Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hey Mom and Dad!!!

Hey, Mom and Dad!!!

I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I miss you.

I just got back from taking grandmom for a walk and I'm getting ready for my early morning snooze. Granddad and I need to go on (poop (yuck)) patrol before we take the garbage out so I need a little rest so I don't over extend myself too early in the morning.

We're doing OK (in spite of the heat) and I'm about to get grandmom/dad trained on my daily routine. They finally caught on to the back massages in the morning, the snacks at lunch and the little something extra after dinner. Grandmom and I had an adventure at Pet Smart yesterday, where she got me more "greenies", other goodies and I got a cookie from the checkout lady. I think she also got a new squirrel but she won't let me at it because I already have trouble keeping up with Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Monkey (we have pitcures for later).

Gotta go, granddad is heading outside. Grandmom is washing my bedding and I'm afraid I overhead her saying something about a "bath for the dog". What dog?

I miss you both!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Juneau what time it's BINGO time

Ahoy once again...from Juneau this time. We had a wonderful day today...our excursion tood us to the Mendenhall Glacier, which was an awe inspiring sight. Then after that we went out on the boat to participate in some whale watching, which I have to say has been the best experience of the entire cruise. There were whales everywhere and no matter how many we saw each and every time you saw water blow from their blowholes you got excited because you knew that after a few blows you would get to see the big dive where the huge tail goes up in the was a fabulous sight to behold. I only wish I had the ability to send the pictures right now, but you'll have to be patient and see them later. It was just the most amazing experience.

After our exciting day in Juneau (which started at 8:00 by the way), we reboarded and headed to dinner. I feel like we eat almost every five minutes, but I'm sure it's just me. Once dinner was lapped up, we caught the last of the juggling show, then played a hand of BINGO...woohoo! And this hand was for a free cruise...can I just say I wasn't the least bit upset that I didn't come out ahead on that. Then we scooted over to see the last acts perform karoke and now I'm here documenting my day for you guys.

Tomorrow is another fun day in Sitka, which we don't have any scheduled plans for so might not be too much interesting to impart...we shall see.

Alright, until next time....Jenn

Monday, August 25, 2008

Haines Her Way

Ahoy Mates,

So today was the lovely town of Haines, Alaska. Gotta say, not much to the town at jewelry stores on every corner and traditional gift shops filled with meaningless souveneirs. Oh no, there were a very small handful of stores period, which is fine, but there wasn't much else to do to make up for it.

We did embark on a Eagle River Adventure, which was pretty cool. We spotted 3 bald eagles, but were denied the sighting of the moose. It is a very pretty place, very rugged and lusiously green. Makes you really just sit back in wonder how there could still be places in the US that aren't overwhelmed by concrete and steel.

My dad was nice enough to donate to me another patch for the motion sickness. And while I haven't been terribly nauseous, I have had totally "fuzzy" head today. I think that the cruise scene just may not suit me. I've said that before, but I think I might be sticking to my guns with the no more cruise rule. If I didn't feel slightly unwell all of the time it would be a lovely vacation option.

Nothing too terribly exciting to report otherwise. We had to Juneau tomorrow and that is supposed to be covered with the every familiar jewelry stores and gift shops with T-shirts and everything else under the sun that says ALASKA. Hopefully my tomorrow the fuzz head will have worn off and I can enjoy our adventures. All I know is that my time it's only 8:00pm and I am seriously considering going to bed. These older folks can really party...ha!

A quick word about technology...

As I mentioned earlier, we do have a temporary tv in our apartment that only tunes Japanese programming. While it likely is good for my Japanese skills to listen/watch it periodically, it's a tough way to pass the time.

So before coming to Tokyo, we purchased a Slingbox. I am an Olympics junkie - I love watching all the marginal, fringe sports that you only see every four years - team volleyball, handball, track cycling, water polo, etc. Without getting into the technical details, I spent the rainy period from Saturday through Sunday watching NBC's Olympics coverage on my laptop thanks to the greatness of the Slingbox. And since I'm now much closer to the Olympics (geographically speaking), I was able to watch most of it live the last couple of days. For example, I was able to watch the US gold medal volleyball and basketball which probably came on in the middle of the night there. Yes, I was watching them on a 8" window on my laptop, but the quality was very good considering the picture was coming across the internet from almost 7,000 miles away in Dallas.

And the Vonage box is also proving to work very well.

In short, technology is great.

Recapping the last couple of days... Saturday

Saturday started out with a pretty cool running route... just a few blocks from our apartment is a major road that runs right into the Imperial Palace downtown. So I ran down there and did a lap around the palace. I think it was around 7 miles round trip and a very cool run. Plus it was kind of cool and overcast on Saturday morning (a harbinger of things to come). We'll have to go tour the gardens after Jenn gets here.

After that, Saturday's mission was a telephone for our Vonage box since we did a bang-up job planning and put ours in the sea shipment (that will be here in a few weeks). Since I had nothing else to do and some time to kill, I headed to Akihabara or "Akihabara Electric Town." This is the area of Tokyo that is known for electronics sales with 6-7 floor stores of nothing but electronics. It is hard to describe how overwhelming these stores are in a number of ways - the number of people, the number of products, the noise, everything. These stores all had everything from $10 headphones to the very latest, ultra high-end, cameras and tvs, things we likely won't see in the US for a while. There are also stores dedicated only to gaming - PS3, Wii, xbox, etc. - with entire floors for each system.

From my stanpoint, it was bit like using a sledge hammer to drive a nail since every store I went in had a limited selection of telephones (strangely enough). I think maybe it is due to the number of cell phones here. But I eventually found one that will fill our needs - it seems to have a lot of features, but I can't tell for sure since I can't read the directions. I figured out how to turn it on, turn it off and dial with it though. So that's all that matters.

And do you remember I said that it was kind of cool and overcast Saturday morning? Well, it has pretty much been raining since Saturday afternoon. And as those of you who have lived in NYC or somewhere similar can attest, living in a "walking" city when it rains kind of sucks. I made a grocery run Saturday afternoon and it was fun walking back with the umbrella in one hand and bags in the other.

Recapping the last couple of days... Friday

Since Jenn is providing updates from Alaska, I thought I'd provide a quick update on how I spent this past weekend. In hindsight, it was nothing that exciting...

Friday was another of my "transition days" my firm gives me to get stuff squared away after moving. So I checked out of the hotel and moved my stuff over to the apartment. Furnishings in the apartment consist of:
  • a couch.
  • a tv (picking up Japanese tv)
  • a coffee table and end table.
  • a bed and sheets.
  • a dresser

That's it until the rest of our furniture gets here (either through rental or on the boat). It's a bit like camping right now. So Friday was spent picking up some provisions - bread, ham, cheese, paper plates, a cup, a spoon, a towel, etc. I have no microwave and nothing to cook with, so it's been fairly basic foodstuffs.

I managed to pick up most of this stuff at the afore mentioned Don Quijote but I also took a field trip down to Tokyo Hands in Shibuya (thank you Tai-san). It actually has a wikipedia entry. It doesn't have the breadth of products that Don Quijote has (no food for example), but it has more of what it does have (if that makes sense). The reason for going down there was drapes for one bedroom - the sun comes up (or rises, if you will) much earlier here. Since I was just getting over the jet lag I at least wanted to be able to sleep in a bit.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Keitch me if you can.....

Okay, so today we went to Keitchitan (no idea if that is the correct spelling or not). It was so nice to get off the rocky boat, but I have to say even after getting off my sea legs were in full force and I still felt like I was on the ship the entire time we were off.

We started the day early with a floatplane tour of the Misty Fjords which is in one of the National was awesome. So the pilot even lands the plane in the middle of all these moutain areas covered in trees and we got out to step on the floats and take pictures. At first I thought he was crazy and one misstep and you'll have hyperthermia, but we did it anyway and got some great shots. It was just too cool.

Then as anyone that's been a cruise (or to any tourist destination for that matter)the remainder of our time was spent shopping for stuff that says Alaska on it. I managed to find a cap to conceal my wet dog look as it drizzled rain the entire time we were here.

Not too much else to report from here. Once we got back to the boat we made our way to the Bingo game....and you'll never believe. There weren't enough people interested for the Bingo insane is that? This is a cruise filled with "mature" adults and not enough Bingo interest....I didn't realize this was even possible!

Tomorrow we are heading to Haines, which should be fun. We are going on a Eagle Preserve River Adventure and my motion sickness patch runs out today, so we'll see how I do.

I hope all is well.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rock the Boat...Don't Rock the Boat Baby....

Goodness gracious but it's been an interesting day. I set sail with my parents and grandparents on our monumental Alaska cruise. The boat the we are on is apparently a lot smaller than my prior cruising vessels and the water is VERY choppy. Needless to say for someone like myself that suffers from incredible motion sickness, that was not good news at al.

Tomorrow we hit a port, so that should get me back to equalibrium. My poor dad, whom I inherited my lack of internal stability staying in our cabin all day trying not to get too sick...urgh! I at least got to travel outside the room. The captain has promised that by 5 in the morning we should be sailing a lot smoother.

So, just wanted to give you a little update on my location in the world. It promises to be a fun week and the granny crowd. There are more older people on this cruise than you can imagine. I can count the people around my age on two hands....good times.

Alas, I have to say goodbye as they are killing me with the price of using the slowest internet EVER.

Hope all is well and I'll be sure to take lots of pictures for your viewing pleasure. Alaska here we come!!!

Bon Voyage,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So that's what an earthquake feels like...

Standing in the kitchen of the apartment a little after 3 yesterday afternoon, there was kind of a rumbling sound that approached from somewhere and then a shaking of the building. I instantly knew what it was, but kind of stood there for a moment like an idiot. By the time I thought about moving toward the door, it was over.

Doing some searches today, it's a bit revealing that I couldn't find anything about it in any of the Japanese newspapers. Apparently 4.5's don't get much coverage. But the Boston Globe apparently thought it was newsworthy.

Thursday evening update...

Well, I finally got my laptop and a cell phone, so I feel like I'm re-connected to the world. You don't realize how reliant you get on things like laptops, blackberries and cell phones until you don't have any of them.

I've got some pictures I want to post from the flight over, but I'm having some technical difficulties related to getting them off the camera. But here are a few observations after two days here...

1 - Whatever happened to Zima? If you're asking "what's Zima? go here. Apparently it is the preferred drink of kimono-wearing women in TGI Fridays in the Roppongi area of Tokyo. Yes, TGI Fridays is a bit of a give-up on my part for dinner last night, but I was hungry and it had an English menu. While I was sitting there, a very elegant woman dressed in the traditional kimono came in and enjoyed a Zima and a cigarette at the bar. An interesting contrast.

2 - Japanese keyboards are going to take some getting used to. Please pardon my typos if I don't correct them. By the time I get used to them, I won't be able to type on a US keyboard anymore.

3 - It's hot and humid here. That's not much of a revelation, but the interesting part is that the buildings here attempt to conserve electricity by not turning the air conditioning down as far as would be the case in the US. In exchange, business attire is relaxed in the summer. But my experience so far is that the buildings never quite get comfortable. As a result, your clothes kind of stick to you all day.

4 - If you take a Wal-Mart, shrink it by about 60% but only remove about 30% of the individual items and then cram them into a footprint the size of a small convenience store and then give it six levels, what do you get? Don Quijote. I was told that they have everything, and they literally do - food, liquor, shelving, furniture, electronics, towels... anything you could find at a Wal-Mart or Target and some stuff you couldn't. We're going to be spending some money at this place.

5 - Tai-san asked in the comments if I had used any Nihongo (Japanese) yet. The answer is yes, but I've been mainly interacting with people who are willing to speak English. I need to stop relying on this or I'm never going to get any better at it. Also, people keep assuming that I don't know any Japanese at all which is a bit frustrating.

I have one more observation, but it's worthy of a separate post...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Konnichiwa y'all

Just wanted to post a quick note to let everyone that I made it yesterday with no problems. I'll post more on the journey later, but I have a full day of various government-related administrative tasks like alien registration, re-entry permit (even though we have work visas, we have to get permits to come and go), and open some bank accounts. Then I get to wait for the internet guy to come hook that up at the apartment - It will be interesting to compare this to the typical cable/satellite/telephone installation back in the states.

So I'll post more later.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Going Away - Party Hearty.....

So, some wonderful friends of mine (Stacy, Angie and Kimberly) threw John and I a good bye to Dallas party in late July. It was so much fun and really sad to know that this was the last time I'd see some of them for a long while. Although, I heartily attempted to talk everyone into booking their flights to Tokyo and coming to visit us. I got a few promises to visit, which I plan on holding you know who are.

Here are a few fun pictures for those of you that weren't able to go.

In other news....I'm getting a peek into the life of ladies of leisure. Not that exciting so far. I did have a whirlwind day yesterday trying to get all the "essentials" that I might need when we get to extra face wash, mascara, and another pair of shoes. Yes, I know my husband thinks that I have too many as it is, but let's face feet are too big for the sizes in my shoe fetish is going to have to go on hiatus while we are living abroad. Therefore, I had to get one more fix before heading over.

Other than that, John calls every five minutes with something new for me to be doing....lucky me. Alright, hope you are all doing well.....

Until next time, Jenn

Sunday, August 3, 2008

It's all gone. Everything. Gone.

It's been a bit much to handle. I had to head down to Houston for some R&R...