Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Dead Tired in NY. Not Chicago and not Tokyo.

After the vast amounts of travel there was one way to describe how I felt physically: "wow, you were tired." Emma pinned the tail on the donkey in an email to me with that statement.

I slept over 12 hours after having napped approximately 2 hours only a few hours earlier. I needed it.

Of course having slept another night I'm wide awake and ready to face the day. I am a little worried about my schedule for the next semester. I hope I can follow through with all my classes and work. I believe that I can... I guess it's just nerves and fear coming through.

It's 8:07AM. I've been up since 7. I'm ready for the day and wish that the new Ninjai episode would find it's way to the net. (a few minutes pass) Oki-doke, time to face the day. Work, the gym or a show, and then back home. Should be an interesting day. Here goes.

01-25-2005 08:11 am

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Hello sunny, er, white Chi-town!

Jacek and I wouldn't let the reps at the AA counter leave our sight until we had a flight into the US. One semi-long conversation later we were booked on a flight to Chicago that left 25 minutes later than our intended flight. BINGO!

We are presently enjoying the warmth of rom 5063 at the Hilton here at Chicago O'Hare. Wi-Fi is nice. After this trip I realize how much I need a laptop. Come on and hurry up with your new release Apple. I want the latest and greatest to go along with my latest and greatest iPod Photo. 0= D

W3rd, I just received confirmation for a flight to White Plains from Chicago. YOSH! Flight number AE 4414. Rock!

01-22-2005 09:30 pm

Friday, January 21, 2005
Another Blizzard!?

I have to return to a blizzard again! Last time the flight was cancelled before we even left Tokyo. That sucked. At least we were able to fly into Detriot and then caught an early flight into JFK. Kazi and I that is.

WTF is this from weather.com!? Check out the section I put in bold.

"Severe Weather Alert from the National Weather Service






God I hope I get to land in JFK. Sigh, not much I can do about it though. Fingers crossed and engines tapped off. It's off to Ikebukuro, then Narita, and plopping into seat 31E on flight AA168 I go. Ja, matte minasama!

01-21-2005 10:53 pm

One last time...


Damn yuki! Seriously bad timing. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

01-21-2005 10:53 pm

Monday, January 17, 2005
A Few Days to Go

JANUARY 16th & 17th

"Dancing, dancing, I'll be a dancer. I'll be a dancer; dancing on the stage." A yellow walrus with swinging hangs sang this to us in a childs voice with a British accent at an Italian restaurant here in Japan. Um... Yea, It was a bit disturbing. Actually no it wasn't a bit disturbing, it's became painful. Originally it was thought that the toy was Japanese or Chinese but once it was determined that it was English (EHHHHHHHHHHHH!) everyone, patrons and employees included, loved this English thing. Ehhhhhhh!

The meal was fantastic! Too bad the gent that runs the joint has to move because of a disagreement with the land lord. Serious Argh! Fortunately Kazi is in good with the man in charge as you can see if you go to the gallery-o-pix. = )

Today was spent in Asaka! My home away from home. Teaching in Japan has changed quite a bit for the AETs because there are now 5 +1. Five for the Junior High Schools and one rotating AET for the Elementary Schools. Nifty stuff. Also it appears that Asaka is backing away from the JET Programme because it costs too much. I'm very happy for them. It definitely makes life easier when you get to stay somewhere for one full month.

Something I found out that disappointed me was that there are various teachers in Asaka that do not want AETs in class with them at all. It seems selfish to me that a teacher would leave a native speaker in the teacherĂ­s room keeping them from the students. They have a chance to hear someone that speaks the language nativily. Let your students have the chance you never had. Hmm.

On a completely different note - hiheels and Starbucks.

Gone are the HUGE platform shoes (thank god) and in are hiheels (yea!) but there's something missing. The ability to walk in them! I'm not the only one to notice this either. Jacek has seen it too. I think I've seen a handful of women walking in hiheels without stubling down stairs or even on flat surfaces. Honeslty, they don't know how to walk in heels. Someone needs to invest in a 5 minute lesson into EVERY hiheel sold. OY!

Starbucks on the other hand had me cheering for whoa! When I walked in it was different. "Konichiwa" greeted everyone that walked in instead of the typical Japanese greeting. Nicely, nicely. The prices were pretty standard compared to the US. Nicely, nicely again. Something about the store was different from Japan too. I could feel it, and it was welcoming. Had we the time it would have been great to just chill out and enjoy the atmosphere. But, alas we were on our way to Asaka dai-ni-chu. Maybe we'll hit another Starbucks. I'm very interested in taking a few minutes to chill, read, and enjoy a cup-o-hoto-cocoa. Mmm.

Time for sleep. Nothing is planned for tomorrow which is a really neat way to start the day. Sadly, Kazi got back about 25 minutes ago from work. He said this is normal. Sigh. His work is killing him. Oyasumi, er, ohayo.

01-17-2005 11:14 am

Saturday, January 15, 2005
BIG Update Part 3: Jan 15


Onsen #4 and 5! How much did that hotel rock. The outside onsen was quite a sight because of the snow falling and all the ice on the trees on the surrounding mountains. No pix sadly but like Miyazaki said - such things can not be captured in a picture, they remain in our minds. Breakfast didn't surprise me. Various fish and such. I'm still a fan of the US style breakfast. No country has come close to dethrowning the good ol US breakfast. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Despite the snow we decided to head to Nikko. I'm SO happy that we did! Because of the snow we saw a unique side of the 'World Heritage' designated location. Despite Kaz's best efforts to prove that there was a fourth monkey in Nikko - representing No Fun - he couldn't find him in any of the carvings. Because of this we decided to FIND the 'No Fun'. Heh. First it was a woman near the temple with the Nikko Monkeys. She was an extreme of No Fun! Kazi, Jacek, and I took turns as the 'No Fun' person of the day.

Nikko, despite my sighs and other sighs, is an absolutely beautiful place to visit. It has begun to shift toward tourist needs I noticed. A common store I visit now accepts Visa and MasterCard. It looks like they had enough requests for credit cards that they recognized an opportunity to increase sales from those silly tourists. Especially Americans since we now use more electronic payments than cash or check. I smiled.

Kazi and I had "what the?" slap us both in the face during the day. My "what the" was more time consuming than his because we had to go a few train stop further than we were to pick up a memory card that got left behind on the train we returned on. Kazi lost his Zippo lighter in Nikko at a hotel we rested at for a while. We don't do that. It just doesn't happen. For whatever reason we both did silly slip ups, but we both walked away from our adventures with smiles because both were exactly where we left them. Yea Japan!

Onsen this and onsen that. How's about providing a visual of the BEST onsen I've been to yet! The sixth visit for those counting. 0= ) This onsen in Nikko is OLD made of wood, and had an intense view because of the snow. I don't know how to describe to myself or in words why this was the best of the best but I do know that when I left the water I felt at ease. My back had loosened, my mind was at peace, and my eyes could have rolled into the back of my head.

Jacek thought we'd be quick, so did I, but it was 60 minutes later when we returned to the lobby. Hoo yea, it was THAT nice and it was just the two of us. It's rare, if not impossible to be in an onsen with only two people. Especially at a hotel. It was damn sure worth 1000 yen. Ahhh. Just thinking about it makes me feel a sigh of tranquility.

Japan. What a world it is. On the train ride back I fell back into teacher mode and played with a group of very young kids. Peek-a-boo was the name of the game. They were so cute. It all started when one little girl stared at me for a good 10 seconds. I stared back thinking she's look away embaressd. HA! She held fast and I found myself starting to feel embaressed! EHHH!? It was worth the hazukashi (embarassing) feeling though because her friends and sister started looking and playing along. We were about 3 rows from each other so I could drop out of sight easily.

Jacek asked "You're going to have kids aren't you?" with a small amount of disdain. I replied saying "Um, well, maybe. I dunno, but one yo. One. Kids are awesome yo. They see the world in a way we could only wish for again." Kids are so amazing. I do wonder what it'd be like as a father, but I know I'm not ready yet so I'll continue playing games with other people's kids. = D

Hmm, I think it's time to find my out into the land of Japan again. Kita-Sakado here we come!

01-15-2005 11:38 pm

Dou iu imi?

I think one person will understand.

End of line.

01-15-2005 10:37 am

BIG Update Part 2: Jan 14


Since I got to bed close to two thanks to some downloading issues for a particular video waking up this AM wasn't the easiest of the trip. Then again, when is waking up at 7ish, during a vacation easy?

I don't see any hands in the air, that's because there really isn't a reason to get up that early. Lesson learned. Move on to chapter two class.

Chapter 2

Ninja's are cooler than you thought! They used gun powder (yes in guns) well before it was in vogue here in Nippon. Talk about seeing the curve and staying ahead. Those guys were lethal. Er, wait a minute, yea, lethal. = O We had a pretty good time wandering around 'Edo Wonderland' learning about old school Nippon through ninja shows and theater. I saw theater in Nippon! Granted it wasn't top-o-the-top theater but it was theater! Yosh!

The adventure was worth if for the experience. But if I had to choos between Nikko's monkeys and Nikko's ninjas I'd choose the monkeys. It felt too theme parky even though it was a far cry from a theme park. Yes there were kids and most things were geared toward them but it was a bit too much for lil ol me. I did manage to snag some decent pix and some video footage of the show. Hehehe. I saw Japanese theater and even understood some of it too.

Here at the Green Palace (where the the yukata sport my initials - look closely at the pic) the onsen welcomed us (Kazi and I) to some much needed warmth after a "short walk" to the local 7-11. Actually it was described as "a short drive". Our guess was that the woman giving the directions drives at a regular speed of at least 80 MPH because it was a good 25 minute walk to the 7-11. A "short drive" indeed. I could have sworn I heard the woman say 30 minutes about something but Kazi didn't seem to focus too much on that lil detail. If only my nihongo was better. Argh! = D

Dinner was exceedingly cool! Why? It was a buffet! I had never seen Japanese food served buffet style before. It's probably one of those things that is easily overlooked but I want to remember it damn me! DAMN MEEEEEE!!! Sometimes things impress me and then slip away into an uncool. This is probably one of those things. = oWhat could be cooler than a buffet style dinner? How'd about a SECOND visit to an onsen. If only there were onsens in the US. Sauna's just don't cut it. They simply are NOT the same. Hot water is hot water but there is something unique about hot water that's heated by volcanic lava. It's one helluva way to relax before dinner and a "short walk" that's for sure.

Onsen visit #3 is already planned. I just need to finish typing these thought things. Oh yes!

On a note so daily adventure note - I'm remembering, hearing, and understanding so much more nihongo than I thought. It's pretty damn wild. There was nothing that would have led me to believe this fact. Honestly I don't understand it at this moment either. I have noticed a pattern in the language that I'd never seen before which will hopefully help me when I return to my studies thanks to Jacek's assistance. With my iPod and the Rosetta Stone for Japanese baby I damn well better get my brain back into Japanese. Figuring out how to balance class and Japanese will be rough but it'll be WELL worth it. I think I'm about ready for another visit to the onsen.

Sing it loud and sing it proud! Ooooooohn-sen! Ooooooohn-sen! Ooooooohn-sen! It's the Onsen time in the city. Ring-a-ling... Aw screw it, matte ne!

I'll write one last bit in about 40 minutes. After the third visit...

Approximately 40 minutes pass. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

Moments after the third onsen. My body is nearly all limp. My eyes are heavy and I am SO HAPPY to be back in Japan. Ahh. I honestly think some of my DNA comes from this part of the world. Though, I know my heart lays elsewhere. I could live here, but I am proven once again that I don't want to. Ha, but it sure is a friggin wonderous place to visit.

If you made it this far you need a rest along with me. Oyasumi. )thump(

01-15-2005 10:20 am

BIG Update Part 1: Jan 13


Having been open for approximately 5 years I finally made it to the Studio Ghibli Museum - based on Haiyao Miyazaki's animation. Once we made it in all three of us were blown away by one exhibit in which strobes lights were used to create motion. Think flip-book in 3D. The Grey Totoro jumped, while the White Totoro walked around and eventually climbed into the tree in the middle of the exhibit. Above the Cat Bus ran around (in the opposite direction of everything else) and a cat bat flew by with a happy grin. It was such a brilliant use of strobe lights. Toward the end of this room everything was put together so that everyone had a better understanding of animation and how it relates to film - many, many, many stills, flashing light, and one big screen make you happily entertained. All done without you ever knowing why. Brilliant!

My thoughts fell upon al the children walking around repeating over and over again the same words - suge, kakoii, sugoii. What do they mean? In my opinion, one thing - inspiration. These children were exposed to the how's of animation. Actually, not just the how's of animation, but the how's of animation they love. Miyazaki has been so inspirational to so many and reaches so many in such a humble way.

At the entrance Kazi translated for us a letter written to us - the visitor. It was quite long but the method used was what stood out to Kazi hence the reason he told us what he wrote. In regard to photography and video his letter went something like this: Thank you for coming. While you walk around the exhibit I would kindly ask of you to keep within you the pictures and memories you see here as they are the true sources of enjoyment. A picture is not able to carry with it the joy you had while experiencing the moment originally.

Such a kind way to say "No cameras or recording devices". Hmm, yea. A true role model and inspiration in a time where we have so few. Along with the Pixar creators who had an exhibit in the museum while I was there, thank you for your years of inspiration and creativity.

Moving on to less child based fun we met up with Takanaka! Of course that's an arguable statement since the first thing he said to me was "Hey mother fucker what are you doing!?" Heh, Nori rocks. Nori update - He's working on the American Bse (Golf Course)in Yagota, is marries and has one child named Yousei. He seems like the Nori of old and he's re-learning much of his English because he's around so many Americans.

While driving around I asked Nori if being a father felt much different and learned something very unique to Japanese culture (compared to American culture of course). I asked him "So Nor, how does it feel to be a dad?" His response "Ehh, not so different. Nothing's changed except I have to support him now ya know?"

Not so different?! I've never heard a dad say that before. Especially about a son. ESPECIALLY about a son. Kazi chimed in and told me that he's used to hearing dad's say that in Japan and added a bit more explaining when a dad in Japan "feels" the difference. When? Well, when their child is able to talk/walk - about 2 years old, dad's in Japan start to participate. According to Kazi and Nori this is normal. How about that! Who'da thunk it! We bowled, I lost... twice. No surprise there. I think my scores were 79 and 98. Pretty good considering I gutter balled twice in the second game. Though, I did finish with back to back strikes. Nobody saw that coming, especially me. Yousei slept through the whole bowling experience. This included yelling, music, and of course, smoke. Sigh to the smoke. Big. Ol. Sigh. On the way back to the station Takanaka proved that he STILL gets lost even though he has a GPS in the car. HAHAHA! Still! Ah Nor, you're so all good.

It didn't end there! Oh no. No. No. NO! It was time for Jacek's intro to KARAOKEEEEE! We planned on staying an hour but Jacek was ready for more and said "sure, one more hour." The tunes were rocked, the pix were taken, and the camera was rolling for each of us. Haha! Kazi kicked it to Nirvana, Jacek took on Bryan Adams and I strolled along with 'My Girl'. Yes, I have proof of all of this. Bwahahaha. Jacek states at one point that it's "not going on the web site." I have one word to reply with... MWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA! God it felt good to sing again.

I took on Eminem's 'Lose Yourself' - HELLUVASONG to keep up with! I had never been witness to the lyrics until last night. Honestly, I was damn proud of myself. I think I'm going to try it again actually. Heh. Megadeth's 'Hanger 18' - I channeled Dave. It felt great. Sadly there's too much music in this tune. Maybe another Megadeth tune? Hmm... Linkin Park's 'Somewhere I Belong' - God I wish someone else was into these guys. It was UBER rough doing both parts of this song especially since I changed style with both voices. It was rough but it ROCKED! Anthrax's 'Alone' was a surprise to me. I hadn't sung it in ages, and it showed for the first half of the tune but it was so much fun to sing.

Of course I HAD TO rock on to Jon Bon Jovi's 'Blaze of Glory'. If you know me and karaoke you know I love singing this tune. It's a rough sucka but I've managed to kick its ass a few times. Last night was one of those nights! With only a few (for certain) missed notes I did what I'd hoped - my voice didn't fail me during the last few blaze of glory's. On a TOTALLY different karaoke note I tried out Jewel's 'Foolish Games'. It felt really good to sing, another I'm going to try again. Jacek actually let out a comment, knowingly or unknowingly I dunno, after I finished. With a subtle shocked look on his face "Wow." slipped out. I took that as a successful attempt indEEd. It was one of the first 3 or 4 I sang too which made it even better.

Hot damn what a great day. Miyazaki, Nori, and Jon Bon Jovi all rolled up into one. All that and we were back at the homestead before midnight! Though, heheheh, it was a SOLID 12 hour day but HOT DIGGITY DIGGITY (with 40 size font diggitys) it was a great day. I reached the land of Z after Emma watched a vid that was recorded for her during the day. She's happily in my thoughts while I walk around Nippon. If only she could be here. Though, heh, she'd be needin LOTSA layers 'cause it's been FRI-GID! Regardless of that semi-large detail, it'd be nice if she could have been there for the recording instead of having to watch it while I was already a day ahead of her. = O Time zones can be cool.

01-15-2005 10:17 am

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Breezy Day in Ikebukuro

We browsed around a very breezy Ikebukuro today. I found lots and lots of Miyazaki and Nightmare goods. Oh yes! Also, HMV dipped into my savings account happily today. 8 CDs later... Bwahaha! Anthrax, Megadeth, Howel's Moving Castle Soundtrack (new Miyazaki film based on a Bristish story), the new Godzilla Soundtrack, etc, etc, etc. I'm a happy happy audiophile.

Just before we left we decided to check out the Sega Center and found a really neat game called "Type or Die". View a review of the game here. This version is a bit different because it's a part game system but you'll get the point. Mind you, in the arcade were two keyboards per monitor. HFCIT!

Miyazaki Museum in about 12 hours so it's nigh'nigh time.

01-12-2005 11:29 am

Tuesday, January 11, 2005
ATM - Say What What?

Yesterday Jacek and I learned that there are very few ATMs in Japan that work with American Visa cards and/or bank cards.

Check out this site http://usa.visa.com/personal/using_visa/index.htmlbefore you go. Trust me! Check it before you go.

We went to at least 15 ATMS in various parts of Tokyo - Ueno, Akihabara, and finally Tokyo. Where was the first location the ATM worked? Well... in the Tokyo Central Post Office of course. Aint life grand. And frustrating. Later Kazi mentioned that it's similar in the US for Japanese Visa cards. The question now is - Who or what is the reason for this silliness? So odd.

During the many, many, many, ATM attempts we did visit Ueno - where I found a plethora of toys (hehehehehe), Akihabara - where we found that there weren't many 'new' techy toys that we haven't already seen, and Tokyo - where we walked and walked until we found Bic Camera. Mamma mia of a store I must say. Hot damn. The best thing about the store... LOL, was the second floor. On it we found speakers, receivers, and alcohol. You read that right faithful monkey - alcohol. Honestly, I was a bit confused. The Japanese throw me for a loop every now and then and it looks like THIS was one of those times. LOL - I think the alcohol is for the frustrated audiophile. When things get frustrating... Sometimes... You just need a drink.

After that we stumbled onto a spinning restaurant - The Ginza Sky Lounge. The view was brilliant and the food was... enh. Fortunately it was a snack give our legs a break stop or I would have been a bit tweaked.

Kazi had printed out soe directions for us in the AM which was really nice of him. The problem we found was that we had NO IDEA how to read it. Take a look here. Needless to say we got lost. Fortunately there are maps in Japan (some friends will understand this other asian country reference). = ) At one point we attempted to as if we were going the right way and some dude tried telling us where to go. After a few attempts he brought us to the office. Amazingly kind and totally cool. We found our way in through the back, rose up in the elevator, and then went back down to a New Years Party.

The smoke was everywhere and the food kept pouring in. It was mmm mmm good. Chicken, mushrooms, chicken heart, okonomiyaki, a mini-mountain of salad, and a whole bunch of drinks and laughs. We had a great time with Kazi's sales and engineer peeps. The night ended with a new company policy "See you in Hawaii." 0= ) I offred up the idea to one of the sales guys with the thought of "opening a new market" while enjoying the sun. Hey, it could happen. Maybe. Um... Hmm, mayyyybe. = D

We ALL crashed on the train. Jacek and Kazi were out - and I mean OUT - until we got to Kita-Sakado. Fortunately I woke up 2 or 3 stops before or we would have been in a taxi finding our way back to Kazi's place. It was one hell of a bitterly cold night so any additional time outside was absolutely not desired.

It's 10AM on the 12th and I've written a new post but didn't get a chance to put the new pix up yet. Well, except for the one pic in this post. Enjoy the others. I've got a video from last night to put up too. It's short but that'll make it easier on you dial-up'rs.

I'm off to have asa gohan now. Jyane minasan.

01-11-2005 08:08 pm

Sunday, January 09, 2005
Ichiban ohayo

Well, 8+ hours later, one breakfast (eggs, ham, pasta, bread, English Tea, and Japanese TV). Mmm mmm good.

We're off to Kawagoe to shop and browse for random goods. = ) Hehehehee. Later on it'll be onsen visit number one.

And WOW did that shower feel good. OY! Hot diggity!

Jya, matta ne.

01-09-2005 11:51 pm

Nippon kara konichiwa

Kazi, Jacek, and I bid thee konichiwa as I write this entry.

The day started off well even though there was a flat tire incident at JFK. Thank goodness for spare tires.

13 hours later on the easiest flight I've ever had flying to Japan. I slept nearly the enitre flight and experienced little to no head pressure during the decent. Stoked was I.

After that we planned on dinner at Ducky Duck's but they were too busy so we hit the most available. Kazi's mom had treats for us and now we're ready to chat and chill at 1:19AM Monday. Yes, it's 11:33 AM Sunday where this server is... But who's keeping score.

Off to enjoy Nippon I/we go!

01-09-2005 11:22 am

Saturday, January 08, 2005
Wrapped Up and Packed Up

My stress levels were higher than normal because I didn't think I'd finish a project before 5pm. Well, as it turned out, I didn't complete the project, but I completed the largest chunk I could with the time I had.

Hot dog!

Every single PC was Ghost-ing when I left at 5:10. Talk about bandwidth usage! I'd love to see a usage graph. BOOM went the charts. Ha ha ha! Stoked, so stoked.

It's 4:04 AM and I'm waiting for Jacek to arrive so that we can prep for our adventure to Nippon. Hot diggity dog, Nippon for two weeks. I'm packed, ready, and trying to stay awake as long as possible. 13+ hours on a plane is a long, long, long time. Tooth brush and tooth paste - locked and loaded.

Sleeping comfortable in bed is Emma. Happy Emma with a peaceful look on her face. = ) Ha, wow, it's been just under 2 months and we've got nearly a year and a half of travel plans laid out. Around the world in, well, a whole bunch-a days, Belize, U.K., Germany! Hoorah! And possibly Egypt for me, the book boy. and some other people.

Shifting gears...

I love this movie/album so much. It's so much fun and so brilliantly amazing at the same time.

Performed by Danny Elfman and Catherine O'Hara

My dearest friend, if you don't mind
I'd like to join you by your side
Where we can gaze into the stars

And sit together, now and forever
For it is plain as anyone can see
We're simply meant to be

[at the end of FINALE, Zero zooms off into the heavens]


Jack is one lucky guy.

Oyasumi... HA! Not even. It's 4:17 AM which means I have a bit longer to go! Here we go breakfast! Mmm, yumm.

01-08-2005 04:20 am
Monday, January 03, 2005
Out There!

Ah. It's Out there. Mudda is in the loop, Trent is in the loop, e're'body is in the loop. Tis good. Tis good. (innocent smile)

My vacation started with a otanjobi at Gobo in the city and ended with a Architeuthis dux (giant squid) and Pepe's pizza in New Haven. In between...? Whoo! Friends, family, and fun.

Smiles are on the house "for you and you and you, you and you." - Rent

Hmm... I'm going to make this two posts so I can get some pix up before Mari's train arrives. Ja, matta ne.

01-03-2005 07:36 pm

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