Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I'll be back home for the holidays, from around the 23rd to the 4th of January. It'll be good to see people.

Weirdest food yet!

Weirdest food yet!, originally uploaded by alexybeetle.

My boss refers to this as 'eggs of male cod'. I think no further explanation is needed.

Yes I ate it!

Monday, December 05, 2005

More proof that Japan is still living in the 1950s


This is a real sign for a bar on a busy street in Kyoto. Could you get away with that anywhere in Europe or America? Posted by Picasa

Sacred and profane


...especially not with this chap bellowing instructions at you. Posted by Picasa

Quiet contemplation? Not likely.


If you think buddhist temples would be havens of tranquility, then you'll be rather disappointed. Posted by Picasa

Moss and stuff

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Momiji on step

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Very red aren't they?

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More autumnal colour


The bright red maple trees are different variety from the Canadian ones, the leaves are much smaller. I don't think they produce good syrup, either. Posted by Picasa

Swishing bamboo trees behind temple

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Autumn leaves in Kyoto


Near Tofukuji, sorry I can't remember the name of this temple. You can pray to be spared from senility here though. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 20, 2005

unhealthy obsessions

unhealthy obsessions, originally uploaded by alexybeetle.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Some real science at last

For those of you who think I'm just pissing around here (does that include me? erm...), I just got an ac calorimetry setup working for the first time (if that means anything to you). I'll spare you the details of what we were measuring, but some of the technical thingummies of getting the damn thing going were rather amusing, for me at least to try figuring them out

We have to measure a tiny tiny signal at a specific frequency, and so any source of noise is very annoying. It turned out that the type of adhesive tape being used to protect the wires was picking up static and turning in to a huge antenna, also making a very good capacitor due to its high dielectric constant! Tracking that down was no end of fun.

Also there seemed to be some weird but very regular modulation of the signal with a period of about 10 minutes. Turns out it was the air conditioning kicking in as the temperature in the room was warmed up by all the pumps, lasers etc.

OK not very sublime stuff, but it's little things like that that make the job so much fun.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Remember, remember, the fifth of November


I'm missing this back home. Have fun guys (though not Guys). Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 27, 2005

How not to behave in public

Last weekend I went to possibly the worst concert of my entire life. It started fine, the setting was a rather delightful restaurant in central osaka in an old wood-beamed building where they regularly have live music by local amateur bands. You can listen and eat at the same time (though I am still having problems with warm beef fat). I was there with some fellow foreigners, a French guy I know who lives in Osaka, and a friend from the UK who just arrived to teach english in Shikoku and was visiting Osaka for the weekend.

It started out fine, with a fairly good if slightly cheesy guitar player, followed by another couple of similar acts, the last of which was a chap in a backward baseball cap and "Thrasher" t-shirt, who played a guitar arrangement of "somewhere over the rainbow" and various beatles songs. So far so inoffensive, we had after all just turned up without knowing what was on programme.

The final act though stole the show, and I mean that in a bad way. It was a young Japanese guy, with fluffy toilet-brush hair, dressed head to toe in beige. He had three chunky Korg synthesisers set up, and from the moment he started playing to the end, almost an hour later I think, it was absolutely impossible to keep a straight face.

You know the "demo" button on keyboards, or the background music on a nintendo game from about 10 years ago, it was like that. Or worse. Think John Shuttleworth, with more self-confidence. I can't really find the words to describe it but lets just say that birdsong sounds were involved at one point. Musical Vogon poetry. Not only this but he was prancing about with grand gestures and an expression of such smug ecstasy on his face that it was utterly impossible, for me at least, and my friend for the UK, to adopt the usual respectful serenity expected during a concert.

I obviously still have a lot to learn from the Japanese, since almost everyone else in the room sat through the whole thing with a look of resigned tolerance on their faces, though near the end there were one or two cracks in the facade. They could clearly see us cracking up, though the man himself was so absorbed in his magnum opus that unfortunately he wasn't put off by our rudeness.

My French friend managed (just) to keep a straight face as well, he can speak Japanese, and knew that the whole evening had been arranged by this performer, and most of the audience were his friends. And he just cares a bit more about not being totally disrespectful in front of a room full of strangers I guess. It didn't help at the end though when he asked the guy if he had a CD, while one of his entourage gave me really odd looks.

We made a swift exit.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

How to draw in the crowds

How to draw in the crowds, originally uploaded by alexybeetle.

I have no idea what sort of club this is, nor do I wish to know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

And lest we be taken for slackers, this was the next morning at sunrise after a full moon party just outside Kyoto. Who needs sleep! (and if you were wondering if they had hippies in Japan, they certainly do, in an upmarket sort of way). Posted by Picasa

Bye bye Zamami, it was very nice knowing you. Posted by Picasa

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