Sunday, April 30, 2006

9AM Singapore, 7PM CST

I make it to breakfast where they have a very nice buffet situation.

After breakfast I wander around the grounds for a while. This hotel is beautiful.

Back to the room, update the blog and I'm off to see what's up. Today (Monday) is a holiday, so things don't open early. Some of my group is going to Chinatown to look for silk, shoes and stuff. I opt out, but I will definitely go later in my visit.

3AM Singapore, 1PM CST

I finally get in bed. The suite is very nice. My room is the closest door on the right.

Inside the room:

And a panoramic shot of the bathroom:

1:30AM Singapore, 11:30PM CST

I land, convert some money and get into a car to the hotel. The car is a white Mercedes C220 - very comfortable.

There is a problem with the credit card dialer at the front desk, so it takes longer to get checked in, but they let me go up to my room without confirmation from the credit card company that they will accept the charges. I misunderstand for a few seconds and I thought that they wanted me to come back tomorrow and not get to go to my room. After a quick panic attack, I realize that they will let me in the room.

12:30AM Japan, 11:30PM Singapore

After some fitful sleeping I don't feel refreshed at all. A quick check in the bathroom mirror reveals tired, bloodshot eyes. I can't wait to lie down on my stomach, or at least my side.

It looks like I've also miscalculated something - Tokyo is an hour ahead of Singapore, so our trip is an hour longer than I anticipated. Maybe some green tea ice cream will bring me around.

8:15PM Japan, 6:15AM CST

I think I slept for about an hour, and I awake to the dinner servivce. I wonder if I would have been able to sleep through it?

I groggily select steak after almost getting my bearings. Finally some sushi! Even though it is a micro-appetizer, it's delicious. I'm not sure, but I think I may have eaten the wrapper to something crunchy in the package of nut-crispy-things.

7:25PM Japan, 5:25AM CST

I'm so tired. I had hoped to stay awake for the Singapore leg, but I don't think I can. I actually fell asleep for a few seconds writing that last sentence. The Star Wars book is out - I don't like the writing style. Stephen King moves up the queue.

6:10PM Japan, 4:10AM CST

Tokyo Narita airport is nice, but the urinal smell easily escapes the restrooms. We were crammed into a bus and taken to another terminal only to find a last-minute gate change. They have something like the Skylift tram, so off I go.

Everyone that works here is amazingly polite and courteous, even to some tired, unshaven gaijin.

1:15PM Japan, 11:15PM CST

Orange juice and some kind of stick/nut thing. Crunchy and tasty, not salty. Now that I've finished it, I realize that it isn't very tasty after all - more on the bitter side.

Apparently another dinner service. I'm deciding to steer clear of wine for now.

This followed by another hot towel treatment. I'm getting used to this!

12:15PM Japan, 10:15PM CST

Under three hours remaining until Tokyo. Waking up this morning and driving to the airport feels like it was a far away. It's that weird feeling you get after sleeping either too long or not long enough.

I've been given advice to get on Asian time as soon as possible to help with the jet lag. I have no idea what time I'm on now - Central Bizzaro Standard? Trey am so tired, Trey stay up all day! I'm in a race with myself to finish American Psycho at least before landing in Singapore, if not Tokyo.

9:22AM Japan, 7:22PM CST

I'm awake after who knows how much sleep. I think I need to stay up, as I arrive in Singapore around midnight, and it is six more hours until we land in Tokyo. I don't know if I missed dinner or not, but just in case I grabbed a few snacks from the snack tray. Whoa! The tiny cheese wedge is called "Wee Brie."

I don't know who thought of the inflight radio selection titles, but puh-leeze! Do I listen to "Smooth," "Connected," or "33 1/3?" Say what? In the end I decide to read.

5:15AM Japan, 3:15PM CST

I've had enough wine to think that Two and a Half Men, which the airline has provided, is funny. Okay, I've just been delivered my sixth shiraz. I'm like, damn! I've totally forgotten about having to eat the salmon!

The movie selection on this leg is dreadful. Cheaper by the Dozen 2? I guess it is my duty as a blogger to link that to the iMDB entry, but...ouch!


Standard airplane toilet. No surprises, although flushing was very loud, and the sink default position was for the drain to be closed - a button operated the drain plug.

If this entry doesn't get me to Blog of the Year, I'm not sure what will. More wine, please!


Okay - forget what I said about the leg rest needing to be longer. I found another control to extend it. Very comfortable! I'm reminded of the knee support in the seats of some Mercedes that slides toward the front of the car for extra support for long legs.

More than meets the eye

My chair looks pretty much like a nice chair, but hidden within its depths are all kinds of things. Better than expected leg support, but it could be longer. Then again, I'm taller than the average bear. Ah, here comes shiraz #2. This entry is going to be good!

Next, the tray and the individual LCD monitor (!) fold out like freaking Transformers. I don't mean lame ones. I'm talking full-on Optimus Prime.

A tethered remote that doubles as a phone is in my console. [Dude, third shiraz! Everytime someone passes my seat I get more wine! I'm almost okay with not having the Japanese meal.] The device is pretty long for a phone, especially today, but it has to accomodate the remote functionality. Still, it feels pretty comfortable. In the background you can see this entry in my notebook! Art imitates life!

At some point dinner is served. Here's how American Airlines rolls:

Getting better....

1:25PM CST, 3:25 AM Japan

Hot towel treatment - nice! Bose noise cancelling headset - nicer! These things really work well.


So they are out of the Japanese meals. On a flight to Japan. Full of Japanese people. Lame! And I'm in the 10th row for crying out loud!

Books on a plane!

I stopped by my favorite bookstore to pick up a few books to supplement my reading material on the flights. I didn't even have a chance to make it in the door as I was sidetracked by the clearance shelves outside the front. I picked up a Star Wars book, four Stephen King books, Black Hawk Down (the real account, not movie transcript), and Man Plus. These are in addition to American Psycho, what's turning out to be an amazing book that was made into an amazing movie.

The Big Show

11:35AM CST, Dallas to Tokyo

I had to take the Skylift from my Dallas arrival terminal to my Dallas departure terminal. The Skylift is a speedy elevated tram that moved us along, and I was surprised at how fast it was.

Nice business class seats, with recline, lumbar adjust, legrest and legrest extension - very adjustable! The standard pillow and blanket greeted me on my seat, with a "SPA" package in my document holder (mints, facial and foot cleansers (different products), plastic toothpick, toothbrush, etc.

Something's always bugged me about First Class. They sit in the front and get seated first - no problem so far, but once all the "premium passengers" are seated, here come the parade of unwashed masses. I mean, what are the coach passengers supposed to think? Strange! I always felt odd passing the "haves" while I made my way back to my seat, and now that I'm sitting up front, I get a taste of my own medicine.

Before Business Class is even finished being seated we get our first beverage service - water, orange juice, champagne or mimosas. Obviously, the correct choice is mimosa, but they are decent at best. Make that pretty weak.

Hold the presses! We just were offered newspapers and...slippers! I picked USA Today and a pair of 11.5's. Apparently the Japanese lady to my right picked 11.5's as well. What? One size fits all? My bad.

We've also been presented with our dinner menu, of which we can pick Western (nuts to start, noodles with shrimp appetizers, seasonal salad, breads and either filet of beef, miso-marinated salmon or a pasta trio, with fruit medley or cheesecake for dessert) or Japanese (sushi appetizer, grilled beef tataki with wasabi mustard, eggroll cake with shrimp, braised duck with vegetables (not even to the entree yet!), grilled beef fillet, miso soup with seafood and tofu). It should come as no surprise to those who know me that I will pick any grouping that includes sushi, preferable without aspartame. An extensive wine and drink selection is offered as well.

Pictures will be delayed....

I must have gotten off without my camera cable or card reader, so I'll post what I can and go back and upload pictures, so if you see updates, and are interested, please check back later for images.

I wanted to capture everything I could, so I took a notebook and blogged manually! Six and a half pages of stream of consciousness. Please bring your trays to the upright position, Gentle Readers, and thank you for choosing My Sweet Blog.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Admiral's Club

So thanks to my trip I'm in The Admiral's Club.

Free drinks, TV, phones, internet...I think I could get someone to carry me around if I asked. I wonder how many First Class tickets are required before an operation like this becomes profitable? Probably not many.

When given complimentary drink coupons, is one obligated to use them? Especially if one's readers need to know more? I submit that one is obligated, but what kind of drink does one have at 8:30AM? Guinness? A shandy? I think it is my duty to my readers and bloggers in general to find out!

Ah, a Bloody Mary. This is actually my first Bloody Mary, and the bartender made me one with "the good stuff." They had Campbells tomato juice, but she says she prefers V8 as it is thicker. It makes no difference to me - this is good and spicy! I don't know if I'm already feeling it slightly, or just over three hours of sleep is making me woozy. Well, two more Admiral's Clubs to go!

At the airport

Thanks to a friend (whose myspace link I can't find) I got to the airport at 7:45 after an easy trip, a mandatory taquito and some of the worst coffee I've had in a while. Seriously, even sugar and cream couldn't help this watery abomination. Virtually no traffic, the mandatory Van Halen on my friend's part and we were off.

There were already a lot of people in line, but the First Class line is empty - my red-carpeted path to sweet freedom. This First Class gig just keeps getting better! Too bad I'll never do this in Real Life.

Finally packed.

I'm packed before 1AM! Only four hours before I need to wake up - what am I doing at the blog? At least I can sleep on the plane.

Friday, April 28, 2006


We really like making S'mores, and since we don't always have a campfire handy, we use our gas range. But how does one keep the marshmallow rotating and not pulling the heavy side down? We normally use an icepick, but once the marshmallow gets warm and soft, it is harder to rotate. You can buy official marshmallow sticks with two prongs, but who wants to go buy one when you can make it? I rubber-banded a cake tester to our icepick and voila! The Morton Biprong Roaster was born (patent pending).

We usually put chocolate on both sides, just in case the marshamallow decides to, uh, slip out or something. Plus it tastes better with more chocolate!

So there's all this S'mores action going on, plus we have a load of extra Peeps. I don't think it takes a rocket surgeon to see where this is going.

The Peep took to the Biprong Roaster just fine. As for the actual roasting...definitely different from the plain marshmallow. The sugary coating pretty much carmelized on the Peep, and it melted the eyes into larger brown spots. With a plain marshmallow I can tell if it is ready for application by how golden-brown it is getting, and how it handles on the spit. It's a little harder with the Peep, as the coating holds it steadier on the spit. The end result?

Not too bad, a little sweeter than a regular S'more. I was expecting more of a sugary, gritty taste, but either it was warm enough to envelope the sugar, or the graham cracker overpowered it. I can scratch this off my list now, but I think I'll stick to regular S'mores in the future.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

More book recommendations

So I'm a pretty voracious reader. I. Love. To. Read. I'll read just about anything, though lately I've had to curtail most of my reading to either work-related (specs, product definitions) or school-related (Assembly language textbook). I do manage to squeeze in a few books every now and then, and here are two good ones that you should check out.

The Club Dumas - I bought this book probably two or three years after I saw The Ninth Gate, and I had no idea it was the basis of the movie. I kept finding similarities and it was driving me crazy. I started and finished it on an airplane, and I had to wait until I got home to look up the connection. Whether you liked the movie or not, the book is worth picking up. File this one under "Books about books, secret societies, dabbling in the unknown, and any more would be spoilers."

Battle Royale - Another instance of seeing the (great) movie first, but I had no idea it was originally a book. One can compare it to Lord of the Flies, but not exactly. It deals with kids, who happen to be on an island, but they are part of a government program where they are forced to eliminate each other with various items that may or may not be weapons, until the last one alive is "the winner." This edition is translated from the Japanese, and is a very good, albeit sometimes depressing, read.

Half a world away

I wanted to put a few details of my itinerary to Singapore up here. Arriving and departing both contain three legs.

1. Austin to Dallas: one hour, two minutes, 183 miles. No meals - say what?
2. Dallas to Tokyo: 13 hours, 10 minutes, 6427 miles. Lunch and dinner. Please please please let there be bento boxes of sushi (I'm not holding my breath).
3. Tokyo to Singapore: seven hours, zero minutes, 3324 miles. Unidentified meal service - as long as I don't run into more Grade D - Edible meat, I'm good. What am I saying? I'm so far away from home by this point a taco might be just what the doctor ordered!

On the way back, we are flying with the wind.

1. Singapore to Tokyo: seven hours, zero minutes. Once again, under meal service, I see, "Meals." The suspense is killing me!
2. Tokyo to Dallas: 11 hours, 25 minutes. Dinner and breakfast. Holla!
3. Dallas to Austin: 53 minutes. No meals...dissed again.

Luckily, on flights to Asia my company puts us in First or Business class. This will be the second time I've been in First class. The, uh, first time was I believe an accident, where I think I clicked on a premium seat location when offered the chance to pick my seat. On the plane. Nevermind. I wasn't charged any premium, but I was in high cotton. The best thing about First class - the seats are wide and comfortable, like me! The champagne foot rubs, steaming towel facials, manicures and caviar totally weren't my bag, babies.

Friday, April 21, 2006

My first guitar

In college I went to Russia for the Study Abroad program, and among other things, I ended up bringing back a guitar. Basic dreadnought, and for 20,000 rubles (USD$20) it was mine!

I never really played it that much, but kept carting it around with me. Today I bring it in to work to have some of the rockers with which I work take a look at it and hopefully tune this bad boy so I can start learning git-tar. It turns out that the neck is at such an angle that playing notes toward the body will pull it out of tune.

My boys like to play with this guitar, and I've been preventing them from really cutting loose on it just in case I need to start learning on it, but I think it has officially become their guitar. I'm in the process of checking American Musical Supply, Guitar Center and Musician's Friend for both acoustic and electric packages, as well as banjos and mandolins - two instruments I've always wanted to play.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Roller coasters

I love roller coasters. When we were at Sea World I had the chance to select one (due to time constraints) to ride, and I chose the Steel Eel. I had to ride it alone since the kids were too small and Lacey had to stay with them. I noticed a seat belt in addition to the restraint bar when I sat down, which I wasn't sure was a good sign. I double-buckled myself in and off we went.

Halfway up the first ascent I noticed how high I was. "Nice view," I thought to myself, but then we kept going up. As we neared the tipping point, I started to get nervous, and a little worried. This is a normal feeling for me on coasters, but the fear leading to exhilaration is what I like about riding them.

The cars passed the apex and we started to go down. I haven't been on a coaster with as sharp a drop as this before. Here is a picture, which unfortunately isn't mine, of the first descent.

The Steel Eel is fast! I quickly realized why the seatbelt was there - even being buckled in I was being pulled off the seat. A few times I thought my glasses were going to be thrown off! I still have bruises on the sides of my legs from trying to hold myself in to the cart.

There is at least one more roller coaster at Sea World - one of those where you hang your feet outside the carts, but I picked the Steel Eel because the track was longer and taller. Next time we'll check out all of them.

What? The hail?

We were caught grocery shopping by a surprise (at least to us) hailstorm last night. My car had some pretty good dings, and we had some patio furniture broken. It was between golf ball and baseball sized hail from neighbor reports. We were listening to this racket on the metal roof of HEB for a few minutes when it clicked - this sounds like hail! We ran up to the front, like everyone else in the store, and it was pretty amazing. No pictures of the storm in action, sadly, but here are some from our house.

Monday, April 17, 2006

In 2006, you will believe a whale can fly....

Sunday we went to Sea World San Antonio. A good time was had by all, and it wasn't even that hot (mid 90's). Going to a place like this always gives me mixed feelings, though. We aren't zoo people, as we believe animals should be kept in their natural habitat. It's sad to see animals in cages, even though the cages are designed to mimic where they lived. I'm not knocking zookeepers, but I'm just not that excited about going to a zoo. Sea World is basically a zoo with some extra features, but who am I to talk - we bought season passes.

I am amazed to watch these trainers interact with some huge animals, Shamu in particular. You can tell they love their job, and love the animals. The trainers just dive right in to these pools with the whales - I don't think I could do it. I'm not the biggest swimming fan, but even if I were I think it would be too unnerving to be so close to something so much larger than you, with a mind of its own.

The grace that the whales and dolphins exhibit is unbelievable. I love that the sides of the pools are glass so you can see what happens under the water.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Soylent Green is Peeps!

For the longest time I didn't like Peeps. I either didn't like the taste, texture or both. This weekend, when we were making Easter baskets for the kids, I thought about why I didn't like them. It was then I realized, after railing against them to my wife, that I had never tried them! Now I'm not sure why I didn't like them. Are they too yellow? Too soft?

Well, I tried my first Peep this weekend. It's made out of marshmallow! Surely the second Peep would be different.... No! Marshmallow also! This may sound funny to you Peeps afficionados out there, but I had no idea they were marshmallow. I guess I didn't look too hard at the box - the one with the label that says "Marshmallow Peeps."

Now I tolerate Peeps. Definitely not my favorite, but not too bad at the same time. That they are marshmallow is nice, but it forces my hand to attempt s'mores with them. Oh, too late.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Snakes! On a Plane!

We've got to get these snakes off this plane! I mean, really!

The Professor and the Madman

I recently finished a really good book - The Professor and the Madman. It's about the herculean task of creating the Oxford English Dictionary in the late 19th century and details the main editor and contributor. One might think that reading a book about a dictionary is barely above reading the dictionary (which I like), but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


To paraphrase another friend of mine, some places don't even have barbecue while we live in a place lucky enough to be able to critique it.

I really like barbecue, and no matter if it is Salt Lick, Pok-e-Jo's or HEB - sausage wins hands down. Brisket is good, but if I could only have barbecued sausage from now on...sign me up!

As for sauce, it doesn't matter if it is sweet, hot, sweet and hot, yellow (Salt Lick) - as long as there is a lot of it I'm good. Jalapenos are required as well. A lot of them.

I'm not sure what's up with the white bread though. I'm not saying that a croissant is more appropriate, but maybe I might mix it up a little bit with some cornbread next time.

Our current favorite is Smokey Moe's because it is delicious, and close to home.

T minus 18 days

18 more days until I go to Singapore. I had to get my passport renewal expedited, to the tune of ~$150, but I got it back in roughly two weeks. I already had a passport from going to Russia in college for Study Abroad, so luckily I didn't have to do a new application. No visa is required as I'll be staying less than 30 days. It looks like I won't need to get shots since I'm not going to be traveling to or from a region infected with anything. I have an adapter for the power, but they are 220V instead of 110V, so I'll be looking for a transformer just in case.


This weekend we had to put one of our cats to sleep. I won't go in to details about what happened, but I wanted to write something about him.

We had Paco for roughly six years. We were eating at a Mexican restaurant with my cousin and her husband. As we were leaving, we passed by a car and heard loud meowing, and we couldn't tell if a cat was under the car or in the trunk. We finally figured out that there was a kitten inside the body of the car, and we found a hole in the driver's side rear wheel well that this kitten must have climbed in to and couldn't back out.

One of us talked some of the guys from the kitchen to come help us lift the back of the car up enough for my wife to slip her arm into this hole and retrieve this freaked out kitten. Once she pulled him out we knew he was going home with us. He was black and white and we named him Paco since it was outside the Mexican restaurant.

He was always skittish of new people and kept to himself away from the excitement when there was anything happening. Eventually he could warm up to people and come out from hiding when everything was quiet. We think that he rode in the car for some amount of time before ending up at the restaurant, and was traumatized for it.

Fast forward to this weekend...and I don't know what to say. Things happen too quickly, and it's true that you never realize how good things are until something happens. It's almost surreal how different it is now, and I can't help but think of my own mortality; how easily things can change in an instant and how many things are beyond our control.

I had almost convinced myself not to write about this - I mean, this is just some silly journal. Do I really need to expose myself like this? I still have a hard time actually talking about it, so maybe this is the right place for it. I'm not sure yet.

New vocabulary

A friend of mine who isn't working with us anymore introduced us to a new technique to be used in everyday life or especially on a written part of an interview. I coined a new phrase and wanted to share it:

Pronunciation: 'p&r-k&nz
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): per·kinsed; per·kins·ing
1. to look up something that one should know or someone thinks one should know <Dude, he totally Perkinsed "Kahn, Jr." after we talked to him.>
2. to provide an answer to an interview question that sparks interest in the candidate and generates a nickname <I Perkinsed that wireless question so hopefully I'll get a call.>

SP, you're famous! The royalties should start coming in....

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A spammer, by any other name, would pretty much be just as spammy.

I get a lot of spam, whether it's about body parts, bank accounts or unpronouncable prescription drugs. I keep a folder of spam in my email just to collect the amazing names that are attached to these emails. Here are some of the actual (unretouched) names:
Dave K. Infanticide
Regenerates G. Irishman
Oscillation G. Repudiates
Guffawing S. Clean
Indebtedness T. Helling
Lethally R. Halfhearted
Shitting H. Hyphens
Quadrangular I. Biting
Pantsuit H. Saturnalia
Heckler M. Promiscuous
Euthanasia E. Sobriety
I think I speak for everyone when I say, "I would definitely by something, over the internet, from someone named Pantsuit," but how do they know?

"Veda Sultenfuss? Tough break, kid."

The Big Time (or How I Enabled RSS Feeds On My Blog)

So when is the best time to check a blog? Hourly? Daily? Let RSS feeds do the work for you. The feeds basically tell you when there is new information on a blog so you won't waste your time. Check out David's writeup, as he has spent more time on the description than I will, and he urges you to syndicate your blog!

Since I'm using Blogger, I have to use an external RSS site, but the setup is trivial - a few clicks later and I have an orange RSS icon at the bottom right of my blog (check your browser status bar). Now I need to see if it works, and that's where y'all come in - drop me a comment if you can't see the icon, or if the feed doesn't work.

Update: I put an RSS icon on my page, with a link to my atom.xml. It's on the right side in the index portion. Hopefully this will get the ball moving, as I know everyone is champing at the bit to get my feed.

Do you want some, Spaghetti?

So I wanted to give props to a good friend of mine, David Lenihan. If you follow the news, you may think I mean David Lenihan, but I don't. I went to college with David, and he is the one responsible for pushing me off the razor's edge between relative anonymity and blogging history - hopefully in the right direction. Spaghetti, many thanks, from Spaghetti and Steve's cat.

Dropping posts - republish site vs. index?

I found out that some of my posts aren't being updated, and they are disappearing. What I think is going on is I may be required to republish entire site instead of republishing the index only. Luckily I can get to the content, so I think I'll post in a different way.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Is the unexamined life not worth living?

Apologies to Socrates for misquoting. I was thinking about why I would blog. Initially, I wanted to describe my upcoming trip to Singapore to my family and friends, but I find myself thinking more about stuff to post unrelated to my trip. Am I catching blogging fever? Will I start using "blogosphere" in normal conversation? Oh, the humanity!

I confess that, while I'm all for introspection, I don't really understand the need to describe how one's soccer game went, or one's trip to the mall. Maybe I don't get blogging? Is it more of the I'll-Do-Anything-To-Get-Noticed Syndrome, or anything to approach celebrity status? Who knows. Anyway, in my attempt to possibly Get-Noticed, I'll be posting more on Life, The Universe, and Everything (You Wanted To Know About My Trip To Singapore And Were Afraid To Ask). Man - Douglas Adams, Woody Allen..I'm really racking them up here!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wife Acceptance Factor decreases as number of speakers increase....

I have an amazing, wonderful wife. She's not as into electronics, gadgets, etc, as I am. We just got a new receiver and 7.1 speaker system. I'm thinking, "Totally sweet." She's thinking, "What's up with all these wires?" A 7.1 setup has rear right and rear left, as well as two center rear speakers that 5.1 doesn't. My goal is to hide as many wires as possible, and I'm not sure if I'll use a track that covers them, lay them behind the baseboard or pull the carpet up.

I'm going to build the speaker stands for the rears instead of mounting them to the wall. They'll be wedged behind the couch, so I'm not worried about stability, and I'd like to have the opportunity to move them around if necessary.

First post!

So I guess I'm blogging now. I've been meaning to do this for a looooong time, and finally a friend got me motivated, but more on that later. A diary never really worked for me, but maybe I can learn a few new tricks. I can't promise updates with any regularity, but I'll do my best. Thanks for your time.