Beastie Boys: Top 5

1. My first copy of Check Your Head. Thanks Justin.

2. High school show at the Forum–Hello Nasty Tour

3. Older cousin introducing me to Licensed To Ill. Thanks Brett.

4. Not giving a fuck about the being the only one calling for an encore at a show in Osaka (that crowd was WEAK, but thanks to Justin and Taro) — To the 5 Boroughs Tour

5. Clearing out a Karaoke Bar with “Sabotage” and “Fight for your Right” — a recurring delight, though not a crowd favorite

What it’s like to be an uncle

When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember thinking about what it would be like when I was an uncle. I had many cool uncles and aunts, each who had their own impact on me as a kid, and I wanted to grow up and be the one who made life fun for my nieces and nephews.

Bedtimes would not be enforced, nor would mandatory naps. The little ones could watch TV and play video games to their heart’s content, if there was enough time between super-fun mind-blowing activities. At the amusement park I would buy them as much candy, ice cream, soda and other junk food as they wished. Then, I would give them back to their parents, being immortalized as a hero.

The visit of Max and Mina almost went like that, but I found myself encouraging them to eat fruit and veggies (or just eat at all). Instead of relaxing boundaries, I found myself imposing them. Surprisingly, they thrived with the boundaries, and I found that rewards were much more appreciated when they had to work for them. We were able to keep them ¬†occupied in activities for most of the time, and resorted to TV for the little down time that we tried to sneak in or to pump them up and watch them dance. I think the most fun part of my observations was remembering when I used to switch between what I now perceive as reality and the blend of reality/imaginary worlds that weren’t so clear cut when I was 5.

Though our time together was limited, I truly feel that my life was enriched by the little ones much more than should have been possible in less than two weeks. I can’t wait to hang out with them again. Even more so if they’re in a good mood and not crying or fighting!

It will be interesting to see what other things they have to teach me about life, as I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. Next time, maybe I’ll be able to take them into the ocean and share the wonders of the aquatic world that is my home.

Cajun Curry Stamina Burger

Trust me, this burger is worth the 5 minutes it takes to mix these ingredients together. You will need:

  • 1 pound of fresh ground beef (20% fat, free-range, organic preferred)
  • 10 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 tbsp Cajun Spices
  • 1 tbsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tbsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • Lots of Pepper

Lightly mix ingredients together, keeping the meat as chilled and non-compressed as possible. Make thin patties. A bit of mayo works well with tomatoes, lettuce and grilled onions. Grill dem buns, and toss a slice of your favorite cheese on top. Enjoy!

Hot Tea on a Cool Afternoon

It takes time for water to boil, but the wait is part of something larger that is, in itself, nourishing. I remember the cold winters spent chatting with colleagues, casually staring at a kettle atop a kerosene heater around which we were all gathered. In no time, or after a really long while (depending on the conversation) a plume of steam would shoot out of the spout and then the piping-hot water would be carefully poured in a slow, deliberate interval, using a circular pattern to ensure proper saturation of the loose-leaf tea sitting inside of a tea pot and nested inside of a filter. Rice crackers or sweets would be distributed–the gifts some staff member had brought back from a recent holiday or homemade pickles or snacks.

The smell and humidity of the steam take me back in an instant that lasts only as long as a flavor is able to tug a memory from the shelf of my memory–an instant. In that moment, I find a contentment and nostalgia that is difficult to describe.

So now I look around my kitchen for a suitable pairing to my genmaicha to no avail. Even if I had the right senbei or manju or sukemono, the company and the conversation hold just as much a place in the mood as the food and beverage. But that’s OK too. It’s nice sometimes to remember those pleasant times and good experiences and to just reflect.

And anyways, they probably wouldn’t want potato chips with their tea.

Mysterious Abalone Die-off

Today we made a day trip out to Fort Ross to go dive for abalone. When we were gearing up, a warden pulled up and told us “There have been reports of abalone being found on their backs South of here. You can still go diving, but be aware that we don’t know what’s causing this”. After he drove off, I noticed that I had forgotten to pack my booties and gloves. Brilliant!

South of Fort Ross

Though the water looked murky, there was little swell and the water was as calm as it gets in these areas, so we decided to go for it. As we were scouting our entry, a non-uniformed warden walked up and said “Hi, I’m a warden and so are those guys over there that are dressed as fishermen. We’re observing divers out here, and so we’re not in uniform. If you see any abalone that are on their backs or not attached to the rocks, can you get 4 or 5 of them? We want to send them off to the lab, as we don’t know what’s going on or why they’re being found in that state.”

We agreed and headed out, partly crawling and partly swimming over rocks exposed by the low tide. Luckily, there was little swell. Unluckily, it was overcast and the water was full of dead stuff that made the visibility extremely bad, where you couldn’t see anything further than a foot away at the surface.

Finding abalone was only possible because the spot that we went to was full of legal-sized snails. When we descended through the thick bull kelp, it was very dark at the bottom as the light was blocked by the crud in the water and the thick kelp canopy.

The first abalone I took was a barely legal which I bumped and then pulled off the rocks with my bare hands a few seconds later. I’ve done this before, but usually it’s not as easy. I’m guessing this one was in a weakened state. The next two I pried off with my bar.

I found two abalone that were correctly oriented, but not attached to any substrate, and put them in my float. Then we went in.

The four wardens who were in plain clothes had left, and two new wardens came up. We gave them the abalone and told them the depths at which they were found (10 and 15 feet, respectively). They put them in a zip lock with a card that has our contact information, and said they were sending the abalone off to a lab.

Hopefully whatever is killing off the abalone will abate soon, otherwise the implications of a widespread die-off might threaten this population. Perhaps today was the last day that the season will be open. That’s a sad, sad thought.

Little King

Kohei and I went fishing on the Check Mate yesterday, boarding at 5:00 am and back to the wharf by 4:00 pm. It was a beautiful day out on the bay–black footed albatross, blue and gray whales, little mola molas and lots of hopeful sea life, hoping for handouts of bait / salmon.

The bite was inconsistent, though the skipper proactively tried spot after spot. We were “mooching”, using a banana sinker with a barbless circle hook with frozen anchovies. Fish were biting on the drop and upon retrieval for the most part. We’d get a fish on and then the bite would die–this was the pattern for each stop. The salmon were very, very gingerly gumming our bait. You’d see a few dings on the pole tip, then nothing. Upon checking bait, there would be light bite marks or they’d slip the bait off the hook without giving notice. Needless to say, the way the fish were eating the bait was the source of much frustration and colorful language amongst the fishermen.

One old man got 5 fish! Compare this to the other 5 that were caught by the 20 of the rest of us on the boat. His rig had a sliding sinker, in comparison to ours, which were secured by a swivel on each side of the sinker.

We almost got skunked (I got skunked, but both of us almost got skunked) but at the very end Kohei had a salmon nibbling his bait–it took about 20 seconds and then after slowly taking up slack, the hook stuck. Thanks to Kohei, we enjoyed salmon dinner and it was delicious!

June 4 — Trips from the Road

Despite rainy weather, we decided to make a day trip for abalone. The swell wasn’t the predicted 2 feet that we hoped for, but it wasn’t too bad. The water could best be described as “sharky”, due to a combination of runoff from the cow pastures, tiny bubbles mixed into the dark silty water and the appearance of pockets of blue sky that casted our silhouettes down to the obscured depths. Who says that you have to make better decisions when you get older? Apparently, we didn’t look too appetizing to any sharks that may have seen us. Despite horrible visibility, we got 5 of the little suckers after about 30 minutes in the water.

But enough about that, I decided to break out my D-50 and to take pictures on the ride back home. If you ever get a chance to drive, hike and dive this stretch of coastline a few hours north of San Francisco, take it!

10-3 Tory’s Bar

Old prostitutes plying their trade in the shopping arcade, just past the official red light district where the younger girls serviced anonymous Johns behind curtained entry ways. Ancient mom and pop stores selling rice, coffee, kitchen utensils, various foods and textiles. Hidden, grungy izakayas full of blue collar workers getting a leisurely drink with an assortment of foods that you might not be able to find anywhere outside of the area.

One of my favorite things to do was to explore the alleys, choosing an izakaya at random. The smaller ones that were hidden away were many times the ones that were most worth hunting down, due to the ambiance, the cool people, the special drinks made by the bartenders, the amazing food done in just a certain way and having a seat to the table of your own private Idaho (I don’t know what this means, but it seems fitting).

Anyhow, enough ramblings. This link inspired me to reminisce about times out with friends and family and times, that I roamed the alley ways solo, at some of my favorite haunts:

One could spend a decade in southern Osaka and just barely scrape the surface of the microcosms that make up this area, each with a slightly different culture, language and atmosphere.