Returned from a week in Japan on Monday. You can read more about it on my travel blog. Last chance to go overseas before bub!
Looks like we won't be going to Europe via Korea in September/October. Another trip cancelled/delayed. Another time this year? I wonder.
After watching Spirited Away I'm in the mood for Japanese. I cooked teriyaki fish and vegetables with a sesame sauce tonight, from one of the cookbooks we brought home from Japan. On the weekend I did some more work on my Japanese model railway layout. But it is not enough.
Friday was the last day of Winter and my last day at work before our one week holiday in Japan begins. The end of Winter was warm and sunny and it felt more like Summer holidays with both the campus and our offices strangely quiet. It was the perfect atmosphere for beginning a holiday.
In the morning I had a video conference demonstrating the my web form contributions to the capability browser project. The web application isn't finished yet but that's because the only time I have had to work on it has been my spare time, at night, on the train. Despite this being a high level project, my regular work has had to take priority, especially as one of my group managers has now left and my supervisor and only other web person in the group has been off sick for two weeks.
Anyway, I'm going to put all the behind me and hopefully enjoy this holiday. In preparation I have been converting various media files into formats suitable for the Zaurus and MP4 player. I thought it would be nice to watch an English movie or two in the hotel and have some video entertainment ready for the night flight back to Australia.
I bought a Western Digital 160G Passport portable hard disk drive to store the information and photographs on as we travel. I thought I might copy some unwatched movies from our Hotchip PVR and view them on the computer. However, the USB file copying from the PVR was really slow, probably USB 1.1. The 3G file was also split into two in the process, possibly because of a file system limitation (FAT32?). It also seems so far that the file must be converted before it can be viewed, despite me downloading the recommended codecs, and that this must be done in the Hotchip's File Explorer application. I have yet to try this as my laptop lacks the power and my "big hard disk" laptop is currently busy converting a pile of DVD's I recently bought into a format suitable for my portable players.
Jetstar had another sale on, so I was able to rebook our Osaka flights with less of a penalty than normal. Still isn't as great as the original deal though. What was a surprise was the enjoyable experience of calling Jetstar. The young bloke on the other end of the phone line may have had an Australian accent, but his family was in Osaka. While changing the booking we had a fun chat about the hazards of shopping in Japan - excess baggage!
I didn't realise it during the booking, but we are now scheduled to be away during the APEC "long weekend" which means one less day of leave expended. Cool! I could do with a holiday right now, but there is plenty to do.
Not only does B always discover my surprises, somehow my plans are usually frustrated as well. My surprise trip to Tasmania to propose to B - her mother stopped her. Now her boss has refused to let her travel during the time I booked our Jetstar flight to Osaka. I'm extremely peeved, because rebooking that flight means we pay the full fare difference plus $300 in change fees. Worse than that is that her company won't let us celebrate our wedding anniversary the way I want to - a holiday. It's six years since the days and dates coincided and it won't happen again for another five.
Almost every day of the year you mould your life and activities around your employer's routines, but you don't have equal power to make the reverse true.
I was also frustrated today about flights in another way. The Airbus 380 was going to do a low flight over the harbour today. I hoped to go down to the city to see it and maybe the airport as well, but the stormy and wet weather meant it wasn't worth it. Oh well for that one, as there should be a few A380's around next year. A few workers were zapped by lightning at Sydney Airport today, so perhaps it wouldn't be a good idea to stand out on the observation deck.
More comfortable would have been the new Qantas First Class Lounge. So opulent and those garden walls look amazing! Sadly, I don't think I will ever experience such luxuries during my travels.
.: The Teahouse
I wrote in an earlier post that I have been playing around with Google Gadgets. One place you can use these gadgets is on personalised iGoogle pages. I shall not delve into the privacy and security pros and cons of iGoogle and personalisation now, because I'm feeling strangely inspired by iGoogle's Teahouse theme. This Japanese inspired theme features the daily routine of a fox character outside his teahouse and orchard by a pond.
The Teahouse theme's gentle simplicity is seductively relaxing. I have always loved cartoons like that, especially lantern lit night scenes which hint at life after sundown. Places where the night air is pleasant and mosquitos never annoy you. I would love to be that fox staring into the night sky with his telescope, though mine is red and the skies are obscured by the city lights. It is winter now, not the endless summer of the teahouse. Time for snuggling under the doona, for hot fires and warm drinks.
Roland Harvey is another who's cartoon world I wished to experience. I treasured his Australiana Christmas card scenes, regretted posting the cards away. I miss them now that they are no longer sold.
Memories are stirred by the teahouse. I recall our two week trip to Japan last year. Walking through the lantern lit Kenroku-en gardens in Kanazawa during the cherry blossom festival. Sipping green tea on a tatami mat and gazing across a gorgeous garden and pond in the Samurai district of that same city. Hot baths at the end of the day at the ryokan, then laying down on the unrolled futon, surprisingly comfortable, breathing in the scent of the straw floor.
As we drove back along the F6 on Saturday under clear blue skies we realised that it had been over a year since we had gone on a decent length road trip in the country. That morning we had taken Kita to Hanrob for his weekly obedience lessons. He still has a bit to learn, but we are so glad that his personality is so very different to the rottweilers and staffies that were also at the class.
It was too nice a day to waste indoors so we continued on to Stanwell Tops and ate the famous hot dogs while gazing down the cliffs at the Pacific Ocean. There were no hang gliders that day, but the view is stunning.
Took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up driving southwards for quite a distance before we found a turn-off back to Sydney. I miss the long drives through the country.