I’m a grown-ass man.

I’m pretty sure no one is reading this so I can go spouting off, but every time I assume no one is reading this somebody is reading this. Well, I’m pretty sure it’s down to two or three people, tops, so I should be OK.

My life continues to be a series of annoyances, but recently one of my neighbors died. Sam Blackman was great guy, only 41, with two cute boys and fit as hell. The only time I remember being annoyed by his arguments was when he was trying to tell me that we needed to understand the position of Joe Arpaio instead of dismissing him out-of-hand like I was doing. He had his quirks, like being very stingy about his clothing allowance, but with the reasoning that he was going to be in public service some day with a very small paycheck. This coming from a multimillionaire, I’m guessing, who sold his company to Amazon. I would see him walking down the street with his two boys, taking them to baseball or soccer even on cold rainy days. He’s going to be missed by a lot of people, me, our fellow gym members, the local high-tech community, and the state of Oregon.

My little problems don’t seem to matter that much, but that just makes me thing that I don’t matter that much. Thinking like that, along with being tired, makes me feel a little depressed. I usually know how to get out of that by now and that usually just means blasting dance music into my head during the day, and watching music videos on youtube if I feel that way at night.

Then I remembered one of the reasons I started writing a blog was because I started Crossfit and it made me feel  incapable, old, and dull. Everyone was younger, fitter, faster, and I was just taking up space and sweating too much. Being able to say that out loud made me feel a little better. That was years ago and what am I doing again? Crossfit again. And in that time since I first started, people are even younger, even more fit, and doing way more interesting things.

The worst part is that I can’t stop thinking about someone and just like most times this happens, there’s no reason for it. I’m a grown-ass man, and I’m feeling moony like I did in high school. At least now over the years I’ve figured out ways to distract myself from this, but now what I’m old I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep and guess who pops into my head and keeps me awake? (Here’s where my sister is starting to think it’s probably a dude, but it isn’t.) I thought I would’ve grown out of this sort of thing, but I guess not.

At least there’s my iTunes to distract me. My iPhone has 1639 songs or 4.7 days worth of music, that gets put on shuffle. Of course shuffle is awful and it plays the same few songs over and over, but tonight it was on point. Walking down to the store it started with 38 Special’s So Caught Up in You, a song that I remember hearing in high school while I was feeling the same way. Then on the way back Alcohol by the Barenaked Ladies came up, which was appropriate because all I was doing was getting my growler filled. Not as apropos but fun nevertheless, You be Illin’ by Run-D.M.C. came up. Ah, the distractions of weird old music. At least it helps me.


My life is a series of inconveniences. Not outright disasters, but I could make a huge list of the things that have happened to me or that I’ve done to myself. One of those things is canceling my DirecTV.

It really wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I kept getting errors about losing satellite signal. DirecTV said they’d send someone out for $90 or so and I couldn’t think of any other way to figure out what was wrong. It was pretty obvious when the tech got here that my neighbor’s oak was getting so large that the dish needed to be moved. After some fiddling around, the tech told me that there were no places he could find with a clear shot and I might just have to cancel.

That meant no football.

I think it took about a week before I signed up for Comcast.

Now I have Comcast, with TV Japan for my mom, though I had to sign up for TV & Internet to get the newest DVR. It’s a little silly since that means I have Comcast Business Internet and also Comcast Residential Internet. I figure that’s just what I have to do to get the level of cable TV service I want.

Do I never post on this blog?

There’s really nothing that interesting going on in my life is there? Go to work, go home, go to the gym, go home. It’s a little more interesting than that usually but take this last weekend. The friends I have that keep me from being too sober were all busy or missing so I went to the gym, came home, and did things around the house. Sorted QSL cards for the ham radio club (it’s a longer, more boring story, but you don’t need that). Calculated postage for the bundles of cards. Mailed the cards.

That didn’t take up all the time so  enough so I spent some time trying to find a way to play Pandora on my Mac without installing Adobe Flash. That meant trying a bunch of programs that didn’t work and then a few hours of porting a program called “pianobar” to the Mac. It wasn’t hard, but it was tedious. If I’d read a little further, I would’ve seen there’s a program called “Hermes” that you can just download and run on the Mac to play Pandora to your heart’s content.

So besides that, all I did this weekend was go to the gym. I have gone back to Crossfit-ing, which really just means a lot of self-doubt and seeing how I’m good at none of the things they do. There’s a lot of hard stuff as well as cheating on some exercises and I’m bad in both areas. It’s really just me beating myself up about my own inadequacies. I’m old, slow, and weak. Ah well. I guess I should be proud of all the work I put in to get this this state of old, slow, weakness.

Japan 2016 Day 15

Sorry, this is a little late. It’s was a long day. I got up at 6:45AM, went to breakfast, packed, went to the airport, got on the plane at 5:30PM, got off the plane at 10:45AM the same morning, and went to bed around 10:30PM but that’s fuzzy. In one time zone, that means I got up at 2:45PM on Thursday and went to bed at 10:30PM Friday. Not real sure why they thought things like that were a good idea for doctors in training.

Lim was bummed about the Nepalese breakfast and she wanted to look for Eggslut (what she called Hoshino Coffee). And according to Google, Hoshino Coffee was all the way across Shinjuku. Two-thirds of the way there we noticed that Google also said they didn’t open until 11AM. What coffee place opens at 11AM? I accidentally found a Hoshino Coffee near the hotel last year and sure enough Google still didn’t know about it but it was there and open. Here we are, slutting it up (we all got the eggslut) morning set.

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The coffee is pretty good too.

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After that it was packing and then heading to the airport.

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Everyone else got off at Terminal 2 to take a flight from NRT to LAX, and then LAX to PDX. I went to Terminal 1 for my more expensive but direct flight to PDX.

I had a lonely lunch in the traditional place. Even had the same thing I’ve had the last few years. The window to my right has a nice view to the runways. It doesn’t make a good picture because there’s a deck between the window and the edge of the building but it’s an OK view.

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I also had dessert because I’M ON VACATION. Plus we were going to get parfait earlier and the restaurant in MyLord had closed. The ice cream was old (had ice crystals in it but it was still a parfait.

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Oddly enough, outgoing customs was a pain in the ass with another long slow line of Chinese people. I’m not sure what they were doing but for me they just unstapled my forms and sent me on the way.

And then it was off to the flight were we had a familiar flight crew (my mom knows one of the flight attendants). Other than the woman next to me coughing the whole time, it was an uneventful flight where I watched Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Barbershop: The Next Cut, and part of Central Intelligence.

Then it was an uneventful trip through Customs & Immigrations and then three tries to get Uber working and an uneventful Lyft ride home. HOME! Time to rake the leaves and go through my email to pay the bills.

Japan 2016 Day 14

Final full shopping day! We went down to Shibuya because why not? It was our final shopping day. Hachiko was looking good and not surrounded by smokers first thing in the morning.

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We started out on this this Thursday holiday with fairy empty streets. Which was good because our plans were a little messed up and we wandered around for a lot of it. Lunch was at Uobe, the sushi bar with the track system. Oddly enough, we ran into my sister’s friend on our way out. Her daughter was taking classes in Shibuya and it was a school holiday today.

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More wandering around and more coffee for the Oregonian. This was at the end of what I can only describe as a cart pod called Commune 246.

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We were there because Melissa has been talking about getting her hair cut for much of the trip and we finally got a recommendation for a place called Dot+LIM. I knew it  was fate and got us on the subway over to Omotesando.

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She has a really cute haircut now.

After that we went back to an old-school office supply store through incredible crowds in Omotesando and Shinjuku. Our final dinner was at Baqet with the all-you-can eat bread. We couldn’t eat all that much, in all honesty. It’s best when it’s right out of the oven and we got there too late for too many batches to make it out.

It’s time to go home tomorrow!

Japan 2016 Day 13

Oh boy what did we do today. Where are the pictures to remind me?

We started out with breakfast downstairs again. Today was the “club” sandwich as the daily sandwich. And the coffee actually tasted good today but it was lukewarm.

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So it was off to Paul Bassett before we went to the Ghibli Museum! You can’t take pictures inside, so I have some from outside. It was crowded, but I remember it being much more crowded the last time I went. And the movie was different this time.

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The coffee there was pretty good, too!

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We headed back to Kichijoji through Inokashira park.

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We had lunch at a giant Muji and then it was back to shopping in the boutiques northwest of Kichijoji station. We tried to go to a string store (not my jam, someone else’s) but I did see this odd combination of power wiring.

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And then it was time for me to be completely disappointed by the closure of the Kinokuniya south of Shinjuku station. I made up for it by buying a bunch of stuff at Tokyu Hands.

We were all beat. It was a chilly day and we’d been outside much of the day. Everyone else got dinner at 7-11 but I walked across the street to the Mos Burger. I love Mos Burger!

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Japan 2016 Day 12

Started out the day with another breakfast downstairs. The coffee Quality Assurance isn’t up to snuff and so we went off to try Verve Coffee from Santa Cruz. They wrap the coffee in a “hachimaki” headband. Honestly, it was awful but that’s probably just because I don’t like light & bright coffees. It was good for what it was, but I think sour coffee is awful.

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The thing on the list was to take the young’un to Akihabara, but the ladies all wanted to go to the fabric store first. It’s not too far from the hotel I stayed at last year and there’s old Godzilla watching over the lobby.

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We finally made it to Akihabara and met my sister’s friend Yumeko who always has insanely funny stories to tell us. She suggested a French toast restaurant where I had soufflé pancakes. They weren’t the production that Gram was and were also much cakier. I kind’ve liked them better, but the best were probably at Hoshino Coffee in Kyoto.

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I had to ditch everyone to meet old co-worker Suzuki-san in Koenji. I just picked Koenji because, well, why not? There was a big sign for “Craft Beer Market” and they had Japanese craft beer and grilled meats. What could be better? They also seemed to know Tsutsui-san from Shonan Brewing and I found out that Tsutsui-san grew up very near there!

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I got back late and had to mess with my computer for a while. You know how it is.

Japan 2016 Day 11

Wow, it goes to 11.

We’re staying at the Mystays Nishi-shinjuku, I think. It used to be called the Nishishinjuku hotel and I’ve been staying here for YEARS. It’s not the best place, but it’s close to Shinjuku (a nice central spot in Tokyo) and except for one year it’s pretty reasonable. This year the restaurant downstairs is doing breakfasts again and it’s pretty good. I forgot to take a picture, but there’s only four choices so I’ll probably get one tomorrow.

We went out to Harajuku and Omotesando today and since it’s Halloween, the young’un got dressed up again.

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We got there fairly early in the morning and the stores opened about 11 so we had to walk back and forth a bit. We did get to Streamers and several of us had the Military Latte (matcha and white chocolate latte).

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I was unsuccessful at maintaining the correct caffeine balance and felt slightly jittery.

Streamers is also right near the PDX Taproom, a place I’ve only been to when it’s closed. I even talked to the proprietor on her opening day, several hours before opening.

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Note the tap list is all things I can get when I get home.

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I sent an identical message to several of my friends and to Facebook today:

I am in Omotesando with my sister and her friends. Shopping. Basically I am in hell.

We had lunch in the Aoyama area and I ordered the bolognese, but the young’un in our group ordered cheese pizza and it was, well, unique. Sweet with a hint of cinnamon. She couldn’t eat it and I knew I could so we traded.

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After that she and her mom had to do some shopping in Takeshita Street and it was a lot more crowded in the afternoon.

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We got back to the hotel and took a bit of a rest. Then off to dinner. Since it was 10/31, the young’un got dressed up for the occasion. Note the stylish coat and purse she just bought on Takeshita Street.

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I suggested going to Takashimaya, and somehow I ended up with a steak. I figure this is my chance at eating some semblance of a steak this trip, unlike last year when I had two or three.

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Afterwards I finished my limited clothes shopping at Uniqlo and we headed back to the hotel. We saw a street band playing, “Isn’t She Lovely,” quite well and I was impressed that the saxophone player was able to play through his mask!

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 And that’s it for today.

Japan 2016 Day 10

Please forgive the extra incoherence today because I’ve had a couple more pints than usual. That story at the end.

We started out the day in Kyoto at Hoshino Coffee, which turned out to be underground and it took me a while to find everyone. One of the things on the morning set menu was an ??????? (Eggslut) which took us aback. But reading the description, it’s based on an LA restaurant called Eggslut and the chef is from Oregon Culinary Institute. Here’s a picture of Melissa, which my mom requested since she’s the last one in our group I’ve put on my blog.

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Wow, the Eggslut was tasty.

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We went back to our respective hotels and started packing for our trip to Tokyo. I had to get a can of “Black Boss” because it’s funny. Unfortunately, “Premium Black” is much, much tastier but where’s the fun in that?

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We got bentos we ate on the Shinkansen. My sister had a two-layer bento and also crammed herself into the seat with her giant suitcase.

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Lim had something also tasty-looking.

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I had the Kansai special. It’s a bit messy because I dropped it before I opened it.

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We made it to Shinjuku and took the young’un to Nakano Broadway where her mom also found a store that she was really crazy about. I found a bunch of stuff I’d like to have, but only if I was an intarweb bazillionaire. For example, there was a ~$5000 metal robot and a ~$4000 used Grand Seiko HiBeat wristwatch.

We went back to the “soup place” (bread bowls!) in MyLord for dinner. Beef tongue isn’t my favorite cut of beef and it wasn’t my first choice of what I’d put in stew, but they were out of the pumpkin special.

After that I split off on my grand adventure to find Japanese craft beer. My first stop was “Craft Beer Tap” because it was closer to the hotel than my first choice. Bad idea. It was on TokyoCheapo, but I spent ¥1814 ($17.32US) for 330ml of a beer I didn’t like that much. That translates to about $25 for a US pint of something I thought was only OK. And they only had three Japanese beers on tap. And the bartender was talking shit about foreigners and one of the foreigners was smoking. No oshibori either. Basically, I’d call it a shitshow.

So screw that, time to head to The Watering Hole. My first beer was an IPA from Shonan, which is where the Japanese brewer I was translating for is from. It was great. I also had a Berliner Weisse because I was busy talking to the staff and a Swedish guy I met at the bar. It took 20 minutes to walk back and it was worth it. Plus, it only cost me ¥2200! How silly of me to go anywhere else!


Japan 2016 Day 9


It’s so much nicer to be wandering around Kyoto when it’s not pouring rain. We started out at a coffee shop again, this time Komeda. It was right across the street from a Toyoko Inn and my phone kept trying to steal their Wi-Fi.

Then we were off to Fushimi Inari. My brother-in-law lived near there for a few months forever ago and he’d be very disappointed if we didn’t visit. Of course, half of China was there too. And plenty of Europeans thrown in for good measure. I didn’t take many pictures, but here’s one of the the craziness we saw. Plus there were people stopping in the tunnel of torii to take selfies and you couldn’t get around them.

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We went off on a side path after a while and there was almost no one there. But after we got back down we went down to the temple market because that’s something you should experience, plus there’s FOOD.

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I saw a lot more crazy food and I’m thinking it’s the international (i.e. Asian) influence. More meat, and who ever heard of cucumber on a stick? Of course I joined in and got beef on a stick. It was delicious.

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We didn’t have a proper lunch, but what am I going to do, starve? I also had an excellent macchiato.

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And a sweet potato soft ice cream that they made by putting a pod into a machine.

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The young’un in the group (my sister’s friend’s daughter) wanted to try on a kimono, and why not? She’s exactly who should be in a kimono walking around Kyoto. You’re only young once. Actually, I take that back. Anyone who wants to should be able to do it. Why not? You’re on vacation.

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And then it was off to Kiyomizudera. I had no idea how much construction was going on there. I shouldn’t be surprised. It takes a lot of maintenance to keep old structures from falling down. (Note my camera technique where I keep my finger in the picture.)

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Another temple market after Kiyomizudera.

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And one of the group split off to go to a boutique while the rest of us ate at 7-11 and my sister found giant cotton candy.

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OK, so that’s just the perspective. IT was still pretty big.

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It was so fluffy and delicious that we finished them both! I guess that’s what you get when Japanese are making the cotton candy and not some carnies.

After that Sadie returned her kimono and we went to Sanjusangendo Temple. You’ll have to google for images as photography isn’t allowed. But it’s breathtaking. A huge building housing one giant seated Kannon and one thousand standing Kannon statues, each one about five feet tall. A THOUSAND. And there are twenty-eight guardian statues as well.

We had dinner at the station, an excellent tonkatsu restaurant where you grind your own roasted sesame seed and add tonkatsu sauce for dipping. The only reason I don’t have a picture of this is because we were tired and ate it all before we even thought about taking a picture.

Japan 2016 Day 8

Well, this is late. We packed all our crap, got on a train, and made it to Kyoto today. Of course since I’m here with who I’m here with, what did we do in a historic city full of world heritage sites? Shopping of course. And as soon as we got here it started to rain.

Somehow we ended up in a vegetarian restaurant for lunch. Even before I realized this I told my sister, “It looks like a bunch of stuff that’s good for me.”

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But it’s not like I didn’t eat it all.

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Then it was off to Nishiki market (no pictures from me) where it was incredibly crowded. Then we took a walk towards Kiyomizudera but I think they spent an hour in two shops (I stood out in the rain for most of that time) and it got dark before we reached it. We called it early and went back to our hotels to do laundry.

My sister and her friends are in a hostel or guest house or whatever that thing is. I’m in a proper hotel with a giant bath on the 13th floor. They only have three of my least favorite combo washer/dryers here and it took three hours for a load to finish. There was only one empty so I crammed it all in and it’s not exactly the cleanest stuff. Just cleaner than when it went in. It’s not like the giant Samsung washer I bought my mom.

Dinner was from Lawson and had a tiny bit of meat in it. Pizza bread, corn/mayo bread, quattro cheese Pringles, and a Calpis Orange. And two craft-ish beers (both companies being bought by the beer giants in Japan).

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Japan 2016 Day 7

It was a beautiful day but we took it easy because we’ve been out quite consistently all week. We started off at Tully’s in the lobby of the MBS building. I never did see anyone famous walking through the lobby, but I bet they have their own entrance that normal people can’t see.

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Then it was a leisurely walk to the fabric store with a stop at a fantastic bakery with good ice coffee as well.

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While they all shopped at the fabric store, I just sat on a park bench. Other than the guy next to me smoking, it was a great day to be out in the park.

We wandered through an even nicer park a couple of blocks from the fabric store when we saw this rock star.

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After that it was a walk back to Umeda and a quick pass through some stores and lunch at an okonomiyaki restaurant. I’ve confirmed that I’m not a huge fan of modanyaki (okonomiyaki with noodles).

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Like I said, we were taking it easy today and went back to the hotel to relax. Lunch was late so dinner was ice cream!

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I also got a sandwich on the way back to the hotel which I inhaled before I could get a picture of it. Katsu sando.

Some people don't believe my luck.

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