Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reminder: No Videos in Blog E-mails

Just a reminder that videos (like the Spanish video from the last post) don't show up in our e-mail updates. If it looks like there's a video missing, head on over to the site!

Bachata en Fukuoka

Apparently, some singer from the Dominican Republic really, really loves Fukuoka.

Sent to us by two friends in Puerto Rico. (Thanks, Carlos & Shana!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Meet Fred

This is Fred:

Fred is a lizard who lives in the light fixture on the outdoor stairwell of our apartment building:

(Witness teeny Fred-head poking out of the concrete casing.)

Fred's very shy, only coming out on occasional evenings. Due to this shyness, we don't know what kind of lizard Fred is, or even if Fred is a he-Fred or a she-Fred. You can imagine the difficulty of photographing a lizard who lives in a light when it's pitch black outside and the lizard won't let you get more than about three feet from the steel pylon before bolting back up into the concrete. So I know these are lousy photographs but think of it like Sasquatch: the important thing isn't the quality of the image, but rather the capturing of a magnificent mythical creature on film.

We consider Fred to be a good omen. Just last night, I saw Fred on the stairwell as I came home, and then spent the evening freaking out because I thought there was an international date line error in our Christmas tickets home. Then Justin came home and pointed out that the tickets were fine. Which I really should have known - as if they'd go wrong on a day when I saw Fred!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tenjin Food Stalls

As we've mentioned before, Fukuoka is well-known throughout Japan as a great place to eat. Travel guides seem to be especially sanguine about the array of food stalls along the river between Tenjin and Nakasu-Kawabata, right in the heart of Fukuoka's downtown.

Nana and I finally made it to the food stalls last weekend for a quick meal of tempura and yakitori. Here are a few shots from the trip.
Nana liked that cow.
The ones on the bottom are balls of squid meat.
Fried veggies.
The bright lights of Tenjin.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Imajuku Campout

If you're wondering why you haven't heard from me in a while, it's because I was busy last week getting ready for a middle school camping trip to nearby Imajuku (though not as busy as coworker Maureen, who  pretty much had to plan the darn thing herself, on top of preparing sub plans and making up for two days of missed planning periods).

I have to admit, I was a bit wary of the trip going into it: after a long string of 60-hour weeks, the prospect of spending 24 hours straight on the job was a little wearying. But the trip ended up being a blast--hot dogs, ghost stories, lots of dodgeball . . . ! Well worth the cost in terms of sleep deprivation and planning time.

Anyway, owing to student privacy concerns, I don't want to post too much about the trip. But here are a few photos of the campground, sans students.

The view from the hill. We had to walk all the way up from the train station down by the water.

For our meals, the kids made these cute origami bowls for us to put our grub in.

The middle schoolers planned the meals, so it's not surprising they consisted mainly of hot dogs, chips, and sugary drinks. (Though Maureen did try to sneak some fruit into the mix.)

The steps leading up to our cabin, #4.
The cabins were nice--clean, dry, with tatami bunks. Nothing like our Korean camping experience, though, which basically consisted of sleeping in a two-star hotel that happened to be next to some woods.

Here's cabin 3 in the morning, with the hills behind.

The weather was really nice the first day (I even got a sunburn), but the second day was drizzly. I came prepared with an umbrella, but Kevin (the science teacher) was forced to fashion this stylish poncho out of a trash bag.

Nana Drinks Weird Stuff For Your Entertainment: Sapporo The Melon Cola

Justin picked this odd neon green beverage up for me at a convenience store the other day. Note that he did not drink it himself. In fact, I am noticing a disturbing lack of weird things drunk by Justin lately. Is this my karmic payment for the fact that I always make him taste things first in restaurants so we can figure out what they are?

This is not the first time we have had melon cola in Japan. Lotteria, a burger chain, also has it as a fountain drink, and if I recall correctly I first got it by mistake thinking "melon" was a weird pronunciation of "lemonade." (Intriguingly, they have coke, melon cola, and ginger ale, but no "cider," or Sprite-style drink, and what looks like orange cola in the fountain is actually orange juice. The things we learn by trial and error!) But it is the first time we have had The Melon Cola, with a capital The. Since I come from the city of The Ohio State University, emphasis on the The to distinguish it from all those fraudulent Ohio State Universities out there, this did not strike me as odd until just now, when I had to type it.

The best thing about The Melon Cola is the awesome penguin packaging:

If you look at the bottom line of text in the top picture and on the left, by the kicking penguin foot, in the second, you will see the same "No Fruit Juice" characters which should have been my tip-off back with the Hypno-Cow Apple Milk. The more you know!

Back in Edinburgh, Justin and I made our Norwegian friend Anne Marie taste a sour apple Jolly Rancher, not because it's any good (she spit it out almost immediately) but because it is a critical point of reference for Americans. How else could I describe the color of this beverage? Nothing else in this world is quite the same shade of unnatural nuclear green.*

Fortunately, The Melon Cola tastes nothing like sour apple Jolly Ranchers, and much better than Hypno-Cow milk. It was mild, not anywhere near as syrupy and tart as I expected. It doesn't taste like melon in the sense of cantaloupe, which would be the most logical assumption, but maybe sort of like a sweet green apple plus green grape juice. Totally acceptable, although probably not something I'd seek out.

I also want you all to know that in the pursuit of this blog post, I spilled The Melon Cola all over my kitchen table and floor:

Admittedly my own fault for holding the open bottle in my hand while trying to pick up a glass of water by the rim with the same hand. Did you know liquid flows out when you tip the bottle over? To my surprise, a bit of soap and water on that washcloth seems to have taken care of it. I was anticipating weeks of sticking to the floor when I walked by. I thought this might mean that The Melon Cola is sugar-free, so I took a closer look at the nutrition facts label:

The first is calories. The second is protein and the third is fat, with 0 grams of either. Number four, best I can translate, is "Charcoal water transformation substance," which I appear to have consumed eleven grams of. (Alternately, if you go by the description near the penguin butt, it is "charcoal acid drink material," which I'm not sure is an improvement.) This may explain why the soda did not leave a sugary residue on the floor, but does make me wonder what sort of residue it left on my digestive tract. But at least it had zero mg of sodium!

*Although maybe you could make an argument for mutagen.