Photographic Rube Goldberg Machine

I’m a sucker for a Rube Goldberg machine, but when it comes with a photographic theme to it, even better.

An Extra Optical Inch?

I’m not sure I’ve ever spent more time at a product site than I have at Despite the potentially obscene URL, this site is completely safe for work and definitely worth a look. Make sure you check out the music video.

Hello, I'm a Mac

Yes, I’m posting to tell you to watch some commercials. Mac commercials specifically. A clever little series of spots are up on the Apple site to pour fuel on the fire of Mac Vs. PC debates the whole web over:

Get a Mac.

Something Resembling Normal

I now spend a lot more time in front of a computer than I do behind a lens or in front of some wonderful spectacle. And for now, I have no complaints. By July, my feet may regain their usual itchiness and I will be eager to hit the road once more. But for now, I’m happy to stay off them for a while.

The next couple of months will be spent recharging my batteries after the three months of constant movement, reconnecting with friends in Japan, and making all my pretty pictures that much prettier (and of course, sharing them with you).

So, now that I’m here in Japan and temporarily resuming something akin to a normal life, my travel adventure tales may be a little less frequent. Of course, bizarre sights, sounds and times abound in Japan, so I’m bound to find myself getting into some kind of fun. Already the treasured, ephemeral cherry blossoms have swept through Ichinoseki and are now drifting to the ground like snowflakes, but not before I photographed them and joined a hanami (cherry blossom viewing party) party with friends old and new. The blossoms couldn’t escape me this year! Already I have regained my private rock star status in the city’s best karaoke joint. Already I have been bewildered and enchanted by this strange country and this quaint city that is still so foreign and yet so familiar.

But until I find myself being tackled by kids, climbing a mountain, or appearing on morning TV, I may actually turn this blog of mine into less of a travel journal and more of a… well… blog.

When taking breaks from processing photos, the Internet is of course, my number one distraction, so from time to time, I’ll pass along some of better material that has left me feeling not exceptionally guilty about my procrastination.

And without further ado, the talked about story of the weekend is Steven Colbert’s appearance at the White House Correspondents dinner. Dishing out scathing and hilarious commentary on George Bush is one thing. Doing it to his face is another. And for that, Mr. Colbert gets my official Big Cajones of the Day Award.

Video of the roasting is available in three parts through YouTube:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

…and Now a Random Fact About Vin Diesel:

Vin Diesel’s protein shakes consist exclusively of battery acid. And here’s some more.

A Story About Poo

Two days ago, I was enjoying a fine evening with Sarah and Hannah. We had enjoyed a delicious meal and were in the middle of watching a recent episode of the Daily Show when that ubiquitous Japanese song starts playing. You know the one, it rings out to herald the arrival of anyone to anywhere. During any given five-minute visit to the convenience store, the bubbly tune will pierce your eardrums at least a dozen times as new customers enter. It’s a wonder the employees don’t go mad.

The same tune plays when a guest arrives at my home. Perplexed at who might be interrupting my half hour of comedy power, I went to the door to find a flustered man speaking loads of fast-paced Japanese to me. He was treated to my usual barrage of wakarimasen and gomen nasai, but undaunted by my ignorance, he pressed on.

Eventually, I heard the word toilet and started to suspect what this evening call might be addressing. Sarah approached behind me and offered her assistance with translation. Apparently, what this blustery fellow was rambling about was that my toilet tank was full.

Yes, the modern industrial nation that is Japan still relies in good part on septic systems. They have some of the finest technology in the world, but they haven’t quite figured out plumbing yet. And this from a culture obsessed with cleanliness. What may be worse, however, is that some areas have sewers, others don’t. So, you know they have the technology to efficiently dispose of human waste, but they simply have chosen not to use it or upgrade to it.

A given apartment’s waste tank needs to be emptied every once in a while. The poo truck must be summoned and employees with what might be the worst job the world jump to the task of transporting feces from your tank to their truck and off to a god forsaken facility where, hopefully, it’s dropped into a bottomless pit.

The pit at the bottom of my toilet, however, is not bottomless. And this distraught neighbour of mine was coming to inform me of this fact. You see, the poo truck has to have some kind of access to the tank – there must be some opening to the outside world where their hoses can reach the effluent. That hole just so happens to be directly outside the door of this neighbour residing below me. And when there is too much shit in the tank, guess where it goes…

Yeah, it bubbles over. It bubbles over even if there is a welcome mat on top of the lid. It bubbles over then flows down the front step into the parking lot. A stream of shit, right outside his door.

How was I to know? I couldn’t really. I didn’t know when it had last been emptied or how often it was required. And I rectified the situation as quickly as I could by calling for ye olde poo truck the following day.

Today, however, while I was at school, the neighbour called city hall and complained of the stains left behind on his front step. Rivulets of feces left their mark on the concrete as they made their downhill journey to the parking lot. He stated his messy case to city hall, and while I was unleashing my unending genki powers on the good children of Nakasato Elementary school, two of my co-workers went to his apartment and cleaned it. I wish they would have waited an hour for me to get back and I would have gone to do it myself, thus being spared the guilt of a totally uninvolved party having to scrub my excrement from my neighbour’s front step.

So that’s my poopy story for the day. It leaves me wondering what demented architect would think to place the lid for the tank directly outside another apartment’s door. Even a seven-year-old, if told to solve such a design problem, would not have made such a completely illogical choice (unless he was playing a malicious joke). There’s no good reason why the hatch couldn’t have been at least a few feet from the door and in the parking lot. Nope. Right under his doormat. Good thinking.