Tuesday, July 25, 2006

coolest so far

I don't want to jinx it. But this summer has been the coolest as far back as memories can go. There were only few days when the temperatures broke 30C (~86F). And it's been in the 20's (~75F) these couple of weeks, although tsuyu (raining season) has something to do with it. The humidity is there which is hard enough to deal with. Right now, for example, is 24C as I type this post. The way my apartment is situated not a lot of sunlight comes through leading to a false sense of spring still especially with the cicadas not making any noise yet.

A late summer.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

no surprise there

Existential thinkers:
  • Like to spend time thinking about philosophical issues such as "What is the meaning of life?"
  • Try to see beyond the 'here and now', and understand deeper meanings
  • consider moral and ethical implications of problems as well as practical solutions

Other Existential Thinkers include
The Buddha, Gandhi, Plato, Socrates, Martin Luther King

Careers which suit Existential Thinkers include
Philosopher, Religious leader, Head of state, Artist, Writer

What kind of thinker are you?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Venus Express Arrives at Venus

Humanity now has a spacecraft orbiting Venus.

The robotic Venus Express spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency in 2005 November arrived at Venus in 2006 April. Venus Express is now orbiting Earth's sister planet and returning pictures. Pictured above is a false-color, time-lapse movie in ultraviolet light captured by the Venus Express spacecraft as it flew over Venus' northern hemisphere in late May. Venus Express is scheduled to orbit Venus for three years and collect data that might help in answering questions that include why Venus continually generates hurricane-force winds, why Venus became so hot in the past, and if there is any current volcanic activity on Venus.

It is hoped that a better understanding of Venus's hot and inhospitable climate will help humanity better understand Earth's climate as well.
ESA/MPS, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
NASA's APOD index

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Manhattan Sunset

Today, if it is clear, Manhattan will flood dramatically with sunlight just as the Sun sets precisely on the centerline of every street. Usually, the tall buildings that line the gridded streets of New York City's tallest borough will hide the setting Sun. This effect makes Manhattan a type of modern Stonehenge, although only aligned to about 30 degrees east of north. Were Manhattan's road grid perfectly ligned to east and west, today's effect would occur on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox, March 21 and September 21, the only two days that the Sun rises and sets due east and west. If today's sunset is hidden by clouds do not despair -- the same thing happens every May 28 and July 12. On none of these occasions, however, should you ever look directly at the Sun.

Credit & Copyright:
Neil deGrasse Tyson (AMNH)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

raise your hand...

...if you drive the way I do. If the world left me with nothing but a car and a road, chances are I'd still die a pretty happy man.

OK, so I'm into driving, more accurately, technical driving, the stuff they don't teach you in driver's ed, but in race-driving school as a hobby.

Japanese masses are by no means good drivers. Japan has very winding narrow paths they call roads. I've had a lot more chances since moving here to experiment on different roads without putting others in danger. I got my driver's license as a teenager and god knows why from that point on I've always wanted to drive a lot, a lot, and then some more. I grew up in big cities where driving is for the most part unnecessary if not inconvenient.

  1. I don't speed on open road (more than the average driver);
  2. Reckless driving is stupidity at its worst display;
  3. You don't need a good car to be a good driver
    (sometimes it even hinders one's development);
  4. Drinking and driving do not mix.
First off, what they don't teach you at mom&pop's driving school:
  • When and where to turn; (you want to hit the apex right every turn, see pic)
  • Throttle control; (feather touch, off the gas, throttle brakes etc)
  • Brake control; (feather touch, blipping, tapping, heel & toe etc)
  • The many uses of up-shifting and down-shifting; (brakes, rev-match, delays, etc)
  • The many uses of the e-brake; (delicate turns, lose traction, controlled slide, etc)
  • Driver's behavior; (most drivers don't know how to share the road)
  • Weight distribution; (know your car's limits and how it behaves)
  • Precision driving; (know the dimensions therefore where exactly all 4 wheels are at all time)
  • Defensive driving; (a course that teaches you how not to kill yourself and others as well as redeeming a few points)
  • Concentration; (how not to fiddle with the radio and take your eyes off, drive with the eyes of a hawk, spot trouble a mile away, anticipate traffic, never the lack of it)
Braking. Point 'B' in the picture is the braking zone. All straight line braking should be finished here before your foot is on the throttle turning into the corner.

Turn in. Point 'I' is your entry into the corner, start at the outside edge of the track. Farthest from the inside of the corner. You should have a steady steering angle and a constant speed to the apex. Smoothness is crucial at this point, now is when you commit to the turn. Keep your foot on the throttle in one place to maintain constant speed and hold the steering wheel steady in one position all the way through to the Apex.

Apex. Point 'A' is where you are closest to the inside edge of the corner. The proper apex is usually not in the exact middle of a turn, but a little 'late'. Hitting the apex right determines how fast you can exit the corner. From the apex you should begin unwinding the steering and adding power as you now have available adhesion for accelerating. If you think about the Car Dynamics and Adhesion information previously you will see that accelerating out of the corner will be an understeer situation. You won't require much steering input to 'push' the car towards the outside of the track.

Turn out. Point 'O' is the exit from the corner on the far edge of the track. At this point the steering wheel should be straight and you should be on full power.
(pic and descriptions courtesy of

Monday, July 03, 2006

100 aftershocks

6.0 earthquake causes slight rumble in Alaska
Tuesday June 27, 2006

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) A magnitude 6.0 earthquake caused a slight tremble Monday at a mostly abandoned air strip in the Aleutian Islands.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center reported the 7:15 p.m. quake was felt strongly in Shemya Station. There were no immediate reports of any damage.

The quake was centered about 90 miles southeast of Shemya, or about 1,400 miles southwest of Anchorage, and was located at a depth of about 23 miles, the Alaska Earthquake Information Center said. (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) -link
OK, nothing to be alarming there, and aftershocks are common. But some 100 aftershocks have been recorded since the 27th, with the largest reaching 5.6 in magnitude yesterday, and no sign of stopping. It has the word "strange" written all over it. But then again it could have been a series of individual quakes with their own aftershocks intermixed together. (ref: U.S. Geological Survey)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

think you've seen Japan?

Think again.

Japan on Foot: 7,494 Kilometres to Mu is a paperback travel log written by an English journalist, Mary King, with help from her travel companion Etsuko Shimabukuro.

The journey took them a little over two years. They set off in May 2001 from Cape Soya of Hokkaido, where I spot a lot of familiar places that I've been to, on wheels.

déjà vu

Shuttle launch,
Launch delays,
Shuttle coming home,
Hokkaido roadtrip,
2500 miles,
It was exactly the same last year!

All becoming a summer ritual. (hope no one dies)

Click this link to watch the live shuttle launch on NASA TV.


Having watched roughly half the matches in this world cup so far, to me, the goal itself is not all that fun. They are few and far between. God knows if someone will ever score. However, the rush and setup to a goal and the other team's desperate tactics to catch up after being scored are so much more to hold your breath for. But seeing the ball go into the goal has a sense of thoroughness. Right, probably the male complex.

With Argentina out of the picture I hope Brazil or England will go all the way, the latter being a bit of a stretch, especially with Roony, not a likeable character, Beckham, the poster boy for the metrosexual, and of course Owen gone. Brazil on the other hand is more than promising.

edit: last hope, Brazil (Eng lost 1-3 PSO)

edit2: O BOY! (Brazil lost 0-1 to France)