Mosquito Counter-Measures

"Chemical Warfare" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO400
“Chemical Warfare” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

The weather here in central Texas has gotten warmer which is nice, but the mosquito season seems to have started early. ☹️

But this year, we have a couple new weapons in our arsenal to fight those pesky bugs. We just received a Hoont mosquito trap, which is simply a UV light and fan. The idea is that the flying insects will be attracted to the light, and when they fly up to it, they get sucked down by the fan into a receptacle below. They won’t be able to escape and eventually will dry out and die. I’m not sure how effective it is indoors, but the light looks pretty cool:

"It's a Trap" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/75 sec, ISO3200
“It’s a Trap” Cedar Park, 2018

The fan isn’t too loud, but it is noticeable. It’s something you can definitely get used to though – sort of like white noise.

People say it works great outdoors, and we put it out on our deck for a couple days and I can report that it did catch a bunch of moths, mosquitos, and other critters. The manufacturer says that if you keep it running for a few days, you’ll have a mosquito-free yard. I’m not sure about that, but I’m willing to give it try. The only thing I haven’t figured out is the best way to clean out the trap since the recently-trapped bugs will still be alive. I guess we just keep the thing on all the time? 🤷‍♂️

Next up is a Japanese toxic mist “おすだけベープ” (photo at the top of this post) that Mariko bought. One pump of this small bottle will fumigate a room. It looks like a mini air freshener bottle and smells like air freshener as well, but it’s deceptively powerful. I was skeptical of its effectiveness at first, but last night I trapped a mosquito in the home office, then sprayed one quick mist of this stuff into the room, and when I came back about 15 minutes later, the mosquito was in a world of hurt. I know this because it was on my desk, on its back, legs twitching! It was awesome! I have no doubt about it’s killing power. However, because it is so effective, I don’t think you should stay near the mist, even though it smells so good.

But because we do get bit occasionally, we have a couple techniques we use to get through the itchiness. The first is the hot spoon technique, which I talked about in a previous post. But last year we bought a Zap-It! device which uses the same principle, but is much more convenient. It’s basically a micro-stun-gun in that you position the Zap-It! over the mosquito bite, then press the button and it creates a little electric charge and shock. Do this several times all around the bite, and you will be itch-free for a few hours.

"Quick Relief" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO800
“Quick Relief” Cedar Park, 2018

It’s not as long-lasting as the spoon technique, but the tiny battery-free Zap-It! device is so convenient that it’s our first choice in itch relief. Plus, it is very inexpensive! Makes a great gift. 😆

I hope today’s post was informative and helpful! It might be difficult to find the おすだけベープ spray here in the States, but definitely order a Zap-It! or two. And it comes with a keyring, so you can keep it with you at all times. 😀

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

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Your Lie in April – 四月は君の嘘 Review

こんばんは。Tonight Your Lie in April (四月は君の嘘) was on TV Japan so Koa and I watched it together. Surprisingly, Koa said he had already seen it on the plane when we traveled over Christmas break. I guess he enjoyed it enough to want to watch it again. I’m not sure if it is because there is a lot of musical performance in it, or if he’s now interested in girls/romantic stories, but whatever! I was happy to have his company while I watched it.

******* SPOILERS FOLLOW – YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP DIRECTLY DOWN TO THE TRAILER *********

I’m a fan of Hirose Suzu 広瀬 すず (Anone, Umimachi Diary) and will watch anything that she stars in, so it was great to find a movie of hers on TV Japan, and in HD with English subtitles! w00t! I didn’t know much about the story beforehand except that it’s an adaptation from a manga and I was expecting it to be a very light teen romantic comedy, but it turned out to have a deeper story, and was actually kind of a tear-jerker! I’d categorize it as a “teen romantic musical tragedy”. 😆

Your Lie in April follows the main characters, Kaori (Hirose) and Kōsei (Yamazaki Kento 山﨑 賢人), two musically talented high school students who team up to perform in a musical recital. Actually, Kaori convinces Kōsei, who has quit piano years earlier, to be her accompaniment. Her carefree yet determined attitude helps him overcome his fear of performing, and it seemed like the story will follow the formula of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, both confess their love for each other and they reunite with a triumphant concert performance.

Well, things take a big turn when Kaori falls seriously ill and Kōsei, Kaori, and their two close friends Tsubaki and Watari confront their feelings and confess to their love interests. However, things get complicated and the confessions didn’t make complete sense to me so I was wondering if there was some kind of hole in the plot.

Anyways, the story continues on, with Kōsei telling Kaori in the hospital that he has decided to enter a regional piano competition and that he wants to perform together with her in the future. With this in mind, Kaori decides to undergo a risky operation to cure her terminal illness.

Soon after, she goes into surgery while at the same time Kōsei is performing in the concert. This musical performance was probably the most touching scene in the movie because while he plays, Kaori’s image appears and accompanies him on violin. However, towards the end of the song, she stops playing, lowers her violin, and, shedding tears, fades away, signifying the fact that she did not survive the operation. 😭

"Your Lie in April" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO250
“Your Lie in April” Cedar Park, 2018

The story picks up a few months later, with Kōsei reading a letter that Kaori had written to him before she had her operation. In it, she reveals how she had known of Kōsei since they were small kids when she saw him at a piano recital. It was then that she decided to play violin in hopes that she could play with him one day. Years later in high school, as her illness became more serious, she decided to live the rest of her life to the fullest and made an effort to become closer to Kosei and his friends in order to make her dream come true. The lie she told (to which the film’s title refers) was that she said she loved Watari (in order to go on a double-date with Kōsei and Tsubaki). The truth was that she was actually in love with Kosei. 😭

I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I thought I would, mainly because the plot made complete sense after Kaori’s letter was read by Kōsei. And Hirose Suzu’s acting is always charming and she can seemingly let the tears flow on command. Yamazaki Kento probably had the most challenging role and did a good job expressing his inner struggles, especially during his piano pieces. Speaking of the musical performances, I read that both Hirose and Yamazaki spent 6 months practicing their instruments before filming. It really shows because they certainly seemed convincing (at least to me).

I really loved the setting of Your Lie in April (movie version) – the Shonan coast. Their high school sat on a hill, with a view of the ocean and Enoshima island. There was even a cool river heading to the ocean that they jumped into from a high bridge. It looked like a great area to live in. I’ve actually taken a couple of day trips down there when I lived in Japan, and it has a really cool, laid-back beach vibe. I loved it.

Although not a truly amazing film, Your Lie in April is a solidly entertaining story with good acting and some touching scenes. And the musical performances are great as well. I recommend it! My rating is 7.5/10.

Anone – あのね Review

I just finished up watching the Japanese drama Anone あのね (2018). The 10-episode series was excellent! It’s one of those doramas that I could watch all the way through in one sitting if I had the time. However, I did watch in three sittings, so that was maybe the equivalent of three long movies? I don’t know, but it was so good that I kept wanting more. If only I didn’t have to get up early in the mornings. 😀

***** SPOILERS FOLLOW *****

Anone is a slow-paced and contemplative story, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot going on. On the contrary, there are plenty of plot twists and revelations. You realize early on that each character has a lot of baggage, but they all have goodness in their hearts, some more open about it than others. And that’s part of what kept me interested. What will we learn next about this character’s past, and how does it affect the decisions that drive the plot?

Speaking of plot, there’s one main thread involving counterfeit money, and while that is interesting, I found myself most wanting to know how characters’ interpersonal relationships would unfold. The relationship between Harika and Hikoboshi-kun was the primary romance and had the highest emotional weight. However, a close second was the relationship between Aoba-san and Mochimoto. I liked this relationship because it involved two middle-aged characters who enter their relationship knowing it will be short-lived. So, it was great to see the two romance plotlines, one involving young adults, and one with older adults, develop in tandem.

But wow, episode 9 was super-emotional. The hospital scene where Harika rejects Hikoboshi was so incredibly sad. Harika lying to Hikoboshi with her voice, while denying her lies by shaking her head was an amazing bit of storytelling. One of my favorites scenes ever.

Also in episode 9, the relationship between Aoba and Mochimoto reaches its resolution in another emotional scene. But this one is handled in a more mature and practical way owing to the fact that the characters have more years and experience behind them. It was special in its own way.

Both scenes were based on self-sacrifice, but whereas the hospital scene was filled with youthful innocence and idealism, the scene with Aoba and Mochimoto was one of practicality. Both were amazing to watch and I am feeling emotional again just thinking about them. 😭

From this review so far, you might think this is a dark and sad tale, but there are a lot of funny scenes as well. I found myself laughing out lot several times. Aoba and Mochimoto’s interactions from the very first scene were clever and silly.

Speaking of that opening scene, I was wondering why it involved characters that I thought (from previews) weren’t going to be important. But they were charming and engaging and I was happy that they stayed an integral part of the show. When their story quickly took a turn towards the criminal, I was disappointed. However, that didn’t last long since you could tell that they were honest people who just got dealt a bad hand.

And so it was with most of the other characters as well. Good hearts put in bad situations, through no fault of their own.

I have to mention the “ghost” element of the story. At first, when the ghost appeared, I was afraid that Anone あのね had “jumped the shark”. Thankfully, that element became plausible, interesting, and added a ton of depth to Aoba’s character. It’s amazing how screenwriter Sakamoto Yuji could add so much color to these characters in only 10 episodes. I feel like even the Asadoras, which last half a year, don’t do that very often.

Of course, such interesting characters can lose their impact if the actors portraying them aren’t believable. I’m happy that Anone’s cast was great. I admit my Nihongo is basic at best, but I felt that there was a high level of realism each actor brought to their characters. Hirose Suzu 広瀬 すず was fun to watch, and she had the most emotional scene as I mentioned before. I’ve only seen the 19-year-old actress in Anone あのね and Umimachi Diary, but she’s really good!

The other veteran actors were solid as expected, especially Kobayashi Satomi 小林 聡美 (Aoba) and Tanaka Yūko 田中 裕子 (Anone). I never once thought that the characters were unbelievable or unrealistic.

Last, but definitely not least, is the soundtrack. It’s wonderful. The theme song is intimate and moody, and reminiscent of the best tunes from the Legend of Zelda. There are a bunch of other great songs from the drama as well, I think it would be a great soundtrack to add to your collection.

🎶 Main Theme • 🎶 Blue Sky Blue

I hope you get a chance to watch Anone あのね. It is one of my favorite doramas. I think you’ll enjoy it too!

Late-night Movie

"Late-night Movie" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/4 sec, ISO3200
“Late-night Movie” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Tonight Bay and I went to see the 10:10 pm showing of “Maze Runner: The Death Cure”. I’ve gone to a few late-night movies after getting my Moviepass and I enjoy the experience, especially leaving the theater to a ghost town parking lot. It’s really eerie and fun! After spending two hours immersed in a movie, then being thrust back into the real world can be disorienting. And when the real world looks deserted and different from when you last saw it, well, that’s strange and interesting to me.

The movie itself was ok, with plenty of action and I was surprised that the special effects were so good. The story was kind of lame, but still a lot better than the second movie of the series. I think the Maze Runner movies are better rental or discount-theater candidates. But with Moviepass, there are no regrets seeing it on the big screen! 😀

Tonight’s photo is the reflection on the theater ceiling. Too artsy-fartsy?

I hope you had a nice Friday!

おやすみ

Movie Saturday

"Sunset" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: SONY NEX-6, 16mm, f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO400
“Sunset” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

This morning Bay and I went to the movies to see Pixar’s Coco. It was excellent! I loved the story and the animation… and Dante the dog was so funny. However, I was really expecting to be teary-eyed at the end since I’ve heard from multiple people that they cried, but although it did tug on my heartstrings my eyes didn’t get watery. Not even close to Your Name (君の名は) for me. But it was still fun and I enjoyed it a lot more than Inside Out, which I thought was over-rated.

Later in the afternoon, I watched 5 Centimeters Per Second by Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) and enjoyed it a lot. There’s a lot of things left unsaid in the three short vignettes, and I liked that. The animation was of course beautiful like all his movies, and I think I enjoyed the second vignette, Cosmonaut, the best. I guess because it has surfing, supercubs, and rockets. 😀

Speaking of movies, I’ve added my 2018 Movies & Books page, in which I list out what I’ve watched and read for the year. So far, just these two movies.

Today’s photo is of the sunset we enjoyed. The sky had a cool, wintry color.

I hope you had a nice Saturday!

おやすみ

Back to the 90s (2015)

Back to the 90s is a movie about a teenager who accidentally travels back in time and tries to repair his mom and dad’s rocky relationship. It’s a fun story, with some touching moments and a couple good plot twists thrown in. Add some nostalgic 90’s references (Tamagotchi!) and you have a nice, entertaining movie. Nothing amazing, but the acting is strong, and the ending is both satisfying yet leaves you wanting more. (sequel please?)

I really enjoyed Som and Tam’s characters, and learning about their motivations brings a welcome level of complexity and interest to the story. It’s also the first time I’ve seen a Thai movie, so that made it fascinating to watch. Cool to get a glimpse into an unfamiliar culture, even if it is off by two decades and covered with a Hollywood-like polish. 😁

BTW, I came across Back to the 90s by reading Age’s blog, Write Them All. Lots of good things to read about there. Check it out if you have a chance!

I definitely recommend Back to the 90s if you like romcoms or are a fan of Baifern (the actress who plays Som), which I have now become. Enjoy!

Some New Pens – LAMY Safari and Uni-Ball AIR

"Lamy Safari" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/55 sec, ISO3200
“Lamy Safari” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

At long last, I have a fountain pen that I love! It’s the LAMY Safari, with a broad nib. First of all, the broad nib is wonderful and suits my writing style. I mentioned in a previous post that I used to have a pen with a broad nib and that I wanted to find something similar. The LAMY fits the bill perfectly. And the design of the grip, which has two flat facets, is so comfortable to me and positions the nib at the perfect angle. Plus, I love the bright yellow color. It’s really a great pen.

I bought a converter with it so that I could fill it with my Sailor Souten ink, and it looks really nice. The ink’s color really shows with the broad line. However, I want to eventually get a brighter turquoise/aqua ink, which is the color I used to have with my calligraphy pen back in high school. But that can wait. I’ll enjoy the Souten for a while. 😀

The second pen that I newly bought is the Uni-Ball AIR. It’s also fantastic. It too has a very broad line, so of course, I think it is great (my other favorite pen is a 1 mm Zebra Sarasa). I am using the AIR for sketching and it works well for that. It glides over the paper nicely, probably the smoothest pen I own… the design is so sleek and it just gently comes to a point, and since the tip is black like the body, it looks really sharp. I did a sketch tonight using the AIR, and I think the pen worked nicely. The sketch itself is not so great, but I had fun drawing. I’ll probably draw the same scene again (from a reference photo) and try to improve it. By the way, I read that the AIR’s ink is waterproof, so it is good for putting watercolor over it. That’s the primary reason I bought the AIR, actually!

"Sketch" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/40 sec, ISO3200
“Sketch” Cedar Park, 2017

So, back to the Lamy Safari. It’s very different from my Pilot Metropolitan, and I can now form a better opinion about the Metro. I think it’s competent pen, and writes well, but to me, it lacks personality and charm. Simply put, it’s boring. I don’t really have a desire to pick it up. I guess my taste in pens is for something more fun, quirky, and eye-catching. Which is why…

I ordered another “fun” pen: the Pilot Kakuno. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be similar in writing quality as the Metropolitan (although with an even finer nib) but it just looks so fun. The nib even has a winky smiley face on it! How cool is that? I just want to pick it up and write with it.

You know, with cameras, they say the make and model doesn’t make a huge difference in picture quality. But if you find a camera attractive, you’ll want to pick it up and use it more. And if it can get you out shooting more, that’s a good thing! I guess it is the same things with pens. The Metropolitan doesn’t inspire me to take the cap off and write/sketch, but the LAMY does, and I am pretty sure the Kakuno will as well.

Ok, enough pen talk! I’ll let you go. As always, thanks for reading!

おやすみ