Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo)


I decided to start posting a sign a week and Sunday sounds like a good day to do it.  It should help me keep my eyes open and I'll have to make sure I shoot a new photo of a sign, somewhere, at least once a week.

There are interesting, funny and even hilarious signs all over Japan and I think you could make a fortune correcting the English on some of them.

But, you never know. Many of them could have been misspelled deliberately. I do things like that, right here on my blog just to let that Spelchek Dude know who's the boss around here, sometimes.

This sign is at the top of a stairway on the Zakimi Castle wall in Yomitan Okinawa, Japan.  It lets you know, if you don't pay attention, you could fall all the way back down the stairs, I guess.

Or, it could be a warning to people who might want to lean too far over the wall once they reach the top. They could fall outside the castle walls and the UNESCO folks probably don't want to get involved in a bunch of lawsuits.

Are there silly signs like this at UNESCO Castles anywhere else in the world or only in Japan, I wonder ?






Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday's Shootin' (Camera) in Bise Okinawa, Japan: Photo Essay

A good day of camera shooting requires proper nourishment. The Texan, Rusty, was the driver and Saturday was going to be fantastic for shootin', according to the weatherpersons. Unusually warm and sunny for a day in February, Rusty came by and said, "Let's go back up to Bise, I know a spot where the ospreys dive for fish".

With only a few hours of sleep and a few beers from Friday night still working on me, I decided to travel light. No backpack full of gear and no heavy 500mm lens.  Just a camera, tripod and an 18-250mm lens.

Bise is a long drive from where we hang out. We got there just around lunchtime. So, we stopped in the first place in town that looked like it served good food. That's my tray above. It's called Yasai Itame Setto (set). I got a pile of stir fried veges, pork, rice, soup and some pickled cucumbers and seaweed, or something like that and a cup of tea for about six bucks. Just what the doctor ordered. It was delicious.

Rusty's not at the table because he saw a water buffalo pulling a wagon and ran outside to take pictures. So, I sneaked some food off his tray, too. I didn't want to see it go to waste.

After lunch, we decided to walk along the coast and head up to where he'd seen ospreys before. The island in this photo is Ie Shima.  That's where Ernie Pyle, the war correspondent, was killed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

Way up the coast a white tower is barely visible on another island off to the right. We were heading there because just behind that island is where the osprey would be diving for fish.

Ospreys like to fly where the sun is shining. It makes it easy for them to spot the fish, shining in the water, below.

Black rain clouds followed us and got to the spot just about the same time we did. Shucks.

When you come this far with a camera, you might as well shoot something, anything, if the birds refuse to show up. So, I started walking all the side streets in the village looking for stuff to shoot.

The villagers have all kinds of fishing floats hanging from trees and rafters and they painted them bright colors and put them on display so people, like tourists, will walk up and down the narrow streets snapping pictures. So, that's what I did. Felt kinda touristy, I guess.

Then, when I got back on Main Street, the road Rusty chased the water buffalo-wagon down, I decided I'd get enough photos of the place to make a travel pamphlet, if I ever have to, for some reason.

Walking around shooting pictures of little Mom and Pop operations, buying cans of iced coffee and speaking some of the local dialect got some of the gals running the shops laughing, cackling and running around showing me all kinds of stuff to take pictures of.


The gal who owns this place was a real sweetheart. She makes all kinds of trinkets and knows how to use power tools, paint, do carpentry, electrical, masonry and maybe, even does some arc welding. A man'd be crazy not to like a woman like that. But, when she started showing me her pictures from when she was twenty and thirty years old, I had to let her know, I was already taken. She'd have better luck hitting on the dude from Texas. Maybe...


The gal kept insisting we follow her and take pictures of the Fukugi Trees on this side road. She said it was the best one in town for photography. I took lots of photos and showed them to her. This one, here, she likes best. So, next time I visit Bise, I'll bring her a pile of 4x6 prints of it. She had abandoned her store to guide us to this spot. What a gal !

These flowers were on the corner of another Mom and Pop store and we shot a bunch of them but, I wasn't sure if they were Plum Blossoms, or not.  So, I went in and bought some coffee and when I paid, asked the lady. She confirmed they were Plum Blossoms.

Well, Rusty and I shot a bunch of the flowers and she was looking at all the photos and being super friendly, too.


So, while she was looking at Rusty's pictures on his camera, I started slinking down the road aways to see what else I could find to shoot when I spotted a patch of blue sky and SUNSHINE !

The people of Bise in Okinawa, Japan are some of the finest folks you'll meet anywhere on earth and I had a blast walking around taking pictures, joking with the shop owners and enjoyed their hospitality and warm smiles. But, when the rain stopped and black clouds went away, I had to get out of town.

Well, by the time we walked back to the car and headed back over to the spot where the ospreys grab fish, the weather turned again. Cold, windy and on and off again sprinkles of rain was the highlight of our time at the secluded beach. I got an osprey but, no fish. The ospreys didn't get any fish, either. We'll all be back.

The next time, maybe Rusty and I will pack up my Queen Bee and his Gal on a Saturday and let them entertain the Gals of Bise while we go and do some serious camera shootin'. 

RELATED POST: THEN AND NOW: AN OKINAWAN SWEETHEART



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Flower: Plum Blossoms ( Prunus mume) Photo of the Week

The Plum Blossom (Prunus mume) in Japan, signals the start of spring. I'm ready for spring.  And  you?

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Friday, February 25, 2011

What The Duck ? (Photo) and I Wanna Be A Millionaire, Too !


What the Duck ?  Oh, he's just an Anas clypeata, commonly known as a Northern Shoveler.  You can Google or Wikipedia them and go to any number of bird channels, if you want to learn more about our feathered friend birds.

There's another kind of anal bird called MILLIONAIRES that I'd like to provide a link to for you. 

I don't make this stuff up. Millionaires, in the USA, are drawing UNEMPLOYMENT !

Now, I work to pay my taxes in Japan and I pay my taxes to the USA, so I guess I'm giving my fair share.

I never considered myself to be a greedy person. 

But, what the duck. Now, I wanna be a millionaire, too !



Wildlife Photo: Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) Okinawa, Japan

The Egretta garzetta is a small heron commonly called the Little Egret. They may be found in Africa, Asia, Australia and parts of Europe. This one was photographed in Okinawa, Japan.

As many types of white egrets as there are, this one stands out as being the only species on Okinawa having a black bill, black legs and distinctive yellow feet.

They eat insects, frogs, snakes, shells and small fish and may often be seen doing a little dance to stir things up in shallow waters along the coast.

When they see me coming in my yellow flip flops they don't mind me taking pictures of them. But, when I get in the water and start dancing like them, they don't like it and fly away.

So, now you know what a Little Egret looks like and why I gave up dancing.

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

UNESCO Katsuren-jo Okinawa, Japan: Travel Photo Thursday

Katsuren-jo (Castle) is one of  five UNESCO World Heritage Castles in Okinawa, Japan.  This photo was taken back in October of 2008 and I titled it "Stairway to Heaven".

It was a catchy title and the judges liked it when I entered it in a contest but, I was only foolin'. Heaven ain't up there.  I checked it out for ya. It's a good climb, up all the stairs, and you get a great view of the surrounding area on a clear day. Maybe, even meet some pretty girls up there. But, there's no ice cream or even a place to buy coffee. That's how I know it ain't heaven.

This will be my weekly contribution to Budget Travelers Sandbox TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY

If you're really interested in visiting the Five UNESCO Castles on Okinawa CHECK HERE for the details and you can get my directions, advice on what to wear, costs and even a link to the Official Government Website, just in case ya think I'm foolin' around, again !

The Quarter Million Views must have happened while I was asleep last night and the crazy meter just keeps on going. I'm still waiting to see if anyone snapped a screenshot. I hope someone did, because I really appreciate people visiting my blog, looking at my photos and maybe, even reading the nonsense I ramble on about. Thank you all !



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top Ten From Ryukyu Mike and a Quarter Million Reminder

Here is a list of the Top Ten (most viewed) blog posts on Mike's Ryukyu Gallery and a reminder to keep an eye on that view counter meter over in the upper right hand corner.

If you are going to try to SHOOT THIS BLOG AT 1/4 MILLION VIEWS and be one of the few individuals who get my photography for free, get ready. It can happen anytime, now! 

Just make sure you read and follow the contest rules carefully because Mrs. Ryukyu Mike, who happens to be an expert in the complaints department, will be watching to make sure everything is above board.
If you wonder how she became an expert, that's easy; constant complaining.

They could create a Nobel Complaining Award, I'd vote.  But, I love her because she keeps me honest. Hah!

THE TOP TEN ALL TIME POSTS ACCORDING TO GOOGLE ANALYTICS ARE:

 1. Flower: Sakura Okinawa, Japan (Photo) and a Little Secret        12,501 Pageviews

 2. Cherryblossom Festival Okinawa, Japan (Photo Essay)                12,256 Pageviews

 3. PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: JPG VS RAW                                                 4,224 Pageviews

 4. Wildlife Photo (Bat) Ryukyu Flying Fox an Endangered Species    4,189 Pageviews

 5. Okinawa's Guinness Tug-O-War: The Rope (Photos)                       3,696 Pageviews

 6. PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: THE RULE OF THIRDS                                     3,686 Pageviews

 7. The Year in Photos: Okinawa, Japan 2010                                       3,529 Pageviews

 8.  Orchid Lovers A Travel Photo Thursday Essay For You !                 3,483 Pageviews

 9.  Wildlife Photo: Ryukyu (Okinawa) Ground Gecko                            3,160 Pageviews

10.  Moon Your Local Power Plant (Photo) Why ?                                  3,060 Pageviews


The Top Ten most viewed blog posts is something that always amazes me. It changes all the time and I can never predict what may become popular with readers from one day to the next.

My two guest photographers and their Wildlife Photography were popular recently and I enjoyed having them here to highlight their work. So, I may see what else I can come up with along the lines of super wildlife photography in the endangered species and rare or unusual breeds departments.

Blog visitors are who make the Top Ten list for me and I hope plenty of you are online as the counter nears the Quarter Million mark.  Shoot my blog, email me and let me know what you'd like to see more of.
I might just keep plugging away at this until I hit the Half Million mark !

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's Wrong With That Picture? (Photo) Wrong Grandpa, Hah!

There is something terribly wrong going on back in the USA.  So, I'm going to use this photo and some of my Grandfatherly wisdom to try and demonstrate how things like getting the wrong Grandchild can happen. I'll have a bunch of questions to ask, as well. I don't want to know what's wrong with this picture.

I want to know what's wrong with the picture in Cleveland Ohio, USA.

A Grandpa went to pick up his 3 year old Grandson at a school for little people (Daycare Center, I guess you'd call it) and didn't realize it was the wrong kid until he got home. What?

This is a true story. It happened in Ohio. I'll give you a REFERENCE FROM ABC NEWS in ARIZONA because I'm pretty sure the two locations are far enough apart to keep them from throwing rocks at each other.

First, my Grandfatherly advice would be all Grandpa's should know who their Grandkids are. And Grandkids should probably be taught to recognize their Grandparents. This can be tricky, sometimes.

Like, in my photo above. It's pretty hard to find your Grandson at a school function where everybody looks the same. But, if you shave the boy's head, he'll be easier for Grandpa to spot.
The son-in-law and I just have to make sure the other parents don't all get the same idea. Hah !

There are a few other tricks up my sleeve, but, you won't be hearing about them today.

It's been a long time since I've visited the USA and I just wonder, what's wrong with the picture, back there.

Did somebody slip something in the drinking water?

Don't parents teach their children who Grandpa really is?

Can a 3 year old child tell the teacher, "That ain't my Grandpa"?

Do people just get drunk or drugged and walk into little people's schools and say, "I'll take that one, over there".  "Yup, the one with hair on his head, givum here. I'm the boy's Grandpa today".

A long time ago, I remember people used to have something like, personal responsibility and pretty much made sure everybody in the family knew each other. Are we entering a new era?

Is one of those Pro Bono Lawyers (Pro Cher sounds cool, too) getting ready to jump on this case?

Any chance this Grandpa could get a cut of the money that might be awarded the poor parents?

Do me a favor, please. After you've attempted to digest the story, tell me, "What's wrong with that Picture"?




Wildlife: Five Quick Osprey and Fish Photos From A Dam

Here are five quick photos of an ospery taking home a fresh water fish from a dam in Okinawa, Japan.

Most of the osprey photos I post are of them grabbing fish from the ocean but, these guys will eat any kind of fish.

I promised I'd get you a shot where the sun lights up both the fish and bird's eyes but, that hasn't happened, yet.


These things take time and getting the critters to pose for you where the sun hits them just right can be a challenge.


The location I caught these photos of the osprey and fish at will remain a secret for two reasons.

One, I couldn't remember the Japanese name and Googled/Wikipeiad it and everything and it doesn't appear to be listed.

The other reason could have something with me not wanting anyone else going there and scaring all the wildlife away!

This morning I got tangled up with three dogs I was walking and someone else's unsupervised dog who wanted to fight. Knocked flat on my butt in the middle of the street, fur was flying, my shoes went flying and I was a cussing-tangled mess of leashes getting my "roids" scraped off, going down the asphalt highway. Everybody, 'cept, maybe the unsupervised dog is OK.

I'm just doing a Five Quick Osprey and Fish Photo post because I have to go home, walk the dogs, clean cameras, charge batteries and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow 'cept, maybe leave out the part about getting drug down the highway by angry dogs.

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Buddhist Statue of Shinran Shonin in NYC: Give It Back !

Here is a photo of a Statue of Shinran Shonin I took yesterday. It's something I've seen a few dozen times as one of my friends whizzed by while driving and I always wondered what it was.

It sets back off the highway in a secluded park near the ocean so, you don't see much other than the top portion of the figure silhoutted against the sky when you're in a vehicle.

On the way to do some shooting at the UNESCO: Zakimi-jo (Castle) Museum I was griping to Rusty (driving) about how I'd rather be anywhere than indoors with my camera. It was cloudy outside but, not raining when we cruised on by the statue this time. "Hey, let's go check that staute out" I said.

A quick U-turn and we were parked and grabbing our camera gear to do some shooting.


Whenever I see something in English displayed, like this, I have to shoot a photo of it. It helps me do the research afterwards and it's always handy having it filed right along with the rest of the day's photos.

Now, I don't know how most people feel about it but, for some reason, I tend to put more stock in what I read engraved in stone than the things I find on the internet. Consider me a Neanderthal.

It just seems, to me, it'd be easier, if you were a liar, to put stuff online, than to etch it on to a stone.

Today I went and GOOGLED the Statue of Shinran Shonin and found out WIKIPEDIA is at the top of the list but, there's a whole bunch more places that know all about this figure, too.

It seems Shinran Shonin was born in 1173 and at around nine years of age went and got trained as a Buddhist Monk. To make a long story short, he is somebody important to people who practice Buddhism.

The same type Statue of Shinran Shonin you see in my photo taken in Okinawa, Japan can be seen in front of the New York Buddhist Temple on Riverside Drive in Manhattan, New York.

It survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. So, somebody decided, "Let's take it to New York" !

Huh ?  I wonder if it ever occurred to to anyone it might be a nice gesture to give it back ?



Friday, February 18, 2011

Photo of the Week: "Stained Glass" a Contest Editor's Pick

Here is another shot taken at the Okinawa International Orchid Show after I had my fill of flowers. This one got an Editor's Pick in Better Photo's Monthly Photo Contest.

Speaking of Contests, I want to remind everyone about SHOOT THIS BLOG at 1/4 MILLION VIEWS because the crazy counting meter is unpredictable. It adds anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 views overnight while I'm supposed to be sleeping.

So, if you plan on shooting my blog when the magic numbers turn up, maybe it'd be a good time to practice doing screenshots or shooting your TV, Desktop/Laptop Computer with a real camera or your cell phone. The contest could end before the end of the month, or could stretch on until St. Patrick's Day, in March. I know these things from having the luck of the Irish.

The "Stained Glass" photo details may be seen, along with the rest of my EDITOR'S PICKS and a few Contest Finalists/Winners in my Photo Gallery. That'd be a good place to shop around if you plan on being one of the lucky winners of the Contest: Shoot This Blog at 1/4 Million Views.

It's time for me to pack up my cameras and do some Museum shooting. It looks like rain all weekend here so, I plan on staying dry. Have a great weekend, wherever you are and you stay dry, too !


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Photo "Sharing" Should It Be Banned ?


      Caution: Sharing could lead to smiling. Smiling can be contagious. Should sharing be banned ?

                                            Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Travel Photo Thursday: UNESCO Castle Nakajin: A New Angle

Here is UNESCO World Heritage Site: Nakajin-jo (Castle) in Okinawa, Japan from a new angle.  This will be my weekly submission to LadyExpat's Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Last night, I got in a rush and thought I'd get off easy submitting that photo I did a simple HDR job on.  Well, that probably won't cut the mustard with LadyE.

In my almost-thorough-research I'm always pretending to do, I discovered: SHE GOT THAT PHOTO FROM ME BEFORE !

It was way back in 2010. That was, like, last year. December of last year to be exact. SHUCKS.

So, seeing as I have gazillions of photos of these UNESCO Castles that have never seen digital daylight, I dug up a different one. This is from a new angle, one that most travelers don't get to see.

All the touristy brochures show castles from the entrance. That's nice if you're looking around for front doors to go through to visit these historic landmarks.

Act like Hagar the Horrible and knock on the castle's front door to do the Viking Trick or Treat thing.

Sometimes, I like to go and shoot castles from different positions.  Usually, that has something to do with where the light shines best for my purposes. And, it gives me photos that nobody else gets, not even on postcards. I got the part of the castle someone coming from the sea to attack the place might run into.

They built these castles by stacking cut limestone rocks without any mortar. Now, imagine sailing your boat from China, Indonesia, Norway, Pennsylvania, Scotland (They discovered America, ya know) or any one of those foreign countries and climbing over 300 meters above sea level to attack Nakajin Castle. If you didn't go knock on the front door, this is what you'd see.

Guess what would happen when you started attacking and hollering "Yer money or your life" ?

Nothing would happen.  The defenders of the Ryukyu Kingdom would just wait.

They would wait until you started getting real close and climbing the walls. That's when the good stuff starts to happen. They'd pick up the unmortared rocks and drop them on your head.  Hah !

This should keep me from getting into DEEP KIMCHI with Lady Expat for this week's Travel Photo Thursday. I wonder if she really eats that stuff ?


UNESCO Nakajin-jo Okinawa, Japan ( HDR Photography Basics )

This photo of Okinawa's most northern UNESCO Castle, Nakajin-jo, you may have seen before, or one similar to it, anyway. 

It's been published a few times in travel magazines but, I still own the copyright so, I figure I can do whatever I like with it.

Well, here's what I did today. In response to someone's questions about HDR, I did my very first HDR photo. Yer lookin' at it friends !

Let me start by explaining, I am pretty much an anti-photoshopper. I respect those who know how to use Photo Shop.

I'm talking about Professionals who use PhotoShopPro and know how to produce a photo that doesn't look like a piece of plastic, the cover of a comic book, or something that was spray-painted on photo printing paper.

You know, 90% of the PhotoShopped junk you see online these days. That's what I'm talking about.

HDR means High Dynamic Range and it is something that enhances photography when it is applied resourcefully. A digital camera has difficulty capturing all the details when you take a picture with high contrast between the highlights and shadows (Bright and Dark areas) in the same scene.

To create an HDR photo you take a series of photos,  exactly the same (tripod a must) of the scene.

One photo overexposed. That would be one full exposure value (EV) past what the light-meter says is perfect exposure.

            One photo at perfect exposure, according to the light-meter as it reads the scene.


         Then, one photo that is underexposed a full exposure value (EV), -1 on the light-meter.

Put them all together and you have a High Dynamic Range (HDR) photo. That's HDR Photography in a nutshell.

It gets much more complicated than what I'm telling you here but, this as the simplest way to explain HDR to you. Some photographers will combine 3, 5, or even 10 photos taken at much larger differences in exposure values.

The photo above, I created using Adobe PhotoShop Elements 8 and I simply pulled up the three different exposures of Nakajin Castle, nicknamed them Hi-Tone, Mid-Tone and Low-Tone and pushed the right buttons to let Elements 8 combine them for me automatically.

If you'd like to learn more about creating HDR Photos without springing for PhotoShopPro and want to save a few hundred dollars, visit PHOTOEXELS and check out their tutorial.

Now that I've toyed with it, I may have to go around and shoot all the UNESCO Castles in Okinawa, Japan over again just to show everyone that HDR Photography doesn't have to be something you need 3D glasses to appreciate. That'll mean, I'll be busy.

Hopefully, LadyExpat over at Budget Travelers Sandbox will understand and accept this photo of Nakajin Castle for her Travel Photo Thursday.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Moon Your Local Power Plant (Photo) Why ?

          Here's a photo of the moon rising behind my local Power Plant in Okinawa, Japan.

                  Why should you moon the Power and Electric Company or Power Plant ?

                                Just in case nobody has ever told you, I'll tell you why. 

                      Um, I'm fairly certain, the power that comes from the sun is FREE !

Visit my Homepage for the PHOTO OF THE DAY

Monday, February 14, 2011

Big Butterfly Photo and a Girl Named Lola

Today will be a quick post. First, I want to show you this big butterfly. It's called the Rice Paper Butterfly (Idea leuconoe) aka a Paper Kite. It is the largest butter fly in all of Japan and we have them, right here in Okinawa.

One of these guy's photos of mine was published at APOGEE PHOTO MAGAZINE back in the month of May, last year. That was an article where I talked about "Lookin' Back" over the stuff I went through getting published in magazines, both the online and printed versions.

Well, I gotta tell ya, dealing with Magazine Editors used to give me butterflies in my stomach.
I'm still pretty sure some of them ain't humans and they'd eat their offspring to make more room for their editing work.

I don't get butterflies anymore. I just stay clear of editors who don't know how to act like humans.

Now, let's get to the Girl Named Lola. She's an Artist, Photographer, Editor, Travel Writer, Crazy as Hell and a Great Friend of mine. She wants to go to the North Pole on a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker that has a 75,000 horsepower engine and crashes through 10 foot thick Arctic Ocean ice like it was some kinda Slurpy drink. That's what I'm talkin' about. Go for it Lola !



Read all about it HERE and push all the buttons but, be quick. Lola is number three in the top votes and can win but, people at the last minute could get a pile of votes and bump her out of the top five. We can't let that happen. The contest ends EDT noon on February 15th, 2011.

If you just take 5 minutes to login and vote, you could be the one who makes it happen. I voted a long time ago for Lola and can't remember exactly how I did it. I know, no junk mail comes from doing it. I get a newsletter, but I like it or would've stopped it a long time ago.

I'm hoping, someday Quark Expeditions has a contest for someplace warm; then, I'll try and go there.

Meanwhile, I'll have butterflies in my stomach until I know Lola wins this trip to the North Pole.

That's what gave me the idea to post this big butterfly photo along with my plea to help the Girl named Lola.

Win, loose or draw, Lola is coming here for an interview soon but, I want her to win.

Help me send Lola to the North Pole, OK ?

Wildlife Photo Essay: Osprey vs Fish The One Minute Take Out Lunch

bird, Osprey in flight
For those who may have thought Ryukyu Mike was loosing it when I sat down by the river with my hands full BIRDWATCHING IN JAPAN the other day I'm going to show you what it's all about.

This Wildlife Essay is a ten photo series of shots taken at the Okukubi River in Okinawa, Japan on Feburary 5th, 2011. The Osprey showed up and grabbed his take out lunch so fast, I wasn't ready for him.

bird, diving
This is what an Osprey looks like when he spots a fish a few thousand yards below. It is 1:43PM and he is in the dive mode.

Osprey with captured fish
The tripod is going to slow me down so, I rip the camera off of it and look for where the bird made a big splash. At this point I am using the camera handheld and panning on the bird. I have no idea whether he caught a fish or not. I just concentrate on keeping a lead on the bird as he moves.

Osprey takes off with fish
Once he leaves the water, he takes off along the opposite bank of the river. Next, I know he'll head to the pine trees.

bird, osprey, fish
They get away from the water as quickly as they can. The fish struggles while the Osprey tries to turn it around in his talons.

With the fish facing headfirst, the Osprey reduces wind resistance and can fly faster. Many times during this maneuver, the fish gets dropped. If it is over water, the fish gets away. We have a smart Osprey here.

bird in flight
He's away from the water and gaining altitude but, still trying to get that stubborn fish to face forward and enjoy the ride.

osprey flies with fish facing forward
If you were on your last flight wouldn't you think it'd be kinda cool to see where you were going ?

osprey climbing in flight with fish
The Osprey is starting to gain some altitude and the fish is starting to wear out. It's still 1:43PM.

fish and osprey in flight
It must be kinda hard flapping your wings and trying to wrestle an uncooperative fish at the same time.

osprey flying over river
Here it looks like all the passengers are settled down and the Osprey starts flapping with all his might.

Still 1:43PM. I'll have to see if I can get that second hand on my camera fixed.

osprey carries fish home
Before you know it, the Osprey and his take out fish dinner are up in the top of the pines and out of sight.

It is 1:44PM. The only thing that could go wrong now would be Mrs. Osprey yappin' about, "What took you so long and where's the Tartar Sauce"?

Now, there's no award winning photos in this Wildlife Photo Essay because I wasn't prepared.

But, the next time it's a nice sunny day and I happen to be down by the river, I'll be ready.

The Osprey can spend one minute or just twenty seconds grabbing his Take Out Fish for lunch.

I'll light their eyeballs up for you !



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day in Japan: An Insider's Tips

         Valentine's Day in Japan is a special day for the men in your life.  Ya hear me ladies !


Here is a photo, I got permisssion to snap, of an American Valentine's Day display in one of my favorite American grocery stores in Okinawa, Japan. 

Humongous heart-shaped boxes of chocolate with fancy words and flowers for the Ladies in your life, Gentlemen.

And little Snoopy Dogs with little heart-shaped boxes of chocolates for the little ladies, like your daughters. It's like a mandatory thing. Buy those special ladies a Valentine or you are doomed.

Forget to bring something special to those extremely important ladies in your life and you will be considered an outcast for the rest of the year and, maybe, even the rest of your life !

The photo above is a Japanese grocery store's Valentine's Day display. The chocolate boxes are much smaller but, there's a heck of a lot more available.

In Japan, half of the chocolate (sold during the whole year) flies off the shelves during the week leading up to Valentine's Day.

Men don't buy the stuff. Women buy it.

That's right, girls and ladies buy the chocolate for the boys and men in their lives.

There's fancy European-sounding names on the boxes of chocolates in Japan's stores, too. But, if you take a good look at the "top of the shelf" stuff, hah ! 

They have Scotch and Gin and Booze, maybe, even chocolate-covered beer candies. Some Dudes, like me, aren't all that thrilled with eating chocolate candies, ya know.

Here's the way it works. Nobody in Japan really gives a hoot about St. Valentine, except maybe somebody who's real interested in Saints.

Like, that song "When The Saints Go Marching In" was popular over here, years ago but, mostly just because it was a catchy tune.

But, the Christian population is probably less than 1 % and Valentine's Day is just a way for the chocolate peddlers to get rid of millions of choclate candies. Saints have nothing to do with it, just like most places around the world. 

It's a merchandising scheme.  And it works so, let's keep doing it.

In Japan, girls give Valentine gifts, not guys. The women give Valentines to classmates, bosses, coworkers, boyfriends, relatives, any man they feel is important in their life. It doesn't mean they love you, or anything like that. Maybe, maybe not but, there is one thing you have to remember.

March 14th is White Day in Japan. That's the day every girl who gave a Valentine to a guy is waiting for. Men: You are supposed to give the ladies in your life a gift on White Day.

Everyone, wherever in the world you may be: HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY !