Monday, December 31, 2007

Erik Trinidad's Latest Travels

One of our favorite FOSTs (Friend of Sand and Tsunamis), Erik Trinidad, is back out there on what has been dubbed the "Central American Eviction Tour." The lease on his apartment expired, and the landlords have decided not to renew in order to transform it into some ultra-luxurious development. Not one to take life's curveballs without taking a swing, he decided to turn homelessness into an opportunity for more travel.

So, he's making his way through Central America. Having started in Belize, he moved on to Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and now is in Columbia.

As you follow along, note that in the comments in the "Going Eco" post. He apparently got shot...not sure what that means, because, with Erik it could be anything. Still, he was away from the blog for a while, and is working on getting it updated.

Head back to the start when you have some time, and travel along. If this is your first time with Erik, be sure to check out his Global Trip 2004 blog, where he spent 503 days on the road, and blogged about each day. It's well worth whatever time it takes you to get through.

Sumo Video

video

One of the bouts we watched at the Sumo tournament last September. Not sure who it is, but it was pretty quick.

Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu! (Happy New Year)

Well, out with 07 and in with 08. Every year seems to get shorter and shorter, and it seems like barely 12 months ago that we began 2007.

We had a relatively quiet evening last night, spending time with our friends Ginny and David, and Mark and Margie. We went to our favorite Indian Restaurant, T-Side, and then back to Mark and Margie's place for a few hours. We played Cranium, and were having such a fun time, that we almost missed the New Year. We caught it just in time, toasted with Champagne, and went up on the roof to listen to the New Year's bells at the different Buddhist temples nearby. We finally got home at about 4 AM.

2007 was a mixed year for us. We had a variety of good and not so good things happen to us, but overall, 2007 worked.

Going into 2008, the pace will pick up. David will be going on business trips totalling about a month away between January and February, here in Japan, and to Korea and the US. Once he's back, it will be pretty much non stop getting ready to go back to the USA in late March/early April. While our families are understandably excited for us to be back home, and not have a 15 hour time zone difference to contend with, we're torn. We've loved living overseas, and Japan in particular has been the experience of a lifetime. We'll actually be quite sad to leave.

But, leave we must, and it's just part of the nomadic lifestyle we've chosen. We'll head to Texas next, and it will be good to be closer to Melody's folks, and a Southwest flight away from David's. We'll finally get to see our stuff that got stashed away in storage over four years ago, and will be able to enjoy our wedding gifts (finally). I fear we'll have a lot to cull and get rid of, but that too will be a good and cathartic experience. We hope to find a nice home to buy, and over the next few years, decide what we want to be when we grow up. Potentially, we could retire after our next tour. Not sure what we'll do, but we'll make some general plans, adjust them as necessary, and tackle it as it comes.

Here's hoping that 2008 is a blessed year for you all.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

strange name. found @ 100 yen store.


I'm pretty sure they wouldn't allow this on any airplanes.

Security Screener: "What's this?"
Passenger: "What does it look like? It's My Bombe!"

It's basically propane for a table top burner (used for making yakiniku or shabushabu). Not having one of those, we didn't buy any.

Posted from my mobile phone...


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Funny Japanese TV

One of the things we do enjoy about Japan is the television. First of all, they are incredibly accurate when it comes to predicting the weather. If the weather report says that it will rain at 3 PM, bring your umbrella.

One of the coolest game shows was a Ninja Warrior Challenge that was incredible to watch. Check it out on Youtube here.

There's also a trend toward funny game shows, that usually involve the contestants engaging in feats of strength or agility. One show, Takeshi's Castle, has been redubbed into English and is shown on Spike TV as Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, or MXC. The contestants are divided into teams and compete against one another in a variety of hilariously funny and painful events, such as seen on the below Youtube clip.



There are other game shows I've seen, that require contestants to answer questions or see their grandson bunji catapulted over an abyss, one where contestants have to get through a tounge twister or get swatted in a particularly sensitive part of their anatomy, and others which test contestants ability to sit in 50 degree Celsius water for time they later use to pitch a product. Much fun is had at other people's expense, it seems.

Candid camera type shows are also popular, such as one that has 100 people ambush one unsuspecting businessman. Such as below...



Not all of Japanese TV is silly game shows, but the best parts seem to be. To see what you're missing, check out some of these links...and be sure to go to Youtube and search for others.

The Japanese are Crazy
Psycho Japanese TV

Friday, December 28, 2007

December

Merry belated Christmas to those of you who celebrated it. December has been a very busy month for us both, with business travel around Japan, strange schedules, and the usual year end festivities and stress.

David took a short trip up to Sendai to participate in the annual Yama Sakura exercise going on there. We celebrated our anniversary in the first week of the month, spending the weekend up at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. When going there recently, we've begun to treat it like our own personal cruise ship. Once we check in, we spend the entire time there, enjoying the surroundings, eating at the exclusive Wellington's restaurant (usually the 5 course meal...the best deal in town for a nice restaurant), and relaxing with a good book over cups of good coffee.

A few days after our anniversary, Melody had her first trip to Okinawa for a few days, while David went back up to Sendai.

The week after we all got back home, David was promoted to lieutenant colonel. The list was released last summer, and his number finally came up. The ceremony was nice and brief, the way he wanted it to be, and they held the promotion party at the New Sanno the next weekend. It was a good reunion with old friends like Toshi and Harumi, as well as the new boss, Colonel Whitworth and friends from work.

On into the Christmas holidays then...As usual, we stressed about sending out Christmas gifts to friends and family, and relied heavily on on-line shopping to get everything done. While it will be nice to be back in the US next year, we won't have the excuse of being in Japan any more, and will have more impetus to be on time.

The holiday schedule continues for another week or so, and we're enjoying the relaxed schedule while getting ready for the big push that awaits us in the next few months. We depart in April, and will both be busy with additional trips for work, packout, and the myriad tasks to get closed out here and ready to go back to the US. Neither of us want to leave Japan, and it will be a terribly sad time when it comes. But, that's the life we've chosen...the semi-nomadic life of the military. We'll adapt to our new life when it comes. We'll just start the new chapter in Texas.

In the meantime, though, we're still here...Sand, Tsunamis, and will try to get through a few more adventures before we leave.