Our Day With Tamae-San, Part Two: Lord Kira and Tokyo Tower

After watching the sumo for about 30 minutes Tamae proposed we stop at a museum of sumo history. Before heading in that direction, however, she revealed (with a faint air of “watch, I’m about to pull a rabbit out of my hat”) that we were standing within sight of Lord Kira’s house. You can probably find a detailed account of Lord Kira and the 47 ronin (samurai without a master) that slew him in Wikipedia, but here’s a condensed version: Asano, the master of the 47 ronin, attempted to slay Lord Kira but failed. Because of the dishonor of his failure, he committed seppuku (ritual suicide) leaving his 47 followers without a master. About a year later, the 47 stormed Lord Kira’s house, found him in hiding, and beheaded him. They carried his head back to their master’s grave at the Sengaku-ji temple, and subsequently all committed seppuku as well. It’s a story of legendary status in Japan, and also one of Tracie’s favorite stories. (It’s also mentioned in the excellent movie “Ronin”, starring Robert De Niro, shortly after he digs the bullet out of his side while Jean Reno helpfully holds the mirror for him.) read more

Categorized as Japan 2008

Our Day With Tamae-San, Part One: Sumo!

It’s early Tuesday morning. I’m deliberately skipping over about a day and half; if I don’t catch up soon I never will. Aside from the connectivity issues, my blogging has been impaired because we’ve been putting in some pretty long days and I’m so tired in the evenings that I don’t have the energy to do any writing. I’m pretty sure that the connectivity problem is actually a problem with my blogging software, BlogDesk: it seems to become impatient when I ask it to upload photos over a slow dial-up connection. So, until we reach Kyoto and the fast internet connection in our hotel, I’m probably not going to be able to post any photos here. read more

Categorized as Japan 2008

“We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties”

I’m having trouble with my dial-up connection. We’re fine and having a good time but I wasn’t able to post at all yesterday. The intent of this post is twofold: one, to see whether I can post at all this morning; two, to let everyone know not to panic if nothing new appears here for days on end. (If something were to go drastically wrong, we’d phone.)

Categorized as Japan 2008

Seeing Tokyo with Rafael and Richard

It’s 8:25AM on Sunday. We’re back from eating breakfast. Tracie is writing a few postcards while I catch up on blogging. Sorry that I didn’t post more last night but I was so sleepy that I could hardly see straight.

Yesterday started with something of a surprise. The normally quiet restaurant in the hotel where we have breakfast was completely overrun by Chinese tourists. I’m going to try very hard to not be too judgemental here, but there’s no easy way to get around what we observed. I’ve always felt that one is a representative of ones country when one is traveling abroad. You are, in a very real sense, presenting an example of Americans (e.g.) in general if you’re an American visiting Japan, whether or not you think of yourself that way. You’re conveying something about your country to the local residents of another country. I take this aspect of travel fairly seriously, and do my best to represent my country in a positive manner. I hope to leave a positive impression upon people I interact with in other countries because part of how they think about my country will be influenced in at least a tiny measure by what they think of me. read more

Categorized as Japan 2008

Our First Day in Tokyo Was a Long Day

I’m sorry to follow my first brief post with another brief post, but it’s 10:00PM and we’re quite tired. I should be able to write more tomorrow morning but right now I’m practically falling asleep at keyboard.

We spent the day seeing sights in Tokyo with Richard and Rafael. We saw the Tokyo International Forum, a spectacular modern building, walked through a posh mall, traveled by river boat from one part of town to another, and had a fantastic dinner of shabu-shabu beef. I have a number of photos to post but those will have to wait ’til tomorrow because I’m only barely awake. We had a lovely day but now I simply must go to sleep. read more

Categorized as Japan 2008

We’re In Japan

We made it. We’ve now been traveling and waiting in airports for over 24 hours straight, so this will be a brief post, and a possibly somewhat incoherent one.

We are now comfortably ensconced in the Asakusa View hotel in Tokyo. Our room is on the side of the building opposite the one we stayed in last year, so we have a different view. This view includes the large temple whose name I’m too tired to remember even though the bellhop told it to us a little while ago, a five-story pagoda which houses some of the remains of Buddha, and the Asahi corporate HQ building which is famous in part for an odd decoration that was supposed to be a flame but looks more like a golden tadpole. I’ll post a photo of the view when I can take one; it’s raining and in the evening now so I don’t think a photo would come out well. read more

Categorized as Japan 2008

We’re Going Back to Japan!

Yes, we enjoyed our time in Japan so much that we’re going back. I will again post regular entries (hopefully daily) and photos describing our adventures. We leave in the tiny hours of the morning on April 17; the first posting from Japan should appear here early the morning of the 18th.

Here’s an itinerary showing where we’ll be when:

Friday April 18 Tokyo – Asakusa View Hotel
Saturday April 19 Tokyo
Sunday April 20 Tokyo
Monday April 21 Tokyo
Tuesday April 22 Tokyo
Wednesday April 23 Travel Day: Tokyo to Kamakura
Thursday April 24 Kamakura
Friday April 25 Travel Day: Kamakura to Kyoto
Saturday April 26 Kyoto – Hotel Granvia
Sunday April 27 Kyoto
Monday April 28 Kyoto
Tuesday April 29 Kyoto
Wednesday April 30 Kyoto
Thursday May 1 Kyoto
Friday May 2 Depart KIX
Return May 2, 2008

Many thanks to all of you who wrote or spoke to me about my blogs from our previous vacation. I will remember your encouragement on the evenings after we’ve been stomping around Japan all day and I’m considering shirking my duties as a travel commentator. 🙂 read more

Categorized as Japan 2008

Nifty Owl Webcam

There’s a neat webcam here pointed at a nest occupied by a pair of great horned owls and their two offspring. I think that it’s only a few miles from our house, assuming that it’s near or on the NCAR building.


I’d like to know why they find the camera so interesting. There are times when all of them are staring directly at the camera.

More Praise From Computer Music Magazine

Gosh, it’s almost becoming embarassing. We received another review full of praise (“another absolute winner”), high marks (a perfect 10/10 overall score, and CM award icons (Performance and Value awards), this time for Ricochet. I feel particularly smug about the grey box at the bottom of the page that describes the behavior of the Feedback knob. Most of Ricochet’s design was Chris’s work, but the clever–if I may say so myself, and CM seems to agree–design of the Feedback knob was my idea. read more

Announcing DubStation 1.5

Sorry that my blogging has been sparse lately. It seems like it’s been an oddly busy time here, both in good ways and in bad ways. There hasn’t been anything really noteworthy (or rather blogworthy) going on but for awhile we were plagued by small but annoying mishaps, distractions, and stupidities.

However, today I have something most definitely worth mentioning: Audio Damage just released a major update to DubStation. One of our oldest and most popular plug-ins, DubStation models vintage analog delay processors and excels at creating spacey, lo-fi echo effects. This update gives the user interface a fresh, new look, adds a second control to the filtering, and cleans up a couple of minor problems. It’s available free to registered users; its price for new customers remains $39. read more