Jan 31, 2012

Raw raw shish cum bah!

I must have jet lag. Last night I went to bed at 10:30 and woke up at 4:40, wide eyed and bushy tailed. I laid in bed for 45 minutes trying as hard as I could to sleep. I finally gave up and started answering work emails. At 7:00 I left the 19th floor and went down for breakfast. This morning I was a bit more adventurous. I ate a thick chunk of smoked salmon (with the skin on!) and also had a small helping of grated sardines! I'll have to snap a picture of them tomorrow... they look like shaved white radish with tiny little fish on top. Guppy-sized fish. The flavor was bland with a fishy after taste. I think I'll pass on these tomorrow. Bacon and OJ was a mandatory chaser after those little guys.

I worked from 9:00 to 5:00 today at KHI and was busy the whole time. I thought maybe I'd have an easy day this week but it's ok; I'm happy to be here. When we got back to the hotel we broke from the Customer and my coworkers and I had dinner alone for a change. We went to a fantastic sushi restaurant and ate an incredible amount of the best sushi I've ever had. I am already planning on heading back again this week. I even ate a large raw shrimp; and it was good! Really good! On the way home I split from my coworkers and tried to shop at a department store, but it was so large apparently full of only women's clothing! So, I bounced and spent an hour or so exploring on my way home.

Above Left: Dinner... delicous dinner. Above Right: A shopping alley near Chinatown.

Above Left: Shrine? Above Right: Tea vending machine!

Above Left: Chinatown entrance. Above Right: main thoroughfare which runs along the shoreline of the island.

Above Left: Another street scene in Chinatown. Above Right: A 7 Eleven... there are no hotdogs in this 7 Eleven!

Above Left: Empty intersection. Above Right: Superman's changing room.


Shower Cap
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one of the poorest reasons I know second generation to cool

Jan 30, 2012

I heart chicken

Today was fantastic. Though I woke up quite early, I was well rested and had a lot of energy today. I was excited to see Kobe in the daylight. The bathroom in my hotel room has a nice deep bath tub, so I took a really relaxing hot bath this morning. Baths are a new favorite luxury I've been taking advantage of on business trips (See my Haven't had a bath in 22 years post). Today's bath was great because there's this fabulous mid-70's James Bond style golden radio console between the two twin beds in my room and it plays music in the room as well as through a speaker in the bathroom. Might I add that this console also has a really suave rheostat for dimming the lights as well as a drapery control switch! With the push of a button I can open my drapes wide to see the view pictured below. Oh, it's going to be a rough to weeks here... ahem.

I sauntered downstairs at 7:30 and enjoyed a killer breakfast. I tried a few strange looking things but didn't go too wild trying any of the sea weed and/or sea creature breakfast 'goodies'. I did try a "local specialty" which looked like a macaroon cookie, had the consistency of a wet sponge, and tasted like french toast yet had a surprising chunk of pork in the center. It may sound a bit odd, but it was pretty awesome. I ate two. An attempt at a third spurred mild feelings of nausea/queasiness. I tried! I did enjoy what they called french toast but tasted more like flan, as well as bacon and a few glasses of some mighty fine orenji jussu and a stellar cup of strong and flavorful coffee.

A bus picked us up from the hotel at 9:00 and we arrived at Kawasaki Heavy Industries by 9:20. I spent the day with my Japanese counterparts which was really interesting. I got to see the production areas and status of the very first rail car being built and it was really interesting to see the construction and the enormous weld fixtures used. I love my job. It was also really great to put a face to some of the names I've been corresponding with for the last four years.

I finished up at 5:30 and headed back to the hotel with everyone in our group. At 6:00 we met in the hotel lobby and went out to dinner at a Brazilian Steak House. Holy cow (pun intended)! If you've never been to one of these places and you love eating animals, like me, I suggest you go. There's a little wooden peg on your table. One end is colored green; the other is red. You keep the green side up if you want them to keep bringing you various cuts of beef. When you're stuffed, "groundhogging", or "touching cloth", you flip it so the red side is up. They just keep bringing you giant skewers of beef and slice pieces onto your plate. They even brought a skewer of chicken hearts... and let me tell you: I heart chickens. I heart them big time! Specifically, their delicious little organs!

After dinner we walked back to the hotel and I took some long exposures with my mini-tripod. I love the big "Kobe Port" tower which stands tall and glowing orange just a couple hundred yards from my hotel.

Today was a good day.

Above Left: Kobe at 8:30am. Above Right: Kobe at 8:30am.
Above Left: The wheels on the bus go round and round. Above Right: Scale model display at KHI.

Above Left: Scale model of the Kawasaki M8 Car. Above right: Old scale model.
Above Left: We're in the army now. Above Right: I love that KHI uses bicycles to get around their enormous facility.
Above Left: Dinner at the Brazilian Steak House. Above Right: Just look at all that meat!
Above Left: The peg of glory. Above Middle: Me. Above Right: The Kobe Port Tower (the tall building to the left is my hotel).

Jan 29, 2012

Kobe dawn

Kobe this morning at 6:12am. This is the view from my hotel room at the Okura. There's a balcony outside my window, and there's even big tease of an emergency exit window that would let me outside but an alarm would sound. Bummer. I shot these through the glass and they came out OK.
Time to iron a shirt and pair of pants, hit breakfast and head out to Kawasaki Heavy Industries!

Hello from Kobe

It's been a long day(s)(?). I'm tired, but energized by the completely different environment Japan has offered me. I flew from NY to Seattle and then on to Osaka over the last day and a half. The 12 hour leg from Seattle to Osaka was actually awesome! Flying business class is such a luxury. I am NOT looking forward to flying coach on the way back to the states. The seats in business class lay flat so you can get completely comfortable!

It's 10:00pm as I write this and I'm pretty exhausted but I wanted to throw up a few photos from my journey. I have to say that the food I ate on the way to Osaka was some of the best food I've had in a long time. Maybe that doesn't say much about my current diet... But, here's what I mean: For an appetizer I was served rosemary duck breast and couscous salad with fruit and nuts, as well as a bowl of pumpkin bisque! Following that was the main course; seared beef tenderloin with demi-glace sauce, wasabi mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas. Dessert was a cheese plate, Belgian chocolate cheese cake and a vanilla ice cream sundae! After eating all of that, I took a melatonin pill and slept for about 9 hours. I woke just in time for breakfast and had a bowl of granola with fruit, toast, OJ and a decent cup of coffee.

De-boarding the plane at Kansai Airport in Osaka was interesting. I just followed everyone to the tram and into a ridiculously long line to go through customs. I stood in line for an hour and a half just waiting to have my passport stamped. That was worse than the actual flight... Where's my Belgian chocolate cheese cake?

My coworkers and the Customer arrived on a different plane a few minutes after I landed and we waved to each other (and made the gun to the head signal) as we made our way through the long line like a herd of turtles. Once we all made it through customs, we regrouped and caught a bus to our hotel. The bus ride took about an hour. It was about 6:00pm and the sun had set so I didn't get to see much of the landscape, but I am looking forward to seeing a lot tomorrow. We all went out to dinner and found a Japanese-style Chinese restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. One of my Japanese coworkers ordered a variety of items for us and I chowed down on shrimp, beef, pork, noodles and spring rolls. Delicious! I'm really anxious to get some authentic sushi in my stomach though.

Jan 28, 2012

Into the wild blue yonder

6:36am - JFK Airport , New York City:
This will be my last post made in the US until I get back from Japan on February 11th. I'm off to Seattle and then to Osaka. I'll be in the air for the next 18 hours. Joy.

I'm not sure how much free time I'll have for blogging about my eastern experiences, while I'm there, but I'm sure I'll manage to at least blog some photos.


Jan 26, 2012

Peace & justice

These are Shepard Fairey’s latest two prints. I like them, though don’t find them as cool as his Lotus Diamond prints! I think they look a little flat without any shading. They are scheduled to drop for sale this Tuesday (1/31) at an undisclosed time at the Obey Giant website. I’ll be in Japan but will definitely be gunning for at least one of these prints. I had no luck trying to score the Occupy Protester print that he released a couple of weeks ago. Although my awesome sister, Mary, did snag me a copy of Time Magazine which featured Fairey’s print of Sarah Mason (occupy protestor) as person of the year. Thanks Mare!

Jan 25, 2012

Some pulp

A couple of weeks ago I was in a dollar store and snagged a bag of little green army men. I used to play with these all the time when I was a kid and I thought I'd use them in some sort of photo project. It's been done a million times before but I had fun doing it myself. I used my 4/3 camera and used the iPad for my processing. I'm going to love using this combo in Japan.


I got home from work this evening around 5:30 and was surprised to find a large first-class mail envelope in my box. When I sat down on the couch and opened it up I was totally jazzed to find this small painting inside! I had forgotten that Georges asked me for my snail mail address a couple of weeks ago. I was really happy to receive this "card" from Georges and Rebecca. Georges is a great guy. I know him from his blog, where he posts cycling-based inspiration on a daily basis, and from racing in his ridiculously fun Bottle Ride (Race) he has organized and held for the past two years at en epic riding park just north of the city. He's an allstar-biker-artist-coolcat. I'll be framing this great Eddy Merckx painting and it'll be hung somewhere special here at phattire headquarters. Thanks for the card Georges!

Nippon. Right on!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Kawasaki is sending me out of the country for two weeks. This Saturday morning I'll fly for six hours, from NYC to Seattle, Washington. Forty minutes after I land in Seattle, I switch to a Boeing 767 and fly twelve more hours to Osaka, Japan. I'll touch down at Kansai Airport 4:30pm on Sunday evening. I'm sure my ass is going to feel SPECTACULAR after sitting for 18 hours. At least I get to fly business class on the way over there. On the way back, I'm stuck in coach. (How bad can THAT be? ... I don't want to think about it)
I usually don't get excited about big trips until the day before, but this time, I've been stoked and a bit anxious since I was first assigned to go a couple of weeks ago. I'll be staying 37km from the Kansai Airport at the Okura Hotel in Kobe. I checked it out via Google Maps' satellite view and I see that it's right on the Kobe waterfront! I hope to get some interesting pictures on the docks and maybe I'll find a fish market nearby to photograph. I'm already excited about figuring out how to get from the airport to my hotel. I have to buy a train ticket and I'm wondering just how much English I'll see when buying a ticket from the machine. Google Maps tells me it's a two hour train ride from the airport to the hotel. (Take a look) I have to transfer at Osaka Station to the Sannomiya line. By the way; I think its kind of neat that Kansai Airport is its own little island.

I'm looking forward to figuring things out and making my way through Hyogo. I will be working at Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) during the day, but the commute to and from KHI should provide some interesting morning and evening photos. I've set up my iPhone and iPad with international data plans so that I can use Google maps while I'm over there and also research as needed. Also, if any family or friends want to reach me, feel free.

Food. I love food. I think Japan is going to nail it as far as keeping my taste buds happy. Some of my favorite foods are sushi, various sea critters and steak. I'm sure I'll get my fill of sushi. And I'm positive I can find various types of tempura. And do I even need to mention that a fatty, well-marbled cut of that infamous Kobe beef is at the top of my list? Although I'm sure I'll be eating in a few restaurants with the customer and my Japanese counterparts, I plan to eat as much street food as I can. I eat a lot of it in my city; why not do the same in Osaka? If you have no idea about Japanese food here are some examples of typical Japanese dishes.
I'll have a free weekend while I'm there. Back home the Superbowl will be going on, but I'll be missing it. (GO GIANTS!) I plan on taking a train up to Tokyo for the day (See route above). This may be a bit optimistic as the train ride is nearly four hours long. But we'll see. I want to experience as much as possible during my fourteen days spent on the other side of the earth!

Jan 24, 2012

Pictures of the day

Just a few images taken on my commute home from work this evening. I am loving the GF2! Also I can't say enough about the Photogene app for the iPad2. I used the app to make the collage below.

Four thirds mobile set-up

An upcoming international business trip has me stoked about what I'm calling my new 4/3 mobile set-up. I'll be spending two weeks in Japan starting this Saturday the 28th, extending to Saturday the 11th. A bunch of research has enabled me to set up my iPad as my principle photo processing machine and shed light on an all new and ultra-practical work flow. Here's how it works: Using Apple's camera connection kit, I'm able to import RAW files from my 4/3 camera. From there I do my post processing via an excellent app called Photogene. Photogene lets me work with my RAW files and adjust a multitude of aspects to include levels & curves, white balance, noise reduction, viewing of EXIF data and modification of meta data and much more. On top of this, it enables me to re-size my files and export them to various places like my blog, Facebook, my Flickr account and even FTP them to my website's server! All of this while keeping my original files untouched for archival purposes.

While I'm in the Land of The Rising Sun, I'll be able to sort and process my photos each evening instead of waiting till I get back to the states!

New camera

With the recent demise (sand caught in lens retraction gearing) of my Sony S90 a few months ago, I've finally saved enough cheddar to hit B&H for my new Four Thirds camera. Stepping into the four thirds realm is both familiar and exciting at the same time. Familiar in the sense that I am used to having full-manual control when exposing scenes and exciting because this new camera is so excellent. I'm talking about my new Panasonic Lumix GF2 shown at left. It has nearly all the control of a DSLR, yet is sized similarly to most of today's point & shoot cameras. The image sensor, though not as large as my full frame Nikon D700, is much larger than most point & shoot cameras allowing it to surpass them in both file size and image quality. Rather than go on and on about the specs for this camera I'm only going to tell you about what I think are the neatest features and let you get the full low-down over at dpreview.com. The biggest reasons why I bought this camera over a traditional point & shoot are: RAW file captures, interchangeable lenses, sensor size, full exposure control (f/stop & shutter speed, & manual focus), 1080i 60fps full HD video, SD memory, touch screen menu, all metal body, iPhone-like image browsing in play-back mode & lastly; size.

Below are a couple of images I took this morning while transferring from bus to train in Marble Hill.

Above left: f/2.5 @ 1/25 sec. Above right:f/2.5 @ 1/40 sec.

Jan 21, 2012

Snowy morning

I was woken by the sound of a plow rumbling up 190th street. That's a sound I don't mind waking to; it means we've got snow here in the city. Here are just a few snaps from my window this morning at 7:30. (Shot with my D700 using my 19-35mm) Looks like we'll be getting about 5" today. It's about time! I'll be out and about with my camera; most likely post some pore shots later today. In related news, I think it's pretty cool that NYC will soon have a real-time snow plow tracking system. Funny note: The person in the upper left photo looked up when I released the shutter; I wonder if they think I was spying on them.