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).


Friday, November 21, 2008

Singapore to Narita To LAX Flight

11/8 9:33AM On The Plane


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).


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.


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


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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.


heading inland to eventually turn around and land heading west.


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!!


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)


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 ( 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)


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.)


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.


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

6:57PM Pushback


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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).


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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

1PM (5AM Tokyo)

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


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.


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


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.


End of movie #1


Heavy Chop!

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

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


It is starting now.

All low clouds and still sunny.

Occasional turbulance.


The heavy chop has returned. Still very sunny.


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.


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.

The Onion Says It Perfectly

An Onion viewpoint regarding the election results.