This is our first chat:
1:49 PM marmanny217: hi.its grandma
1:50 PM me: Hi Grandma! It’s Nelson
1:51 PM me: Glad to see you online!
1:58 PM marmanny217: hi nelson. we are learning some of the nuances on the computer. we hope this message goes thru. lve, grandma& grandpa
I’m in my second of two weeks here in Tokyo. Japan has more than lived up to my expectations, which, for those that know me, means a lot. A few of the highlights so far include eating a bowl of ramen at the Ebisu branch of Ippudo, exploring multiple six-story toy stores, and visiting the Ghibli museum.
The Google team here is incredibly helpful. Everyone goes out of their way to make me feel welcome and comfortable. I hope to eventually repay their kindness when they visit Mountain View. I just returned from dinner with some friends from the office and currently have a bellyful of ramen to energize me to blog for the first time in, wow, almost six months!
- Visit the Ghibli museum! If you plan ahead, that’s best, since the available tickets each day run out quickly and you have to buy them in advance. I could write a whole post about the museum and the experience, but I couldn’t do it justice, as every detail of it was carefully thought out. This video tour of the museum hints at the fun to be had!
- If you’re approaching someone in a narrow hallway and intend to walk by them, stay to the left. This might sound obvious since cars here drive on the left side of the road, but I’ve created a few awkward problems by relying on my bad instinct to stay on the right in these situations.
- Take the subway or trains, not the taxis. There are multiple, interoperating systems running around the city, so you can usually get where you want really quickly and easily by public transit. You can also walk most places, which you might not realize at first. The stations aren’t actually that far apart.
- Along with the previous tip, be sure to get a Pasmo or Suica card and load it up with a few thousand yen to get you around for a week or two. They’re basically the same within Tokyo, except you buy the Suica at the train stations and the Pasmo at the metro. For travel outside of the Tokyo area, the Suica might be a bit better, since the trains operate over a larger area, but I got the Pasmo.
- As of 2010, don’t expect wifi coverage in many places, since Japan is still very much wired.
- Carry cash. A lot of places don’t take credit cards, especially if you want to visit the smaller restaurants and shops. ATMs might not take your cards, but I had good luck with the Citibank, despite their annoying fees. Get a lot at once, since you don’t have to worry much about theft.
- Walk across the Shibuya crossing as many times as you can. It is an amazing sea of people crossing the road from all directions. I first saw it in Lost in Translation and have been consistently amazed at how crowded it gets.
This year, for the first time in a while, I’ve been celebrating each night of Hanukkah. No presents — just lighting the candles. My sister gave me a nice stone menorah from Israel earlier in the year, which I’ve been itching to put to good use. I decided to search for [Hanukkah] to see if there was any relevant news. And then, I noticed dreidels along the right hand side, next to the ads. Super cool, so I decided to tweet about it.
Then, I refreshed my Google search results and whoa!! There was my tweet. I don’t know which was more exciting, seeing the dreidels or seeing my tweet in the search results for [Hanukkah]:
This is awesome! Happy Hanukkah, everyone.
(There are also Christmas lights, too, if you search for [Christmas])
Recently, I’ve been making a lot of cupcakes. While I was still looking after my parents’ house, before the barbecue, I made these Red Velvet Cupcakes. It was my second time using one of Amy’s recipes, and this time also didn’t disappoint!
Even the batter looked good. Lots (almost two bottles) of red food coloring!
They came out of the oven looking like this:
And, here they are, complete with cream cheese frosting:
Tonight, I ruined a batch of Original Nestlé® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies by adding just a little bit too much baking soda. They still look edible, though:
Last week, my parents were visiting my sister in Chicago, leaving me to house sit their huge home up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Since they have a nice barbecue (charcoal grill) and an amazing view, I decided to have some friends over for a relaxing, carnivorous Saturday. Enjoy the pictures!
I should challenge Reid to a cook-off one of these days!
During my most recent trip to Target, I noticed they stopped stocking the Orbit Melon Breeze gum. Panicked, I searched for it online and found an 8-pack from Amazon. (They didn’t have an image for the product, but now they use mine!) It might be a bit of an exaggeration to call it the perfect gum, but I like how it comes in a nice container (the “Big E Pak”) and the melony flavor is refreshing.