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Wishlist - Christmas 2009

I was asked to put up a wishlist for this year's Christmas so here it is!

  • LiveScribe Pulse Smart Pen

    Livescribe :: Never Miss A Word

    A pen that records your writing as well as sound. Jamesbondarific!
  • Reveal iPhone case (black)

    Griffin Technology: Reveal - Ultra-thin protection from bumps and scratches

    The iPhone looks its best without any cover at all but since I don't want to break because I dropped it or something, this ultra-slim case might just be the thing.
  • Headphones MacStyle Skin (13'' MacBook Pro Unibody/Battleship Grey)

    Headphones MacStyle | MacBook, MacBook Pro, Powerbook and iBook Skins

    This would look great on my MacBook (I hope).
  • Bicycle computer

    Any kind would do really, as long as it is wireless and shows me how far I have gone :P
  • Beatport t-shirt (Size L)

    I Love Beatport T-Shirt | Beatport Brand Shop

    I spend way too much money on Beatport...Maybe I shouldn't be turning myself into a walking advertisement for them?
  • Bicycle pump

    One that works with road-bike tires that is (I forget if they are "French" or "German" or whatever). I have a small one for emergencies but using that every time I need to pump my bicycle tires is a bit of a chore...

Hmmmm....can't think of anything else right at this moment...Except for crazy expensive stuff. Guess I'll update this post if I think of more!

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Swallow's nest

With all the terrible stuff that goes on around the world these days, it can sometimes be hard to see how the words "human" and "humanity" are related, but here is one thing that restores my faith in mankind: Swallow's nest in Tamagawa

...If a bird's nest providing shelter for a couple of newborn chicks is discovered on top of a train station sign - right in front of the ticket machines no less - we don't climb up there and dispose of it. Rather, we let them mind their own business and put up a big notice warning people to "watch their head".

Swallow's nest in Tamagawa

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I am in monitor heaven

Monitor heaven Just couldn't resist this beauty from Apple...Too bad it won't work with a Windows PC! :/ In other news, my camera seems to have know it's bad when the only advice you can find online for a particular problem is "try hitting it or dropping it on the floor to see if it fixes it!" (which I for the record tried but it didn't help). Maybe I somehow crossed the limit of how many gadgets are allowed on my desk or something...:(



Catching up part 16: October 2008

DSC02869 In 2008 I finally got myself a Japanese driver's license (in Japan you can use an international driver's license only for the first year of your stay). Getting the license itself was a fairly easy process although it did require a couple of trips to the Danish Embassy in Daikanyama to get my Danish license translated, before handing everything in at the Driving License Testing and Issuing Center in Shinagawa. Apparently the rules are different depending on where you originally got your driver's license but carrying a Danish license meant I did not have to take additional lessons and/or tests, even though they drive on the opposite side of the road over here.


My newly acquired driving rights were soon put to use on a trip to Choshi, a pleasant seaside area in Chiba known for its ocean views and good seafood.


...Well actually it is not that well-known at all but that's what I imagine the travel brochure would say if they had one.


On the way there we somehow managed to run into "Tour De Chiba", an amateur bicycle race. Thankfully no riders were hurt as I did my best to commander our little rented "rice-cooker" safely past them, after not having been behind the wheel for more than a year.


As usual, pics are on flickr.


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Catching up part 15: September 2008

Yup. Well in to 2009 and am still "catching up". Hopefully the brand new iPhoto 09 software I bought the other day will help me sort out all my pictures and catch up to "now". Karuizawa Bicycling DSC02789

September in Japan is usually quite warm but also marks the end of summer and thus last chance for doing something like...say, a bicycling trip in Karuizawa?


Karuizawa, a mountainous region located north of Tokyo in Gunma prefecture, is known as being a great area for bicycling, thanks to its beautiful open countryside setting, hilly landscape, and lack of cars!


Going up and down the many mountains was certainly a lot of fun (the latter more so than the former...) and my newly acquired iPhone came in surprisingly handy as we relied on its GPS capabilities for navigation! (wow, two Apple plugs in one post...I should enroll in some kind of affiliate program). Here is a rough map of the trip:


The rest of the pictures can be found here!

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Catching up part 14: August 2008

DSC02614 Since everyone in Japan has their week (at best) of summer vacation at more or less the exact same time, the prices of plane tickets skyrocket during this period, and so one can either choose to pay exorbitant amounts of money for a trip overseas or just lay low and chill out for a while in Japan. This year my vacation was spent doing the latter in Kofu, Yamanashi.


The days in Kofu basically consisted of eating, drinking, playing darts, driving/bicycling around the Japanese countryside, and sleeping. Can't think of a much better way to spend way to spend a much need vacation! The action-packed pictures to document all this excitement can as usual be found on flickr. Oh, also snuck a couple of Tamagawa barbecue pics in there, taken in "my backyard" on the first day of summer vacation.




Catching up part 13: July 2008 (Okinawa Diving)

DSC02288 The first test of my newly acquired knowledge in the-art-of-not-drowning was to come only a week after having received lessons in Izu. Armed with only a photocopied "temporary license", the course was set for Okinawa - a large group of tropical islands found several hundreds of kilometers south of mainland Japan. Specifically we were headed for "Miyakojima", which is basically a tiny island inhabited exclusively by people passionate about diving and the sea in general. Even the taxi driver who drove us from the airport said he had moved there just to be able to go scuba diving every day!


Having started my diving career in the muddy waters off the coast of Izu, the Okinawan diving experience turned out to be a completely different one. The warm, tropical water was filled with fish and coral gardens, and had an incredibly transparency that almost gave me vertigo upon descending into the ocean for the first time, as you could clearly see all the way to the bottom, 20 meters below.


Some of the dives took us through labyrinthine cave systems which boasted spectacular "laser light" shows, as sunlight penetrated through the cracks in the ceiling and refracted on surrounding rock walls.


One of the tunnels surprisingly led us to an inland lake that I imagine must be more or less concealed if you approach it from land. Not that anyone would be around to actually try that, since apparently the island was being used by Japan Airlines pilots to practice take off and landing, a fact that was made evident when a large passenger jet passed right over our heads as we were getting ready to return to the boat.


In addition to all the underwater action, some of the most memorable moments from Okinawa actually took place on the surface, eating freshly prepared noodles for lunch on the open sea or having a relaxing float in the warm water while waiting for the other divers to return.


All in all I must say it was a great experience and seeing the pictures from the trip again makes me sure that this won't be my last diving trip, nor my last time to visit Okinawa!




Catching up part 12: July 2008 (Izu Diving)

DSC02316 As if dolphining out in Mikurajima wasn't enough, the following summer holiday saw me take part in another two diving escapades, the first taking place on the Izu Peninsula. Here, about 100 kilometers south-west of Tokyo, I was to receive scuba lessons as part of an PADI Open Water Diver Course in order to obtain a diving license.


Although it may be hard to tell from the pictures, this was in the middle of the Japanese  summer season, and thus ridiculously hot which meant that probably the hardest part of the training was dragging yourself from the preparation area, accross the street down to the beach and eventually into the ocean wearing several kilos of diving equipment.


In the water we went through various drills, such as what to do if you lose your respirator, how to clear you mask of water and so on. As you can see in the underwater shots, the water around Tokyo is not the cleanest in the world. In fact, as our instructor pointed out, it bore a remarkble resemblance to miso soup...but thankfully I would get a chance to see how beautiful it can be underwater only a week later in Okinawa.


The whole course took all of two days and at the end I was the proud owner of a PADI diving license!



Catching up part 11: May-June 2008

DSC02225 During May, in what was going to be the first in a series of underwater adventures this year, I was somehow persuaded to participate in dolphin snorkeling. The action took place on Mikurajima, a small island that is technically in Tokyo but in reality is several hours away by boat and as you can see bears no resemblance whatsoever to the metropolis it shares its address with.


Before going out to meet the dolphins, our instructor had arranged for a brief training session, which turned out to be more like a kind of private lesson as it became apparent that I was the only one in our party without any kind of diving experience. Snorkeling I realized was kind of a rough way to start ones diving career and I pretty much spent this first hour in the water using my snorkel as a drinking straw connected to an all-you-can-drink sea water buffet.


However, when we later actually got to see the dolphins, they would come so close to us that not much diving was really necessary, and merely sticking your head in the water would bring you face to face with the long-nosed creatures.


As always, I've put up a photo set on Flickr with the rest of the pictures.



Catching up part 10: March-April 2008

DSC02078 Soon after returning from Hokkaido I was greeted with a visit from Daneland in the form of Dr. Lemke and thus I took another few days off work to travel Japan with my distinguished guest. The following days brought us across mainland Japan to Kansai and back, with many a random encounter on the way, not forgetting the Jazz-savvy bartender of Pontocho, working away at his tiny bar that seemed to be made up entirely of a chaotic collection of boxes, fans, books, old records, and other knickknacks seemingly accumulated over several decades. Or the company president we met in a hot spring on top of Mount Kurama that bore an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Burns of The Simpsons and was about to hire us both once he'd learned that we were both engineers (is that what we call ourselves?)


Whether Lemke returned to Denmark with the firm belief that all barbecue restaurants in Japan force you to dress up as ninjas and/or superheroes I do not know. Either way you can see the rest of the pictures I took during his stay here, but to be honest you are probably better off looking at Lemke's version.


Soon after Lemke left, cherry blossom season came to Japan and with it another set of obligatory "hanamis". I believe I write about hanami EVERY year so I think I will just leave you with the picture above and congratulate myself that I now have only 7 months left to go before I catch up to "now"!



Catching up part 9: March 2008

DSC01968 I spent the first couple of days of March trying to kill my self snowboarding in Tomamu, Hokkaido. At the time of writing, even while planning another trip this December, I have no clue as to how the intricacies of getting safely down a mountain strapped to a thin, hourglass-shaped board work. Suffice to say I was even more clueless half a year ago and it ended up being three painful but fun days.

"The Towers"

Tomamu is a popular snow resort, particularly recognizable for its strangely out-of-place tower-shaped hotels, aptly named "The Towers". The area also boasts an entire village made from ice (including an ice-bar, ice-hotel room and ice-church!) and a giant pool/onsen complex for recovering from a hard day on the pistes.


Oh, not exactly Hokkaido-related but I took this picture on the way there and I thought it was neat. A tender moment between a police officer and a random bald dude:


The rest of the pictures can be seen on flickr as usual!


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Catching up part 8: January-February 2008

DSC01811 Finally! My "Catching up"-series arrives at this year. New Year's Eve 2007 was spent in Osaka (featuring among others a certain Canadian friend who gets very upset when he fails to gets mention on my blog) and that inspite of it being a fairly disorganized affair turned out to be a lot of fun. Most memorable from the rest of January and February was the unusually low temperatures that eventually let to a regular snowstorm - a rare sight in Tokyo!


Looking through my pictures I suspect that much of these winter months as a result was spent indoors, with the odd trip to Chinatown in Yokohama.


In February my coworkers threw me a birthday party in the form of an improvised indoor picnic with Kiwi (as in "New Zealand") delivery food and even fake grass! (well, a green plastic sheet, but in Nihombashi that is more or less as park-like as it gets). Food was delicious by the way, we need to order from them again!


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Catching up part 7: November-December 2007

Christmas. Sigh, it is almost Christmas again here in The Present but allow me to do a brief time slip to last year's Yuletide for another installment of "Catching up" (I am determined to reach this year by...this year!) Actually I don't think a lot of horribly exciting things happened during that time but rummaging through my badly organized picture folders, I did find a couple of snaps documenting a semi-successful attempt at creating that old classic of Danish Christmas desserts: Æbleskiver. Æbleskiver 1

...The making of which took the most of a day (at work, erm...) and resulted in a pile of tiny æbleskiver (of questionable taste, but jam is your friend) made on a pan that is usually reserved for frying octopi into takoyaki.

Æbleskiver 2