Sunday, February 27, 2005

Las Vegas Photos Have Arrived

It's been a busy week. Still working hard on my Solaris project at work. I've finally managed to cull out some (hopefully) interesting shots from my digital hoard. Share and enjoy (note the human-readable license terms. They're liberal! Really!). These files are little large- sorry. Since there were many of them I used ImageMagick to automate their processing, so the results are not as finely tuned.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Back in town for another quake

I have safely returned from Las Vegas. That plane ride sure takes forever though. The trip itself was quite interesting and showed me a part of the country I had never seen before. I got to check off three new states- Nevada, Arizona, and Utah- because we also went to see the Hoover Dam and Zion National Park. Both very interesting. I haven't had time to process all the photos I took out there, but here's one to start you off with: the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

I was awakened just before 5am on my first night back in Japan by a decent sized earthquake. Although it wasn't as prolonged as the Niigata prefecture quake in October that took 40 lives and caused more than $2 billion in damage, this one was stronger here. This is the first time anything has fallen over in my apartment as a result. The fact that it woke me out of bed made it scarier than normal.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Off to Vegas

Just a quick note before I jump on the plane back to the US of A. Had a good demonstration with the clients at work today. They wanted to use one of my programs in the setup of their system!

I think I've packed everything I need. Hopefully I won't be somehow lured into spending all my cash while I'm there. I don't particularly feel a great need to gamble so I should be ok. I do feel a strong desire to shop where things are cheaper. Hopefully it won't be too hard to find normal shops in Vegas. If I find myself with internet access I'll post here, but don't be expecting too much until I get back in a couple of days. Then I'll have a massive image-fest on here.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A Chilly Day for an Earthquake

A cold and misty bike ride to work. Then just another day at the office, struggling to get the Solaris box to do what I want. Today: network connectivity issues. Things were livened up a bit just before noon when a small earthquake struck. Just enough to shake the bookshelves visibly, but not enough to knock anything down. No injuries were reported.

I also forgot to mention that in the past two weeks I've started watching DVDs on my computer using the excellent Xine. My screen is a little small, but it's nice to be able to watch DVDs again. I had some trouble trying to create an account at a local video rental shop. They wanted valid ID (foreigner registration card with my photo and address), a utility bill with my home address and name, and a landline phone number. I don't have the last item to give them. So I took my business to another shop further away that charged me $3 for the privilege of making an account with them. They also rent CDs though. I was told (not by the shop) that that level of strictness at the first place is probably due to the "high" number of foreigners in these parts.

Two of the movies I watched were recommended to me by Minako. After Life and Maboroshi no Hikari, both by a director named Hirokazu Koreeda. Fantastic cinematography. Gorgeous interiors in the first, painterly landscapes of rural Japan and interior shadows in the second. I highly recommend them both to fans of Kurosawa or Kubrick. The first is a bit lighter, while the second is not without happy highlights.

Getting ready for my company trip to Las Vegas this weekend. My preparations are being hampered by looming project deadlines though. Looking forward to the vacation though.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Honest? Fairly. Good? Almost.

Had a pretty good weekend. Apartment hunting, ultimate frisbee, brunch with two friends I hadn't seen since November. I took them to a place called Good Honest Grub as it was recommended in an online review from the local free English language magazine Metropolis. They reviewed the original, Ebisu location while we went to the closer, Harajuku branch. They were very busy when we arrived at 1pm on Sunday. Small crowds of mostly foreigners sat inside, munching on waffles. Small children went by on the shoulders of parents. The waiters approached us mostly in English, befuddling my poor Japanese friends.

We waited in line for about 10 minutes to get a table. This was understandable as it was probably their busiest time of the week. Then we got to admire the nice view of trendy Omotesando while we waited another stretch for our orders (three eggs benedict, $15 each, with choice of two toppings) to arrive. I had a freshly squeezed carrot juice ($9) as juice bars are hard to come by in Tokyo. Unfortunately it tasted distinctly watered down. Eventually our eggs arrived. I had ordered mine with salmon and spinach and was quite ready to chow down by the time it arrived. Lukewarm.

It was tasty enough, but the combination of the wait, the watery juice, and the near-room temperature eggs put me entirely off this place. Next time I want a brunch I can't make myself, I'm going to the restaurant next door to Good Honest Grub, Fujimama's,

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Apartment hunting

I've been chastised for letting my blog lie fallow. I'm terribly sorry- I certainly mean to update it, but have been busier these days. From now on, I'll reform, I promise!

Ok, enough with the apology. Yesterday I went to look at two more apartments to share with Jeff. The first one, in Ikebukuro, was fairly big, and had a great view, but the room layout was impractical for two friends. Traditionally apartment-sharing was unknown in Japan, and all the bedrooms were typically connected in a line. Or so I'm told.

The second place I looked at was further afield in Nishi-Nippori, but was pretty nice. Well suited for two roommates, with good light, and everyday shopping nearby. It's a little far from the West edge of Tokyo, where Shibuya and Shinjuku are, but it's still well connected by train.

In other news, I've been developing in C on Solaris. C is quite interesting, but Solaris is the pits after coming from Linux. I'm not using the most recent version of the OS (I'm using Solaris 9), but it's still shocking home difficult to setup and use the Solaris box was. This is a well established commercial enterprise here! Feh. Anyways, time for me to go play some ultimate frisbee in the park. I'll elaborate on my Solaris woes in the future.