FYI, this is a rare Jason post. Be prepared.
Earlier this month, I headed to Japan for a few days of work. I was prepared for the business and technical aspects of my journey but I wasn’t as prepared for what it would be like to actually be in Japan. There are quite a few differences between the U.S. and Japan, especially for a computer geek such as me.
Viewing the Tokyo landscape from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, all I could see was structures to the horizon and beyond.
Tokyo was my first stop. Tokyo is one massive city, the largest on the planet. There, the buildings sprawl out without end and the streets seem to go everywhere. You don’t really understand just how big this city is until you observe it from the top of one of its huge skyscrapers. I went to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which has 360-degree views, and all I could see in every direction was skyscrapers, concrete, and more buildings.
Senso-ji is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, dating back to 628.
You’d imagine that the WiFi access would be excellent in such a place, where so many people are packed into a small area. Well, there was WiFi hotspots everywhere in Tokyo. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read any of the SSIDs and had no idea which ones were safe and secure and which were fake. Working in computer security has made me very cautious/paranoid about connecting to potentially malicious hotspots. My solution was to only utilize WiFi at the hotel and use cellular data as little as possible to save on my phone bill; it still ended up being over $400.
Mount Fuji offered the only hint of nature’s presence beyond Tokyo.
I also traveled to Sapporo and liked it more than Tokyo. Sapporo wasn’t quite as big but it was still a massive stretch of buildings. It had a very interesting underground mall, the largest mall I’ve ever been in. The people in Sapporo were extremely friendly, although practically no one spoke English. Everyone was willing to help any way they could and you didn’t have to go far to see a lot of sights.
This was my absolutely favorite meal in Japan. Who wouldn’t want delicious Sapporo Ramen for lunch?
You can tell I really did enjoy the miso ramen.
Do you enjoy and eat seafood? What would you envision if you were asked this question? I thought of flakey halibut and roasted salmon. Let’s just say that “seafood” means something else in Japan. I went out with some business associates to a very nice seafood restaurant in Sapporo. The meal consisted of 10 courses of authentic Japanese-style seafood: raw fish, tentacles, octopus eggs, sea urchins, and who knows what else. I probably wasn’t the best person to take to a fancy seafood restaurant like that.
Imagine this Sapporo TV Tower as a cartoon character. That is how all the signs represent the TV towers in Japan.
Overall, my business trip to Japan was interesting but I’d much rather stay in the US. Japan was a crazy and hectic place, although very welcoming even when incomprehensible. It’s a different feeling being in a city with millions of people and yet not being able to speak to a single one. If you do go to Japan, I’d recommend learning a bit more Japanese than I did before going, which was none.
Family goes with Christmas as much as fruitcake, maybe because both contain nuts. (Ba dum tss.) Jason and I are grateful that we have lots of relatives around to enjoy that merry season with us. However, we also like to have time for our own festive traditions. Finding the perfect balance between familial socialness and insistent seclusion isn’t always easy but our merriments equalized alright this year.
Christmas crackers are a Sabin family tradition.
We spent Christmas Eve among Jason’s kin. We ate a delightful meal with them and then opened piles of gifts. Their present-opening operation, per custom, included paper missiles and bow hairdos.
On Christmas afternoon we visited my family and did a round of gifting with them. Music is a holiday standard with my gang so pianos, violins, and even whistles were whipped out repeatedly during this gathering.
These were one of my many handmade Christmas projects: knitted slippers for my sister-in-law.
After those rounds, Christmas evening was ours to spend alone. Hark the herald angels sing! Jason and I prepared and excessively consumed chicken Marsala and cranberry spinach salad before even touching our presents to each other. Cooking a nice meal is a favorite Christmas tradition for us, albeit a tradition we can’t always accommodate with our relative schedule.
Jason and I always hope for a few quiet hours together on Christmas.
With full bellies, we did eventually get around to ripping off our wrapping paper. Jason spoiled me once again with more loot than anyone deserves. Between boarding goggles and an iPod touch, I experienced a lot of material weight gain that night.
But why limit seasonal expansion to the material realm? Jason and I kept up the baking during our Christmas break with treats like Yorkshire pudding. In my opinion, nothing is merrier than fixing fancy holiday fare with those you adore most.
Merry Christmas to all and to all an ideal blend of extended family partying and reclusive celebrating!
For a few years I have been collecting Christmas tree ornaments of the nerdy variety, decorations in the likenesses of superheroes, starship captains, and timeless doctors. I had planned on using them to transform our hefty Christmas tree into a fan wonderland at some point in the future. However, this year, earlier than the future, I ended up implementing my dorky design, although on a smaller scale.
I plan on adding more details to these trees in coming years.
Jason and I have a trio of petite Christmas trees that served as our primary evergreens when we lived in an apartment too tiny to accommodate anything larger. We hadn’t taken these out in years but Jason, unexpectedly, set them up for me this December in hopes that their blankness, like psychic paper, would inspire me to see what he wanted me to see and it did.
These skirts were easy to make using a round cake dish as a template.
Yes, I opted to give those barren saplings intergalactic and interdimensional bling. I separated the pop decorations I’ve been hoarding like gold-pressed latinum into three categories: Doctor Who, superhero, and sci-fi. Then, I loaded the trees up, giving each one a different theme. My sci-fi shrub, the littlest of the bunch, was more ornaments than branches by the time I was done with it.
My Doctor Who tree featured loads of Time Lordy stuff, including baby Weeping Angels.
I decided to make skirts to match each tree’s focus. Finding superhero and Star Trek fabric was easy but Doctor Who threads proved a bit difficult to locate. Eventually, I bought some on Spoonflower called “the doctor’s favorite things.” I used felt on the flipside of the skirts so no filler was necessary. These were a simple finishing touch for my fandom forest.
While I am by no means satisfied with my tree trinity and have plans to improve it next year, (A Weeping Angel topper is definitely in the works.) I am happy with my geeky evergreens’ shiny beginnings.
Every December, Jason and I invite a small group of friends to celebrate the season with us via ugly sweaters, even uglier mustaches, dinner, white elephants, and games. This year, our get-together provided acceptable amounts of hilarity, eatability, and nonsensicality, plus maybe a little indignity.
Just Dance is comical to watch and play.
We decided to hold our party this time in the Game Room at the South Jordan Noah’s. This space has a ping pong table, billiards table, arcade machine, and shuffleboard table. Although all of these distractions saw some action during our gathering, the room’s large projector screen got the most use.
I took a lot of senseless pictures of our guests.
We ate dinner on the ping pong table as if it were the most formal of slabs and then played Just Dance 2014 for hours. Just Dance, unlike solemner dance games, is more for laughs than competition. Its moves range from blaringly dramatic to borderline asinine. Simone and Jacob’s passionate performance inspired by George Michael’s Careless Whisper was an evening highlight.
I forgot to take a picture of our crowd until after half of them had left.
Eventually, we got around to the white elephant gift exchange. Frankly, this time, the elephants were pretty respectable, which is more than I can usually say. They included videogame console ornaments, superhero collectables, a restaurant gift card, and Loot Crate leftovers…along with a few less desirable items like a homegrown wedding video and a loaf of bread that Jason probed into a misshapen mass.
Our group shot quickly deteriorated into this mayhem.
Our party was spot-on: an intimate group of friends dancing for each other’s comedic pleasure and bestowing gifts of marginal usability upon each other. ‘Tis the season for sharing and Jason and I are glad we could share this lighthearted tradition with you once again.