Sorry, sorry, sorry...been gone, been busy, and now things are sorting themselves out a little bit and have slowed down enough to get a long overdue post in. In a nutshell, here's what's been keeping us so occupied.
- TDY to Hawaii: I was in HI for about 10 days. I know, that doesn't sound so bad, but it isn't much fun when all you have time to do is work. We got there on a Monday, and had that day free, and spent most of it wandering around Waikiki sort of like homeless (we couldn't check in to the hotel for about 8 hours), grubby and feeling gross from the previous 15 hours of travel. The next 9 days were all work. Get up at 6:00, get on the bus at 7:30. Get stuck in traffic. Get to work. Work. Eat lunch. Work. Get on the bus at 4:30. Get stuck in traffic. Get off the bus at 5:30. Eat supper. Go back to the hotel. Go to bed. Get up. Repeat. I was able to see some friends a couple of evenings, Cary, Stacy, Becky and Brady from my days in Louisiana, and Ginger and Mike, our friends from DC, now living there. That was fun. Otherwise, it was a good trip, just no time for goofing off. Last year, I had a day between conferences and spent it tramping around the island. This time, I had to content myself with a few stolen evenings to go out and take pics of the sunsets. Next year, though, I think I'm going to fly Melody out for the last few days. That way, we can enjoy it together.
- Selling a house: Just before I left to go to HI, we decided to sell our place in VA and upgrade. That has meant a lot of time spent on the phone and email working to get all the financing, condo docs, powers of attorney, and a myriad other things taken care of. One nice thing about being in HI was that I was several time zones closer and it was a whole lot easier to get that paperwork stuff done. Not so easy from Japan, but not as difficult as we'd initially believed. We've got absolutely awesome realtors, John and John, who helped us out 5 years ago, and are helping us out again now.
- Buying a house: Along with selling our place, we're also buying the place of one of our realtors, David. He was the guy who helped me buy my original place, lived down the street, and decided to sell. So, since we were in the market, we worked a sweet deal with him. Or rather, him with us. The timing is great, with the sale of our place finishing up about 5 days before the purchase of his. We'll have a slightly bigger mortgage, but will be able to rent at a price that will cover it. Of course, the whole process has been a bit stressful, but in the end, we'll have a great house that we'll be able to live in (our original would be a bit on the small size...we're hoping to go back with a little one).
- Work: Lots going on here with planning medical support for multiple exercises, units, and other things, as well as increased responsibilities with planning space utilization for our building. The last guy to have this job was an engineer...I'm in the medical field. Still, it's interesting, if a bit like one of those puzzles where you have to line up the numbers in order, except with people who are used to having huge offices (myself included) who will now have to share space. Oh well...they're not in my food chain, so I won't worry too much.
- Travel (Local): In spite of all that, we've tried to get out and see some stuff. I've decided to take up Body Boarding (don't think I've got the time to devote to actually figuring out how to surf), and we've thusly spent a bit more time at the beach than normal. In fact, we were down there the other day, and ran into one of our friends, Lori, who was out on a bike ride. We convinced her to stop her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle and join us for a cold one at one of the beach houses that get set up every summer. As we walked up to the coolest looking one (sort of thatched roof beach hut style) an American said, "You guys can sit here with us if you want." We consented, since there were no other seats, and joined him and his Japanese lady friend. As we sat there and chatted, and cooled ourselves down with some cold drinks, he regaled us with stories of his girlfriend, Miss Japan. Don't know if he was pulling our legs, but he seemed pretty convinced of it. The lady he was sitting with seemed to back him up. Who knows, perhaps we had a 2nd hand brush with Miss Japan.
- Yakatabune: Later, after we got done talking with the possible Mr. Boyfriend of Miss Japan, Melody and I hopped on the train for Tokyo. True to form, we got slightly lost enroute, but ultimately linked up with some friends to go ride a dinner boat on Tokyo Bay This was a lot of fun, as it was all you can eat and drink. We thought we coined a new phrase that night...beer muffs, the sensation that that drunk guy is actually singing well when he's not...but apparently, it's not so original, as there are over 100,000 Google hits on it. Oh well. Still, it was a lot of fun.
- Fireworks: Learning a hard lesson last year after I spent 4 hours in the car driving back from work, Melody and I took the train from our respective works last week to rendezvous at home and go see the fireworks by the beach. When we got to the station by our home, we ran into some friends who invited us to come along to a Hanabi Party. Hanabi, or "fire flowers" are quite popular here, and fireworks parties have been happening all summer long. This was our first time to go to a "real" hanabi party, though, and it was really fun. We sat, ate, drank a couple of beers, and I got to use the tripod and cable release that I picked up a few weeks ago. And, fooling around with the aperture speed, I managaed to get some good pictures. We also met some really nice folks who made us feel really welcome.