Ramen Heresy

Japanese/American Cultural Collision

Friday, March 31, 2006

More of Jojoji Temple and Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower looms behind Jojoji Temple in the first photo. I rather pleased with the way this one came out. You can't even tell there is a major street in between the the grounds of the two. The contrast of old and relatively new pleases me. You would never guess it but, if you were to move a couple blocks closer to the train station you wouldn't be able to see the tower. It's 333 meters tall and still obscured by buildings until you get within a few blocks.

The second photo is of Jojoji Temple from the observatory at 150 meters. As you can see the temple grounds are really quite extensive. Yesterday's photos were taken in an area out of the frame to the left.

This monster of a building is Roppongi Hills. The photo is taken from the Special Observatory at 250 meters (820 ft). Roppongi Hills is kind of like having the resteraunts, stores and businesses of Beverly Hills and Sunnyvale all put into a skyscraper. Yuppie Heaven! Except I'm not a yuppie. My future father-in-law wanted to take me to this place and my future sister-in-law vetoed the idea because she didn't think I would be interested in a place like that. She was right, but there is one thing there I would like to see. Somewhere in there is a gigantic sculpture of a spider that is so large many people can stand under it. I would visit Roppongi Hills just to see that. I don't have interest in anything else there, but that would be a sight worth seeing.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Matter of Perspective: Wilderness in Tokyo

Here we are on the grounds of Jojoji Temple. This particular area is on the edge of the grounds and it is possible to visit the temple and never see this place at all. I presume this is a shrine to those who died as children. The pinwheels are available for sale in the shrine area. If you've ever seen the anime 'Otogi Zoshi' then you may recognize this place. From this perspective (and the one given in the anime) it's somewhat difficult to believe it's only a couple of blocks from Tokyo Tower.

But as you can see it's really only a few feet from the street. Not nearly as isolated as it seems from a different angle. Incidentally, the other side of the street is the grounds of a hotel.
I went looking for this place because I had seen it in the anime and I wanted to see if it really existed. I was pleased to find it.
My fiance's friends were somewhat amazed that a foreign tourist could manage to navigate his way around Tokyo on his own, but riding the trains in Tokyo is really easy. Buying the tickets is a hard, but I had a JR pass so I didn't need to worry about it.
I got directions here from http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/ the website of the Japanese National Tourist Organization.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Almost as Cute as Thomas

Isn't this just the cutest (other than Thomas) freight engine you've ever seen? To be honest I don't remember where I took this picture, but it was probably somewhere along the Chuo Line given the amount of time I spent riding that particular line.

BNSF should take a cue from this. A little more cheerful than their standard orange and black. Then again this might not be a regular freight engine. It definitely isn't a passenger train engine but it seems like it could have more crew space than a normal freight engine. Possibly it's for some special application. Regardless, it's a cool paint job.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

International Alarm Clock

My fiance's friend and co-worker is undergoing fertility treatments and will have her fertilized eggs put back into her womb today. That means that she can't move around much for the next four days while the eggs re-adhere to the womb wall. My fiance will have to do both their jobs for the next few days, so she cannot afford to be late for work. Consequently it becomes my job to make sure she gets up for work on time. "So what" you say? Did I mention we live sixteen time zones apart? You know it's love when you'll make an international call to make sure she gets up for work on time.

Ganbatte K-san! Hopefully, you'll be preggers when I return to Japan next month.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Two Triumphs and a Disappointment

I hardly know where to start, so I guess I'll start with the disappointment. Spacex's launch of their Falcon 1 rocket failed shortly after launch. I was one of the approximately 4500 people watching via internet streaming video. I was really hoping the launch would be a success. As a true believer that spaceflight will become commercially viable for independant companies and not the sole territory of national governments, I follow these projects with great hope. You might think of Burt Rutan's successful manned attempt, but this was truly more ambitious. They were trying to put a satellite in low earth orbit; much higher than the Rutan/Virgin project. I'm not denigrating that. That was a milestone, but it doesn't reach high enough and the payload is too small.
On the plus side, they are not giving up and folding up shop. They have a good team, Truthfully, I would like to be one of them, but I just don't possess the qualifications. I truly hope that after they go over the telemetry from the flight, they discover the clue they need to make the next launch a success.

Moving on we have triumph number one. I received the written verification that our petition for and alien fiance has been approved. By the time I fly to Japan next month I should have received the written confirmation that the information has been sent to the Tokyo Embassy so we can start the VISA process. I'll cover this in more detail in my other BLOG.

Thursday I went to have my shoulder looked at again. It appears to be healing nicely, although the fracture isn't fully healed yet. I'm going to need to stay in the sling for another couple of weeks but it looks like I won't need surgical repair. Perhaps not earth shattering in the way of triumph's, but it's great news for me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ups and Downs

Depression sucks. I don't know if you've ever been a victim of real depression, but it isn't being sad about things that happen. Depression is not being able to care about anything, it's having a plenty of money in the bank but not paying your bills; not because you can't afford them but because it's too much effort to write the check. So I'm struggling with it right now and I get some genuinely bad news. A coworker of mine has died of cancer. He'd been fighting it for as long as I've known him, more than six years. I'll be attending his funeral tomorrow. He died of Melanoma, the same cancer that killed my father. My fiance immediately had a panic attack when I told her. Not something I really wanted to deal with, but there it was. It really was a trial trying to calm her down, since I wasn't feeling all that chipper myself. To tell the truth I felt a little betrayed. For every low there is a high...thank goodness.
The depression is lifting and good news comes in to offset the bad. Two of my friends have just celebrated birthday's and our I-129f petition has been approved. The world is a little brighter today.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Stupidity in Action

About 1 1/2 weeks ago I fell and dislocated my shoulder. This in and of itself isn't stupid, what followed is a different story. I fell a little after 9 p.m. and managed to get myself up off the floor at about 9:30. I was in a lot of pain and could tell something was seriously wrong with my left arm. I suspected it was dislocated but I wasn't sure at that point, I just knew I was in a lot of pain. I could also tell my life wasn't in any immediate danger so, out of some misguided sense of consideration, I decided to wait till morning to call anyone. Believe me when I tell you that no one was impressed by my selflessness and courage. Instead they were all rather incredulous that I would be so stupid as to spend the night with a dislocated shoulder rather than disturb someone.
The second act of blatant stupidity was to go to my regular clinic rather than the emergency room. They just took a couple of x-rays, gave me a painkiller, and packed me off to the emergency room. X-rays are no fun for a dislocation and I ended up getting two sets. If I had just gone to the emergency room in the first place, I would have only had to suffer through one set. In addition, the P.A. that saw me was a little miffed because he was going to have to set a shoulder that had been dislocated for some 14 hours by this time. Evidently dislocations are easier to set if they are fairly fresh.
They put me on a Demerol drip (the first IV I've ever had) and then proceeded to use me as a pull toy. That sounds harsh but they were actually anything but rough. I applaud them for their skill and care, but I must have looked really stupid being pulled between them. Form following function or somesuch. I knew immediately when the shoulder went back into it's socket, because the majority of the pain instantly went away. Life was...well... not good, but better.
I spent another hour on the table chatting with my mother and waiting for the Demerol to wear off. Then another set of x-rays (not nearly so painfull this time) to make sure the shoulder was properly back in it's socket. After that it was time to face my adoring public and call my boss to bring him up to date and since it was now about time for my fiance in Tokyo to be getting up for work, I called her too.
I'm sure my irrational actions gave her a bleak view of U.S. healthcare, so I'm going to have to take some time to explain to her that is not the system, but her idiot fiance that made such a mess of this. I can't have her fearing for her health once she gets here.
In the 14 years since I was discharged from the military you can count the number of times I've seen a doctor on the fingers of one hand. When I got hurt I didn't have any idea how to act or where to go. As hard as it may be to believe, when I fell I didn't even know where the emergency room was; had I the sense to go there. So between that and my marvellously poor decison making, I made a real botch job of it.
Do yourselves a favor. Try not to follow my example.