Month: March 2004

Manhole Covers in Japan

A few years ago my wife Anne and I went to Japan to visit friends. Having taken a fair amount of Japanese art history in school and having been greatly influenced by Japanese ceramics, I felt that I had a pretty good sense of Japanese design.

One of the things that people told me who had been there was that nothing, and they meant nothing at all, was left untouched: every chance people get to manacure, or arrange something, it is done. And there is much evidence of this in even the least important trees and shrubs.

However, it goes deeper. As we walked around Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and other cities nearby, I noticed that in each area, there was a different casting or pattern on manhole covers (and other cast iron work). Here are just a few of my favorites. These, by the way, were shot with film with an Olympus Stylus Epic and scanned later.

Note: my wife thought I was crazy shooting all of these until we got home and put them in an album.

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manhole cover in Japanmanhole cover in Japanmanhole cover in Japan

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manhole cover in Japanmanhole cover in Japanmanhole cover in Japan

The Commitments

The Commitments is about the birth of a “soul” band in Northern Ireland. It is one of our all time favorite movies. The characters are wonderful, the music is fantastic (and really played, not lip synched) and the story is uplifting.

The Amazon link below is to a new edition of the DVD which went out of print. I have both the original DVD and the new one although have not watched the new one yet so I can’t tell you if it’s been changed or what extras it has on it.

The most amazing piece of trivia we found on the first DVD was that Andrew Strong, the lead male singer, was 16 when the movie was made. He looks an old 16. His voice will blow you away.

Director: Alan Parker

The Commitments at Amazon

Wood Ducks on Pond, Spring is Here

duck Each year a pair of ducks come to our small pond to mate. They arrived this morning although we did not see them land. And, this year they are a different pair, a pair of wood ducks which are a bit more unusual than mallards. They spend part of each day on our pond, part down the road on Lake Waramaug and undoubtedly on other small ponds in this area.

ducks and woodpeckers I tried to get a shot of both male and female and in the process caught our red-bellied woodpecker and a smaller woodpecker on the suet feeder. The female is behind the suet.

Aloo Gobi

There is an “extra” on the DVD of the movie Bend It Like Beckham where the director, Gurinder Chadha, cooks aloo gobi with her mother and her aunt looking on and commenting. This short piece is worth watching even if you never plan to cook this dish, just to catch the wonderful mother, daughter, aunt interaction.

But, the dish is worth cooking and I gave it a go the other night following this recipe and it was killer, or as my friend George would say, “the bomb!”

Aloo Gobi (potaoes and cauliflower)


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • Large bunch of fresh coriander, separated into stalks and leaves and roughly chopped
  • Small green chilies, chopped into small pieces (be careful here)
  • 1 large cauliflower, leaves removed and cut in large chunks
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces or 6 small red
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/8 cup fresh ginger
  • fresh garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 2 Teaspoons Turmeric
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Garam Masala (or not if you don’t have)


  • Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan
  • Add the chopped onion and one tablespoon of cumin seeds to the oil
  • Stir together and cook until onions become creamy, golden, and translucent
  • Add chopped coriander stalks, two teaspoons of turmeric, and one teaspoon of salt
  • Add chopped chilis (according to taste)
  • Stir tomatoes into onion mixture
  • Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly
  • Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce, mix up well
  • Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minutes (or until potatoes are cooked)
  • Add two teaspoons of Garam Masala and stir
  • Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves on top of the curry
  • Turn off the heat, cover, and leave for as long as possible before serving


The kind and amount of chili you use will have a rather large effect on this dish. Start mild and work up to the desired mouth burn.

I plan to both use this as a side dish with meat and to add chicken to the recipe (tika aloo gobi?)

If you google “aloo gobi” there are enough recipies out there to sink a ship. The one above is a combination of my notes from the DVD and someone else’s from online.