Monday, October 31, 2005

Reduce clutter to reduce stress

Household clutter and stress can feed off each other in a vicious circle: Clutter induces stress, which can result in more clutter, and so on. Here are some helpful hints to stop the cycle now.


—Mellow Monk


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Why green tea really does make you mellow

Green tea is the richest known source in nature of theanine. This amino acid has been shown to boost alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation: the higher your alpha waves are, the more mellow you tend to feel.


In his book From Fatigued to Fantastic, Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., writes: "Theanine can enhance concentration and clarity, so it actually increases mental alertness while reducing stress."


—Mellow Monk


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Cell phones as virtual wallets in Japan

A service being rolled out in Tokyo lets you use your cellphone as a virtual wallet, paying for purchases via an electronic prepaid scheme or even by direct transfer from your bank account.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Japan Society

The Japan Society of Northern California celebrates its 100th anniversary this month.


This is the second-oldest of the 38 such societies in the United States. The oldest, founded one year earlier, is Boston's.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Scotch green tea

Last night I tried green tea with scotch. It wasn't bad. The two tastes complement each other more than you'd think. The sweetness of the scotch takes the astringent edge off the tea, and the slightly different bitterness of the tea and scotch somehow soften each other. Of course, you have to like the taste of both to appreciate this combination.


But someone's going to have to come up with a catchy name for this drink. If anyone has any suggestions, please post them as comments or send me an email.


—Mellow Monk


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Travel page about Aso, Japan

Here's a page about the Aso area of Japan from the Japanese government's official "Visit Japan" campaign website. Aso City is where the Nagatas live.


Note that the article says


The black volcanic soil [of Aso] gives birth to some of the finest produce in Japan.

Including green tea!


Incidentally, the place name "Aso" (阿蘇) is the name of the region (roughly bounded by the huge caldera in which it's located), the name of the county, and the name of the city, which was recently formed by the merger of Ichinomiya Town, Aso Town, and Namino Village. These names all originate in the name of the volcano that looms over the area—Mt. Aso.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, October 28, 2005

Green tea with a boost

In China, a drink similar in concept to Irish coffee is becoming increasingly popular: green tea and whiskey.


I wonder what it's like...


Hey, today's Friday. I'll let you know tomorrow.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Green tea and influenza

Green tea may inhibit the influenza virus, according to one study.


—Mellow Monk


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An American building traditional Japanese boats

Douglas Brooks is an American boatbuilder whose work includes traditional Japanese tub boats (taraibune). He's even written a book about it, which explains, among other things, how he was the last student of Japan's last professional builder of taraibune.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Empress

It looks like after the current crown prince gets his turn, Japan's next emperor will be an empress.


—Mellow Monk


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The champagne of tea, Mellow Monk

This helps explain why the Aso region is so well suited to growing green tea:

Plentiful seasonal rainwater, well-drained soil and fresh-air fog (away from the ocean, where the fog is salty) are the ideal growing conditions for tea. An overly rainy season can flush out the flavor characteristic of tea and make it weak. Too little moisture can make it weak. Too little moisture can take away key flavor nuances or make it harsher than usual. Ideally tea is grown at an altitude of 3,000-5,000 feet on a 45-degree slope, where the water won't pool and foggy mornings keep the leaves and the roots moist.

From "Champagne of Tea," by John and Kerry Laird (www.pacificbaycoffee.com)


By the way, the above is a description of the Darjeeling area of India—explaining why the black tea grown there is widely considered the "champagne of tea"—but it applies word-for-word to the Aso area, where Mellow Monk tea is grown.


—Mellow Monk


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Going to the well

Old-fashioned water wells with hand-operated pumps are making a comeback in Japanese urban planning—as a backup water supply in the event of an earthquake or other disaster.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I left my heart in San Fran Jell-O

Here's something you don't see everyday: a model of San Francisco rendered in Jell-O.


—Mellow Monk


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And on his farm he had ... self-milking cows?

Is it a kinder, gentler dairy farm or "the ultimate in factory farming"?


—Mellow Monk


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Streaming video of Japan

This site has free stream video and photo galleries of various sights in Japan, including video of yabusame (archery demonstrations by archers on horseback) and subtitled interviews with real-life, modern-day geisha.


This site is a nice way to take a mellow break from your day.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, October 24, 2005

Nissan's blast from the past: the new Skyline GTR

At the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan unvieled the Skyline GT-R Proto.


With Frenchman Carlos Ghosn at the helm, Nissan has been working to rebuild the company. Bringing back the iconic Skyline seems to be part of that effort. Hmm... Bringing back nostalgic cars of the past... Where have I heard that before?


(Previous posts about the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show here.)


—Mellow Monk


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Kumamoto Castle

Here is a page of nice photos of Kumamoto Castle, located in Kumamoto City. (The city is the capital of the prefecture of which Aso City is a part.)


The castle was built in 1407 but almost completely burned down in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion (which was the "inspiration" for the film Last Samurai). Expect plenty of festivities in Kumamoto when the castle turns 400 in 2007.


—Mellow Monk


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Crankshaft

For all you motorheads out there: Kobe Steel (a.k.a. Kobelco) has a photo of a really huge crankshaft that the company makes for ships. There's also a cool illustration of how the crankshaft works in a ship's drive system. This would be a good illustration to show kids how engines work.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, October 23, 2005

The official British standard for making tea (no joke!)

You gotta love the British. The British Standards Institution actually has a six-page standard (BS-6008) on how to make a proper cup of tea. (You can view the standard in PDF form here).


There's an abbreviated version here.


I posted this information to good-naturedly contrast it to the Mellow Monk philosophy of tea, which holds that you shouldn't use scales, measuring cups, or thermometers or obsess about water temperature or any other variable. Brewing tea is an art, not a science, and a time for relaxation, not precise measurement.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Photo of Saturn's moon Dione

A beautiful photo to mellow out by: of Dione, one of Saturn's seven moons.


—Mellow Monk


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Dustup continues over disputed islands

Until Prime Minister Koizumi dissolved the Diet's lower house on August 8 and called a snap election, one of the biggest news stories in Japan this past summer was the South Korean navy's launching of a new troop carrier/landing ship.


This ship bigger than its counterpart in the Japanese navy, and in fact is the largest of its kind in Asia. But most provocative of all to Japan is the ship's name: the LPX Dokdo. "Dokdo" is the Korean name for islets in the Sea of Japan that are clamed by both South Korea and Japan. (The islets are known in English as Liancourt Rocks and in Japanese as Takeshima [竹島].)


This was simply the most recent (but a very in-your-face) resurfacing of a dispute that goes back centuries. The dispute has less to do with the islands themselves, which are essentially uninhabitable, than with the oil and natural-gas desposits under the sea floor around the islands.


Here's another article about the LPX Dokdo, and a picture-filled (and slow-loading) page here.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, October 21, 2005

War-shrine visits, part 1

When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's made his fifth visit to the Yasukuni shrine, where Japan's war dead—including World War II war criminals—my first reaction was to think, "Why does he keep visiting that place?"


Every time he does, China and Korea, which suffered atrocities at the hands of those war criminals, do things like call off official visits, raising tensions all over the Asian Pacific.


And it's not like those war criminals are enshrined in the sense of being part of a blanket enshrinement of all war dead. Their names are actually listed in the shrines "book of souls." Not only that, they are listed in there as martyrs.


More on this in another post.


—Mellow Monk


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Lack of sleep linked to obesity and other health problems

To the list of health problems linked to lack of sleep, add greater risk of obesity.


In my case, it's also because the later I stay up, the greater the chance is that I'll have a late-night snack.


—Mellow Monk


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San Francisco sketches done "all over coffee"

Artist Paul Madonna has a column in the San Francisco Chronicle called "All Over Coffee," which consists of his sketches—done while drinking coffee—of the architecture of San Francisco.


These sketches are the perfect thing to mellow out with ... over green tea.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, October 20, 2005

In Japan: iPods at Seven-Eleven

In Japan, Apple plans to sell its iPods at Seven-Eleven.


The convenience store chain may sound like an unlikely venue for iPods, but in Japan, not only does Seven-Eleven have a slightly, ahem, more upscale image, but the stores also offer services beyond what they do in the U.S.--things like photocopying, bill paying, and even paying for and picking up items bought over the Internet.


Prospective iPod buyers will get to see display models in the store. If they decide to buy, they order the item there and pick it up after it arrives.


One category of products sold by Seven-Elevens in America that their counterparts in Japan don't: over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. There, even drugs like aspirin and antacid can only be sold by a licensed pharmacist. This isn't just job security for pharmacists; it apparently has to do with keeping up the price of OTC drugs.


—Mellow Monk


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"Retired husband syndrome" in Japan

"Retired husband syndrome" is the English translation of a term coined by medical professionals in Japan who have treated women suffering from the stress and strain of suddenly having to live 24/7 with a husband who was hardly ever home when he was working.


This now-widespread issue was portended for years in the Japanese language by the words that women in such circumstances have used to describe retired husbands: sodaigomi (oversized garbage) and nureochiba (wet fallen leaf—as in hard to sweep away).


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Putting rickshaw drivers out of business?

On display at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show was a one-person vehicle obviously inspired by the rickshaw:





And just when old-fashioned rickshaws were making a comeback!


Seriously, though, rickshaw drivers aren't likely to become victims of automation anytime soon. In the few cities in Japan where they still shuttle tourists around, rickshaws are as much personal guides to the city as they are a means of transportation. A good rickshaw driver will point out all the trendy places to visit, so that his (or her) passengers can visit them at their leisure later on.


—Mellow Monk


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Green cars at the Tokyo Motor Show

Eco-friendly cars are grabbing the limelight at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show.


This article has some cool interactive features, such as one illustrating the internal workings of internal combustion, diesel, and fuel cell cars.


—Mellow Monk


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Hidden camera at a bank ATM

At a bank in Tokyo, an employee found a wireless hidden camera planted at eye level at the ATM—most likely to record people entering their bank account PINs.


—Mellow Monk


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Koizumi's electoral victory, part 3

As promised, here is the conclusion to parts one and two about Japanese Prime Minister's resounding victory in last month's election.


Regardless of what you think of Koizumi or Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LPD), whose majority control over Japan’s Diet has been almost continuously unbroken since the 1950s, you have to admit that his strategy in last month’s snap election was a masterstroke: he focused public attention on a single issue--privatizing Japan’s postal system--and convinced voters of two things that would ordinarily seem mutually exclusive: (1) that the LDP was better capable of pulling off reform than the opposition and (2) that voters should reject anyone in the LDP he didn’t endorse.


In other words, he had the political genius to formulate this strategy and the charisma to convince the majority of his own party and the electorate.


Focusing on postal reform was perhaps a way to simplify the whole reform issue for voters while also co-opting the opposition party (the Democratic Party of Japan), which was (and still is) calling for much more sweeping reform.


Koizumi’s political genius is also evident in how he pulled off the second goal: purging his party of “renegades” by hand-picking prominent non-politicians to run against them. These candidates, called “assassins” by the press, prominently included a group of modern, assertive women dubbed--what else?--the lipstick ninja--a term sure to be used in future editions of the Japanese version of Trivia Pursuit or Jeopardy (“I’ll take ‘Early Aught Politics’ for ¥10,000, Kenji”).


At any rate, Koizumi’s victory is also a good example of a political party “cleaning house”—ridding itself of a small but stubborn element that was doing the party more harm than good. In other words, Koizumi’s victory shows that a political party must reform itself before it can go on to reform the country.


But perhaps the most important effect of Koizumi's success is the confidence it has inspired in Japan's political system. This is a double-edged sword: Japanese voters are likely to have more faith in their political system in getting things done--and less patience when some promised reform doesn't proceed the way politicians had initially promised.


—Mellow Monk


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Japan's "Country "Gold" revisited

In a previous posting I talked about Japan's country-music superstar Charlie Nagatani and "Country Gold," Japan's biggest (and only) country-music festival, which takes place in Aso, Japan (where Mellow Monk tea is from).


Well, here's an on-the-scence story about Country Gold 2002, offering a first-hand account of Japan's country-music subculture. A fascinating read.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What Nicholas Perricone says about green tea and weight loss

Browsing at the local bookstore today, I came across Nicholas Perricone's The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet (link to Amazon.com page). On page 34 of the book, he discusses getting a client to switch from coffee to green tea as part of a custom diet he designed for her. He writes:

Green tea will not only help her burn fat, but will also give her a feeling of well-being.

Lose weight, and enjoy a feeling of well-being? Sounds good to me!


By the way, that "feeling of well-being" is exactly what the "Mellow" in "Mellow Monk" is about.


—Mellow Monk


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Bloodsucking spiders

It seems there are jumping spiders in Africa that specifically target mosquitoes engorged on human blood.


—Mellow Monk


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Doctors who breathalyze

Some day soon, your doctor may breathalyze you as part of a routine checkup. (Registration at the New York Times is required but free.)


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, October 17, 2005

An apartment that's gone to the dogs

This apartment building in Tokyo allows only dog owners.


This is not just a statement by the building's owner, but also a way to avoid the frequent complaints that arise when dog-owning and non-dog-owning residents live in the same building.


Incidentally, both this apartment building and the one I mentioned in my immediately preceding posting are located in Mitaka City, which is part of greater metropolitan Tokyo.


Mitaka is also home to Hayao Miyazaki's Ghibli Museum.


—Mellow Monk


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Imagine if you lived across the street from this building

These apartments in Tokyo were designed by artist Shusaku Arakawa.


Yes, but would he live there?


—Mellow Monk


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Jenga tower

This is cool: a model of the Sears Tower made of Jenga blocks.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Review of a glass teacup with built-in filter

In a previous posting, I described a new glass teacup I bought that has its own glass filter, like an all-in-one teacup and teapot. It seemed like it could be the ideal solution for drinking green tea at the office, or anywhere else where a traditional kettle-teapot-and-teacup arrangement would be too cumbersome.


Well, I've been using it for a while now, and I'm not as impressed as I thought I'd be. The disadvantages are...


  • Hard to empty. With my over-the-cup strainer, when I'm done brewing all I have to do is bang it against something to dislodge the old, wet tea leaves. Something made of glass has to be handled a little more gently.
  • (I guess that was my main gripe.)

On the other hand, the advantages include...

  • Self contained. The lid can even be used to place the filter on after brewing is finished.
  • Looks. This nice-looking, well-designed item will definitely attract attention in your office.
  • Practicality. When removing the filter from the cup, the tea drains through more quickly than you'd think, so you don't have to stand there holding a slow-dripping filter, as I worried might be the case.

To summarize: If you don't mind rinsing out the filter in a sink after each cup of tea you brew, this is a practical, visually appealing teacup-with-filter that's great for the home or office.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, October 15, 2005

"Aso Boy" put out to pasture

Egads!


Right after posting this about the "Aso Boy" steam locomotive in Aso, Japan, I find this article (in Japanese) saying that the locomotive—Japan Railway's oldest operating steam locomotive, and the last on Kyushu—made its final run on August 28.


JR says it made the decision to retire the locomotive because of the high cost of maintenance and the difficulty of obtaining spare parts.


The Aso Boy was strictly for the tourists, but it lent a certain elegance to the rail line that diesel engines just don't have, and I'm sure she—make that "he"—will be missed—especially by the die-hard steam engine aficionados we used to see setting up their camera equipment along Highway 57.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, October 14, 2005

The "Aso Boy" steam engine

The "Aso Boy," which runs from Aso City (where our tea is from) to Kumamoto City in Japan, is the only operating steam engine on the island of Kyushu.




In this shot




you can see the rim of the Mt. Aso caldera in the background.


Incidentally, the name "Aso Boy" is a play on words in its similarity to the Japanese word asobou, which means "let's play."


For more about the Aso area, try this post and this one.
—Mellow Monk


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Pinning antibiotic hopes on a magic mushroom

Doctors at the Georgetown University Medical Center announced that a mushroom found in Northern Europe contains what may be an entirely new class of antibiotics just as effective as penicilin.


One reason this is so important is that more and more disease-causing bacteria are becoming resistant to doctors' existing arsenal of antibiotics.


—Mellow Monk


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Citizen Chewie

British actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, will take the oath to become a U.S. citizen on Monday.


—Mellow Monk


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Dr. Andrew Weil's wellness diet

Some of you may not know health guru Andrew Weil's name, but you probably know his face. He and his philosophies on aging and wellness are featured in the latest issue of Time, in a feature titled "Aging Naturally."


Green tea is mentioned on page two:


Drink tea instead of coffee, especially good-quality white, green or oolong tea.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, October 13, 2005

About insomnia

As you saw in a previous posting, the Japanese have a famous ability to sleep just about anywhere.


And I'm not talking about dozing off in a sitting position on a pubic bus. I'm talkin' not homeless but still 180-degrees horizontal and in flat-out R.E.M. sleep in a high-traffic public place.


Actually, I it's that crime is still very low in Japan. Very low. But even if you talk to old timers in the U.S., you'll hear stories about people sleeping outside in a public (say, on a park bench) and not being bothered at all. That evironment still exists in Japan. Not everywhere. But still in a lot of places.


Now wouldn't that make a person mellow?


—Mellow Monk


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Japanese pitcher could become a Yankee

Daisuke Matsuzaka could be the next Japanese ballplayer drafted by a Major League team (in this case, the Yankees).


According to this article,


Matsuzaka finished the 2005 season with a 14-13 record and a 2.30 ERA. He led the Pacific League with 226 strikeouts, 15 complete games, three shutouts and 215 innings pitched.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

High and low tea

From today's Contra Costa Times:

The tradition of British tea started in the 19th century, when only two meals a day were served. A duchess invited friends over for an extra meal, as she was hungry in the late afternoons. The tradition caught on quickly, and two distinct forms of tea service evolved: high and low. Low tea was served in the late part of the afternoon in the homes of wealthy aristocrats and featured gourmet tidbits rather than solid meals, with the emphasis on presentation and conversation. High tea, also known as meat tea, was the main meal of the day of the low and middle classes, consisting of full dinner items such as roast beef, potatoes, peas, and tea.

According to Wikipedia, this duchess was Anna Maria Stanhope, 7th Duchess of Bedford.


—Mellow Monk


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Tea saying for today

Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea


—Author unknown


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Eat fish to stave off mental decline

To the list of the health benefits of eating fish, add a sharper mind in old age. Researchers who carried out the survey in question suspected (but weren't able to prove) a link with omega-3 fatty acids, which have already been shown to prevent heart disease (this page, on the American Heart Association website, also discusses the issue of mercury in fish).


—Mellow Monk


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Japanese office banner from the 1930s

This is a screen capture from the 1966 Japanese film "Fighting Elegy," starring Hideki Takahashi.

The film is set in the mid-1930s, a time of rising militarism, and the scene above shows a banner on the wall with a typically patriotic phrase common to the times.


The first two characters (reading left to right) are "Shindou" (臣道), meaning "loyalty" or "obedience" (to the Emperor, presumably), but I can't make out the next two. If anyone has a clue, please let me know.


—Mellow Monk


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Tom Gally's black-and-white photos of Japan

Tom Gally's is a name I know from my translator days. He's an American living in Japan, where's he's taken some black-and-white photos of unconventional subjects, such as people sleeping outside and hill stairs in Yokohama.


I don't think I've ever spoken with Tom, but we've probably attended the same conventions.


He's also got a page of links for English-to-Japanese translators (the people, not the computers).


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, October 10, 2005

Outgoing and colorful Osaka

Here's a great travel article on Osaka, Japan's second-largest city. The article has plenty of links and other information about things to see and places to stay.


Sometimes just reading about another city is a great way to "escape" for a little while.


—Mellow Monk


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Sumo wrestler takes on pastrami sandwhich in Vegas -- and loses

This past weekend in Las Vegas, Japanese sumo wreslters were in town for the first Grand Sumo Championship held on American soil in 20 years.


The 346-pound Futeno said he couldn't finish the pastrami sandwhich he ordered at a local deli. But he had better luck at the poker tables, where he won $3,000.


—Mellow Monk


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Green tea: one of the six drinks that changed the world

National Geographic has an article on six drinks that changed the world. Of course, tea is one of them.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Japan's contributions to "The Meaning of Tingo"

Author Adam Jacot de Boinod's The Meaning of Tingo (and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World) includes a few entries from the Japanese language.


One is sokaiya, which refers to a person (usually a yakuza) who buys a small number of shares in a company for the purpose of attending the annual shareholders' meeting and extorting money there by threatening to disrupt the proceedings with shouting and other unruly behavior.


Sokaiya breaks down into sokai, which means "annual meeting [of shareholders]," and the suffix ya, which means "purveyor of" (as in panya, a baker) or, more broadly, "someone who makes his living at [something]."


The book's author has his own blog about the book.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, October 07, 2005

Blue roses

Japanese brewing company Suntory announced that it has bio-engineered blue roses.


—Mellow Monk


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Hideki Matsui, green tea drinker

An article on the New York Daily News website says that the New York Yankees' Hideki Matsui is an avid green tea drinker who spends a few quiet moments sipping green tea in the Yankees locker room right before a game.


This is a perfect example of the Mellow Monk philosophy of green tea: a cup of tea should also be a chance to take a step back from everything and relax. When you're anxious or stressed out, green tea, with its gentle aroma and flavor, is the perfect way to mellow out.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cover story on the Japanese economy in "The Economist"

The latest issue of the Economist has a special feature (they call it a "survey") on Japan's economic turnaround. Here's the issue's lead. Here's the first article in the survey. Both these articles are in the free section of Economist.com.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bruce Lee lives!

In the Bosnian city of Mostar, where the bitterness of past ethnic strife still lingers, kung fu legend Bruce Lee has become a symbol of unity among the various factions--Christians and Muslims, Serbs and Croats.


A group working to promote togetherness among these factions plans to erect a statue in Bruce's image. Members of the group say they hit on the idea when they got together to talk about things both sides had in common. They soon realized that ol' Bruce was a popular childhood hero on both sides of the river.


Now that's cool.


—Mellow Monk


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Quote from Diana Rosen's "The Book of Green Tea"

In The Book of Green Tea, author Diana Rosen writes:

In the Shizuoka prefecture, which cultivates tea as it has for nearly twelve centuries, the incidence of cancer is unusually low, even by Japanese standards. The residents of the area drink about ten small cups a day and use tea leaves only once, rather than brewing several infusions from the same leaves, as most Japanese do.

The book has hints for brewing green tea, green tea recipes, and information about the history and health benefits of green tea.


Mellow Monk says check it out!


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nostalgia: the Ron Popeil slideshow

Remember the Pocket Fisherman and all that other cheesy stuff advertised on TV in the '70s and '80s? Well, Ron Popeil, the man who invented and marketed it all, recently sold his company, and BusinessWeek ran this retrospective slideshow of his products.


I never bought any of this stuff (and probably wouldn't even if I had a second chance), but this slideshow sure is a walk down memory lane (especially the ad for Mr. Microphone--"Hey, good lookin'! I'll be back to pick you up later!").


—Mellow Monk


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Humor: a new version of "The Shining"

This is really funny.


A guy named Robert Ryang made a movie trailer that presents the Jack Nicholson film "The Shining" as a romantic comedy. What's so hilarious is that it works--anyone who hadn't heard of the book or movie before would think it really was a romantic comedy. This shows the power of scene selection and music.


The New York Times ran an article of Robert and his no-longer-secret trailer.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, October 03, 2005

A really cool tea glass with its own filter

Recently I bought a tea glass with its own glass filter. This somewhat pricey (but high-quality) item is a glass cup with a matching glass filter that fits inside the cup. When you remove the filter element after brewing, the tea drains through slits in the bottom of the filter, trapping the used tea leaves inside.

Until now, I've been using an "over the cup" strainer for making tea in the office, but I'm going to take the Bodum glass tea filter for a test drive for a while.


Stay tuned for my report on how it works out!


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Reducing meeting-related stress

Since a lot of you will be facing Monday-morning meetings in a few hours...


The magazine Inc. has made this article available online: "Escape from Meeting Hell."


I had been thinking of writing a posting about how to reduce meeting-related stress when I came across this article, which gives tips on making meetings quick and productive.


If anyone has any other tips, please let me know, and I'll post it to this blog.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Reverse osmosis water filters: great water for tea

More and more offices are installing on-site water filters, such as this reverse-osmosis system (which I've seen in action), to replace those huge bottles of water that have to be trucked acrossed the country and shoulder-carried into the office.

It makes sense: Why burn all that gas and diesel transporting water all over the land when you can utilize the tap water that most homes and office buildings already receive?


Some of the better bottled waters may taste better than this reverse-osmosis water, but as far as brewing green tea is concerned, it's still a huge improvement over ordinary tap water. As I never tire of saying, water is the life blood of tea.


I haven't read anything about what reverse-osmosis filtration systems remove and don't remove, versus the content of your better bottled water, but if anyone else has, please drop me a line.


—Mellow Monk


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