Jun 012005

First off, thanks so much to everyone who called me on my birthday. Unfortunately I was either asleep or away from home for all of them, but I almost like it better that way – now I have a whole bunch of messages to always remind me of who the awesome people in my life are. You all rule!

Also, everyone’s video feedback has been noted for future updates. However, at the moment I’m right in the midst of midterms, so it’ll probably be much longer than usual before another clip gets thrown together. But as promised here is a clip from last week’s shamisen performance (composed of several Kabuki scenes) that I put together before the crunch started. The old guy is our incredibly bad-ass teacher.

So, the halfway point of my stay here in Japan has finally passed. Crap! I can’t BELIEVE how fast it’s going. I feel like I haven’t even started to scratch the surface of what I’d hoped to accomplish while here. The other YHM guys are all starting to think about going home in two months…and looking into their plans for one year later, when they’ll all (with very few exceptions) be returning to Japan permanently. I, on the other hand, have to start figuring out ways to accomplish a lifetime in Japan in the remaining six months I have here. Summer vacation should be a good way to start.

Speaking of summer vacation, I’m starting to get pretty hyped. School is nice, but I’m ready to do some traveling. Even though ten years wouldn’t be enough to see all of Kyoto, I think I have a pretty good feel for it by now – and would love to check out some other areas of Japan (and Asia). Fortunately there are a number of possible visitors/international trips on the horizon. That doesn’t mean that all of them will happen, but stay tuned as the plans unfold.

And I’ll be kept nice and busy until then, anyways. School and independent Japanese study fills up 90% of my time as it is, and with the incoming rainy season I’ll be even less tempted to go out and slack.

Ah yes, the rainy season. As of right now, the weather is still as flawless as any Southern Californian summer…but it won’t be for long. At all. In fact, within a couple of days the infamous “big rains” are predicted to start. What does that mean? I’ve heard that it means a solid month of non-stop rain, day and night, accompanied by high temperatures, humidity, and invading centipedes. Maybe one or two overcast days thrown in there for good measure.


So, this weekend held quite a few interesting events. As I mentioned, Saturday night I headed out to Uji to have dinner with Naomi’s family, something I haven’t been able to do in quite some time. As always, they were wonderfully hospitable – we had a great sushi dinner in celebration of both my and Okaasan’s birthday. Satomi, Nao’s older sister, and her family joined us as well, so it was a larger-than-usual gathering, reminiscent of New Year’s.

After dinner, Nao and I spent most of the night hanging out and drinking in a half-completed construction site. Don’t ask me why, but when we were walking back from 7/11 it seemed like a decent place to hang out. We weren’t causing any trouble, of course, but we decided that it was probably time to head home when we saw two police officers scouring the area we had been in as we passed by on the way back from another beer run.

After returning to YHM on Sunday, I learned of a far worse run-in with the law by one of my housemates (whose name I should probably withhold…). While on the way home from a Saturday night drinking binge, somehow, he had a little run-in with a Japanese gang. He has no memory of how it happened, but one plastered gaijin versus four Japanese gang members is no fair fight. It wasn’t until after he had been reduced to a pulp that the cops showed up, arrested them all, and sent the gang home scott free because they were Japanese and he was gaijin. We’re all waiting to see what happens, keeping our fingers crossed that he won’t get deported. Another account of the evening’s (actually, the week’s) events can be viewed on Dylan’s blog, for those of you who are interested.

But don’t let this sway your opinions of Japan – because to be fair, no one really remembers how the fight started, it could very well have been provoked by our drunken gaijin friend. And this was the first crime of any type that I’d even heard of since I got here six months ago, dispite how regularly I leave very expensive things laying around in plain view in public places.

Hmm, how can I wrap this post up on a better note? Oh, Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Firefox rule! Surprised that computer engineer could have been using Internet Explorer for this long? Truly, I do not know why…but what I do know is that it took me about three minutes of using Firefox to debug my website before I decided to completely switch over and never look back.

Yes, that’ll do.


  6 Responses to “The Half-Way Point (VIDEO)”

  1. Awesome, I am glad you made the switch to firefox. I have been using a combo of it and Safari since around it was still called Pheonix. I know you are busy and such, but would it be possible to get an mpeg version of the video? It sounded really cool so I am curious as to what it looks like. With the mpeg version, I can turn it into quicktime for you if you want.

  2. Your videos are great! Thanks. I enjoy all of them so much … but they do re-buffer a lot (happened 4 times with the shamisen video) even though I have broadband connection. More compression or a smaller size would solve this? Or Quicktime? Also, thought I’d mention that I use the Mac OSX version of Windows Media Player downloaded from:


    It works fine for me, so thought my fellow Mac users might find this info helpful 🙂

  3. Hmm, well as I mentioned before, when I first started throwing videos together I experimented with a lot of different formats and .wmv produced by far the best quality-to-size ratio of the STREAMING formats. If a lot of you are having problems with wmv I can switch over to something else, although it would most likely be a non-streaming format (say, divx-encoded avi’s). I’d do this just because mpegs are way too large, and I personally hate RealMedia and Quicktime.

    With regards to the re-buffering (Laura’s comment), I’m afraid that’s probably just a problem with my web host’s speed – you could always just download the whole file first and then view it, but with any larger, streaming file I’m sure you’d experience the same thing. I could compress the files more, but I figured that since I do have enough webspace at the moment, higher quality would be preferable. Would you all prefer smaller files, lower video quality?

    James, have you by chance installed the windows media player for Mac? There are also quicktime components that will allow quicktime to view wmv files (for example, http://www.flip4mac.com/wmv.htm). I don’t have a problem producing the files in another format if that’s what the bulk of you prefer, but since my stats tell me that 94% of my hits come from windows machines, it might be better to put up a format that works for as many people as possible…and most of my PC-using friends share my opinions of quicktime 🙂

  4. You know that you will not leave Japan, just like you know it is only a matter of time before I move there for good.

  5. Videos work great for me. I way prefer wmv to quicktime or real (and even to divx).

    And as to high quality VS low quality…..keep em HIGH, or at a minimum leave a high quality version available if you do make a low quality version.



  6. Justin,

    I have installed windows media player for os x (and even tried reinstalling it using the link that Laura gave) and it still messes up (as wmp on os x seems to regularlly do). I agree with your hatred of realplayer. Personally, I prefer to download files and play them (that way I can show them to people later without redownloading them), so a divx version would probably be ideal (for me anyways).

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