Thursday, January 28, 2010

iPad - an iPod for the over forties


Today I am wearing my freshly laundered black turtleneck to celebrate the fact that Steve Jobs is still not dead. And a lot more convincing than Barack Obama he was too. Nevertheless, there are many situations in which my new iPad will remain impractical. For example, this photo was taken by my iPhone just before the train got busy. James is always lucky in these situations as he stands head and iPod above the rest which allows him to breathe.

As for the state of the laundry address: there remain issues to be tackled, but I am only half way through the manual, and laundered items are already showing signs of increased cleanliness and fluffiness, and drying times are dramatically reduced. Only in the next quarter will we know whether the new regime will decrease the water usage resulting in lower water bills.***


***(not that Japan is short of water, of course - I make no pretense that the new machine improves eco-ness in any way)

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


oranges, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Can you feel them doing you good by just looking at them? I almost can. Bright citrus fruits are a lovely winter feature of Japanese gardens, and this was a particularly fine tree with many large round fruits.

[Amagi Sanso, Izu Hanto]

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


a woman, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Me be woman! Not my scarfy thing of course, which belongs to another woman. The women were very loud. This is because some of them come from America which is very very big with hardly any people, meaning that you have to shout very loudly or your neighbor (sic) will not hear you. Now it is very quiet because 18 scientists are sitting 6 feet from each other just gently tapping at their keyboards. The closer the quieter.

This year's speaker, Diana Butler Bass was excellent, and not just because she belongs to my sect - the whole audience from a wide range of backgrounds remained very well engaged. I know this because, as the photographer, I got to peruse the audience a good deal.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


Inspire the Next, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

In order get in the wimminly frame of mind for the upcoming wimmin's conference, here is our latest effort to support the J-economy; a new washing machine. Some on the internets complain that the Japanese put many complicated and unnecessary functions into cameras. I think it is a valid criticism but applies to everything, not just cameras. It is quite odd, and perhaps displays a disconnect between companies and consumers - the companies seem to incorporate stuff, just because they can. Hence - I love my Mac.

...now I just need to work out how to get a boot prompt, and then I can see how fast it will run MIROC. Perhaps I could hack the local wifi networks and create a Beowulf Cluster of washing machines? Gosh - it's such fun doing wimminly stuff!

["inspire the next" is Hitachi's motto in Japan]

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Fuji-san from Kamakura, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

More winter views. The hill in the distance is quite famous, and like the Izu Hanto, is invisible in summer. I am heading to the Izu Hanto on Thursday since I am again helping to organise The Wimmin's Conference , so I am indeed glad it is currently in a visible phase.

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Monday, January 18, 2010


sunset on Kamakura beach, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Japan is very dry in winter, which makes the air much clearer than in summer. Those hills, on the Izu peninsula, behind which the sun is about to set, are invisible for much of the year.

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Friday, January 15, 2010


Ikea Japan, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Adult sized furniture arrived in Japan a few years ago, but by then we already had a full house, so we never visited until recently. It is, however, rumoured that the cleverest Annan (J's Ma) and her consort may visit in the spring, and I am virtually certain they will need somewhere to sit. Which sofa do you think she would prefer?

Ikea is shockingly last century. Not only are the same models of flat-pack being sold that we hurriedly bought just before we came to Japan, but you have to go to the darn shop to purchase. The big flat-pack storage area was, however, spacious and magnificent. If St.Arbucks are the chapels of mammon, Ikea are the cathedrals.

In one aspect the Japanese sect of Ikea is more liberal than that in the UK, where all must partake in the ritual of the car-worshipping traffic jam before and after the main service; in Japan there is a free shuttle bus from the nearest station.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yesterday was totty day at Hachimangu. It was especially busy this year. Perhaps a couple of photo-clubs had made the pilgrimage. That would explain the groups of same age, same style, same camera people standing in the same place taking the same picture. The youths who were not attending the official ceremony seemed to be having all the fun. One kimono-girl even got her boyfriend to photograph her with James. Ah - the allure of the tall fairish "western" man...

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Hidden in the back streets of Kamakura, the answer to all the world's problems, "If the graphics get better people's life-style will change and the earth will be a cleaner planet". Those silly climate change bloggers better hang up their keyboards and take up painting.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010


Northern Pintail duck, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

More duck.

Yes, despite several meals of Duck Fried X, there is still more than a pint of fat remaining from the one we cooked.

[Hachimangu pond]

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Friday, January 8, 2010


Black Headed Gull, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Time for some more ducks. But no, it is a gull pretending to be a duck! I wonder if it would be delicious.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Japanese New Year is more about sunrise than midnight. This pic was actually taken on the2nd Jan, but that's accurate enough for this astrophysicist who's just happy her CCD was measuring light from the intended star.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010


gingerbread latte, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

When Sutaba (Starbucks) opens on the morning of 26th December no more can joyous Christmas music be heard, and the trio of stupid yet delightful coffees (Gingerbread, Cherry Mocha, Caramel Eclair) are replaced with three austere teas.

The reason is that New Year is "holy", and to be taken seriously, while Christmas is just a bit of fun.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Descent from Tonotake, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Another photo from the Tonotake trip, taken as the sun was going down on 2009.

The blog fashion seems to be to make a post containing multiple links to favourites from the year, but all you need to do is click once to see my 12 favourite pics of 2009.

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Monday, January 4, 2010


Yokohama from Tonotake, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

We have climbed Tonotake several times before but, due to snow, cloud and rain, were never before aware of the view from the top: a panorama of pretty much the whole Kanto Plain. This photo shows a small part of the view. The tall building in the group roughly in the middle is Japan's tallest building, the Landmark Tower. Out of the shot, Tokyo lies to the left and the Shonan coast to the right. Kamakura would also be to the right, but was not visible due to its own protective ring of hills. To see more detail click on the pic, and look at the larger sizes of the shot on flickr. I might be just not very good and taking pictures but I think the brain is much cleverer than the camera for views like this, comprehending a much wider field of view, removing the haze, and making sense of tiny details.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010


On the way up Tonotake, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

On New Year's Eve we climbed a little mountain (Tonotake ~1500m). This is the view of another hill, from a rest stop along the way.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010


New Year Hachimangu, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

At New Year the centre of Kamakura is shut off to cars (but not cyclists, yay!) for 3 days, as every one visits for some Happy New Year's queueing.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Radicalised Buddhism? You'll remember than in September I remarked that there seemed to be a surprisingly large number of the gigantic and potentially deadly Japanese hornets in Kamakura this year.

On Christmas morning we found out why, when we spotted this (probably about 3 foot high? scale) nest tucked under the eaves at Zuisenji (about 1 minute at full speed buzz from our house). I am amazed and somewhat horrified by the Zenwise fortitude that leads the monks to leaves it up there over the winter.

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