Apr 132010

On the morning of Easter Sunday, my sweet wife got rid of me. She dragged me, gnashing and wailing, to the airport, where she pushed me out the door, flipped me the bird, and sped away cackling. Amidst my tears and desperation, I realized I had only one hope of regaining entry into our home: Fly to Japan, spend a week there meditating on my husbandly shortcomings and punishing myself with meetings, and return with a wacky, undecipherable game based on teeth. And so I did.

I’m tempted to just end my post there, but what’s the point? All of you (all two of you) know I’m a liar, and cannot be trusted, and have already assumed that only the minutest fraction of the preceding paragraph is even remotely rooted in fact. So what really happened?

Yes, KrisDi took me to the airport on Easter Sunday morning and I missed a delicious (I’m sure) Easter dinner. Instead of attending said dinner, I flew to Japan for work. My kind and generous father-in-law gave me an upgrade, so I got to fly business class. I saw some interesting sites on the way, and actually had a pretty decent hotel room (I guess my co-workers who spend several weeks or months here each year know what they’re talking about). I also got to wear a ridiculous little hotel robe. Getting to the hotel from the airport only takes two hours (apparently this is a very recent 33% improvement) and only requires one train change. I didn’t even have to think, because I got to follow my co-worker the whole way. He only goes twice a year, so he’s practically a newbie compared to some of the other folks I work with.

Not much exciting happened the next two days, aside from finding some wacky Japanese stuff, a giant jug of cheap whisky, and taking a picture of the hotel from the outside. I did find some Japanese craft beer, Sankt Gallen. Everything the store had was stout; some of it was quite good. At work, my job was basically to sit quietly in the meetings, take notes as necessary, and remember to talk to my boss about some things when I got back to the US.

The following day, Thursday, was a beautiful sunny day. I took a few pictures, and discovered that you can see Mt. Fuji from the upper floors of Hotel Mets Mizonokuchi. I had a very busy day at work — I was “trained” on about ten different software applications. What that means is that I am now aware that these applications exist, and understand the basic reasons that they exist.

Friday was the least work-intensive day of all. I had a short tour of the parent company’s compound. I went early so I could walk the perimeter of the facilities, which was nice, especially since it was just toward the tail end of cherry blossom season. Then it was lunch time, and then an unsupervised and unaccompanied trip on the train to another station (Shibuya), where I knew, based on this map, that I ought to be able to find at least one of several decent beer spots. I found Belgo, which specializes in Belgian beer. They gave me directions to the Griffon, which had what I was looking for: more Japanese craft beer. I got there before they opened, so I wandered around a Tokyu store looking for their beer section, and I only have this to say: the most confusing store in the world. I did finally find it, but it was very difficult, even the second time.

The Japanese folks are nice. Every time I was in a station or on a train, peering perplexedly at the maps trying to figure out the names of the stations I wanted to get to, go through, or change trains at, someone (non-railroad-employee) would notice me and ask if I needed help. Very kind! This trend did not hold very well on my way back to the airport, however. Although I should only blame myself for not speaking Japanese. Anyway, it took me 45 minutes to get tickets back to the airport, and then I think I got excessive tickets (instead of point A to point B, and then point B to point C, I think they gave me tickets from point A to point C and point B to point C, which is a bit more expensive than necessary).

On the way back home, I was further assaulted by the railroad company. The Narita Express finally destroyed my trusty pen, which has traveled with me to many places (including several other trips to Japan), leaving a giant blue mark where its lifeblood stained my pants.

I was quite happy to see KrisDi, and she seemed happy to see me. And I did buy her “Ha ha ha! Teeth!

Apr 092010

It’s 3:00 AM on Saturday for me. It’s 11:00 AM on Friday for my dear wife. I have a flight home that takes off in 13.5 hours. I’ll talk about that more once I’m at home and relatively rested.

So, I’m posting the pictures of the yard work, which is mostly done. We still have some finishing/prettifying work to do around the little garden. I’m on my laptop, which is quite a bit more sluggish than my desktop, so I’m not going through as much effort to cull repetitive or useless pictures, but you should be able to see that we did a lot of stuff in the yard. Here are the pictures. From the time I started working on it, the scope crept about 1,000%. It’s nice, though. I really hope that sod takes root and thrives, and I also really hope that the dirt we put in doesn’t settle too much. Hopefully our “stomp on the ground a lot” method of packing the new dirt is effective. All in all, I think we spent maybe $1,000, double the amount of grass we have in the yard, and gained a raised garden. And a wheelbarrow.

Additionally, we have the visual treat of KrisDi’s Month ‘O Cookin’. Some repeats from previous months, but mostly new stuff. I’m hungry, even though I ate dinner twice tonight.

Ready for bed, but to see if my cunning plan will work, I must stay awake!