12.03.2008

The Last and Final Amount of Malfunktion...

video
In our set closer, we keep things rockin' with "Rockin' in the Free World"... Quite possibly our signature song, and a very last minute addition to this year's setlist... We just couldn't resist...

Still Yet Even More Malfunktion!

video
Here Malfunktion tackles the recent Foo Fighters song "Long Road to Ruin." Enjoy!

More Malfunktion!

video
Here's another song from our set! This time it's the classic "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream... The wireless mic cuts out a bit on the vocals, but I think the wailing guitars of Jolly and Vogel make up for it...

11.23.2008

Time After Time: Malfunktion Live!

video

Here's a video of Malfunktion playing at the "School House Rocks" teacher talent show this past weekend! We tried to rock as much as possible, and we were fairly successful to that end... Special thanks to my wife for the cat-calls at the beginning of the video...

Long Time, No Blog!

Clearly it has been a while (if I wanted to, I could calculate exactly how long, as the date is posted on the last blog entry, but who has the time to do that... Certainly not someone who has the time to type out this really long explanation) since my last blog post, but with good reason. I now have a job that requires more skills than simply showing up and speaking English... 

So I promise a fun update soon, complete with video... I just have to find a time when I am not working to capture said video digitally, edit said video, and upload said video... But it will be worth the wait (possibly not, but it's free and you're not forced to watch it...). 

7.18.2008

Munich Day Three, Four, and Five!

Whoa! It's been a while since I've written a blog... I'm gonna group the rest of Munich together and call it good... Click on a day to see the pics from that day!

Day Three
: We headed to the world's largest beer garden, then to the Nymphenburg Palace, and lastly to dinner at a restaurant where the waiter yell-asked how many beers we wanted... ("Bier! Two!...?")

Day Four: We toured Dachau's concentration camp, then went to the Hacker-Pschorr biergarten...

Day Five: We toured through the treasures of the Residenz, then headed to the Englischergarten, which is another huge beer garden!!

Whoo! Done with Munich!

6.24.2008

Munich Day Two!

Day Two of Munich involved us going to the Andechs Monastery, which is famous for (among other religiousy typey things) brewing really, really, really, really, really good beer...

We took the train outside of Munich about an hour or so to Herrsching (Which means, of course, Mr. Sching), then took a bus to the monastery... A walk up the hill later, we were looking at a really old church and wondering where the beer was...

Along with ridiculously good beer, they also had some really good food... Various parts of various pigs roasted or broasted or crispified to perfection... It was a gorgeous day, there was beautiful scenery, and we had good food and drink... All in all a great experience...

Then we headed back to Munich, took a nap, then got up for dinner at the Lowenbrau biergarten... If you're not sensing a pattern to our days in Munich yet, you may want to re-read the last post...

Checkout the pics from Day Two here!

On to Munich!

You might just be realizing that I'm still talking about Europe even though I've been back in the U.S. for over two weeks... Well... Sometimes dem's da breaks...

So we grabbed a night train to Munich from Paris (which (by the way) I highly recommend over flying between or bussing between cities (You can sleep pretty easily on the couchette/bunk bed thing they have)) and arrived in Munich at 9am or so. Quite awesomely, our hotel already had our awesome room ready already, the guy at the front desk had awesomely awesome English skills, and the elevator (unlike Paris) was bigger than an awesome breadbox... We showered up, then headed out into the Munich streets...

We were within walking distance of the Marienplatz so we headed there and found the Augustiner Bierhaus, ate various sausages with kraut, mustard, and potatoes, then walked around some more... Then to Paulander for a beer, then a nap at the hotel, then off to the Augustiner Biergarten for dinner and beer... Yum!

Check out the pics from Day One here!

6.17.2008

6.11.2008

Paris Day Two!

Again I'm feeling a little bit lazy, so I don't feel like writing a ton about Day Two (The captions on the photos take care of most of the highlights anyway...) so check out pics from Day Two here!

6.08.2008

Paris Day One!

I don't really feel like writing an entire post about our first day, so I'll just link to the pics from Day One... Check them out here!

We're Home!

We're baaaaaaack! We arrived in Minneapolis last night at about 5:25 pm, and were greeted by Emma's parents, The Brothers Sherburne, and The Ladies Alwy... We were exhausted, but managed to stay awake long enough to eat some yummy snacks and then hit the hay...

I'm off to Chicago tomorrow for the Rush concert, Emma meanwhile will chill... However, I'm skipping a lot of stuff, as we were in Paris and Munich for the past 2 weeks... So I'll pause the current news and post about that old news...

5.26.2008

Hello Goodbye Hello Goodbye...

With the full realization not yet sinking in, Emma and I have packed up and are ready to leave Japan tomorrow morning! Our flight leaves Osaka at 9:40 am, which means we'll be leaving our apartment in Akashi at about 5:00 am or so... We're sad to go, but excited for our trip home, which has us going through Europe. We're spending 5 days in Paris and 5 days in Munich, and will arrive back in Minneapolis on June 7th! It seems like only yesterday I was writing about packing our stuff and describing my first experiences and impressions...

We really enjoyed our experience over here in Japan, and are going to miss our friends and favorite students! We are looking forward to seeing all of our friends and family back in the U.S.! It might be a while until we are able to email or blog again (the next blog might be about being back in the states) but we'll be taking tons of pictures in Europe! Also, our Vonage phone will probably be going straight to voicemail for a while as well, but you can still leav eus messages as we get them by email!

And don't think that just because I'm not in Japan that this blog will be discontinued... Oh no no no... You obviously don't remember the first month's worth of blog posts that had absolutely nothing to do with Japan...

Alrighty! As a wonderfully satirical cartoon dog once said, "Catch ya' on the flip side dudemeisters!"

Catch you later!

5.22.2008

R.I.P. Silver Bullet II

I recently lost a good friend of mine... My trusty steed I liked to call Silver Bullet II (The Original Silver Bullet was, of course, my 2003 Pontiac Grand Am) has been stolen... While the timing of the robbery was pretty good (it happened with only 5 days left in Japan) it was nevertheless a sudden and profound shock to my trusting and naive brain... I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye...

Here's a photo tribute to my lost friend:


5.18.2008

Hiroshima and Miyajima!

Last weekend Emma and I headed down to Hiroshima and Miyajima for a day trip. Hiroshima is famously known as one of the cities on which an atomic bomb was dropped during World War II, and Miyajima (which is a nickname meaning "Shrine Island", the actual island name is Tsukushima) is famous for its "Floating Torii" which is one of the Three Views of Japan.

We started the day at Miyajima, took a lot of pictures of the torii and the shrine, and enjoyed the beautiful weather! The tide was a little low, but it still was very picturesque...

We then headed back to Hiroshima and went to numerous memorials and a museum dedicated to the atomic bombing. The preserved "A-Bomb Dome" is the only building that survived the bombing that was close to the hypnocenter. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park has lots of different memorials in it. We took some time to visit them all, then went to the museum.

I was really impressed with the museum. It did a great job of showing Hiroshima before, during and after the war, it also did a good job of trying to explain why the U.S. chose to drop the bomb. The tone was very neutral, which I respected a lot... It also had exhibits about the dangers of nuclear weapons in general, which was also a good idea...

All in all a fun and reflective day. Check out the pics here.

Tokyo!

A couple weeks ago Emma and I went to Tokyo! (Yes, I know I'm falling behind, but I'm busy so BACK OFF!)

Emma wrote a blog about it here, and the pics can be found here and here! Enjoy!

5.01.2008

New Tuneage!

Check out the Reverbnation player to the right! ----------------->>>>>>>

A recently remastered version of a 2007 live, unrehearsed performance of "Route 66" recorded at Hautman Studios in New Prague, Mn has just been made available...

This homage to the raw, unpolished rock of such albums as "Exile on Main Street" and "Vs." features the vocal and improvisational prowess of Tom "Tommy" Teorey on electrically amplified guitar, the competent musicianship of Mark "Take It Mark" Willard on acoustical guitar, and the bewildered drumming of Erik "Sherbie" Sherburne on acoustic drums and cymbals... The pure raw energy of the one-time, unrehearsed performance is fully captured in the gritty recording production style of Hautman studios... Enjoy!

4.23.2008

Birthday Party!

On Sunday (my birthday) we had a party in Akashi Park (for my birthday)! It was a good night (because it was my birthday) of drinking, fun, and relaxing! After the park party (which was for my birthday) we went bowling at Futaba Bowl (for my birthday)... Joe came down from Omihachiman (for my birthday) for the weekend (of my birthday) which was really cool. We spent the rest of the weekend (of my birthday) recovering (from my birthday party) and chilling in Akashi... Check out the pics (from my birthday) here!

We're Good!

We are set for food and care packages! Thanks to all of you who sent them, they were sooooooo appreciated! You have no idea how much it helped us when we craved some good ol’ American food! Please refrain from sending any more food as we have plenty to last us the last month that we are here!

4.16.2008

Do the Toshi!

A new dance craze is about to sweep the nation... Everyone...
Do the Toshi!
video
Remember you saw it here first!

Yet Another Tigers Game?!?!

Seriously... Am I becoming a baseball fan? I guess so... At least in Japan... On Tuesday, Emma and I went to a Hanshin Tigers game at the famous Koshien Stadium near Osaka... Accompanying us were Toshi (our crazy Japanese friend), Daniel (our crazy American expatriate friend), Akiko (our crazy Japanese friend), and Mayumi (Akiko's crazy Japanese friend)... The game was another good one, with Hanshin winning 5-0! I am definitely good luck for the Tigers, as they have gone 2-0 when I attend their games with a combined score of 12-0! Anyways, the game and after-party are best summed up in pictures! Check 'em out!

4.03.2008

New Tuneage!

Check out the ReverbNation player to the right!! -------------->

A recently remastered version of a 2007 live performance of "For What It's Worth/Love Theme From Mst3k" recorded at Hautman Studios in New Prague, Mn has just been made available...

This 8+ minute epic highlights the improvisational prowess of Tom "Tommy" Teorey on electrically amplified guitar, the steady foundation of Jim "Jimmy" Hautman on electrified bass, and the competent musicianship of Mark "Take It Mark" Willard on acoustical guitar and "what could be called" vocals...

Check it out!

4.02.2008

Tigers game!

On Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a Hanshin Tigers baseball game in Osaka... Like I have blogged before, baseball in Japan is a lot more exciting to watch than baseball in the U.S. (or at least in Minneapolis)... The crowd basically cheers the entire time, as illustrated in this following video:

video

Let me be perfectly clear.... The cheering illustrated in the above video happens for every player, regardless of situation. I believe the cheering going on in that video was a 2nd inning batter who had no one on base... So yeah, every batter has their own song, which, it seems, every fan has memorized...

The game was at the Kyocera Dome Osaka, which looks like a giant takoyaki ball... We did the traditional "Incognito Beer Sneak" with some cheap beers we got at a convenience store right across the street from the Dome, and I searched in vain for a hot dog that came with a bun, but they only had wieners on a stick... Oh well...

The Tiger crushed the Yokohama Bay Stars 7-0, so it was a really exciting game to watch! Check out the pics here!

3.27.2008

Our Couch!

A quick search on Google Maps for 632 Adams St. NE, a click on "Street View", a little rotation, a little moving north, and what do we see?
When Emma and I moved out, we put the couch out on the curb with a "Free" sign on it... I guess no one took it for a while! Sherbie swears it was still there in September... Whoops!

Beijing Part 4! (And Hopefully the Last Part)

So the final full day we had in Beijing was very chill... We started out by heading to the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (or Mao-soleum, as I like to call it) which is located in Tiananmen Square... Why? Well to make sure he's still dead of course!

I think we were the only Westerners in line to go through and see Mao's body... We had to check our bags and cameras before we could enter the Mao-soleum, so we weren't able to take any pics of good ol' Dongy (my pet name for him) but here's a frame from a Simpsons episode to give you a feel for what it's like...

Of course Mao-mo was behind various thicknesses of bulletproof glass and various degrees of waxy fake face material, but basically it's the same... Not sure if the hammer and sickle was there...

When we entered the actual building of the Mao-soleum, it was absolutely silent... And we were hurried through very quickly, with only about 30 seconds or so of actual look-a look-a time... And then, horrendously ironically, the room right after Mao's body was a huge Capitalist-esque gift shop where you could by all the Mao branded merch you could want! Mao commemorative plate? Sure! Mao lamp? Yeah! Mao silver medal thingy? Why not! I didn't have enough time to study Mao closely while we were hurried through the tomb, so I couldn't tell if he was in fact spinning in his grave...

After checking out Ol' Dongy, we headed to the Jingshan, which must be Chinese for "Big Hill Made Out Of the Rock Dug Up To Make The Moats Around The Forbidden City"... There's a couple cool shrines on top of it, and it offered us a bird's eye view of Beijing (if that bird had glaucoma) and of the Forbidden City...

After that we headed north to the HouHai area, which sounds naughty but in reality is just a bunch of restaurants and bars around a small lake... We had lunch at a really good restaurant, and even got to have authentic Chinese lettuce wraps (Take that P.F. Changs!)...

After lunch we headed around the lake and, between fending off rickshaw offers, were able to check out a local festival of some sort... Some guy rocking out with traditional Chinese instruments... Then we made our way back to the hotel, Emma and I took a nap, we got pizza again for dinner, and got price-gouged on some beers!

And so wrapped up our stay in Beijing... A nice place to visit and a covertly oppressive place to live! Our final day consisted of breakfast buffet, a ride to the airport with Shoe-Tran, and a flight back to Japan! Whoo!

So ends my blogging about Beijing... Which is good, because I'm running out of witty Communist and smog quips...

3.18.2008

Beijing Part 3!

Day 3 in Beijing started with the obligatory pile of bacon and French Toast at the breakfast buffet... After consuming mass quantities of said breakfast stuffs (and washing it down with copious amounts of expresso coffee) we headed out into the Beijing semi-sun...

Catching a taxi in Beijing is ridiculously easy, as they are everywhere... And they all are pretty new Volkswagons (which is German for "People Wagon") or Hondas (which is Japanese for "Small Car That Will Never Break Down") and are ri-donk-ulously cheap... I'm talking 10 RMB for a 3 km ride... (I know there are at least two things in that sentence that you don't understand...) Or, to convert to Americanizalistic measurements, $1.41 for 1.86411 miles... Which, when you split it 4 ways, is pretty damn cheap...

We took a taxi to The Temple of Heaven, where the Emperor used to make prayers and thank the gods n' stuff... It was pretty cool, and, like everything in Beijing, contained large open stone and concrete areas... There were two large temples, and then an open air altar at the south side... Pretty cool...

After T.T.O.H, we decided it would be a fabulous idea to walk back to Tiananmen Square through a fabulous shopping street that we saw on our tourist map... However, after walking for a couple kilometers (approx. 1.242747 U.S. miles) we realized that the shopping street was being either built or torn down in order to make a new trolley system... So instead of getting to do some shopping, we got to see some old timey Chinese neighborhoods, or Hutongs if you are in the know (and you now are), and a bunch of "tored-up" houses making way for the soon arriving trolley system...

We then visited Tiananmen Square again at our leisure, rather than having Shoe-Tran tell us we have 10 minutes to soak it in... Just kinda chillin' at the Square... Not promoting democracy or free markets or anything... Not standing in front of tanks... Just chillin'... Nothing to see here... Move along police officers... Keep marching Chinese soldiers...

You definitely felt the police and military presence while there... And I would venture to say I also felt the need to keep a low profile... Not that I was spouting Capitalist propaganda or anything...

But there were tons of Chinese people just hanging out in the square too... Kids flying kites, people having a picnic, people reading... So it's really a public square, but one that is under the watchful eye of the police...

After round two of Tiananmen, we headed back to the hotel, but not before picking up some more Tsingtao beers... We decided that since Beijing had an American style Pizza Hut, that we'd order pizza for dinner... The ordering process was pretty intense, what with "Pieces" and "Pizzas" sounding almost exactly alike to the Chinese ear, but we managed to get 3 pepperoni pizzas... It had been a long time since I had American style pizza, so it was a welcome treat... (Japanese style Pizza Hut pizza looks like this crazy hot mess...)

So ended our second full day in Beijing, eating Pizza Hut and drinking Tsingtao... Awesome! Check out the pics here!

3.09.2008

Beijing Part 2

I realize this is taking a while... But when you think it took Swift at least 5 years to write Gulliver's Travels, then it's not so bad...

So after the Forbidden City, we headed toward The Great Wall, which is about an hour's drive north of Beijing, and made a brief (or not so brief) stop at a jade "museum"... Curiously, this "museum" had quite a few pieces of jade for sale... Hmm....

Anyway, Emma bought a very nice jade ring (which was promptly destroyed a week later by an errant high five and a smooch with a Tungsten Carbide wedding band during a post-strike bowling celebration) and Joe bought a "Happy Family Jade Ball" which is a ball with several independent layers carved out of a single piece of jade... S'cool...

On our way to the The Great Wall, our bus stopped at a really touristy souvenir shopping mall for lunch... Curiously, whenever we had no control over our own transportation, the tour bus kept taking us to shopping areas... Hmm...

Lunch was good... It was a variety of family style Chinese dishes on a lazy susan... They also gave us a free bottle of what can best be described as "The Worst Tasting Alcohol That Has Ever Existed In The History Of Mankind"... I know what you're thinking... No, it wasn't a bottle of Paramount Rum, it was some horrific turpentine-y terribleness... Perhaps it was liquidized Beijing smog... No idea... All's I know is we didn't even drink it when it was free and I will never drink it again...

After lunch, we curiously had about an hour before the bus was going to be back to pick us up... Hmm... An hour to kill in a huge souvenir store... Hmm.... I wonder what we were supposed to do... Hmm....

After aimlessly walking around the souvenir shop wishing they sold Snickers bars, we were finally on our way to The Great Wall...

After walking on The Great Wall, I think a more befitting moniker would be "The Tall Walkway Where Souvenir Vendors Constantly Annoy You And Slowly Destroy China's Cultural Heritage"... The less said about The Great Wall, the better... Ask me sometime when I've had a few beers and I'll recount the tale much like I do with the "Ding Dong, Willard's Dead" story... Right now all thinking about it does is piss me off...

After T.T.W.W.S.V.C.A.Y.A.S.D.C.C.H., we went to a small tea shop and got a nice schpeal about the different kinds of tea in China, and how they are properly made and drank... And then made our way to a Peking Duck dinner... Yum!

The dinner was good! Lots of different dishes with a variety of tastes... Again, they were served family style and on a lazy susan... We shared our dinner table (as we had done at lunch) with 4 Japanese college guys who were in our tour group...

After munchy-wunch-wunching on AFLAC's spokesperson, we headed back to the hotel for some hotubbing, Tsingtao beers, and risque photography... All in all it was a very eventful day!

I realize this blog post is ridiculously long... Thanks to those who made it all the way to the end!

Coming soon, Part 3!

3.06.2008

Beijing Part 1.5!

So I left off on the first night we spent in Beijing...

Our first morning in Beijing we awoke fairly early and took full advantage of the breakfast buffet... It was a rare opportunity to have real bacon (Japanese bacon is neither smoked or salted, so it's basically... um... pork I guess...) and some delicious coffee... After breakfast we met Shoe-Tran (our Chinese tour guide) and headed first to Tiananmen Square for a few minutes... We spent more time there on a later day so I'll talk about it then... We snapped a couple photos and then headed on into the Forbidden City...

The Forbidden City is HUUUUUGGGEEEEE.... It just keeps going... Huge open stone floored areas separated by huge stone and wood gates... The Chinese really enjoy their huge open stone areas...

We made our way through the Forbidden City, taking some pics as we went... They also had some exhibits of old-timey jewelry, jade sculptures, and clothing... We made a quick pit stop at an art gallery for some tea, and then headed to the tour bus to head to The Great Wall...

And.... I'm gonna stop there because it's late and I just had to grapple with our Vonage router for about an hour in the middle of typing this...

Tuneage!

If you look over on the right hand side of the page, you will see a new addition to my blog, which is a mini-player from my Reverbnation account that allows you to listen to some of my songs... The songs are all performed by me or by me and some of my friends or family... Check it out!

2.28.2008

We Interrupt This Program...

Let me interrupt the Beijing story for a second...

On Wednesday we had a "Sayonara/Goodbye to NOVA/G.Comm" party for Kristos and Faraz... They both are staying in Akashi, but got new jobs... We went bowling and then out for karaoke...

The night would best be summed up in photos... Here they are... Enjoy!

2.24.2008

Beijing - Part 1!

Alrighty! Emma and I have returned from our trip to Beijing (Or Peking... Or Peiching... Or Zhongdu... Or Peiping... Or a hundred other names depending on who was in power, or who was conquering, or who was recording the name) on Thursday. We had a great time, and definately saw a ton of stuff there!

In order to fully explain everything, and in order to not go crazy trying to write everything down in one entry, I'm gonna split up my writing about Beijing...

So we left Osaka at about 10:25 am on Sunday... That meant that we had be at the airport at 8:25 (2 hrs. early for an international flight) which meant we had to be in Sannomiya for the Airport Limousine (which is, in actuality, a very crowded bus) at 7:05, which means we had to leave the Akashi train station at 6:30, which means we had to leave our house at 6 or so, which means we had to wake up at 5:30...

In other words, we had to get up early... And we were tired...

At the airport we exchanged our Yen for RMB (Or Chinese Yen... Or Yuan... Or Gen... Or a hundred other names depending on who you talk to...) and headed to the plane...

We flew on JAL (Japan Air Lines) and it was a really nice flight... Only about 3 hours... We got the usual snack and drink plus a full meal! That was pretty cool... Also cool was the video monitors that were embedded in every seat... They had on-demand movies, video, games, and audio for free! It definitely made the flight go by faster... And more comfortable... One million times better than the usual NWA flight in The States...

We arrived in Beijing and met our tour guide, ShuTran (Or Shoe Tran... Or ShooTran... Or Sc hyoo Tran... Or TsuTuran... Not sure...) who tried very hard throughout the tour to talk to us in English, but most of the time just asked us, "Do you have to use Toilet?"...

We made our way to the hotel and checked-in, then walked to Wangfujing, which had less to do with wangs than expected, and more to do with name brand shopping... We went to the food court at the mall and sampled a lot of different Chinese entrees... I had some chopped chicken pita-esque sandwiches and some spicy sweet and sour peanut chicken.... Emma had won-ton ramen and some gyozas... But mostly we had some beers, which were super cheap and delicious! Tsingtao is the beer of choice in China, a Chinese equivalent to Budwesier.

After our dinner, we wandered around some more, went to the Night Market (of food) and then headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest...

Day Two will include The Forbidden City and The Great Wall... But that will have to wait as I am sick of typing!

Check out the pictures here... But DON'T look ahead... I'm watching you!

2.13.2008

Whisky!

So here in the Land of The Rising Sun, or 日本 if you will (and I will), Whisky is the drink of choice... When one goes into a bar (especially a fancier one) you are definitely going to see a wide selection of Whiskies, and a pitiful selection of every other kind of alcohol... It's a special occasion if they have more than one kind of vodka...

So recently I decided that I should give the old Whisky a try (although if you are a real devotee of all things Willard, you will recall a few pictures dedicated to Jameson Irish Whisky on St. Patrick's Day last year) while out at a fancy bar in Osaka.

Being the ultra-nerdy Rush fan that I am, I am well aware that Neil Peart's drink of choice is a 12 year old Scotch known as The Macallan. And, like any Rush fanboy, I blindly believe whatever Neil tells me to believe, so I gave The Macallan a try...

S'Pretty good... I bought a bottle at Costco (which, yes, they have in Japan) for only 3000 yen ($28 or so) and have been enjoying a glass after work every night this week... It's definitely something you have only one glass of in a sitting... I usually don a smoking jacket and sit in a large leather chair whilst imbibing said spirits, Beethoven's 9th playing lightly in the background... I peruse some gilded volumes of Shakespeare while slowly sipping...

Alright, in actuality I drink it while sitting on a mattress that's laid on the floor of our living room while watching CSI: Las Vegas and reading RSS feeds of online comics on Google Reader... But the attitude is there...

I'm getting to enjoy it... Of all the Whiskies I've had, The Macallan is definitely the smoothest and tastiest... (Is it uncouth to use the word "tastiest" when speaking about Scotch? Perhaps "yummiest" would be better...? "Yummy-nummy-in-my-tummy"....? We'll see...) But I'd like to give some others a try...

Any other Scotch or Whisky drinkers out there with a recommendation?

2.05.2008

Osaka!

Recently, Emma and I went to Osaka to meet up with Joe and Tiff and head on over to the Chinese Consulate to apply for visas to visit China. We're planning on going to Beijing on Feb. 17th so we needed to get a move on!

And of course, no trip to Osaka would be complete without a stop at the Shinsaibashi Apple Store (which may be the retail store I've visited the most while I've been in Japan... With the exception of Uni-Qlo) and Amerikamura (which is always good for people watching...).

We checked the new MacBook Air and snapped this picture on one of the 24" iMacs (which I desperately, desperately WANT). Then we had a delicious pizzeria lunch and lots more shopping! All in all a good time!

1.30.2008

Vote in the Polls!

If you haven't noticed, on the right side of the screen... Just to the right of this writing, there is a poll... These polls are for fun and can be enjoyable! There's been a pretty poor turn out in the past couple polls, so let's get goin' on the voting!

Make sure you vote! And encourage your friends to vote... If you vote, you can click here, print out the picture, add some clear cellophane tape to the back, and wear it around all day! You have that right.... But only if you vote in my polls!

Google Reader!

It's been awhile since I've blog about something I like rather than something I've done... So without further ado...

Google Reader!

Taking a tip from a technological genius (The incomparable Tom Schutta) I recently checked out Google reader... I mean, I already used Gmail (which everyone should... You do use Gmail, right...? Right? What's that? You use Hotmail? Oh yeah... I remember Hotmail... I also remember wearing flannel shirts and being full of teenage angst...) and Picasa (which everyone should... You do use Picasa, right? What's that? You use Shutterfly? Excuse me... *throws up in the back of his throat, then painfully swallows it back down again*) so why not see what Google has to offer in the RSS feed organizing department...


Being a person that reads several varying blogs and online comics, it was becoming a pain to check them everyday to see if there was a new entry... WELL NO MORE! Now I got all the blogs and comics I read entered in Google Reader... It lets me know when a new entry is written, and it does so just like my Gmail inbox... Bang! I can read the entry within that window, or click it into it's own tab... (You do know about tabbed browsing right...? PleasefortheloveofGodsayyes...) It's awesome and a great timesaver! It also makes sure I don't miss any updates! Which is sweet!

So do yourself a favor and check it out! If you already have Gmail (which you should, haven't we been over this?) it's under the "More" tab at the top of the screen!

1.29.2008

New Coat!

Emma is not the only fashionista in the family... I also procured a new outer clothing garment suited for frigid temperatures.... Check it out!

I guess I figured since I haven't bought a new winter coat since 1997 (That is not an exaggeration used for humorous effect (It was my senior year of high school (I remember distinctly because my mom and I shopped for it for a long time trying to get the perfect coat (Which, in my mind, was a "heavy" (As in weight ) coat like my friend Jeff's (Who was 7'19" so any coat of his would be heavy as it contained 46% more material than a normal coat) which I tried on one time as a joke) and finally bought 2 coats we put together to form a whole winter coat) which was in 1997) it truly has been 11 years) that I should pick up a new one, especially when I'm in Japan, which is known for it's winter coats...

So check out my warm (some might even say... hot?) new coat!

1.19.2008

Party!

On Saturday night we decided to host a party for all of our NOVA teacher and staff friends... It was an anniversary party of sorts, but more-so an excuse to drink a lot! Good times...

Check out the pics here!

Anniversary In Osaka!

Emma and I took a small mini-vacation to Osaka to Celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary...

We found an ad for the Hyatt Regency which offered the "Touch Plan", which gave us one night in the hotel, dinner, a cocktail, and breakfast in the morning for 33,000 yen ($308)... Which was a really good deal considering the quality of the hotel and the food!

We went to Osaka in the late morning and went shopping in Shinsaibashi (with the obligatory stop at the Apple Store), had a crazy good lunch deal at a pizzeria, then checked into the hotel at 5 or so... We relaxed in our room for a bit (they had The Discovery Channel there, so we had to take advantage of it) then went to the Suntory museum IMAX theater and watched a 3-D movie about the ocean.... It was pretty sweet! Lots of cool sea creatures I had never seen before!

Then we came back for a drink, and then dinner! The pictures will describe dinner better than me talking about it.... It was good! Real good!!

The next day we had a wonderful breakfast and then took in the Osaka Aquarium... Such a huge aquarium!

Osaka was a great way to celebrate our anniversary... I'm thinking we might need to Touch Plan it up again....

Check out the pictures here!

1.03.2008

Happy New Year!

Yeah, to you!

Emma and I had a pretty fun New Year's Eve... It started with spending the day with Joe and Tiff and Tiff's Family in Sannomiya and Kobe... We walked around both areas, shopped, went to a sake brewery ("No tours today..." "Boo!"), ate at The Old Spaghetti Factory (Yes they have those in Japan...), and generally looked at various objects in front and to the sides of us...

The Ecksellbergners took off right around dinner time to go back to Omihachiman, so Emma and I were left with about 6 or 7 hours to kill before midnight... What to do, what to do...

We were really tired, so we decided that a good pick me up would be a few beers at The New Munchen Club (where one is able to do some munchin' if one desires)... We were both ridiculously tired... The first hour or so of our time at The New Munchen went like this:

*Yawwwwwnnnn*

*Stretttttttccccchhhhhhhhh*

But after 3 or 4 beers, we felt invigorated, so we decided to try and make it to midnight...

After New Munchen a while, we headed to The Hub, which is an English-y typey pub pretty close to the shrine (which was the ultimate goal of the night)... We had a couple pints, talked to a bat-shit crazy guy (I quote, "The IRS is illegal you know... Look it up on YouTube..."), and met up with our friend Akiko...

We then went outside to countdown the time until midnight... The shrine in Sannomiya (and, I can only therefore assume, everywhere else in Japan) opened at midnight, and people came from all over to wait to get in and pray for good luck in the coming year... And to eat Gyros...

We waited patiently for the shrine to open whilst being surrounded by thousands of people waiting patiently for the shrine to open....

Once the shrine opened, and we made it to the front of the mass to be let in, we said a prayer, gave some yen, grabbed a beer, and, I think, most importantly, ate a Gyro...

Good times! Check out the pics of the night here!