High End KittyCaster Guitar

About a month ago, Courtney scored one of the new bubble gum pink Hello Kitty Stratocaster guitars from Squier (AKA Fender on the cheap). It’s a very cool looking axe, and once I adjusted the truss rod and action, it actually plays pretty well.

I was amazed to see, however, that Fender is offering an extremely limited edition version of this guitar for a whopping $21,625! Only three of these high-end KittyCasters were made, and only one will be available to the public. If you want it you’re going to have to go to Japan to get it though because it will only be available at the Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi main office for one day on July 14th.

Cute Koi Pictures

Last Winter, I bought a nice sanke female from Keirin Koi while I was at the Central Florida Koi Show in Orlando Florida. This is the smaller one in the pictures below, with persimmon (more orange) red and the stepping-stone sumi pattern. Even though the red is not as crimson as most Americans tend to like, she still won first-place for sanke in size three. Her name is Rei, and she is incredibly personable and frindly. She comes from the breeder Momotaro.

You can’t quarantine koi by themselves because they get lonely and sulk, so when I brought her home, I had to find a friend for her. I’ve been really into sanke lately, so I decided to find another one to keep her company in the quarantine tank over the winter. That’s where the larger male koi with the brighter red came into the picture. His name is Shinji and he is from the Ogata koi farm.

These two have been a riot. They’re koi, so of course they are always poking their noses out of the water looking for food whenever they hear someone. They both eat readily from my hand, are happy to keep me company while I’m in the basement. They are in a 1,000 gallon tank which is filtered by an Aquadyne 1.1 bead filter. Every week I change out 100 gallons of water to keep the NitrAtes down, and I keep the system at a constant 61 degrees Fahrenheit.

For those wondering about the names, yes, I am a big fan of the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Hungry Koi

Hungry Koi

Japanese Bonsai Terminology

After reviewing my score sheet from my recent bonsai show, I realized how few of the Japanese bonsai terms I really knew. I had always been familiar with the more common ones like jin, shari, nebari, shohin, and so on, but there were a number that I had never heard of before. Not wanting to find myself in a conversation and not know what the other person means, I decided to do a bit of research and learn more of them.

  • CHOKKAN formal upright form
  • MOYOGI informal upright form
  • SHAKAN slanting form
  • FUKINAGASHI windswept form
  • SABAMIKI split-trunk
  • SHARIMIKI driftwood
  • TANUKI ‘cheats’/form where sapling is attached to deadwood/ also known as a ‘Pheonix Graft’.
  • HOKIDACHI broom form
  • KENGAI cascade
  • HAN KENGAI semi-cascade
  • SHIDARE-ZUKURI weeping
  • BUNJIN literati form
  • NEGARI exposed root form
  • SEKJOJU root over rock
  • ISHI SEKI planted on rock
  • SOKAN twin-trunk
  • SANKAN triple-trunk
  • KABUDACHI multiple-trunk
  • NETSUNAGARI root connected
  • YOSE UE group planting
  • SAI-KEI landscape planting
  • PEN-JING landscape planting
  • SHARI deadwood on trunk
  • JIN deadwood branch
  • NEBARI trunkbase/ surface roots
  • YAMADORI collected material
  • SUIBAN shallow water tray for display rock plantings
  • TOKONOMA traditional Japanese display area
  • BONKEI tray landscape containing rocks and small accent plants as well as trees.

Size classifications: exact sizes for each individual class varies from one authority to another; those below are taken from the 20th Grand View Bonsai Exhibition / Nippon Bonsai Taikan-ten.

  • MAME bonsai less than 7cm in height
  • SHOHIN bonsai upto 20cm in height
  • KIFU bonsai between 20 and 40cm in height
  • CHU bonsai between 40 and 60 cm in height
  • DAI bonsai over 60cm in height

Little Japanese Trucks

With the ridiculous price of fuel these days, combined with the fact that I’ll be needing a new car soon, I’ve been thinking about what type of vehicle will fit my driving needs by handling well in mud and snow, but still get decent gas milage. I was excited to find that Best Used Tractors is importing “Japanese mini trucks” for the American market.

I was incredibly disappointed to learn, however, that the newer trucks cannot be used on US roadways, which brings me to the point of this story. If you wish to import a Japanese mini truck and use it on American roads, it must be made in 1980 or earlier to avoid restrictions. While I’m sure that the the government would claim that this is due to safety standards, or any of a hundred other bureaucratic reasons, the fact remains the same. Four wheel drive vehicles, made by respected manufacturers such as Honda may not be used on US roads even though we are entering a global fuel shortage, and they are among the most fuel efficient vehicles on the planet. Evidently, we can drive as many Hummers and Lincoln Navigators as we wish, but try to use something that sips fuel rather than guzzles it and the D.O.T. will put you in your place. It’s really a shame.

According to Best Used Tractors, the Japanese have restrictions that discourage the use of aging vehicles, so most of these mini trucks have only about 6,000 miles on them when they are decommissioned. Needless to say, these little trucks have a lot of life left in them, and a more or less steady supply of them is virtually assured.

Due to regulations Americans are unable to import a Japanese mini truck manufactured in 1998 or later. However, the average number of miles driven per year in Japan is only about 6,000, so these vehicles usually have a lot of remaining usability.

I wonder what it would take to get the U.S. government to accept them. I can imagine the person who fights these restrictions would do well in the court of public opinion with petroleum prices as high as they are.

Here are some more details about the trucks:

Starting in the sixties the Japanese manufactured what they termed “Kei class” vehicles (now generally called “K-class”). Kei means “light weight”. These were built as a less expensive, fuel efficient, shorter, narrower, and lighter alternative to the standard size and weight vehicles termed “joyousha”. The K-class vehicles have included passenger cars, vans, and mini trucks. Best Used Tractors imports used K-class mini trucks, but not the vans or passenger cars. The Japanese have used these small off road trucks to perform a myriad of burden carrier tasks. They have often equipped the rear truck beds of these little trucks with specialized industry specific equipment. When many consider their special purpose vehicles options they often find used mini trucks from Japan to be their best choice.

Zach points out that safety standards need to be imposed by government agencies, and that the restrictions prohibiting the use of these trucks are reasonable. I maintain, however, that the government is overstepping its bounds by limiting what I can buy. For instance, believe that it is reasonable for the FDA to regulate the contents of my food. Should these regulations not be in place, it could contain dangerous levels of any number of toxins without my knowing it. This does not change, however, the fact that I can still buy bleach at the market. I am free to drink it if I wish, but I would do so knowing that it is poison because the government requires that the bottle be labeled.

When a motorist buys a motorcycle he or she does so knowing and accepting inherent risks of riding it. If these little trucks are deemed to not meet American vehicle standards that is fine. Inform me about it, but let me happily drive away in my new – used little truck.

UPDATE: They’re not little japanese trucks, but Casey over at maisonbisson has a story about a really cool little electric car.