Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Surfing Sucks

Also from Kono's, another sticker for my Pelican ;)

Kono's -- Last stop before HNL

Damn fine breakfast burrito. I recommend the "Local", a Portuguese-
style sausage beast. Mmmmm

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Pipe

So this is one of those projects I can't really talk about, but here's a sneak peak. This is what I'm doing in Hawaii.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Poke on the seventh hole

Poke from a little store on the side of the road, eating at the Kahuku
golf course. Nice.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kumako Ramen, San Jose

This is one of my locals; I figured I should start singing some of their praises, too!

In the heart of Japan Town, Kumako Ramen is a great location for a hot bowl of ramen on a cold evening. Like tonight. A nippy 54ºF is wonderful cold-walk to hot-noodles weather!

They bill themselves as "New York Style Japanese noodles", whatever that means… guess I'll have to have ramen next time I'm in NYC to compare! The noodles are good here, and consistent. I wouldn't call them amazing, but since I keep going back they must be doing something right. The menu offers traditional ramen bowls as well as some 'fusion' types, like Curry Ramen I enjoyed tonight. A bit of an Indian-Japanese marriage of flavors, with a touch of spice. Nice!

Kumako Ramen
211 Jackson St.
Japantown, San Jose, CA 95112
+1 408-286-2111

View Larger Map

rating: 4 feet
verdict: saddle up to the bar, say hi to Art, pick something spicy and order a cold beer to go with it!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ahh, the comments. My favorite part.

I love having my own blog. You know why? Because I meet amazingly wonderful, caring, intelligent people through the comments. Like this chap below. I'd name him by name, but I can't as he signed his comment as "anonymous". I'll just call him "an'us" for short. He responded to my little rage on Southwest the other week. I won't waste your time and ask you to dig for it, oh no dear reader, I won't. No instead, I'll put it right here on the front page, and… maybe, just maybe, I'll comment to a line or two. Yeah. I think I think I might…

an'us wrote:

It never ceases to amaze me how folks such as yourself want everything dummyed down.
It's spelled "dummied", or "dumbed down". But not "dummyed". Dummy.
It is really that hard for you to read the simple signs? Are you kidding?
Hm, yeah actually, it was. Especially the A sign that was half-rotated to B (so was it in the A or B position?). That being my first (and hopefully last) time experiencing this abomination of organization, since I was looking for the 'B' group, I wasn't quite sure if that line was for me or not. Remember, there were two lines side-by-side -- one for San Jose and one for San Francisco, and even this was plainly unclear.
If you have trouble with that how do you drive with stop signs and green, yellow and red lights. You musy be in a state of constant shock!!
Erm, because they're red, yellow and green. If the stoplights were "A1-5 = GO", and "B6-10 = SLOW", and "C11-15 = STOP", then yes, I do think I'd drive right off the road.
It is a system designed to help you and I continue to get a great seat.
No, the only way to get a good seat is to check-in online 24 hours in advance, or turn up to the airport early. Then you used to have to stand at the front of your line while the rest of the passengers lined up behind you. Now the point is that you can wander around the airport instead of waiting in line, however since most passengers seem to spend most of their time trying to figure out this system, I don't think we've progressed too much. They've created an over-complicated version of assigned seating. Why assign in groups of five? Just assign to a "group" of one, and everyone gets a seat.

And the only way to get a GREAT seat is to fly another airline and get upgraded to business/first.
And also help SW make money. Do you think they fly for you? No, they fly to run a business.
Ooh, good question. Let's ask Southwest, shall we? Let's see... their Mission Statement says: The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. That's very nice. I like it. Sounds like they're flying for me.
This way they are being true to you the customer and also to the simple fact that costs are rising and they figured what I feel is an excellent way to see to a win win.
"Win win", did you learn that in business school? I fail to see who's winning here. Certainly not the customer. When you hear customers yelling (and no I'm not making that up) to the boarding staff that "this system sucks", and "we hate this", I fail to see how that's a "win" for the customer. Or for the airline, since they will probably lose customers. I never went to business school, but I think you'd call that a "lose-lose".
In my experience people complain about anything and everything. There is no reason for it.
No reason to complain? You're absolutely right. We should all just be happy with the way things are and never complain. Gosh. I see the light now. Thanks Karl, you've made it all so clear. Now where do I get my fur hat and stand in line for toilet paper?
I also know folks who complain like you do not have a better answer.
Actually I do. It's called "assigned seating". Seems to work just fine for every other airline. Or stick with the simple A/B/C system. No one I know who travels for business likes flying Southwest, but hey for budget travel, I'll stand in line. I don't like it, but you get what you pay for.
Why not try to see the positive side and expect people to have at the very least a 4th grade education with the ability to stand by a number.
Well *I* have a 4th grade education (possibly more!), and I struggled with it (the boarding system, not the 4th grade). Look, clearly this is a complicated system. Case in point... as I flew back into San Jose yesterday returning from Tokyo, I walked by a Southwest counter and overheard the gate agent explaining to everyone over the microphone how to line up. If you have to explain something as simple as "lining up", you've already lost the plot. But don't believe me... believe Southwest. On the front page of their own website, they have a link for "Boarding School", and a sophisticated flash site titled "Boarding 101", which is a five-page explanation (I'm not kidding) of their new boarding system. So I repeat... as soon as you have to explain how to do some thing as simple as line up, you've just lost the plot.
I mean how stupid are you?
Apparently quite. I responded to you, an'us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Goodbye Tokyo!!

I hardly knew ya... save me a seat at the yakitori bar, I'll be back!

Yakitori [update] (was: Teppanyaki)

One night in Harajuku we got a recommendation for a teppanyaki place (hey I can't keep all these names right… so sue me!). The map was scribbled by a guy in a store for us, and it wasn't much to go on, but we found it!

the "map"

Verdict? It was good -- real good. The fried chicken was to die for. The chicken and onion, delicious. A kind of korean beef/rice/kimchi bowl was amazing. And the fried squid balls… well… ok maybe not so much. But we tried whatever we could figure out from the menu! Delicious.

As you can see in the pictures, the place had a great atmosphere. The walls were wallpapered with menu items and descriptions, the tables low and the rickety stools even lower. It was packed with mostly young people, but also a few suits. Our waitress was very helpful and knew a few words in English; enough to help us figure out a few things to order. There was one very excitable server with enough metal in her face to trigger a TSA security alert, and she kept coming by yelling at us in Japanese. We never did figure out what she wanted.

Name: Unkown name… see the sign below and translate it for me!
Address: some side street in Harajuku

View Larger Map

rating: 4 feet
verdict: great food, fun ambiance, if you can find it and figure out what to order, do it!


I went back to Harajuku this morning and found the restaurant. I still have no idea where it is on the map, but here are some photos. It's still called "squiggle squiggle line" until I can get someone to translate for me.

yeah that's right… I had the picture upside-down before. Get over it.


Catching up a bit here… the other night in Harajuku, we arrived late and hungry, and the power of sweet things overtook the urge to shop. We saw dozens of girls running around with these delicious looking crêpes and decided we each needed one. We found the source of the sweet pancakey goodness, and got in line. We realized after a few moments that we were the only men standing in line of a cute little pink shack and wondered how long it'd be before we started getting looks. Answer: not long at all. The line was moving too slow and we did have shopping to do, so we vacated and kept moving. Fortunately we found another one down the road, no waiting.

OK this isn't France but these were still pretty good. Mmmmm…


This city is remarkably clean. There is virtually no litter, even in the subways. Which is really remarkable considering I couldn't find a trash can in the subway to discard of my Starbucks cup… I literally carried my empty cup across the city before I found somewhere to trash it! In most American cities, with no trash can in sight people would just throw their trash on the ground. Not here. It's wonderful to see.


Taken at the hotel bar. There were vodka based drinks, whiskey, gin, and…

View from New Otani Hotel, Makuhari, Tokyo, Japan

Tsukiji Fish Market (video)

Not for the faint of heart; real fish were harmed in the making of this video. Mmmmm, sushi!!!

I finally figured out the time difference…

Calculating the time difference between Japan and California is challenging. But I finally figured it out! Add 17, subtract a day, carry the Tuesday, and divide by March. Done!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas in Ginza

Apparently it's Christmas time already!

Bottled Sweat

Makes me thirsty just looking at it!

Drinking Bus, Opera Palace

Had to share these…

A drinking bus… but when we tried to get on the driver yelled at us. Guess he wasn't open yet.

Outside the office building. Quite pretty, really.

View of Tokyo

This is the view from the office. Unfortunately a hazy day, so you can't see Mt. Fuji, but on a good day you can. Still, the urban sprawl is just amazing. No matter how many times I see this, I'm still blown away.

You are here

Well that's a relief… I thought I was lost

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tsukiji Fish Market

The Tsukiji Fish Market is widely known as the largest fish market in the world, and is a great place to start your visit to Tokyo. Arriving in Tokyo from the the U.S. means you're pretty much guaranteed to wake up at some horribly early hour (4:30 a.m. in my case), and since the market opens at 5:30, you can experience the madness first hand!

It's an amazing experience; a large warehouse packed to capacity with fishmongers selling the mornings catch, much of it alive, some larger catches flash-frozen, and all incredibly fresh. Not a single whiff of "fishy smell" will permeate your nostrils anywhere you go. You will see fish you've never seen or heard of before, you can watch a man slice through thousands of dollars worth of tuna with katana of a fish knife, or see eels skinned and gutted in record time.

Of course you stand still for any time at all entirely at your own risk and peril, as hundreds of motorized carts run at breakneck speeds up and down the tight, wet alleys between stalls. Getting bumped and knocked is to be expected; just try not to upset anyone holding a large bloody knife!

Surprisingly a lot of Japanese tourists are there as well; I think we saw more Japanese with cameras than gaijin.

Here are a few pictures; the full collection in in a [gallery]

After an hour or so of walking around the market and watching all that delicious fish being sliced and diced, you'll find yourself hungry for a sushi breakfast! Just outside the market are rows and rows of shops and sushi restaurants, where you can have the freshest sushi you've ever had, washed down with beer or sake, sitting next to chain-smoking Japanese fisherman… all before 7:00 in the morning. Perfect!

Enjoy a larger [photo gallery] here.

(Very) early morning in Tokyo

While waiting for my colleague to head off to the fish market, I grabbed a few shots in they stylish hotel lobby and outside the Shidome Media Tower in the frigid morning air. This hotel is in what appears to be a newly constructed business complex; there is still lots of road construction, and the buildings are all very new and modern looking.

Shidome Media Tower Park Hotel Lobby

Stairs up to the pedestrian bridge between buildings


Tea is the drink of choice in Japan, but in catering to western travelers, most hotels have some sort of coffee in the room. Every room I've ever stayed in in Tokyo has had an electric tea kettle and a selection of teas, and often has some sort of horrid instant coffee as an option.

This hotel has something I've only seen once or twice before, is very effective and surprisingly good! The single-use drip filter. Behold…

Mmm, a hot cuppa joe to start the day! Of course it's 4:45am but that's just fine, as it means I can go to the fish market!

Park Hotel Tokyo

Cool, trendy little place. Japan is just starting to do the 'boutique hotel' thing. This one's got it in the lobby, although the room is pretty plain. Nothing wrong with it at all, but a bit bland. The view is fun though.

Japan Land

Flight was fine, easy enough (or as easy as 12 hours in the air can be). Met up with a colleague at the airport and we rode the JR line train into Tokyo station. Nearly missed our stop… oops… guess we both figured EVERYONE would be getting off there! Good thing we asked.

From the Tokyo station we were both too hungry to wait until after check-in to eat, so we wandered until we found a row of restaurants. Nothing in English, no pictures, all Japanese in the joint's… perfect!

We ended up in a sushi place (honestly didn't even know what kind of restaurant we were in until they handed us a picture menu). A huge pile of sushi and several beers later and we rolled on out and off to our respective hotels.

We had some great sushi, including hamache, amaebi, some unidentified white fish, maguro, whale (!! -- although we were assured it's imitation, and it some other guest called it 'bacon'. OK we have no idea what it was, but it was tasty), and the winner of the night -- horse! Yes, horse. At least that's what he said. Red meat, served raw, very fatty, and unbelievably tasty. We ordered seconds.

Washed down with a beer or three, and we were two happy boys in Tokyo-land.

I couldn't tell you the address of this place, but there is a name on the first photo. If you find it, go!

Kassen Ichiba (ok for all I know that could say "eat here, gringo!")

rating: 4 feet
verdict: Try something you've never seen before, it'll be good! Honest!

Friday, November 9, 2007


SouthWest has just graduated from a crappy boarding procedure to a super-crappy-shitty boarding procedure. Instead of the ass-numbing (because you had to sit on the floor for half an hour before boarding if you wanted a decent seat) yet understandable A, B or C boarding procedure, you now have a number assignment (not a seat assignment mind you). Mine was Group B Position 30. So I had to locate the 8-square foot staging area for B26-30. No I'm not kidding. But wait, there's more. B1-5, 6-10, 11-15 etc. don't exist until A1-5, 6-10, etc. have boarded. Once A is on the plane, they rotate the sign and A staging area becomes B. And the confusion begins again.

Just to make things more fun, they boarded the flights to SJC and to SFO at the exact same time, at gates 11 and 13, for which the gates are about 6 inches apart. For the first time in my life I nearly got on the wrong plane.

The only levity to the situation was the hysterical mass confusion of two Bay Area bound flights trying to make sense of this madness. People were actually yelling to the attendants that "this system sucks" or that "we hate this!".

Someone's gonna get fired over this one.