Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nagoya Science Museum - Vines

Before heading to my grandmother's on Tuesday,  I went to the Science. Museum to catch the planetarium show before November ended. The topic was the evening star, which, as many know, is close to my heart. I slept for part of the show -comfy reclining seats under a "sky" full of stars after an 11-day work week, can you blame me?- I stayed up for the Perseus Andromeda myth and woke up in time for the explanation on Venus as the evening star.

I love taking Vines at the Science Museum. I always have to control myself both because of lack of time and the sheer number of possibilities. This time I went down to the special World of Color exhibit. It was smaller than I expected, but it was free and informative enough. I think it was more there for kids on school trips. If I had more time, I'd probably make a bunch more Vines.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Second Package GET!

My ticket for the symphony has arrived.

I wasn't too keen on going out of my way to celebrate Christmas for the obvious reason but I don't see any reason to go out of my way to avoid it either.

I might turn into a sobbing mess, but it'll be cathartic.

I've spent this year just getting through it. Not bad so far if I do say so myself. A trip to Kyoto in January will mark one year. I may or may not write about it. I'll definitely post pictures and sketches though.

Package arrival! The Sketchnote Handbook

So I'll try to keep this short.

I've been listening to the Pen Addict podcast and I'll get into the positive and negative effects of this on my life later, but on Episode 17, they had Mike Rhodes as a guest and he wrote this book called The Sketchnote Handbook. Just listening to him talk about sketchnoting I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. It's how my mind processes information. I immediately went to the show notes for the episode and went to the various links, checked out the book and a few videos and within minutes, I was sold. I put in my order on Amazon Japan and they had one copy left of the video edition, which includes an access code to the online videos.

The book arrived this morning and I am extremely excited. It's a beautiful book. I'm a bit surprised by the quality of it for the price. The cover feels nice. There is a PDF version, but I always have been and always will be a physical book person.

This will be my reading for the next week or so and I bet I will be posting my progress as I work on becoming a sketchnote master. Well, that'll probably take a few years, but you get what I mean. I'm sure many of them will make their way onto the #MelSketch100 project.

 What to draw? What to sketch? How will I change as I make my way along this journey? Where will it lead? Very excited for the weeks to come.

And so the wait begins

Got two things being delivered this morning so I'm waiting downstairs so I can hear the doorbell when the delivery man and the postman arrive.

Got my notebook and my iPad to be productive because I can't go anywhere right now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Planetarium: The Evening Star

Dude, it was worth waiting in line from 9am. Seat A1. Kick ass.

Early morning

9am and I've finished my laundry, packed for my grandmother's, did last minute edits to a podcast script for a recording today, scheduled my concert ticket to be redelivered, bought a book on Amazon on a whim after listening to a podcast because it's EXACTLY what I was looking for, head out to the Science Museum to get a ticket for the planetarium (The topic is the evening star; I can't miss this.) and now I'm standing in a thankfully relatively short line.

After I pick up the ticket, I head over to record a podcast, get lunch, come back to the science museum to watch the show, go to Meieki and pick up some stuff before heading to my grandmother's.

All this working out because I knocked out at 9 last night and woke up at 4am. Yay productivity.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hello DARK! How've you been?

I need to rethink my new schedule so I can take advantage of the mornings that I now have free. Right now I'm using them to recover from my 2am nights by sleeping in until noon. Or going out to lunch. Time to go to bed right when I get back and wake up by 7. Maybe get my ass to Komeda for a morning coffee and plan out my day. Then go back to the house and make a #MelSketch100 before starting anything else.

Hmm, will need to think this out, but clearly I can't do it without some forethought.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Obsessive Stationery Disorder: Improvising pen cases in pen cases

As I posted before, I have six Frixion Ball Slim 038s in my purse pen case. I use these primarily in my planner for the obvious reasons: they are slim and colorful. I am a very visual person, so I like having my events and activities color-coded and the thin tip lets me write in those small calendar squares while the slim body lets me fit them in my pen case alongside the other pens.

Unfortunately, their slim bodies also meant I was constantly digging through my pen case to find the color I wanted. But instead of admitting defeat by buying another pen case - because "defeat" doesn't mean just dealing with it, it means giving myself a valid reason to buy yet another pen case - I got creative and made this case out of a plastic postcard sleeve, a blank business card, and some masking tape.

Not bad if I do say so myself. I've been using it for about two weeks now, and it works like a charm. I might make a bigger version for my other pens. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Seriously?! Live-action Ghost Hunt?

I have no expectations whatsoever. This is not a series that will translate easily into live-action.

Mixed feelings on the cast that has been announced so far. Wait until Naru is announced, I'll be complaining no matter who they choose. Naru is too perfect to exist.

But I know I'll go see it and I'm really glad to see the series reach a wider audience.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

When things don't go as planned

I used to panic. A lot. Now, my brain goes to sleep. It's a defense mechanism. Not perfect, but I stay calm.

So due to a meeting that I am not a part of running over, my plans for lunch and a movie are a bust. Neither affect people other than me, but still...

Whatever, I can salvage lunch and go for the movie another time. Just a bummer.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Obsessive Stationery Disorder: Changing taste in pens and a New PenHolder

Until about half a year ago, I was in love with blue-black ink for years. Couldn't get enough of it. It felt so special. But recently, I've moved back over to plain black. This is most likely because of my new sketching hobby. Blue-black doesn't quite cut it. At least not now. 

And while I have recommended Surari and Jetstream to others, I am a loyal fan of Zebra's Sarasa. I own the full set of colors in 0.5 and bought a pen case just for them. I buy a bunch of them just so I can be sure to have one in reach no matter where I am.

For a while, I was waivering and reaching for the Pentel Slicci 0.25 Black that I recently acquired specifically for writing in my planner. Thin lines are a necessity and the pen body is slim as well. But after I bought a pen holder for my notebook and stuck in a black 0.5 Sarasa, it's been back to the Sarasa. 

I shopped around a bit before I settled on this pen holder. I wanted something strong, but uninvasive. All the other choices stuck out too much and I know with the way I treat my notebook, anything that stuck out didn't stand a chance. 

I thought I'd give this one a try and it stays tucked in my already buldging notebook. Not bad so far. Though it's only been a few days. We'll see how it holds up. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

石の上にも三年 #MelSketch100

I'm currently doing daily sketches and recording them on Vine. Just started, but the goal is 100. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Turning Pages: Ghosthunt 5 鮮血の迷宮

This is probably the best of the series. The most orthodox "ghosthunt". And probably the scariest, though I seem to have grown a thick skin; it wasn't as scary as I was bracing myself for.

Don't get me wrong; I probably had the look of pure horror on my face as I read 麻衣ちゃん's dream and the final encounter with Urado - which is probably why I shouldn't read these in public. But this book is the basis of the manga the scared me so badly that I literally screamed out loud and threw the book across the room - thank god I didn't do that in public (then again, I wasn't drinking coffee). I suppose my imagination refused to go deeper.

Near the middle of the book, I slowed down because after this is the beginning of the end. Only two books left. They're still good and scary in their own rights but I really feel the story of the SPR gang reach a climax with this book. Six and seven are more about ナル and his true identity. And the end of the Ghosthunt series.

There is, however, the comfort of knowing the truest scariest book 悪夢の住む家 follows and suggests the adventures of the SPR gang continue.

Such an awesome series.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Obsessive Stationery Disorder: Saturday's Haul

So, I took a long lunch on Saturday and dropped by Loft and ended picking up the 2014 Hobonichi, which I wasn't really planning to. I haven't used this year's at all... But in determination to continue my sketching habit, I figured it would be my practice log/sketch diary.

I also couldn't resist getting a small Tombow Mono eraser. The packaging is limited edition and it's cute! I'm a bit of a sucker. Okay, fine. Total sucker. I've been listening to the backlogs of the Pen Addict podcast and my stationery problem has gotten worse. Want. More. Pens.

Then I dropped by the Olympia+ and picked up some work pens stuff and another Sarasa 0.5 Black. They were having a campaign and I won a cookie. Yay.

Good stuff.

Fangirl TV moment: The awesome food brain of Nagano Hiroshi

So I caught V6's show (yes, they're still on TV) and Nagano Hiroshi was on and there was this little part that mentioned that beef was the prize of a certain contest and they showed the cow and the beef and out of pure reflex this beautiful man, who can identify the ingredients of ramen noodles just by eating one noodle and visited over 800 restaurants last year (700 of them for the first time) and gives yakiniku restaurant advice based on what cut of meat you most want to eat, this man saw the cow and the meat and automatically said "Ooh, Hida-gyu. Wait, is this going to be a question?"

It was a question. And of course it was Hida-gyu.

I really do love this man. His very existence makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

COLD! got here before DARK!

In fact, it kinda appeared out of nowhere. I was a bit unprepared, but now it's time to stock up on Heat-Tech and scarves. And ways to tie them. The scarves, not the Heat-Tech, obviously.

Found this one on Pinterest last night. I'm a fan. But I'm gonna need a longer scarf. :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

DARK! is coming

Though there won't be as many of these this winter. Sleeping in and long breakfasts! Yay!

I will miss the quiet stations and comfortably sitting on empty trains, but being able to stay up late means more to me. I'm willing to pay that price.

As for today, just have one in the morning, then back to the house to do some laundry, then over to Nagoya for what looks like 4 lessons at the moment.

Then I'm finished with this 11-day work week. Totally doable because most work days start at 4pm. I am most definitely a night owl. I went a little overboard with my newfound morning freedom and scheduled something almost every day, but once I find a balance and a morning routine, I think this will be so much more productive.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rainy days bring out the pet peeves

One major pet peeve of mine is when people drag their umbrellas on the ground. Especially behind them.

Another is when people carry their umbrellas, but grip the handle and swing them back and forth, clearing the space behind them because no one wants to get stabbed with an umbrella.

And the next has nothing to do with rain, but why do some people insist on leaving so much space between them and the start of the line? Especially on a rather narrow platform.


And now to work.

Obsessive Stationery Disorder: Purse Pen Case

I've decided to change the stationery post name to "Obsessive Stationery Disorder" because this is more than an addiction. Seriously, you have no idea how long it took me to take the picture below so it would showcase these pens in a beautiful way. My love for pens and paper and nifty stationery gadgets is a condition. Anyways...

These are the pens and such that I carry with me in my purse. Some are for writing in my planner, others are for writing letters. Some are for sketching, while yet others are for writing in my planner. I keep the main pen I use for writing (Zebra Sarasa 0.5 Black) in the front pocket of my purse, so it is actually not in here.

In this checkered bag from MUJI is (counter-clockwise from the bag):
  • Pilot HI-TEC-C Slim Knock 04; red
  • Pilot Frixion Ball Slim 038; purple, pink, apricot orange, light green, green, light blue
  • PLUS Whisper Petit 5 correction tape
  • Kuretake Zig Letter Pen Cocoiro; Extra Fine; black (w/ refill)
  • Platinum Preppy fountain pen; black (w/ refill)
  • Pentel Kirari brush pen; black (w/ refill) 
  • Sakura My Name permanent marker; Extra Fine; black
  • Tombow Kieiro Pit XS glue stick
  • Shachihata Petit Shuniku
  • Inkan and case
  • Mitsubishi Uni Shalaku mechanical pencil; 0.5
  • Pentel Ain mechanical pencil lead; 0.5; HB
  • Tombow MONO Smart eraser
  • Tombow 8900 pencil HB
  • Mitsubishi Uni Palette pencil sharpener
  • Paper clips
I was going to add notes for each item until I realized just how long this post would be. At which point I decided simple is best.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

開き直り hirakinaori

According to my dictionary, the English equivalent is "to have a so-what attitude". It also implies first being negatively affected by a situation and/or being in the wrong, but eventually reaching that rather positive state of mind, regardless of what others think. It may be more accurate to say it's when you reach the point when you say "Screw this, I'm just going to do what works for me."

It always takes me a while to reach this point. But when it comes to work, I'm just going to speak Japanese when it works. Not in lessons obviously, but I've finally grasped the fact that image of an instructor that I keep in my mind doesn't really exist. Besides, I would never fit even if it did.

Nevermind why I got that thought in my head. It's been a burden. An unnecessary one. So it's time to let go, put my values and well-being first and see what happens.

Oh, and the pic is my London Christmas owl. He doesn't have a name yet. Any suggestions? He's from Fortnum and Mason.

Friday, November 8, 2013

To work

This, I could get used to.

Woke up initially before 7, but ended up getting out of bed at 10. Ate brunch and worked on blog posts and sketches while listening to podcasts. Took a shower just past 2 and on a train just past 3. At work until about half past 10 tonight. This is cool.

Tomorrow and Sunday are somewhat busy and Monday might turn into hell, but then I have Tuesday to Friday afternoon off.

Looking forward to it.

At the theater: JOBS - After thoughts

It was better than I thought it would be. Also more disjointed than I thought it would be. I liked it though. I am not one of the Apple worshippers, in fact i thought so negatively of Apple users that it took me a while to finally get over that enough for me to purchase an iPad, but I can respect whatever it is the Steve Jobs had that created such faithful followers. 

And I did enjoy the irony they movie makers must have had fun including like "No one's going to want a personal computer!" The world has changed so much in the past thirty some-odd years. I'm writing this blog entry on my iPad on the train home. I go to sleep and wake up to this little thing that is thousands of times faster and more capable than my first computer. I can't even imagine what I'm going to be using and doing thirty years from now. And as a lover of the analog, I will have my initial resistance, but I'll give in as I always do. Curiousity and envy always get the better of me as long as I can think of the proper justification.

Anyways, back to the movie, I think it was missing a balance of his personal life and Apple life. Or maybe the viewers were supposed to have more prior knowledge of Jobs and Apple. I felt a bit lost when the time jumped forward especially when he was suddenly married and gardening. I'm all for movies and stories that dump you into the deep end, but this was more like being left in the dust. Still enjoyed it. Ashton Kutcher had a big part in that. He was still Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, but that was what was good about it. I'd love to see him in more serious roles. 

Also! The theater was really nice. I'm not sure what I liked so much about it, but I liked the feel of it. Old school, but with stadium seating. Pretty kick-ass. I wouldn't mind going there again. Especially on Ladies' Day.

Itadakimasu: Nagoya Lunch Passport

If you follow my Instagram, you've probably noticed I've been sketching my lunch for the past few weeks and mentioning a "Nagoya Lunch Passport". It's sold in bookstores for ¥980 and basically, you show it at any of the 72 participating restaurants during the valid period to get lunch for ¥500. The original prices range from ¥700 to ¥1050. So by simple calculation, if you get five lunches, you have definitely gotten your money's worth. 

The first and third lunches I had were originally ¥750 and the second was ¥1000 so I got my money's worth with three lunches. I'm currently up to lunch number nine. Some hits, some misses, but it's a great reason to check out new restaurants. Plus it's become the perfect subject to practice my new sketching hobby.

I have plans to go to at least one more restaurant before the passport expires at the end of the month and with my new work schedule, I'm planning to get a few more in before my night shift on the weekdays.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

At the theater: Steve Jobs

Saw Ashton Kutcher on The Colbert Report promoting this movie and it made me want to see it. First time at Century Cinemas. Non-reserved seating but entry is by ticket purchase order. Nifty.

To work

Silver lining is that it's not to teach, so I don't have prep time to worry about.

But I go begrudgingly, I assure you. I'm scheduled for certification today and I had to get up and dressed as if today were a weekend workday.

I'm in the middle of an 11-day work week. Mornings are supposed to be mine. Screwing with my pace.

But I will not be teaching afterwards, so movie time! I'll be getting home late, but refreshed.

It's not bad, cert tends to be a lot of fun, I'm just bitter about not having my morning.

Tomorrow morning I have to myself as planned.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ed's Mom's Chicken Soup

Maybe it was fatigue from all the traveling catching up with me, but more likely it was just me being stupid and sleeping with my summer covers even though autumn already arrived while I was in sunny Southern California.

My second morning back in Nagoya, I had that undeniable tingle in my throat telling me I was sick. And the next day, I was past the runny nose phase and was rolling around in my bed with the all-too familiar aches and pain. I shared my ill state on Facebook as my generation is expected to and a friend who was just getting over a cold sympathized and sent me his mom's chicken soup recipe.

Around the start of the cold, I wanted chicken soup, but looking up recipes would take more brain power than I was capable of and Japan is not a country of chicken soup, so I couldn't just go to the grocery store and pick some up. Ed's mom's recipe was the solution.

I was well enough to go to work on Friday, but the combination of medicine-head, being in the cough phase of my cold, and an overwhelming desire to make soup, was more than reason enough to take advantage of a slow work day and head home after two lessons. I did, however, have the presence of mind to check the specialty grocery shop near work for cilantro before catching a train home. It's not a common herb in Japan and I know from experience that my local grocery store doesn't carry it. This shop, however, had it in stock  so I got a pack and headed home to pick up the rest of the ingredients at said local grocery store.

The recipe didn't call for carrots, but I wanted that pop of color. I don't even like carrots. Nor celery, but I know how it adds to a soup and thankfully my grocery store sold them by the stalk, so I got one rather than the two in the recipe. I cut both of these rather small so they would all but disappear in the cooking process.

Everything else was pretty much done according to the recipe. I accidentally skewed the cooking times and used the largest pot in the house resulting in quite a lot of soup. But that's what happens when I cook when I'm sick. Thankfully it's pretty hard to mess-up soup.

The finished product was delicious and comforting just like chicken soup is supposed to be. I'm glad I didn't add the extra stuff that I'm always tempted to add like oregano and black pepper. Though next time I might add some red chili like Ed suggested.

For dinner on Friday, I also treated myself to a baguette from the nice bakery near my station. And that turned out to be a brilliant decision. Having proper bread with freshly made chicken soup was the proverbial icing on the cake.

After eating my fill, I packed the rest into two big containers and aside from one night at Soup Stock (they had the chicken pottage), I ate soup for the next three days. With time, the flavors settled and blended, making each day more delicious than the last. I was rather sad when I finished the last spoonful.

I will definitely be making this again and with winter around the corner, it's put me in the mood to finally start making soups. This winter is going to rock.

Bad dreams

Two days in a row, I've woken up to a bad dream. Both with high levels of absurdity and psychological damage. And both days they happened after I woke up before 7 and decided to sleep a bit more because I can. I think my brain is trying to cure my laziness with shock therapy. And I think it has worked. This is pretty harsh.

But still, this schedule is working for me. As much as the bad dream shock therapy is damaging, I prefer it to getting out of bed at 5am to catch a 6am train to work. I can do something about the dreams and still take my time getting ready for the day.

Well, off to lunch with a friend, then to work.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Creators Market

Picked up tickets for the Creators Market on December 7-8. Yay!

For one weekend twice a year, in June and December, literally thousands of creators come together in Nagoya at the convention center near the harbor to sell their work. Everything from art prints to jewelry to clothing to soap to furniture to stuff I don't know how to categorize.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Small happy fangirl moment at Gusto

The little kid at the table next to me asked if it was time for Tetsuwan DASH. Awesome.