japan, day…errr, today

i woke up this morning to find that it was raining! the route that i was walking to work takes about 15 minutes from the hotel to the office. 15 minutes of rain was not what i had in mind for fun.

oh, convenience stores here reign king. i haven’t seen a single grocery store yet. i am in a business area, though, so i suspect that that is part of the reason. as such, if you need any items, convenience stores are the way to go. oddly enough, the closest convenience store to me is an ampm. that’s right, the ARCO mini stores, ampm. same signage and all.

i was a little bitter to find out that i had to spend $5 for an umbrella. that cuts into my per diem! while i was there, i picked up my favorite breakfast. i usually don’t eat breakfast, but with my stomach not having fully adjusted to the time change, i’m hungry at odd times.

at least with the rain, the temperature is cooler. what a relief. i’ve been dying here. it’s so hot and humid that by the time i get back to the hotel, some nights, my shirt is drenched.

in japan, day 1

i’ve been in japan now for…i don’t even know, maybe 4 days now? life here has been pretty hectic. there is so much craziness going on here, i don’t even know where to begin.

well, let’s start at the beginning.

the flight into japan was pretty uneventful. i got the first row of the economy class which gave me more leg room than the rest of the economy class. that was pretty nice. the flight was only about half full, so there were a lot of empty seats available. i had the whole row to myself. i had a tv screen that folded up in front of me and was able to select from a variety of tv and movie programming. that was pretty cool. i think that you could play some nintendo-esque games too, but i didn’t. i ended up actually rewatching mission impossible 3. the same movies that were available on ATA were available on ANA, which is sort of unfortunate because i’ve seem them all. MI:3, failure to launch, and last holiday. i tried to watch RV, but it was just too painful so i had to stop.

i tried to sleep a lot on the plane, but i ended up reading the new book i brought along. i’m reading wicked. it’s not at all what i had expected it to be. definitely a lot more dark than i anticipated, but then again, i guess when you think of the wizard of oz, you do only think of wonderful magical things.

finding the train, buying a ticket, and getting to the tokyo station was not terribly difficult. the ticket girl spoke very good english and i was able to purchase my ticket just fine. i bought a reserved space on the narita exppress to the tokyo station. getting out of the tokyo station and finding a taxi was much harder than i thought it would be, but after walking a bit and finding the end of the station, i was much relieved.

on the train ride, i was amazed at just how much farm land there is in japan. though i knew that there was a lot farming in japan, whenever i think of japan, i always think of a very industrial nation. just about every little space available was used for farmland. under overpasses, inbetween roads, and anywhere else that would fit. i guess space is a premium so that makes sense.

from there i took a taxi to the hotel. the hotel room i have is pretty small. it fits the bed, a small desk, and a tv that has 9 tv stations. it’s awful. that’s ok, i guess, people don’t travel to watch tv…well, most people anyway…

what i didn’t realize was that the hotel was not paid for when i got there. i didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay for the week+ that i was staying there and my credit cards weren’t working. this was my first moment of panic.

i grew up in a family of nervous travellers. i think it is my mom’s nervousness that had infected the family. when we would vacation, my parents would get traveller’s checks instead of relying on cash or credit cards. we would even do this when we go to places like disneyland, in the same state!! so having been bred in that kind of a family, i still have a minor amount of discomfort when it comes to travel. it used to be much worse, but back in the dot com days, i travelled around for work and was able to get by just fine and i think that helped to calm me down.

but all of those fears and anxieties came rushing back to me when i barely had any cash and no hotel to stay in. i looked for a bank or an ATM, but they were all closed or were not accepting my cards. i decided to head back to the hotel and see what i can do.

i had changed enough money where i could pay for one night’s stay, but that used up pretty much all of my cash on hand. dinner was going to be an issue.

i was too tired to care, so i went to my room to wash up and see what i could scrounge up on what little i had. as i was settling in, thankful that i had a room for the night, i got a call from my japanese counterparts and they bailed me out by paying for the rest of the hotel and taking me out to dinner.

dinner was actually really good. we had yakitori “omakase-style”. that basically means that the chef will just keep bringing you stuff until you are full. yakitori is basically sticks of fried food. heavenly, no?

i ate fried ginger, fried scallops, fried chicken, fried pork, fried shitake mushrooms, fried shrimp, and other things i can’t even remember. there was a turning point where i started to get overloaded on all the fried food.

happily full, i went back to the hotel to sleep and hopefully not get too jetlagged. the food was a little heavy, but it was good.

emerald bay camping – mt. tallac

i went camping with a ton of people this weekend at emerald bay in tahoe. we went on a hike to climb mt. tallac. it was a GRUELING 5 mile hike that has an elevation change of 3000 feet to the summit. a 10 mile hike is usually no sweat for me, but after i was done with this hike i was EXHAUSTED. as soon as i got back to the campground, i was so tired that i fell asleep. i didn’t bother to eat. after my short nap, i was awoken by the starving pangs of hunger and i had some food.

it was a lot of fun, though, and it was nice to be able to get away from the office for a while.

going to japan

i’m going to japan this weekend for a little over a week. i’m doing some handset porting and code implementation with some japanese handsets. did you know that there appears to be only three cell phone providers in japan? i guess it’s a pretty small nation so you can’t have the dozens that you have here.

i don’t know how much time i will have outside of work to explore, though. the impression i get is that i’m going to be pretty busy. i hope that i’ll have some time to do some sight-seeing, but from what i hear it is incredibly hot and humid in japan right now.

so slow…

i’ve been really slow and lazy about adding a comment feature to my gallery. i guess i have just been a little reluctant to add the code because i wasn’t sure how many community features i really wanted to add to the gallery. a part of me wants to rewrite sites like flickr and zooomr, but really this gallery is just to show pictures i take, so i think i’m going to go less community-centric.

i went to take some pictures of the roller hockey game that greg set up. i couldn’t find my blades and i found out that my mom threw away my hockey stick. oh well, it’s probably for the better, my wrist STILL doesn’t feel the same from the fracture i got back in high school.

sharpcast shoot

adam referred me to do a shoot for sharpcast‘s launch party hosted with gigaOM. i asked christi to be my assistant and we set up one stationary shooting booth for portraits and then i roved around the crowd taking pictures of the event. it was pretty fun and i think i got some decent pictures at the too-dark for my tastes club. they had a mad hatter/alice in wonderland theme and they bought a bunch of funky hats for people to wear. it was pretty neat, the live music was cool, too.

diving at breakwater

i went scuba diving in montery over the weekend. i have only been diving in warm, tropical waters so the thought of diving in cold water scared me. people kept telling me that it is freezing there and visibility is awful.

it wasn’t nearly as cold as i thought it was going to be, but the visibility certainly sucked. i’ve also decided that next time i am going to buy some of my personal gear. at least the mask, i think. i want to have a good fitting mask for next time.