Tag Archives: randomness

Points of Light

Toki has Bon dancing on Chuo Dori before and during its fireworks. Many people watching the dancing tonight seemed hardly interested in the skypoppers in the background. Among the various colorful yukata of both dancers and watchers were these robes I though depicted the swoopdown swallows I recently wrote about, until I realized they were great blue herons flying upward. Kind of Escherian, especially considering they both frequent the Toki River.

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Music for the dancing was performed by shamisen, shakuhachi bamboo flute and taiko players on a stage in the middle of the street, and emceed by a professional announcer.

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Rounded domes of fireworks patterns, lanterns, ceramic fuurin wind chimes, and, here, even a passing older gentleman’s white hair populated the evening’s floating world.

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On the subject of flashing points of light, I was hoping to show you photos of fireflies this summer, but they are even more elusive than I thought. Maybe next year.

And this is probably as appropriate a place as there’ll ever be for this indispensible nugget: After years of fruitless furtive roadbound glancing to see if anyone’s blinkers were in sync with mine (which futility led me to wonder if car manufacturers deliberately set every single car’s blinker timing differently so as to ensure each one stood out; two in synch and stacked in parallax could look like one, for instance), like a slap-happy syncopated lightning bug, I recently finally found visual harmony: a Suzuki Cervo ahead of me was flashing in unqualified perfect unison with my turn signal. Not some alternating in-phase, out-of-phase approximation. A lockstepped, serendipitous synchronicity, an amber alignment perchance mined from the same hunk of quartz somewhere in Brazil or backwoods Arkansas. It was sublime.

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And then, as the traffic light changed, like a fleeting fireworks trail or a fuurin bell’s fading ring, or summer itself, our do-si-do dance of light was gone.

Sounding Board?

I’ve written before about the serendiptous effects of background chatter in public places, but this article at Grubstreet.com made me wonder if the wooden slats you often see in area restaurants are part of this New York-born noisier-is-neater trend the article chronicles.

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These boxes on the wall at Secret Time Cafe are the closest thing to slats I have handy on my camera roll (more typically slatlike boards along and behind the counter at this post).

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Another place that comes to mind is Shinsui Cafe (the rounded corner between one whole wall and the ceiling is made up entirely of slats with gaps).

I don’t know. I think there’s a tradition of using wood slats in Japan, whatever the reason. I’ll ask some architect friends. In the meantime, though I often make use of the ambient indiscernable “rhubarb,” I think I’m glad I don’t live in New York.

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Hearing Aid

I’m tickled Costa Rican brown that there’s more corroboration for the idea that moderate ambient coffee shop noise can be good for creativity. Better than silence, make no mistake. I wrote just one year ago about it here, and make use of the phenomenon nearly daily. It’s quite fascinating.

Boing Boing, in fact, reports on a new web service providing recorded cafe chatter, along with your own music, in the background as you work on your computer or mobile device. Similar to an idea I’ve had, it’s called Coffitivity. Coffitivity.com also happens to be just the kind of domain name I’ve been snapping up especially recently (read: they tapped into my mind), and quite similar to one I just let lapse. Boing Boing introduces it with a reference to a study demonstrating the inspirational influence of random coffee clatter. I wish I could see more than just the preview, but I don’t have 14 dollars to spend on that. On three or four mellow cafe excursions, now that’s different.

Software Development From All Walks – Not a One-Way Street

A quick word about a Kickstarter donation project you might be interested in supporting.

For over ten years now, I’ve used software called LiveCode to write programs for games and English learning software, quickly create utilities for my Macs, develop apps (in progress) for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch and Android, and get a whole range of things done more quickly. LiveCode allows laypeople to develop applications that can be used on Windows, Mac, mobile, the Web, and more, without learning a terribly difficult programming language. Maybe the key word in all of that is “and,” as opposed to “or.” You can basically write the program only once, and deploy to all those platforms at the click of a single button. And unlike with regular programming, you can see your results right away. NASA uses LiveCode for its LandSat satellites. The classic adventure/puzzle game Myst and its sequel were created using LiveCode’s predecessor, HyperCard.

Application possibilities are largely limited only by your imagination. For this blog, I’ve thrown together one quickie that winnows out obscure words from a wordlist and picks three random words to give my posts an occasional kickstart of their own. LiveCode is also a great way to teach kids programming. Users are all over the world. There’s actually quite an accomplished Japanese LiveCode user right here in Tajimi.

The Kickstart that LiveCode’s makers want now is for releasing, alongside the licensed commercial version (with which you can release any product for sale and keep the inner workings private), an identical, free open source version that anyone can use, and any professional developer can easily edit, expand, and add IDE features and platforms to. Anything made with the open source version will have its code open for anyone to see, which shouldn’t matter for personal, in-company or educational use, or to anyone not needing to protect their code as intellectual property. New changes from the open source version will be folded back into the commercial one, too.

Making it open source would benefit many people who otherwise wouldn’t get involved in programming (scripting), as well as people who already use the software. The millions of regular people who can’t program surely have a lot of creative ideas that professional developers or their retainers don’t (or don’t have time for). Giving Joe Shirtsleeve the ability to create apps can realize great possibilities that would otherwise go untapped. Through open sourcing, LiveCode should be better able to adapt to future tech developments as well.

Contributors to the LiveCode Kickstarter campaign currently include Steve Wozniak and Cory Doctorow. I plan to kick in what I can as soon as I’m sure my payment method will work.

Just trying to help these folks out if I can. Thanks for the indulgence.

Update: This site has been put up to show some of what you can do with LiveCode.

Last Chance

Screw it. WordPress app doesn’t play well with shaking sometimes and I just lost all I typed. In brief, the news today is that the world exists. And I made my triennial or so donation to Japanese public welfare bought a bloody lottery ticket (today’s the last chance at a jumbo jackpot).

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Well, the Mayans (their misinterpreters, I know – that’s part of what was lost in the crash) were at least right about my post, now lost in the past. Evaporated. Up in smoke. History.

And I’m outta time.

The End.

Worth Waiting On the Weather

The illumination at Ikuta Park was scheduled to begin tonight. If the rain there has stopped, it may be okay. Last year they at least served hot drinks, if not hot food.

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Hard to say what effect this nasty weather, including such conditions that it snowed the other day in Takayama, will have on the momiji, besides prematurely bringing some of them to the ground.

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These images are from another daytime visit this past week.

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Little Ikuta was the only place I got to this week, so for variety sometimes I have to just use what’s there – random patches of leaves, branches, bark, moss, earth, sky – in abstract though ultimately wallpapery designs, as opposed to finding scenes with more traditional narrative elements like foreground, horizon, paths, people and structures. Fine in moderation, oatmeal in overuse.

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Maybe a few more day shots tomorrow (with actual objects!), and then I’ll try to get some night views.

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Twisted Wisteria, Or Don’t Feed the Elephants

Living Rorschach

Besides aromatically draping late April roadsides, and perhaps inspiring Boschian ogres, Sendakian storylines or Tim Burton title fonts, wisteria can metamorphose into most anything in a child’s eye. On a recent day in a local park, characteristically gnarly knotted wisteria bark, with a little imagination, takes on the appearance of an elephant man.

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The park, near route 19 in Toki, was the scene of a neighborhood family barbeque Sunday afternoon and evening.

The mangled menagerie of elephants and other assorted creatures was at first somewhat bewildered at all the chillin’, grillin’, hobnobbin’ hubbub, but in fact became quite despondent after everyone had left. They’ve since seen things in perspective and recovered, and can even be seen winking at parents and children who come to play in the quiet little park by the fish market.

A Trip to the Moon

From one Cucina (kitchen) to another: Yesterday I had lunch at Cucina Italiana Io in Tajimi across from Komeda Coffee near the Autobacks intersection.

Like nearby Hoshizumi Pasta, the newer Io seems to be run by a young married couple, and has a few cozy tables and one large one, this one in a mostly separate room. Setting this casual Italian apart is an urban-cool sort of atmosphere with somewhat minimalist trendy design details and upbeat house music. It looks more wine-lover-friendly, too. Lunch runs from 11:30 to 3:00 (last order is 2:00), and dinner is 6:00 to 9:00. Closed Mondays and the second Sunday.

There were several choices for lunch, the three least expensive of which were ¥1500 (others were closer to ¥2000). Among the cheaper ones, I narrowed it down to two: An acorn squash and meat (don’t know what kind) cream penne dish; and a stewed tomato and pork back rib meat risotto parmesano.

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The delectable appetizers, above, were quite different from anything I normally have – very good. There are three kinds of bread – including a surprising pizza-flavored one – that seem to be whole bagels cut into quarters. The price also includes dessert and a drink. I was happy with my choice of the risotto, below.

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Write This Down

By sheer coincidence, I read an article that came out today (yesterday US time) about the origin of the exclamation point. It turns out it comes from the Latin word io, which was an interjective expression of joy. “Io” was written vertically, and the I above the O came to be one symbol.

Actually, the stewed tomato and pork, besides looking a little like the sun on the Japanese flag, could be mistaken for a student’s science project attempt to depict Jupiter’s moon Io, or even the Great Red Spot itself.

Being a mound on the plate (baseball oxymoron, come to think of it), it was somehow more appetizing (and less mouth-scalding) than the usual mystery-ingredient homogeneous risotto sunken into a casserole dish. It was a kind of stylish home-style dish. I don’t normally eat risotto much, so it was a pleasant detour off the main road.

And speaking of moons, I’m saddened at the weekend loss of a childhood hero, Neil Armstrong. His roll-up-the-sleeves, get-it-done, workaday humility amid greatness was a living example for all.

Can’t We Just Keep It Together?

A Bad Wrap

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Time to let another pet peeve out for a walk. Maybe it’s this way on purpose, like a signal that it’s past its use-by date, but you’d think they (Band-Aid of all people) could make an adhesive bandage whose wrapper didn’t, like clockwork, come confetti-like asplinter in your bag, or even just your medicine cabinet, far sooner than seems normal. It’s a hygeine thing. Has it always been this way? Is it the humidity here? The country of origin, which I won’t mention here?

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White Guys Can Get Down

And speaking of sweet little pets and things only lasting ten minutes, what is it with YouTube and its recommendations? A Google thing? The top links they show often have precious little real relevance to what you’ve just watched. Take Tom Jones singing “What’s New, Pussycat?” The top recommended video is, as of now, “Giant Russian Rat Attacks Cats.” (No, not those cats). Not far down the list is a boxing match, and later, “Rumsfeld’s Best.” “Oh, Donald!” exclaims that girl as she goes and powders her cute little WMD’s. What’s relevant, indeed, my precious pussycat?

Now, my appreciation of randomness is well-documented here, and no one has any business telling me I need to learn to go with the flow (heck, look at the flow of this post. I only set out to write about Band-Aids, and I’m already puttin’ on the Putin, dancin’ the Rumba, I’ve just managed to Mambo with Marlo, and I’m about to Humperdink herewith). But I’ve come to realize, for his day, Tom Jones rocked. He and related ‘Dinks (a resignedly deferential Englebert an’ Mr. Jones got a thing goin’ on here, with none other than the late Billy Preston!) deserve more pertinent links and not Leon Spinks hijinx, methinks. Google, consider getting your acts together.

Encounter of the Third Kind

We’ve seen skybound spectacles in spades this spring. Monday there was a partial lunar eclipse as the moon swung opposite the position it had during the annular solar eclipse just two weeks before (not such a coincidence when you think about it). Our little astronomy club got clouded out of the lunar one.

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For the third act of astral alignment in the past month, Wednesday morning started out cloudy as well, but we got what we were waiting for. Above, Venus is silhoutted as a black dot against the white disk of the sun as seen through an exceedingly cheap telescope fitted with high-grade solar viewing material. The photos here of the fling are all in chronological order, though the telescope and camera were turned at various angles.

Condensed Drink

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From cosmic to comic, circles within circles abounded high and low this day. During a break for lunch, I noticed this smiling face when picking up my glass of water. Someone who saw this when I posted it on FaceBook thought I manipulated the water, but I didn’t do a thing. Looks kinda like the Kool-Aid guy.

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The show continued after lunch. It was interesting to be able to directly compare the sizes of the two bodies, even if the distances weren’t easily perceived. Normally Venus by the naked eye is only a source of light perhaps seen somewhat near the sun, or in a telescope seen as a round disc or crescent, but without the sun in view.

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Occasional clouds gave me a chance to get this neat effect, as well as get a short respite from the sun’s heat. This day, as Venus reached the zenith of its solar transit, the, uh, mercury reached 32.5 degrees to grab Tajimi hottest city in the country honors yet again. I got kissed with a mild sun-Venusburn on my neck.

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Rim Shot

The moment of the planet’s just reaching the edge of the sun was supposed to be especially good. Having missed the complementary entry point in the morning, I made sure to be there for the egress. Below, an odd surface-tension sort of effect, probably just a photographic anomoly, seems to bend the light as the elusive goddess kisses the firey edge like a lover’s lips subtly caressing a tender ear.

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Like the solar eclipse last month, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event, truly ichigo ichie. As Earth’s sister slowly drifted off the sun’s rim not to be seen again like this for a hundred years, I said a silent goodbye.

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