I teach at an international high school in Japan. This term I’m in charge of an elective on contemporary events as seen through media studies and literary theory. I’ve opened the term by exploring stereotypes. I want to share with you what they’ve been teaching me, starting with the fact that it is natural and good to discriminate against women.
A few weeks ago I assigned two readings, one on ultra orthodox Jews who have been refusing to sit next to women on International flights and another on women who are snubbed on the pretext of religion. I started the class by calling one young lady to the front. She extended her hand in greeting to which I smiled and said, “my religion forbids me to touch women”. She instinctively apologized. By a show of hands everyone agreed that was the correct response, as we need to respect religious preferences. This played out exactly the same in all four classes.
I called another young woman up; she extended her hand and I refused to take it because she was Japanese and “(her) people did horrible things during the second world to Koreans and Chinese.” Was I justified to refuse a common courtesy? Four classes said no.
A young woman came up and I refused to shake hands with a lesbian because she offends my religious beliefs and every class said that was wrong.
I refused another young lady because she was Muslim without further pretext and our discussions confirmed that no matter the reason that is unacceptable behavior.
This is how deep sexism is ingrained in young peoples minds: Everyone, male or female, felt it was not only acceptable to discriminate against women in the first example, but that it was necessary for women to apologize. How can young people think this?
We spent several classes looking for evidence in commercials and animation that show the creation of gender roles. They noticed for the first time that toys, breakfast foods, movie trailers tend to reinforce gender stereotypes (an example if you’re interested). The most lively discussion came from exploring films such as The Little Mermaid, which is about a young girl who gives up her family, leaves her world, and transforms her body to win a man’s love. These ideas that women are expected to change their names, move into their husband’s home, and maintain their appearance has been so ingrained into our shared cultures that media naturally emulate them.
I should tell you that on that first day all jaws were on the floor when I pointed out the contradiction that it was okay to discriminate against women to show respect towards another’s religion but it was unacceptable to them that people can use religion to discriminate against another’s sexual orientation, or another persons religious beliefs. Everyone changed their mind by the end of that class.
I am very interested to read what you all think: When is it acceptable to treat another differently? How do you navigate sticky situations about personal belief? What do you think of gender bias in the media where you are and do you have any examples to share or solutions?
Yesterday was the first day of spring and we took a drive down the eastern coast from Kanagawa to Shizuoka stopping along the way, near sunset, to take photos — I love sunsets. (Sunrises happen too early for me.) ;)
In Photoshop I recently learned how to use the custom filter (filter –> other –> custom), working out how to design my own filter to add grain into my images. It’s kinda like cooking: I know there’s a ready-made filter to add grain, but it just feels more satisfying to make your own, if you know what I mean. :) So enjoy these pics.
I’m also posting to ask for help. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m now learning InDesign. I do want to use it to format my recipes as nifty pages you all can download with a click. But how to format? As many cookbooks as I’ve read I draw a blank every time think to sketch out a design. I was hoping you could link to, or in other ways suggest recipes whose look you liked — not the recipe itself, but how it was presented on the page. I’ve been working my way through online magazines and Pintrest to get a feel for what I like but it’s as important to learn what other people consider good design, too.
If you don’t mind, let me know in the comments. m(_ _)m
Have a great week, everyone! :)
I’ve been learning InDesign. If every anyone told you Photoshop had a learning curve, InDesign has been more of a sheer wall of rock in the rain.
I’m not complaining. By using InDesign I can see just how much of our world is preplanned. Fonts are a great example. How many of you ever stop to notice what font you’re reading, it’s color, placement on a surface, its spacing? Do you want to gleam the forethought that goes into our modern world — InDesign is a great tool to show you.
After two weeks of reading about fonts — Two weeks and nowhere near done — I started working on grids and — wow. All I can say is hug the next graphic designer you meet.
I thought I’d share what I made so far. It’s far from good but I’m proud of myself for working out the grids. :)
When I started this blog just over a year ago I created an overview of posts and topics I wanted to cover and scheduled them to automatically publish to motivate me though them. The are/were largely unfinished recipes without photos,and that first batch just automatically published.
So I’m at my desk conniving ways to avoid the gym when my phone starts to send me alerts to WordPress.
It took me a few minutes to work out what happened — and, in a panic, work out how to undo everything.
Well, I’m feeling as round as this picture at the moment, so away from my computer, but first!
How do I avoid thee, gym, let me count the ways.
I avoid thee to the depth and breadth and height
My belly can reach, with feet out of sight.
I avoid thee to the level my moobs droop
Most quietly needing support under shirt.
I avoid thee freely, as I thrive at night.
I avoid thee purely, as I turn towards glazed –.
I avoid thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I avoid thee with a weight I can’t lose
in tight torn pants. I avoid thee out of breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall avoid thee even better tomorrow.
— modernized Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ladies and gentlemen!
One of my favorite purchases has been my Sigma 4.5mm fisheye. I take it with me as part of my kit and try to shoot with it to see what I can do — and when it’s good, it’s very good.
But what to do with all these round images?
Here are a few different ways I’ve found to express my content with the fisheye. These are from a theme park in Noboribetsu, an Edo style village. In one location are mannequins set up to approximate the way people in the Edo period used to live. Seeing the actual dimensions with figures really brought that world to life in my mind.
I have been learning exponentially. I can’t explain it, but I’ve hit a new groove which has given me confidence behind the camera.
These photos will not appear on WordPress as they appear to me because WordPress flattens out the color space from the larger ProPhoto I use on my computer to sRGB. It’s heartbreaking because the colors as they should appear are richer and more weighted. So, I invite you to check out my Flicker page to see these, and other, as I intended them to be seen.
So as you see, I’ve been learning loads. I’m actively studying composition and creating experiments so that I can better understand color. Your feedback really does help me learn. Tell me what you think.
I mentioned in my last post that I’ve taken up drinking as a new hobby. Let me explain.
For Christmas a friend sent me the book The 12 Bottle Bar. Christmas puts me in a shopping mood and I was looking for something new in 2015, so I got it into my head that I need those 12 bottles.
Mission complete, I mixed a few drinks a night, tasting things along the way. One of the first surprises was Vermouth. I’ve been using it in my cooking since I was in high school, but I’ve never drunk it. I encourage you to taste the vermouth from a FRESHLY opened bottle. The flavors are herbal and somewhat floral. I was stunned. Vermouth isn’t the kind of thing I’m going to have a glass of, but alcohol has it’s own palate of flavors I’d never taken the time to pay attention to.
So drinking is a meditative practice. ;)
When I was looking for rye whisky (to complete my bar) I came across a bottle of Coffey Whisky which I misread as Coffee Whisky. “What’s this?”, I thought and pulled up an online review on my iPad. What I read convinced me I needed to try this with soda and, OMG, it was better than a glass of wine.
I read on that Japanese whiskeys are made to be diluted as Nikka’s Coffey Whisky most certainly is. Neat, it doesn’t deliver it’s flavor profile but thinning it out with water brought forth fruits and woods while subduing all the harshness in a hard liquor. An online review equated it with the complexity of wine and I have to agree.
When I like something I read up on it. Liking this whisky I read up on Nikka and found out that their distillery was in Hokkaido, not far from where I’d be for the Snow Festival, so I decided to pay a visit — and I’m so very glad I did.
I left by bus from Sapporo to Yoichi, a 2-hour trip, with my morning Starbucks in hand. I arrived without having eaten breakfast and by eleven I was in their very busy bar sampling a variety of whiskies produced by Nikka for what you might call a very Irish breakfast.
Before December 2014, if I drank six pack of beer within a year, that was heavy consumption. For breakfast I had five glasses of whisky and an apple brandy. It was a very good morning. Very good. :)
Theres’s more to this story I want to share with you soon. Something I didn’t expect to find. I’ll try to write about it soon.
I really did and do intend to blog — really, really, really I do — but I get distracted easily.
I’ve been studying Photoshop through Lynda.com tutorials and when I found out about the Pen Tool, well, lets just say it opened up new possibilities. I can draw in Photoshop now and with my nifty new stylus and pressure pad I’m teaching myself how to paint. Consequently, I’ve been in the kitchen once since the new year to cook. It’s been all tofu, all the time in my kitchen. (Wanna a quick recipe? Take cotton style tofu [momen], wrap it in a towel and put a weight on in to press out the water. and fry it with some veggies, marinade it in some kind of flavorful liquid, or add a drizzle of soy sauce and a sprinkle of chopped green onion and some grated ginger. Voila!)
From February 3rd I went to Hokkaido for ten days to see the Sapporo Snow Festival; my new hobby is drinking (long story for another post) and so I also went to the Nikka Distillery; and if you’re in Hokkaido you have to ski and go to onsen — pics of all of that in time. I wanted to touch base before getting absorbed back into Lynda.com, so even though I want to keep a cooking blog you’re going to have to settle for pics for now. ;)
Fist off, I started this blog a year ago today — time flies.
I need to apologize for the unintended absence. For my birthday (on October 6th) ANA sent me a special promotion which I used to take an unscheduled, unplanned, always needed two-week vacation. When I came back I had essays up the kazoo to grade and, by chance, there was opening for a promotion.
I wanted the promotion.
I needed to prepare for the test (the first step in the application process), then for three successive interviews. I made it to the third and final group interview, but I didn’t get the job. That was at the end of November.
I sulked through most of December before getting in holiday mode — cooking, shopping, planning, and getting all my work done as our third year students graduate.
Excuses aside, I’m back. I didn’t mean to take a long holiday. Life happens — and I don’t get paid for this, so priorities. ;)
I did have time to consider what my blog means to me in the time I was away. I did start this as a means to reach out and connect with other people who share my passion for cooking and food — all things connected to food and eating. My blog then turned into a photography blog. I tried different ways to separate the two but photography was more fun to post about, however it’s not my real goal. I want to focus on my cooking and so I’m going to keep my photography in Flicker with a few here and there to liven up a given post.
I do love photography, perhaps even more than food. To take pictures and edit them require lots of time. To balance blogging and photography I’m setting a goal to post here once a week. I might post more, but I’d rather post a quality food post that’s informative than several small ones. We’ll see how it works out.
For this first week of the new year I thought I’d post about our New Year’s Osetchi.
Every year I’ve been in Japan for the New Year’s holiday I’ve spent the week it takes to make all the best dishes I can eek out of my kitchen — and it’s expensive. Two years ago I spent the equivalent of 700USD for Osetchi and it’s accompaniments (crab, sashimi, wine, etc). This year I purchased one of the many pre-made osetchi boxes available through department stores. They range in price from 2000USD to a modest 100USD. The food should be enough that it lasts for three days. I went with the Dean & Deluca osetchi box and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
I enjoy Japanese traditional foods (tray one); however, the other two trays of western delicacies blew them away. The duck confit, the home made sausages, the sea urchin mouse and on and on and on were some of the best things I’ve eaten in ages. The beef! I’ve never had beef so tender that it literally begins to melt while chewing.
So enjoy these photos of my first feast of the New Year and let me know in the comments how you’ve all been doing.
The new year in Japan.
On January 2nd the Imperial Family opens the East wing of their palace to the public. While we may not enter their residence we are allowed into the mail courtyard. The family makes an appearance at the window, the Emperor makes a short speech, and they all wave. It’s my first time attending — I’ve never been to a more crowded place in all my life (I’m tall enough to see just how crowded it was). These are a few photos I took at the event.
Two views from up top and one from down below.
One gives you something to aspire to,
The others show your reach.
I was tall for my age. And since both my parents were around five foot, my dad demanded a paternity test early on. ;)
As a teen I was swarthy and already six-foot by junior high school. I easily got into R-rated movies and, even though underage, in high school I could buy beer, something which greatly expanded my social circles.
Then sometime in my early twenties looking older was no longer a boon. I wanted to look young and with the magic words, “I am” I could be five to ten years older or younger without a second glance. The trick works even better the other way. I simply ask, with a slightly incredulous tone, “well, how old do you think I am?”. The answer can shave 10 – 15 years off without any cosmetic expense.
For decades I’ve made a game out of hiding my age, so much so that no one believes me when I tell them the truth. So how old am I? Well, I just celebrated my 152nd birthday.
The game started when I turned 26. I had the baker write Happy Anniversary instead of Happy Birthday, put a large candle in the shape of the numerals ’25’ and celebrated the anniversary of my 25th birthday. That party started a tradition of celebrating the anniversary of whatever year I wanted to celebrate — until this year.
I’m quite serious when I tell people I’m going to live well into my 100’s. My mom had me at 40; my dad was 52. My aunts and uncles on both sides died well into their 70’s, some lingering on into their 90’s even though they all ate horrifically rich foods, drank heavily, smoked, and were stressed into heart disease and ulcers. I’ve had none of that. I’ve always eaten healthily, almost never drink, can’t even handle the smell of tobacco and have zero stress in my life. If I can avoid accents I’ve got the nature and nurture to live to be at least 150 — and, with medical science progressing as it has, I truly believe that I will.
So from this year I decided to celebrate my future birthdays, perhaps those I might not have and so I had the baker put this on my cake and had a couple of fantastic birthday parties this year. (Why limit yourself to one?)
So here is to me this year and for many, many, many, many years after.
Early this year I walked into my bedroom showered, tired, and ready for bed. Flipped the light. Baby spider was on my pillow. We both looked at each other for a beat. I charged, it JUMPED behind the bed, and I slept in the other room. I am not an arachnophob. Not really. Unnerved. Unsettled. Proof that they live amongst us both fascinates me and puts me on edge and, yes, terrifies me.
Walking through Dejima’s orchards and gardens in the rain — umbrella in one hand, camera in the other — I dodged a few spiders perched eye level to me (because no one else walking though is 192cm/6’4″ they can spin their webs lower than I’d like) until I walked face first into one.
Instinct and expectations collided — I am a man, I can not scream!
I shuddered deeply from within, shook my head violently from side to side, managed to drop my shoulder bag on the wet ground and land my camera on top. With one self possessed step forward I practically undulated with complete and total revulsion and fear. I don’t know how I didn’t scream or completely freak out in a dance.
I couldn’t bring myself to pat myself down for a spider check so dropped my umbrella over my camera and calmly walked over to a near by gardner and told what happened. I asked if he wouldn’t mind checking if I missed any “web” on my person.
I was spider free.
I am in awe of what social expectations and a ridged idea of how one thinks they should behave can, thankfully, reign in even the primeval emotions hidden deep, deep within. Remember that the next time you get pissed at someone. ;)
And ladies and gentlemen, that is how I’ve come to post this set of pics from Nagasaki.