Thursday, November 29, 2007

Modern Japanese Music - Shimatani Hitomi

What do you know? I was feeling inspired. ;)

Some samples of modern Japanese "pop" by the famous Hitomi Shimatani. Her earlier music has a lot of Latin overtones that have grown into more widespread international feel.




FALCO ~ファルコ

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Chicken" Chaat

Since I mentioned this recipe previously here and I do make it CONSTANTLY (I can't help it. It's really good and really quick to whip-up. ), I thought I would post my recipe for "Chicken" Chaat:

400 grams of firm yaki doufu (or 200 grams each of momen and yaki doufu)
200 grams of shirataki (optional, but highly recommended)
3/4 tsp of salt
3/4 tsp ground hot pepper
1 tsp of ground garlic
4 tsp of ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

3 Tbsp real lemon juice
4 Tbsp of salt-free butter or ghee

Toss all in a semi-deep pan and cook while stirring over low for about 10 minutes.
You can eat it right away, but as with all Indian food, it tastes best if it has the chance to absorb the flavor for a few hours or over nite. :)

-Best served over Basmati or Jasmine rice-

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

International Travelling with Animal Companions

The best advice is DON'T DO IT!

Here's an example of why you don't want to:
Barbaric conditions in the airline industry, by a shelter mom.

If you are forced to, if it is inescapable that you must travel with you animal companion, one of the very important things to remember is don't assume any thing. Many airplanes these days will not accept animal companions. The ones that do, accept only certain types. Also, if you are able to have your companion ride with you in the passenger cabin, you must make sure that your carryons fit that plane. All airplanes are not the same. Check with your specific the airline for regulations on animal companions and dimensions of the carryons for transport especially cabin transport.

International travel is a whole other nightmare.
Very, VERY risky.
First off, most airlines do not allow animals in the passenger cabin. They get thrown in the hold with the baggage. On each and every airline site, you will find a statement like this:

"Pets As Checked Baggage"

Do you really want to take that chance seeing as how your luggage is treated??

Another major problem is that frequently the information and policies that you need about the receiving country (the country you're flying into), are not available or WORSE, not up to date in your home country. I ran into that problem with Japan. Not only could I not get the info I needed from the US side, their official Japanese site didn't have it either.
I played it safe and turned out to be right in not trying to transport them with me.

Yet another problem with international travel is the QUARANTINE procedures--there's papers you need from licensed vets and a quarantine stay that requires additional fees. It can be a quite a lengthy stay, too.

Sites Specializing in Traveling with Animal Companions:
Pets On The Go: lots of information. Basic but MINIMAL fee to join. Well worth the cost.
Animal Airlines: company specifically geared to transporting your loved ones safely.

Direct Links to the Most Common American Airlines:

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Online RADIO -listen & record


includes the following subcategories: Audio Books & Poetry | Computers & Technology | Grateful Dead | Live Music Archive | Music & Arts | News & Public Affairs | Non-English Audio | Open Source Audio | Podcasts | Radio Programs

LibriVox: over 1000 public domain books in audio book format available for download. Over 700 of the books are in English, the rest in other languages including German, Japanese, and French. (They have THE YELLOW SIGN!)

Intro: Classic radio stories from the 1930-1950's era. When actors could entertain with their voices alone, without the need for FX to distract you from poor-quality, shallow acting.
All sites have the ability that you can listen on the site or download to your computer.
-over 12,000 episodes from tons of series
-nice selection that includes also podcasts and commercials categories
-nice selection of free episodes from many series
-although it is mostly a purchasing site (purchase OTR eps on CD cheaply), there are a lot of free episodes to download too.
-collection of OTR links. Follow to listen and download episodes.

You can also both listen to AND save these episodes with the VideoLAN player that was recommended earlier for watching any video format.
First, startup the VideoLAN player.
You then have to OPEN a "network stream" and paste the address in the appropriate field. Then, if you want to save, click on Stream/Save. Make sure you click on the SETTINGS next to that option and set the appropriate settings, ie. if you're saving to your HD, you need to give the file a name. Also, there are many choices for "encapsulation method" (format to save as). I just leave it at MPEG TS for these radio streams.

The file will be saved in the default folder VLC in the directory you originally setup for VideoLAN. For example, in my case, these downloads are saved in the directory ProgramFiles\VideoLAN\VLC since I originally set up VideoLAN in the ProgramFiles\VideoLAN\ directory. I then just move them to where I want to store them and play away!


Light's Out
Haunting Hour

Inner Sanctum Mysteries
TheInnerSanctum 1941-1943
TheInnerSanctum 1944
TheInnerSanctum 1945
TheInnerSanctum 1946
TheInnerSanctum 1947
TheInnerSanctum 1948
TheInnerSanctum 1949: PartOne
TheInnerSanctum 1949: PartTwo

Hall Of Fantasy
Dark Fantasy: complete CD


RADIOCLUBBLOG: The website makes it really easy to search for music using their search engine. The site offers a way to listen to the music online or copy and paste code into your own website to make it available to your visitors. The code contains the direct link to the mp3 file. It is therefor very easy to extract the link to the mp3 file from the code and download it afterwards. This requires some manual work but is really easy.

SCREAMER RADIO: Screamer Radio supports Shoutcast and Icecast Mp3 Streaming as well as WMA and AAC streaming. A big list of supported radio stations is available at the official screamer radio website. The preset tab holds a large list of radio stations which are directly accessible through screamer radio. Just choose a station and Screamer will automatically start the playback. Just hit REC if you want to start recording streams which will then be saved in the default location.
A great feature of Screamer Radio is that you can hit REC even in the middle of a song and it will still be saved completely if it was not the first song of that radio station. Screamer Radio uses a buffering technique to make this possible. Screamer Radio also uses the meta data that is sent by some radio stations to add the real filename, title and artist, not generic info. Best of all it is free, does not use many system resources and can be run in system tray.

PHONOSTAR RECORDER: Phonostar is a free radio player and recorder that comes preconfigured with more than 4000 radio stations. Phonostar tries to automatically determine the audio source that can be used to record songs and loads the interface afterwards. Top stations are selected and a double-click starts the playback of that station. Please note that all top stations seem to be in German, conduct a search for English stations.
Phonostar has more than 2100 English stations in it database including such famous ones as digital imported radio. If your favorite stations are missing you can simply add them by clicking on On Air and selecting Add radio station or open stream url. Before you are ready to record songs you should enter the recording settings and change the default format from .wav to .mp3 to save space on your hard drive. Click on recording in the left pane and select mp3 as the file format. To record simply click the red button in the left pane and the recording process starts.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Fixing your Movie Playback Quality

If you watch a lot of movies, you have probably had this happen to you too:

- Suddenly the image freezes but the sound kept playing.
- Disoriented or coloured blocks of pixels distorting the image for a time.

Then, Divx Repair is the program that you could use to fix the errors automatically. They even offer a forum for questions and help on their main site.

Divx Repair is very simple to use. Just unzip it to your hard drive and run it from the location that you have unzipped it to. Divx Repair does not need to be installed and does not alter your system files or registry. Double-click Divx Repair to start the program. You can simply add files with the button Add Files.

The button Repair files starts the automatic repair process which tries to fix bad frames automatically. Only the bad frames will be deleted not the key frames which means that you should be able to play the movie without errors from now on.

A error report at the end of the repair displays the amount of bad intervals that have been found. If a fix was necessary a new version of the movie will be saved in the same directory as the original movie file-a nice, smart program.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Watching ANY downloaded Video

The problem with keepvid is that it only allows you to download in .flv format. And if you download a movie from the stage6 site, you get a .divx file.

What's a person to do?

Real Player can't handle it. And even if Windows Media Player could, why would you want to use it anyway?

There is a FIX!! (of course)

The VideoLAN Free Player, direct download here.


-can watch online streaming vid and downloaded vids
-has video and audio equalizers, filters, and other modifications.
-unlike WIN Mediaplayer, a working video normalization!!
-individualized playlist construction function, one-time or endless reply functions, shuffle
-handles all types of video formats including ALL those playable under REAL PLAYER, WIN MEDIAPLAYER, PLUS .flv and podcasts formats! (I don’t have one, so I can not confirm the bit about the podcasts.)

Refer back to here, for downloading your favs: Download and SAVE Movies to your HD

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Ubiqutous, Lurking Soybean

You can't swing a dead cat without here hitting a block of tofu. (Monty Python as a veg*n)

I like Tofu, but I have discovered that the Japanese view of how to use tofu is very, very limited to the confines of their "shokubunka"-food culture. Frankly, I've made wonderful sweet potato pies, chocolate-pumpkin-goodness pies, tofu tacos, tofu italiano with red wine and maitake mushrooms, numerous casseroles, and an infinite number of curries all with that one special ingredient, TOFU. Besides, tofu gets a chicken-like texture if you freeze it (sliced) and then defrost it. I LOVE that in my Tofu Chaat, formerly "Chicken Chaat" recipe. <3<3

Even if you aren't a veg*n of some sort, tofu is super-cheap compared to beef or chicken in Japan (on the order of half price of meat for the same weight!) and as such, worth a try. There's also the added benefit of disposal. Garbage in Japan is strictly separated and "nama", or "raw" garbage is picked up at most 2 times a week.
Where does it stay in the meantime??
In your apartment. You can NOT leave your trash outside your door, or in the hall, or somewhere else. It goes out on trash day and ONLY trash day.
Nothing like the smell of rotting meat wafting into your apartment from outside on your balcony in the spring and summer. (I was a carnivore the first 2 years here. I *know*.)
Tofu, on the other hand... Well, you get the picture. There's no "bad" pieces, or the blood-soaked towels that sit under the meat to soak up the "juices", or grease, so nothing to throw out in a bag except the plastic container it came in.

I loathe cleaning and I like cheap (when it's HEALTHY) so it's win-win for me! Anyway, give it a try. It's cheap and not pumped full of bovine growth hormone or antibiotics. ;)

We would call this "Firm" in the USA. Good for stirfry or slicing and baking. Will break apart with hard stirring like in a curry.

We would call this "Silk" in the USA. Breaks apart the minute you try to handle it. Only good for baking and hiding it in other foods as it can be easily and completely crushed into a white...paste. This is due to the higher water content of Kinu tofu.

Cooked or Lightly Fried tofu. Great for most main-dish recipes. More compressed (less water) than Momen; and due to the slight pre-cooking, more meatier in texture and taste.
WARNING: The consistency of Yakidofu is entirely dependent on the manufacturer. I've bought yakidofu that held together only as well as momen, but the good stuff is far more compressed (less water), and can take a good beating when you put it in curries.

Deep fried tofu that is hollowed out for use as a "shell" for stuffing. Never used it myself because of the deep-frying.

Besides, the basic pointers I gave up in the "GARDEN.." section, I would suggest this site. My favorite recipe and veg*n "support" site:

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Movie Links - Part 2 (links!!)

If you haven't done it already, GET FIREFOX now! I can't stress that enough. :)

Now that we are armed and ready.
At long, LONG last...

online TV
site00: no need for a proxy server to hide outside-USA IP address
ABC news: need for a proxy server to hide outside-USA IP address. You can find out how to easily do that here or here.
CBS news
MSNBC & NBC news
site02: over 2000 streaming TV and website links.
site03: streaming TV in 10+ languages!
site04: lots of US & UK TV shows, anime, & cartoons.

SP only 00 (undergoing an upgrade, but still accessible)
SP only 01: best setup and extras
SP only 02

If you are running NOSCRIPT (which you should if you want to watch movies), many of these tv streams require you to set NOSCRIPT to "allow" mode in order to view them. For security reasons, I always just choose "temporarily allow"

online MOVIES
These are great sites, especially the first one. Constantly updated, links checked for vaildity, and tons of material--TV shows, Movies, Anime, Cartoons, you name it.

If you feel up to searching through endless homage clips and porn for that ONE special episode/movie, you're more patient than I am so here you go! Good Luck. ;>

Definitely Good for Searching
MySpace - Video Section
Daily Motion
Google Video
Good for Searching
Live Digital
Selfcast TV

Plus these 2 in Chinese: (Use google webpage translation to view.)
OuOu video
Tudou video
warning: these sites are VERY slow when it is Night in that area of the world, so check your timing before hopping over. That item aside, they both tend to store full-length CSI, LOST, other TV series and many movies. Host site is in China, so there's little to NO regulation going on there. ;>

Singing fish
All the Web

If you have any trouble, come back and arm yourself with the necessary equipment found in the previously published articles here and here or here. If I find any more tricks, you know they'll be posted. ;>

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Download and SAVE Movies to your HD

I found this handy little bit of information recently:

Vdownloader will download videos from Google, Youtube and Grinvi ONLY onto your computer in avi or mpeg format not flv meaning you will be able to watch videos on your computer! ***

You are also able to change the output size and audio bitrate in the process.
Run Vdownloader.exe and copy the url of the video you want to download. Click on Download button...It's that easy.^.^

: Just unzip ALL the files to a folder in your hard disk. Both vdownloader.exe and ffmpeg.exe must be in the same directory. Otherwise, videos won't be properly converted. Then you can place a shortcut on your desktop to vdownloader.exe to run the entire program.

Regarding Download Time:
Converting youtube videos did not take long at all. A 2 minute video was downloaded and converted in about 2-3 minutes to mpg.

WARNING: Because the command line only allows one URL, I tried opening 2 instances of the program. Running multiple windows of the program does not seem to work well. I've tried multiple times, but the secondary window only seems to make it to the "download finished". It is unable to create a working converted file.

OR, get the Firefox Addon
-Simple one click addon then a browser restart
-Actually uses the same underlying program as the site below which is why it only saves files as .flv format.

OR, you can also try this site.
* You MUST use the direct link to the video you want to download, ie you can not use a link that has "search" in it. Direct Links are found beneath the actual video when it plays.
* It will only download movies as .flv files which means you have to download yet another program. You'll need either an .flv viewer or another program to convert it to and mpeg or avi yourself.
A hassle, but the site does download from dailymotion.

***for some reason weird tail numbers sometimes get tacked onto the the url when you click it on even though they don't exist in the actual address posted here. If it does this, just search for Vdownloader on or simply edit the changed url by removing the ending %4%2's etc. until you reach ".shtml".

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Year of the Bore... BOAR

Everyone counts down at the end of the year--they count the seconds before the ball drops, they count the top 10 news stories of the year... The end of the year is ALL about counting. So...


10. You frequently leave your bag/purse sitting in your grocery cart or in your bicycle basket and turn your back on it to look at something else. AND it never wanders off.

9. One apple costs 3 dollars and a mango costs 7.

8. You see signs like this--"For a Regulation of a Customer" and have to read the Japanese "translation" below it to figure it out.

7. You have to use a crank attached to your bathtub to light the gas in order to heat your bathwater. (Didn't that go out of existence in the early 1900's??)

6. You can watch programs that use Madonna's LIKE A VIRGIN and other classic hits to teach English.
-Seriously, how better to teach the phrase "You made me feel ---- "?

5. Rock-paper-scissors is a national sport.

4. New Year's celebrations include men running around in their underwear on their way to diving into a bathtub filled with ice cold water...OUTDOORS.

3. The pokemon children's magazine is displayed next to the "middle-aged" man's pornographic magazine on an outdoor bookstand.

2. You wear your pajama bottoms to work and no one cares. (I've been doing that for over a month now. Admittedly, they're a solid color, but still.)

And the number one sign you know you're in Japan when.....

1. A young mother helps her 1 year old son pull down his pants so he can relieve himself at a telephone poll on the way home from grocery shopping in the middle of the day.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How to Mask Your IP: Part 2

Tired of getting the "only viewable within the US/UK/..." messages when you try to view THE OFFICE or NUKB3RS? Well, here's how we fix that. ;>

How to Mask Your IP: Part 2

This will help people who want to use different software and services online that are usually restricted to the locals. This little IP and proxy tweak also makes your surfing much more anonymous.

The below sites are all members of this network;however, all have different flavors.
PROS: intro page tells you what it sees about your settings.
tells you what it will send as your "new" information.
simple interface to enter page you want to visit.
CONS: keeps the SURF bar at the tops of all frames.

PROS: simple interface to enter page you want to visit.
CONS: keeps the SURF bar at the tops of all frames.

PROS: allows the following advanced choices:
Remove all cookies (except certain proxy cookies)
Remove all scripts (recommended for anonymity)
Remove ads
Hide referrer information
Show URL entry form
name doesn't contain “proxy” which some filters automatically block
CONS: keeps the SURF bar at the tops of all frames.

STANDARD WARNING: Whoever runs that proxy can see all your internet communications - including MSN conversations and any passwords that are not encrypted! Use this at your own risk and do not transmit any sensitive data through the proxy.

OTHER PLACES TO VIEW STREAMING VIDEO--MOVIES AND TV--refer back to here! (in an upcoming post)

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