Oh my. The past week has been jam-packed. Here is a brief summary of what went down when and with whom:
Friday, 21 July: Lyani and I went out to Ginza after I got home from work, ate at Friday's (sometimes I need burgers and fries--it's part of the American DNA, I think), then saw Empress Michiko on our walk back to Ginza Station.
Saturday, 22 July: After Lyani's English lesson in Yokohama (she is teaching English to a Japanese girl), I hopped on the train and met her in Ueno, where we proceeded to visit the Ueno Zoo. Outsanding animals included two very active polar bears, scores of penguins, a sweet Hokkaido brown bear who was chewing quite contentedly on a stick, languidly lounging tigers who still managed to look quite menacing, Japanese monkeys (which I have also met in the wild, regrettably--they are mean little buggers, with the stick throwing and screeching), and a massive, evil-looking alligator that scared the ever-living crap-ola out-a me-a (don't know why I got all Italiano there).
Sunday, 23 July: Lyani and I rode the Keiyo Line train one stop to Kaisai-rinkai-koen. The park is a nice enough place by itself, but we went specifically to visit the exquisite Tokyo Sea Life Park. I just love that site's tagline for the aquarium: "If they look tasty, you've been in Japan too long!". Heh heh, very funny. Except that Lyani actually overheard a 10 year old boy looking at some fish and remarking to his father, "美味しそう！", which my Japanese-reading readers will read as "oishisou!", or "they look tasty!". True, true. I dug the massive tuna, the hammerhead sharks, the many brightly-coloured tropical fish, and the weird things that are found in the deep ocean. Lyani enjoyed the marine animal puppets in the gift shop.
Monday, 24 July: I volunteered myself and Ota to give a presentation at the TLUG technical meeting on Saturday. I started feverishly coding up a Missile Command clone for our presentation.
Tuesday, 25 July: Lyani watched "Mission: Impossible III" with a colleague of hers from the IUC, then I joined them and a couple other IUC grads at Friday's (I know, I know... but it is so delicious!) for food and drinks... can you say "la cerveza mas fina"?
Wednesday, 26 July: I found out that I would be working Sunday night and Monday morning, as we had a scheduled power outage for an electrical circuit test, as required by Japanese law. I was less than thrilled at the short notice, but there was not any shikata, so I resolved to ganbaru.
Thursday, 27 July: Lyani and I, fearing the fierce summer heat of August, bought plane tickets to go to Sapporo for a long week-end. Hurrah!
Friday, 28 July: I came home from work, hacked mightily on the Tokyo Missile Command source, then had supper with Lyani. We watched a few episodes from the first season of "Lost". It is certainly interesting, but in a slightly cheesy, "I wonder what will happen next?!" way. The acting ranges from decent to downright excellent, though, so I guess that is something. We'll keep watching, maybe it gets "awesome" at some point. :)
Saturday, 29 July: I met Ota at 12:00 in Ginza. We walked to the Renoir Cafe, which is right across the street from Wall Street Associates, where TLUG meetings are held (well, actually, this meeting was the last one at Wall Street for a little while, since they are growing so fast they need their conference room for office space). We sat in Renoir for almost two hours, feverishly reviewing the code that we would be presenting. Went to the meeting, which was great: Junichi Uekawa's presentation on running Linux on his MacBook was so cool that it was all I could do to keep from walking down Ginza-dori to the Apple Store right after the meeting to pick up a MacBook; Ota and I did pretty well on our presentation, given the almost criminally negligible amount of preparation we did; I finally met in meatspace two TLUGgers who I have known for a few years online; beer was consumed at the ensuing nomikai (drinking party, but y'all should know that by now); wireless networks were sniffed at the izakaya; and a good time was had by all.
Sunday, 30 July: I went and played football with a few chaps from work, and a bunch of rabid Arsenal fans. Despite not having touched a football in almost a year, I thought I played pretty well. My fitness was horrendous, but I was better on the ball than I used to be. I think that I am more confident and more patient, and I don't rely solely on my pace to make progress towards the goal. I also played much better defence than is typical, and passed with pretty good precision (including one incredibly cheeky back-heel). I didn't get any goals out of four chances, but I felt pretty good about the way I had taken them (one shot drilled at the keeper, one just wide, a high cross that I could not quite put my head to, and a waist-high volley that I couldn't find a striking surface to play). Best of all, I had a really good time, and spoke more Japanese in the two hours we played than in an average day at work.
After football, I went home, had a big bowl of Lyani's kick-ass chili, then went in to work. Mauro and I undertook the Herculean effort of shutting down all computer and electronic equipment in the entire FC (which is, remember, four times the size of the Tokyo Dome) by ourselves. We accomplished our mission by 23:30, and made our respective ways home.
Monday, 31 July: I hauled myself in to work at 04:35 (I had to catch a taxi, because the first train doesn't roll through Maihama until 05:15). I stopped in at the convenience store right by Ichikawa-Shiohama Station, for to buy some breakfast (loosely defined as a donut and a pint of orange juice), and found three policemen in there. Apparently, there had been some sort of robbery. Mauro stopped at the same convenience store just after I did, and found it closed, so I guess the policemen must have taken the store clerk "downtown" to get his statement. Anyway, Sato-san joined us in the morning, so the three of us were able to get everything booted up and running by 08:00, when production started. In other news, I was sore as hell from the previous day's football--apparently if you do not use muscles in a while, they sort of get weak. Huh. Who'd a thunk it?