Friday, April 29, 2011

Beach Opening Ceremony, Part Three

The first of the afternoon games has the kids line up in their teams of ~20.  At one end is an empty metal bucket. At the other end is an empty trash can.  The kids pass the empty bucket along their line as each kid throws in one armful of sand.  At the end of the line the last kid dumps the bucket into the trash can and then sends the empty bucket back down the line to repeat the process.  The team with the most sand in their trash can at the end of five minutes wins.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Marlin #5, 6, 7

It's days like today when I come home from work and get a phone call telling me Yukibo (marlin captain) went out fishing today and caught three marlin (alone) that I think 'Why am I working?'  I am firmly opposed to working my life away in a career job, mostly because there are things like marlin fishing that I would choose over almost any day of any job.  So I work with the ultimate goal of maximizing those earnings in days off later down the road.
Yukibo?  He was just born into the right family with perfect real estate on Zamami that houses money-making businesses.  I know I'm lucky to have been placed here and to be able to go along with Yukibo for free on any non-working day, but today I would rather sulk about missing out on these marlin (and just getting the pleasure of cleaning them).

[~85kg, ?, 134kg]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beach Opening Ceremony, Part Two

These are all around 30 seconds or less and you can change the pixels from 360 up to HD (see lower right corner of video interface).

The parents all want their kids to get the big squid, hence the fights in the next two videos:


Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 Beach Opening Ceremony, Part One

Videos to come on this soon.

[getting the fish from waist level up into the bag or basket is at least as hard as catching them, so every advantage helps] 

[waiting for the gun] 

[pool shark] 

[refilling for the next round]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Marlin #3 and #4

Unfortunately I wasn't on the boat for these, which the captain (left) caught (and got into the boat) all by himself!  The smaller one is a striped marlin, which made really good sashimi.  The larger is a blue marlin - 130kg.  The captain told me he wants to break his single-season record this year, which currently stands at 16 marlin.  At four before May - when it usually begins to get good - we're on a great pace.
He had six hits today including a double.  Doubles happen a couple times/year, but we've never been able to land both fish.  Same today as he lost them both.  But I can only imagine how crazy it must have been for him trying to manage two marlin and the boat by himself.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I was watering my garden on my balcony when some guys who were fishing below yelled that they had a seahorse.  I am unclear on the exact method of capture (hands in the mud, I think), but from what I know of seahorses, they're pretty rare.  I also thought they were tiny (like the size of the end of your finger), but this guy was about 12cm (~4"?) long .  It was released after we all got some pictures.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No More Exercise

I went running this morning and stepped off the main road and onto a side road, which had metal grates over the flood ditches.  But I misjudged it and stepped on the metal grate with less than half of my right foot, which flipped that foot and ankle outward somewhere close to 90 degrees.  I still had forward momentum and went down reasonably hard on my left side, creating bloody rashes in at least four places, including my left palm.  I writhed in gravel while managing the hot and cold flashes for a minute until I could stand up and limp the 1.5km home.

These pictures are from 12 hours after the incident, so the swelling was even bigger earlier.  It's been a rough day, except when I got an x-ray and the doctor told me nothing is fractured.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Lilies

You'll see I widened the blog a bit in hopes that my pictures will show up nicer now.

Getting nice [wild] lily shots has been on my list for a few years now, but I just recently discovered a whole bunch of them on a very remote section of the island.  The advantage to these is they surround the top of a knob with low vegetation so I can photograph them at any time of day without worrying about shadows that the petals produce.  I'm not really happy with these but they are a good start.  Now I just keep waiting for another sunny evening (and low tide/not high rollers out of the North as I have to wade through 300m of ocean to reach this knob).  I have another one week until they'll die off enough to make 'group' shots worthless, though individual blooms will last a few more weeks.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Incoming First Grade Students

These two girls are the incoming class of 1st grade students at Zamami.  I have known them since they entered nursery/kindergarten at age 3, so they are very comfortable with me.  ..a far cry from the guaranteed crying reaction I got from kids their age three years ago.

Here they are singing a song about being nervous at entering first grade:

Some family shots:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Last(?) Eisa Performance

Four the key members of the eisa group are moving off-island within the next two weeks, so we had their last big performance recently.  Originally we were building up to the Whale Watching Festival, but that was canceled out of respect for the earthquake.

I have found myself struggling with the thought of my core friends leaving the group while the 'newer generation' wants to step up the practices to make a better production.  One of the selling points to the group for me has been the relaxed nature, so I've been dreading the change.  A couple weeks ago I finally just decided that I wasn't having fun anymore and needed to take a break.  I don't really know if it is a 'break' or if it's retirement, but this might have been my last performance.  I had somebody take videos of all our performances.  Here are a couple of the better ones:

[The second song is one I learned from the Geruma school then taught the eisa group.  It is well regarded as "my" song within the group]

[timing was a bit off for the first minute-ish]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Small Fish, Big Fish

I was supposed to attend a baseball tournament today (as a player), but when Yukibo the marlin captain said he was going fishing, I went to the house of the baseball team organizer and asked him if one less guy would be okay.  He said okay, so I was on the boat at 6:30am this morning.

Usually we just troll big squid lures all day in an attempt to coax a marlin up from the depths, but today we went to a payao, which is a Fish Attractant Device.  It's an underwater buoy where small fish and seek protection from the bigger fish that congregate around it for food.  It makes a great offshore fishing location.

We trolled for a bit then started jigging up yellowfin tuna.  Most were in the 2-3lb. range, though I got one that went 10-12lbs.  We were a couple hours into it and I was getting my rhythm down when I hooked a small tuna at about 70m.  I brought him up pretty quickly and just as I was preparing to grab the line and hoist him into the boat, a huge marlin came up from below and tried to eat the tuna on my line.  As you can imagine, having a 3m fish come out of nowhere at full speed and try to eat bait only 2m away from me was a big surprise.  There was a lot of yelling immediately following as we knew we needed to try to catch this marlin.  The captain jumped into motion and started setting up a bait hook on a big game rod and reel (the one I was using had 50lb test line with 100lb test leaders and there's no way I could've managed a marlin).  The other fisherman and I watched as the marlin circled beneath the boat.  One time it appeared he was going to swim off so I threw my live tuna back in the water (still attached to my line) to draw him back in, but I pulled it out when he got close.  At this point Yukibo was ready so I unhooked the little tuna off my hook and then took the giant marlin hook and threaded it through the tuna's upper lip, then immediately threw it overboard.  The marlin was on the opposite side of the boat, but we all watched excitedly as he saw the tuna and darted over to take the bait.  At this point he started swimming off and Yukibo let him go, with the reel on free-spool (no drag, so the marlin is free to take as much line as he wants).  We did this for about 200m, then locked it down and took off in the boat to set the hook:

I had been doing the free spooling until I thought about the video, so I handed the pole off to Naoki.  I'm really glad now that when I came back I asked him if I could take the rod from him and fight this fish.

The marlin started jumping just after I turned off the video, but with only three of us on board I we just couldn't afford to have one of us doing video.

It took about 25 minutes to bring the marlin up alongside the boat, at which point Yukibo manned the pole and operated the boat (a very important part of landing the fish) via a remote control while Naoki handlined the fish up alongside the boat and I speared him.  I got a spear in behind the gills in a good spot, but when we tied off the spear rope to the boat the fish started going nuts and actually ripped the spear point out of his gills, which were bleeding.  Then he swam off.  We all moaned, but then quickly realized the original hook was still in him and he was still attached to the pole (oftentimes once there is slack in the main line the hook will slip out, which is what could have happened after I speared him).  So I had to fight him another 20 minutes before the bleeding from my spear wound caught up and weakened him enough that we could get him up alongside the boat and really bury the second spear and the gaffes.

We fished for tuna for another 2 hours and ended up bringing 42 of them home along with the 85kg blue marlin, my first for the season and sixth(?) in my life.

[We used Yukibo's smaller boat which is on the wrong side of the marina from where we clean fish]


[cleaning and cutting] 


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Found Camera Follow-Up Follow-Up

So last you heard about the camera I had found, I'd determined the owner to be a Naha-based dive shop.  Well after mailing it to them they informed me the camera was not in fact theirs but they'd found the real owner and been in contact and she was very thankful, blah, blah.  I was fairly disappointed to not have been able to contact the original owner myself.  But I got the next best thing.  Yesterday a package (left) from the dive shop and today (right) a package from the camera owner:

You should be able to read the English letter if you click on the image.  The Japanese letter says
"Thank you so much for finding and returning my camera.  I had not expected to ever get it back.  There are [bad] people/things in the world these days, but it is nice to know that there are also very nice/generous people like you.  Thank you.  -Reina"  The letter also smells like perfume, which is pretty awesome.

I think her gift was probably pretty expensive, judging by the packaging (a safe correlation in Japan):

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Photography Website

Most photographers have websites.  And most seem to pay for their sites.  But most photographers don't make money from their websites.  I am not keen to incur a ~$20-50/year expense for a site that won't get much traffic and likely won't make me any money.  I haven't liked most free services as they are usually organized in a bulky blog format, but finally I found one I like last week. Hopefully you'll find it easy to navigate:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Goat Cart

We went for a walk with the kids and came upon a guy walking his goats.  This goat apparently had its legs broken by its mother when it was just a baby.  It's now a year old, having lived most of its life with its rear mobility being two wheels: