Welcome to Sophelia's Japan

A blog about adventures, academia, adoption and other things starting with the letter 'A'.
I'm a geek, a metal head, a shiba inu wrangler and a vegetarian, and I write about all of the above. You have been warned!

Smiley hikers

Friday, 8 May 2015

Things I See When I Run From Zombies (flashback Friday)

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I'd read great things about the Zombies, Run! app, but my phone is too old an crap to run it. Last year I discovered that I can use the 5k training version, and since I can't actually run further than a block without collapsing in a gasping heap it was probably the better choice anyway. So, I loaded up some tunes and headed out. While most of the episodes are timed and will just interupt your music when the time is up, the prologue episode goes by songs. This was a bit of an issue... what was estimated to be a 45 minute work out took me an hour and a half. My playlist contained Iron Maiden, Amon Amath and Blind Guardian~ the guitar solos alone are the length of a whole pop song! Still, I loved the app and I loved exploring my neighbourhood. I saw so many awesome things on that first day that I was hooked (it was that time I encountered a wild pheasant). As soon as I got pregnant the running had to stop (I started vomiting 12 hours after conceiving and didn't stop until just before his head emerged), but here are some pictures from the couple of months I kept it up.

Misty farms
Caution: snakes
Stabby bamboo of death
Bloody moon
I had no idea there was a shrine in the middle of that patch of trees
So Cyberpunk- Koi under and oily film in what looked like an abandoned gated community
Hobbits?
Early sakura
Terrifying-alien-egg-plant
Oranges rotting on a tree before falling into the well. A sweet, sickly odor fills the still air. Zombies are close.
Old roofing tiles reclaimed by nature
I swear I heard moaning behind me...
Definitely a zombie lair
Hiding in the walls, perhaps
Wild wisteria
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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Gift

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Who is this vision of grace and beauty I hear you cry? Why, `tis none other than my darling sister Verity, who regular readers may remember from the Very Awkward Tea Ceremony. And why are you dazzling us with this delightful image, you exclaim? And furthermore, why do you use this irritating writing style? Well, the answer to both is, basically, sleep deprivation. Allow me to elaborate, dear reader. Caring for babies is time consuming, and further complicated by dogs and a (more than a little challenging) big brother. Yet, we do not face these challenges alone, for a gift beyond price has been given us by the mostest bestest sister to walk this green earth. Despite having an MA thesis to finish and a wedding fast approaching, she has flown halfway around the world to wash my dishes and hold the baby while I pee. It is a kindness I can never repay nor thank her enough for, and for the rest of my life my greatest prayer for others will be: may you have a sister in your life half as kind as mine.

Many thanks to Helen of Inn by the Sea for giving me a kick back into blogging with the "five days challenge". The idea is to post five photos, one per day for five days, and to write a story or poem to go with each photo. For each day that we post we are supposed to invite one person to participate.

I'm inviting Mim and Cheese of Two Lof Bees to join in. Dudes, if you would like to participate, post a picture a day for five days and write a story to go along with each photo. Your story can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be a short paragraph, a page, or a poem. Each post, please select one person to carry on the challenge. It's just for fun, there's no pressure to join in ;)
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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Enhanced Reality (Niconico Chokaigi)

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Image gratuitously stolen from this site
A few years ago I was having dinner with some Tokyoites who were here braving the inaka. One young woman commented that there wasn't much enhanced reality around here. I had no idea what she was talking about, so she showed me her phone. As she held it up a moved the camera around, little text bubbles popped up. People who had previously inhabited the same space had left messages~ "order the chicken, it's great!" and "my boyfriend of five years just dumped me then left me with the bill for our meal." They were like messages from ghosts almost, echoes of moments past. In Tokyo, she explained, there would be so many notes the screen would be completely filled with them, and photographs too.

Niconico, a video sharing community, allows a similar "virtual shared experience" by showing users' comments scrolling across the screen. According to Know Your Meme:

Nico Nico Douga was the first website introduce a way to embed tags and comments directly into the videos, allowing comments on 2channel and the YouTube clip to be displayed simultaneously. The feature enabled video posts on Nico Nico Douga with a sense of a shared watching experience.
In the more popular videos, so many comments have been posted that the original video is entirely obscured, and one has to turn off the comments in order to see it. I recently had a look at the English language option, incidentally, and predictably but disappointingly the first English comment that popped up on the  video I watched was "gaaaaaaay". Way to go, Anglophones :/

Anyway, the reason I am writing about this today is that there was a Niconico convention last weekend, attended by over 100,000 people and viewed via live stream by seventy-five times than number. As one would expect of Niconico, the convention was all about blending the real and the virtual. Attendees carried long strips of paper with phrases such as lol (笑)to hold up in a 3D version of scrolling comments, and stood in front of green-screens to see themselves on a screen interacting with virtual characters like Hatsune Miku (who owes much of her original development and ongoing popularity to the creative community of Niconico).

The sumo match pictured above was a highlight of the conference. As the match was fought, a large screen behind the ring projected an enhanced version with special effects added live, including a display of HP and the Street Fighter/ Dragon Ball Z style light effects you can see in the image. The event was called, interestingly, "real sumo". Realer than real.

Many thanks to Helen of Inn by the Sea for giving me a kick back into blogging with the "five days challenge". The idea is to post five photos, one per day for five days, and to write a story or poem to go with each photo. For each day that we post we are supposed to invite one person to participate.

I'm inviting Mrs Epic of Epic Domestic to join in. Mrs Epic, if you would like to participate, post a photo every day for five days and write a story to go along with each photo. Your story can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be a short paragraph, a page, or a poem. Each post, please select one person to carry on the challenge. It's just for fun, there's no pressure to join in ;)
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Friday, 27 March 2015

Dog on Back- Flashback Friday

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Enjoying the view while the human does all the work... excellent shiba-ing!
Back when we just had the one dog... and no kids... and no car, we were a bit stuck on how to transport him around. We found this carrier which is actually for toddlers but modified with a dog insert and thought it was the perfect way to get around by bicycle with dog safely on one of our backs. Like most things we tried with Hayate, it didn't work out quite as planned. He enjoyed it, but his favorite part of the experience was biting the back of the man's head. The man tried wearing a helmet to discourage this, but then Hayate developed motion sickness and vomited all down the man's back. The man called it quits at that point.

Many thanks to Helen of Inn by the Sea for giving me a kick back into blogging with the "five days challenge". The idea is to post five photos, one per day for five days, and to write a story or poem to go with each photo. For each day that we post we are supposed to invite one person to participate.

Today I am tagging Yurikachan for the "five days challenge". Yurika, if you would like to participate, post a photo every day for five days and write a story to go along with each photo. Your story can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be a short paragraph, a page, or a poem. Each day, please select one person to carry on the challenge. It's just for fun, there's no pressure to join in ;)
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Pheasant Surprise

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Photo from this site (is it cheating if the picture isn't my own?)
We live right on the edge of a suburb, with farms on the lowland side and forested mountains on the other. Looking for places to go running I explored some new trails and found a path running between forest and some secluded fields tended by bent old women in huge sun hats and leather-faced old men who wear gumboots all year round. It was shady and peaceful, the soft earth absorbing even the sound of my footfall. I rounded a bend in the path and startled a wild pheasant foraging in a cluster of spring flowers. With a sharp cry and a dazzling flash of emerald feathers he took flight, his wings releasing the sweet scent of daffodils and bluebells into the air.

Many thanks to Helen of Inn by the Sea for giving me a kick back into blogging with the "five days challenge". The idea is to post five photos, one per day for five days, and to write a story or poem to go with each photo. For each day that we post we are supposed to invite one person to participate.
Today I am tagging Erinn of Off on a Whim for the "five days challenge". Erinn, if you would like to participate, post a photo every day for five days and write a story to go along with each photo. Your story can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be a short paragraph, a page, or a poem. Each day, please select one person to carry on the challenge. It's just for fun, there's no pressure to join in ;)
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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Introducing Cricket

4 comments:
OK, so, I don't want to post identifiable pictures of the kids on the blog. However, since I figure all newborns more closely resemble potatoes than their adult selves, I am classifying this one as non-identifiable. This is Cricket at about 12 hours old.
Welcome to the world
My chirpy little cricket
Buds become blossoms

Many thanks to Helen of Inn by the Sea for giving me a kick back into blogging with the "five days challenge". The idea is to post five photos, one per day for five days, and to write a story or poem to go with each photo. For each day that we post we are supposed to invite one person to participate.

I'm inviting George and Erika of Japan, Home Sweet Home. George and Erika, if you would like to participate, post a photo every day for five days and write a story to go along with each photo. Your story can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be a short paragraph, a page, or a poem. Each day, please select one person to carry on the challenge. It's just for fun, there's no pressure to join in ;)
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