July 6, 2009

International Space Station

We just had a great fly-by of the ISS, sweeping very quickly (almost 8km per second) from SWS to ENE. It is so big now (350 feet wide, apparently) that it is by far the second brightest thing in the night sky. It was amazing to stare up at it, knowing that mankind put it there and that there are humans aboard, including a Japanese astronaut right now.

Being able to track it from my desktop and then look outside and see it arrive right on schedule gave me goosebumps. What an incredible confluence of technologies.

Here is NASA's site for tracking the ISS. And here is Heavens-Above which will help you track the ISS from your location as well as give you predictions of Iridium satellite flares (great for convincing your friends that you can communicate with UFOs).

July 5, 2009

Kanazawa Onsen

Aya's father took us to an amazing onsen (hot springs resort) on the coast near Nanao City in Kanazawa Prefecture. There were private tubs on the deck and all sorts of stone baths facing the ocean view. Aya's uncle, Tadahiro, got right down to business with his favourite hobby. He wouldn't put the rod down, even when he was soaking in the tub. His perseverance paid off and the kitchen prepared the fish he caught as part of our dinner that evening.

Breakfast was waiting in our room when we got back from our morning bath. The little grill at top left is for charring the fish cake directly below it. The covered pot contained delicious, silky soft tofu in hot water (yudofu).

Sashimi on a wave of ice. Yes, that is gold leaf on the maguro.

Ta-dah! Steamed crab legs, a local specialty and one of Aya's favourites.
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