Archive for July, 2006

July 19 – 20

July 21, 2006

The Wednesday morning after Ito (AI), I met up with Ueno-san who had asked me to help her prepare deer skulls and other parts for biometric analysis. Yep, I cleaned flesh of deer skulls. I have to say, the smell of boiled deer head isn’t that appealing; however, it was actually a pretty fun experience as my coworkers were great to work with and made it enjoyable . . . despite the subject. I won’t go into much more detail, but I have some pictures (don’t worry I have censored them for those of you with weaker stomachs).

Censored pics

2 uncensored pics

July 15-18

July 21, 2006

Awesome weekend continues . . . at 8pm on Saturday (after I slept in until 2pm) Hasegawa-san picked me up from the lab and we took of for a 5 hour trip to the most northern region in Hokkaido (and in Japan I guess?) for Ito fishing. <<Ito is a huge salmonid in its own family. It has evolved into a sit and wait predator (unlike most other salmonids), and behaves more like a bass. Unfortunately it is also very rare in Hokkaido and is a slow maturer . . . yet they still allow people to fish for it . . .>> So we drove until about 1am, slept in the car until 3am and then drove right to the stream to start fishing. There we met up with 4 other members of the Hokkaido Fishing Team (Hasegawa is a member). We split into two groups and started fishing.

Little did I know what to expect . . . a ton of mosquitos (at least 20 around you at all times . . . so we wore sweet bug nets), a small stream, with deep holes (high water levels), and slick banks made of clay. It was unbelievably difficult to maneuver, let alone cast, in some areas. In any case, fishing was exactly like bass fishing, rubber jigs, minnow baits, spinner baits, etc.. The only problem is that I am used to fishing in a wide-open lake, so my accuracy was a bit of an issue . . . I lost 4 really expensive lures on the first day. After several hours, I sort of got better and actually hooked up with an Ito. Unfortunately the rest of the day (8 more hours of fishing) went rather uneventful for me, except for the continuous falling into the river, the sliding over stumps, and the grabbing of sharp or prickly vegetation.

That evening we set up a couple tents at a nearby campground in the town of Sarufutsu (the river shared the same name). The guys made something similar to gumbo (Japanese gumbo!?!) and it was really spicy and extremely tasty, so I was a happy little fisherman. That night we went to bed around 8pm and then got up at 330am (when it gets light) to start all over again.

The next two days were very similar to the first: I fell in a couple more times, I tore up my hands, lost some lures, and I caught Ito each day.

In total there were 14 Ito caught all weekend. I guess that is a pretty good number as they are relatively rare and hard to catch. I ended up with three pretty small ones: 7, 12, and 18 inches. The largest ones caught were 26, 28, and 32 inches . . . pretty big fish.

Here are the pics of fishing and associated road trip

July 14

July 21, 2006

Friday I finished my manuscript and spent most of the day talking with people in the lab. That evening we went out for Uli’s B-day. His only request was that we go dancing . . . unfortunately, dance clubs don’t really start to get crowded until 2am (and we’re old); so we tried to find a bar/dance club that might start around 11pm. The first place we checked out was a Cuban bar named Habana. It was a nice place, I had some tequila, all was well . . . except no dancing. Next we tried another salsa joint about 8 blocks away . . .again very nice, but no dancing for Uli. So in the end, we settled on 2 hours of karaoke (including all we could drink) and Uli danced to his/our singing. Pretty awesome night actually.

Still working on rounding up the pics . . .

July 9 – 13

July 21, 2006

On Sunday the 9th, I was feeling pretty bad from my fun the night before, so I slept for about 14 hours. I definitely needed to get a lot of rest because 3 of the next 4 days I would head into the field with Hasegawa-san to finish his temperature study. We went out Mon, Tues, and Thurs for about 12 hours each day. Long hours and a lot of work, but I love field sampling, so it was fun (sagoi). Here are a couple more pics from the sampling effort. Wednesday (between sampling days) was spent watching the Tiger’s online, working on the blog summary, my manuscript and that’s about it.

July 8

July 12, 2006

Holy smokes what a day . . .first, Uli and I got out at 10am to hike up to Moiwayama a mountain southwest of our apartment. It took us about an hour to get to the base of the 531-meter mountain, then about 45 minutes to hike up the trail to the summit. Once there the view was spectacular, although it was a bit hazy and felt as though it was a repeat from the JR Tower. In any case, I am glad we did it, and I got some pretty good and funny pics on the way up and down the trail.

Pictures from Moiwayama

Around 6pm Alex, Emilie, and I left for the Biru-en (I think translates to Beer Garden), or what I like to call “heaven” and Alex refers to as merely “church”. In any case, the one we went to was associated with the Sapporo Brewery. At this wonderful establishment, we had all you can eat Genghis Khan and Sapporo Beer. (Genghis Khan is a type of BBQ using lamb meat . . . they gave us our own little hot plate) We started eating (and drinking) around 8 and closed that puppy down at about 10:30, when the servers were respectfully showing us the door.

Some pictures from the Biru-en . . . more to come

After the Biru-en the night gets a little bit more hazy . . . First, we went to this awesome Karaoke bar with a huge pic of Stevie Wonder on its sign. This one was a bit different from those in the States, as we got our own private room (so that noone else suffers I suppose). We paid for an hour in the room (includes free drinks) and hilarity ensued. Let’s just say that Emilie’s rocked-out version of The Carpenter’s “The Rainbow Connection” can never be duplicated, or attempted again for that matter. She crushed it.

Pics for this event are forthcoming (still in the process of getting them from all cameras involved)

Next, we started walking home (as we missed the last train of the night . . . they stop running at midnight!?). As we got close to our apartments, we stumbled upon this little bar that was advertising live music. It just so happens, that they were playing 50’s & 60’s style rock and roll, and that Chris, a New Zealander who lives with his wife at an apartment in our international student complex, plays sax for the band. Needless to say we twisted and hand-jived until the last set ended around 4:30 am (it had already been light for an hour at that point). What an exhausting evening (and morning). Lets just say I was so “tired” from being out all night that I crashed my bike while parking it, completely abusing my knee. Instead of worrying about it or the state of my bike, I decided to limp away from the wreckage to my apartment and ultimately to my bed.

A combination of pics from the pub are also in the works

July 7

July 12, 2006

Most productive day in the lab yet. I finished my abstract, intro, and methods of the manuscript. In addition I made 3 posts on the blog. What a demon. Also, the best thing was that at 3pm, Alex, Emilie, and I went to Mister Donut so that Em could redeem her coupons for the bag I have been talking about (it is not a dog leaving a poo, it’s a lion without its mane . . . you be the judge.) There are some really funny pictures of this event, and just to warn you, I have begun growing a mustache. Not because I think it would be cool, but because I need to have a distinguishing symbol for cell phone texts. Alex is a runner about to run up Mt. Fuji (he will actually do that later this month) and Emilie is the only girl in the texting circle so she gets the female icon. That leaves me with the only American-looking male icon; however, as you can see the guy has a mustache . . . so . . . I’m growing it out. <<As a side, the desire to grow and keep the stache has only intensified as I have started carrying around a murse . . . that’s right a man bag . . . I know. In any case, for the first several weeks I was carrying around my camera in its carrying case, and then had my Costanza wallet, passport, proof of insurance card, notebook for Japanese phrases, and cell phone all in my pockets. As I would ride around on my bike, everything was falling out of my pockets . . . so I innocently started putting the important things (wallet, phone, and passport/insurance card) in the camera bag. Then I started swinging the camera bag over my shoulder . . . and the rest is history.>>

Pictures taken at Mister Donut

That evening Alex, Emilie, Uli, and I played some cards, used my sake set geiven to me by the Akita’s and watched Zoolander. Overall a pretty relaxing night, but we went to bed rather late.

June 6

July 7, 2006

Did not get much done during the day, except a couple posts on this blog. It was a rainy, dreary day until about 4:30pm (though still raining), when I went to another Ham Fighters game. This time, no one really wanted to go with, so I made the adventure alone. This, I guess, could be considered my second effort to maneuver around this country without help. Much more difficult than my solo trip to the JR Tower, as I needed to interact with people to accomplish the tasks. First step, find the right subway line to take me southeast. That was no problem as I had done it previously with Watanabe-san and Emilie. Once off the train I followed all the Fighters fans to the stadium, where my first true test would shortly take place . . . purchasing a ticket. You would not think that it would be too hard because they have pictures of sections (as they do at Comerica Park), so I pointed at a section and said “Kore kudasai”(this one please). That was when the real problems arose, evidently the section was for non-reserved seating (which is what I talked about in my last Ham Fighters post), and the teller asked me (in Japanese of course) if I knew the section I wanted was a non-reserved section . . . the conversation was basically through glass, it was raining, there was a line beginning to form behind me, and I had no idea what she was talking about. So, she went to get someone that spoke English. I finally got my ticket after about 7-10 minutes of standing at the ticket office.

Objective 1: Failure.

Next, I went into the stadium. Although I was certain that the ticket I had purchased was in the same section as the previous game, I couldn’t tell because there were no numbers on the ticket. So I looked for someone to direct me. I asked a vendor “Kore (pointing to ticket) wa, doko desu ka (Where is this located? . . .at least I think that is what it means), but the vendor looked at me like I was crazy and then found someone who could speak English . . .

Objective 2: Failed.

Finally I got pushed in the right direction and headed toward my section. On the way I picked up a dog on a stick and a brew. The section was definitely the same as the game before; however, this time, I sat a little closer to 3rd base.

One of the best moments of the night was when I read the lineup on the scoreboard (ok, only those players that were spelled out in Katakana . . . foreigners) and saw that Jose Macias was going to be playing Left Field. (Another funny side note is that Karim Garcia, another former D Tiger, was playing for the opposing team, the Orix Buffaloes . . . man were the Tigers bad . . .) In any case, the game got started, and by the second inning it became evident that it wouldn’t be much of a contest. The inning started of with two consecutive singles by Inaba and Yukio Tanaka, and then stepped up Macias. He rocked a double off the left field wall for a rbi. Two batters later there was a sac fly to score Tanaka (and of course the hustling Macias advanced to third). Next batter, my favorite player now, Hitori Morimoto (lead off man) walked, stole second, and then he and Macias scored on a single by Kensake Tanaka . . .

. . . As a side, Erin, Morimoto walks up to the plate to Sean Paul’s “Shake That Thing” when everyone else has some slow ballad type song or strange disco song . . . oh except Macias, his was a dirty south tune . . . but no idea the name. Also, later in the game, Morimoto stretched a single into a double and made great leaping catch at the wall . . . awesomeness . . .

In any case, just like that the Fighters were up 4-0 and Orix didn’t have a chance. The final score was 8-1 Fighters. Of course, for his heroics in the second, my man Macias got one of the stars of the game (they have a ceremony for the 2 stars of the game at the end . . . including hilarious interviews, where people in the stands go nuts). After the ceremony, I made my way back to the Sapporo station without problems, and then rode my bike home through some pouring rain.

Overall Objection of having a good time: Successful.

Pics from the game

July 3-5

July 7, 2006

Exhausting days. Each day I met Hasegawa-san at the lab around 7am and we headed out to his field sites that are about 1.5 hours southeast of Sapporo. The sampling itself was awesome as we sampled 9 sites in the three days with a backpack shocker. Very productive. The data we collected also seemed pretty good, as Hasegawa-san seemed pretty excited with the results. Unfortunately, when you are studying the relationship between native and introduced species, you often don’t want your hypothesis to come true.

This field session also provided me with the opportunity to see some pretty nice White-Spotted Char, which are very beautiful fish. Unfortunately, I accidentally erased all the field pictures I took in that three-day stretch, so I will have to get more pics next week (we are going out for 3 more days).

Of course Tuesday was the 4th, so I did have a little celebration with the gang. First, I got back to the lab around 7:30PM and then I booked it home to get ready for dinner at 9ish. . . which of course was at McDonald’s (Macodoranado)! So to celebrate our nation’s independence, I had a Big Mac meal, Alex had some sort of shrimp sandwich meal, and Emilie had a double cheesburger. Great times. After dinner we went to DAIIIIIIIIICHI for desert. I got some sort of fish ice cream sandwich which actually had bean paste in addition to ice cream . . . and you know what . . . beans and ice cream do go together. What a country. After our healthy American dinner and Japanese desserts, we went back to the international apartment complex and started lighting some fireworks. (The night before I picked up some bottle rockets and those crazy little winged fireworks that rotate really fast and then of course Emilie got some weak sparklers). The fireworks show started off great with the winged thingys, but when we started lighting the bottle rockets (and some guy started throwing some devastatingly loud firecrackers at us from an apartment above) we caught some slack from the neighbors regarding the time of night and our high decibels (we kept going for a little while . . . true American spirit . . . but eventually we stopped with the noisemakers around 10pm). So it was a good thing after all that Emilie got the weak, boring sparklers. It turns out that if you set your camera for a prolonged exposure, you can get some awesome picks of sparkler usage. I went to bed relatively late that night as Alex, Emilie, and I played some three-person, rockin cribbage.

Pics of 4th of July celebrations

The morning of the 5th was unkind, but I stuck it out and Hasegawa-san and I put in a 13 hour day . . . man do I love field work. If it weren’t for the impending darkness, I think we could have done 2 more sites . . .we were rollin.

July 2

July 7, 2006

Getting to sleep the night before was pretty difficult as it was a nice night and there was quite a bit of commotion in our neighborhood at 8pm (imagine that). So I slept from about 7pm-830pm and then stayed up reading until 1am when I left for the lab to meet Watanabe-san.

To get to the catfishing spot, we drove about a half an hour east to a series of ponds created by diverting water from a nearby river. Watanabe-san had fished in this spot many times before, and his favorite method to catch these catfish was by using topwater plugs at sunrise. As fun as it is to use topwater for bass, it is even more fun when a catfish explodes on the lure as it really creates quite a raucous. Firstly, they are not very proficient at grabbing their prey (unlike bass that can create a lot of suction to draw in their prey), so they have a more prolonged attack sometimes with several different bouts. Unfortunately, I was not the best at the technique, so I only had about 15 strikes in four hours, and unfortunately none produced a hook-set. Fortunately, Watanabe-san was more successful.

Besides good fishing, another great thing about getting out early, was the sunrise. There is no daylight savings time here, so it gets light around 3-330am right now. Needless to say, I haven’t really been up for a sunrise yet in Japan, so this was a great opportunity. Luckily we picked a good day for it and I got some nice pics . . .

Catfishing Pics

We headed back to Sapporo around 6:30 and I was extremely tired. After making a quick call to the Steve-Jam, the 4th of July extravaganza (obviously held on the 2nd), I headed back home and went to bed for 5 hours.  The rest of the day was pretty lazy as I needed to recover enough to be effective in the field the next day.

July 1

July 6, 2006

Woke up, picked up Emilie from her apartment, and then we walked to the downtown subway station to meet Watanabe-san. From there, we took the subway south to the Sapporo Dome where the Nippon-ham Fighters play, or as we like to call them, the Ham Fighters (Nippon-ham is the company that owns the team). The dome was built for the 2002 World Cup (some of the games were played in Japan) and has this space age look to it. Pretty hard to describe in words . . .

We met Alex and a couple of his lab buds at the ticket office, bought tickets, and then headed directly to the gift shop so that we could buy hats and noise making devices (more about that later). Next, of course, we made a pit stop at the beer and dog vendor (I got an American Dog, which is what the Japanese call our corn dogs). By the way, when we bought our tickets, we did not get specific seat numbers, but rather for a section of the stands. We found a good spot down the third base side and sat down to take in all the glorious sights and sounds of a Japanese baseball game. The crowd was actually pretty small, but our section (and more importantly a nearby section) was raucous. Their cheering etiquette is much different than ours, their cheers are solely positive in nature. (I booed the outfielder of the opposing team when he failed to get the ball into the stands after he made the third out . . . and got a ton of looks and frowns . . . haha). They also get very quiet when the home team is playing defense, and then get crazy when their team is batting. The fans also have a song for every player on the team . . . well, they have the same melody with different wording. The song begins with a whistle being blown, some horns kick in, then the clappers and beat sticks join in (things we purchased), followed by the song. The chorus of the song (sometimes lasting for many rounds) is “Ka-toe-ba-seeehhhhh _________(play-errrrrs name)”, followed by a series of claps and then the refrain (followed by more claps and the refrain . . . and so on). Some in our group grew tired of it, but of course I was screaming it . . . As for the translation, I think it pretty much tells the player to get a big hit.

The game itself was really good, as it was a pitcher’s duel between the ace of the opposing team and the second or third starter on the Fighters (Takeda is his name). Takeda took a no-hitter (one walk but the guy was caught stealing so the perfect game was intact) into the eighth (pics of the scoreboard), when disaster struck. It all started when Alex screamed out to me . . . “he’s got a no hitter going” . . . I glared back at him and told him “thanks for ruining it for everyone”. Wouldn’t you know it but 2 batters later, Takeda took a line drive off his arm (broke it) and left the game. Of course, to follow that, his replacement immediately give up a base knock. I’m still upset with Alex.

The only pop in the game was a huge homer by a Panamanian named Fernando Seguignol (oh and for you Tiger’s fans, another Panamanian by the name of Jose Macias on the team . . . for those of you who do not know of him, he was one of my fav’s during the the down years of 1999-2002). His homer was a solo shot to deeeeeeeeppppppp center.

Seguignol lead the league last year in home runs, so he is pretty popular. When he comes up to bat, the “get a hit” song of course starts, but they also start waving around bananas. I guess its because he is from Panama and they are his favorite food? . . . Sorry Rodge, he is the real banana man. Awesome banana shaking video

The other tremendous things at the game were the beer vendors. Holy smokes if they didn’t pick out the most attractive women in the stands, force them to strap a beer cooler to their backs, and then make them walk all over the stadium selling to rowdy dudes (the coolers, by the way, not filled with cans, but rather are a bladder system for draught beer). Fricken sweet pic taken by Alex

Despite Alex, the Ham Fighters still shut out the opposing team and got the W. Afterward, Alex Emilie, and I went for dinner, and then I headed straight to bed at 7pm, as I had told Watanabe-san I would go catfishing with him the next morning at 2am.

Ham Fighting Pictures