Saturday, July 31, 2004

Sad day today :(

Hiroshi's dad died this afternoon. He was 72. Hiroshi went home tonight and I'll go down tomorrow. The funeral will be on Monday.

Poor WeatherPixie

My poor WeatherPixie is offline! :( So I rearranged my sidebar until she comes back. Hopefully soon. I love my WeatherPixie. That's how I can tell just how much I'm going to suffer if I go outside. And she wears cute clothes! *sigh*

Friday, July 30, 2004

Just plain evil

A new store opened up in Ebisu station and, well it is just unfair! I have to pass by this store every Friday evening on the way home - you know, after a long work week when your defences are weak. The new store is a Haagen Dazs. This is so unfair for my diet!
I called up Hiroshi to distract me while I was walking by it - bad idea. "Oh! Yosuke is coming over tonight. Can you buy some?". So I picked up a pint of stunningly delicious vanilla caramel brownie and panna cota raspberry (half and half). This is really bad for my diet - this stuff is amazing! Even better than what you buy in the store. Slightly cheaper than what you buy in the store too if I recall (I haven't bought any in ages). My new mantra is going to have to be "look away, look away, look away - hey, look at those nice flowers over there!"

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Things that go meeeee-meeeee-meeeee in the night

Well the cicadas are finally out. I actually love the sound they make. The Japanese 'sound' is meee-meee-meeee. I'd describe it as crickets singing. Very relaxing in my opinion. They can be surprisingly loud though. Despite their lovely sound, these are ugly, nasty, freak out bugs. Yuck. They're big too - around 8 to 10 cm for the ones I've seen.
When I first came to Japan and was working at a conversation school, one of my students thought a dead cicada in perfect condition would make a pleasant gift. She pulled it out of her pocket, slowly unwrapped it as it was bundled in tissue, and then thrust it in my face. I jumped about five feet in the air. 'That's ok thank-you... it is such a nice cicada, you should keep it. I couldn't possibly keep that for myself.' Yikes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

AR5 addiction

I came home around 1 this afternoon and rushed to my Mac to find the latest episode of AR5 (Amazing Race Season 5)... only to find it wasn't there yet! What?! So I wait patiently... only checking about every 5 minutes or so. No episode 4. I go back to work and come home - still no download available. It's after 9 pm - more than 12 hours after it was aired in North America. Come on! Grrr. Jump in the shower to get rid of today's sweat (it was another 35C day here I think), and come back and check, and hallelujah! Up for less than 10 minutes, I was there lining up for the download. And about 35 minutes from now I will be in AR5 bliss.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I'm too geeky

Ok, since I was unable to print last night, I had this perfectly great idea - put everything that I need to print on my memory stick and go to Kinko's to print it out. Genius... until I get to Kinko's and they have every kind of drive imaginable except a USB memory card slot. What???? I mean, they have floppies for crying out loud - laptops don't even come with floppy drives any more. What's up with that? So looks like I'm stuck with having to go into the office any time I want to print. I can't believe that Kinko's, which is usually pretty bang on for services, doesn't have USB slots on their computers. I mean, they have do-it-yourself digital photo print centers that accept every possible type of digital camera memory cards in them. Geesh.

On a related note - when did FedEx buy Kinko's? I'm really out of the loop - never even saw that one in the news.

Monday, July 26, 2004

My printer bites

Ok, I just happen to own the printer that doesn't support Macs. At all. On doing an internet search, the phrase "If you own a Mac, don't even bother" came up numerous times. Argh!!! How frustrating is that! So now I can't print. Since Hiroshi's computer doesn't have the printer set up either (not sure why) I can't print at all. This means I have to go into my office or into Kinko's and pay for printing. I'm not happy.
So to my certain friend who works at Canon, if you can kick the MultiPASS development team in the butt and get them to make a driver, Mac users everywhere would be eternally grateful.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

iMovie fun

Today I played around with my Mac and made a movie! I now have a 1.5 minute movie on Japanese festivals. Very fun. I can see that I will have a lot of fun while travelling - imagine all the 1 minute mini-movies I can make! Does this mean I should bring my video camera with me as well? Hrm... I need to figure out if I can get a firewire for my camera though - right now it is only USB but there are a ton of other strange connections that could possibly be a firewire. I need the firewire to hook up a direct feed into the computer. Oh all the toys I can play with now!

So other than spending 2 hours making my movie, I didn't do very much. I didn't get up until 2. Then I went back to bed at 5. Woke up at 8 sweating to death and surfed for a bit. Now I'm tired again, so will probably shuffle off to bed again. Heh, guess that means I've been awake for a whopping 7 hours today. Hopefully the sleep will kick this sore throat in the butt. It's back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Yippee!! I'm WiFi'ing

So I finally got my wireless internet to work. There was a minor problem with my antenna not being plugged in all the way. So technically, all of the places where I searched for internet before that didn't work, might actually have wireless internet. The antenna is the key.
Now I just feel sorry for all the people on dial up. Man, this is slow compared to ADSL. To think I thought ADSL was slow at times. I think I'd kill myself if I had to use dial up.

Friday, July 23, 2004

I'm Sick :(

Last night my throat was a bit scratchy and when I woke up this morning I felt aweful. Luckily I only had one class today... and there was a clinic in the same building. I went to the doctor and got some good drugs.
I just finished watching Princess Mononoke (Japanese anime movie that was released in North America as well as far as I know). I had seen it before, but only in Japanese. I missed alot. Now the movie makes much more sense. Hopefully I'll be able to watch Spirited Away (another anime movie) tomorrow.

Switching ain't easy

I'm in the long process of transferring all my files from my PC to the new Mac. What a nightmare. Tonight I went to the bookstore to look at buying a OSX book (since my manual is in Japanese and there is no OSX manual that came with my iBook). I ended up finding another book that told me how to transfer my stuff using Netscape. Hallelujah! I got all my mailboxes and address transferred over with minimal fuss, thanks to my memory stick.

This morning I picked up a media card reader. We're kinda short on plugs - think that has anything to do with 2 PCs, a notebook and an iBook all being connected on the desk? Can you see the power surge at my address? The media card reader just connects via USB with no electricity needed so the camera dock can be moved and only plugged in when it needs recharging. I was extremely tempted to buy the USB fan - basically it is a fan that just plugs into your USB port (no power needed) - perfect for keeping cool. However, rationality prevailed. I don't really need a fan if I'm sitting in a/c, now, do I?

I carted the computer all over the place looking for WiFi spots. I finally found one near Tokyo station and was all excited until it said I needed a password to use it. Argh! Nothing in Osaki - which surprises me cuz there are several IT companies in the building. Maybe that's why there isn't any WiFi access LOL Oh, well, I'm thinking I might have to take a trip to Ebisu just to use my wireless internet!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Accessory mania

Today I went shopping for accessories. Fun fun fun. I love shopping. I ended up buying the wireless internet card. The only problem is, there is no wireless hub near my house, so I can't internet in bed *grumble* I need to find out where there is a WiFi place around here so I can geek one day. Maybe Starbucks in Osaki will have one.

I also got a keyboard cover cuz Hiroshi says I'm messy and I need one. It's a good idea - my old one keyboard is kinda scummy, so this will make for easier cleaning. And I got a mouse because the touchpad is irritating me. And blank CDs so I can burn things - right now I'm downloading Amazing Race episode 3 and Princess Mononoke (in English - it is only available here in Japanese). Finally with all my points* I got a memory stick. Hopefully that will make data transfer between my old PC and the new Mac much easier. It is a total pain to do it manually.

So now I'm all geeked out. I've got a lunch date with Cal on Saturday so he can tutor me in the finer points of Mac usage. It's intuitive but it isn't. And there are WiFi hubs near our office so I can surf at work. Not like there are computers there with internet access already, but it's the novelty you know.

*Electronic stores give you points here ranging from 5-18% of your purchase value, depending on what the purchase is. You can exchange these for goods at a 1 point to 1 yen ratio. It is essentially like getting 10% worth of free stuff. Unfortunately the Mac only qualified for 5% points. This was actually surprising because I had heard at one time that Mac had disallowed this because it was like discounting the product. Maybe it was urban legend.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I bought a new computer!!

Whehoo!! I bought a new computer today ;) Talk about shopping mania! I got sick and tired of my mouse conflicting all the time and going psycho and taking over my PC... and the fact that my PC is 6 years old - read: total crap. So after work tonight I went to the electronic store and did a little search thru the PCs which were super expensive. Then I wandered over to the Mac section... and not only were they reasonably priced, but OS X will boot in both Japanese AND English! This means that Hiroshi's and my problem of not being able to both use the same computer has been solved! And Hiroshi can pre-write Japanese text files to send e-mail to his sister when we are travelling on the road. Very good.

So I called up Hiroshi on the phone and asked if he happened to have his Bic Camera (the electronics store) point card on him. Usually he keeps these things at home in a pile on the desk so his wallet isn't bulging out all over the place. We hardly ever go to Bic Camera, so I figured he wouldn't have it - but he did. It was a sign! I was meant to buy the Mac. I told him to come quick and talk me out of it. LOL So he came and we talked it over and he convinced me I didn't need the top of the line one. Well, I still think I want a bigger screen, but that one weighed a full lb more, and I will have to cart this thing all over the planet. One lb, while small, will count. The one I got is also much more compact and easy to pack. So it won.

So I'm already frustrated to no end LOL While there is an English display, all of the manuals are in Japanese. I can't get any of my e-mail accounts to work and every three seconds the same window pops up asking me for my password. Grrr. I'm sure I'll get it all figured out tomorrow. Tonight I have to go to bed. Tomorrow I also get to go and buy accessories... like an iPod. Just kidding. I want to get a wireless internet card and a keyboard cover... and some CDs cuz I now have a CD burner.... and a DVD player! I can download AR5 episodes now. Life is good.

Oh, and I used debit card for the first time in Japan. I mean who wants to carry a huge bundle of cash to fork over for a new computer, and I'm sticking with not putting things on credit. So that money just zipped right out of our savings account. It was too easy in fact. I must hide that savings account ATM card.

So I converted. I'm a Mac user now. :)

Monday, July 19, 2004

Amazing Race

Ok, I have been wondering what all the fuss is about The Amazing Race. Well, I finally got to see an episode! Thanks to Cal who downloaded and burned both the first and second episodes onto CD for me (thanks Cal!).

I don't know if I'm a fan of reality tv - we don't get it here really. It seems rather silly at times. But AR is cool. Hiroshi and I watched the second episode on the edge of our seats. Hiroshi's like, why is everyone fighting so much? He now thinks we're going to get a divorce on our RTW because "I'm always bitchy". Hmph. We loved the "I'm smarter than you" and "It's your fault" quotes as people were arguing. This is great stuff.

Now the number one irritating couple: Myrna and Charla. Charla I like - she's got spunk. Myrna is whiney and condescending. Does anyone else thing she treats Charla like crap?

Ok, so I'm addicted. Unfortunately my PC is too ancient to play the CDs.. and Hiroshi won't download P2P software. So I might have to bug Cal for more episodes.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Spiderman spiderman...

Tonight we went out to dinner with Cal in Shinagawa. We wanted to go to the Oyster Bar in Shinagawa Atre, but there was a two hour wait to get a table! We'll have to go another time. We ended up at TGI Friday's instead. Mmm ice cream drinks ;)

After dinner we went to see Spiderman 2. What a great movie. It had a nice comic book feel but wasn't cheesey about it. Some good laughs, nice action and I liked the 'real person with real problems' aspect. Good stuff. I definitely agree with the critics - this is much better than the first one.

I hate it when my blog doesn't display properly

For some reason, my blog is not displaying properly and I can't figure out why. Grrrr... I have no idea why it does this sometimes. Hopefully it will sort itself out, but right now my weather girl has been pushed way down to the bottom of the page. Poor weather girl.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Fire in India

The fire in India is so sad. What heartbreaking news that 80 plus children aged 6 to 13 died in a fire at a school. How aweful. Hopefully it is not true that the teachers abandoned the students in the building rather than helping them out.

Friday, July 16, 2004


I had an urge to go to pachinko today. I actually finished work mid-afternoon because my evening student cancelled. So I hit the packinko parlour on the way home... and I won a hundred bucks! Gotta love those gambling urges that I have.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Stupid Logic

I was in Nagoya the last two days for a seminar. We came back tonight on the shinkansen (bullet train) and I got to experience stupid logic. Saving 5 minutes is a big deal in Japan - this is why you see 'express' trains that only save 10 minutes on a two hour journey costing twice as much. Well, today the person who bought our tickets wanted to save some time.

We weren't actually in Nagoya - we were about 30 minutes by train towards Tokyo at a shinkansen stop. However, this was not an express stop, so we backtracked to Nagoya arriving 7 minutes before our express shinkansen left. This was so we could take the faster train. Let's add in a few more details. We're travelling at 5 o'clock so the local train is jammed. The a/c doesn't work. It is smelly. And it is late. So when we arrive in Nagoya, which is wall to wall people on the platform, we only have 3 minutes to get to the shinkansen - which is four platforms over, thru a ticket gate and up to another platform... rushing through thousands of people. We run - in 40 degree heat mind you - and luckily just make it. And, for the price of 30 minutes of discomfort and nearly having a heart attack, we saved a grand total of... are you ready?... 10 minutes.

Oh, and for those that are confused about 'express bullet trains' - some bullet trains only stop at like 4 stops the whole length of Japan. Others stop at 20. They are still much faster than the regular trains, but when the shinkansen only stops 4 times it hits maximum speed between stations.

Now wouldn't it have made much more sense to stay at the original station, find a restaurant and have a beer and some dinner, then leisurely walk to the platform and have a relaxing ride home??? But we arrived 10 minutes earlier than if we had done that. This is just silly to me. Even if we arrived 30 minutes after the express train, it would have been worth not having to run all over the place. All that running and stress is definitely not worth 10 minutes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Big Flood in Japan

There is a huge flood in Niigata in Japan (opposite side of the main island from Tokyo).  The pictures coming from the scene are unbelievable.  Rescuers are going around in boats to take people stuck in their homes to safety.  There have also been helicopter rescues.  Pretty amazing.  They're expecting more rain in the next few days too.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Restaurant Review - Spyros

Tonight Hiroshi and I went to a greek restaurant in Harajuku for date night. Harajuku is a fasion district and has tons of young people wandering around. At first we took a wrong turn and ended up going in the complete opposite direction. Luckily the weather has cooled down though and it was a nice evening walk. Summer evening walks are great when the humidity is gone and the temperature has come down to 'warm'.

We eventually found where we were going after wandering through some back streets. I have actually never been off of the main streets in Harajuku and was surprised to see the number of funky galleries and fashion boutiques. Definitely a place to do further exploring in the future. Like in the fall when the weather is bearable :)

The restaurant is a bit hard to see as it is on the third floor ... as is the sign. (For those of you who want to know how to get there, go down Omotesando-dori on the left hand side and keep walking until you get to just before the koban (across from the toy store). Turn left on the little side street and walk down about 150 meters or so. The restaurant is on the left, on the third floor). The decor is pretty simple - white walls which make it nice and fresh. It actually fits well with the design of the whole area.

We ordered the set menu. I was in heaven! Real olives! Oh, olives, my loves, where have you been the past five years?? It was wonderful to have olives with actual taste again. The feta was also super delicious. The set menu was volumous - there was an olive and veggie plate with dip to start. Then the greek salad (to die for) followed by tomatoes stuffed with couscous. Then came the mousaka and a shrimp stir-fry like dish. At this point I was full; however, the lambchops were still to come! The lamb was fatty but really good. I wasn't too keen on the mousaka - something about the spicing, but Hiroshi liked it. The stuffed tomatos were good too, and I think I'm going to have to play with that to come up with my own recipe. The couscous was nice compared to rice, which can be quite bland and boring.

After all that fabulous food we had a small desert and coffee. While small it was just perfect - a bite of sweetness for a bursting stomach. I should also note that we had greek wine with our meal. At first it was very green tasting and sour; however, once the food arrived it accompanied the meal well.

All up, the set menu, two cofffees and two glasses of wine cost 10,000 yen (about US$100). A bit pricey, but very filling. And they have real olives! The service was a bit slow - we had to hunt them down to get water and had to ask for them to bring cream/milk for our coffee, but they timed the dishes well. Just as we finished one, they put another one on the table. So all in all, a nice restaurant. If you have a hankering for greek, check it out.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

RTW - Countries Visited

This is a visual representation of the countries that we'll have visited on our RTW trip

create your own visited country map

Friday, July 09, 2004

Ugh - 35 degrees is just wrong

Today it hit 35 degrees in Tokyo. The weather just shouldn't do that! Yuck. Whatever happened to rainy season? I think it only lasted 3 days.

I had a good workout at the gym tonight. I haven't been on a Friday night in a long time and I was happy to see that I could take a class with my favourite aqua instructor. She is really good - mainly because she demonstrates the moves right in front of me... which is key when you don't understand the language so well and you aren't wearing your glasses! After the class I was talking to her for a bit and she is really nice. And I was so excited because we had a whole conversation in Japanese! It's nice when that happens - usually I get lost.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Cassini-Huygens - cool pics

Some of the pics of Saturn coming back are awesome. I love the designs of the rings.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Workout Triumph and a New Place to Shop

Today I totally did not want to go to the gym. I wanted to crawl back into bed. I'm sneezing like a madwoman and the constant change from icy-cool air conditioning to, well, hell outside is wreaking havoc on my head. I don't mind hot and humid - just as long as there is an ocean breeze teasing my cheeks and frozen drink gracing my hand. Instead I get a heavy backpack, dress pants and long sleeved shirt to treck around the city in. Yuck.
Anyway, I forced myself to go to the gym and I had an excellent workout. So good for me!

On a completely unrelated topic, Hiroshi pointed out a gear store (i.e. backpacks, camping stuff, mountain climbing gear etc) in Ebisu to me the other day. Today I had some time so I popped in, and oh my god! I'm in RTW trip gear heaven! There are so many cool things there! I mean, I could just put a string in a role of toilet paper (for use in squat toilets - you put it around your neck), but now I can be fasionable and by a funky toilet paper pouch which includes a neck strap. Ok, I know, the string by itself will work just fine and I don't need to look fashionable while I'm *in* the toilet.

They also have a ton of backpacks. I was looking at sizing. 70L packs just look huge - but of course not big enough for a year's worth of stuff. I'm thinking the 55 or 60L bags might be what I want. Will have to try them on and see. The prices at the store were amazingingly reasonable. I was totally surprised. All of the backpacks ran about US$200 which is comparable to what I've seen online. They also have a ton of clothing and stuff that is reasonably priced too. So now I have a new place to shop! Well, I am going to hold off until next year. But for now I can look thru their catalogue and dream of shopping!

I would have linked the store but they have a link policy (ie you need permission first). If you're interested, the store name is Montbell. Add in www and dot com and you're set.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Building Karma

I'd just like to say that today was bloody aweful. The humidity was horrid and everyone was grumpy and pushy and, well, summer is here. Ugh.

Tonight as I was coming home I saw three lost-looking young people in the station. I asked them where they were going and it turns out their hotel was on one of the private subway lines. So, I was a good samaritan and walked them to the station - only I went down the wrong stairwell. The stairwell I went down only connected to one subway line, not all of them. There is a big underground corridor system connecting all the subways - except at the entrance I went into. So the poor kids (they were like 20 I assume, which is really young to me now) had to lug their giant bags up the stairs, in the aforementioned disgusting heat and humidity.

When I first came to Japan, figuring out the trains was a nightmare. Japanese people are wonderful for helping foreigners who look lost, and there were numerous times when someone went out of their way to escort me somewhere, or take me to a platform, or even ride with me in the totally opposite direction that they were going. So I figured, it was my turn to give back, and I rode with the three travellers, who were from Switzerland, to their stop.

Actually, in a way it was lucky, because their hotel was in Shiba-koen, but Shiba-koen station was not the closest station to their hotel. So we had to backtrack one stop. I waved them out of the station and hopefully they got to their hotel ok. There was a sign at the ticket gates for their hotel, so I figure their were probably directions, or most likely a huge neon sign, somewhere.

So my good deed done I went home. I figure this was an especially kind deed because I am coming down with a cold and am all congested and can't breath. I had just wanted to go home to bed. As it was I got my workout running up and down station stairwells (Tokyo is about the least accessible friendly place on the planet - you know, pick your wheelchair or walker up and throw it down the stairs kind of place). I was glad to have helped people get around though.

I'm hoping that I'm building up karma for when we start travelling(I told Hiroshi he had to start helping lost foreigners too). I'm sure we'll be lost plenty of times! Of course, I might just be making up the karma deficit at the moment LOL

Monday, July 05, 2004

Perfect Diet Day!

Yay me! Today I had a perfect diet day - I did my workout, drank a ton of water and ate properly! It was so disgustingly humid today that I figure I sweated out as much water as I drank. Yuck. But I feel a lot better now that I'm rehydrated. It feels good to be drinking water again. So here's to another perfect day tomorrow!

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Date night

Hiroshi wanted Thai food tonight (I know we just came back from Thailand, but we didn't get enough Thai food when we were there) and I wanted to try out a restaurant that I saw in Ebisu a couple months ago that served South East Asian food, so we went there. It was so-so. The food was only ok and way overpriced. They also messed up our order twice. It was still a nice night out together. Of course any Thai food outside of Thailand is unlikely to be as good.

On the way to the restaurant we hit the international food store. I got some Thai ingredients so I can make Thai food. Yum :) I might be able to make up some Tom Yam Koong (spicy shrimp soup) this week.

I went to the gym again today and did the "noodle dance" class. It's using the foam stick (called a noodle) in the swimming pool to do resistance training. While I was doing it I was really disappointed because it was so easy. I was bored actually. Well, about an hour after getting home everything suddenly started to seize up on me! Deceptive evil class! I had to conk out for a bit and take a nap before dinner I was so pooped from the work out. This is good of course.

Right now I'm in the process of cooking up some tandoori chicken breasts. Hiroshi's mad because I'm making the apartment smell. I told him tough. (He can't whine about my weight and then whine about my cooking when I try to eat healthily). I won't get a chance to make up my protein pancakes, but hopefully tomorrow night. If not, I will have some time on Wednesday. The chicken will hold me over in the meantime though and I've got a fridge full of veggies and other yummy stuff.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

I love the gym!

I had a fantastic workout tonight at the gym. I did lots of laps in the pool. Last night when I came home, I fell asleep at 8 pm so totally missed going. Tonight I had a great workout though. Eating is kinda crappy, mainly because I haven't had a chance to cook yet. So I'll do that tomorrow. Time to get back on track with the diet!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Must be a convention

In the last two days I have seen at least 10 transvestites around Tokyo. Now this is just weird, because everyone is pretty strait and narrow in public here (well other than the goths in Harajuku). So why are there tons of transvestites wobbling (er walking) around Tokyo all of a sudden? I mean, come on guys, the bad fake hair, giant feet, and well the Adam's apple kinda give it away. I must say I do admire them for having the courage to go out and walk around though - because everyone stares at them, albeit furtively. Anyway, just a weird random observation on my part.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

First Day Back

Ok, works sucks LOL Can I go back on vacation please? Today my class schedule wasn't too busy but it sure wasn't the beach. I spent some time at the office and everyone was envious and some of them want to the same place now. Me too! LOL
I did hit the gym tonight though. I had a nice swim. It's back on to the diet!