Traveling Across The Globe- Tokyo (東京) Japan (Part II)

Originally posted on Cooking Across the Globe:

Pictured above shows the Sensō-ji Temple 浅草寺 (surrounded by the Shinto Shrine, the Asakusa Shrine) located in Tokyo Japan.

Tokyo (Part II)

Our day in Tokyo was action packed!  While waiting to purchase our tickets for the Skytree Tower, we decided to not waste anytime and took a quick trip to the Sensō-ji Temple (we had 2 hours to kill anyways)!

While walking to the temple, we saw several rickshaws lined up along the street.  The rickshaw is a old method for transportation and is believed to have originated in Japan (although there is still much debate about its origins).

Japanese Rickshaw (人力車)

Picture above shows a rickshaw in Asakusa Tokyo Japan.

Hiroshi’s sister and I had a blast taking the scenic route to the Sensō-ji Temple in a rickshaw.  Our tour guide Taka was not only entertaining but also gave us a history lesson as he pulled us throughout the streets of…

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5 Fun Fat-Burning Workouts

Fend off boredom with these entertaining activities.

© Sven Hagolani/fstop/CorbisStaying fit is simple — you eat less and move more. But what happens when you get tired of the same old moves? Below are five fun cardio workouts that will fend off boredom and keep you healthy and trim.
Boxing There’s nothing like boxing to tone muscles, burn fat and relieve stress, according to Danny Campbell, a former professional boxer and co-founder of Title Boxing Club in Overland Park, Kansas.
“Boxing works every muscle fiber in your body,” he says. “When you hit a heavy bag, the muscle resistance from a 100-pound bag stimulates blood flow to every muscle group. This also increases your cardio so that your heart is pumping blood through the entire body, which causes your body to burn fat.”
Boxing also helps decrease anxiety, improve hand-eye coordination and build self-confidence —particularly once you start developing those awesome shoulder and back muscles.
Obstacle-course racing Tired of switching from one cardio machine to the next? Fitness specialist Todd Cambio, owner of Precision Fitness in Pawcatuck, Connecticut, suggests obstacle-course races as a great way to burn calories and kick butt.
“Training for an obstacle-course race requires you to get outside and run hills, hike trails, play on the monkey bars and to climb over, around and through things,” he says. “Think of just being a kid again.”
Albeit a kid who can do pushups, pullups, lunges and squats. Races usually range from 5K to 12 miles, with between 10 and 25 obstacles depending on the length of the race. Obstacle-course races to choose from include the Warrior Dash, the Spartan Sprint, the Rugged Maniac and the Tough Mudder, said to be the “toughest race on the planet.”
Jumping rope Speaking of being a kid again, jumping rope may seem like something for schoolyards (or boxing gyms), but it actually provides an effective cardio workout that’s kinder and gentler than running, because it’s low impact. It’s also cheap, convenient and offers great conditioning — not to mention a good way to build up your bone density.
Make sure your rope is the proper length and that you have the right shoes (running shoes are too cumbersome: Go for wrestling shoes or cross-trainers instead). In addition, you’ll want to make sure you’re jumping on a surface that gives — think grass, a mat or a piece of thin wood. Want more of an upper-body workout? Try a weighted jump rope. Looking for a group jumping experience? Check out the classes at Punk Rope.
Swing dancing Looking for a cardio workout that doesn’t feel like a cardio workout? Swing dancing may just be it. This fun, flirtatious pastime offers a full-body workout that not only strengthens bones, but works the calves, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, forearms, upper arms and shoulders. Plus it can be done fast or slow, depending on the tempo — and the skill of your partner.
“The fast-paced music and the constant movement make this a cardiovascular winner,” says Laura Williams, founder and CEO of GirlsGoneSporty, a fitness website for active, adventurous women. “Plus, you’re having so much fun that you don’t have time to think about the fact that you’re exercising.”
Zumba A wildly popular dance-fitness program that allows you to “party yourself into shape,” Zumba is based on fast-paced salsa and Latin-inspired music (as opposed to swing’s traditional big-band sounds). Touted by celebs and common folk alike, Zumba provides a workout for the whole body, particularly the hips, abs and thighs. Calorie burn is between 400 and 600 calories an hour, depending on gender, weight and fitness level.
“Anytime someone can get in a good workout while having fun, [it’s] a recipe for success,” says Williams. “At least if you want to see results.”

Type without a keyboard using this iPhone app


Tired of your phone’s tiny on-screen keyboard, but don’t want to carry around an accessory to type on? This experimental app by a Swiss student lets you type using nothing but the surface of a table.

The app doesn’t use motion-tracking or a laser like other tabletop keyboard devices; Instead, it uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to “listen” to the vibrations produced by taps on the table, and turns those into letters. And no, you don’t have to tap in Morse code.

You “train” the app by using a sheet of paper with a QWERTY keyboard layout printed on it. Tap a few times on the G when it asks you to, and it knows what G sounds like. Do the same for S, and now it knows S.

You can do all 26 letters that way or just a few and let it fill in the gaps. But even after all that work, the accuracy isn’t too good: the app gets around 80 percent of taps correct.

Until next blog, I want the iPhone5


How Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ intercepts incoming rockets in Gaza conflict

As the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continues along the Gaza border, Israelis have been putting to use an anti-rocket defense system called “Iron Dome” meant to intercept Palestinian rockets that are headed for major population centers. Along with its tally of “terror target” strikes, the Israel Defense Forces’ Twitter feed has announced the number of incoming rockets grounded by the system.

Iron Dome is actually a nickname for the “Dual-Mission Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar and Very Short Range Air Defense System,” a missile battery that works with sensors to detect and intercept short- to medium-range threats like rockets. It was commissioned by Israel in 2007 following a year in which the country endured thousands of missile attacks, mainly concentrated in the country’s northern region.


                    Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

Iron Dome infographic from a Rafael Advanced Defense Systems promotional brochure.

Built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the full  system is made up of three parts, all of which are relatively portable.

A radar unit watches for threats in a radius up to about 40 miles.

Information on spotted projectiles is passed to a Battle Management and Control truck, where the information is evaluated and the command is given to either intercept or ignore. The projectile data is then passed to the interceptor unit, which launches a missile programmed to cross paths with the incoming rocket or shell, and detonate it in a way that is as harmless as possible.

This week, Iron Dome has been up against the rockets fired by the Qassam Brigades, the military faction of Hamas, the Islamist political party and militant group that has been governing the  Gaza Strip separately from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority  since 2007.

The rockets are crude, technologically speaking. Little more than an explosive charge attached to the end of a tube of propellant, they have not evolved much from the “buzz bombs” used by the Germans during World War II. While this means the rockets can be manufactured and deployed in great numbers, it also means that they have a relatively slow, ballistic trajectory that is an easy target for a fast-moving, guided missile.

Each missile fired from an Iron Dome unit costs around $40,000, but the cost appears to be offset by effectiveness. The Israel Defense Force has previously stated that as many as 85 percent of the enemy rockets can be intercepted. However, the current bombardment is more intense than previous situations when the Iron Dome was in use, and in one instance, the effectiveness reported by Israel was closer to 75 percent. As of Friday evening, current estimates. based on IDF reports. place rockets fired into Israeli territory at just over 600, with nearly 250 reported to be shot down by Iron Dome missiles.


                    Jim Hollander / EPA

Iron Dome blasts apart a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Hamas as it approaches Sderot, southern Israel, 15 November 2012.

That may sound like a far cry from 85 percent accuracy, but the Iron Dome batteries simply ignore projectiles that are predicted to land in unpopulated areas like farmland or water. So while hundreds of rockets have been allowed to strike Israeli soil, comparatively few of them are causing serious damage or casualties.

The U.S. partly bankrolled the development of Iron Dome, beginning with a $200 million request by President Obama in 2010, later approved by Congress. As much or more is currently being considered for inclusion with other defense spending, though it may be contingent on a technology-sharing agreement between Israel and the U.S. Israel introduced Iron Dome in March 2011, and it intercepted its first enemy rocket that April.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is

until next blog, News is food for thought.