I'd hoped to this post done much much sooner, but had a crazy week at work and couldn't make it happen. Only once this week did I get out of work early enough to take a train home and got home after 2am on the other four days, which meant I only got to work on this in 15-20min chunks before heading to work each morning. Understandably, it took a while to finish...
Though not necessarily to the same extent as last week, I do spend quite a lot of time at work these days. While this means that I pretty much have to write off the idea of having a social life Monday through Friday, it is not completely without benefits. In Japan, the standard pay system for full time employment is a (rather small) base salary plus overtime. As such, the busier I am at work the bigger my paycheck at the end of the month. Not a bad deal. Anybody who knows me knows that I am careful with my money. Some would call me stingy, I would just say that I'm really good at saving. And here's the proof:
Back in November, I officially became a millionaire (albeit in yen) and have since tripled that amount, not even including the million or so I took back to deposit in the US in the form of traveller's cheques last Christmas. I won't say what that works out to in US dollars, but if you do the math I think you'll agree it's an impressive amount. It will probably be a long long time until I make four million, but only because the dollar has tanked again and I'm switching my yen to dollars at the moment, but you get my point.
Since moving to Japan, I've made it one of my goals to not let the cost of things keep me from doing anything that I would otherwise enjoy, and I can honestly say I think I've done a good job of sticking to that. For the past two years, I've been shooting with a Sony a200 DSLR camera that my dad gave me as an early birthday present before I moved to Japan. Along the way, I'd upgraded my lens to a super fast 50m f/1.4 and generally enjoyed using the camera. But 50mm is a bit of an awkward length on a cropped body camera and I started looking for other lenses that would give me a little more versatility.
I read tons of reviews for a number of lenses and they all pointed to one conclusion: if you want a good lens for a Sony camera, it's gonna cost you a ton. In fact, unless you drop ~$2,000 on a pro-level lens, there just aren't many good options. Personally, I'm not willing to shell out $500 on a lens that is just alright. If you're gonna spend stupid money, you should get a product that is at least worth it.
Before switching over to DSLR, I'd been using a Canon point-and-shoot, which was a great little camera that could kick out some really good pictures. Mike has also been using Canon's and always raves about them, so I thought I'd take a look in that direction. The thought process was that if I were going to invest in a whole new camera body (you can't mix and match camera bodies and lenses), it would have to be a significant step up from my Sony and something that would be good enough to hold on to for many years to come. I did a lot of reading up on a couple different Canon bodies and, to keep things simple, reached the following conclusion:
The Sony EOS 7D and the 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 lens kit. It cost me close to a month's base salary, but it really is awesome. I'm still getting used to it and it's a bit awkward being on a slower lens again, but I can already tell that there will be some great pictures coming out of this bad boy.
Since I worked so late this week, I only actually cooked dinner once, and that was pasta throw together at midnight, so I haven't had much of a chance to shoot any food with the new camera yet, but I did whip together some banana bread last weekend at Yuki's. I find that I almost always put in too much banana when making banana bread it ends up being very dense. It keeps the bread from rising much when you bake it and you end up with a squat, but moist, loaf like this little bastard. Ugly, I know, but it tastes so good that I can forgive it. I at half the loaf the same day I baked it. Delicious.
For more visually pleasing pictures, I've got a few shots of fireworks from last weekend. There was a big fireworks show being held in Yokohama, where Mike lives, so he set up plans to get all the Michigan kids together to check it out. In Japan, it is common for people to wear yukata, a lightweight cotton version of the kimono and my mom's favorite discovery from her visit to Japan, when they go to see fireworks and festivals in the summer, so decided that everyone who owned a yukata should wear theirs. It's kind of like decided to get dressed up in fancy clothes and go out for a nice dinner, only old school Japanese style. Mine was a gift from my host family when I studied abroad in Fukuoka back in '07 that I think is particularly awesome. Most guys stick to monochromatic designs, which I think are a bit boring. I didn't have a tripod to work with when shooting the fireworks, so it was a little tough, but I managed to get a few decent shots. Enjoy!