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Nerdy Times at Brent’s House (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 16)

Brent is one of my oldest friends… we go way way back… as far back as almost 24 years ago, when Netscape Navigator was what you used to browse the web, and back when LASER TAG was THE thing to do… especially at Ultrazone in Milwaukie, Oregon!

Brent and I met at Ultrazone, a place where I met a handful of people that I am still proud to call my friends to this day! He’s from the greater Portland area, and I grew up there too. Brent has been living in Japan for 10 + years at this point, so naturally we new that we had to meet up at some point so I could meet his wife and baby boy too.

Apparently a Game Night happens once a month at Brent’s house… actually it’s more like a game day since people start arriving around 11 am and drop in when they like, stay until as late as everyone wants to continue playing. When I was first invited I wasn’t certain when we would be leaving for Kyoto, but once I knew the date I quickly accepted the invite.

Brent and his family live in the Adachi-Ku region of Tokyo – kinda far from the center of the city so the normal hustle and bustle is far removed from there… it’s definitely more neighborhood-ish and less urban and a refreshing change from throngs of people around.

They live in a three story detached house… think like a townhouse, but not attached to a row of townhouses. It’s like a tall, square house. First floor is two bedrooms, bath and laundry room combined – a separate tiny room with the toilet and plenty of storage spaces. Second floor is living space and a roomy kitchen with every inch of possible space used wisely for storage. Top floor is bedrooms also.

I settled into a comfy spot on the arm of the sofa, and we all played a round of Fibbage… then another and another. A couple more people arrived and three of them went to the grocery store to get chicken wings that David was going to cook for everyone… we all chipped in the Yen and David does all of the cooking – what a nice guy!

The whole time they were gone we played The Great Dalmuti, a card game that Richard Garfield of Magic the Gathering fame, although The Great Dalmuti is absolutely nothing like MtG!

It’s an older game, first published in 1995, and it was a staple at our weekly gaming gatherings when all of us Ultrazone peeps would hang out before our weekend laser tag sessions… several rounds were played today and we introduced a new generation of players to the game who also seemed to enjoy it as much as we did… if they weren’t peons too often lol! You can read about it in detail here: The Great Dalmuti – at Board Game Geeks

David cooked wings and we played Dalmuti, then the table was cleared and we quickly demolished the first batch of wings, then another, then another… he made some REALLY spicy ones that referred to as “Death” – aptly named as the longer it was after consuming them, the more hot my mouth and lips became – I literally had sweat beads on my face from these wings!

Thankfully batch 5 and 6 were not as spicy and thus I did not die.

I played Overcooked with Brent and Kyle-Kun his son helped – Kyle is a year and 8 mos old and is already promising to be a gamer!

Kyle-Kun is adorable!


Kyle wanted his own chicken wing.

After wings Magic the Gathering was played and since it’s been way too long since I’ve played and I have no idea what I am doing, I just watched and then had to leave early around 7 since I knew that I needed to finish packing up and getting to sleep early for our trip to Kyoto the next day.

It was great to meet so many new people!

Last Minute Shinkansen Tickets (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 15)

It had been planned all along that my group and I would travel to Kyoto toward the end of their stay here in Japan, and the beginning of the middle portion for my own stay.

In talking with them about getting the tickets, for an inexplicable reason I thought they told me that they would be purchasing the tickets this week… as it turned out, they had ALREADY booked their tickets and had to pick them up from Tokyo Station! I started to get worried, because they used a booking agency to purchase theirs and I was concerned that the number of non-reserved seating would be sold out by this time.

So, after I finished working this morning, I traveled to Tokyo Station with them to see about tickets. They started the procedure to pick up their tickets and once they had all of the pertinent information, Joy explained the whole process to me, and showed me how much I could save by booking through the same website.

So, I walked up to the kiosk and had a number assigned to me.

My ticket for my place in line – 608 was the number but not indicative of how many persons were waiting!

Since I knew there would be a bit of a wait, I went ahead and booked my tickets online, right there on my phone. Now, I know that smartphones are clearly not a new or novel thing but it still delights me that you can do practically anything anywhere, and it was quite convenient to already be in the queue to pick up tickets, purchase tickets while waiting and then picking them up minutes after! The process online took merely 2-3 minutes and my wait in the queue was around 10 minutes, plus another 3 for the tickets to print. They must have a slow printer!

Tickets in hand and much relieved to actually HAVE shinkansen tickets… at a 22% discount too! We then took a stroll into the Minato Ward… I was feeling the nostalgia hard at that point because I recognized so many places that I would walk past or visit during my time here in 2015- definitely not a touristy area and I love that it’s sparsely visited because there are fewer people.

Paulina needed to visit Daiso, and I stopped along the way to take some photos. I caught up with them a few minutes later and we decided on eating Burger King since it was near and burgers sounded delicious. I hadn’t eaten Burger King in 3 years and it was also in Tokyo (Odaiba) … I can’t even tell you how long its been since having BK in the USA!

Not an eventful day for adventures, but certainly a day of getting things done.

Akiba Shopping Day With Friends (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 14)

It was a productive day. I woke early and did work all morning long… managing the amount of photos that I take can be a daunting task if I let things slide for a few days and do not edit, sort and organize it all.

… that’s exactly what I did for the last few days and it was weighing on me. It took me 5 hours to get it all done but oh that was satisfying to see it all finished! It then felt as if I could get on with my day, so I took a shower and left the house to join my Swedish friends in Akihabara.

First order of business was to help Joy find a new battery for his phone… this was not a fruitful mission, we think because the phone model was so old and no one carried batteries for it any longer. That mission abandoned, we moved on to Donki to look for a few small essentials… we all spent more time there than we expected and ended up in the arcade there for DDR, of course. I only played one round, since I didn’t have on the proper clothing to get all sweaty in.

I was most interested in going to the One-up store to look for more limited edition gasha and was hoping to get another Morris figure. The building that One-up is located in has several stores contained within… 1st and 2nd floors have one store each, the 3rd floor has One-up and I think 4 other stores, and then the next 3 floors are all singer The group wanted to take a look at anime figurines so I suggested the 1st floor of that building  but before I went up to the 3rd floor, I stopped on the first floor with the rest of the group, who was most interested in anime figurines… this store was pretty amazing I must say, not only for the sheer amount of figures that they stocked but also because:

The prices were fair. Compared to a large number of other stores in Akihabara that also carry the same or similar products, the average prices of things was lower.

Used goods. They had a large selection of used goods that were CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP – always in good condition, sometimes in damaged original boxes and sometimes not in a box at all.

I picked up two figures – both from Persona 5 – the cheap prices on these were too good to pass up!

I spent more time in this store than I expected to – I am not into Anime but I really do appreciate the art and talent behind it all plus the details on these figures were so incredible that I wanted to take my time browsing. There were a few that I really wanted to take home with me, but I passed.

Eventually I made my way up to the 3rd floor and the VAG gasha machines – in case you hadn’t read in previous blog posts, VAG is an acronym for Vinyl Artist Gacha… popular vinyl artists release mini versions of their work for sale in gachapon machines – you can read more here:

A Konatsu Kappa! It was from an older fun of VAG series, so I was really surprised to see this here – I thought that I had missed out!


Creepy mechanical monkeys – I could not resist!

Walking up to the VAG gasha machines, the  Morris figures were sold out! I did find two that I wanted… one from Konatsu, a Kappa and another from KikkaeToy, which is a scary looking mechanical monkey.  It’s difficult to walk away from these machines because I want one of each color variety, but you don’t know which one will come out so it’s a bit of a risk! But alas, I do have good self control so I walked away after getting just these two.


My blue faced mechanical monkey and a very innocent looking Kappa

We spent so much time at these stores that it was quite late and many places were shutting down for the night so we headed home. I had a quick and cheap Lawson conbini dinner before collapsing into my bedroll and passing out.

Uh Oh, I’m Sick (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 11)

No fun adventures had. No plethora of photos. No good foods eaten.

I went to bed last night with a raging sore throat and hoped for the best, that I’d wake feeling better… but that did not happen.

Despite wanting to get out of bed and make the most of my day this cold was bad enough that it felt best to stay in bed and rest… I slept this day away, not waking until sometime after 5pm.

My throat is about half as sore as it was this morning, so there is improvement. Currently I am laying awake at 10 pm, editing photos because I am having trouble falling asleep… gotta get the photos ready to update to the past few days of blogs that I have already typed up and are waiting to be published.

Paulina was a sweetheart and walked over to Lawson to fetch a salad and a hot lemon and honey drink for me… that warmed my heart as well as soothed my throat.

Here is to hoping that I’ll be fully recovered on the morrow.


Day #76 – A Photo A Day 2013

It’s late! I’m just now getting around to posting today’s pic, one that I snapped two weeks ago when I was roaming around San Francisco. (I miss my new home! Returning there in two days yay!)

San Francisco has no shortage of interesting things to look at and in turn, for me to photograph. 😉

The Holy Cow Mascot

The Holy Cow Mascot

This cow hangs above the door of The Holy Cow Nightclub – when I first moved to San Francisco, this cow was one of the first things that greeted me but then he was a metallic gold! I walked past here hoping to get a better pic than I did last time, but now he’s such a lovely shade of neon pink that I didn’t mind that the gold was gone. 🙂

I used Tangled FX and Photo FX to edit this photo.

Day #73 – A Photo A Day 2013

A quick post for today – a snap I took on Mount Sutro last week:

Mount Sutro Sunshine

Mount Sutro Sunshine

I used Tangled FX layered with a couple of effects and then altered the trees and tree tops with ElastiCam. I obsess over the details, so this edit took quite a bit of time.

Day #71 – A Photo A Day 2013

Trains are a never ending source of fascination to me and in particular I really like the BART Powell St. Station in San Francisco. Part of this may be a connection to it since my very first BART ride destination after leaving SFO was to that particular station.

I also really like the lines of that particular stop – so many textures and since the tunnel is so long at that point it gives me a chance to get really nice lines in the (excessive amounts of) photos that take of the station.

Warped Speed - at the Powell St. BART Station

Warped Speed – at the Powell St. BART Station

This was taken as I was waiting for BART to take me to SFO last weekend. I really wanted to capture the motion of the train as it was coming in for a stop and I felt inspired to not only run it through Tangled FX but also played around with it in ElastiCam, made by Lucky Clan. I only warped the windows of the train to give it a sense of faster motion while maintaining the integrity of the lines of the rest of the train.

ElastiCam takes a bit of getting used to, not that it’s difficult to use – quite the opposite actually, but fine-tuning just how sensitive you do or do not want the effect to be to the touch of your finger takes a bit of time. At first I found myself over-applying effects, but once I got used to gently dragging and adjusting the strength of the effect, I found it to be extremely fun and satisfying to watch the transformation to my photo.

Day #70 – A Photo A Day 2013

Quick post today – I have much left to do today (I’m in Portland visiting family and friends!) but I’m still committed to making my daily posts!

Today’s is #3 from the #7faceless challenge that Sumsion challenged us to on Instagram:

Day #3 of the #7faceless Challenge

Day #3 of the #7faceless Challenge

Day #68 – A Photo A Day 2013

Since I posted a rather serious picture yesterday it seemed fitting that I post Day #2 of Sumsion’s #7faceless challenge – it’s a much more light hearted post!

Yesterday’s photo was all about a time in my life when things seemed dark and un-fixable, a very sad time for me. Today’s picture is all about where I am today – joyful and content, rejoicing in my life and in the wonderful blessings that I enjoy every day:

Dancing With Joy = #7faceless Challenge

Dancing With Joy = #7faceless Challenge

I really didn’t do much editing to this one – just added a vignette and toned down the colors a teeny bit.
It took SO MANY TAKES to actually capture my dancing without having my face in focus! I finally just twirled several times to get the effect I wanted and even then I took a lot of photos before I finally found one that seemed suitable within the confines of this challenge.

Life is good!

Day #67 – A Photo A Day 2013

Instagram has been one way that I have been sharing my photography for two years now and in those two years I have found quite a few amazing artists that have greatly encouraged me to continue pushing the envelope of my creativity.

One of people who has influenced me the most is Sumsion – I was going to link to his Statigram page, but he’s turned off public viewing, which is disappointing to me because I would love to share his work here as well. (he is simply amazing!)

Sumsion’s latest challenge is a self-portrait challenge but the trick is to not have your face in focus. So far, this has been a very difficult challenge for me!

This is my first submission:

Blown Away - for the #7faceless Challenge on Instagram

Blown Away – for the #7faceless Challenge on Instagram

When I uploaded this to Instagram, some people that know me in “real life” were concerned because it seemed a bit dark. I explained that this is not representative of me now, but rather that it was how I felt at a certain point in time in my past – I felt like who I was had been completely blown away, destroyed and empty. I was having difficulty deciding just how to begin this challenge until a conversation I had earlier that day reminded me of that dark time and inspiration hit me.

I knew immediately what I wanted to do with my self-portrait, and after a couple of hours of experimentation, I found the right combination of app layering to actually achieve what you see here. This was a difficult one to actually upload for public consumption on Instagram – I felt like I was revealing quite a bit of myself without telling all of the personal details and I felt a bit of trepidation as I hit that upload button.

Immediately after, I felt almost a feeling of relief akin to happiness in that moment.

These challenges that Sumsion has presented to his followers have not only been pivotal points that have pushed me creatively but have also been instrumental in self-exploration and have taught me quite a bit about myself, even as far as really revealing to me how I view myself both externally and as a person.

Day #63 – A Photo A Day 2013

At the risk of redundancy I am posting yet another pic edited in Tangled FX because I simply cannot get enough of that app!

I layered two different Tangled FX effects for this picture of one of the Chinese Dancing Lions at the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade.

Dancing Lion at the Chinese New Year Parade 2013

Dancing Lion at the Chinese New Year Parade 2013

I really wish that I knew exactly how this app works – it’s so fascinating! This picture was already a little blurry because of the motion of the lion so I felt that it would be perfect to use the “blurred” effect to make it a little less noticeable. That didn’t quite give me the results that I wanted so I layered the “smooth fibers” effect over it as well to sharpen it up a little and to give the picture a bit more depth and detail.

Day #48 – A Photo A Day 2013

Chris and I have decided to do more things together that are physically active. When we were looking for an apartment here, we saw these basketball courts near one of the apartment complexes that we toured and made a note to go back.

Yesterday we went there to shoot hoops, and ended up going again today, vowing to make this our weekend morning tradition. We had such fun! It made me realize just how awful at shooting baskets I have become but it’s still fun nonetheless and I’m determined to up my skill level to what it used to be. (or at least try!)

Chris was getting some serious air time – he says that he wasn’t jumping high enough, but I was certainly impressed and of course I brought out the iPhone to snap some pics, much to his chagrin but he was still a sweetie and didn’t complain.

Chris - Michael Jordan Style

Chris – Michael Jordan Style

We played at the Berry Street Basketball Courts at the end of Mission Creek Park – there is also a sand volleyball court there too!

It’s underneath Highway 280 which provides some nice shade and an interesting setting. It’s clean and quiet and steps away from Mission Bay and a super nice walkway along the water, which is the route that Chris and I like to take to walk there.

I’m sure we will have many more happy one-on-one games there! It’s a nice spot.

Back to Blogging!

The time has come for me to start blogging regularly – actually it’s past time, and I am determined to keep the blogging up, especially since I’ve just moved to San Francisco and I want to record all of the adventures I encounter in my new life here with my husband! Packing up my home was bittersweet – happy to be newly married to Chris, but also leaving my family and dearest friends in and near the city that I have always lived in.

In the process of packing things up, sorting through belongings to decide what to give to charity was the hardest part, but the farther into the process I was, the easier it became.

Anything that was not used within the last year or two was given away and it felt so freeing to see all of those stored things go away! It’s also a nice feeling to know that my donations help to keep people employed, too.

In all, I donated 3/4 of my possessions and I don’t miss any of it!

It was a little stressful to prepare to leave Portland, but little did I know what would happen just before I was scheduled to leave town.

Monday the 7th was spent loading my section of a UPak trailer from ABF Freight. Chris (Sacco) and Daniel came over to help, as did my Dad so things were loaded very quickly. In fact, we had it loaded within 3 hours, so ABF was able to pick up the trailer that same afternoon! ABF was courteous and the whole process went smoothly.

As it turns out, packing things up would be the easy part.

That night was spent at my best friend’s house, even though he wasn’t home from Hawaii yet.

Tuesday the 9th I woke and began to get ready to go back to my place to get the odds and ends still left in my townhouse packed up and taken to Goodwill. While I was in the middle of eating a bite for breakfast, my Dad called to say that he was calling an ambulance for Mom to go to the hospital.

She would not fully wake up and could not talk – she had been sick for a week with some sort of “stomach flu” and at the time we wondered if the illness was getting worse.

Mom was in the hospital from last Tuesday (the 9th) until Sunday afternoon. She had been vomiting for almost a week, and that morning woke up un-able to communicate with my Dad.

They took her to the ER, and admitted her to the hospital. She had become dehydrated, and because of the stomach bug she had, her sugar levels had risen quite dangerously (over 300 points). That, coupled with infection that had spread into her bloodstream affected her brain function severely. There were several of us there in the room with her for several hours that night, but she didn’t remember that at all.

The next day, she would slip in and out of being coherent and cognizant of her surroundings. At one point, I talked to her for an hour and a half straight, but later she didn’t remember anything we had talked about… just some minor details. It was so bad that she even had some hallucinations… she thought that she was being moved from hospital to hospital and then finally stayed at the one she really was in. This continued for a few days – you never knew if she was going to be clear headed or completely foggy.
The doctors told my Dad that she’s dying, but we already knew that – interestingly, they didn’t communicate that to Mom, but perhaps that was because she was always cognizant of what was going on . They said that they cannot put a time frame on it though, that it was impossible to guess when we might expect her to pass on. Mom has known for quite a while that she’s been slowly dying, and she’s okay with it – that helps me deal with it better. She and I have been discussing this for a long time, so while it won’t be easy, and I certainly don’t want her to pass on, I am prepared as much as I can be, I suppose.
They pushed her hard to be put in a nursing home, right down to making the arrangements for a specific place WITHOUT talking to my Dad or Mom or any other family member. There were a few arguments between Dad and the main doctor, and then an argument between my Mom and the doctor. I hate how they try to push things on you. They know that she’s dying, and she specifically said that she wants to pass on at her own home, where she is comfortable and happy, yet they still tried to push it on her.
She’s doing much better than she was at the hospital. Just after one day of her being home, I can see a huge difference in the quality of her communication and her retention of conversations that we have. Her mood is much lighter too, and I suspect that this upswing in mood contributes greatly to the increased memory retention.
On a lighter note, the move to San Francisco has gone well! My things were delivered here on Monday – we used a local day labor service that was recommended by Pinterest to hire two men to help us unload and carry my things up to our apartment.

All of that took about an hour with the four of us unloading (the two hired men and Chris and I). It would not have taken that long if we had not had such a long walk through the parking garage! They made it sound like we could unload everything onto the dock and then right up an elevator… well, the dock was taken up by large trash bins and recycling bins, so it didn’t leave us much room to unload things directly ponto the garage floor behind the trailer. We would take some things out, stack it up, and then start carrying or wheeling things through the garage, up a short ramp to the next garage level, walk several yards then turn a corner and go into the elevator area. Phew! We were all very sweaty and tired after all of that, but at least it went quickly.

I have spent the past two days un-packing and finding homes for things. I discovered that a couple of boxes that I had intended to take to Goodwill got packed in the trailer, I suspect by one of my two friends that was helping me load the trailer back at my old place. Oh well! I may have more things here that I could part with as well, so I see a run to Goodwill using our new ZipCar membership in our future. 🙂 (I sold my car to my Parents since I won’t need to use a car here very often)
I still have many things to write about from the past few weeks, and I’m not sure where to start! I should have a bit of time later this evening to sort out a few pics from my first weekend living in San Francisco, and then I’ll work backward to the wedding.

Off I go to run some errands!


No Post Yesterday!?!?!

EEP! I ruined my (small) posting streak! Today I will post twice – right now about today and later about yesterday.

Today was a not-so-great day, but I’m turning the evening around! I’m relaxing now while dinner cooks… well, as much relaxing as you can do while your’re having to go back to the stove.

Weather was practically warm compared to the last couple of weeks of temperatures in the 30’s. It must have been 50-something today, and I was absolutely craving a nice long hike.

Nope, I don’t even care that it would be muddy up on the trails. A long, strenuous hike is exactly what I needed and wanted today, but that will have to wait for a new pair of hiking boots. 🙂

Blogging Again

I used to blog all the time… every day, even several times in a day. I used my blog as a way to remember special moments, catalog ideas and sometimes just express creativity or the emotion of the moment.

During a not-so-happy period in my life, I lost the desire to blog, and with that diminished desire also faded a creative part of me that I thought I could never find again.

Fast forward a few years from that time and you will find me a much more happy, well-rounded individual with a renewed desire to be creative and expressive once again. Will I post anything personal here? Perhaps. Mostly I think I’ll record thoughts and opinions, with perhaps a bit of creative writing for public consumption, if I feel brave enough.

For now, I am making a commitment to myself to blog at least once a day, even if it’s an un-important and drab post about a menial task or a passing thought. I think sticking to this discipline may give me the boost I need to motivate myself toward a more productive and thoughtful blog perhaps.




First Post!

My my, what an original title! I have to wonder just how many new blogs have that exact same title for their first post.

Ah well, why break with tradition?

At this time, I intend to use this blog mainly for creative writing, but perhaps there will be an editorial here and there, with a sprinkle of life updates.