Archive for May, 2003


Tuesday, May 27th, 2003

Japan had a major earthquake last night during rush hour in the northern part of the main island Honshu, an area called Tohoku. It measured 7 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was off the east coast so everyone in the area got a good rattle. About 70 people were injured, but for such a huge quake, this is actually pretty good, and no one was killed.

I didn’t feel anything, but Osaka’s pretty far away. I’ll find out about Ben tonight. As for the contest, you have one more day, Tuesday, to vote, and then we’re tallying things up to see who the winner is!

By the way, this is Bush taking Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for a ride in Texas:

The FINAL final round!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2003

Finally, at long last, after much sweating and grunting, I have the pictures in hand for you, the people, to judge. Without further ado, let the judging BEGIN!


Contest update…and an actual entry

Monday, May 19th, 2003

Contest Update: Pictures have been taken by the competitors. They will be posted within the next two days for you, the eager judges, to pronounce once and for all who the superior photographer is. “And yea, it shall be written on web parchment and given to the people so that they shall know the victor.”

Actual entry: Japan is truly a country of paradoxes. For example, the incredible convenience of bill paying compared to the agaonizing process of going to the bank. I have just found out that I can pay all my bills at any local convenience store. They come with a bar code that the register-guy just scans in, and then I pay him. That’s it, bills paid! Terrific, right? But let’s say I want to go to the bank for some reason. Not the ATM, but the actual BANK.

“Banker’s hours” are apparently global, which isn’t that much of a surprise, but it’s annoying. But the REAL problem with the banks here is their ridiculous inefficiency. Here’s an anecdote which happened to me about a year ago, when I went to visit Ben in Tokyo. I wanted to get some change for a 10,000Yen (about $100) bill, so I went to the bank. I went to the main counter, and the polite woman indicated that I should take a number from the machine. Normally, I would have found this acceptable, but I was the only one in the bank!

So, I kind of made a questioning face, and she gestured once again to the number-dispenser. I took the number quizzically, and sat down. Sure enough, right after I sit down, there’s a little “ding”, and my number is called. So I go to the counter and try to explain what I need in my poor Japanese. The teller pushes a form across the counter. I’m trying to understand why I would need a form for this simple procedure, and I think maybe she’s misunderstood me, but NO, I do in fact need a FORM to get CHANGE FOR A BILL. So I fill out the form, and she gestures for me to sit down again. I’m starting to look for the hidden camera at this point. After about 30 seconds, there’s another “ding”, and she hands me my change. This entire procedure took between 5 and 10 minutes, what with the sitting and the form, so I’m just in shock. I leave the bank with my change in hand feeling like I’ve just left beauracratic hell.

And that kind of situation is common in every big institution in Japan; bank, government, post office, etc. It strange that they are so ahead of us in technology and convenience, and yet so behind in efficiency. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it, I’ll just try to get used to it.

Here’s some pictures of me and Akemi. We went out to dinner, and hung out in a cool area of the city called Namba. The rest of the pictures will have to wait for the contest to begin tomorrow.


Long overdue update

Friday, May 16th, 2003


Sorry about the length of time between updates. Work has been extremely busy. I can’t reveal too much on the website since I know some students read this weblog (hi, Takeshi!) but it’s been really crazy for the past two weeks, and I’ve hardly been able to catch my breath. So, that’s why the long delay between entries. This weekend, if it’s not raining too heavily, should be the final round of the contest.

Anyone seen Matrix 2 yet? The reviews haven’t exactly been glowing. I’m a little worried… Movies here cost about $20, so I don’t want to pay 2000 Yen if I’m not going to enjoy it, although it’s hard to imagine NOT enjoying a Matrix film.

Also, I’ve been starting to perform improv again, here in Japan! When Ray, Shannon, and Ben came to visit, we met a performer in front of the aquarium. It turns out he’s an improv guy, along with a juggler and street performer, so we’re trying to get an improv group together here. So I’m teaching improv in Japan! How cool is that?

Technical difficulties…

Tuesday, May 13th, 2003

I regret to inform everyone that the contest has been temporarily suspended for two reasons: first, I am stupid, and have not managed to remember to take my camera with me this weekend; and second, Michele has been unable to get pictures off her camera and onto her computer.

We will do our best to resume the contest as soon as possible.

While posting, I was listening to Du Hast from the album “The Matrix” by Rammstein.

And the winner is …

Wednesday, May 7th, 2003

O.K. it’s a tie. Unless we are counting number of votes, then Marc kicked my butt. Marc won rounds 1 and 4 and I won rounds 2 and 3. Alex, the sweet, sweet lemon was in charge of all the vote tallying. Therefore, according to the rules, Marc and I now have to have a photo-off in Japan and New York, respectively.

PS – For those of you who weren’t aware, you are able to click on the thumbnail picture to enlarge.

Let the Contest Begin – Round 1


Marc Baizman took pictures 1, 3 and 5. He received 18 votes for #1, 1 vote for #3 and 6 votes for #5. Michele Medlin took pictures 2, 4 and 6. She received 1 for #2, 1 for #4 and 1 for #6.

Marc = 25, Michele = 3

– Tallied by Alex, the sweet, sweet lemon

Round 2 – FIGHT!


Marc Baizman took pictures 3, 4 and 6. He received no votes for # 3, 8 votes for #4 and 1 vote for #6. Michele Medlin took pictures 1, 2 and 5. She received 3 votes for #1, 2 votes for #2 and 5 votes for #5.

Marc = 9, Michele = 10

– Tallied by Alex, the sweet, sweet lemon

Round 3 – The Soul Still Burns


Marc Baizman took pictures 1, 4 and 6. He received 1 vote for #1, 1 vote for #4 and no votes for #5. Michele Medlin took pictures 2, 3 and 6. She received 6 votes for #2, 2 votes for #3 and no votes for #6.

Marc = 2, Michele = 8

– Tallied by Alex, the sweet, sweet lemon

Round 4 – The final round!


Marc Baizman took pictures 2, 5 and 6. He received 1 vote for #2, no votes for #5 and 5 votes for #6. Michele Medlin took pictures 1, 3 and 4. She received 3 votes for #1, no votes for #3 and no votes for #5.

Marc = 6, Michele = 3

– Tallied by Alex, the sweet, sweet lemon

Total totals:
Marc = 42 – Rounds 1 & 4
Michele = 24 – Rounds 2 & 3

Any suggestions from you the people regarding the “photo-off”?

Tallying the votes…

Wednesday, May 7th, 2003

I will tally the votes tonight and the contest results will be posted then. In the event of a tie, which is possible given that there were 4 rounds, we will have to have a tiebreaker round, with one set of pictures from NYC, and the second set from Osaka.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures from my last day in Tokyo with Ben and Akane.

Not for competition…

Sunday, May 4th, 2003

I almost forgot! Here are some pictures of Michele’s last night and day in Tokyo. Enjoy. Especially notice the sweatshirt of the man. It says, “Bah.”


Round 4 – The final round! (and Michele is gone too quickly)

Sunday, May 4th, 2003

Okay, so Michele’s gone and I’m heartbroken. :( Ben and I drowned my sorrows tonight at an Indian restaurant and an izakaya (Japanese bar/restaurant). So, without preface, here is the FINAL (add echo here) set of pictures. Choose wisely.


While posting, I was listening to Svefn-g-englar from the album “Agætis Byrjun” by Sigur Ros.

Contest extension – and Nancy McKeon?!

Friday, May 2nd, 2003

Yesterday, Marc and I were going to go and see some more of Japan, but it didn’t happen. So, we didn’t take any pictures. We’re going to Tokyo in about an hour and we will be taking the final photos for the contest then …

In the meantime, check out this picture. Tell me, doesn’t it look like Jo from “Facts of Life”? Here’s a website that has a picture of her for referral. Ray-Ray, I know that you’ll be able to tell.

My weeks in Japan are coming to a close. It’s been so much fun and we’re planning on me coming back in perhaps August. I visited my favorite kitchen store lady (the one who pinched my arm with the bruise). She said “See you later” in the very casual Japanese way – which according to Marc is really cool ’cause it means she feels like I’m apart of the it that is Japan. Yeah, I made that last part up, but I’m gonna miss her. And my Eclair man. I found this AMAZING French pastry shop in Hanaten (Marc’s village) and the man who owns it with his family studied in Paris. Needless to say, his eclairs are great. And I went in a few times and the family was so wonderful as well. I know it doesn’t matter, but I made friends. Well, o.k. friends that I pay for services, but they work as friends as well.

This is the end of my nonsensical entry.

Wait – I’m also supposed to say that we’re going to be adding some pictures tonight around 11:00 am your time (Friday), so the contest will not be over until Monday, May 5th – 12:00 PM EST.