Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whacky Ritual (Photo) Okinawa's Shinugu Matsuri (Festival)


This photo was taken in the Village of Ada Okinawa, Japan August 22, 2009 during the festival known as Shinugu.  Pictured here are the males of the village.  They are at about the halfway point coming back down from a mountain where this ritual takes place, once every two years. Women are forbidden from attending the ceremonies on the mountains.

What's whacky about this festival ?

Nothing, really.  It's a tradition that has been carried on for hundreds of years.

The women are waiting in the village for the men with their jungle trimmings and carrying tree branches to descend the mountain.  They use the branches to swat and shoo away evil spirits.

When the guys get back to town, they form a circle around all the women and use the branches to whack the evil spirits out of them, too !

It's all ceremonial, of course, so nobody gets whacked really hard, as far as I can tell.

Read more about the Shinugu Matsuri in OKINAWA HERE

Are there any Whacky Rituals or Festivals held during the summer months where you live ?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Japan's Funeral Envelope: An Insider's Tips

              One of the envelopes designed for giving money in Japan is the funeral envelope.

The Kanji on this envelope (御霊前) means, "goreizen", an offering at the altar for someone who has departed the world of the living.  This should never be confused with any other black and white or black and silver money envelope in Japan.  There are a few similar in color, not meant for funerals but, the Kanj is noticebaly different.

A foreigner, like me, who isn't very proficient at reading or writing kajni, should always get assistance when planning to use a Japanese money giving envelope.  You don't want to make the mistake of confusing this envelope with something you thought was a "Get Well Soon Card".

An excellent reference posted by Alice Gordenker on JAPANESE MONEY ENVELOPES shows more examples of the these works of art used for handing over cash on different occasions in Japan.  She is also a longtime and very popular columnist with THE JAPAN TIMES.

WIKIPEDIA has a photo displaying a Condolence or Funeral Money Envelope and a lengthy article describing the customs and culture surrounding funerals in Japan.

More search engine research will lead to all sorts of information and it doesn't take long to realize, the customs may vary depending on which Prefecture you are looking at, in Japan.

In Okinawa (Ryukyu Islands) we fly the Japanese flag but, we do things differently, sometimes.  And from village to village or one island to another, our customs and traditions may vary.

So, my recommendation to anyone interested in using Japanese Money Envelopes would be to follow an insider's tips.  Talk to a local and you can't go wrong.


Tick in a Bellybutton (Photo) Just What I Needed !

Oh, baby, you have no idea how long I've been waiting for this. Not just a tick in a bellybutton,  but, two of them.  Not just any bellybutton, either, that's my bellybutton and I can do anything I want with it.  Hah !

The timing could have been better, though.  I just got back in town after spending a day in the hot sun, along with Doc.  We went to a place most Americans call The Cave of the Virgins, to take photos. 

You don't get to go in the caves.  It's a sacred site, Okinawa War memorial and a shockingly, sad story. 

I'll post that for you after I get all my research done and have as many facts as I can possibly gather.

So, back to the ticks.  Doc dropped me off at my office.  He noticed, before I did, the door was already open.  The wife decided to clean the place.  She was in there, tables turned up, swabbing the floor with whatever women swab floors with.  Grr, I wanted to download photos and get developing.  I dropped my camera gear off where it looked like it'd be safe and said "Hi, Sugar" or something like that.

Then, in order not to get roped into a conversation or work, I started doing what any respectable man would do.  I made believe I was doing something important.  I started looking at my bellybutton.

When you find a tick in your bellybutton, it's best not to tell your wife.  Trust me, I know, somehow. 

People even ask YAHOO WHAT TO DO when they panic over ticks in bellybuttons.

Don't panic.  Here's what I did.

I decided I needed an iced coffee.  That was my excuse to go across the street, get out in the sun again, and have a closer look at the tick I spotted.  This way nobody in my immediate family would have to freak out and call an ambulance or have blood pressure going through the roof.

Outside in the bright sunlight I could see a lot better. Ah, the great outdoors.  I hit the jackpot.  There's two of them in there.  Just little guys but, if I take real good care of them, they should grow up in just a few days.  I need them to get bigger for my project I've been planning.

See, up there in Mad Mike's Reviews, I mentioned I want to do a Swiss Army Knife Review.  And I even talked about using it to remove a tick from a bellybutton.  We'll have step by step instructions and photos.  This is the kinda stuff I love to do.  The real deal.

Just, don't anybody mention what I'm working on around the wife, OK ? 

She'll freak out and have me going to the emergency room or have me sleeping with the dogs!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Turmeric Can Kill Cancer (Photo) A Can of Turmeric

Yup, it's breaking news all over the internet today because scientists at Cork Cancer Research Centre ran some tests and put it in the British Journal of Cancer, something in Curry Spice kills Cancer cells.

Now before everybody makes a mad dash to India and starts grabbing all the Curry they have over there to sprinkle on their barbecue chicken and ribs I have something I want to show you.

See that can in the photo and the glass of yellow stuff next to it?  It is turmeric.  That's the spice all the experts are raving about.  Okinawans have been drinking it for years.  They call it Ukon, or Uchincha.  Some people even mix it with their sake.  It tastes gross so, it must be good for you.

Now that I poured a glass to take this photo, I guess I might as well drink it.  Then, I should print this article from BBC NEWS HEALTH and order a few more cases to get ready for the big rush!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Pregnancy Rock in Okinawa (Photo) It's a Myth I Hope

In this photo the big granite block has inscriptions in Japanese telling you about the round stone chained to a pedestal on the right.  It says that if a woman lifts the stone she'll soon be pregnant.

If the stone feels heavy, it'll be a baby boy.  If it's not heavy, the baby will be a girl.  Three of us were in this cave on Ie Shima, the Island we visited in Okinawa for the Easter Lily Festival back in April 2011.

There was myself, Ryukyu Rusty and his girl.  We tried to get a photo of her picking up the rock, just for a joke, because she does have these, um, SHAPLEY ARMS but, it was like "No way, Dudes".

So, I picked the thing up just for the heck of it.  It doesn't make your pants fall down, or anything like that.

Just, it seems kinda funny.  I've been having a lot of cravings for chocolate, lately.

That pregnacy rock thing, I hope it's just a myth.  I've checked everywhere, even FORBES MAGAZINE and they don't say anything about picking up rocks getting people pregnant !

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) Jun 26, 2011

This Sunday Silly Sign was a bit of a challenge for me to compose and shoot.  We were on this boat, bouncing around on the waves, speeding towards Ie Jima, an island off the west coast of Okinawa, Japan.

Remember that movie TITANIC where that kid Leonardo Da Vinci, er something like that, drowned, just because there wasn't any room on the liferaft for him ?  Well, I ain't goin down thataway.

Whenever I place my life in the hands of some sorta public transportation, first thing I do is figure out a way to escape alive.

So, I sat down on the deck of this bouncing boat, in the rain, and made sure I snapped a photo of the sign telling me how to escape.

While everybody else was Ooh-ing and Aah-ing at the scenery breezing by while we were speeding across the ocean I sneaked into a dark corner and reviewed this shot on my LCD screen.

All that crap about Checking, Launching and Boarding, somebody gets paid to do that stuff, not me.

The only part I'm interested in knowing is how to ECSAPE.  So, that's what I read first.

It says CUT OFF THE PAINTER BY THE KNIFE and they have a picture of the guy there.

Lucky for me they don't have those BOOBS AT THE TSA working here in Japan or they probably wouldn't let me take my pocket knife on the boat.

Really, I wouldn't want to be the one who has to cut the little guy.  I'd stand back and hope somebody else does it first.

They couldn't pay me enough to be one of the painters on these boats, either.  I ain't that dumb ya know.  Just smart 'nuf to make sure I don't wind up in the drink like that Leonardo Guy.

If they'd a had some of these silly signs for people to read on that Titanic boat, maybe it wouldn't of really happened the way it did and Leonardo, whoever he was could still be painting for us !


Photo Essay with Tips, Give Her Your Best Shot, Lady in Blue

Shooting stage performances whether at night outdoors, or inside at a concert can be a challenge. 

The lighting may change suddenly, people are moving and shutterspeed can be a nightmare.

The photographer has to figure out what angle to shoot from,  direction of lighting and which composition makes a lady look great. 

It takes plenty of moving around, zooming and going wide angle and shooting from the left, right and center of the stage. 

The target, this time, was the lady in blue. I don't know her.  She's just a performer at a festival.
My job is to make her more beautiful than she already is with the light that's available, no photoshopping.

If you ask a woman which side of her face is the prettiest, she can tell you.  Women know stuff like that.

You can't just walk up to the stage and ask a lady, "Hey. Which side of your face is the ugliest?" 

Or, that's what I'd do.  I could save a few gigabytes of shooting.  Instead, I try and guess.

If you were a studio photographer, you might be able to suggest different poses and direct the lighting to help smooth things over.  Here, you're on your own.  Man against the elements.

                               Sometimes a vertical shot helps highlight interesting features.

                                               Like, look how long that gal's hair is !

Beside all the dancing and singing she did the lady in blue was also a drummer.

So, I decided this photo was the most flattering one of my target for that day.

If I ever run across her again at a festival, I think I'll give her a copy.

Then, maybe, I could get away with asking her, "Which side of your face is the prettiest"?

If I give her my best shot don't you think the lady in blue would want to help me make another one ?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Typhoon Went Thataway. Rain and Wind Continue on Okinawa

Here's a photo taken from a seawall in Onna Son Okinawa, Japan at 2:24PM Saturday June 25, 2011.  The sun peeked through the clouds a few times today but, it's still windy and we're getting showers, on and off.

Looking at the weather maps for all the links provided by the US Embassy I'd say the typhoon is headed off to our northwest.  The rain and wind are just something typhoons drag along behind them, I guess.

When Ryukyu Rusty and I found this spot in the sun it was pretty windy so, I told him there's no sense in setting up a tripod. 

We walked out on the seawall a little ways and almost got blown into the East China Sea.  Hah !

To shoot a photo like this in the wind you just have to lay on your belly, get rid of the camera strap, set the camera on the ground and click with a cable release or the camera's timer.

The wind is still howling outside and I'm guessing it's got to be 35-40MPH but, should lessen some overnight.  We didn't see any major damage as we cruised around the island and even ran into busloads of tourists visiting all the major attractions on island.  Imagine being a tourist and having to spend two or three days of your vacation cooped-up in a hotel room instead of getting out to see all the sites you planned to hit.  That'd be a real bummer.

I bet the travelers are just as happy as I am that the typhoon left Okinawa and went thataway !



Friday, June 24, 2011

Okinawa, Japan Huh? A Typhoon in June? Gimmie a Break !

Almost forgot there's one of those tropical storms that get recognized as typhoons blowing around somewhere in Southeast Asia and I told the Mrs that I'd better post something about it here.

As you can see, I'm high and dry.  The wind is blowing and some rain but, I don't think the typhoon is really gonna whack us like that last one did.  It's just a baby typhoon and doesn't look like it's coming close enough to Okinawa to do any harm.

Here are a few links for those who would like weather maps and forecasts that seem fairly decent:

This one is all in english and was provided by TIME 2 PCS a pretty cool site I just found.

Another, I hope works for folks around the globe, comes from YAHOO WEATHER I like this site because they somehow, know Nago City is the closest weather station to me.  They even call the place Nago-shi, like maybe they speak Japanese, or something cuz that's the way folks talk around here.  But, the site is in english and even says the strongest winds will be around 40 MPH.  Gimmie a break!
That's not bad at all.  Last typhoon we had winds over 100 MPH and my house is still standing.

It's Friday night here.  Beer drinking time.  So, I gotta go.  I'll update if there's any drastic changes in the weather, later.  Have a great weekend, wherever you are and don't worry about Okinawa and our l'il typhoon, OK ?




THE US EBMASSY has a fairly decent TIPS FOR TYPHOONS list and a few good links that are updated frequently so, it's worth checking into.  Just poke around all the buttons and eventually you get to see up to date weather maps.  Some sites, you may have to wait a few seconds for your Google Translator thingy to kick-in but, it's worth the wait, I think.

Now, I don't have any kinda fancy wind-speed-meter so, I have to give you my update from the seat of my pants.  Here's the real-deal coming to you live from on the ground in Kin Cho Kin Okinawa, Japan.

I left the house about 9AM Japan Standard Time (JST) to come to my office. It was only sprinkling a bit of rain but windy.  I debated whether or not to carry an umbrella.  I have a collection of twisted umbrellas (sounds like a rock band huh?) from previous typhoons.  Just before leaving the house to walk here, I told the wife maybe I'd take one of my twisted umbrellas in case the wind died down and I'd need it to walk back home in the rain.

Halfway to the office, it started raining hard.  So, I opened the umbrella.  The rain was blowing every which way you can imagine and a few places you probably never would have guessed.

The dangbanged wind, that wasn't supposed to exceed about 35MPH, according to the knucklehead weather-persons, decided to exceed the speed limit.  It took my umbrella and twisted it some more, turned the contraption inside out and almost poked one of my eyes out before I wrestled it to the ground and stomped on it so I could hogtie the damn thing and get it under control.

That wind had to be doing 50MPH or better.  I can't show you any photos because I try to keep this site family friendly.  I made this windspeed estimate by the seat of my pants.  They are hanging from my REDNECK COOLING TOWER right now while I sit on top of a stack of old newspapers hoping they'll soak up all the water from my underwear before it gets to the felt upholstery covering my barstool.

Once the seat of my pants gets dry enough, I'll switch them and let the underwear dry.  Meanwhile, I hope no customers come by here looking to buy a drink. This typhoon won't harm anyone.  It's just a little stronger than expected with plenty of rain.  I really wish it would give me a break !


Wildfife Photo: Northern Shoveler, Duck in the Mud

This is a photo of a duck commonly called the Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  shot back in Jan 2009. 

They migrate to Okinawa, Japan only for the winter months and are all gone, now.  They can be found in fresh waters and marshes all over the northern parts of Asia, Europe and North America. 

Every once in awhile someone even spots them visiting Australia but, it's rare.

The mud you see this duck hanging out in is a field of water potatoes (taro) and what these ducks do is dive into the muddy water with their shovel-shaped noses and come up with a mouthful of nasty looking water.  A small hole in the center of the bill serves as a drain. 
They just spit out the muddy water and eat whatever bugs, crustaceans, or plant matter they like.  

Just like little kids, only they don't need any adult supervision.  Hah !

If you want more information on the Northern Shoveler, or any bird, around the globe, for that matter check out where I go for wildlife information:  THE BIRD FORUM  They have a Bird Encyclopedia named OPUS.  Type in a bird's common name or scientific name and you can find out all about it.

They'll tell you that female Northern Shovelers say "quack quack" but, the males say "took took" and just in case you don't believe them, they'll send you to where you can listen to "took took" and "quack quack".  If you ever run across some ducks in the mud where you live, you could strike up a conversation with them !

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Zanpa Point Lighthouse at Sunset (Photo) Okinawa, Japan

Gotterdun!  It took some planning, a little luck with the weather and great timing with the seasalt ice cream parlor but, on the 18th of June, 2011 at 7:24PM this photo was captured with the PENTAX K5.

It was a good thing Ryukyu Rusty and I got over on the west coast of Okinawa early in the day and did some investigating.  THE ICE CREAM PLACE CLOSES AT 7PM !

You wouldn't want to see me after spending the whole day in the blistering sun, waiting for a chance to snap this photo and dreaming about Seasalt Vanilla Ice Cream if the joint closed before I got there.

The position of the setting sun had us fooled.  We thought it would have set more to the left in the scene but, we don't live on that side of the island.  I guess that makes us Pacific islanders.

There are about 40 frames of this sunset in my collection now and I'm not sure what Rusty totaled-up for the day.  He did snag a great silhouette shot of a fisherman casting his line over the cliffs with the setting sun and lighthouse in the background.
He is headed for the cover of National Geographic Magazine one of these days.  Wait and see !

Just last week I posted a photo of ZANPAMISAKI LIGHTHOUSE viewed in early morning light and promised I'd get a sunset photo of the place, maybe even eat some of that seasalt ice cream.

Well folks, it looks like we gotterdun !

Flowers and New Shoes (Photos) Good News and Bad News

What a day this turned out to be, no wildlife shots but, one heck of a busy day and I got a lot accomplished with the help of my shooting buddy, Doc.  We're doing a Wednesday weekly shooting day from now on, as long as the wives don't put the clamps on our activities.  That's good news.

Today's story will unfold in the sequence I shot these pictures but, plenty of things happened while the cameras were safely locked-up in the car.

Just so you know we weren't drinking, the first flower is a pink hibiscus.  I shot it while Doc was hauling his bag of concrete out of the DIY Store and breaking his back loading up the car.  I asked a salesgirl if I could shoot photos of the flowers and she told me to go ahead.  That's good news.

Some stores are afraid of industrial espionage, especially when the see a DSLR in your hands.

Remind me, someday, it'd be a good idea for me to buy a little Point and Shoot for those type operations.

Next, I shot this Multi-colored Hibiscus.  It looked unreal, to me.  Like I figured somebody painted it or put foodcoloring in the planter to make it that way but, Doc said they grow that color naturally.

When he saw me shooting these furry caterpillar-looking things, he said he'd never seen a plant like that before.  I see them all the time when I'm walking my dogs.  I call them caterpillar-looking flowers. 

Today I shot the sign that says, Benihimo 1980 Yen and Googled it.  My Wikipedia connections tell me it is a Chenille Plant (Acalypha hispida).

On the way out of the DIY Store's Flower and Garden Center I shot this wide angle scene just because it was there. We'll have to get a translator to read all that fancy kanji that was imported from China, years ago. I only read the simple stuff. I'll find out the names of all the flowers I shot today, eventually and hope I can escape with the information for you, without having to buy any of them.  Er, that'd be bad news.

Before we hit the DIY Store, all kinds of things got accomplished.  Doc and I were on a mission.  I had to do some shopping for frames to mail photos to my contest winners.  And, to avoid firing my printer up to make photos for the frames, I went to a print shop.

With a whole hour to kill, waiting for the prints, we wandered off and started looking at cameras, computers and all kinds of other stuff we really didn't need.

The good news: I found a pair of shoes.  I need new shoes, the kind you can go over rough terrain in. 

I found a pair of rugged-looking shoes that are supposed to cost around a hundred US Dollars, on sale for only about 25 bucks.  So, I bought them, even if they're a half size too large for my feet.

Like I told Doc, just wear more socks, until they fit.  I can buy plenty of socks with the 75 dollars I saved.  Right ?

There they are. That's my new shoes, never been worn and a DVD even came with them.  Hah !
How many times have you ever bought a pair of shoes and got a DVD included in the box with them ?

So, when I got back here, to my office, I had to wait for these PCs to wake up and get scanned before I could download my camera.  That's when I got the bright idea to shoot my shoes.  I could do something like a product review on them.  You know, like a one month, blow by blow account of me and my new shoes going over rough terrain and stuff like that.  I'll put them through some rugged tests.

I don't have time to watch a DVD and I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing when it comes to shoes. 

I'll start testing these suckers in a few minutes.  I'm leaving my flip-flops at the bar and I'll be heading to the beach with the dogs, shortly.

Just to make sure these shoes didn't get put on sale because some company went extinct, I googled them.  They're good to go.

Then, I started reading some of the literature that came in the box.  This is more bad news.

There's a WARNING:
"The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.  Criminal copyright infringement, including without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000."  YIKES !

So, it's probably best that I don't tell you any of what I see on the DVD or read in the book until I get authorization from the proper authorities.  I could email the company, I guess.  Or should I just shred the book, DVD, the box and everything that came with it ?  I'm pretty sure I can wear the things and walk alright without anyone's advice.  What would you do, worry about goin to jail ?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reality Check The US Dollar vs The Japanese Yen: Then and Now

Then was 1966, the year I first came to the sunny island of Okinawa, Japan. One US Dollar was worth a whopping Three Hundred and Sixty Japanese Yen.

                Now, in 2011, one US Dollar is worth maybe, Eighty Japanese Yen and falling.

This is a post I did May 13, 2011 over on my Ning Blog.  That was one of those days somebody fell asleep at the switch and this blog went down. Today, the Ning Thing took a break, for whatever reason so, I'm dragging some of my stuff off of there and updating it here, on the blog I like best.

Over the past week I've had a couple of Reality Checks in dealing with this blog and my website.

I have to tell you, that reality thing really happens.  It will pop right up outa the grass and smack you like a lawn rake, right between the eyes. You ever done that?  I have.

Remember my brilliant plan OUTA YOUR FACE ADVERTISING?  Well, I've had to modify it. 

It was a great idea that the world just isn't ready for yet, I guess.  So, I've been sneaking some advertising into the sidebar of this blog.  I'll still try and keep it outa your face.

There will only be top-notch advertisers, no pop-ups, girlie ads or any other thing I deem sleazy here.

When I do a Product Review, if I like the item, I'll stick a text link in my post so, you can check it out.  And, I hope you bookmark my post and buy through my site so, I can get my percentage for the advertising space I give the merchants.

The folks you see advertising here, so far, are people I trust because I've had extensive dealings with each of them in the past.  I'll tell you more about each of them if you're interested.

That's something I'll do at a later date.  Holler if you need to know more in a hurry.

The real eye-opener for me was when I looked through my website galleries, real closely, and pretended I was a customer ordering one of my photos.  Dang, I guess I should do that more often.

With the US Dollar being what it is worth now vs what it was when I put prices on my photos, I wasn't selling them.  I was giving them away FREE.  I wasn't charging enough to buy the paper and ink to print the dang things.  Maybe, I'd have gotten enough to pay the postage in the Japanese Post Office. 

What if somebody had ordered 1,000 of them?  What do I look like some kinda philanthropist? 

I looked that word up, ya know, and decided those guys will probably never call on me.

Anyhow, I hope I haven't lost any readers over the advertising bit and I'd like to hear some opinions on what you think of the changes I've made. If it gets to be too much "IN YOUR FACE" just HOLLER at me and I'll see what I can do for you.  It's reality, real live, not the stuff TV shows are made of, it's the real deal.  Ouch.....back to rakin' that lawn !

Monday, June 20, 2011

Winners of the 500,000 View Giveaway Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta Tah-Dah !

It really happened this time. Not only did the viewmeter crank over and hit a goal, people actually got their entries in through Facebook or emails and we have two winners.  That's what I'm Tah-Dah-n' about, today.

Ladies first, a friend I met through StumbleUpon,  Betty-Boop chose "Attracted to Orange" a flower and butterfly photo.

Betty, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA reads my blog, follows me on Facebook and even chats at me a few times a day. So, it feels good to give her get one of my photos.

The other winner, Jerry, goes by the handle FishHawk and hails from Springfield, Missouri, USA.

Now, I haven't know him very long but, we've seen each other's comments on that crazy Scotsman's Channel Scotland Here and Now.

Fish Hawk, is another name for an Osprey and I have a whole pile of Osprey photos but, this is the one Jerry chose, only I'll give him a more spiffed-up version of it.

When he entered the contest, he said he didn't really care about winning a photo. He just wanted to beat that Ryan Dude from Scotland out of a prize. Hah !

It will take me awhile to get their photos ready for mailing.  That's another blog I can do as tips for those interested in learning the tricks of the trade.

Meanwhile, if you get a chance, visit the blogs of these 500,000 views winners, say, "Hi" and congratulate them.  They're both great people to know. 

I'm glad I met them and honored to have my photography displayed in their homes. 

Wonder if they'd mind me scratchin' my name on the frame with a pencil ?

Flower Photo: Morning Glory There's Over 1,000 Species !

These Morning Glories were growing at a beach near my house in Okinawa, Japan.  It was in the morning, too.  But, I've also seen Morning Glories growing on tall vines up in the mountains.  The ones in the hills are the same color as these in the photo but, they must not pay attention to the time of day it is up there.  The ones in the mountains don't close their flowers in the afternoon.  They just keep blooming all day long.

Doing a little research at the WIKIPEDIA CHANNEL I discovered there are over 1,000 species of these flowers and they've been used as more than just ornamental plants. Morning Glories have served as medicine, food and used in the process of making vulcanized rubber a couple of thousand years before that Goodyear Tire guy was even born. Imagine that !

Down Mexico way, some priests figured a way to get hallucinogenic drugs out of the things, too.

Do you have Morning Glories growing where you live ? 

You probably shouldn't eat them unless you really know what you're doing !

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) Jun 19, 2011

Whoa Nellie!  Just when I was starting to think I'd have to discontinue this series of silly signs this beauty popped up in a pretty high class (for me) restaurant in Okinawa, Japan.

Look in the background.  There's a guy wearing a coat and tie and he looks like he might be reading a menu or something.  Er, he could just be pretending.

He's really thinkin of asking the bearded dude squatting in his flip-flops and dripping sweat all over a table to shoot the aquarium sign to please go somewhere else to eat.  But, I'm glad he didn't.

They treat the elders and disabled people in Japan pretty well these days.  So, while I may embarrass Ryukyu Rusty and Doc, sometimes,  I get the job done. 

Just act like some kinda old, crazy guy and people get back outa the way leave me alone.  Hah !

We did one of those long, long days in the hot sun, just to catch some good sunset photos on the other side of our island.  You'll get to see some of those photos later.  I think I have a good one for Travel Photo Thursday this week and there's plenty more in the cooker waiting for development.

I'll have to go back and get the name of that restaurant and do a review on the place someday.
It was really good food and they had the air-conditioning cranked up high enough to give you goose bumps.

Only, when I excused myself, after eating, to go to the Gentlemen's Room and splash some cold water on my head, I came back out and Rusty was headed for the door.  He said he payed the tab.

Now, I'm wondering if they charged him for that tablecloth I dripped all over trying to shoot that silly sign with a cell phone !

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's Wrong With That Picture? Virgin Tea in China

Here is a photo of a teafield in Okinawa, Japan.

Tea is some pretty good stuff and even though I could be classified as a coffeeholic

I do enjoy a good cup of tea every now and again.

Iced tea, I love the stuff especially on a hot summer day.

Enough about my picture of a tea field.

There's some teafields in China I'd like you to have a peek at.

Seems like some folks over China way like their tea a bit different than most of us.

Like, they believe in fairies.

And if there ain't enough fairies around to pick all the tea, there's a solution.

Hire a buncha virgins.  Make sure they have a certain sized boobs.

Pay them a decent wage but, make them pick the tea without their hands.

What's wrong with that picture?

Go have a look at the virgins picking tea with their LIPS IN CHINA

And, if you have a moment come on back over here and tell me


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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday Photo: The Gal on the Beach with the Hat

Waiting for boarding time, people get bored and start taking pictures of anything.  Me, too.  This scene was shot on the island of Minna Jima Okinawa, Japan about 3PM June 11, 2011 with my Pentax K5, an 18-250mm lens, tripod and cable release. I was standing in the shade on the balcony of the terminal.

This gal started off snapping photos of the beach, almost directly in front of me.  I liked the contrast her dress made with the glaring sun lighting the baby-powdered sand and I liked her hat.  I especially liked the fact that she was facing away from me.  That meant I didn't have to be bothered with getting a model release signed by her.  So, as she slowly moved from one spot on the beach to another, I took my time and composed some great shots.  I got bunches of them, hah!

When she stopped shooting her pictures and turned to walk back into the terminal, I stopped clicking away, too.  As she approached, being the gentleman that I am, I looked away, avoiding eye contact.  That's when I noticed her husband had been sitting right behind me watching the whole affair.  Ouchie !


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Zanpa Point Lighthouse in Yomitan Okinawa, Japan (Photo)

This lighthouse sits on the west coast of Okinawa facing the East China Sea in Yomitan Village.

Most visitors touring the island go to see the glass-blowing, pottery (yachimun), or the UNESCO World Heritage Zakimi Castle when they are heading towards Zanpamisaki (Zanpa Point). 

Some tourists gawk at the humongous red clay Shisa near the Cape Zanpa Royal Hotel and others visit a place that makes ice cream using local sea salt.  They don't see the lighthouse.

What they are missing is probably the most photogenic lighthouse in all of the Ryukyu Islands.

Which reminds me, it's time I headed over to Yomitan and did a sunset photo of this place.
I'm just wondering what time the ice cream place closes.  Reckon they stay open 'til after sunset ?

Zanpa Point Lighthouse is my weekly contribution to TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY.

My friend Nancie McKinnon, the editor of Budget Travelers Sandbox, tricked me good this week with her photo. The title: Favorite Canadian Brew, got me thinking is would be some kinda beer.
Turns out, she was talking about coffee.  I like coffee, too but, never called it a brew.

Guess I should brush up on my Canadian, eh?

Eclipse of the Full Moon Jun 16, 2011 From Okinawa, Japan

                                            FULL MOON PHOTO 3:10AM JUN 16, 2011

Here's a blow by blow account from Okinawa, Japan concerning this month's full moon.

For me, it all started at 7:15PM last night, the 15th of June.  Ryukyu Rusty sent me an instant message, or whatever you call those emails that come through your cell phone.  It said "Lunar Eclipse at 0300".  I replied, he could come by the house and get my 500mm lens.  No way, was I going to be awake at 3AM.

Well, he was so excited about the full moon, he never came by and went with that girl of his to shoot reflections of the full moon over the ocean, somewhere. Hope he got some.

Anyway, I walked back to my office and Googled the full moon Jun 2011 and came across this article in the HUFFINGTON POST.  They were talking about a "moment of totality" and this hasn't happened this good since July of 2000 so, I said "The hell with it".  Then, went home and asked the wife to look outside at 2:30 in the morning and see if she could see the moon.  I told her it was a special event, where the moon turns red.  I'd get out of bed for that. I didn't want to get out of bed if it was so cloudy you couldn't see the moon.

At 2:30AM, I was awakened.  Groan.  "Did you see the moon, I asked her"?  "Yes, she says.  It isn't red".  Groan, gripe, get coffee, put lens in camera, mount everything on a tripod and stumble up the stairs to the roof of the house to see what the moon looked like and there it was.  It didn't look any different than any other full moon I ever saw.  Why am I doing this after only getting 3 hours sleep?  Groan, again.

After shooting about 50 frames of the moon at different camera settings, I called it a night.  I was starting to think Huffington and Rusty were full of crap.  Maybe there was some confusion about the date between when the eclipse takes place over Japan vice the USA. 

So, I groaned some more,  took the big lens off the camera and put all my toys away.  Wide awake, full of mosquito bites and coffee, I decided I might as well take the SD card out of the camera and go to my office, uptown, to download and see how my moon shots turned out.

It's a few blocks walk to get to my office.  I stop at a machine close to the place and grab a few iced coffees to drink while the PCs are doing whatever they do warming up everyday.

Well, just as I turn the last corner, to get to my hangout, the moon appeared.

It looked like this around 4AM.  I watched for awhile, to make sure it wasn't just clouds.  It wasn't clouds.
Sonovagun, the moon was going to have an eclipse at 4AM instead of 3AM.  I was sure.

So, I emailed Rusty's cell phone to let him know it was SHOWTIME !

This photo was taken at 4:11AM using  Pentax K5, Tripod, Cable Release and the Sigma 50-500mm lens.

     It was 4:19AM when I took this shot and I'm still waiting for that "Moment of Totality" to happen.
At 4:39 I took this photo and was starting to feel somewhat totalled but, wasn't sure if it was quite there, yet.  This isn't the way I'm used to getting totalled so, some scientist will have to be the judge on this eclipse of the full moon thingy.

A bunch of clouds rolled in and blocked my view several times so, after I took this shot at 4:45AM I called it a day.  I'm really not sure if I witnessed the totality, or not. 

The other thing I got wondering is what the heck is that thing at about ten o'clock just outside the moon.  Somebody spyin' or did we leave space junk up there awhile back ?




Wildlife Photo: Ebony and Ivory Pacific Reef Egrets

These Pacific Reef Egrets flying in perfect harmony reminded me of that tune by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.  Ebony and Ivory was a big hit in 1982 but, you'd be surprised at all the knuckleheads that just don't get it.  Have a look at what WIKIPEDIA REPORTS ABOUT SOME OF THE KNUCKLEHEADS HERE

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Do They Really Have Little Peckers in Japan ? (Photos)

bird. woodpecker
This little pecker was up in the mountains of Okinawa, Japan just banging away on a tree.
bird, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
My hearing is about the same as that of a rock so, I'd have never known it was there.  But, I saw Ryukyu Rusty with his tripod set up concentrating on something in the trees and clicking away with his Pentax.

bird,Dendrocopos kizuki
Once he got me pointed in the right direction I saw the little bird and started firing away, too.

They certainly do have little peckers in Japan.  This is a Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker.  They go by the scientific name of Dendrocopos kizuki and some folks just call them Pygmy Woodpeckers.

These characters eat bugs and hang out on hillsides or in forests and may also be found in China, Korea and Russia.  They really are little guys, about as small as a sparrow, and they peck away at wood loud enough for people with good ears to hear them before they see them.  That's why they got the name woodpeckers instead of little peckers, I guess.

Everybody should walk around and see if there's any little peckers in their neck of the woods because you never know, they could get a mention in the HUFFINGTON POST just like our Woodpeckers, someday.

Not many people run around, bragging about their little peckers but, I'm right proud of mine !

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) Jun 12, 2011

The government couldn't possibly cover all the areas that need silly signs.

So, there are places where responsible citizens lend a hand.

We don't go around acting like vigilantes er nuthin like that.

Just give the foreigners gentle reminders like this:




This Sunday's Silly Sign photo was captured this morning just two blocks from my house.
Right nice neighborhood and real friendly folks.
Ya'll got any good neighbors warning foreigners to stay outa trouble where you live?
If you'd get some folks to pitch-in and post silly signs around your town,
just think of the tax dollars you'd save.  And, before long people would start acting right !


Wildlife Photos: One Good Tern Deserves Another

Saturday three of us camera shooters got on a boat to do some landscape and seascape photography on the small island Minna Jima in Okinawa, Japan

           The scenery we were hoping for just didn't happen so we decided to shoot birds instead.

                     These characters are some fast-flying critters called terns.

                   When they're flying in grey skies it's hard to catch them at any distance.

            But, one tern flew directly overhead in blue skies and was yapping about something.

                             Another one showed up and flew right in front of my lens, too.

                      This guy stared right down the barrel of my lens but, disappeared quickly.

After spending all day Sunday developing photos of Minna Jima and the terns, tonight I decided to get the scientific name of these birds for you.

But, it seems like these guys don't fit the descriptions of any of the half dozen bird channels I've visited, so far, today.  I've just about exhausted all my resources on this one.

It may take a few days for me to send off some photos to the bird ID people.

Maybe one of my readers knows which breed of terns these might be and will holler back at me.   There's a chance that Doc or Ryukyu Rusty got some better photos and did the research.

That would really be nice.  One of them could get the scientific name and give it to me.

After all one good tern (turn) deserves another.  Dontcha think ?

It is a Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Flower Photo: The Hawaiian Lily (Solandra maxima)

Here's an unusual one for you flower lovers.  I'm calling it a Hawaiian Lily but, the Solandra maxima is also known as a Cup of Gold Flower or a Golden Chalice.  You can call it whatever you like.

Whenever I get a chance, I like to shoot a sample of what these critters look like when they're just little babies, too.  I do that just in case some start growing around your house and you don't accidentally whack them with your lawn mower or weed eater.  Give the little fellers a chance.

This critter was growing up in Motobu Okinawa, Japan just outside the ticket booth at the International Orchid Show I went to in February 2011.  Lucky, for me, they had a sign hiding in the bushes below the plant.  I'm not trying to win a photo contest with this shot.  I just know, when you can find a plant that you've never seen before, the Latin (Scientific) name makes it lots easier to identify the critter as you research, later on.

Ryukyu Rusty's girlfriend helped by pulling some of the undergrowth out of the way.  See her pretty little finger over there?  She's not too thrilled about me calling her the Girl with Muscular Arms, any more so, I promised I'd try and cut back on doing that.  Shucks....

Just this morning, I discovered these plants can be started from cuttings.  so, I'm thinking I might just take a ride back up to Motobu and see if they happen to have any Hawaiian Lily cuttings lying around. 

You know what I mean, like, someplace where nobody's looking.