Sunday, April 29, 2007

Slave to money

The next Uncomfortable Questions is finally done! Jeeze, I'm
exhausted. Those things are a LOT of work. Now I'm too tired
to go back to my real job tomorrow....

Anyways, get the new show at www.uncomfortable-questions.com
This is The Scot Interview, and it is a doozy. It is over an
hour long, and he was the most amazing combination of a devout
Christian, but a "thinking one", and relationship and dating
advisor. What fun!

I think I'm only going to do one show a month. I just have too
much going on in my life to do more than that. It's summer, I
want to do more biking, I pulled out my Appalachian dulcimer,
and want to start playing again, and I signed up for the premium
level of study at www.japanesepod101.com. It has so much material
there, it took over an hour just do the 1st lesson. And they
have hundreds of them.

I really wish I could just pursue my hobbies for the rest of
my life. But I like money too much....

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I woke up, and it was June

I went out last night with the old gang from the old job. We are
still seeing each other almost 2 years later. Most of us have
moved on to new jobs. I wonder if we'll beat the odds. One of
us read somewhere that old work relationships last on the average
for 2 years. We still have fun together, and care about what
happens in everyone's lives. Hopefully it will persist!

Today the 76 degree weather made it feel like full summer.
In April yet. So it was time to rearrange the living room into
summer configuration and move the breakfast nook out onto the
porch where we enjoy having coffee every morning. That makes it
officially summer in my world. We've never done this so early,
but the forecast says 70's all the next week.

We went looking for a new porch chair to replace the one that
broke last year, and man are they expensive. I came home and
ordered one I liked online, as long as I was going to spend
that much. I got a "Chicago Puff Rocker". I love those things,
I've had one for years, and have never found another chair that
comfortable. That is the real meaning of life, that never gets
mentioned on my interview show.... comfort!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nada

Nothing of insterest to report, really.
Lots of work, lots of editing, a little exercise, and
that sucks up all my available time.

All-work-and-no-play-makes-Sue-a-dull-girl.

I'm going to see the old work gang tomorrow night, and
that will be the highlight of my week. :(

I wont get the show edited and up until Saturday - only
about 3 weeks late. I feel bad about it, but just can't
get to it any faster. This is turning into a tough edit.
I work on it for an hour, and only get 5 minutes completed.

I wouldn't mind so much, if I didn't have a day job....
I promise to try to be more exciting this weekend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

No time for no time...

Augh, my next show isn't edited yet! I'm only about half done.
I need a lot more time in my life. I probably won't get more.

Asthma has been awful the last week. What is going on? I checked
pollen readings, and they are supposedly low, even thought
everything is bursting into leaf! So I don't know what is
triggering it. It's just as bad at work as it is at home. So
I've gone up to full dose on the medicine that makes me so
hoarse I can barely talk.

My voice is noticeably rough on the interview I did this weekend.
Ah - the interview! Have to finish it!
So instead of nattering, I'd better go edit.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pictures of the Universe

Two days ago the featured Photo of the Day on Webshots was a
cool picture from the Universe. I went to it, and it was an
album of 100 pictures of the universe. These were the big
amazing pictures of hundreds of galaxies, huge star nurseries,
all those unimaginably cool pictures.

I looked at every one of the 100 pictures, for quite some time.
Those pictures blow me away. First trying to understand just
how big a galaxy is, and ending with looking at a deep space
shot from 7 billion light years or so away, and still seeing
a hundred galaxies in one picture.

It isn't that it just makes me feel small, as everyone says.
It is that I feel so petty and mundane. There is all that out
there, and I am thinking that my toe hurts, or that I have
to remember to pick up shampoo at the drugstore. The two scales
of existence just don't go together.

We obsess over stuff we can't prove like God or who's
religion or country is better, and a myriad of stupid stuff.
Why are we even fighting over tiny scraps of land and resources,
when, Holy Shit, there is the most amazing entire Universe out
there!

Can't get along? O.k. You take that planet, and I'll take this
other one. Heck, you take that galaxy, and I'll take that one
over there. I feel like we are really missing the point, somehow.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Shows and Breathing

I edited about a third of the new show today. I recorded over
an hour and a half of the interview, so cutting half of the
material is tough. I think it will be one of the dreaded 2
pass edits. Cut it down, and then do it again to get it down
to about 45 minutes.

The interviewee was earnestly Christian, but had some interesting
takes on it, and I'm trying to preserve as much of that as i can,
but the show really shines when he talks about relationships,
since he runs a communication service to help guys be the best
they can be, so they can successfully date and find partners.
So of course I want to keep more of that. :)

When I had the idea for the show, I thought people might turn
out to be pretty interesting, but I think I am surprised by how
much they have to say, and how willing they are to share it with
me. So much fun, and so satisfying. Even the editing process,
even if I grumble about it.

Otherwise, I'm amazed at the warm weather - upper 70's last two
days. Very unusual for April! Also trying to rebuild my health.
I've had some bad nights and listless days lately, some of it
is the asthma acting up, I've gone back on the medicine which
makes me really hoarse (hard to do the interviews!). But that is
better than the sleepless nights where I labor over breathing,
which makes my heart race, and makes me feel like crap.
I'm also trying to hit the nutrition and exercise again. I don't
really know if it helps, but it makes my doctor happy.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lottery of Death

Yay! I have an interview for the show tomorrow. I guess I'll be
editing it this weekend and putting it up. My show is waaaaay
overdue. Should be a fun one - it's with a guy who does a dating
and relationship podcast. Bound to be fascinating!

On the way to work today, I saw a lot of dead things on the
road, in a smear of blood. One was a beautiful, huge raccoon.
It made me start thinking about life. I felt sad that the
animals grew so big and strong only to have it taken from them
in an instant. Makes me wonder why.

What is life worth? Why is it so short and arbitrary. With all
the shootings and accidents in the papers, the same goes for
humans. You live and plan and struggle, only to have it end
abruptly for no good reason. All your dreams and desires can
end suddenly as a smear of meat and blood on the highway.

That always makes me angry at God or whatever made the system
work this way. Why are we so fragile? Why aren't we made of
iron, with replaceable parts? Why are we so willing to take the
life of another? Why is life so cheap? Shouldn't it be the most
valuable thing there is, and carefully preserved and revered?
War seems to be the ultimate statement of how little we value
life. We always send our own young family members to die, for
some ideal or whim of politicians.

Why don't we have a predetermined life span, free of disease
and accident? But then, maybe we would hate it. Humans and
probably God seem awfully fond of lotteries. This is just one
more lottery - the lottery of life and death.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Narrow Escape :)

Crazy day. This afternoon, it looked like I they might toss
me on a plane tonight to a customer site, but my work partner
went instead. Whew! I wasn't sure I could get home and packed
in time. I'm glad I didn't have to go, I've only been back on my
feet from the cold for a couple of days. But when work needs
something important, I'm ready to make it happen.

Of course I get to stay and finish up the project that already
had a tight deadline. That should keep me from running amok for
the next week.

The new roommate is lots of fun and we all get along too well.
We'd always rather stay up and talk than go to bed. I never get
enough sleep when I have interesting roommates. But I always
prefer living with people. Keeps things lively.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back on the balance beam

I finally got some sleep, I'm nearly done with the cold, crawling
back to life. Started exercising more and feeling stronger.

I feel like I've been on hiatus from real life since the end of
December when I had the surgery. Then it was the long recovery,
back on my feet just in time for the rush to get to Japan,
followed by another long recovery.

O.K. already - let's get on with life! Starting to contact leads
for interviewees for the show and just generally getting back in
contact with people after the long winter (of my discontent...)

Always starting over. It is getting old, but them so am I.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On the verge of ?

I hate the days where you just start to recover from being sick
for a long time. I wanted so much to stay on the couch and snooze,
but I also felt like I had to do something to start getting my
strength back. The cold symptoms are almost gone, but the
exhaustion is not.

I arm wrestled myself into doing 1 set of weights with 8 lb weights,
and some stretching and crunches. I do feel better for doing it,
though it demonstrates how weak I got from the illness.

With Japan, and the sick time, I haven't done a show in a month.
And like the exercise, it would be so easy not to do it. Finding
someone to interview and doing it, makes me so tired. It would be
so easy to let it go, let the show go, and do nothing. (And
regret it sometime later).

I hate that feeling that exhaustion brings. It would be so easy to
let it all go. To stop fighting, to stop trying, and just doze life
away. Luckily when I start feeling that way, something inside me
rebels, and I begin fighting my way back to life.

I hope the fight always comes to me, it would be too easy to just
give up. It is a scary thought.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Waiting for the man...

The new roomie, that is! He called me from Indiana/Illinois border at
3 pm today. He is making amazing time and will be here tonight.
Except for a couple of hour stints sleeping at rest stops, he drove
straight through from New Jersey. Ah, to be young and totally hopped
up on coffee!

Whoops, had to move up the cleaning schedule a bit. We've both
been sick since Japan, and the house was a disaster. I cleaned
and spray painted a little desk for his room that I've been
meaning to get to. I have nothing left, just that small exertion
totally finished me.

Got the soundtracks to Tsubasa Chronicles, and am listening to it
now. I love the music from it, so astonishing. Fantastical choral,
middle eastern, Japanese, with a bunch of other stuff thrown in.
I really love some of the composers out of Japan, and many of the
best are women. I'm not sure why that doesn't happen in America.
I was beginning to think it was a brain thing, like few women are
mathematicians. But then I heard the Japanese women composers,
who are amazing.

Favorite women composers did soundtracks for Cowboy Bepop and
Escaflowne, and this woman who did Tsubasa. Complex, sweeping,
and wild!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bleah!

Still sick. Every day, only a tiny bit better. Next time I'll
have to try an English cold, or an Irish cold. I vote colds
I've gotten in Autstralia and Japan as two of the worst.
It figures those two places would have really tough germs.
Kind of goes with the people. Tougher than most!

Because of the continued illness, not much is happening. I work
and then go home and collapse, watching videos for the rest of
the night. Then to bed. Repeat every day.

I haven't even tried to find anyone to interview for my next
show. I'd better get going, I'm already a week overdue.

Getting a new roomate on Sunday. He is totally fun and cool,
and I'm looking forward to it. Otherwise, my big plan for the
weekend is lots of sleep.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God of Snot

Still sick, blah, blah, blah. After 8 days, I'm sick of the whole
thing. I'm not jet lagged anymore, and I want to get back to
normal activities and exercise. All those great muscles I put on
in Tokyo are going to atrophy! My weight is still down 5 lbs from
the trip, and I want to keep it that way.

Another argument against God. Snot.
My head is so full of it, my head feels really unreal. Why is snot
a good idea? Yeah, yeah, it traps the germs and expels them....
But that is the best mechanism there is? How about just an internal
air canister that just blows them out? Into some kind of removable
HEPA filter bag.

Congestion makes your feel worse than being sick. There has to be
a better design. I don't believe in intelligent design. It seems
more like a bad joke or a prankster design.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tokyo from bed

I went to work today. I am still pretty sick after 7 days. Ugh.
But I made it through, and met Cayenne at the Apple store after
work to buy his new computer. It is really slick! Hopefully
tomorrow wont be as hard. I have to get a project finished over
the next week and a half.

As for the last 2 days in Tokyo - I pretty much saw them from
my bed. My back went out after the night in Ueno, it was spasming
and hurting like hell. It was also freezing. Tokyo houses don't
have heat! The house was always a bit cold, but now I just
couldn't get warm. I huddled under my blankets and didn't want
to come out.

I couldn't walk because of my back so I figured I had better rest
it for a day. My host and Cayenne got me food, cold and hot packs
and painkillers. When I was as comfortable as I could get, I sent
them off to see more sights. I think they did Ginza (upscale shopping
district) and Tokyo Station area. My throat was now also getting
sorer and sorer, and I realized I had a cold on top of it.

I was hoping to make it to Odaiba on my last day, but the next
morning my cold was in full swing. I gave up and stayed in bed.
I'm glad I brought my DS video games and ipod filled with podcasts.
I stayed put under the warm comforter. I wanted to see how people
live in Japan, and I guess this was part of it. Cayenne and host
went off to the big temple in Asakusa and went to the Asahi beer
building.

By that evening they talked me into getting up and going to a final
diner in Nippori. We went to a very Japanese restaurant when we
couldn't read the menu at all. Our friend, the host's wife came
along and she did all the ordering. The food was very good, and
different from what we are used to.

The next day it was time for the long trek home. Bus to Nippori,
took the more comfortable Skyliner train to the airport, and then
flew to Chicago, went through immigration, customs, another
layover and finally flew home. I was so sick I just dozed on the
plane through most of it.

There were many more restaurants, sights, and experiences than I
documented, but those were the highlights. I saw everything I
wanted except for Asakusa and Odaiba. So it was a difficult trip,
but well worth it. We are so grateful to the friends we stayed
with, they totally went out of their way to make sure we got
around and saw all kinds of cool things. It wouldn't have been
anywhere near as good without them. Besides it was just cool to
see them again. So there you are. My Tokyo experience.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The pary in Ueno Park - Night




The lower park - Ueno



The Sushi place, and friends

Toko trip - day 6

Today I indeed didn't make it to work. Still too sick. I did
manage to sit up and work from home for 1/2 day. A good thing
since I had hundreds of emails at work to wade through. I'm
going to try to go in tomorrow.

So on to the 6th full day of the Tokyo trip. April 2nd. It was
time for Ueno, and the park for another Sakura party! We took
the bus and train to Ueno, and exchanged some more money after
walking for a long time. It was freezing cold out! The weather
had turned and it was cold for the rest of the trip. We didn't
bring enough warm clothes.

We were with our host and met up with our friend from Japan and
his girlfriend. He took us to the best sushi place ever. I'm not
kidding, even our friends from Japan think so. It is a little
place under the tracks, near the train station. I don't even like
sushi, and this was incredible. I don't like raw fish, but I had
amazing creations with sweet egg, deep fried tofu, and salmon
braised with a torch. And it was so cheap! About $1.00 a plate.

Then we bought wine and beer and went on to Ueno Park. It was so
beautiful. There we lots of food stalls for the flower viewing
festival, a temple, and cherry trees forever. We got there around
4 pm so we managed to find a spot to put down our mat (yes, a
Japanese Twister game) and started drinking and eating. the food
stalls had amazing yakatori, yakisoba, roasted corn, and a myriad
of wonderful festival food.

The park rapidly filled up and at nightfall they turned on all the
lanterns. I just lay there staring into the cherry trees, and was
blissfully happy. This was the ultimate night. (Which is good,
because it was pretty much the end of the trip for me - I was
layed up for the next 2 days.). The girlfriend had to leave, but
sent back a package of handwarmers. We put them in our pockets
and hats, and tried to stay warm.

The walking and the cold and sitting on the ground was too much for
my back. It started hurting something awful, and we finally left
around 9 pm. The guys wanted to go on drinking, so I got the key
and got home all by myself - train, bus, and convoluted alleys back
to the house. I felt very independent, negotiating Tokyo by myself!

I will post several pictures of Ueno after this, because it really
was the peak of my trip. It was everything I went for - the cherry
trees, the parties, the food, the drink, the friends. Wow.

** You can double click on any picture to see it bigger.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Shibuya



More Tokyo - Days 4 and 5

My J-cold (ie like J-pop) is actually worse today. I spent the whole
day in bed reading comics and watching anime. Great way to pass the
time when you are too miserable to exist. Jeez, they do everything
bigger in Japan, even viruses. This one is nasty. I don't know how
I can go to work tomorrow. I can't even get up.

So on with the Tokyo trip. March 31st, after the massive walking the
day before, I couldn't move. My reconstructed ankle was huge! For
most of the day I sat with my foot propped up watching Japanese
T.V, until the ankle swelling went down. Our host and Cayenne
rode bicycles to go see a nearby temple. He got some great pictures,
and I had to be satisfied with that.

I felt better by that evening, so went to join our host in a bar in
Harajuku. He was there with some of his band members and friends.
We met 5 new wonderful people. We drank and ate and laughed,
chattering indiscriminately in Japanese and English, and somehow
we all understood each other. I'm sure the quantities of good
Japanese beer helped :) It was one of those amazing transcendent
times that will live on in my memory.

On the way home, our host left his backpack on the train, and was
horrified. It had his computer and speakers for the show - about
$2000 worth of his life! We went to eat until the last trains
stopped, but they couldn't find the bag, yet. Our host's wife was
wonderful and did everything in her power (and much better
Japanese, as she is a native Tokyoite) to get them to find it.

We stayed up late drinking and hoping for the best. The next day,
April 1st, she called the main station where all the trains go
to sleep, and they thought they had a match. She had to work,
but we were all going to meet there at 6 pm. Since it was by
Akihabara, we went back there to kill time, and see it properly.

I was hoping to find a figure that I am collecting that is going
for about $100 on ebay the few times it does show up, and we
wanted some t-shirts. We thought you could find everything there,
but we were rather disappointed. The shops seemed to only carry
stuff from the very newest shows that haven't made it to America,
and we didn't find anything. Very few shirts too. I wonder where
they sell these? We should have done something else that day -
in that ever wise hindsight.

But at 6 we met at the next station and the bag was found! We were
all so relieved. Yokatta!

Then it was on to Shibuya to see another thriving nightlife place.
At night it is a complete assault on the senses, crowds of people,
light and neon, and giant screens playing adds with sound. It was
so amazing. We sat in the square by the train station for 1/2 hour
to wait to finally meet up with a Japanese friend who had spent
some time at our house last summer. He has an adorable new
girlfriend who I liked quite a lot. It was sweet to see him again,
and there was more drinking and eating. In fact most of Tokyo was
drinking and eating!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cherry Trees at the Imperial Palace


Harajuku


Day 3 - Tokyo Trip (and a bonus today)

I'm still very sick and weak, and now Cayenne got the Japan cold too.
We were pretty worthless today. Until one of his fans for his sketch
comedy podcast Teknikal Diffikulties sent him a donation for
$1068.93 today so he could buy a new imac computer. His computer
is 6 years old and on the verge of instant death. He has a paypal
button on his site and asked for donations. He had gotten about
$300 dollars, but the donation today said - "enough for a baseline
imac + tax". The incredible fan actually figured it down to the
penny and gave it to Cay!

I was checking the account to see if there was enough for me to
buy a figure I wanted on ebay, and I saw that entry. I shrieked
and woke up Cayenne - I could hardly believe one of his fans would
do such a huge thing! As soon as the money gets transferred you can
bet we will go get that computer for him. It is almost more than
our jet-lagged, sick befuddled brains could handle.

So back to the Tokyo trip-ologue. Day 3, our friend and his wife
took us to Harajuku. That is the really hip place where all the
young people hang out. We walked and shopped and people watched.
On the weekends the teens come out in all their fashion tribe glory-
we saw a few of them, but not the real show. I wish we had time to
go back on a Sunday. But there are books of photos devoted to them,
which I have seen. Here is a web link of images to see the teens
in all their glory: Harajuku Web Images.

Then it was on to the main event, at last. We hopped on the subway
to go to see the cherry trees in full bloom around the Imperial
Palace. They are all lit up at night, and the pictures don't do it
justice. They went on for about a mile along both sides of the river
or moat, and there were wall to wall people there, rows of food
booths with really yummy festival food, and everyone drinking their
heads off. It was everything I thought it would be. Go to this
link to the Japanese Tourist Organization to see what these
amazing trees looked like this year in the daytime - we didn't get
any good pictures of that: Sakura by Imperial Palace.

Since we got there late, every square inch of ground was taken up
by parties, so we just kept walking, and walking. After a full day
of walking, I was pretty spent by the end of the night. But what
a glorious sight it was. Worth traveling halfway around the world!

Akihabara (Electric Town)


Day 2 - Tokyo trip

Fer Chrissake! I can't sleep at all. I thought I was back on
schedule, but I am totally wide awake at 5 in the morning. I
tried to lay down, but even being sick and all, sleep wouldn't
come. My body has no idea what time it is.

So on to day 2 of the trip. On March 29th, we went to Akihabara
(Electric Town). I would recommend not going to a crowded,
intensely visual place on day 2 of a trip like this. Something
quiet and scenic would have been better. The trains and buses
were packed, and Akihabara is a visual assault of hundreds of
stores selling electronics.

I think I had jet lag, and was feeling ill from the change in
diet. I got kind of overwhelmed by Akihabara and didn't last
as long as I would have liked.

A mention of food. Much of it came from the conbini (convenience
store) near the house. Conbini's in Japan are amazing. You can get
the snacks, alcohol, and pretty elaborate food for cheap. Sushi,
premade ramen, various noodle and rice dishes, hot chicken on a
stick, and so on. I also discovered Crunky candy bars. A lot like
Nestles Crunch, but much better. However 2 days of this can do in
your stomach!

I also discovered that walking 6 hours a day makes diabetes
virtually disappear. I could eat anything, and my blood sugar
simply wouldn't go up. The down side is my old injured knees and
reconstructed foot and ankle didn't want to have anything to do
with walking and standing for 6 to 8 hours a day.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Shinjuku


Where we stayed in Adachi-ku



Tokyo Rocks! I Don't.

I'm back. I'm half dead. It was quite the trip.

I caught some amazing Tokyo crud - this happens every time I go
out of the country. My immune system crumbles before foreign
viruses. My back it better, but still tenuous. I slept for 13
hours last night after the grueling trip home. My head is still
filled with dreams and visions of Tokyo train stations.

I'll post some pictures and comments about the trip over the
next few days. We left here at 6 am on March 26th. We flew to
Chicago, had a really dull 3 hour layover until our flight to
Japan. That leg of the trip took over 13 hours. Due to the 14
hour time difference, we didn't actually get there until
about 4:30 in the afternoon on March 27th.

We went back to our friends house, already befuddled, trying
to see everything from the train into town and the bus to his
house. We went out to eat, and crashed pretty early.

Our first full day in Tokyo, March 28th, we went to Shinjuku.
It is a busy ward with quite the night life. It is where all the
trains and subways intersect, and it is one crowded place. Quite
the feast for the eyes. I got pretty tired after about 6 hours
and we managed to get home by train and bus - our friend had to
go on to work. He was pretty impressed we made it home!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I am alive? Mabye?

I head home from Japan tomorrow. I'm ready. Things didn't turn out
exactly as planned. I did have 5 glorious days in Tokyo - lost one day
to jet lag. Now I've lost my last 2 days too. My back went out of all
the stupid things. My back never goes out. And I now have a cold on
top of it. I'm a pretty sick puppy.

But the things I did see, being with my friends again, meeting
new people, and ending with drinking under the astonishing cherry
trees in Ueno park, made the trip all very worthwhile.

My only worry is if my back and cold will hold up on the greuling trip home.