Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ramen Noodles and Slot Cars, A Winning Combination

Since it's been a while since I had a free Saturday, I was raring to visit something. We decided to check out this Ramen Museum in Shinyokohama. I didn't know much about it, but it was something to check out and it satisfied Jerry's requirement that we take a train wherever we were going. We couldn't even get out of the lobby without Jerry hiding behind the couches.

We had to change trains a couple of times (or waste our lives on the local train that stops EVERYWHERE) and it was always an adventure making sure Jerry navigates the platform safely.

The second train was packed, but a nice young woman let Chelsea have her seat since Jerry was having a hard time keeping his balance on the moving train.

So we walked in the front door at the Ramen Museum and the first thing I spotted was the slot car track in the back. More on that later. Then I saw the displays that were requisite for calling this place a museum. (By the way, it says "museum" in the title and the website calls it an "amusement park", but we decided that "elaborate food court" was more accurate.)

There were interesting displays all about Ramen. Apparently there is something special about ramen bowls because there was this display that showed some of them cut in half. There were also displays that showed all different types of noodles. Of course, I'm just guessing that these displays were interesting as they were completely Japanese.

Next there was the directory. We had walked in on the top level, so the rest of everything was in the basement. The slot car track wasn't open yet and purchasing ramen was a condition of admittance, so we decided to head down and check it out.

Here it is. I actually thought it was pretty cool. The idea is that they wanted to recreate a street scene from 1950's Japan. Since I've never been to 1950's Japan, as far as I'm concerned, they nailed it. You can sort of make out the different ramen shops in the picture. Each one is distinct for different reasons. You can get a sample of that from the directory picture above.

Being that we're not respecters of ramen, we found the shortest line and headed in. The experience did make me a little curious of different kinds of ramen and I may seek them out closer by. The one we had claimed to be a fusion of some kind of Japanese broth with French broth. I'm sure the chef responsible for it will read this and come and find me while I'm sleeping....

It seems to me that the basic components of the ramen are the noodles, the broth, and some kind of meat and/or vegetables. These bowls of ramen cost around 80 to 100 times what I'm used to paying, but I think they're worth it. Very tasty. You can tell that much more goes into them than a tiny spice packet that is mostly salt. I'm pretty sure they used actual fresh vegetables. Also, they only use a small amount of meat, but it is very tender and tasty.

Jerry almost has those chopsticks figured out. Thursday at dinner he almost blinded me.

Now for the good stuff. I couldn't wait to drive the slot cars. When I was a kid, my dad had some large scale slot cars. I remember setting them up a couple of times in our basement and running them until the cars broke, or quit working, or something. I'm not sure what became of them. Periodically, I see a track or see a set in a hobby shop and think, one day I'll have a basement and on that day....

It was fun for Jerry. They had cars that were for kids so that the kid could just hold the controller at full-throttle and the car would meander its way around the track. But when I stepped up, the guy pulled this blue car halfway from his pocket and grinned as if to say, come on man, you know you want to. Well, I did. It was great.

Here's a little video of some of the other people running cars around the track. Good times. Now I'm jonesing for a slot car set. They've come a long way since the set we had. Now there are some digital sets that allow you to run two cars in the same slot (with lane changers so you're not stuck all the time). Now a two lane track can race four cars. Pretty cool.

Just as we were getting back to the hotel, we were passed by this cool Land Rover Defender. I told Chelsea that she was lucky it wasn't parked or I would be stopping to take a picture. Luckily as we got closer to the hotel, I saw that it had stopped at the train station. So I snapped it.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Where's the Double Pane Glass?

Before I really get going with my rant about windows, here are a couple of nice pictures.

Chelsea and Jerry enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon.

I finally put my long lens on the new camera for some pictures. The new camera doesn't support the autofocus on the older telephoto lens, but I got it close. Here is a picture of some stuff off in the distance as seen from our balcony. The bridge is in Yokohama at 35.454667, 139.674008. Just to the right of center, you can see what looks like a tall white tower. This is actually two towers that we are viewing from an angle. They are at 35.476885, 139.679168. I can't tell what it is. My first guess would be some kind of power plant. Fee free to hazard your own guess. The last major feature is two cranes shown, both red and white. One is the tall one right in the middle and you can only see part of the second one at left. These are part of Sumitomo Heavy Industries at 35.323026, 139.660472. This is a shipyard that builds some pretty large commercial ships.

Now, about these windows.

Our hotel room/apartment is awesome. The view is gorgeous, there is tons of ambient light, and there's plenty of space (although Jerry would disagree with that last part). Part of what I like is that we have tons of balcony and with that balcony, lots of sliding doors. We only have two fixed windows and 4 sliding doors. It's great and it's only going to get better when the weather warms up. (However, there is an unfortunate building policy of NO BBQs on the balcony which is strictly enforced.)

The doors are great except for one thing... single pane glass.

I didn't even know that single pane glass was still made for new construction. Here in Japan you hear more noise about energy conservation than even in the states. They're always going off about how expensive energy is and how they don't have enough of it. The apartment does have all LED lighting and small appliances, so it's energy friendly there, but this.....

Not only is single pane better for insulation, it's also better for sound deadening. Double pane glass would spare me from the 6:30 am daily wake-up call from the Japanese Navy.

Not only are the windows single pane, but the frames are uninsulated aluminum. It's almost as if the designers were worried about not having enough heat transfer.

So they cheaped out during construction and are now sticking it to the tenants for energy costs. Here's to cold feet.