Friday, March 20, 2015

50% Review

At work we have a 50% review when we're halfway done with the project. I thought I would do my own 50% review since now we're a little over half done with out trip.

So far it's been just like normal life in that there are things you'll take and things you'll leave. So here goes, some things I'll miss and some things I won't miss.

1. Wrangling Jerry in a two bedroom apartment - Won't Miss

Just look at that face. How could you think that there is treachery behind those eyes? No, that's not the right word. He really doesn't have malicious intent, but he is an energetic kiddo. I don't wish for him to be less energetic because I think it's a great part of his personality. We just need more space to express it.

2. Japanese Grocery Stores - Miss & Won't Miss

I go both ways on this. I like the Japanese treats (they have excellent snacks) and the ready to eat food section. The produce is usually really good quality, although, if it's out of season you're out of luck. But I'll be glad to be back in the states where I can go to Albertson's or Fred Meyer and get all the stuff I'm used to, then take it to the parking lot and throw it in my car, and drive it home. We have the commissary here, but I have to do all the shopping and I have to schlep it all home on my bike. (That's really something to see, by the way, my bike with front and back baskets full to the brim with groceries.)

3. Trains - Miss

I haven't talked to Jerry about this specifically, but I'm sure he would agree that riding the trains has been a very fun part of our experience. The picture above is from our balcony. When the weather is nice sometimes Jerry and I will watch the trains pull in and out. This is the JR Yokosuka Station.

4. The Balcony - Miss

Honestly we don't spend enough time out here. In our defense, though, we have been here in the winter. I'm sure we'll be out there more over the next few weeks. Part of the problem is also that there is nowhere to sit out there and I'm not interested in buying patio furniture.

That metal lid that Jerry is standing on (which I'm not supposed to let him stand on) is in both pictures. It can give you an idea of the balcony layout. The lid is a fire escape. You open it and a ladder drops down to the level below.

5. The Couch - WON'T MISS (all caps on purpose)

Yeah. It's a 3/4 scale Ikea couch. By that I mean it's 3/4 the size of even an Ikea couch. It helps cut down on TV watching and video game playing by making your butt fall asleep and your back hurt. I think this is the secret of Japanese fitness. If all Americans had couches like this, we would look like the Japanese. Sometimes I come home in the early morning and I don't want to wake Chelsea and Jerry so I'll just lie down on the couch. I'm not tall, and I still have to hand my legs over the end.

I also don't like the rug on the floor. It has about zero grip on the floor so it's always moving around and if you're not careful, you'll end up on your butt. When you're trying to stand up from the unusually low couch, the rug waits until you're almost up and then slips. It is sentient. I swear.

6. The Bed - Won't Miss

When it comes to softness, the bed takes cues from the couch. I'm sure they meet about it when we leave. The comforter is not quilted so  it's not long before it's just a wad of batting wrapped in cloth. See the two pillows on the floor to the left? Those are the Japanese pillows that were in the room. They have rice pillows here. Did you know that? Neither did I. Anyway, after a week of sleeping on those we couldn't take it anymore and we bought new ones at the NEX. Ironically, I will miss my new NEX pillow.

Just like the couch, this bed is unusually low. It's easily half the height of our bed at home. I don't know about you, but in the morning I'm not usually ready to be standing up. I prefer more of a sliding motion into a standing position.

7. The View - Miss

I really enjoy the view. It's mostly ships and shipyard, but I like the industrial beauty of it. The view is especially pretty at night.

8. Putting Jerry to bed in this room - Won't Miss

This is really challenging about living here. Jerry doesn't sleep well in here so it takes him a long time to fall asleep and he usually wakes up in the early morning and wants to come into our bed. The doors can't be latched and provide almost no protection from the light and sound of the rest of the house. Basically, when Jerry is sleeping (yes we have a noisemaker) you have to be really quiet in the house and you can't turn on the living room lights. In order for Chelsea and I to watch a movie or TV show we plug in an audio extension cord with a splitter and we both wear earbuds.

9. Riding the elevator - Won't Miss

I'm pretty sure Jerry will miss it, but I won't miss his demands to push the button himself. In this picture Jerry and I were on our way to the 17th floor to take the next picture.

10. Apartment Life - Won't Miss

This is our building from the inside. 

As Homer Simpson put it, let's go back to that place where our beds and TV is. I look forward to getting back home and back to life. This has been enjoyable so far, but there's still a lot to do before we head back. It will be nice to get back to my dog, my cars, and my mountain bike.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

JR East Railway Museum

Trains are a major part of life here in Japan. I mean, they shaped the country decades ago, just like they did in the US, but even today they are the main source of people moving. Riding the trains is one of the fun things about coming to Japan.

So this weekend I talked Chelsea into going to the JR East Railway Museum in Saitama. You access it from the Omiya station on the JR Keihin Tohoku line, north of Tokyo. It's the same line you would use to access Ueno and Akihabara. Since I take pictures, also like to share them. Here are some of the better ones from this weekend.

It was fitting that we had to spend two hours on a train to get to the Railway Museum.

This is the New Shuttle from Omiya to the Railway Museum. It looks like a train, but if you look close, you can see that there are no rails. It has tires. 

Just in case you're wondering, that french fries being dipped in orange juice. My favorite.

Classic steam locomotive.

Early bullet train. They call them the Shinkansen. I think this was  came from about 1980 or so. It was very high-tech.

The inside of the shinkansen looks more like an airplane than a train.

They also had this cutaway of a steam locomotive. I thought it was great.

Cool stained glass.

Here's a bird's eye view.

Model trains everywhere. That would be fun.

Check out for a copy of the video of Jerry chasing a model train.