Archive for June, 2009
Monday, June 29th, 2009
Last time I visited home, I fixed the screen doors for them. We realized how easy it was (both for them to ask me, and for me to actually do it), we decided to do more fix-ups this time. Soon after I arrived here, we made a list of things they want me to fix.
Item #1 – overhead lighting in the living room – the pull-chord was getting stuck. They were even thinking about replacing the unit. We took the unit apart, did stuff… fixed! That saved us some money.
Item #2 – they want to put some bamboo roll-up curtain on the balcony. We bought 3 curtains, I put up one. That’s when it started raining. It’s the first rain since we’ve arrived in Japan. We’ve been lucky so far that it hasn’t rained more, since Japan still is in the middle of a rainy season.
Item #3 – install a screen door on the front door. I did manage to finish this one. It did take several hours. We did realize that we could have chosen better item. But it’s installed, looking halfway decent… we’re happy.
Item #4 – install a wireless LAN. Finally an item that’s pretty easy. We bought the router, set up the router, set the password, and all is set. I’m finally writing this entry via wireless connection.
There are more to do around the house, but we’ll save that for another day.
Sunday, June 28th, 2009
There’s not much to write about. Sunday – we went to church in the morning, ate lunch their, they had a bi-annual major cleaning, my daughter’s still bored, so rented 3 DVDs (Bee Season, The Pursuite of Happiness, Because of Winn-Dixie), watched Tony Award show on BS-2… and now I’m ripping the movies for my daughter’s viewing later while encoding Candy Boy DVD based raws. The local rental place didn’t have Black Jack DVD – darn. I guess I’ll have to rent them online… if I can. It seems like the online rental services normally require a credit card issued in Japan. *le sigh*
Saturday, June 27th, 2009
Today was the first day we got to relax without doing much. We visited my uncle for a while, where we saw a part of first Naruto movie. (I don’t watch Naruto, and I only found it’s the first movie after looking up the plots of all movies on wikipedia) I think my daughter was getting bored…
Saturday, June 27th, 2009
Traveling from my grandmother’s to home usually is an uneventful event. Not this time. This trip involved two stops along the way – Ueno and Hayakawa.
For this trip, we are using Japan Rail Pass, a 21-day version of it. We had to purchase this before we left for Japan. We only got an exchange order back then. We had to bring the order to Japan, and get the ticket at one of the designated train stations in Japan. Most obviously, the train station at the airport can handle this task, but we didn’t. My uncle came to pick us up, so we didn’t need to use it. And we know that our last train ride from Nagoya to the airport will be expensive – we better utilize this pass then.
We wanted to do this exchange the day before, since we took couple trains to go to the museum. We learned the hard way that we had to go to a bigger station. That’s where the need to stop at Ueno station came to be.
And it was not all bad thing. Right next to the ticket counter, we found Tokyo-Ueno branch of Hard Rock Cafe. I picked 3 T-shirts there for those people who asked me for them. If anyone else wants HRC T-shirts from Japan, I’m planning to stop by at Nagoya and/or Osaka HRC. Let me know via comments or something.
And one last comment on HRC – even though Michael Jackson really wasn’t a hard rocker, the place still was paying tribute to him a little, by having his music video on all day. I think his news is one of the bigger news for many people, even in Japan.
Our next stop was Hayakawa station, right next to Odawara. There’s not much to talk about it. We just wanted to see the station with our name on it. It was a small place, right next to a small port for fishing boats. We snapped a few photos here, hopped back on the bullet train, and continued our travel home.
Thursday, June 25th, 2009
This is our first tourist-like activity, one of the highlights for me – a trip to the Railway Musium. I always loved trains ever since I was a baby. The very first word I ever read, according to my mom, was “Asakaze,” which is the name of a train. The musium was really made to please the true train fans. The people who designed and built it must have been fans themselves. Talking about it is pretty boring – I will post the photos later. (I packed away the SD card reader in the other suit case which I shipped from the airport to my mom’s home.) Evan and her 5-year old cousin, Kasumi, did enjoy the visit. It might have been a bit too difficult for Kasumi.
After that came another feast. 10 of us went to a Japanese restaurant together. Mmm, yum! Sashimi, chawanmushi, kanimeshi (crab & rice), negitoro (spicy tuna & scallions), miso soup,tempura, etc, etc… I can’t even remember everything that were on the table. Evan enjoyed another round of fresh, raw fish. Yes, more photos coming later.
Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
I’m feeling so much better that I got some good night’s rest. I only slept for about 6 hours, but that shouldn’t matter.
Looking back, the flight experience yesterday was both good and bad. The bad – my seat didn’t recline. The good – I didn’t know wine was free with the meal on international flights. More good – on the first flight, we got the row right behind the first class area – row 5 on this chart – that it was really comfortable. More good – on the international flight, we sat 5 seats behind the main cabin exit – row 25 on this chart – that exiting out of the airplane was really easy, which helps a LOT after that. By exiting early, we were one of the first ones in the immigration control area. They opened the aircraft door at around 5:30PM, a bit behind the schedule, but we were legally in the country of Japan by 6:00PM.
The difficult part is actually getting these seats. Since we fly Northwest, and Northwest reserves these front section of the economy seats to Elite members, they are normally inaccessible to us. I only discovered that they open up these seats to everyone close to 24 hours before the departure, at which time I jumped on to these couple seats. Another bonus for these seats – it’s so much quieter, being in front of the engines. I highly recommend sitting in this area if you can manage it.
Once we left Narita Airport, (use the map’s zoom to see approximately where that is in Japan, since Google Map display everything in Japan in Japanese), with my uncle driving us, we stopped at a local sushi restaurant, a recommended place by my uncle. It was a big hit with me, and as for minisylf – I think she was too tired to enjoy it fully. She still liked the fact that she got her first sushi (She wanted some at the Minneapolis airport too. I had to convince her out of it, because we were so close to real sushi, and the packaged sushi at the airport looked dry and icky…).
Right now, we are in a city that was once called Omiya-shi. Around FIFA World Cup in 2002, they merged several cities to form Saitama-shi, a new big prefectural center of Saitama prefecture. (Wikipedia link) More fun will unfold today. It’s 6:45AM. People will start to get up soon, and we are off to some more fun.
Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
These are our longest yet shortest days. We left Minneapolis at around 3:00 PM. Of course, with everyone shuffling their carry-on bags like crazy, we never get to take off sn time. Then we stay in the air for 12 long hours. By the time we land, the clock has advanced 26 hours. We landed at around 5:00 PM the next day. This trip is now getting harder and harder. Aging sucks.
Our first destination is my grandmother’s. I’m writing this entry in a bit of a rush, not feeling completely comfortable operating someone else’s PC. I’m going to have some major catch-up writing to do soon.
Monday, June 22nd, 2009
It’s almost 9 hours to the flight time. =) Ittekimasu, everyone.
Sunday, June 21st, 2009
There are significant number of users on the internet who are still using the ancient browser from Browser War I era, namely Internet Explorer 6. I can’t discount the users of this blog—I checked out that IE6 can’t even display the text of this web site. (I lol’ed) Besides, there are less than 6% readers who use IE on this site—15% out of them being IE6. Some of those are probably me checking this site. But there are other sites I take care of, where there are much larger number of IE6 users. And those are the sites that I can’t really push the use of more modern browser for various reasons. In the business world, there are so many companies who are still hanging on to their good ol’ (ick) IE6 because of their legacy web apps compatibility. The war needs to be fought on this front.
The tenacious survival of IE6 is making my life, and thousands upon thousands of web designers’ lives much harder than they need to be. And here is my little push: I will not officially support IE6 (or any IE for now) on personal and semi personal sites I build.
Thursday, June 18th, 2009
I just noticed that Google today had another Google Doodle. What stands out the most is the Firebird. This Firebird was one of three very first CDs I bought back in 1988. I still like the piece a lot.
Speaking of classical music, I heard on the local news that my college senpai – a fellow graduate 10 years ahead of me – Dan Hege is coming back to the area as Music Director for Wichita Symphony, our local orchestra. This is a pretty exciting news. The college I graduated from is very small, never having student count of over 1000. And I went to see him conduct Wichita Symphony as a guest conductor. It was an awesome experience. It sure helped that I was sitting on the second row, and they played a giant piece, Respighi’s Pines of Rome, which I also love.
Now, off to another topic.
My trip to Japan is formulating quite nicely so far. In the itinerary, we added Enakyo area (including Enakyo Land) for a theme park and onsen hot springs, Gion Matsuri somewhat near our home, to see 2 hours of fireworks, and Adventure World to see Giant Panda, Red Panda, Emperor Penguin, etc. That should also satisfy my daughter’s request to go to an aquarium while we are there. If that doesn’t happen, I’m sure we’ll pay a visit to Nagoya Port Aquarium.
Whatever happens, it looks like we’ll be traveling quite a bit.