Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fermenting up a Dream - Mystery Brewing Company

In a few short months, it will have been fifteen years since I packed my life into a car and left New Jersey for Alfred University. While I may not have walked away from there with a degree or any kind of job qualifications, that parental investment in my future did secure a modest collection of true friends. All have successful careers. Some have families. Few have started businesses of their own. It is on behalf of one of those last ones I write today. My friend Erik (@topfermented) is starting a brewery, and he needs your help. He has a dream, and he's using Kickstarter to offer you the chance to be a part of it.

If you haven't heard of it, here are the broad strokes. Kickstarter.com is a crowd sourcing website that helps people find funding for creative projects. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of crowd sourcing, it's pretty simple. You go, "Hey, Internet! Help me with this thing!" and if even a tiny fraction of a percentage of the internet responds, you will have more help than you can imagine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

GADGETS: Samsung - Not just Phones

This entry is probably going to be a little shorter than most I've written, but it has a degree of urgency to it.

I currently have a couple of friends and at least one relative that are considering new computers. Sunday, I went to Best Buy to see what they had, and here's what I discovered. Samsung doesn't just make phones that people don't want. They also make computers that people don't want. If you want a new super powerful laptop, you stand to directly benefit from this.

Monday, June 7, 2010

SURVIVAL SKILLS: Total Immersion (The temples of Kyoto)

Having finished breakfast in Hakone, it was time to take the crazy bus back down to the train station and make my way to Kyoto, the last stop on my trip. I mentioned before that Tokyo is one of the most modern cities in the world. This is due to two main factors. Primarily the Japanese spirit of embracing modernity, but also because it was devastated by firebombing during World War II. Fortunately, Kyoto was determined to be too culturally valuable to destroy and was left mostly untouched by allied bombers.

If you're spending more than a week or so in Japan, you owe it to yourself to visit Kyoto, and see some of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered throughout the city. But be warned, to get around Kyoto, you're going to need to know a little more Japanese than in Tokyo.

Friday, May 21, 2010

SURVIVAL SKILLS: Ring of Fire (A day in Hakone)

My first week in Japan was spent in the heart of one of the largest, most modern cities on earth. On the way to Kyoto, I spent a day in a little mountain town called Hakone, which while modern enough, was still small enough to offer a completely different taste of life in Japan. I'm super glad I went, and if you should find yourself on vacation in Japan, you should go too. In theory, on a clear day it's possible to see Mount Fuji from the area around Hakone, but it was super cloudy the day I was there. So, instead I snapped this picture from the flight home at the end of my trip.

That pointy white cloud in the middle of that picture is actually the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji, and it's a pretty good symbol for the volcanic side of Japan, which is the focus of part two about my trip.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SURVIVAL SKILLS: Being Tall (My week in Tokyo)

Sometimes you'll take some pictures, do some research, draw up an outline in your head, and then sit down to write your article only to find some other topic injected into your brain. Today is one of those times. I am not, in fact, tall. I'm 5'8". By American standards, this is somewhere around average. By Tokyo's JR Yamanote train standards, this makes me a freakish mutant.

The plan was to write my second pop culture article about anime, but here's what happened. I queued up Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society on my iPod. Also, it was around 50 degrees and rainy today in NJ. The strange chemistry of these two factors made me think about December of 2006, when I spent two weeks in Japan by myself, with even less than a rudimentary command of the language. My entire week in Tokyo it was around 50ish degrees and drizzly, with various anime soundtracks (especially Ghost in the Shell) on loop in my ears.

While I was there, I took some notes about the trip and I took a surprising number of pictures. Here are the results of my strange moment in forethought.