Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Happy Cookie Story

Finally, someone is hiring. A link to a CNN story about a cookie factory back in business. Well done Lance Inc.

Happy Festivus!

A fetivus for the rest of us! People really celebrate.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Steve Jobs and the Keynote

A huge deal was made over the announcement that Steve Jobs will not be giving the keynote at the upcoming Macworld Expo in San Francisco. What no one is talking or writing about is the possibility that Jobs will still appear at the keynote. It is 90 minutes and a few important Apple people are always called up to the stage to talk about a specific this or that. Jobs, being CEO, could be called to the stage to make a big product announcement, a big product revision (the iMac and especially the Mac Mini are likely candidates), a ship date for Snow Leopard, or just a pep talk for the coming year. Times aren't so good right now and having the CEO give a quick talk about the coming year can be nothing but a good thing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stock Market Revisited

I love that I was wrong about the stock market today. Such a crazy time in our lives. Nothing makes sense. News that you think will lead to one thing doesn't at all. Next week the rumors say the Fed is going to lower interest rates again (like they can go much lower). I have no idea what the stock market will do once that happens (if it happens).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Stock Market is toast Friday Morning

With the Senate defeating the auto bailout bill Thursday night expect the stock market to plummet Friday morning. I hope I'm wrong.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich

Well done Gov. Blagojevich. The reputation of Illinois politics remains alive and well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Doctor's Appointment

11/20 At Home 7:23AM

Waiting to go to a doctor's appointment. I haven't been to a doctor in years. I hope he unplugs my ear. (The backstory is that I got back from a trip on 11/8 and my right ear began to throb the night of 11/9. By the next night the ear was plugged similar to the feeling on a plane, especially on landing, when one or both ears become plugged. Eventually my throat also became soar. Headaches, some sneezing, maybe a small fever all plagued me on and off within days. I took strong cold medicine, and even got someone to work for me for one day so I could sleep all day. I didn't seem to be getting better. Luckily I got this appointment on 11/20. The next available day was early December.)

I'll leave at 8AM. 7:55 if I am really bored. I haven't taken any medicine or vitamins in 24 hours. I haven't eaten in 12 hours. I hope that was the correct thing to do in case tests are needed.

I just read the first chapter of A Murder Of Quality by John Le Carre. I wonder, if you didn't know who the author is, if you could tell when reading a book if the author is American or British? The British seem to write in a different style, often with words not often used by American authors, or words within a sentence structured different ways. But I always know it is them doing the writing so I am biased in my judging.

7:52AM I'm leaving.

8:10AM Arrived in the doctor's office.

They will check people in starting at 8:15AM. Mustn't deviate from policy. (My words, not there's.)

In theory this really shouldn't take long. My appointment is at 8:30AM. I tell a doctor or nurse what is wrong with me. It seems obvious to them but they decide to take blood to do tests just in case, or no tests are needed. They give me something to unplug my ear. And I go on my way. 30 minutes tops!

If I get home before 10AM I can wash my car.

Breakfast and vitamins would be a good idea.

I should ask when I can start exercising again.

8:20AM Paid $30 and all checked in. I gave her $40 and got two $5 bills back. I wonder what ailment the person or people had that last held on to those bills.

There is an older man (full white hair, glasses), red shirt, and vest, shorts, serious walking sandals, and a book.

A woman in brown and slightly balding.

A woman all in white. Probably a nun (can't assume these things in L.A. though).

A woman in a casual track outfit who pulled out a pda or phone/pda that makes very musical noises while she inputs things. Annoying!! A good way to drive sick and irritable people right over the edge.

8:34AM A nurse has already brought me into a room, done the normal blood pressure, etc... and inputted it all straight into a computer. Brilliant. I haven't been to a doctor in a long time, and it seems they are starting to use technology for all the input work (finally).

8:53AM Already done with the doctor and waiting for the pharmacy to open. The verdict is, I have an ear infection. The doctor was nice (Dr. Pan), explained everything, didn't rush me, and said I should be better in about 5 days (that is how long the drugs are for).

I don't have the best of ears. He could see the obvious scar tissue from when I was a kid.

I was given a visit summary that lists my vitals and the prescriptions I will be taking.

I forgot to ask when I can exercise again, but I'm guessing I shouldn't until my ear is better.

I'll be taking 2 pills. The first, a strong anti-biotic once a day (twice the first day). The second, a strong decongestant twice a day.

9:02AM Still waiting for the pharmacy to open... Open now.

It will be about 20 minutes. He didn't say how much it will cost.

9:09AM I was suppose to work Wed., today, and next Monday, but was canceled last Monday. Probably a good thing considering this ear infection. I doubt I would have made a doctor's appointment if I expected to work yesterday and today. Maybe on Tuesday I would have been smart and made an appointment for Friday, but I doubt it. Plus, when I made the appointment for today the next appointment option I had was a day in early December. Overall, this probably worked out for the best for my health, just not my pocketbook.

9:15AM The nun from the doctor's office has now entered the pharmacy. I guess she might not be a nun, just someone who prefers the wardrobe. Not into variety and accessories.

9:19AM Only $20 total for the 2 prescriptions. $50 total for the doctor's appointment (plus the monthly health insurance fee).

Done.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Singapore to Narita To LAX Flight

11/8 9:33AM On The Plane

Flight SQ12 SIN-NRT-LAX

I'm in 63K, the back of the bus! But it looks to be a score! There are only 2 seats in these last few rows instead of 3, and my window seat has room between the seat and the window. I won't be able to lean against the window when sleeping but I will be able to better stretch out my legs (at least the right leg).

9:49AM

On a 747-400 again. These planes take a long time to fill up (with people). Waiting for everyone to get settled.

The handing out of the hot towels has commenced!

6 hours 10 minutes should be the flight time to Tokyo.

9:55AM

A glance out the window and it seems some bad weather might be moving in.

9:57AM Pushback

Row 61 is where the good rows start ... 61K, 62K, etc..

10:10AM In the cue for takeoff

Over the last 2 weeks anytime someone has coughed or sneezed I have been paranoid about getting sick. I even considered not using the subway/bus my last week of work before the trip. I seem to have made it. It wouldn't surprise me if I get sick once I get home. It will be a Saturday. That Monday I will be working 8 days in a row, a day off, and then 2 more days of work. When I get home I should get as much fruits and veggies in me before Monday and work.

10:14AM We are next for takeoff

Nice takeoff. All of the 10's of ships waiting to get into port are below us. Tokyo here we come.

10:22AM (11:22AM Tokyo)

Many tall, impressive clouds near and below us.

10:26AM 5300KM to Tokyo

10:50AM 909 km/h; 9800m altitude; 25km/h head wind

10:55AM turbulance

11:22AM

What do I think of Robertson Quay Hotel? The price, $130 SGD a night, was good. The room was cramped. The bed was uncomfortable. The shower was too small. The pool seemed nice, and is away from the construction in the area. Did I mention the noisy construction? A hotel is being constructed next to the Robertson Quay Hotel, which adds a lot of noise to the room. The front desk staff was very nice and helpful. The walk to the Clark Quay MRT was a little long for my taste. If Novotel is similar in price and the distance to an MRT station is important then choose Novotel over Robertson. Many places to eat in the Robertson area as well as the walk to Riverside Point and Clark Quay. Just next door to Robertson is a nice lookign small restaurant. They had a set dinner for $40 SGD, which includes a glass of wine. If you want a glass of wine with dinner at a restaurant with a western menu then this is a fine price.

11:41AM

The menu for the flight has been handed out. It includes the Tokyo-LAX leg of the flight which would mean we will not be changing planes in Narita.

12:56PM

Flying over the Philippines. We are to the west of Manila.

2:16PM (3:16PM Tokyo)

2 hours to Tokyo

3:46PM (Now on Tokyo time)

4:16PM 1 hour to Tokyo 1026 km/h ground speed; 11300m altitude; 114 km/h tail wind

4:44PM It's getting darker outside

4:53PM (11:53PM last night LA Time)

Sunset if happening fast

5PM Almost completely dark (midnight in LA)

5:05PM The iPod is put away. SSE of Tokyo, over water. 13 minutes to go.

We all have to get off the plane and then reboard; I think it is the same plane though since they didn't collect headphones for passengers continueing on to LA.

Lights in the distance

5:20PM Crossing the coastline

Nice landing

5:30PM Waiting for a plane to clear our path to the gate.

If I am lucky and everything stays on time I might be HOME HOME in 13 hours .... maybe 1:30PM (it is 12:36AM there now)

6:46PM

Back on board the plane. Many of the same faces, a few new ones. People getting settled in. One very upset little kid, who got so upset the hiccups have taken hold. Crying and the hiccups, bad times. But far enough away from me that it shouldn't effect me too much.

6:49PM

The hot towels were just passed around. I love Asian airlines, and the hot towels (for the face) before the flight is high on the list.

6:50PM (1:50AM in LA)

The flight info says it should be a 10 hour flight. If that is the case, I don't think I will be home by 1:30PM.

The pilot just said the flight time should be 8 hours 25 minutes. 1:30PM is back in play.

8765 km to LA

7:02PM (2:02AM in LA) Pushback

7:09PM 1 tylenol PM taken

Next time I go to Japan maybe I should try flying into another city, like Osaka, and then after a few days, take a train north to Tokyo.

And I must learn some Japanese.

7:20PM Almost to the front of the line for takeoff

7:24PM While waiting for our takeoff .... Such an amazing sight, watching a 747 gain speed and takeoff

7:27PM We are next

7:29PM Takeoff

It looks like there are 8 planes waiting behind us to takeoff.

9PM (Tokyo time)

Switching to LA time

11/8 4AM (LA time)

We still haven't eaten, except for the special meals people. I wish we had eaten by now so I could sleep.

8:58AM

I just woke up. Breakfast time (I think). I think I took the tylenol PM 7 hours ago so I will probably be feeling it for at least another hour.

10:28AM Over the California Coast. 30 minutes to landing.

10:49AM

heading inland to eventually turn around and land heading west.

10:52AM

Flying just to the north of LAX as we head inland. beautiful, sunny day in LA.

10:54AM Making the turn back towards LAX. Downtown LA now outside my window.

11AM Nice landing

Incredibly clear day. I could see the Getty Center in the distance. 8 1/2 hour flight!!

Singapore

11/1 9:04AM On the Bus Going from the hotel back to the airport

"Do Not Compromise Security Through Blogging"

Sign next to the front gate at the Changi Air Base (West)

Gas 1.706 a liter for Formula 95 at a Shell Station (it wasn't called Shell, there was a different name, but a Shell logo)

9:53AM

Tenah Merah Station

Waiting for the subway train. At this section of the line it is above ground. Once it gets close to the city it goes underground. Same for the line on the West side of the island.

I didn't check out the exchange rate when I arrived early this morning and it cost me. I exchanged money at the hotel for 1.35 (100 = 135). As I walked through the airport a little while ago (I used the hotel's airport shuttle to get me to back to the subway station in the airport) heading to the city I looked at the exchange rate counter and it was 1.45. SO I have 10 less Singapore dollars in my pocket because of my carelessness. Luckily I only exchanged 25% of the money I have on hand.

Plus at the hotel they told me the MRT is in Terminal 1, which is wrong, it is in Terminal 2. I took the shuttle from 1 to 2, no big deal.

Not much out at Changi Village, especially if the weather is bad, like it is today. Not even a sunrise, but some lightning and a little thunder, which was nice.

10:06AM Ajunied Station

Starting to get really crowded in this subway car. Where are all these people going on a Sunday morning.

10:21 AM Almost at Orchard Station, it is next.

10:39AM In The Room... I Love Hilton!

(The exchange rate here is 1.41)

11:25AM Leaving the hotel to wander around and head to the Singapore Botanic Gardens

11:51AM The Tanglin Marketplace, a small market, is in the basement of the Tanglin Mall as well as La Tanglin Boulangerie (fresh bread and sandwiches), a chocolate store called The Cocoa Tree, a GNC, and a food court (BBQ and donuts).

11:58AM Friven & Co has "Denise the Wine Shop" (it looks like a place to eat) in the front (denisewine.com.sg). It is at the intersection of Tanglin Rd., Grange Rd., and Napier Rd.

12:06PM The U.S. Embassy looks to be ready for an invasion. Architecture is like a modern fort.

1:54PM Lunch Time (I didn't have breakfast)

The last meal was on the plane from Tokyo. I believe this restaurant is called Halio. It is next door to the National Orchid Garden, which is a small part of the Botanic Gardens. I think I forgot to change the time on my camera. I will wait until I am done here, so all the pictures have the same time. I should be able to adjust the times in Aperture.

Cinnamon French Toast and strawberries. Very good french toast, probably better then Poseidon in Del Mar (or Solana Beach), but the fruit isn't as good. Hard to compete with California fruit.

I did see some enormously wide carrots at the Hawker Center in Changi Village. Not excessively long, but much too wide to eat without cutting up.

2:10PM Done with lunch. The orchids are next.

11/2 The Toast Box

Looking for something small to eat (that isn't a muffin from Starbucks) for a little breakfast and I found Toast Box in the basement of Wisma Atria mall (a small mall) just next to the Orchard Road MRT station. I was looking for Bread Talk, but they don't have much ready to eat yet. SO I am eating Peanut Thick Toast from Toast Box. Also available is traditional Kaye Toast, Floss Thick Toast, Otak Thick Toast, Boluo Yao, Hebi Hiam Soft Bun, and a couple of noodle (+ something) dishes in a bowl. Nice. Cheap too.

11/6 12:27AM

Airport Shuttle Service $9 Singapore Dollars to Robertson Quay

Cooking class tomorrow (later this morning)

7:53PM

The Tapas Tree

I just finished a small baked salmon (it looked grilled) in a lemon butter sauce. Very good. Sangria (red) is the drink (2 for 1)

My timing was good today. I arrived at the cooking class just behind 4 other class participants, which made it easy for the taxi driver and I to know that that was the place.

The cooking class was demonstration style with tastings as the preparation of a dish progressed.

Next I will get some night shots of the Merlion and other night stuff on this side (One Fullerton Place) and then walk over to the Esplanade Mall to look for Max Brennar Chocolate Bar and take pictures of the Fountain of Wealth at night.

9:31PM Max Brenner Chocolate Bar at the Esplanade Mall

I think I will have a Chocolat (the menu proclaims it to be better than hot chocolate). 5 varieties to choose from. I think I will choose Venezuelan Dark Chocolate. Still deciding on whether I want a desert or not.

It looks like I got a lot of good pictures of the Merlion and surrounding area. After the "better than" hot chocolate I will try to get some pictures of the Fountain of Wealth (maybe with me in one of them as well). Followed by a longish walk through City Link mall to the City Hall MRT. At Clark Quay MRT station I will haev a long walk to the hotel. Along the way I should be able to get good pictures of Clark Quay and Riverside Point. I should try to wander around Robertson Quay to see what is there.

Finally I will call it a night. If I don't fall asleep I will try to edit pictures and/or transcribe more of these notes. If I can get some of it done I can post more to the internet.

The "better than" hot chocolate is very rich and creamy. Milk chocolate might be a better selection (I chose dark chocolate.) It is good but maybe a little too strong and bitter for this style of drink.

After the cooking class I went back to the hotel to change. I went to a cafe for a few hours and was able to get on the internet to check email, check the news, add my plane ride journal to the blog, and add more pictures to the internet.

Once that was accomplished I took a shower and got a water taxi from Clark Quay to the Merlion. I arrived just as sunset was beginning, but the Merlion has very large buildings behind it to the west so the area doesn't shine as much as it could at sunset ... but I still got some good pictures.

9:52PM I hope I can find the fountain of wealth.

(I didn't make it that night. As I started to head to that area I came upon a large amount of steps and my legs said no. So I made my way back to Clark Quay and took more pictures.)

11/7 10:15AM

Siting in a Starbucks in the Robertson Quay area. Using the free SingTel Singapore wireless internet to check email, upload pictures, etc.

They are playing Christmas music. Something from a Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack currently.

12:49PM Done (for now) at Starbucks. I uploaded more pictures plus added descriptions to some Tokyo pictures.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Narita to Singapore Flight 10/31 (Tokyo Day 3 continued)

6:41PM 10/31

On board Singapore Airlines going from Tokyo to Singapore. Somewhere around an 8 hour flight.

This is a 747-400 with personal video screen in the seat and the extra bonus of a foot rest (in coach). Plus, Singapore Airlines flight attendants, ahhh. My first time on Singapore Airlines and I am looking forward to it.

I just wish it was in business!!!

Packed flight, better amenities, but someone is sitting in the middle seat next to me, bummer. Even though she is cute... probably her boyfriend in the aisle seat.)

6:48PM

My math was bad. It was just announced that the flight is 6 hours 25 minutes long. Considering that Singapore is 1 hour earlier than Tokyo, I have no idea how I was off by so much time.

6:52PM

Is it better to be on a full flight with more amenities, or a flight with room? These things I ponder.

6:57PM Pushback

7:15PM

Waiting for something. We've moved away from the gate and out terminal but are sitting at the end of another terminal.

Now moving

Stopped again. We didn't move very far.

An announcement, many planes in front of us and many waiting to land.

7:29PM Not in the air yet.

The front of the KrisWorld (AV Guide) InFlight Entertainment Magazine claims:

80 movies
106 TV Programmes
180 CDs
12 Radio Channels
55 Interactive games

That is impressive. I'll have more than 6 hours to find out if it is true.

7:39PM

It took about 25 minutes from pushback to takeoff. That's not too bad.

We turned out over the ocean about 4 minutes ago.

8:07PM (9:07PM Tokyo) (Now on Singapore time)

Waiting on food.

They handed out menus more than 30 minutes ago. I think I will have the International Selection.
appetiser Beef pastrami with creamy potato salad
main course Italian style fish "puttanesca" served with vegetables, saffron fettucine and parmesan cheese
cheese and crackers
american apple pie
roll and butter

8:40PM

Dinnertime, finally. And some free wine. EVA Air does the free wine thing as well. The free wine is just at dinner.

12:51Am (1:51AM Tokyo)

On final approach for landing. Pressure to the ears is pretty bad.

12:59AM Landing

1:05AM At The Gate

Lightning in the clouds way out to sea. Ears haven't popped.

2:02AM In The Hotel Room

I mixed up Thai money with Singapore money. Not good. The taxi driver noticed (the nice taxi driver). Good thing he didn't think I was trying to cheat him.

Tokyo Bus to Narita (Tokyo Day 3 continued)

2:45PM Sitting on the Narita Limousine Bus

It took almost an hour to get from Akasuka to the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku. 45 minutes on 2 subways and 15 minutes of walking from the Shinjuku station to the hotel. I synced up the iPod for new content, packed, and then had some time to go to the club lounge for a small drink (the size was my choice).

I must say, finding the free member sign-up section on the Keio Plaza Hotel web site was extremely valuable. By signing up to be a member (for free) I was given the privilege to check out (really late) at 2:30PM (they said I could have had the room until 3PM if I wanted, but no need on this day). I was given a free breakfast each morning. And I was given free entrance to the club lounge. In the lounge was wine, beer, soda, tea, coffee, espresso, and some very nice snacks. A little glass of wine was really helpful.

2:53PM Leaving slightly late (3 minutes). So un-Japanese

I'm looking forward to this ride. I'm hoping it gives me another view of Tokyo that I have not seen.

2:58PM

Driving on the left is a hoot. I've only experienced a little of it, and always in a passenger seat.

It looks like we might be picking up people at the Shinjuku station. Yes we are. I see a ticket window on the outside of a building. It looks to be a full bus.

Friendly Airport Limousine is the name of the bus company.

Or not full. Still no one to my right.

Announcement, "Passengers are reminded that portable telephones are not to be used on the bus as they annoy the neighbors." That was the last english announcement as we start the journey to Narita.

3:11PM On an elevated freeway

We just passed a small cemetery (down below). Many tightly spaced head stones. I'd guess they don't bury people here, just do cremations. Those very nice looking headstones... more like monuments, were far too close together to have people buried underneath them.

3:15PM

Patches of green along the way. East Coast kind of green. Large dense trees. A pond. Someone is actually trying to fish down there in a small boat. And another one. Amazingly, they are young people, not 80 years old.

3:30PM

A lot of apartment buildings in this area, wherever we are. Nice looking. Clothes hanging on some balconies. The occasional small satellite dish (directv size). We've passed at least 2 canals or rivers with barges on them. Small ones with a tugboat pulling one barge. The occasional park.

3:35PM

I think Tokyo Disney/Disney Resort is on the right.

There was a ferris wheel, which I didn't think anything of, but then I saw what looked like the top of Space Mountain. Close by, a very Disney Resort looking hotel and finally a sign saying Disney Resort.

Lexus LX330 (etc) are called Toyota Harrier here.

3:45PM Race track on the left

Taxi drivers wear suits here (at least in Tokyo). They drive a special Toyota, the Deluxe Corolla Comfort.

3:58PM Getting a little foggy

4:02PM

We have been out of 'city' for at least 15 minutes. It reminds me of the freeway between Providence and Boston. Green woods on both sides of the freeway. High banks.

4:09PM Occasional small patches of farmland. Very green.

4:11PM I just saw a 747 going in to land, we must be close.

Road work on the left. There is a fake workman (something wooden) in blue uniform with it's arms waving to indicate to stay right and people at work. Brilliant!

Tokyo Day 3

10/31 10:58AM Asakusa

A tourist office with nothing in English except for the tourist office sign out front. And a very nice woman who explained to me why the local kindergartners were having a parade wearing very nice Japanese dress. It had to do with looking forward to a good year, a healthy year.

The tourist office has a very elaborate clock on the front of the building. It played a song at 11AM. it probably happens every hour.

Meeting up with Patty at 11AM

12:43PM Asakusa

Just getting on the Ginza line subway train.

There is a department store in Asakusa. The name starts with an "N" ... Asakusa, but I forget the name. In the basement is food, A Lot of food. No english descriptions, but they have everything, tempura, yakitori, sushi rolls, and on and on. Try it out if you are hungry and a little adventurous.

We just departed at 12:47PM. Asakusa is the end/beginning of the line so that is why we were waiting on the subway car.

Tokyo Day 2

10/30 6:35AM Hotel Lobby (waiting for breakfast service to begin at 7AM)

Last night was a wash. Sunrise sucked as well. I may have gotten 1 decent HDR image. The good thing is, I got a lot of sleep. Today should be a very good day. I may walk around Shinjuku a bit before a bit before getting on the subway since it will be rush hour in the Shinjuku station. Trains and the subway are found in the station.

Last night I arrived as everyone was leaving work. I mentioned in my previous entry that everyone in the station was like water... this is what I wrote that morning in the lobby. It was like fast flowing water with invisible barriers keeping things flowing in various directions, branching off up or down, left or right, joining or leaving, but no stopping, just flow flow flow.

And I tried to blend into that and find my way. It was a longer walk than I expected. The train must have let me off on one side of the station and it felt like I walked all the way through the entire station to get out followed by a covered walk to the hotel.

After check-in and getting to my room I took a few night pictures and then went to bed. I'm just waiting for breakfast to begin at 7AM (it comes with the room).

I'm thinking I might try the bus back to the airport tomorrow. I'm surprised a roundtrip train ticket wasn't available for purchase. So maybe a bus ride back to the airport to see what driving and traffic is like.

9:48AM Tokyo Station

I just made my way from the hotel in Shinjuku to the Tokyo station. I haven't walked up yet to see the actual station. I got on the subway at the tail end of Rush Hour. I am 2 for 2 (yeah, smart boy!). Now to figure out where the viewing tower is.

9:55AM Still in the Tokyo station. I still haven't seen anything architecturally striking about this station yet. Nothing "Grand Central" like.

Good thing I stayed down in the lower section looking at that map. Once you walk up one short flight of stairs you are in the middle of a major crossing for people to go left, right, etc. There are entrance/exits to the left and right with more stairs down straight ahead (plus the ones I just came up).

A few groups of kids on field trips (maybe Jr. high age), not in uniforms though. Maybe a special class or they don't wear uniforms on field trips.

10:04AM Street Level

I think the old classic station is across the street being renovated. Marunouchi Station.

4 bikes in a bike rack as I emerge from the underground. None have locks (awesome).

Nice to see some Japanese who look just as unsure as I am about which direction to go.

I'm trying to see if their is an entrance to the old train station. Renovation and not demolition. The temporary walls for construction have the history of the station in pictures and words (English included).

10:20AM

I have no idea where I am. The corner of something and Tokyo Kokusal Forum E (a T really, not an intersection).

Thank goodness for signs. Imperial Palace Outer Garden 400m away... back on track.

10:35AM

The knee is holding up well. It hasn't ballooned to an unusually enormous size (yet!).

I am walking past what looks to be the nearest subway to the Imperial Gardens. (And I was wrong as the picture at Flickr shows, there is a closer subway entrance to the Gardens.) The sign I am passing says Blue I08 Mita Line Toei Subway Hibiya Station Light Green C10 Chiyoda Line Tokyo Metro Nijubashimae Station

11:04AM

At the Imperial Palace Entrance (closed, only open 1 day a year... I knew that.)

All turned around. The East Gardens aren't where I think East is.

1:22PM Waffles fast food. We need this in the U.S. It's not a want, it is a need.

Akiba Department store. Everything a good could want... except for women. Hardly any in the store.

1:56PM Somewhere in the Akihabara area

I have no idea of exactly where I am again. I'm not really sure where the actual Akihabara is, or what it is. Is it a shopping mall, an outdoor, or something else? Or perhaps just stores in a certain area that happen to sell electronics.

2:17PM

Akihabara looks to primarily be a really wide road with electronics stores on each side of the street.

2:40PM Ginza, in or near the Sony Building

I saw a sign that said "Sony Building" and pointed up. I went up and am now in a very bright stationary store that doesn't have an exit. It does have an elevator with a big sign next to it that says "Tempura".

B1F ... I was on that level. Elevator up to 1 and street level.

2:48PM Pub Cardinal

In the lobby (1st floor) of the Sony store. A sign out front says afternoon tea so I walked right in. Outside lies Ginza. It looks very nice. This is the first time I am sitting down since I left the hotel.

The first time I have had tea like this since Hong Kong in 2004. They also have things like Fish and Chips (1100 yen). The afternoon tea is 1800 yen. The waiter just put the teapot down and I could smell earl grey immediately. Excellent.

Smoking is allowed in here. I wonder if it is because it is a "pub", or if all restaurants can allow smoking.

They seem to have given me things that would be excellent to dip into coffee, like biscotti and something that looks like a biscuit but is actually harder than biscotti (not easy to do). The tea is very good.

I think I will work through the Sony Building and then wander out into Ginza to see all of the expensive stores.

This is a very nice looking room, this Cardinal Pub (an upscale pub I guess). Wood chairs with red upholstery. Mini booths with red backs (all red actually, not just the backs).

Well, not worth 1800 yen, but it was good. Nice to sit down.

4:03PM in Ginza

Katsumido Camera store. Real film cameras for sale. A Nikon F5 for 67,000 - 78,000 yen. An F4 for 48,000 yen. And a lot more. A Hasselblad 903swc for 588,000 yen! A Canon 400mm F2.8L lense for 735,000 yen!

The rest of the day had me wandering Ginza. Then on to Rippongo Hills. Nothing special to see there, just another bland upscale shopping area. Ginza has more character. Back to the hotel and meeting up with Patty. We wandered around Shinjuku trying to figure out how to get to the other side of Shinjuku Station. Eventually we made it. We were hoping to find one of those sushi on a conveyor belt restaurants where everything is priced the same and you just choose what you want to eat when something looks good as it passes you on the belt. We did not find a place like that so we ate in a small sushi place. The wasabi in my tuna roll almost popped my nose off of my head. Very strong stuff.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Narita Airport to Hotel in Shinjuku Oct. 29th

10/29 4:04PM Narita Airport

Customs is moving quickly, only 10 minutes in line so far.

4:10PM

The Customs officer was very concerned that my passport isn't in perfect condition. It has been through the laundry and looks very worn. I think the back is pealing a bit. One more thing for me to worry about when I get to Singapore. Luckily, after consulting a colleague, he let me in. Now waiting for my bag.

4:15PM

I made it. I'm officially in Japan. Now to find the Narita Express and the 2 day subway pass.

4:40PM

On the train now. We stop in Central Tokyo, from there half the cars go in one direction and the other half in (obviously) another direction. We just made a stop in another terminal.

I remembered to switch my cameras to Tokyo time (no daylight savings time).

4:53PM Nice sunset. Too bad I am in a train with a lot of glare.

I think this is over an hour to get to Shinjuku.

Having a problem with the 50mm lense. Don't know what the error message means.

5:09PM

A lot of countryside, areas of trees, farmland, and then a town or newer development. Almost dark now. The barest of afterglow from the sunset. I'm trying to take "bulb" shots. Mostly crap.

5:31PM

So far the phone isn't accessing any data even though it sees a network.

5:37PM Passing a lot of trains, as we get closer to the city. The ones going in the opposite direction are packed! No extra room at all.

I had no idea there are overhead bins on this train. Very sleek design.

5:42PM

Stopping at Tokyo station. I wasn't sure if we were at Shinjuku. It didn't feel like we were... a nice woman saw that I wasn't sure and let me know that this was just Tokyo. There was an announcement, first in Japanese and then in English, but the volume was low and the people that understand Japanese were getting up which made it harder to hear the english. After the nice woman told me it was Tokyo station, I sat back down and saw the electronic sign in the car that says in english where we are.

5:49PM

The Tokyo Metro Guide that I grabbed is the Japanese version. I'll try to grab the English version at Shinjuku Station. I'm leaning towards staying in Shinjuku tonight, just walking around and taking pictures.

6PM

Data is working on my phone. Google Earth just found where I am (using the iPhone). I think it is correct.

6:04PM The train is leaving Shibuyu station. Shinjuku station is next.

After arriving at Shinjuku station I didn't write anymore. It was crazy. So many people at rush hour. Imagine water flowing in currents going off in different directions with invisible barriers keeping the flows of water separate. Instead of water it was people.

The train stops on one side of the station and as it turned out I needed to get to the other side of the station to walk to the hotel. In between were many passageways to other train platforms, to bus stops, to subway platforms, and to street level. The signs were incredibly detailed (and in English) which required stopping to read each sign to make sure I was going in the direction I think I needed to go. Before stopping I had to make sure I wasn't going to cause people to run into me by stopping so I needed to take a lot more time finding a safe place to stop to read each sign and then read each sign more than once and really digest the information.

I finally made it out of the station (the biggest in Tokyo apparently). The walk to the hotel was longer than I expected. Luckily, before I left home I had found a web site with pictures showing the way out of the train station to the hotel. That was a tremendous help. Once in my hotel room I didn't make it out into Shinjuku that night. Such a bum I am. But I did sleep and woke up before sunrise the next morning. Pretty typical for my trips to Asia.

LAX to Narita Flight on Oct. 28

10/28 11:37AM LAX

I seem to be on the last 747 to not be upgraded. No individual screens behind each chair/seat. Luckily I am very prepared in the AV department. I have my new iPhone with many episodes of Monty Python and Good Eats. I have an audio only iPod which should last a very long time. Plus I have Shi's new iPod Nano with a lot of episodes of the Black Adder on it. I don't need United's help with my entertainment. I am self contained.

We should be leaving a little after 12PM. I am curious how much darkness we will have on the flight. It is 4AM in Tokyo when we depart L.A. and almost 4PM when we arrive. I'm trying to picture it in my head, where the darkness, the absence of sunlight will be. And for how long. But I can't picture it.

So far no one in the middle seat. The 747 is outfitted to hold around 335 people and I saw in the waiting area that there are over 100 empty seats. In a few more minutes I will find out how lucky I am.

A mix of people on the flight. Some Japanese, some obvious business people, some Thai going on to Bangkok, and some Americans. I can hear the people behind me talking about going on to Bangkok. Same flight number but different plane in Narita.

11:59AM Pushback (3:59AM Tokyo)

A mix of Japanese and American flight attendants.

We sat around at the gate for a bit after the pushback, but now we are headed to the runway.

12:15PM

Very smooth takeoff. We are in no rush to gain altitude. We took off headed in the right direction over the water and are slowly gaining altitude.

12:20PM

We were just told that the flight will be just under 11 hours, which is almost 45 minutes shorter than expected. We just turned to head a lot more north (I'm guessing that runway sends us out heading southwest and we start to adjust).

All I see is clear skies and blue water.

I forgot to see if the United audio channels sill have a cockpit channel. It's been a few years since I've flown United and I always enjoy listening to the cockpit.

12:31PM

The movies today are #1 (I forgot) #2 Speed Racer #3 Kit Kittridge #4 (I forgot)

12:33PM

We are back over California. I can't tell if it is Oxnard or Santa Barbara below us. Also, coastal clouds have appeared.

12:35PM

It looks like United is using XM branded programming for it's audio channels now.

Channel 9 has From The Flight Deck, Yeah!

I wish my brain was on and I had thought to listen earlier. I missed most of the activity since I missed takeoff. Better late than never.

I'm trying some Trader Joe's Espresso Pillows. A chocolate espresso candy. A little soft and then a little hard. I like it.

12:46PM

Nothing but coastal clouds out the window.

The movie Then She Found Me is now playing. It is #1 of 4.

I hadn't eaten since last night and I just had the United pretzels. Before i wasn't hungry. Now that my body remembers that I haven't eaten in 15 hours it is hungry. I should have waited for the meal.

12:53PM

We just got handed off to Oakland Center. (Nothing but clouds.)

1PM (5AM Tokyo)

Just given clearance to go to 33,000 feet (330).

1:09PM

Getting out the iPod Nano. Not much going on from the flight deck.

Lunch is about to be served. I couldn't hear what the choices are.

TWIT is first on the Nano.

1:14PM

A break in the clouds, water (hopefully the Pacific Ocean) is underneath.

1:22PM

Chicken noodle or beef. It like the beef has mashed potatoes instead of noodles. Both have a nice looking green salad, roll, and brownie.

An excellent point from TWIT:
We haven't hit bottom yet because Google hasn't had layoffs yet. If Google has layoffs (then we are all doomed) and that will be bottom.

2:06PM (6AM Tokyo)

They just turned out the lights inside the plane. Easier to see the movie on the crappy screens. Still sunny outside.

2:10PM

End of movie #1

2:46PM

Heavy Chop!

I plugged back in to the From The Flight Deck Channel.

I don't think the second movie has started yet.

2:53PM

It is starting now.

All low clouds and still sunny.

Occasional turbulance.

4:20PM

The heavy chop has returned. Still very sunny.

5:43PM

Still quite sunny out. Movie #3 is playing. I've eaten almost all of the Trader Joe's Espresso Pillows. Not advisable.

6:09PM (10AM Tokyo)

6 hours into the flight, 5 hours to go.

Still sunny out. I think we may not see night until sunset in Tokyo.

We were just served snacks, one of which is Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips (along with a Kit Kat and a cookie). The cabin has now taken on the distinctive odor of harvest cheddar. Lovely.

6:50PM

Movie #3 has finished. The sun persists. 4 more hours to go.

8:46PM (12:46PM Tokyo)

The chop has returned. Very sunny and low scattered clouds over the ocean.

9PM (1PM Tokyo)

2 hours to go. The second lunch meal should be coming up soon. Maybe the same choices. So far:

4529 miles travelled
38000 altitude
85 MPH head wind
501 MPH (don't know if this is ground speed)

10:08PM (2:08PM Tokyo)

Lunch time... again. Possibly chicken or beef again? I'm wrong, turkey sandwich or pasta. I chose pasta (possibly the wrong choice from the looks of things). With the pasta is yogurt and rasberry shortbread. Always open yogurt away from you if on a plane. Pressure baby!

10:45PM (2:45PM Tokyo)

45 minutes to landing.

3:10PM (Tokyo)

Some high clouds above us now, water below us.

3:19PM Down to 6000 feet. Over water. (listening to From The Flight Deck)

3:23PM Maintaining 6000 feet. Cargo ships below us.

3:24PM Slowing to 190 knots

3:25PM Down to 4000 feet

3:27PM Heading 280

3:28PM Heading 310; Coastline finally!

3:30PM Clear to land on runway 34 Left

3:35PM Smoooooth landing, 20 minutes early

Best Election Map Ever

Here is the best red state/blue state map ever! No more of these hugely vacuous red states dominating election maps.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/the-decadent-left-in-its-enclaves-on-the-coasts/

The Onion Says It Perfectly

An Onion viewpoint regarding the election results.

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/nation_finally_shitty_enough_to

Monday, October 6, 2008

The New Yorker Argues For Obama

The New Yorker is endorsing Barack Obama for President with very compelling reasons.

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2008/10/13/081013taco_talk_editors

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vote, But Don't Think About It Until Then!

I'm trying not to think about the election. It will happen, I will vote, someone will win. This two year long campaign is too depressing and much too long. Plus, I've realized that I shouldn't get worked up over "those" Republicans. I say "those" because there are a lot of good people who are Republicans and they don't realize that "those" Republicans, the ones behind the party machine, don't care about any given policy. Real people who call themselves republicans care about things, have values, are just as good or bad as anyone else. But the people they vote for, and more importantly, the people behind the elected Republicans, all "those" Republicans care about is winning. At the heart of it, policy doesn't matter. Winning and having power matters. Saying anything, doing anything, lying, whatever it takes to win is all that matters. They know that lying on national TV during something like, let's say, a speech by a Vice Presidential candidate is fine because the corrections won't happen leading the news or be on the front page of Drudge. The lies have an impact and that can't be taken away regardless of what the talking heads say the next day. The bottom line is you can't debate with people like this because anything you say doesn't matter. Nothing matters to people who just want to win, except winning. Whether a policy is effective or not, damaging or not, illegal or not doesn't matter one little bit. If stating that policy in a speech gets votes then it is a good policy. Arguing about it is a waste of energy, thinking about it is a waste of energy because the other side just doesn't care. To win at any cost is all that matters to "those" Republicans. I just wish real Republicans would wake up and realize this. That is why I am trying not to think about the election. Thinking about it just drives me insane.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hubble Discovers Something New

Something new for scientists to think about via gizmodo, and gizmodo found the story at the Astrophysical Journal.

I'd send you to the journal itself, but most of the articles have titles like, "A Strong Correlation between Circumnuclear Dust and Black Hole Accretion in Early-Type Galaxies".

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 2 4:12AM

Almost done at Universal Sports for the day. Off to the hotel soon and then to Reelz Channel at 10AM. 2 shows on the schedule at Reelz and then back to the hotel at 7PM for more sleep and then back to Universal Sports at midnight for more Paralympics coverage. It will continue like this until Saturday at 8AM. Fun!

Day 2 3:40AM I love Hilton Hotels

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday morning. I just want to say that I love Hilton Hotels. After leaving work a little after 6AM I went to the hotel and my check-in karma was working. The lovely people at the Hilton Checkers let me check in early and I was able to get at least 90 minutes of sleep before going to the day job. It made a huge difference in my day. Thank you Hilton.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

5:41AM

Men's 5000M awards ceremony. Even though at least one runner used more than 1 guide during the race, only 1 guide is used on the victory podium.

4:27AM

More on the Men's 5000M race ... runners can have more than one guide. Makes sense, one guide gets tired and another takes over. Brilliant!

4:20AM

The Mens 5000M race just started at the Paralympics on Universal Sports. The runners are visually impaired and use guides to make their way around the track. What happens if your guide has a bad day and can't keep up with you?

4AM

Doing the Paralympics on Universal Sports, live to the internet for the next few nights/early mornings. It should be fun. Tonight is track & field.

Once we are done this morning I will go to the hotel and see if my good check-in karma is working. Better than 50% of the time when I arrive early at a hotel I am able to check-in.

3:41AM

4 Hours Into The Work Week .... What a Start!

I was hoping to do my first post of the week before leaving home or when I arrived here at work. But walking through the door at work I was sat on by "emergencies" (there is a better word, but it isn't coming to me) and am only now able to write something.

I don't want to say this is an odyssey because in no way does it involve literature. More like a mental marathon.

Between Tuesday at 1AM and Saturday at 8AM I will be working 75 hours between 2 jobs in 2 locations. That is out of 103 possible hours. I've gotten myself a hotel room near one of the jobs. We will see how much sleep I am able to get. I hope the hotel gets me at least 3 more hours of rest a day. Hard to say how much sleep I had coming into this. I arrived home at 2AM on Monday, didn't get 8 hours of sleep at that time, but did lay down at least 2 times after that. I can't remember the last day I got 8 hours sleep. I do have a case of Brain Toniq in the car.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

iPhone Line on July 18

The Apple Store in the Topanga Mall has a line for the iPhone on July 18! How long will this madness continue? Apple might run out soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

iPhone Northridge Mall

There is still a line at the Apple Store in the Northridge Mall. It is 2PM and there must be at least 40 people waiting in line.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Airlines Begging For Relief

In the last week I have received emails from 3 different airlines. The emails aggressively complain about oil futures traders and ask people to go to www.stopoilspeculationnow.com hoping that this will lower fuel prices. Maybe this will help.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Las Vegas Travel Journal (April 2004)

I'm posting this because it is referenced in my Hong Kong travel journal. Start here and continue reading through the Hong Kong journal.

4/20/04 5:30PM LAX Airport

Waiting again for one more flight. I’m on my way to Las Vegas. (Vegas, baby, Vegas...as it is often said.) Vegas is only one hour by plane from Los Angeles and maybe a five hour car ride (four if you go really fast) as long as the traffic getting out of L.A. isn’t bad. There are people who drive and people who fly. I fly. I’ve driven once and the view gets old fast. Lots of rock and dirt. In the summer it is hell on a car since the temperature can get over 120 degrees for most of the trip. To my eyes it really only makes sense to drive if you have a bunch of people with you. That way you save some money since gas for the car will cost less than 80 dollars for the entire trip. But, if going alone, a car really isn’t needed in Vegas, and a flight can be had for as little as 60 dollars, so I like to do that and just let the pilots do all the work.

6:04PM

We are now taxing to the runway. Deja Vu! I feel like I have been here before. Weeee! Take OFF!

A sunny evening in L.A. It was breezy and 70 today in L.A. and should be about 80 in Vegas tomorrow. I have been to Vegas at this time of year before. Sometimes it has been 100, so 80 should be nice for walking around.

6:17PM

I’m bored. Not a good sign 10 minutes into a trip.

8:17PM Bellagio Hotel.... in line for the Buffett

I made it through the line and have already eaten some food. Wow! Lots of food. I’m so excited by it all that it is hard to write. I started with sushi, tuna rolls, and california rolls. Plus some salmon, that was spicy. I haven’t eaten like this in years. A rare occurence. I can’t believe all the different kinds of food they have. I skipped the clams, mussels, crab, and shrimp dishes. They had these in combination with pasta dishes and also alone to eat. I did have some meat. I tried a little of the prime rib, vennison, and chicken wellington. It was the first time I have ever had vennison (I think it is some kind of large deer). It was fine, but nothing I would go out of my way to have again. I have never had chicken wellington either. That was great. It seemed to be a chicken breast cooked inside a pastry (imagine chicken inside a croissant). Also inside is sun dried tomatoes and some other subtle flavors. Before slicing, it looks like a large and long roll. One slice is delicious. Now I am enjoying some deserts. I can feel myself gaining weight as I write this. There is a constant stream of plates with little deserts on them available to eat. Key lime pie, chocolate tarts, flan, eclairs, and chocolate mousse just to name a few. (I tried most of what I just mentioned... all but the key lime pie). Heaven! It’s a good thing this is the first time I have eaten today. Plus I will do a lot of walking after this (if I can get up and out of my chair).

I still have to walk back to my hotel and get my room. I am not staying at Bellagio. It is probably the most expensive hotel in Las Vegas, and for good reason. A really amazing place. Once I get back to my hotel and get my room I will explain what I am doing in Vegas, and why, at 9:42PM I still don’t have a room. But first, one more different desert. I think a chocolate cheesecake. I love chocolate. And then a lot of walking... and walking (I feel so fat)

10:46PM Tropicana Hotel.... my room

I actually arrived at the hotel around 8PM from the airport. UNfortunately they did not have a non-smoking room ready for me. Since I didn’t mind waiting 2 hours for a room (Vegas is so weird. Probably only a hand-full of places in the world where rooms become available late into the night) they would be able to come up with something for me, plus they gave me an upgrade. I check my bags, walk to the Bellagio, have dinner, walk back on the other side of the street, get the room, and here I am, for the next 2 nights (trying to see how many commas I can get into this sentence apparently), and still full from dinner.

And I have mirrors, lots of mirrors. I must say I have never been in a room with mirrors on the ceiling before )and the wall behind the bed, and the wall on the side of the bed) so I can now cross off ‘sleeping in a room with mirrors on the ceiling’ from my list of things to do in life. I hope I can sleep. This is really weird. Opening my eyes and I’m staring back at me. Eeeck! No mirrors on the ceiling above the bathtub however. I wonder why they didn’t go all the way to the land of tacky. It is a pretty big room, so that is nice. My view is of the aiport in the distance, with dessert hills towards the horizon. The other side of the hotel tower has a view of the pool. Calling it a pool doesn’t really do it justice. It’s like calling the Atlantic Ocean just some water. The pool is set in a garden atmosphere that stretches for a city block. Lots of plants and bushes with offshoots of the pool scattered about.

I’m going to go down to the casino and look around. At some point I will write about why I am in Las Vegas and probably some more about that Buffet at the Bellagio.

2:39AM Back in the room

3 hours of craps and I only lost a little. Eventually I was the only person at the table so I did 3 more unsuccesfull roles of the dice, and then decided to call it a night. I was down more than 150 at one point, but a guy kept throwing 7 so I decided to let my money ride. I made back 155 in about 15 minutes and then pulled my money back and returned to my safer 5 dollar bet. It was a fun 15 minutes though.

Bedtime. I got maybe 4 hours sleep last night and hav e been up for almost 21 hours now. I wonder how much sleep I will get tonight. (Funny, I’d still be playing craps if people had stayed around.)

10:10AM On the Bus 4/21/04

I probably woke up at 9AM thanks to some noise in the hallway. For the best I guess since I just caught the second to last bus to where I need to go. Like many people, I like to sleep. I easily could have fallen back to sleep and stayed there for a few more hours. But being on the bus and on mt way to the convention center is good too.

5:30PM Paris Hotel.... Le Vilalge Cafe Buffet

A French themed food buffet. Very interesting choices to eat. At least half of the choices I will not be trying. I am getting better at trying new foods, but there is so much here that I have never had I will just have to pass on a lot of it. Since this is French style the pastries are wonderful. I need a map... getting very sleepy... ate too much.

3:52PM On the plane back to L.A. 4/22/04

I had planned on writing more before thgis, but it always seemed like I was on the go or sleeping. I’ll be able to sum up nicely in the next day or so.

Hong Kong Travel Journal (May 2004)

Here it is, my Hong Kong travel journal from May 2004. You can follow along with pictures at Flickr (link down on the right).

10:27PM 5/11/04 LAX Airport

Okay...as it turns out I wasn’t able to sum up in the next day or so. Or I didn’t get around to it. But I will soon. I’m starting another trip so I will have time to sum up Las Vegas and then get into this new trip.

I think this is the most I have ever traveled before. Right now I am waiting in line in the International Terminal at LAX. It is the baggage screening line, not the check in line. I have never flown internationally before (Canada doesn’t count) and this is already a new experience. So many lines, so many people. Good thing I got here extra early so no worries. Just lots of standing in line ahead of me.

10:49PM

Now I’m in the check-in line. My bag is in its own line too. So far this line hasn’t moved, but my flight isn’t until 1:20AM so I am not worried. Just hungry.

11:03PM

Done with check-in. The line got quicker when there were no more first class passengers to check in. Now on to security. Boarding isn’t until 12:40AM

11:35PM

There are no seats left at my gate so I walked down to a Singapore Airlines gate. The flight attendants just arrived for this flight that I’m not on. Their uniforms are designed in such a way as to emphasis their hips. I think I love Singapore Airlines. Why I am not on this flight. I must fly them soon. The airline I mean, not the flight attendants. (I don’t know what that means.) Have I mentioned I’ve only gotten 10 hours sleep over the last 4 nights. Soon I may no longer make sense if that hasn’t already set in by now.

1:15AM

This is a huge plane. I think I have only been on a 747 a couple of times in my life and I can’t even remember the last time. I am right up front and looking back, this plane goes a long way. I feel like a little kid right now. I’m very excited to get started. Once we get in the air I’m really going to need to sleep, but right now it’s not going to happen. I’m just too keyed up and excited.

1:23AM

The doors are closing. One step closer to take-off. I haven’t said where I’m going yet, but a clue is that the pre-flight announcement is being given in Mandarin followed by an English version, which seemed shorter.

6783 miles to the destination, where I change planes. There is a display screen with info like the distance so we can follow along. It is 1:34AM here in L.A. and 4:34PM where we are going. I will change my watch soon to get used to that time, if that is possible.

I have never left North America before. Have I mentioned I am excited?

We are taxing now. Once we take-off I guess we just keep going straight. I have always turned back towards the land. Lots of ocean to journey over.

I was just looking at the menu. I wonder what time they serve the first meal.

We are next for take-off. Asia here we come. I’m almost giggling right now I am so happy about this. The lady next to me is already asleep. She must not quite share the same excited feelings I do. Weeee!! Off we go!

The lights of Los Angeles fading away behind us. Blackness below us. Goodbye North America. Hope you don’t miss me, but I’ll be back. About 14 hours from now we will land in Asia.

14 hours. What can you do in that much time. Hmmm.... Maybe watch 7 movies... fly from L.A. to Boston and back to L.A. with time to spare.... Drive from Baltimore to Miami (granted, driving really fast, but it can be done).

I’ll write down more when I think of it. Just on sensory overload at the moment, especially considering how tired I am. I don’t think I will have a problem sleeping when the time comes.

2AM Los Angeles time

I guess we are now on Asia time. Supper will be served soon. I need to start thinking like it is 5PM now. Good thing I forgot to take the melatonin I brought with me or I would have slept through supper. I’ll take some after and then try to sleep.

Looking at the menu, I get a choice of stir fried pork with mountain yam (I like the idea of the yam more than the pork) or penne pasta and salmon with creamed sauce. Having fish on a plane worries me a bit, but I think I’ll choose that over pork. I also brought with me 3 peanut butter sandwiches, almonds, and fig newtons so I am good for food.

Thursday 5/13/04 5:15PM Hong Kong (Big Giveaway!)

Too tired to write. Must eat. Must sleep.

Where am I! Wherever it is I must be happy. :)

Friday 5/14/04 8:20AM

Out of the room this early. That is pretty good for me. Of course that it helps that I went to bed at 7PM and woke up first at 3:30AM, rolled over, and then woke up for good at 6AM. At 6AM, lying in bed, I had no idea where I was for a moment there. At first I thought I was in my bed at home. Finally the gears in my head locked into place and I realized I was in a bed in Hong Kong.

I was writing this waiting for the Star Ferry to take me over to Hong Kong Island, the original outpost of Hong Kong. I am staying on the Kowloon side. The ferries leave very often so I didn’t have to wait long. Plus it is only a few minutes ride, everything is so close here. Every time I go outside wearing my glasses they fog up. There is such a difference between the air conditioning inside and the humidity/heat outside that the glasses just fog up instantly. It doesn’t last long, but it is funny.

Locals are going to find me annoying. I keep stopping right in the middle of the sidewalk to look around. I do this a lot.

9:54AM Hong Kong Island..... very wet

We have rain. Makes for a great time to have breakfast. I have no idea where I am. But the UCC Coffee Cafe is in perfect position for me to escape the very heavy rain. Cinnamon french toast awaits.

I have a small umbrella with me, but once the heavy rain set in I started to get pretty wet. Once this stops I expect the heat of the day to dry me off nicely.

When I got off the ferry I started walking towards the location of the Hong Kong Tourist Board office, but I never found it. There is another office on Kowloon that I should be able to find easier.

The french toast is here. Very tasty. I learned how to say please/thank you (same word) from a good friend of mine who is from Hong Kong. It sounds like “mmmmGoy”. I must be saying it correctly so far since none of the waitresses have slapped my face so far.

After not finding the tourist office I started to wander south (I think), which is up. There is an outdoor covered walkway that also has an escalator. It is one way with wide steps next to it. In the morning it goes in the direction of people going to work, north, which is towards the city center. At some point later in the morning the direction of the escalator changes. At that point it is ready for people going up hill and going home from work later in the day. It is in sections so there is still some walking to be done, but most of the up/down part of the walk has an escalator. It must be a big help in the afternoon for people going home from work since that is the up direction. I was going in the up direction, but walking, with most people going in the opposite direction. It started to get steeper so I got off the walkway and went down to the street since I recognized the name, Hollywood Road. A lot of the shops still were not open so I kept walking. I came upon an outdoor market area. It stretched for a few narrow blocks. Fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat all being picked over by local (mostly) women. Meat hanging in some store fronts, ready to be cut. Fish in tanks and some flopping about on trays. Then the rain came, quickly got heavy, and I was able to find my way to this cafe. Time to move on. Maybe to a local temple and the former British Government House.

11AM ... not quite as wet

I am about to go into the Man Mo Temple. I can already smell the incense from outside. I haven’t smelled incense this strong since being around my cousin, who used to use incense to try to cover up the fact that he smoked pot like a fish drinks water. I don’t think the temple uses the incense for the same reason.

11:51 AM

Again, I don’t know where I am. Well, that is not exactly true. I have a map so I kinda know where I am, but I’m not sure how to get where I am going, plus I’m not really sure where I want to go. That might help. Deciding on that. I think when going someplace new it is a good idea to walk and get yourself lost and see what you find along the way. It may be very interesting. But have a good map with you. Maybe I should have mentioned that first. A good map in hand. Don’t look at it and get yourself lost. See what you find. And then look at the map again. Doing it without a map might be crazy. And now back to walking towards someplace, of which I have no idea.

12:01 PM Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

Excellent! I made it to the Gardens, and I didn’t even know that I wanted to be here. But it’s on my map. This should be nice.

It sounds like I am walking near a school. All schools must sound the same, no matter the country. Kids and kids. It seems like I am on a path to the Gardens. With residential buildings to my left. One must be a school.

2:10 PM The Peak

Eating a muffin, drinking some lemon tea, and enjoying the incredible view from high above Hong Kong.

I’ve been up here for awhile, walking around and taking in the view from different vantage points. Time to rest and figure where to go next.

Saturday 5/15/04 3:52 PM The Peninsula Hotel Lobby

I am here for afternoon tea. Apparently this is “the place” for afternoon tea. I’ve been waiting in line for 10 minutes and looking at the line and little I have moved, I expect to be waiting for quite some time. But this is okay. I have nothing better to do and I am looking forward to the tea and finger sandwiches.

I should have more time to write once I am seated, and a lot more time to write tomorrow since I am going to a race track, just to see what that is like. Since I don’t gamble on horse racing I will have a lot of time to write to pass the time away. The track is north of here and it will be good to see a different part of the countryside.

4:30 PM Seated for tea!

I think I’m going to have the classic earl grey tea. It also comes with many finger sandwiches. Earl grey is a regular black tea with just a hint of orange. A very nice and subtle flavor.

Everything is very good. I am split between wanting to write about what I am doing and actually doing what I am doing. I think I will eat.

There is a quartet or quintet playing classical music. I am almost done. So much for writing. This has been an enjoyable experience. Too bad there isn’t a view of the water. With that this experience would be perfect.

I think I just figured out what the extra hot water is for. When the tea was brought out it was in it’s own pot, the tea leaves already in it, ready to be served. In another pot was milk, which I do not put in my tea, but many people do. In a third pot is hot water. I had no idea. I was slowly drinking my last cup of tea, trying to make it last as long as possible, thinking that was the last cup and I would have to leave soon. Out of curiosity I looked into the now empty tea pot, and upon seeing the tea leaves at the bottom of the pot, I realized that the extra pot of hot water was to make another pot of tea. Brilliant! I filled up the pot of tea leaves with water and now I can stay even longer. And then they even gave me another pot of hot water. Since there is almost no one waiting to be seated I I have no guilt about staying as long as I want (well..... almost no guilt).

5:55 PM

All done.

6:10 PM Kowloon harbor front facing Hong Kong Island

great weather, great temperature and a nice little breeze. I’m down on a walkway right on the water facing Hong Kong Island. The sun hasn’t set yet, but it is coming soon. It’s crowded here, but not in a bad way. It’s a happy crowd. And there is still room to get around. This seems to be a happy place. Lots of people holding hands and many families.

Sunday 5/16 11:23 AM

I am on my way to the big horse racing track. It is a little outside of town so I am hopeful that I will get to see some of the countryside.

We are in traffic now. Makes me feel like we are in Los Angeles, yuck! The tour guide is going over the betting rules, I think in Mandarin, for the benefit of some of the guests who are from Beijing. The guide speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, English and who knows how many other languages.

It turns out the traffic is because of an accident.

3:45 PM

The day is passing by very quickly. So much for the idea of having time to write. We were given $30 HK vouchers to bet with. I won a few times so i have been betting with their money. This is all part of the package tour (except for the winning part... that is just like). We get to stay up in the club, which has A/C (thank goodness). We have a very nice view from up here, able to see the entire area.

9:20 PM The Peak (again)

Finally sitting down for dinner. I don’t think I have had a sit down dinner yet. I went to bed just after 7PM the first night after being a zombie boy for that first day. Wait... maybe I did have dinner that first day. Yes, I remember now. A place called Ruby Tuesday (I wonder what the Beatles think of that title, or maybe it is the Rolling Stones. Come to think of it I do think it is a Stones song.) So I did have what turns out to be an utterly forgetable dinner that first night. A good burger, with a waiter who was still training (by a very cute supervisor who was very patient), so the service was very slow.

Note to self, do not order a margarita again. Hard to say exactly what is wrong with it, but something is very wrong. I’ll still drink it because I think an alcoholic drink is more expensive that the dinner here, but yuck! But... as with most alcoholic drinks, it is tasting better the more I drink it. Funny how that works.

A very nice dinner. Fried calamari (not too deep fried, which is good, usually in the U.S. it is too deep fried), cream of mushroom soup (very tasty), and a steak (nothing fancy, but nice). The dessert hasn’t come yet. This was a set meal. I haven’t had the guts yet to have a real chinese meal. I know what it will be like since I have been exposed to real chinese food by friends in L.A., but it is so different from what I am used to eating that I just haven’t gotten the nerve yet to have a meal like that here yet. Cantonese food often involves fish (since it is so close to the ocean I guess) and the flavors and smells are so completely different from what we grow up eating in the U.S. There are stores upon stores selling dried fish parts (and other types of sea life) as well as stores selling dried meat parts (I won’t even get into the different meat parts available.) All of these foods are a big part of Cantonese food, the tastes and the textures, and these are all incredibly different from what we eat in the U.S. At some point I will go to a traditional Cantonese restaurant here in HK, but for now there are enough other types of restaurants to satisfy my appetite. So many in fact that I am finding it hard to choose. Pretty nice to have such a problem. I do feel very lucky at times to have such a problem. Very Lucky!

Monday 5/17/04 10:45 AM

I am switching hotels. I stayed in a very nice hotel next to a very large shopping complex (the largest in Asia I’m told) right next to the water. For the next 3 nights (4 days) I will be staying in a more budget style hotel. I am sitting in the lobby and it seems like a nice hotel. I think the rooms are much smaller. I will be taking tours these next few days so the room doesn’t concern me too much. The location of this hotel is still good. It is very easy to walk around here in HK that the hotel location isn’t too important. It was really nice being where I was the first few days. It took me a while to really get used to the time change and being next to everything helped a lot. Now that I have walked around a lot and have a good idea where everything is located, it doesn’t really matter where I stay.

Why Am I Here?

In the journalism business this would be called Burying The Lead and it is usually not a good thing. I think I skipped this part since it is hard to explain why I am here. At some point I will be able to put it into words, but not just yet it seems.

I am very happy to be here (have I mentioned that yet). Hong Kong is the best place I have ever been to, including where I am living now. Every place has it’s faults, and I’m sure this place does as well, but the happiness of the people is really great. Generally, being a tourist, you don’t end up in downtrodden places and don’t hear about problems, but even if I was here for a long time I think the happiness of the people and the underlying reasons for that happiness would outweigh any inevitable problems that were to come up.

11:15 AM

Maybe I could sum up my little Las Vegas trip back in April. I never really did that. Just too busy doing things and then too tired to write about it afterwards. Maybe flying out right after work didn’t help matters. I was on the go from that point on. Plus the flight is so short to Las Vegas from L.A. you just sit there excited instead of relaxing, reading, or writing. In short I think Vegas went like this:

WORK->AIRPORT->PLANE->AIRPORT->HOTEL->WALK TO BELLAGIO HOTEL->WAIT IN LINE FOR BUFFET->EAT TO MUCH AT WONDERFUL BUFFET->WALK THROUGH CASINOS BACK TO HOTEL->PLAY CRAPS AT CASINO AT MY HOTEL->PLAY FOR 3 HOURS-LOSE A LITTLE->BED->GET UP-CATCH SHUTTLE TO CONVENTION CENTER->WALK AROUND NAB CONVENTION FOR 5 HOURS->BACK TO HOTEL->WALK TO PARIS HOTEL->NO WAIT FOR BUFFET AND GET LOWER ‘EARLY BIRD’ RATE->EAT TOO MUCH->WALK BACK TO MY HOTEL GOING THOUGH OTHER CASINOS ALONG THE WAY->GO SIT IN JACUZZIS IN LARGE POOL COMPLEX AT MY HOTEL->FEET AND BODY START TO FEEL BETTER->GO PLAY CRAPS IN CASINO FOR 3 1/2 HOURS->WIN MONEY AND SET IT ASIDE SO WHEN DONE STILL UP FOR THE 2 DAYS->GO TO BED->SLEEP IN->GET UP AND CHECK OUT->CHECK BAGS SINCE FLIGHT ISN’T UNTIL LATER->RECEIVE $19 OFF ROOM FOR PLAYING CRAPS FOR SO MANY HOURS->DO A LITTLE SHOPPING AND WALKING AROUND->AIRPORT->PLANE->AIRPORT->DRIVE HOME

I noticed I didn’t write the word shower in the above summary. I can assure you I showered at least once a day, every morning, and probably twice a day. I try to be a very clean person. Some people are night shower people, but I am a morning shower person. It helps wake me up plus I tend to get really bad “bed head” so the shower gets what little hair I have back in order.

One gambling tip. I don’t gamble much, but I have learned that in order to have fun and to be happy when you are done is to not count your money. Let me explain. Beforehand decide how much you want to gamble with, also know how much you can lose, because the casino has the advantage so you will most likely lose. Once you start gambling do not count your money. The whole idea is to enjoy the gambling experience, which is putting your money on the line, a pretty unique feeling. If you count your money during this process you will be reminded that you are losing money, which will take away from the fun of the gambling experience. If you count your money and you are lucky enough to actually be winning then you should just stop right then. From that point forward all you will be thinking about is the fact that you were up at one point and you lost it (because you most likely will lose it). So if you are going to gamble set a time limit and a money limit. Once you reach one of those limits just walk away. Hopefully you enjoyed the experience and the feeling, the “rush” that is gambling. If you were lucky enough to reach your time limit before your money limit, then maybe just maybe you won some money and at the very least you didn’t lose as much as you had planned.

Probably best to not even gamble. I only do it once or twice a year plus I happen to find craps to be a fun game.

And that was Las Vegas. I’ve always gone for a convention. At some point I should go just to hang out and relax. Many of the hotels have expansive pool complexes and the hotels are a pretty good value during the week when I have my days off from work. I keep saying to myself to do it, but I haven’t yet. Someday.... Someday.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

George Carlin RIP

George Carlin passed away today at the age of 71. I don't know how to feel. He wasn't really young like Tim Russert but he really wasn't that old either. When older people pass away I tend to not get very sad and think of what a good life they lived. I guess 71 isn't old nor young. I hope he lived a good life.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

End of Analog Ads

For some bizarre reason there are "If you watch TV using an antenna" ads (PSA's) airing on cable channels like Food Network. They are warning people that analog TV is ending and all of them watching TV via an antenna need to get a converter box to see digital over-the-air channels. Wrong audience people! They can't see Food Network or any other cable channel with their current antenna. Are they hoping to catch these antenna people watching cable TV at a friend's house? Just bizarre.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Get Smart Red Carpet

Getting close to the Get Smart Premiere.

Get Smart Premiere

Still early. More than 5 hours until things start to happen.

Get Smart Premiere

Doing the Get Smart Premiere today for E! It should be fun, but I don't get to see the movie tonight.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Driver Today

The first round of the longest U.S. Open in history has started and Phil Mickelson does not have a driver in his bag. The pros play a different game than the rest of us. No driver ... amazing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Apple Store Is Back; 3G iPhone

The Apple Store is now back. What other company would voluntarily close their online store for almost 3 hours? 3G iPhone has been announced and it has GPS (use sparingly or kill your battery). Only $199 for the 8Gig version. AAPL has come off it's low of the day and is at 183.61, volume 43,737,976 with 1 hour still to go in the trading day. I have no idea how the market will react to today's announcements. The new iPhone will be available on July 11th and I will guess that the stock will be above 200 on that day.

Someone Doesn't Like Apple Stock At This Moment

Apple is at 176.206, volume 30,102,968, down 5.08%. Someone out there hates what Steve Jobs has been talking about at the Steve-Note at the WWDC in San Francisco. This could turn around in an instant if a big announcement is made. If not, it could be a bad week for AAPL.

WWDC Steve-Note 1 hour and counting

The Steve-Note up in San Francisco is at one hour and counting. Lots of iPhone app demos but no big announcements yet. The Apple Store is still down (2 hours and counting). AAPL is at 180.90, volume 26,653,036, down 2.55% at 11AM here in LALA land.

Apple Stock 40 minutes into WWDC

Apple stock is at 181.12, down more than 2%. Volume at more than 24 million shares traded. A lot of shares sold to drop the price like that. Still waiting for a big announcement.

Apple Stock 5 minutes before WWDC

5 minutes before the WWDC Steve-Note and Apple stock is at 183.74, down about 1% compared to Friday's close, but it was down close to 2% earlier this morning. Will we see a big pop during and after the Steve-Note? Also, what companies will get a boost from today's announcements? A GPS company perhaps (I own Garmin), an iPhone app company?

WWDC Best Coverage at TWITLIVE.tv

Leo Laporte at twitlve.tv has the best coverage of Apple's WWDC Steve-Note. Leo and friends are jumping around paying attention to everyone trying to blog, audio-cast, or video-cast the WWDC. Leo has live video, audio, and a chat.

Apple Store Is Down

The Apple Store is already down, one hour to go until the Steve-Note. If the Steve-Note lasts more than an hour then the store may be down for more than 2 hours. Seems like a long time to have an online store down. There must be a lot of things going on under the hood to have it down for so long. Excitement builds! A lot more may be announced than expected. I'm hoping for something that no one has predicted yet.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Headlines Miss The Point

Yahoo's headline, "Man jumps from plane with no parachute, dies". Why include the comma and "dies"? Wouldn't it be a much more interesting headline by just saying, "Man jumps from plane with no parachute." We don't need to know that a death ensued (we assume this). But we would want to get into the story to find out what the heck happened. No one is saying yet why he jumped from the plane. Maybe he was just caught up in the moment and had the most infamous "whoops" moment in history.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Boston Pictures

I just posted pictures of Boston taken during a trip in early March 2004. The pictures go along with a travel log that a wrote.

Lexington and Concord Pictures

I just posted pictures to flickr from a trip to Lexington and Concord in Feb. 2004. A quick trip and the weather was perfect.

Monday, June 2, 2008

High Oil Prices Are Good For The Environment

Environmentalists must love ever higher oil prices. Every dollar higher makes solar and wind look that much better to government and industry. Go ahead oil traders and oil producing countries, enjoy your profits now (thank China and India for the explosion in demand for oil, causing much of this price increase). As soon as the next president is in office, expect an exponential increase in solar and wind tax breaks, rebates, and research. Of course, the airlines are still going to be screwed until demand for oil levels off and prices start to go back down. But be hopeful, the environment will get better because of all this.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Brazil Tribe

Scientists have found an uncontacted tribe in Brazil. And to prove it they flew over the tribe's village to take pictures, probably creating a new flying machine deity for said tribe. Doesn't flying over them in a plane/helicopter count in some way as contacting the tribe? Oh, and the picture makes it look like tribe members are umpalupas about to shoot arrows at the new flying machine deity. Story at yahoo.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080530/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/brazil_indians

pictures

Dunkin Donuts

If it is learned that muslim extremists eat donuts, does that mean that Dunkin Donuts will voluntarily go out of business?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Real Estate Crazyness

A brief comment on the state of real estate prices in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. NUTS! CRAZY! Almost no one is pricing their house to sell. Banks own a bunch of properties so they are a big part of the problem. If a house has been on the market for 9 months and hasn't sold (and there are 5 other houses in the same neighborhood for the same price) LOWER THE PRICE! Find where the market is. Banks need to start getting aggressive by lowering prices every month or the housing market is going to be stagnant for a very long time. It is going to be a lot of pain for homeowners, but it is reality. As soon as that reality is faced then some flow can return to the market. Until then it is stinksville. One example of the crazy lack-of-reality pricing is $800,000 for a nice house on a 7000 sqf lot in a neighborhood with many houses for sale at $500,000 (and they have been sitting for 9 months) while 5 miles away a house for $699,000 on a 17,000 sqf lot in a nice neighborhood is also for sale. Price to sell people. The dreaming is over.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

7:03PM

The first pictures are available online. Yup, that's Mars alright.

http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/images.php?gID=0&cID=7

6PM

The Science Channel show (done by Canadians, probably because they care about Science!) is done. One of the last comments was that it is really cold at JPL in Pasadena. Be better prepared next time guys with a final line. That's it for now. Look for the first picture from Phoenix online in less than an hour. Go Phoenix!

5:53PM

The worst model of a space ship ever! is being used on set to describe things. It looks like a stainless steel toaster oven (without the door) turned on it's side. At least we know none of the mission budget was used on that thing.

5:47PM

Mars Phoenix is on Twitter (It is written in the first person though. "In 90 days, when I freeze, that will be the end of the mission.") Spooky Weird!! I wish I had known this hours ago. Thanks to Andy Ihnatko for pointing it out. I should have known he would be blogging about this. He is an uber science geek.

http://twitter.com/marsphoenix

http://twitter.com/Ihnatko

http://ihnatko.com/

The show is talking about the weather team (the Canadians) and the research they did to plan for the cold of the Mars polar region.

5:40PM

Steve Squyres is a guest on set in Pasadena. He is the head of the Spirit and Opportunity landers. An excellent person to interview. Finally. Any science show with Squyres a part of it is a good show. And he just told me something I didn't know. Phoenix isn't a rover, just a lander. Drilling into the ice is it's only purpose and the ice better be under it or the data wanted from the mission won't be there.

5:32PM

A package on the Phoenix lander on-board instruments. The best ever apparently.

5:21PM

Talking about the science to be had up in the polar region of Mars where Phoenix has just landed. And now another package. This time focusing on attempting to find signs of life on Mars, specifically digging into ice that Phoenix hopes to find near the landing sight.

5:09PM

A little bit of a member of the Canadian science team, someone who passed away from cancer during the preparation of the mission, is on Phoenix. The first person to reach Mars!

5:06PM

A package on what happens now, focusing on getting the solar panels opened and functioning. The mission is over if the solar panels don't open correctly and work. Next are the deployments of cameras to see where exactly they are. This mission isn't expected to last more than 90 days. Spirit and Opportunity are still going because they are closer to the equator and with a lot of good luck and excellent engineering. Phoenix is so far north on Mars that it is expected to be frozen in 90 days.

5PM

Hour number 2, what do we talk about now? Lots of replays of a bunch of guys in blue clapping at JPL.

4:58PM

The first picture from Mars isn't going to happen for another 90 minutes. The show on the Science Channel continues for another hour, but they will be done before the first picture. If they had planned this better the show would take a break for an hour, come back at 6PM for another hour so they can get the first pictures from Phoenix, and then for playback they can edit the 2 hours together, instead of mostly repetitive talk for the next hour.

4:55PM

A very happy room of engineers. A lot of attempted high fives. Well done. Good signal from Phoenix on Mars continues.

4:54PM

Altitude is detected. Less than 2000 meters. Parachute is no longer attached, which is a good thing. Touchdown!!

4:51PM

A lot of applause at the JPL mission control. Good data coming in from the Phoenix Lander.

4:50PM

Listening in to JPL now. Parachute is deployed.

4:48PM

SHUT UP AREADY! I bet some producer is in the hosts ears telling them to keep talking and obviously the producers don't know their audience. We want to hear JPL mission control. The hosts think the parachute isn't deployed yet. That time is soon though.

4:45PM

Dr. James Garvin is talking with shots of the JPL control room. At some point they need to just listen in. Finally, just letting the JPL person talk. The hosts feel the need to talk and break in. Everyone watching right now is a science geek. We just want to listen to JPL right now.

4:43PM

This is also live on Discovery Channel Canada. That explains the fact that I have never seen these hosts before, and they tend to say things like a Canadian.

Close to finding out if the lander made it or not.

4:34PM

Intro to the 7 minutes of terror package. "EDL" is the term and is what everyone worries about. Will Phoenix land correctly.

4:31PM

Live shot of the JPL control room. Apparently everyone there called each other and said, "Hey, let's wear blue today.".... I wish there was more from the actual control room. The Nova documentaries on the Spirit and Opportunity landers had a lot in the actual science control room and it was very compelling. This show needs more from the actual scientists who are probably freaking out right now knowing that all of their hard work is either going to pay off or is a failure.

4:22PM

The Tucson, Arizona remote is way out of sync. They came out of break with the reporter in Tucson talking and his lips were moving before I his voice kicked in. Some good information about the lander. Good information from Arizona so far, but bad audio sync.

The host is now talking about the soft landing that Phoenix will be attempting and that it hasn't been done since the 70's. He segued that into a package on the "Mars curse". Meaning more than half of the probes to Mars have failed, with Russia having the most failures.

4:20PM

Commercial break. 20 minutes until something happens. Something happens at 4:37PM. I'm not sure if it is when the lander is suppose to have touchdown on Mars or if that is when the landing starts with touchdown 7 minutes later.

4:17PM

Better information now. Some info on the cameras and equipment on board Phoenix and then "what is Phoenix doing right now before it enters the martian atmosphere?"

4:15PM

So far a bunch of filler questions, information that can be easily found on wikipedia. Everyone on camera sounds like they are in the cone of silence from the old Get Smart show. Not good audio. If they are doing weak questions now, what are they going to do after 5PM?

4:13PM

It takes 15 minutes from a signal from the Phoenix lander on Mars to reach JPL on Earth.

4:12PM

Back from commercial. No science related ads. No one selling telescopes and other science goodies.

4:08PM

Talking with James Garvin (head of the project) about course corrections.

4:05PM

A nice start to the show. Check-ins with each remote to say hi and give each on air person a chance to speak. Also the question was asked "Why is this so important?" Good to get that information right up front. Now a package on how the Phoenix mission got to this point.

The audio might be more than just a problem with the host mic. Some of the remotes seemed out of sync.

4PM

Showtime on the Science Channel. Audio sounds bad on the host's mic. It sounds out of phase. Live shot from the JPL control room.

3PM ....90 minutes to the landing

The show on the Science channel hasn't started yet. I haven't looked to see if anyone on site is doing a blog. I'll just follow along 'oldschool', by watching TV.

Phoenix Lander less than 3 hours away

The Mars Phoenix lander is less than 3 hours from attempting a landing in the polar regions of Mars. Check it out live on the Science Channel starting at 4pm Pacific Time.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Blu-Ray the Next Laserdisc, Not the Next Big Thing

Will Blu-Ray be "laserdisc" while DVD is "vhs"? Sony seems to think (or hope) that Blu-Ray is going to capture 50% of the DVD market by the end of 2008 (article at alleyinsider.com). Machines are more expensive, movies are more expensive, and less movies are available on Blu-Ray compared to DVD. Why would the majority of disc buyers shift to Blu-Ray when they think DVD is good enough? I don't think it will happen. I think Blu-Ray will find a nice niche with people who want the very best quality, but DVD is going to be good enough for many people. All Blu-Ray is going to be for the next few years is what laserdisc was for most of the 80's and early 90's, a format for movie lovers and collectors.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Stuck golf ball

A line drive 3 iron from the rough that stuck right in the palm tree. Impossible to try and do but Tripp did it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Beware April Fools

April Fools Day is Tuesday. Tuesday is the day of the week (any week, none in particular) that Apple chooses to release new or updated products. Beware of the random web site that chooses to 'fool' (fake) a great new Apple announcement this Tuesday. You have been warned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Adobe Photoshop Express

The guys at This Week In Photography mentioned that something from Adobe was on the way, and here it is, Adobe Photoshop Express. It is currently in beta, and it allows a user to edit and share photos online. I read about it at macworld, and macworld's article mentions that it works with Flikr, but to me it sounds like a competitor to Flikr. According to macworld, you can save up to 2GB of pictures free, and at some point after the beta a user can purchase more than 2GB of storage. Adobe Photoshop Express is also designed to be used with social networking places like Facebook. Have Fun!