit just to see their charming display and marvel at the prices.

I did a bit of browsing at Shin-Marunouchi Building where the shops close at 9pm. Kenzoki sucked me in and I found myself buying the Sensual Beneficial Water because I adore the scent of the Sensual (aka Rice Steam) line and have wanted it since last winter. It doesn't smell like rice, honestly. I'll call it perfume to justify the price. The saleslady gave me samples of the Lotion Fondante Au Riz and the Creme Qui Fait Belle and a furry little pillow spritzed with the new Bamboo Leaf fragrance. In retrospect I should have gone for the Ginger scent.



I stopped at my favorite quiche place - Le Jardin Gaulois and bought 4 1/8 pieces of quiche and a slice of their duck terrine. I'll try the terrine out tomorrow.

Then I stopped by Le Ligne Point (or something like that) for their hard galettes - yummy and only 200-300 yen for one. I need to try out that crepe recipe I got from a friend years ago.

For dinner I tried the ochazuke (rice with a choice of a topping like fish or chicken or mentaiko (spicy fish roe), over which you pour fish broth) shop nearby.

All in all, a very decadent day.

For an interesting guide to Tokyo, check out gilda's blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kat DeLuna

I'm enjoying Kat DeLuna's song "Run The Show." You can hear it at her site and also the True Colors tour site. It's a good song to start the day with.

Quite a lot of rain tonight!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

materialism: to buy or not to buy


I'm contemplating a purchase of Lunasol's Sheer Contrast Eyes eyeshadow quad in EX01 Blue Green Coral. The shimmering sea blue is a gorgeous color that can be layered on for intensity. The pale green and dark silvery brown (as Rouge Deluxe put it) are lovely colors too. However, the shimmering white shade is a standard highlighter of which I have far too many already. Still, the blue and brown are quite gorgeous so I'm debating a purchase (5250yen).

Shadow Customize, Majolica Majorca's individual eyeshadow line, has a lovely shimmery blue-green shade BL724(熱帯魚 tropical fish) that is similar but not as blue as Lunasol's color. Considering how much eyeshadow I own and how much I would be able to use the Lunasol quad, EX01 is really not a justifiable purchase. The quad is also limited edition, so it couldn't be a permanent part of my stash.

This minimalism thing is quite difficult. Or rather, finding the perfect items that would allow me to be minimalistic is quite a time-consuming task.

image from http://www.kanebo-cosmetics.jp/lunasol

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fantastic W cover

The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog has a post about Charlize Theron on the cover of W (high end [inaccessible] fashion magazine). Check it out! It's an interestingly-composed picture with perfect light exposure and impeccable colors. Theron looks fantastic.

Update: my comment on exposure was probably redundant - any good photographer can get perfect exposure - whereas there's something about the color balance and saturation that enhances the burnished effect. A washed out yet rich image that makes me feel like she's in the desert.

The photo fascinates me so I'm spending an inordinate amount of time trying to put it into words :P

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hermes Hermessence line

Someday, I'd love to get the Hermes Hermessence Discovery set (4 15ml bottles). The ones I've tried at the Tokyo Narita airport's duty-free store have been quite lovely. Ambre Narguile is a warm, foody scent. Vetiver Tonka smells of musk and coffee yet remains light. I have a fainter impression of Rose Ikebana - citrus. Osmanthe Yunnan is one that I would like to retry in particular.

awadzuke soy sauce at Seijo Ishii supermarket

A while back I posted about a soy sauce that I quite like: Awadzuke Soy Sauce. I finally found that Seijo Ishii Supermarket carries it, so quickly snapped up a bottle. Amusingly, I have 3 bottles of soy sauce right now. I'm almost done with one bottle, but still, 2 bottles seems a little excessive. They have different uses though, so it's ok.

quiche in Tokyo

Yes! I have found tasty quiche in Tokyo. Le Jardin Gaulois has multiple locations in the Tokyo area, but I only discovered them yesterday at Shin Marunouchi Building near Tokyo station. I got their assorted quiche plate. Delicious! The texture of steamed eggs. I'll post a picture later.

fragrance: L'Artisan Parfumeur, Les Parfums de Rosines

I sprayed on a few Rosines yesterday. They all have a similar base; very pretty rose, but I guess I'm not that into rose. I have a small decant of Un Zest du Rose, which I like but am not often inclined to wear. It comes out when I attend weddings.

I got a chance to play with the L'Artisan fragrances available in Japan, and I am quite a fan of Premier Figuier. A very nice, quiet fragrance with a bit of green. It would be quite easy to wear. However, I don't really feel any pull to wear it. Ananas Fizz came 2nd to Premier Figuier, and I was not drawn to La Chasse Aux Papillions.

So far, Barbara Bui's fragance is probably the most likely purchase for me. I did get a chance to try Sarah Jessica Parker's Covet (why don't they bring Lovely to Japan?) and it was quite nice, but I feel no pull.

Friday, May 02, 2008

About You Now

This song by the current incarnation of Sugababes is quite addictive: About You Now. The contrasting melody and harmony are clean and simple.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I love the Haro ball appearing in this video by The Brilliant Green. It's a little character (toy?) from one of the Gundam series.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

One of my favorite songs of all time: "Kiss Me Here"

ここでキスして。(koko de kiss shite./Kiss Me Here) by 椎名林檎(Shiina Ringo) is one of my favorite songs of all time. She apparently wrote this song when she was 18 or so. Her performance here as part of the band 東京事変 (Tokyo Jihen) is brilliant. It's such a far cry from the cookie cutter performances of the regular J-pop stars. I first caught the performance (available on Tokyo Jihen's live DVDs) on TV late at night and was entranced by the sheer power of Shiina's stage presence.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lavshuca summer palettes

After reading about Lavshuca's summer palettes at Rouge Deluxe I was surprised to see them at Limone (cosmetics and sundries store) already. I swatched both palettes - quite shimmery and silky. Each palette is under 2000 yen. The square shadows are a little smaller than I was expecting, but perhaps the same size (or a little bigger) as shadows in Majolica Majorca MajoLook palettes.

The shadows are quite velvety and shimmery. The cool palette has some lovely blues, but I wouldn't use the sparkly silver highlighter much, even though it's quite pretty. Overall it was quite shimmery and most of the colors are light, which would be good for summer. I think I'm looking for deeper and less shimmery colors, however.

I liked the warm palette a bit better, as it has some darker colors. Overall quite shimmery though, so I don't know if I'll pick it up. I don't really need another brown palette.

Monday, April 21, 2008

english-speaking dentist in tokyo

Whew. It's all a little confusing, but a few of the embassies have lists of English-speaking dentists:

The American Embassy's list (longest list)
The British Embassy's list (in between in both formatting and length, but clearly notes when dentist accepts National Health Insurance)
The Australian Embassy's list (nicest formatting, shortest list)

Interestingly, all lists are different. You'd think they'd pool knowledge or something.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cavalieri has a brilliant chef

CAVALIERI, a cafe in 幡ヶ谷 (Hatagaya) on the 京王新線 (Keio New Line), has great food. Saturday I tried the caesar salad for the first time. Delicious! I've already been hooked on their gnocchi and the desserts, but yum, I'll have to get the salads more ofen.

東京都渋谷区幡ヶ谷2-6-7 - MAP -
03-3320-7587
月~土 12:00~27:00 日・祝 12:00~24:00
無休?

One blogger posted about the cafe. The owner also appears to have a blog.


zukotto, my favorite dessert.




Saturday, April 19, 2008

tech: oracle joins

Here's a good snippet on table joins using Oracle SQL.

mini review: Water in Lip Hokkaido limited edition lip balm by Shiseido


Summary: Not bad, but not moisturizing enough to buy again.

Pros: SPF15, easily available, cheap at 3g for about 300 yen or so. Pleasant light fragrance and faintly sweet. Stick balm format and attractive snowflake packaging.

Cons: So-so moisturizing. Not bad, but perhaps Vaseline would be a little more long lasting.

A few more mini reviews are here.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

scones vs. biscuits vs. cookies

I was researching crumpets and scones and was amused by this section in Wikipedia regarding scones:
British scones closely resemble a North American biscuit (many recipes are actually identical) — itself not to be confused with the English biscuit, which equates to the American cookie. In the United States, there is a growing tendency to refer to sweet variations as "scones" (perhaps under influence from espresso bars, where they are popular fare), while those eaten as part of savoury meals are known as "biscuits". American "scones" are often baked to a dry and somewhat crumbly texture, and are typically large and rectangular; more like a cross between a cookie and a muffin than a biscuit. In Canada, both tend to be called "biscuits" or "tea biscuits".


Confusing much? Worse than soccer vs. football.

Anyway, British crumpets are the best. English muffins come in second. American scones are usually too hard and dry.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

shibanuma awazuke soy sauce

Do they sell this soy sauce in the U.S.? It's great stuff, but I don't know if they export it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

If you visit japan...

Be sure to try Haagen-Dazs's Tiramisu ice cream. Excellent stuff.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

movies

I'm thinking of watching the new movie from Takeshi Kaneshiro. Reviews are so-so. I need to figure out how to buy tickets in advance for this theater. Ticket Pia's site was down for maintenance the last time I checked.

An old Hayao Miyazaki film Panda KoPanda is being screened - I'd like to catch it too.

And another short film is being screened at the Ghibli museum in Mitaka. Trying to figure out if I should drag a friend there or just go by myself.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

it seems obvious now that I think about it

Sesame oil and salt potato chips! A no-brainer right? But this is the first time I've run across them. They smell great, but not quite potato chip-like. I'm a big fan of the potato chips lightly seasoned with tiny flakes of seaweed and salt. Hrm. a bit too sweet-ish at first, but very potato chip-like at the end. Interesting.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Tina Fey talking about Hillary Clinton

Found this at The Lipstick Page Forums Blog. An excellent piece by Tina Fey regarding people's opposition to Hillary Clinton.

Monday, February 18, 2008

coin laundry AKA laundromats

Two cool things about Japanese laundromats (usually called コインランドリー coin laundry):

* Hot water (my washing machine only uses cold water as far as I can tell. There's only one water inlet...

* A 30 second fast rinse option - clean the machine before you use it! That is so cool. If detergent and hot water gets used here that'd be even cooler, but I don't know if that's the case. Anyway, a little more sanitary than your regular laundromat.

Non sequitur: there was a sign saying something to the effect that "Pet washing is prohibited." I assume they mean pet clothing and blankets, etc., but it could be construed to mean the pet itself. Maybe that's only possible in my literal thinking. They had a different sign specifically rejecting the washing of pet blankets and such.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Japanese Certification (日本語検定)

There's a new Japanese exam called 日本語検定 (nihongo kentei; Japanese Certification). Their 3rd exam will be given this June. The site only appears to be in Japanese, so I guess it's targeted for native speakers and their parents (perhaps mostly their parents), unlike the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and the BJT Business Japanese Proficiency Test.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

smacky glam

Mischa Barton is featured in a Japanese magazine as an example of "Smacky Glam." I don't know what "Smacky Glam" is, but I don't think I want to look that way.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

社会人になってから vs. "entering the working world"

It's common to say "社会人になってから"(sha-kai jin ni natte kara) in Japanese, which roughly translates into "entering the working world" although the more literal meaning would probably be "becoming a (productive) member of society." "Productive" being commonly used in the English phrase, and probably is implied in the Japanese one.

I don't know of many English-speaking people who talk about when they became a productive member of society, though. It's more "when I graduated from college" or "when I started working." In the IT world in Japan, it doesn't seem uncommon to graduate from 2-year technical schools and go right to work. Lots of people seem to go to 4-year colleges, but still.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Snow!

I forgot to take pictures, but Tokyo was hit with the most snow I've ever seen here. Trains were delayed and most were pretty empty, as were the shops and streets.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

NHK documentary: Pakistan: Dinner with the President

NHK has a fascinating year-end (年末年始) documentary series on democracy around the world -“民主主義”~世界10人の監督が描く10の疑問~ ("Democracy" - 10 problems drawn by 10 directors around the world).

The episode I caught features Pakistan, particularly timely given recent events. The directors サビハ・スマル Sabiha Sumar (Pakistan) and サチタナンダム・サタナンタン Satchitanandan Sathananthan (Sri Lanka) interview regular people on the streets and question Musharraf about the impact of the country's democratic parties on the lives of the people. Sumar does most of the interviewing. By itself, the word "democracy" appears to be quite polarizing. The various viewpoints of the individuals interviewed are fascinating. This may be the first time that I've ever heard regular Pakistani citizens' thoughts on TV. As always, it is the poor who suffer in the conflict.

I'd like to hear the directors' thoughts on their interviews, but that is something that would probably impede any future work that they do.

I think there are English voiceovers in the various films, but they've been muted for the NHK broadcast, unfortunately. A lot of the political and religious vocabulary is a bit beyond my grasp.

(It was pretty tough to find Sathananthan's English spelling with only the katakana!)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

rice porridge (aka congee) and the shelf life of thousand year-old eggs

I tested out the おかゆ(okayu) function on my rice cooker. Okayu is Japanese rice porridge, quite similar to Chinese rice porridge or congee. It worked quite nicely! Soft rice that still maintains its texture.

However, my thousand year-old eggs expired in December, so I am left with the burning question, do thousand year-old eggs really have a shelf life of a mere 3 months?

Update: Happy New Year! May it be a good one.