I am a f*cking idiot

I have a bunch of fears, as most people do, and one of them is about the keyboard on my MacBook Pro. A minor fear, but it is on the list.

The new MacBook Pro’s came out this week, and I saw a bunch of articles about how they fixed the keyboard! I saw I could get money for a trade-in so went out and bought a new MacBook Pro! So easy! Order online and pick it up in the store!

Well it turns out they didn’t mean “fixed”. They just meant “changed”. My new Mac probably isn’t that much better in the keyboard department than the one I had. I am an idiot.

At least I’m supposed to get almost 50% of the cost back for my trade-in and at least it resets my clock on getting the keyboard fixed. I still have a job (so far) and I can afford to upgrade my MacBook Pro. It’s hard to tell how big a mistake I’ve made until I actually make the mistake so I guess it’s time to wait and see.

Welcome to my new best friend, the 2019 MacBook Pro.

So much for blogging.

I thought I’d be posting more but I’m not. It used to be the cool thing to do but the world has moved on. But now I don’t even look at Facebook or Twitter that much.

I just had to go to my dentist for a sore tooth. Turns out it wasn’t much of anything he could figure out, but the big news is that he’s FINALLY RETIRING. He’s the only dentist I’ve ever had, and it’s his 90th birthday tomorrow! So much is changing.

I should probably eat at home more often. I’ve been going out a lot and I should be saving my money since everyone keeps asking me when I’m going to retire. I don’t know if I could retire anytime soon but it is the fantasy that’s going around right now (i.e. not just for me.)

Anyway, there it is. Lots of airy thoughts that could’ve been tweeted if I could be bothered to tweet. I’m too old to be typing on a phone screen, though.

Oh god, has it been more than a year?

So is blogging still a thing? Does anyone even read blogs any more? Do I even have the ability to match tenses when I’ve had several beers and very little dinner?

I sure haven’t been posting much and let me give you the short version before I go rambling on:

  • Work sucks, and I’m not going to talk about it because I gave up talking about work on a public blog.
  • My mom passed away last year and I had to pay $24,000 in estate taxes. (And it does sound like I’m talking about taxes to avoid talking about the emotional parts of it all.)

What’s happened in that all that time? I think I’ve been through at least two more gyms, doing yoga and then doing kettlebells. Right I’m being quite lazy. I screwed up my back on Thanksgiving moving a queen-sized mattress by myself and it’s still bothering me in odd ways. I got the long-lasting head -> chest -> throat cold that’s been going around and I’m still hoarse. All that means I’m just being fat and drinking beer which seems to be a much more appropriate hobby for a man of my years.

Recreate Fitness is re-re-opening and so I might be back to my old routine, working out and blogging, but who knows? The workouts seem a lot easier (everyone is older, after all) and so my blogging might be just as reduced.And as I implied, I’m not sure blogging is still a thing. Maybe I need to just post a bunch of selfies on Instagram.

A stellar start to 2018!

  1. My yoga studio is canceling all the hot yoga classes and most hot power fusion classes, and the 5PM class. (Can you guess which classes I go to most often?)
  2. Beer causes cancer.
  3. Sessions is going after cannabis, which may be one of the only ways Oregonians can put up with 45.
  4. All my computers are pwned (Maelstrom & Spectre).
  5. My new blood pressure medication is probably causing extreme stomach upset.
  6. I had a hangover after two whole beers.
  7. Some clown decided that stabbing my front tire would be a good idea this morning and that wasn’t cheap to fix.

I’m hoping it doesn’t get so bad that I have to get even more medicated.

Japan 2017 Day 16

Hah. Well, I got back months ago and I still never posted the pictures from the last day. I don’t suppose they’re that interesting, but here they are.

We started out the day at.. wait for it… HOSHINO COFFEE! And we had… wait for it… EGG SLUT! Well, neither of can figure out how to make it (and Mariko actually tried) so it’ll be another year until we can have Egg Slut and the coffee is good so what did you expect?

I had decided we should leave late for the airport, but reconsidered. We found it hard to enjoy Shinjuku with the looming deadline of a train to catch. That meant we got to stand in a line to redo our Narita Express tickets (you get one, and only one, change to your ticket on JR).

There’s actually a lot to do at the airport so we had plenty to do to pass the time, and we also had to pick up some parcels and re-pack our bags.  And we didn’t forget  to make our yearly pilgrimage to the Fujiya in the airport! I’m sure I’ve had this same thing before.

At some point we went in and checked out the lounges. My sister only has Priority Pass (as do I) so we first checked out the KAL business lounge. It wasn’t so bad, but it’s not as nice as the Delta Lounge. I left Mariko at the KAL business lounge nd went to the Delta Lounge and had a couple of beers from the beer robot, talked to some people I’ll never see again, and generally had a pleasant sit in front of my computer.

And then it was time for an uneventful flight back to Portland. We both had Globel Entry so we got through immigration quickly. Our luggage wasn’t last out (my sister has better luck than I do) and we had an interesting Uber ride to her house with a charming driver from Kenya. Sounds like it takes a much longer time to get there than Japan!

And now I’m back in Portland. I caught a cold, didn’t get to do enough yoga, quit my Crossfit gym and generally had an OK fall. I even went to see Billy Joel because my next-door neighbor had tickets and couldn’t convince his wife to go. And the seats weren’t bad. I guess I can’t always be unlucky.

Japan 2017 Day 15

Well, this time my bad sleep was due to all the caffeine. It wasn’t that bad though. Finally figured out I was using my earplugs wrong. Hah.

OK, I had to have another Eggslut at Hoshino Coffee. Yesterday they told my sister they don’t sell mugs and I asked and they said they had to order them and it would take a week You can also buy the mugs online but I bet they only sell in Japan. I’ll find out when I get home.

We went to Ogikubo to meet my sister’s friend Jen. Her family just moved way out west from Shibuya and that was a convenient station to meet. We got there early and hung out in a Misudo because the station was a little on the old side and odd. The 24H shopping mall was closed this morning for some reason and it was cold and windy outside.

Ogikubo turned out to be a bust. We walked from Ogikubo to Nishi-Ogikubo which is fine by us because that’s the sort of thing we did the whole trip anyway. I did find a bookstore in Nishi-Ogikubo that had the puzzle book my mom wanted. We also found a tempura restaurant. The tempura came out as it was cooked and this is only half of it. We also had fish, shiso, and mushrooms.

After that it was off to Yokohama to meet Chico. Instead of taking a rush-hour train, we left early and wandered around the harbor. We had about four hours to kill and the harbor area wasn’t crowded at all. I guess the weekends are a different story. Here, in the distance, you can see the red brick warehouse where we went to Bill’s, a famous Australian breakfast spot.

This is the Nippon Maru, a training ship, and I remember it coming to Portland. I kind of think my dad’s buddy’s cousin was on it.

Bill’s had several craft beers on the menu. They even had Kamiktazu beers from guys I met in Portland, but I stuck with the local Yokohama beer.

I had the wagyu burger and it was fantastic.

No trip to Bill’s is complete without the pancakes and these were great as well.

We took the train back to Tokyo and got back about 10:30. Mariko usually was asleep by that time most nights so it was a little late for us, but worth it.

Japan 2017 Day 14

Do you need to hear another story about how I couldn’t sleep? How this room in the Nishishinjuku Hotel seems to have a leaky window that lets cold air and all the street noise in? Probably not. I don’t even remember any of my weird dreams this night. I did almost crack my head open on the post that’s inexplicably next to my bed and the chanting from the Buddhist temple starts around 5:30 or 6AM (I didn’t actually get up to check the time).

It’s  not a big deal though. We started out the day at Hoshino Coffee, of course.

No pictures of the food because it’s the same as when I was here on my own.

After that we did some more shopping in Shinjuku and headed for the Toto display room. They have flooring, windows, as well as complete bathrooms set up for people to order from. I thought it was just going to be a series of toilets lined up but it’s really for people who are ready to purchase materials for their building or remodeling. But they didn’t mind us wandering around as tourists.

You know what was downstairs? A Shake Shack! I finally get to try the burger that Sean, Nathan, and Erin told me was their favorite. It didn’t live up to the hype, but what could? I found it to be a bit too salty at first but I really liked the crunch on the surface of the burger. If Five Guys could get that crunch, they’d be better by a mile. I think I’d pick Burnside Brewing over this burger. I know this is just supposed to be a fast-food burger, but from what I hear there’s no getting through the line quickly at Shake Shack.

After that we were meeting Mariko’s friend Yumeko in Ebisu. We had time to kill, so I suggested going to Shibuya and walking south. That was good for Mariko because we found something she was looking for –  a can of Coffee Plus Coca-Cola. She didn’t want to drink it, she wanted to give it to me as her guinea pig.

Well, Coffee Plus Coca-Cola tastes like someone mixed a can of Japanese can coffee with Coca-Cola. But then you’d have to bump up the carbonation to get what I drank. Anyway, it was almost awful. Not really awful, just almost.

We met Yumeko for coffee and talked for hours.

We even went to a cake shop afterwards for tea and cake which almost did us all in. The slices of cake were huge and we all finished most of it when we really should have stopped at half. I was planning to make a trip to the Watering Hole after dinner tonight, but all I could stomach for dinner was a bottle of soda water and some chips.

I guess there is such a thing as eating too much on vacation.

Japan 2017 Day 13

Why am I having so much trouble sleeping? I guess I’ve been a light sleeper for a while. Ugh. I heard people out in the hallway at midnight and then at 3AM and it woke me up. I did have an interesting dream about a buddy becoming a Mormon priest with a collar and everything. It doesn’t make any sense, but what dreams do?

It was nice to be at a familiar place, though. Toyoko Inn was only ¥10,022 for two rooms for the night and we got free breakfast as well.

I had no idea how close I was cutting it, but we walked to the train station, bought our ekiben, and then only had a couple minutes on the platform before we got on the train. Here’s my bento.

The Shinkansen trip wasn’t bad, though the people behind us seemed a bit nuts. His iPhone kept going off and for the first hour or so (the trip took about four hours) he kept pushing his suitcase into my seat.

The view of Mt Fuji was obscured by clouds today.

We made it to Shinjuku and did some more shopping (as we do) and stopped in a random coffee shop in the afternoon. They had a wagashi and coffee special which we enjoyed.

After that we checked into the Nishi Shinjuku Hotel and then went out to dinner. Dinner was the Soup-ya which we have been going to for years now. I got their “new” special.

When we left the restaurant, it was raining! That’ll teach me to watch the weather reports. I didn’t go to the Watering Hole for a beer because it’s a 20 minute walk, mostly in the open, and who needs to walk in the rain in Japan? As my aunt says, the rain is different here than in the US. Let’s hope there’s a dryer day for me to get my beer. I got a can of craft beer from Lawson instead.

Japan 2017 Day 12

My opinion is changing about the hotel we stayed at last night only because I actually slept pretty well. I’m not sure it had much to do wit the hotel, but any reason to think better of the place is good, right?

The breakfast that came with the room was pretty impressive. Not the best taste-wise, but there sure was a lot to eat. Surprisingly there were two women in marathon clothing who were eating there as well. I’m not sure it was the best idea to eat this traditional Japanese breakfast, but as my sister says, “You do you.”

After that it was on the train to meet AJ who was going to drive us to watch Yumi run the marathon. We got there about the time the 3-3:30 pace runners were going by. We went to meet Yumi’s parents on the marathon course near 26km, and I found them just in time to see her brother run by. Yumi’s parents had Salonpas spray (sort of like Bengay spray, if it exists) and were providing it to runners.

Sorry, I don’t have the pictures, but my sister does. She even has a great video of AJ cheering the runners. You don’t often see a tall black guy yelling “Gambatte!” in rural Japan and it made everyone smile.

Here’s a picture near where we were standing of a guy harvesting rice.

We had dinner with Yumi and her running club, but we spent most of the afternoon hanging out with AJ. Lunch at Mos Burger (no pictures this time) and some driving around. I saw this guy with a big fishing boat on the back of a mini-pickup truck like they have here in Japan. We were wondering how it was attached and if it was safe to ride behind him.

Somehow we ended up in the Okayama Aeon Mall (the third largest in Japan?) I think it was probably because I suggested finding some craft beer so I could do some day drinking. It was afternoon, so probably more like happy hour.

After that we checked into a familiar Toyoko Inn east of Okayama Station, and then dinner with Yumi and her running club!

Japan 2017 Day 11

Today was another travel day from Fukuyama to Kurashiki, which is much closer to Okayama which is where we really want to be. Because of the marathon, we’re doing all sorts of nutty things. We went to Okayama, to meet Mariko’s friend Yumi who is running in the marathon. We went with her to pick up her marathon packet.

And here’s her number!

From the left, Yumi’s co-worker AJ from Baltimore, me, Yumi, Mariko in the middle of the poster, and Yumi’s brother, who I’d never met, on the right.

The marathon also came with a fair, and the fair included lots of things you wouldn’t expect in the US. Including Okayama craft beer!

Yakiniku sandwiches form Niimi that were surprisingly great.

 Maybe not enough meat, but the bun was fluffy, and the mayonnaise-based spread was delicious. Way better than AJ and I were expecting and we even talked Mariko and Yumi into getting them as well.

There was also a stand with steak from Tsuyama, where they only produce two cows a month. There was a group of four by the grill, one grilling while three watched him and the steak was fantastic. I guess if it’s only two cows a month you want guys making sure it’s cooked correctly.

Just the process of getting the steak into the dish was something to watch.

After that Yumi had to run some errands and we went with her. While she was getting her foot taped, AJ and I went to a famous pork bun spot that was delicious. I’m used to the quality of pork bun that they have in the convenience stores where you really need the seasoning and mustard to make them palatable. This did not need either condiment, though they were provided.

After that we went for dinner then Yumi called it a very early evening. Mariko and I are now in an unnamed hotel in Kurashiki. Mariko swears Kurashiki is a great place, but it’s a total shithole after dark. Lots of drunks of all ages. Some rough looking guys and flashily dressed single (working?) women on their way from sketchy cars to wherever they’re going.

And the hotel is a true dump that cost $300 for the night. It doesn’t just need a renovation, it needs to be torn down and rebuilt. I think the room rate is a 5x markup for the marathon and I didn’t pay much more for the club floor of a high-class hotel in Kyoto. It’s the only thing that was open and what we have to do so Mariko can visit Yumi so I should just shut my piehole.

Japan 2017 Day 10

Hoo boy. I thought this quiet spot would allow me to get some sleep but no luck. For some reason my cold room got extra hot after I turned on the heat pump and set the temperature to be 20°C. That should be about 68°F. Anyway, we got up and went to get our breakfast. We picked the Japanese breakfast and this is what we got. The egg isn’t cooked yet and there is a little block of Sterno or whatever heating the plate.

We had some time before we had to catch the train at 10:10AM, so we went for a walk to the beach. This is a couple of blocks from the Hikari train station and where my mom used to swim as a kid. No one swims here after the end of August even if the weather is nice because the water fills full of jellyfish.


It was a quick walk to the train station and just a few stops before we caught the shinkansen. I think there have been improvements to this train station, but, as you can see, there’s not much to improve. There’s no electronic ticket machine, but instead of the old-fashioned ticket punch, there’s a pincer-style rubber stamp.

Two 20-minute Shinkansen rides later, we were in Fukuyama. We’re really only here because we couldn’t get rooms in Okayama. For once it’s not because of Chinese tourists. It’s because of the Okayama Marathon.

There’s not a whole lot to do here, but we got some tourist maps and stopped at Mister Donut to check them out.

First stop, which was a bust, was to try to find Fukuyama Craft Heart Brewery. Well, we found it but it seems to be someone’s project in a garage space of the Benefit Hotel. The taps in the hotel restaurant didn’t appear to be running and after a bit of a wait we were told we could buy bottles but that was about it. So we went walking through the overly quiet streets of Fukuyama on the way to Myooin Temple and Kusado Inari-Jinja. On the way we found ourselves in a ¥100 store and a Seven-Eleven.

Here’s a view from the Hoonjibashi Bridge. We were hoping to cross those red arched bridges in the middle of the picture, but they just appeared to lead from a road with no sidewalk to a highway with no sidewalk. I’m not really sure what the point of them is.

Here’s Myo-o-in Temple, which according to the intarwebs, was built in the 1300’s.

There’s a pagoda next to the temple and here’s a bad picture of it.

Very near the temple is Kusado Inari Jinja. I can find a lot more on the googles for the jinja, but it all appears to be pictures. I guess being temple red/orange makes it more photogenic.

There are stairs to the upper temple that you can climb and get a nice view.

There was one group of business people at the temple and one family at the shrine. This is the opposite of what I saw in Tokyo and Osaka, and what seems to be happening all over Japan. The outlying areas are shrinking.

We walked back to the hotel and Mariko did some laundry. I just read nonsense on the intarwebs, as I do.

We went back to the station for dinner and I had unagi. I’m not taking a picture of Mariko’s fine maguro and avocado because it only cost a third of what I got. Hiroshima has weird ideas of how to eat unagi, and while I did use the tororo, I didn’t do all the ochazuke stuff they expect you to do.

And that’s about it for today. I’m hoping for a quiet, uneventful night in this Toyoko Inn. Finger’s crossed.

Japan 2017 Day 9

I actually slept well last night! I guess it’s probably because I got to sleep early and for some reason I woke up at different times through the night. My sleep was disturbed differently than I’m used to.

In any case, today we went to visit my aunt and cousins in Hikari-shi, Yamaguchi Prefecture which is really in the middle of nowhere but conveniently near an almost-abandoned shinkansen station. There is some industry nearby, some oil refineries and a shinkansen manufacturing plant, but there sure doesn’t seem to be a whole lot going on otherwise. Tokuyama Station used to be a bustling area but now they roll up the streets at 6PM.

Anyway, still have to visit the relatives, and luckily my cousin’s kid and grandkid were there. I last saw them two years ago when the grandkid was just born!

We started the day at Pronto because we found out that a lot of the other coffee shops didn’t open until 8:30. Weird. Then it was off to the bullet train. I guess the Nozomi stops at random small stops a couple times a day so it was good we didn’t get a rail pass. Otherwise it would have been the slowest bullet train, the Kodama, to get here.

I will spare you the family stuff, but my sister and slipped away to do some shopping at the local “mall”, the Jusco. Jusco seems to have lost the McDonalds, but they did have their usual clothing and odd specials. The grocery store also had an odd selection of beers including a special display that had bottles of Rogue and Terminal Gravity.

Fine, here’s a picture of me and my aunt.

And here’s dinner! I’m removing the picture of my cousin’s grandkid because I never asked permission to take her picture.

We’re staying at one of the hotels in town tonight and it’s quite inexpensive. I’m hoping it’ll be quiet because the doors are pretty thin and I’ve heard an ambulance go by every half-hour or so. Better than a train every five minutes, I guess. The room is also huge compared to the big towns. I think my sister wins though. She got a larger room with a larger bed. At least my toilet was “Sanitarized.”

Some people don't believe my luck.

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