Monday, July 30, 2007

Purikkura - The Shit!

Yo players. This is the Old Coot comin' at you one more 'gain from the Eastern Hemisphere. This is my last day here in sunny Japan, so you can expect that I'll be hollerin' at you on a more regular basis in the near future. I took somewhere on the order of 350 pictures, so you'll have to give me time to go through them all. In the mean time, here's a shot from the Purikkura (sp?) we did in Tokyo. This was the best.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Japan Teaser

Konnichiwa bitches! This is the Old Coot coming live and direct at you from Japan. I've been keeping myself eggstra busy, or my sister has been I should say. She's had the whole trip orchestrated for me, and I just been following along. This is how vacations should be!

I Ate Some Shit Tonight

"Ha ha, he ate shit" you're probably saying to yourself and those around you. But I mean it in the "Ain't that some shit" kind of way. We went out for sushi where they have this carousel like you see at the airport with little plates of sushi on them. Whenever the moment strikes you, you just grab a plate and eat up. Or, in my case tell your sister what you want and she orders it fresh for you. PlacaTAN!

Editor's Note: PlacaTAN! is not Japanese. It's origin is not completely understood, but what we do know is that it is not Asian.

I stuck with some things I've had before: salmon, tuna, some other thing, but I was convinced to try eel. Once you can get past the fact that it's totally disgusting and filled with tiny bones, it's really pretty good. I had a rough couple of moments at first where I thought I might lose my dinner all over the table, but I did alright and was able to finish it off.


I'm guessing at the spelling of this one, but that's how it sounds. This is a photo booth they have in arcades and whatnot, only you can doctor up the photos afterwards. We took a bunch of pictures with an assortment of poses, then I had the honor of decorating them. I did my best considering I had never done it before.

One of the girls with us is a real live Japanese person, and she had a hard time grasping what the hub-bub was all about. Apparently this is something you do in junior high school, not as full blown adults. But shit, we don't have this back in the States, so it's novel.

I've been promised a better Purikura booth tomorrow, and now that I'm a seasoned veteran it should make for some good pics.

The machine spits out microscopic photos, but I'm photographing them with my camera so I'll be able to share them nice and big.

I'm sorry to say it, but that's all you guys get for tonight. I have to get all of my notes in order, upload all of my pictures/videos, set aside about four days and twelve pots of coffee to get down to bidness and blog about my adventures. I'll probably dish them out in pieces to keep from posting one huge entry.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lord I Was Born a Travelin' Man

Today's the day. I have most of my stuff packed, arrangements have been made for the kittens, I test drove my new ATM card, and I even know where to park at the airport. From what I hear, Economy Lot E is the place to BE!

First Class All the Way

Well, almost First Class. A friend of mine just got back from Japan and flew the same airline I'll be taking. Her daughter is a flight attendant and through the magic of flight attendant perks, she got to fly First Class to Japan. Knowing that I wouldn't have such a luxury she snagged me an extra relaxation kit from the First Class section. It has socks, sleeping eye cover dealies, earplugs, toothpaste, a toothbrush and more. It even comes in a nice pouch. I guess that's what you get for a $12,000 seat. My only fear is that I'll have it taken away because people like me in the Cattle Car aren't supposed to have such luxuries.

Making Chi-Town My Town

So when I arrive on the scene in Chi-Town tonight I have a couple of options. First, I can go to my hotel room and go to bed. Second, I can try to find a restaurant in the hotel, get something to eat, drink a coffee at the bar and hit on drunken vacationers (you know that's my forte). Third, I can catch a cab into Chi-Town proper and hit up some sort of sports bar or place with live music, and experience the night life in a real city. The catch is that my flight is at 7:00 in the morning out of O'Hare and I don't want to miss it.

I'm leaning toward the second choice. Dinner and coffee, maybe find a cozy place in the hotel to chill.

Time's Up

Sorry, that's all I have time for right now. I'll have to holler at y'all later. Peace and I'll send you some high quality Oriental Vibes.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Packing, Re-Packing and Three-Packing

As you now know, tomorrow is the big day when I take my big boy self to the airport and cruise the friendly skies for Chicago. After a rest, I cruise the friendlier Pacific skies for Japan. Before that, I have to pack, repack and threepack.


It started out as a harmless job: placing clothes in a suitcase. I knew I was going to need multiple suitcases if I was going to get back with goodies, but I still applied my normal packing technique to the job.

Checked suitcase: Dress clothes, underwear, shoes, other stuff.
Carry-on: Stuff you want to be sure you have when you get there. This includes toiletry bag, running gear, food.
Backpack: Stuff you can't live without on the plane. This includes food, magazines, book, music (and associated music accessories), cards, camera, chargers galore, and whatever didn't fit in the other bags (always a mistake).

I got the carry-on bag all set and figured I'd save the main packing for the next day when everything was out of the laundry.


Well, my basic plan is based on the premise that my luggage will be lost and I'll have to live on the carry-on equipment, hence putting all of my running gear in there. However, I have an overnight layover in Chi-town and I won't be sitting on a plane in a sleeveless technical shirt and little tiny race shorts; that would just be chilly. So I had to reorganize my whole scheme, moving travel wear into the carry-on and some running gear into checked bag.


Well, with most of the clothes packed it became evident that I had ignored footwear. Like a woman, I need about 5 pair of shoes when I travel. Crocs (which I'll be wearing during travel), Crocs flip-flops (cuz those Japanese make you wear them in their houses), dress shoes (in case we go somewhere decent), running shoes (for running), "daily drivers" (sneakers for just walking around in. I'm thinking the daily drivers might not make the trip. Crocs are pretty freaking comfy, I can probably get by with those.

Plus, I have a few items my sister requested that I bring. Your basic Bag Balm and Jiffy Corn Bread mix. You know, the basics. Those will be replaced by goodies from the Orient in my return trip.

Tonight I shall finalize the thrice packed luggage to see where I can make some improvements and what I can cut. Most importantly, the backpack will be reserved for ONLY things I'll be needing during my travels. None of that digging through toiletries to get to a pen. Basically I'll have reading material, iPod, kickass headphones and food.

Hopefully I can get that nonsense taken care of quickly so I have an evening to chill. Plus I have my Thursday Night Run that I would rather not miss. Wish me luck.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For Clarity's Sake

My sister sent me a link to the Tokyo subway map, so I could get up to speed on how to get around. I thought I'd share it with all of you so you can see why I might be a tad apprehensive about getting around on my own.

Map of Tokyo Subway System

Sorry, it's a pdf so you'll have to click the link. CLICK THIS LINK TO SEE THE MAP.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

News from the Front

People, T minus Two Days before my departure to Chicago. T minus Three Days before my departure to Japan. Things are slowly coming together and I'm really hoping to have everything packed up by Thursday night so I don't have to take the whole day off on Friday. We'll see.

End of the Line

There I was, whacking weeds in the front yard when the weed whacker made a sound I never heard before. It wasn't the sound of a rock being tossed into a car, because I've heard that before. No, it was the sound of the last piece of string flying out of the head. Well, damn. I've only had the thing for a few years and just haven't had a chance to buy more string. You know, I've been busy.

So now I'm going to be leaving for two weeks and my walkway is half trimmed. I'm sure by the time I get back I won't be able to see some of the stones, as the big fat late summer grass will have completely enveloped it.

Full Time Maid Needed

Over the course of the last few months, I've spent as little time in my house as possible. As a result, I've spent even less time tending to things of a domestic nature. As a result of that, in the last week I've spent every night just doing laundry. How can one person generate 9 loads of laundry and still have clothes on his back? Christ! Granted, a few loads were sheets, duvet covers, towels (I use a lot these days), but still.

As if that's not enough, when the laundry (and subsequent packing) is done, I have to clean the whole damn house. This I know for certain hasn't been done in a la-la-la-la-long, a la-la-la-la-long-long-lee-long-long time.

Bonus points, name that tune.

So what I'm looking for is a full time maid: mid twenties, French, willing to work for free room and board. The cats generate roughly three cats worth of fur per day, so she would pretty much have to follow them with a vacuum during the heat of the day. Another hour or two would be spent washing my freaking tupperware, which I seem to get dirty at the rate of one dishwasher load per day, and the last few hours she would have to pick up after my slovenly ass. Most things could probably go in the trash (or recycle bin, or composter) but I'm a pack rat and don't have the discipline to get rid of anything until I've tripped over it carrying two baskets full of laundry (with laptop balanced on top, and a coffee).

The Silence is Deafening

If you haven't already been a part of my running commentary on noise canceling headphones, I researched them for this trip. I forget exactly what the number is, but I think I'm in the air for something like a bazillion hours. Anyone who's been on a plane that long knows that the hum of the engines combined with the uncomfortableness of cranked up headphones makes for one cranky passenger.

So, I bought these puppies. They showed up on my doorstep yesterday and once I figured out how to get the battery (active noise canceling means you need a battery) into the things I was blown away. They cover your ears, so there's already some noise isolation, but when you flick that switch the only way to describe it is like the first breath of air-conditioned air in the middle of a muggy August day, but for your ears. It actually made me take a deep breath when I "heard" it. I turned them on and off a few times to make sure it wasn't just my imagination and it's great. You can still hear stuff, but the constant hum of traffic and even my own breathing were almost completely eliminated.

If you're fortunate enough to live near me, I can let you try them some time. But be warned, you just might have to get your own pair.

"You must become an old man in good time if you wish to be an old man long." By Marcus T. Cicero

Marcus, I'm way ahead of you man.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back by Unpopular Demand

Alright people, here's the skinny... I've been away from ye olde blogge for some time now and as I sit here with no e-mail to read I'm thinking it's time to catch urrbody up on what I've been up to.

So What Have You Been Doing?

Well, whenI last rapped at you, I was probably in the midst (or post midst) of installing my windows. Those are long since finished, but with repainting on the inside left.

Hmm, I was probably running a lot. Nowadays I've been pouring my sweat and tears into my bike and kayak, as my hamstring has been causing me undue agony. I'm still running, just not nearly as much or as fast :( I got whipped by old people at the 4th of July 5k here in P-field. The weather was perfect, I was rested, I had on some comfy clothes, a pretty lady talked to me (married with children, wouldn't you know), and so on. I certainly could have done better, but I kept it just below the hamstring tearing threshold.

Biking, or cycling as I will refer to it from here on out, has been my cross-training activity of choice. I'm planning on IronManning the Josh Billings Runaground this September (I need a couple of support crew members if there are any takers). Today, for sh!ts and gr!ns, I rode the course route (plus an 11-mile warmup to get to the starting line) and it was a sumbitch. We were able to average a little over 17 MPH, which is no Team Discovery, but we're not pros either. The hills we had to ride were killers; just long enough to screw with my newly learned hill climbing techniques. BUT, I had my new Curious George cycling jersey on so I at least looked good panting up those hills.

Before you ask, yes I said Curious George and yes I looked good in it. A woman wearing lycra was quoted saying "I wondered what kind of guy could pull that jersey off. It figures that you could." Afterwards, a guy I ride/run with was quoted saying "The way your chest hair sticks out of the front of your shirt reminds me of a show I saw last night." I zipped it up. He was referring to 40 Year Old Virgin. I'm no Steve Carrell, but I guess I've had my share of black coffee.

I Don't Take Requests

After my last hiatus, people kept crying at my feet, thanking me for blogging again. They would then point out things that I so could blog about. It's not that I'm annoyed by it, because I'm not, but I like to think I have creative control over my blog. I don't want to pull a Dave Chappelle, but people trying to get me to blog about their stuff makes it hard for me to get my word out. Plus, if someone suggests something I was already going to write about, out of principle I have to not write about it because then it doesn't seem like my idea. So please, no requests.

There, enough about that crap. I do appreciate the attention though.

Hey, I Thought You Were Going on Vacation

If you thought this, you were right. I am in fact, going to the Orient to visit my sister later this week. I'm trying to be calm yet excited about it, but I'm sure when the time comes I'll be a nervous wreck. I'm trying to think about it like I'm going to visit her in California (or wherever) but with a longer flight. That way it doesn't seem so big and scary. What can I say, I've never traveled internationally and certainly never on my own.

Since my sister requested (demanded) that I blog about Japan during my trip as well as after it, I'm not going to. Actually, maybe I will. I might have to bum her computer though, cuz I won't have mine with me. Which reminds me, has anyone seen the freaking battery charger for my camera batteries? I can't find that thing anywhere.

Busting a Gut

I learned the other day that paddling a kayak should not require a lot of arm strength. That's good cuz it borders on illegal when I unholster my guns. Instead, what you're supposed to do is hold your arms still and pull with your abs and back, with your arms just along for the ride. Now, like most Americans I love a good abdominal workout, but an hour straight of those twisting crunches would kick anyones ass. I took it easy the first time out and thought for sure I would die afterwards. Now I've gone a few times and it's no better. Carrying the kayak back to the car and back to the sawhorses where I store it takes all I've got after a good paddling; the obliques are spent.

Check Engine Light

One last thing. I gave in and took my car to a mechanic the other week to have it fixed. It was the O2 sensor, just like I thought, but the work involved made the effort not worth the $100 I had to pay someone else to do it (plus parts, of course). Now, the Check Engine Light is off!

I almost miss the little guy.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...
"Something inside of me just said 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him.' and I just took off." -Pre