July 31, 2008

Japanese Pushers

In case you need to experience the other side of life in Toyko (the crowds rather than the quiet streets I mentioned earlier), here is a great example..... Now just add in the summer heat and humidity of August. And a good way to build patience.

July 30, 2008

Travel Tips: The Quiet Street

In Tokyo there are many narrow streets. It is amazing to see how fast taxis and cars can drive along these streets without hitting each other head on. With so many thousands of people living in this city, I can guess how difficult it must be for you to imagine any quiet areas for someone to wander through. You would be mistaken.

While living there several years ago, I discovered that Tokyo had busy doris (streets), but it also had many quiet side streets that paralleled the larger thoroughfares. In Minami-Azabu, an area with lots of embassies and homes filled with expats and wealthy alike, there was a particular side street that I loved to use.

It started out as a diversion away from a tofu shop and public toilet, then made its way behind the Finnish Embassy going past beautiful old growth cherry trees outside of an elementary school before it popped you out next to the German Embassy.

It was a lovely walk whether I was returning home with groceries or heading down to the train to go out for dinner or shopping. Quiet streets in any major town are a treat to savor, whether it be a side canal in Venice or a cobblestone corridor in Prague.

July 29, 2008

Desert Oasis

August is fast approaching and soon the kids will be back to school. Where did the summer go?

July 27, 2008

Stay Alive Drive 55

clipped from drive55.org
Drive 55 Conservation Project Logo sticker
You know you're getting old when suddenly a geeky line someone wrote in your high school yearbook...is everywhere, and not really geeky.

Alfred wrote this line because he knew me and because (a) he sat next to me in alphabetical order during major school functions like our graduation (b) he kind of liked me in a Freaks and Geeks sort of way (c) we went to a tiny school with 90 in our class, you knew everyone or (d) he was on his way to the California Highway Patrol Academy.

His words now come back to me with more meaning than ever as we have sky high gas prices and talk of lowering the speeds on highways and freeways again. What do you think?

Do you like the idea of getting everyone involved in saving gas by making it so that those who don't slow down pay a penalty? It seems like the basic sin tax, but it has been effective in the past. Just ask the old timers out there.....

July 24, 2008

Japanese Wind Chimes Made for Summer

clipped from mdn.mainichi.jp
One of my favorite traditions in Japan is the hanging of a "furin" during the start of summer. These wind chimes are typically made of glass or sometimes metal with a dark green patina. You are suppose to hang them once the rains end and summer really begins.

This is so that the slight breeze the paper picks up, and the light clinking the hanging stem makes, should give you a pleasant coolness. A chill. Like cubes of ice in a tall glass of Suntory whiskey. I do miss seeing that part about living in Japan. I also miss these kinds of crazy funny moments. I think Bill Murray used this for his method acting, don't you?

July 22, 2008

Skeletons in your closet?

Don't ask me why but I have always been fascinated by bones, skeleton bones in particular. A favorite class in university was my zoology lab. I recall the first time visiting the London Museum as a kid and going directly to their skeleton and mummy exhibit. It was really mummified remains that were carefully preserved behind glass. I could not stop staring. With my imagination I could only wonder what their life had been like, what they did everyday, what they wore, every mundane detail was interesting to me.

School hasn't started up yet, and London is a nonstop flight for many cities. Here is your chance to take advantage of a new exhibit at the Wellcome Trust in London. All sorts of skeletons including a small child, and a monk and others dating back to the 14th century. The Museum of London has excavated, examined and archived 17,000 skeletons over the past 30 years. Take this unique opportunity while it lasts through September 28 to discover was lies beneath!

July 19, 2008


Isn't the stray or abandoned sandal, flip flop, thong or Havaiana, the saddest summer casualty?

Are they the summer outdoor version of the lost in the dryer sock?

Photo: www.sfcphotography.com

July 17, 2008

Would you give up your Lonely Planet?

clipped from online.wsj.com
Go to story.
Today I was reading the Wall Street Journal, and my favorite column The Cranky Consumer. The story was about the expansion of over-the-phone translation services. My first thought was great, then my next thought was.....maybe not.

Would you use this service while traveling? I might consider it if I was on a business trip, but then again I would probably hire someone to be with me who was fluent in the local language. On vacation, I still am inclined toward my favorite guidebooks and mini-dictionaries.

I think the interpretive dance we all do while acting out our meanings while in a foreign country, is kind of expected by the locals. Don't you think?

July 15, 2008

Backyard Delight: Hummingbirds

I just love hummingbirds. They make the cutest chirpy kissing sounds. We have the type with green or red heads (are the red heads boys?). They are migratory birds. Have you seen Winged Migration? A great documentary.

Photo: www.sfcphotography.com

They hover over our heads while we weed and trim the shrubs, or zoom past us like UFOs. If you want to experience these cute little birds, I suggest brewing a batch of nectar and fill up a feeder (easy to find at your local hardware store).

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

1 part sugar/4 parts water

Boil the water first, then measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.

Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until ready to use.

Do not add food coloring, honey (which ferments), or artificial sweetener, which has no nutritional value.

You will need to clean your feeder about once a week. According to the National Audubon Society, this should be done by rinsing with one part white vinegar to four parts water. If the feeder is dirty, try adding a few grains of dry rice to the vinegar solution to help scrub it clean. Follow the vinegar wash by rinsing three times with clear, warm water before refilling with sugar solution.

July 13, 2008

Goodbye July

Hard to believe July is already half way over. That means summer is moving quickly to Labor Day, the saddest day for kids.

Photo: www.sfcphotography.com

I remember when I was a kid, we were getting to the end of our summer school session. And back-to-school ads were just starting to show up in the local drugstore. Remember the green fat Hefty #3 pencils? Loved those.

What was your favorite summer class? Did you have a favorite summer job? I loved my Macramé class. That was in my 6th grade summer school...with Mrs. Pastore.

July 8, 2008

Travel Tips: Being considerate

clipped from www.rei.com
backpacks  : The North Face Recon II Day Pack

When you travel locally or abroad, are you aware of your surroundings? That is a basic rule of travel so that you stay safe and avoid possible mishaps along the way, e.g. losing your bag.

Another reason for an awareness of your bag is courtesy towards your fellow travelers, as we move through a train corridor or a crowded bus station.

July 1, 2008

Create your own Brady Bunch vacation

clipped from online.wsj.com
[Sean Kelly]
Remember those episodes? The Brady's drive to the Grand Canyon or when they drove to the ghost town, which I think was part one of that drive.....

Either way, with many choosing "stay-cation" vacations, this book sounds like a very nice way to convince the family, that your driving vacation will have the same nostalgic feel.

Related Posts with Thumbnails