In Singapore (I was there early this month), they don't like to leave human behavior to chance. So, when you're at the beach (down on Sentosa Island in this case), they give you some clear instructions:
On the up side, just to the right was an awesome beach bar, where we hung out on the wooden chairs all afternoon, ordered drinks whenever we felt like it, and watched the fire spinners perform all evening.
I left work about 10pm and headed home on my bike as usual. I was crossing a small, very narrow footbridge over furukawa, and the path merges onto a road about 5 meters after that so I was looking ahead. Suddenly, I felt something fluttery against the bottom of my feet (I was wearing very thin-soled running shoes) -- first on one side, then on the other -- and felt a small, small sensation through the bike. No sound at all, though.
I looked down and didn't see anything, but as I looked back up, there was a small, yearling cat of some generic dark color running ahead of me. It ran ahead of me up to the corner and we turned the corner together. I was still surprised and didn't really piece it together yet (and in fact sailed around the corner without looking -- good thing nobody else was coming). Once we rounded the corner, the cat ran ahead of me, going a good deal faster than I was biking.
At about this point I realized I had run over the cat, and it was what I had felt through the bottoms of my shoes. It must have come out of some side alley (there are a million tiny alleys and gaps in Japan that cats can disappear into), sensed me coming, and lit out running -- unfortunately right into me. However, whatever part of the cat I had run over, it didn't affect the cat much, witness it's fast flight from me now.
"Oh neko-chan" I said with instinctive concern... but Mr. Neko had by now disappeared into another of Tokyo's nooks, and I looked for it in vain as I passed by.
There must be something about animals here, maybe it's nothing more than the narrow streets. I ran over a pigeon last year in Japan, something else I'd never done in my life before coming here.
Got into Seoul Thursday night late, nursing a sore throat. We had dinner next door (good Korean BBQ of course) and drinks later served with seaweed wrapped around squid wrapped around peanuts (awesome snack food). Dinner Friday at a Japanese place, it was not so notable.
But Paul and I and his friend Shi went out late that night to Atay, a Moroccan Cafe in the Hongik University neighborhood. That was awesome, a total must-do for quiet-bar-out in Seoul. Sit on cushions around low tables, order wine (and appetizers if you want) from the nice wine list (mostly Chilean). It's downstairs and tricky to find even if you know it but worth the search (no URL afaik).
That wasn't so good for the throat so I could barely talk Saturday. We worked until about 10pm, so we just grabbed BBQ at a local place. Good but unremarkable other than that Jinny and Teddy made me try Bundigie (google it if you really want to know). I don't gross out easily so I ate several, but it's not something I'll particularly order myself (I also noted that Jinny and Teddy, the Koreans at the table, didn't take it upon themselves to finish the bowl either).
Today we saw the first half of Red Cliffs, John Woo's epic adaptation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in the theater (I would have seen Wall-E, but it doesn't open here until Friday, that's high on my list when I get back to the states). It was epic all right, it's what Cecil B. DeMille would be making if he were alive and Chinese. It was in Mandarin with Korean subtitles so I don't feel qualified to comment too much on the story, but I know the basic outline of the plot from the book so it was understandable enough.
I went to see the Moriyama Daido show at the Tokyo Museum of Photography today. It was interesting, in particular he loves images with lots of pure black, so he managed to make even Hawaii seem like a dark and foreboding place! That was am impressive achievement.
Besides that, though, the museum also had the World Press Photographer's Association pictures of the year. They were awesome, and sobering. There were a fair number of pictures of Afghanistan, some haunting images from Colombia, and of course a lot of photos from Palestine. Many other thought-provoking photos were there, including a surprising number of compelling sports photos.
The two shows were almost polar opposites in term of accompanying information: Moriyama says *nothing* about the context of his photos, even the titles are just "Shinjuku" or "Buenous Aires". The press photos are a part of journalism, so communicating the story that goes with the photo is the core of their craft and even in a show of arresting images, they made sure the accompanying materials were copious.
...then sitting next to the American president and keeping him entertained with a spirited conversation in English, one of her three languages and sort of his one language. At a press availability the next day, W. interrupted his own boring observation about ...
Just finished reading "The Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz. It tries to bring in a lot of the recent research on happiness and also on how people make decisions to show the pretty solid reasons why more choice has the potential to make a lot of people less happy. In general I really liked it, although occasionally the descriptions of 'things we all feel' was so far from my own experience that it made me question some of his other observations.
I think in terms of his descriptions of our responses to choice and decision-making, I'm mostly a 'satisficer' rather than a 'maximizer' -- I've often noticed I'm very good at finding 'good enough' and pretty much never have buyer's regrets. If you are troubled by past choices very often, give this book a read (despite the opportunity costs of taking the time to read it ;-).