Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow monkeys

So I'm in the basement nursing a 2-week flu/cold thing and surfing youtube. Here's some of the best I've seen today.

Finally, what happens to evil snow monkeys?

Here's a link to some I saw.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Outside Magazine's blog sells out hard to Sigg

I never liked Sigg. When they said their bottles had no BPA in them but the material was proprietary so they couldn't tell us, I knew they were lying. So did some other people. Finally, as everyone knows, they got busted for having BPA in their products and lieing about it. They risked the health of folks who bought their bottles. In my mind, there's no way I'd every trust them.

Outside Magazine isn't being so strict. On their web blog, they ranted and raved about the new Sigg bottle, as if aluminum was just discovered. They don't point out that they're taking Sigg's word for it that there's no BPA in the product now --- even though Sigg lied before.

You think someone's selling an ad with this? I do.

When I posted up that Outside was shirking their journalistic duty, they answered pretty quickly. When I said it again and pointed out that they weren't answering my allegations...well, they haven't answered yet. Maybe they will. Want to see for yourself? Go here for the Outside blog/story. Tell them what you think. After all, how important is our health to Outside magazine?

Here's my product review. More will come.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pounding mochi

Around New Year's and on other festive occaisions, you may see, pounding their mochi. Here's what that means.

Here's more Japanese food.

Something interesting on Alaska

How much is at stake in Alaska wilderness? Just part of our soul as a nation and a planet.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Car danchi

Live in the car and ride every day. Hopefully I can buy these this week.

Mambo dog

What can I's not Japan or snowboarding...but too insane.

More dogs?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Snowboarding watermelon in Japan

I could never make this up.

Still, with some internal lubricants...okay, a lot of internal can try this at home. It just won't be as cute.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our lives and actions matter

Here's some seriously old school rap...before rap had the name.

Interesting site with Hokkaido / Niseko photography

Hokkaido rocks and this site shows some epic photos but is even deeper than that. Just found it and will do some exploring myself. Still, why wait to share. Just click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's my line? Shiga Kogen, January 2010

This view is from the top of the lift at Higashi Shitate at Shiga. Literally powder everywhere...all you can eat...and you're close to more of it if you're willing to explore just a bit. That's my giveaways but a damn good hint. BTW...the only tracks are the ones you see...go a little and you get your own buffet line.

What's my line? The view from Giant - Shiga Kogen, January 2010, post 6

Shiga Kogen's Giant is a moderate length speed burner course. When groomed, you can go as fast as you dare...and watch epic skier yard sales as you go by.  When moguls dot its surface, avoid it. When there's powder, use the speed and carve the edges. Almost no one first. Here's a great line on the second day we were there. Still fresh - just stay left and turn on the afterburners.

Found it - Shiga Kogen Jan 2010, Post 5

You always wondered where it was - is it mythical or real? Now you know and it's at Shiga Kogen.

Japan totem poles - Shiga Kogen, January 2010 Post 4

You find them in the weirdest places. No one is certain as to whether they mimic Native Americans, Australian native traditions, or spin up with some combo of these and Ainu traditions. This one's at the top of Higashi Shitate at Shiga Kogen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More Shiga tomorrow

I have come down with a dreaded disease, know in medical circles as the Yagi Infestation (my friend Yagi or the Goat gave me his cold). So, sleep is imperative.  A few more pics tomorrow.

Shiga Kogen Jan 2010, post 3 - narrative 2

The second day (Sunday) started out with a small bit of sunshine. Eventually, powder was tracked out...okay, then it started snowing again. Did I mention that I love Shiga? We were tipped to go high...duh, but it helps when you're as sick as I was becoming. So, we took the egg gondola (some folks call it Higashi Shitate) then went on to higher places. Yes, I'll get you started on your powder search but you need to do some work yourself. Back leg was so painful at this point, I was thinking about stopping...for about 37.3 seconds.

Shiga Kogen Jan 2010, post 2 - narrative 1

These were the best conditions I've seen at Shiga in years. Our drive up there was uneventful until the last 45 minutes or so. Then, we hit heavy snow. My friend, Yoshi the ski monster, drives a 4WD version of the old Suzuki Samurai - called a Cricket. Snow tires and 4WD on, we powered through enormous flakes and very slippery one time passing folks on a hill who were stuck because their FWD cars (without chains) didn't have enough traction. Yoshi and I both top 200 pounds and then some. Add on our gear and we had traction. Powered by 660 ccs of raw, turbocharged power...yes, you read that correctly... we owned the mountain. The next time someone says that they don't know if a 1800 cc motor is enough for the mountains, remember this.

Day one - powder so heavy and visibility so low. Still, with that much powder, falling was a giggle - not a problem. The photo shown is after one short falls, just one face shot after the other. The weird grin is not drug-induced but common thoughout the resort. We were laughing, hooting, and carrying on so much I thought they would haul us off. The smiles were universal. Green runs were good...anything with any pitch at all was a secret garden.

Better news - although it was Saturday, it wasn't crowded. There's a reason resorts groom runs - most people prefer it. Mother Nature voted them down this weekend.

Shiga Kogen Jan 2010, post 1

I always love Shiga Kogen. So do these critters. They're called okojo. It's a Japanese version of a ermine and maybe the most famous inhabitant of Shiga Kogen. The are spotted in color in summer and pure white in winter. Alas, I've never seen one nor have any of my friends. Still, it (and the monkeys) give you something to look for when riding the lifts...well, besides illegal lines.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shiga Kogen Web Cam

You say "Sure, Bubba - you're going to Shiga Kogen and it's great but I want to see it myself."

Hey, no problem. Just click here and you get a live webcam in front of the Prince Hotel. No need to thank me...just saying....

More pictures after this weekend and hopefully some video too.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Three-day weekend plans

The upcoming 3-day weekend looks incredible from here. Nagano resorts have been getting pounded and another foot or so of snow should fall between now and Saturday morning. This is on top of existing powder and a good base. Shiga Kogen, with 70 some-odd runs, some lift-assist backcountry, and the best apple pie in the world is on the agenda. Pictures and more to come.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What size snowboard should I ride?

By far, this is the thing that gets the most hits. So, let's make it better.

This is the site I send people to  most of the time. It's got a formula that calculates your needs based on a variety of criteria. I'd add 2 - 3 cm if you ride a lot of powder. It even recommends boards. This is a great place to start. But, you're spending a lot of money. Check thoroughly.

Here's a much deeper look at the subject, including (if you go to the bottom) information on board widths. There's some good info here.

Finally, here's the data.

Wow...all this research is making me hungry. How about some Japanese food?

What's for dinner?

One of the scariest parts about coming to Japan for the first time is eating. I routinely talk to people terrified of the experience. If all you eat is the basic steak, potatoes, and cheeseburgers, stay home. Really. You'll be unhappy and folks will be offended. However, if you're willing to try a few things, Japan is spectacular.

A great thing about Japan is the prevalence of kaiten sushi bars. These are sushi restaurants that have conveyor belts bringing sushi around. You don't need to speak - you just take the plate you want. The plates are color-coded for pricing so that's easy too. Pictured is ebi furai roll. I got it in a kaiten sushi bar but did need to special order it. Ebi furai roll means fried shrimp roll.  It's a large fried shrimp with a lettuce leaf and a very small bit of mayo. Naturally, each restaurant is different - this isn't available everywhere - but it's a bit tasty. The plate shown cost $3 to $4...I don't remember precisely.

I love Japanese food.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What now, gaijin?

You thought it was a respectable restaurant. It came with high recommendations. Then, you were served this. What do you do? Do you panic? Do you run? Do you ask for another flavor? Actually, you use the part around the bottom for your soy (shoyu) sauce. If you need more, grab it firmly and grate - it's fresh wasabi you nasty-minded foreigner!

I love Japanese food!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Stop monkeying around

I love signs in Japan. This is one of my favorites. While this isn't a problem in most places, the sign clearly (loosely translated) says: Caution - Monkey Crossing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

One more H-town version from Springsteen

Liberty right. Such old feelings. What a song!

Springsteen at his unimaginable best

If you ever even thought you might like Springsteen, check this out!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Narita Airport, p1

Narita Airport, page 2

Fox in the snow

Borrowing this from The Goat's (Rocky Thompson) blog. Seriously amazing!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Whosoever rides...

A few years ago, my daughter was learning to ride and did some research on this.

Note the size of Shiga Kogen, one of the best resort experiences in Japan...and where I'll be in a couple of weeks! This is a tiny fraction of the area. It's good for lift assisted touring...just cruising the acreage. But, when powder comes, it's among the best then too.

Where am I?

I'm in Seoul, Korea pursuing my day job. I'll be here until Friday night but I have stuff to post.

I got in really late. Why? Snow, of course - Seoul got it's largest snowfall in 115 years, according to newscasters here. Looks like maybe a foot...give or take. Still, the city is transfixed and nearly stopped. So, I'm sleepy as hell and going to get some rest.

I'll put up some pictures of Narita Airport and some recent snowboarding photos in the next couple of days. Maybe some Seoul pics, but trust me, this is no snowboarding mecca.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I don't always like to share

This is very recent Kagura area, less than 30 meters off piste. It's not dawn patrol. How crowded is it where you ride?

Split boards going big time

This was posted by killclimbz in the snowboardingforum. com. As you can see, it's the NYT - kind of a good source ;-)

A brief essay in terror while en route to snowboarding in Japan

You knew it would suck. There's no need to leave this early for dawn patrol. Still, somehow you got shafted into driving and your so-called-friends crashed out, snoring their lives away.

You drive forever without seeing signs you can read. Paranoia marries sleepiness - you're edgy as hell. Up ahead in the distance, a warning sign looms...what can it be? As you get closer you see...

That's right - this area is swarming with giant, killer tanuki.

Well, not really. First, they aren't very all. Second, swarming is an overstatement...I've only seen them in zoos over here although friends mine...even when sober...claim to have seen them. Finally, they don't kill much other than small rodents and bugs. They're actually kind of cool and a sign of good luck. Wikipedia has this interesting article.

Americans usually call them Raccoon Dogs. They boldly guard entrances to restaurants and shops, displaying their rather disproportionately large juevos to all who care to look...and to those who don't care to look.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Why the cats and dogs?

Simply put, we're suffering a bad series of events. While there is snow, there's also wind so lots of lifts are closed. Adding on, this is the Japanese end-of-year holiday period. So, with more people and fewer lifts...I'm home playing with my dogs. I'm still not writing off the weekend...Sunday is a possibility.

Cat's in charge

Sometimes our pets outshine us...okay, often. At the same stop where the highly skilled Shiba plies his trade, this cat supervised vehicular security. With the engine (and heater running), the driver went to sleep. He slept soundly knowing that Spot the WonderCat would repel all invaders.

The Shiba declined comment.

One man, one Shiba Ken

This is a roadside stop just after getting off the expressway. It has clean, semi-warm restrooms and vending machines, making it very cool. It's even on the correct side of the road if you're on your way to the resorts.

On this day, it offered one additional service - there was a Shiba Ken carrying an ice scraper in his mouth. As I didn't have icy windshields, I'm not sure what the charge for cleaning them would have been.

Stateside dog lovers know this dog as a Shiba Inu. It's a Japanese dog and, over here,  they say Shiba Ken. It has to do with how you read the kanji...oh, well...what do they know? ;-)

BTW, they are outstanding dogs. I have one and he saved my life...literally and figuratively. I may tell the literal story at some point. The figurative one is between him and me.