July 4, 2009
Stripping DRM from EbooksI found a good post on how to remove DRM from ebooks at http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-strip-mobi-and-prc-ebooks-of-encryption/. They have a link to some python scripts that can remove DRM from some forms of ebooks as long as you know the PID for the book that you bought.
This morning I purchased Brandon Sanderson's "The Well of Ascension", the second book in the Mistborn series. I found the first book during Tor.com's launch ebook giveaway, (you can get it too!) and really enjoyed the book. I wanted to read the rest. (Apparently, I might not be the only one.) So I checked online, and I could get the second book for about $14 from Fictionwise. Sounds great. The only problem is that the books they sell there have DRM, Digital Restrictions Management. I am not able to read books that are encrypted with DRM on my preferred ebook reading platform: FBReader on my OLPC with Ubuntu installed on it. So I decided to try to remove the DRM. That would restore my rights as the owner of the book to archive it, so that I can read it in a month, six months, five years, or twenty years. As long as I ensure that I have the regular unencrypted file and software to read it, I should be fine.
If I did nothing about the DRM I would only be able to read the book on the computer that I used to download it. A 15" notebook. It isn't really all that portable.
I was able to strip the DRM as outlined in the link above, but the resulting mobipocket file came up empty when I tried to load it on FBReader. Bummer. So I tried another approach. I took the unencrypted mobipocket file, and loaded it up into the OSX Stanza ebook reading software. Then I saved it again as an ePub file, a more open format. That did open ok in FBReader, and now I can read the book that I purchased on any hardware that I like.
I am a bit disappointedthat I needed to pay $14 for the book. I would have preferred $7 or so since I do not get a physical copy, but ebooks are actually more convenient for me. On Amazon.com the book is actually $7.99 for a new, physical copy (or the Kindle copy, which I am not able to buy, but could use if I could after stripping the DRM) that includes lots of costs for printing, shipping to warehouses, distribution, whatever. Ebooks are a lot simpler when it comes to distribution: you ship them over the internet, with perhaps some up-front computation to encrypt the book using some sort of DRM scheme. Costs would be lower without the DRM. Customers would be happier because things are easier to use. People who want to buy books probably are not the people that are going to go and upload the files to the internet. People who just want to get the book for free can already do that. I can't see how DRM is really helping the industry, but that is the standard for books right now.
Thankfully, it is now possible to get non-DRM'd music files, from Amazon or Apple's iTunes store (but you need to make sure the stuff is iTunes plus still I think?) Hopefully video will go the same way.
I would really like to get a Kindle but I won't do that until I can get one that works in Japan. Until then I will make do with what I have. Even once I get a Kindle though, I would like to make sure that my books do not have DRM on them so that I have control of my files, and what I can do with them is not dictated by a third party (regardless of whether or not I think that the system is reasonable enough, and non-intrusive enough to use.)
BTW, you can use the MobiDeDRM if you get the Kindle PID (type '411' from the Setting menu, according to this blog post.)
Review of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire
I got Mistborn: The Final Empire in Tor.com's ebook giveaway. I hadn't heard of Brandon Sanderson before, but I really liked this first book. I read through it in about three or four days, which is pretty good for me because I have not had the time to just read for fun lately. I usually grab reading time on the subway and whenever else I had a few spare minutes during the day.
So, what did I enjoy about the novel? It is a fantasy novel, which is on my list of fun genres. The characters were very memorable. Most importantly it has a self-consistent view of magic, that seems to have a logical and sensible set of rules. The story also does not seem to be set up to be saved by a bunch of kids who have unexplained powers; there are smart people behind the plans to save the world that know what they are doing. There is also a young kid in there, but it seems reasonable enough.
Also interesting is the set-up of the story and the "big evil", which is not just a bad guy doing bad things for the sake of it. Read the book. It is both fun and interesting.
So much so that I've gone and bought the second book in the series. And plan to buy the third.
June 29, 2009
Tokyo Giants vs Yakult Swallows and Cosplayers
On Sunday, Risa and I met with my friends T. and M. for a Tokyo Giants vs. Yakult Swallows baseball game. T. is a huge Giant's fan, and I've gone with him once a year to see a game. I was excited to go this year because I hadn't seem him and his wife in quite a while, and it was the first time I would go to a baseball game with my wife.
We got to the stadium pretty early. Strangely, there were lots and lots of people dressed up in anime costumes. So-called "Cosplayers". Risa and I ran into the American Version in Seattle where I commented that I thought that American anime nerds were pretty low, lower than the Japanese ones because it isn't even their culture. But Risa countered today with her appraisal that the American nerds are at least learning something about the Japanese culture (outside of their own) while the Japanese nerds were just nerds. She's got me there. (Of course, I have to confess that I myself am a huge nerd, and probably incurable.)
Anyway, I snapped a few shots, but I didn't really feel like trying to do the full question and shoot treatment. I did talk to one group, who didn't seem all that happy to talk to me, and found out that there was a … "thing" for "people" that "dressed up" like "that", and it was not related to the baseball game. I was pretty clearly not in the target audience (you were either someone in a costume, or an overweight balding man with an awesome DSLR taking pictures of the cute girls in costumes, and I didn't fit either of those categories.)
Anyway, on to the game.
The Tokyo Giants are my favorite Japanese Baseball team. I don't really like baseball. I'm a huge basketball fan, but don't really care too much about baseball. I enjoy a game with friends though. I'm a Giant's fan not by default, but because I have a good reason: I hate the Hanshin Tigers with a fierce passion, and that means I am by necessity of Tokyo Giant's supporter. I definitely have to see a Giants - Tigers game sometime soon. Anyway, I have enjoyed all the games I've seen live.
This game was no exception. Before I knew it, it was the 7th inning. The Giants demolished their cross-town Tokyo Jinguu rivals, who have an open-air stadium right near where I work. I prefer Tokyo Dome though because it is a dome and as humanity has developed better and better technology I am all for using it to keep us out of the rain and humidity, which Tokyo has in abundance, especially in the rainy season, which it is now.
In the end, the Giants won 7-2 (wow!) and we went to dinner, and drank a lot, and then went to a bar and drank more.
The next day at work was difficult.
June 25, 2009
Kindle DRM ComplaintsI am really interested in a kindle. I plan to get one as soon as they release a version for Japan. That might be a while, but that is ok, I can wait. The wireless feature is just killer and I would hate to import one and be without it.
I am a bit worried about the Digital Restrictions Management on it - you should read Stallman's prescient The Right to Read if you haven't - but generally think the Kindle offers a reasonable tradeoff. I would vastly prefer no DRM, but Amazon's approach is good enough for me.
Still, I am glad to see other people complain about the issue. See, in particular, this post about DRM on the kindle, the followup, and an open letter to Jeff Bezos on DRM.
In the meantime, I have upgraded my OLPC to a newer firmware and version of Ubuntu. It can sleep now so it should be more useful for me for reading ebooks, but I haven't finished the setup (getting Japanese to work) and testing FBReader. I'll post on that once I get all that set up.
June 20, 2009
I hate Fujitsu (AKA upgrading the hard drive on an artificially limited Fujitsu Machine)My mother-in-law's laptop is "broken". The laptop is a Fujitsu FMV-Biblo MG50S, if you check the page there you will see there are a few others with similar specs. I took a look at it last week. A quick check of the hard drive (first on list of things to check because "I can't put any more pictures on it") and that is the problem: 30GB on a 30GB drive. Nice.
Summary: I hate you Fujitsu. Marketing droids added a hidden something somewhere (looks like it was hiding on the MBR) that made Windows see only 30GB of an 80GB drive, and when I did a clone to a new hard drive (160GB) it showed up as 30GB. So to be clear: when cloning a drive using CloneZilla, PNG, or Acronis True Image and the like, if you copied the hidden MBR your new 160GB drive would show up in Windows as only 30GB, even though the Disk Utilities management program would show the full disk size.
Absolutely crazy. Click the "Read More" link to read more about this insanity. For the impatient: do not copy the hidden MBR and you will be fine. Also, I now prefer Clonezilla to PNG. And the GParted boot CD rocks. Also, I hate Fujitsu. If you need to buy a new laptop you really should only consider Apple (coupled with a TimeCapsule) or ThinkPads. For netbooks, do whatever you want but back them up somehow.read more (1450 words)
June 16, 2009
Emacs longlines-modeI have been a fan of auto-fill-mode (and flyspell-mode for that matter) for a long time. Unfortunately, when I think about it I much prefer free-flowing text. The problem with auto-fill-mode is that it will throw \n characters into your text file when you need to wrap lines. Most email clients will automatically wrap text, and will do it at the size that is best for the user. Or at least, that is the theory.
Anyway, I just discovered longlines-mode. This mode in Emacs will wrap long lines (hence the name) but does not insert \n characters into your text file. Also, when you copy text, it copies as long unbroken lines. So this is really nice. I wonder why it took me so long to find this mode?
It makes me wonder what other marvelous mysteries emacs is hiding from me.
June 13, 2009
Using NTT DoCoMo's P906i as a tethered bluetooth modem for internet access with Mac OSX 10.5.7
Finding your phone
Access the internet with it
Set up the access information
Wouldn't it be nice if you could use your phone for internet access with your computer? You know, what they call tethering? That sounds super cool. Since my phone has bluetooth, it is theoretically possible to have the phone in my bag, computer in my lap, and tell the computer to connect to the phone then get to the internet that way. It turns out that this is possible.
DoCoMo has a page (not that I can find it now) that says as long as you use your tethered computer for (light) web and email access they won't get after you. They definitely say no file access though. Actually, it looks like they want you to join their Mopera service which lets you access the internet on your computer. It works overseas as well. If you don't you can use a separate internet access plan for your phone, but it has a bunch of stuff written there about needing to pay separate fees and to arrange for an internet provider. You can also just use FOMA which is their standard data access plan as far as I know. I finally found the page that shows what you can use and it looks pretty good. You can't do streaming video, peer-to-peer, VOIP, and online games but most other stuff looks good (mail and web is what I am primarily interested in, but they make a point that flash videos are ok. Also system update and some other stuff like that.) This page isn't the one I found earlier this morning which had cute pictures of things that you could and couldn't do, but it has the information, so that is good to know.
So, knowing that this is possible I was interested in doing it. First up: my Mac. Why? Because I looked into doing it on linux initially and that is super hard. So let's see if Apple can get this right.
1.1 Pair your phone and OSX
The easy part: set your computer up to talk to your phone.
Open up the Bluetooth Preferences control panel. Make sure that "On" and "Discoverable" are checked.
On the P906i open up the Bluetooth control application. On my phone that is on the Menu button -> Life Kit -> Bluetooth. Click the Search button (upper-left softkey, the mail key on my phone, サーチ.) The Bluetooth devices in your area should show up. In my case, Blanka, my MacBook Pro shows up, so I select it (center menu button) and it says that this device is not registered, would I like to register it? (未 登録機器です 登録しますか？) So of course I check the "YES" option. It then asks me for my phone's password (端末暗証番号は？ 4 digits, enter your own) and asks to enter the bluetooth passkey.
Then at that point I should be able to see a thing show up on the MacBook, but it can not find it because the phone has not turned on bluetooth yet. Really. So you can fix this by going to the 4th option in the Bluetooth list (ダイヤルアップ登録待機 - wait for a dial-up registration) then click the "+" button the Mac to add a device. Have it search for phones (or any device) and when you see your device click it. It will take you to a screen saying that it needs to get some more information about your phone. Let it do that. It will probably time out and give you an error. Back to the phone, put it back in the waiting for dial-up connection mode, then go back and press the "continue" button.
Then your phone will pop up a confirmation about a connection from your mac. Click yes, then it asks for your password, then the passkey for the bluetooth. The Mac should through up a passkey now. Enter that. If things go well, you get a screen that says "Access the Internet with your phone's data connection". Make sure that is checked and click "Continue".
It might ask you to store some stuff in the keychain, let it do that. You should get a screen that asks for your Phone Vendor. Select NTT DoCoMo. The phone model, use "P/FxxxiX (Bluetooth)". For Username and Password you can use anything I believe. Probably best to keep both less than 8 characters and no special characters. For "Phone Number" enter "*99***1#". Apparently when you are overseas "*99***3#" should work. I like to keep the modem and bluetooth icons in the menu for easy access. Click continue, then Quit. You are done!
To start the internet connection, click the modem icon in the menu bar and "Connect Bluetooth". Keep your phone handy if you need to do something there. For me I didn't have to do anything. The phone just went into a magic bridge mode. Seems to work ok.
According to Speedtest.jp my phone connection is like, a Skateboard level. Good for small movies. Maybe. A bit faster than ISDN but that's about it. It says 301k. Checking with Speedtest.net which is a better tester, it says 357 ms ping, 0.35 Mb/s download and 0.24 Mb/s upload. I seem to see from 10 KB/sec to 40 KB/sec in this super short use, so that sounds reasonable to me.
Just for comparison, on my Fiber connection, I get a 12ms ping, 35.71 Mb/s download, 18.77 Mb/s upload.
May 29, 2009
The plan is to leave at 6:30am to get to the airport by 7:30am to catch our 10:30am flight back to Japan.
We were about ten minutes late leaving. Not bad! We got gas, returned the car (which took extra long due to my rental car exchange / return mixup previously) and got to the airport. We did a bit of shopping, and then headed to the gate.
Things went pretty well. The flight back to Japan went a lot faster than I anticipated. I spent some time reading, watched "Robots", played some of the Battle for Middle Earth, and napped a bit. It really went much quicker than I expected though.
On the flight back Risa was feeling pretty bad, and had had a cough for the past few days. We filled out our H1N1 mandatory health questionnaires and when we got to Narita were pulled out of the line to consult with a doctor. He gave Risa the OK because apparently Hawaii is on a list of places that isn't problematic for them, and they made her put on a mask. I don't really think that is going to help too much, but whatever. They tried to put a mask on me, but I declined.
We made it home via the usual (longer and arduous) route, and started some unpacking. Risa went to her parent's place to get dinner, but I stayed home because I still wasn't feeling too well from the flight myself. That happens a lot lately; I don't feel like eating after flying. I was able to watch three more episodes of Battlestar Galactica while she was gone though, which was great, and then I went to sleep.
May 28, 2009
1 Thursday 2009-05-28
Hanauma Bay Stamp
Overlook of the bay
Oysters (Risa loves them)
Chinese steamed snapper
Ahi Katsu. This stuff was seriously delicious.
Bacon Wrapped Steak. I can not think of a better thing in which to wrap steak.
Dinner at 360 on the Rise
Chocolate Wontons. Those are some good Wontons.
1.1 Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay
We wanted to do another Hawaii-like thing today, so it was off to Hanauma Bay for snorkeling. This was by far my longest time in the sun, and I am really happy that I managed to not get sunburned.
Anyway, we got there at about 8am, got the 8:30am educational film, and then rented our stuff. I had forgot the main rule of Risa Club: "Feed your Risa before going out". So we had to go back and get something to eat. Then we made it back down and relaxed on the beach while we digested. We did some snorkeling and I did a lot better this time than last time, but I still eventually got freaked out and went back to the beach to read. I had to move to the shade of a palm tree because I was worried that I was getting sunburned.
There were also lots of Japanese people at this beach, but again, that isn't a problem for me. The fish were much better here than at the Turtle Bay place. I saw some big and great fish. Risa saw some turtles. I also got some reading done, and really enjoyed the scenery. We spent a few hours there, and probably left by about 1pm.
We went to a Safeway and did some omiyage shopping. Risa also somehow managed to lose her voice, so I got her some throat stuff. I think she will be ok. Right now I am enjoying baiting her in her non-argument-capable state.
1.2 Dinner at 3660 on the Rise
Before dinner we headed out to the Kahala hotel to pick up the chocolates for gifts - apparently the chocolates at the Kahala are famous (they should be for what they cost!) - and also pick up the leis that we left there by accident. Then we had a bit of time, so we drove up to the observation point that is on the way to the Hanauma bay and saw the city at dusk. Nice.
Then we headed to 3660 on the Rise. The place came recommended from Lena, and seemed to have pretty good reviews so I thought it would be a nice place for our last dinner in Hawaii. I was interested in the Ahi Katsu, which did not disappoint. The Wasabi-Ginger butter sauce was great. We also got some oysters which were nice - they had a very sweet sauce on them that made me like them more than I usually like raw oysters (Risa is a big fan though.)
For drinks, I had a Merlot, and Risa tried 4 different whites before settling on one. The waiter was great in helping her choose and giving small tastes of each of the alternatives. I think in the end she actually picked the wrong wine because she had moved the glasses around, but they were all pretty good, so no harm done.
After that we moved on to the main dishes: I had a bacon-wrapped steak (man, I had a lot of steak on this trip!) and Risa had a Chinese-steamed Snapper (I think) that was in a very delicious sauce. I thought both the steak and the fish were great. What made me really happy though is that they had an option for smaller portions, which we both took advantage of, and still we both had too much to eat. We were really full.
I had told them when I made the reservation that we were just married, so they made some nice Macadamia nut wontons with chocolate. Crazy! We also ordered their trio of desserts and ended up nearly exploding. With tea and coffee afterwards. It was a great dinner.
We drove home, and then started to pack. Actually though since we were both full, we ended up take about a two hour break on the bed. Then we finally started to pack. That took a while. I was pretty surprised at how much stuff we were actually able to take with us. We did have to leave the last 10 people's worth of leftover Wedding Cake though. Otherwise, we got it all!
I think I finally crawled into bed at about 2:30am, and we were set to wake up at 5:30am to get up so we could leave at 6:30am for our 10:30am flight.
Wednesday 2009-05-27: Big Island
Go! to Big Island
Ken's House of pancakes
blood sausage burger?
Thurston Lava Tube
Ning's Thai Restaurant in Pahoa
Lunch at Ning's
Then back to Oahu and dinner at Roy's
We spoke to Eric the day before or two days before and he was going to Hawaii's Big Island after the wedding. I thought it would be fun to do a day trip, so I bought us tickets (on Go! airlines for about $90 a person) for a day trip. I think this is the first time I've done a flying day trip. We were supposed to fly out at 6:40am, but got there at 6:20am and didn't make the flight. We got the next flight, and made it there by about 8:20am.
Eric met us and we had breakfast at Ken's Pancake House which was great. I really liked that place. We had done an IHOP breakfast before, so I'm sure Risa was like, "Man Americans eat too many pancakes!" but I was like "yeah! Pancakes!" We split a dish because like I said, I think I was about to explode. It was great though. Go there. Eric had a Filipino sort of burger sausage thing, and it looked amazing. We had banana pancakes and they were great. I didn't really like the passionfruit syrup (too citrus-y) or the coconut syrup (too coconutty) or the guava syrup (uh…) but the raspberry and normal syrup (not to mention the bacon) were great.
Then we hit the volcano. The volcano was cool. Especially cool was the lava tunnel. We could have used more flashlights. It was super dark. I felt like a real spelunker. I really enjoyed it. We also saw lots of steam fields, there was lots of stink, and it seemed pretty volcano-y all around.
For lunch we planned to eat at Thai Thai restaurant in Volcano Village but it was closed until 4pm. So we went to Ning's Thai in Pahoa which makes the Hippy list. The food was quite good and reasonably priced. The spicy Tom Yum soup was really spicy, while the pumpkin curry was sweet and tasty.
After lunch we got a coffee (thanks Eric! Man I am hopped up on coffee lately) and then hit the airport where we did make our trip back.
1.13.2 Dinner at Roy's
We had a bit of trouble getting an address, but eventually I got one and we headed out to Roy's for dinner. (Or see yelp reviews.) It was very nice. Since I messed up my Filet Mignon order at DK's Steakhouse, I got Filet Mignon again and did it medium rare this time. Very good. They gave our table an appetizer as well: the fried something balls that were very good.
My filet mignon was great. Risa had the rack of lamb which was quite good. I liked the place. The concierge was great. There were a lot of Japanese people there (not a bad thing as far as I am concerned, but that does seem to bother others - strangely, mostly Japanese people from what I can tell!) It was nice eating with the Tanaka family again, but it would have been nice to have more Evans - Tanaka time. That is a bit hard though due to the language problems, like I said before. I really need to work harder at being a better bridge between the two worlds.
We then headed home and brought a bunch of Pyramid Beer to the Tanaka family. We bought a sampler pack (12 beers, 4 types) when we first go here, and had half of it left. So we dropped that off at the Moana Surfrider, and Risa's sister Rie tried on her wedding dress. It seemed to be a fun time all around, except for me because I was exhausted. I brought a book and read, not engaging the translate lobe for as much as possible.
Then we came home and I tried to sleep, Risa stayed up late doing laundry and playing on the computer. I somehow managed to get bitten by something on Hawaii, so was itchy and had a hard time sleeping. Volcano bugs?
May 27, 2009
View from Pali Lookout
View from Pali Lookout
Snorkeling - Risa found a fish!
Snorkeling - Dave found a book!
Legend's seafood pan fried noodles
Legend's Seafood hot and spicy pork
Today we had one major thing on the schedule: go snorkeling.
I don't remember what happened in the morning, but I think I slept in a bit. We eventually got on the road though before noon headed up to the North Shore. I had wanted to drive up the Pali highway, so we headed that way. It was really nice. We were driving in the Mustang with the top down. About halfway up the mountain, the rain started. Ooops. We pulled over and I put the top up. Lesson learned. Then we stopped and checked out the pali highway scenic overlook which is really pretty cool. And headed on our way around to the North Shore. My goal: the Turtle Bay Resort which had a pretty nice bay for snorkeling and is open to the public.
Before getting there though, we ran across Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, which Risa had wanted to try since we got here. We tried to find it the previous week, but missed it. It was about 200 meters further down from where we turned around the first time (when we went horseback riding.) It was really good. We got a half-plate, which was perfect for us since I feel like I've only been eating all the time since I got here and I am positive that I am going to explode even if I only have something that is wafer-thin (when nothing here is.)
After that, we headed out and hit the Turtle Bay beach. We rented scuba gear, and Risa went nuts. I didn't really do too well with the scuba gear. I had trouble when my nose and ears were at different pressure differentials, and I also kind of panicked when floating around (seems unnatural) and then when I got salt in my mouth I freaked out. So I went and read, Risa went swimming for a long time. It was good. I finished my book ( Light) and it was a good book.
Then we headed back to Waikiki and got dinner at Legend Seafood in Chinatown. It was good, and now we have a whole bunch of food in the fridge. We won't be able to eat it all… :(
May 25, 2009
1 Monday 2009-05-25
Risa, Alana, Jana, Satoko, and Aiko at the Luis Vuitton VIP Room
Louis Vuitton VIP Room
Louis Vuitton Cake
Mustang at Kahala
Dad, Alana, Risa at dinner at Gordon Biersch
After drinks at the Moana Surfrider
Monday morning was consumed with packing. We had lots of stuff. More than we started with.
We then left the Kahala - after a bit of a delay in finding our cake - and went back to the Waikiki Banyan.
The big plan for the afternoon was for Risa and Alana and Jana to go to the VIP room at Louis Vuitton. The organizer there, Mariko, a friend of the Tanaka family's friend (Kobayashi, who helped with a bit of the arrangements here and a lot of the Tanaka family planning) gave us a cake there. It was delicious.
I might not have mentioned it, but our rental car was a Chevy HHR wagon type thing. It is a reasonable car. Mr. Tanaka said that I should get a big car so that we can shuttle people around. Turns out we didn't really do much of that. It was useful when we moved from the Kahala back to our other hotel though. But Risa was complaining that it wasn't really a cool car. So while she was at the Loius Vuitton showroom, I took the car back and changed it for a convertible Mustang. Protip: do not let them close out your car when you want to do an exchange. Use the magic words: "I want to exchange." If they close it out, it might take a long time to get the car you really want. It turns out that the change to a mustang didn't really cost anything. huh. Maybe it is a few dollars, but it isn't really much of a premium over the normal car.
Also, the speed limits are low in Hawaii: the fasted road I have found is 55 mph. There is hardly any benefit to getting a hot car over a normal one, but I can't argue that the mustang isn't cooler than the HHR, because it is.
1.1 Dinner at Gordon Biersch at Aloha Tower
After that, I picked people up, and we went back to our place. Eventually we made it to the Gordon Biersch Brewery where the Tanaka and Evans family had a last dinner together. It didn't really work too well though because of the Japanese - English barrier, and like I said before I am not really a very good interpreter. I was super happy to see Eric Tschetter and Sayuri there, but it looked like Eric was either perpetually embarrassed, or had a devastatingly sunburned face. Turns out it was the sunburn. After dinner he was out of commission as he (probably) repeated applied Aloe Vera to his face while cursing his pigment-lacking ancestry. I do that a lot too.
Dinner was nice. Dad met a friend there from Omak. He had friends everywhere. After dinner we went back home, then to the Moana Surfrider bar for drinks with Alana and Jana. And finally back home for more dead-like sleep.
May 24, 2009
My thanks go out to Eric Han, Ron DeVilla, my family, the Tanaka family, Yuzuna (because she is so super cute), Eric Tschetter, Sayuri, Eric Han, and Tomoko for their translation help, Carl Sable, Jon Evans and Lilly, and everyone that came.
Our cameraman, Kenrick, was great.
Risa loved her makeup artist (Mariko) and our wedding coordinator from Issei company, Sayuri. Otherwise, I have nothing but good things to say about the Kahala hotel. I was amazed that so many friends came from the US. It was great to see everyone. Even those late people (I'm looking at you, Andy! But I love you anyway. I think it would have been strange had you been on time!)
We had a strange mix of Japanese and American ceremony. I know Risa and I ate more than say, my best bud Ron and Michelle at their wedding. So I think that means we are bad hosts. I loved how people gave impromptu speeches, and I knew my sister would cry. I wasn't sure which one it would be, but it was Alana.
I really should have given Carl more time for his palindrome.
We ended up with waay too much cake. But the dinner was delicious.
Did you know that we got married at the Magnum PI Bar? We did.
We were both exhausted by the time it was over.
May 23, 2009
1.1 Pick up Aiko and Satoko from the airport
I was supposed to drive us to the airport to pick up Risa's bridesmaids, Satoko and Aiko, but instead I spent the morning throwing up, feeling amazingly sick, not being able to sleep, and trying to stop the room from alternating from spinning to punching to my head.
Risa was a bit dubious about going out to drive on her own, but when we visited California a half year back she did some driving and didn't have much trouble, so I figured she should be able to make it to the airport and back. And she did! She did warn me on the way out that she might crash and die, but in the state I was in that sounded safer than me trying to get out of bed.
1.2 Move to Kahala
Kahala Hotel Lobby: nice chandelier!
Our room at the Kahala. Nice.
Risa and I on the balcony
A kind of lagoon-thing
There are dolphins in there. Seriously. Dolphins in our hotel lagoon thing.
Free Pineapple Popsicle: Score!
A few hours later I was feeling somewhat human again (with faint zombie-undertones) and got up and showered. I had a bunch of IMs from people, and managed to even get dressed by the time Risa returned. I think we had a bit of time to recover, and maybe we went out an ate something. I know that we eventually got back into the car, and I took up the wheel. We headed to the Hyatt, where Risa's friends were staying, and picked them up, then went to the Kahala, checked in there, and wandered around for a bit.
The Kahala Hotel is pretty crazy. It is a very nice place (they had pictures of both Shawn Bradley and Kareem Abdul Jabber from when they visited there!) and they have a kind of artificial lagoon in the middle of the property. With dolphins. And Sea Turtles. And other things. It is really crazy. There is also a nice beach and places to eat, a pool, etc. We were only there for two nights but it looks like we have to go back for a bit longer next time. I've been told.
We wandered around the grounds and someone there gave us free Pineapple Popsicles. Score! Also, Risa and her friends hadn't seen a hammock before, and were pretty amazed at them. So we spent some time playing with hammocks.
By 3:30pm our bus had come and picked us up for the Paradise Cove Luau. Lena decided to go there, then we ended up getting a bunch of other people to go.
1.3 Paradise Cove Luau
Arts and Crafts
Dude climbed up that tree like it was nothing
And hula dancing. Lots of hula dancing.
It was required for me to eat this ice cream (required by me)
Lots of friends at the Luau
Risa and the Fire Dancer
The bus that came to pick us up was huge - a regular tour bus. There were only the four of us on it. We then drove to the next pick up point, met another bus, and filled this one up. Wow. Also, I called my favorite brother Jon and found out that he was totally waiting at some other hotel. I got him headed in the right direction and he and Lily eventually made it on the bus.
The trip out to the Luau place was about 45 minutes. Most of my friends made it, except for Carl and Cha-Eun, who went to the competing (supposedly much better, but Mormon-run and alcohol-less) Polynesian Cultural Center Luau. That's cool with me: I wanted to go to that one too, but on general principles think people should have the choice of destroying brain cells with alcohol if that is what they want (and what I often do, but didn't this evening since I had to drive.) I also am not sure what the Mormons are doing running that thing; I guess they didn't have enough of an imperial native-dominating experience back in the Missionary era? I hear that the pork is excellent though.
The Paradise Cove Luau is pretty cool. I was glad to see that cousin Doug made it, despite having been to this very Luau multiple times (I think.) He had some good advice on what do to. Generally I think the place was pretty cool.
I really liked Dave's Ice Cream. Surprisingly I have only had ice cream three times in Hawaii. One of them was here, where I got a nice Chocolate and Macadamia nut ice cream. It was good. Then Risa went and made a nice flower bracelet and a really cool headband with her bridesmaids. I tried really hard to translate and keep everyone involved, but I get the feeling that I'm not really a very gregarious guy. I need to work on that more.
We then headed over to the water and watched the tree climbing thing, where a dude totally just climbed up this tree like it was nothing. Then he threw flowers at people. Pretty rude if you ask me. ;) After that we watched a traditional fishing thing with nets. It was pretty cool.
Then I had the bright idea to get some drinks. I got in line. About an hour later I got our drinks and brought them back to Risa and her bridesmaids. The Luau had already started. It was a buffet, and it was good. The pork was amazing. It was very tender (a whole pig, probably more than one) and delicious. The other stuff was ok. The fried chicken was pretty good. I can't believe the pork though - it was great. Lena made me say into her video camera that it was the best pork I had ever had. I said that while eating chocolate cake though, so I am not sure how convincing it was. It was really good though.
Then we had the entertainment portion of the Luau. They had lots of dancing - hula and otherwise. The fire dancer was really amazing. I kept on saying "Sugoi" (Japanese for amazing.) I then noticed that I was speaking Japanese and started to feel self-conscious about it. It was just coming out naturally though. Have I turned into one of those people that thinks they are Japanese? Having Eric sit next to me can make me feel self-conscious.
Anyway, after the revue ended (did I mention that the fire dancer was amazing?) we headed home. Risa fell asleep on the bus. After that I had to drop off Eric, give Ron his pants and Best Man shirt, and pick up my bag from the, uh, … club … where I accidentally left bag back on Friday night. Then I came home and slept the sleep of the exhausted. But not without first noticing that the showers at the kahala are amazing. Also the bed is amazing. And the TV was amazing. Not that I got to watch it. Compare the TV in the Kahala to the one in our Waikiki Banyan condo. Their TV: large, LCD, wall mounting with an awesome swivel mount. Our Banyan TV: maybe a 24" electron tube (I can't believe I forgot what these are called) non-flatscreen TV where the colors are off (the Orlando Magic are green instead of blue) with no remote control.
May 22, 2009
On Friday we had a meeting in the morning with Sayuri A., our wedding organizer from Issei Corporation. They did a really great job. The planning and wedding itself went very smoothly, and we didn't have to fret over many of the details. I highly recommend them if you are looking for a wedding in Hawaii, particularly if you have English and Japanese speaking people in the party. The meeting took about an hour and a half, we wrapped up some final details and went over scheduling. After that we had a bit of time, then Risa's makeup person (Mariko) came over and they did the test-run makeup and hair session.
After that we had a pretty good chunk of time. Risa's family had arrived earlier in the morning and made their way to the Kahala hotel. They had forgotten to buy diapers, so they asked if we could do that. We had a bit of an experience finding diapers, but finally did find them, and headed over to the Kahala hotel. It was my first time to see the place, and it is really nice. They have an actual lagoon type thing with dolphins in it. Also large turtles. And a variety of fish. It has a very nice property, private beach, the works.
After spending some time with Risa's family, we all headed downtown to Chinatown where we met everyone for drinks and dinner at Bar 35. Actually, most people were about an hour late, but we did eventually get everyone together and had some of the great pizza there. It would have been if it wasn't so loud though - I had a sore throat the next day from all the shouting.
After drinks the girls and guys split up for more traditional activities. I made it home sometime past 2am, but had had way too much drink.
May 21, 2009
After getting the morning stuff done (some coffee and some work) Risa and I headed out to Keoni's for a brunch. We got Moco Loco, a dish she had heard about and was eager to try. It is basically gravy over eggs over a hamburger over rice. Add some Tabasco sauce and maybe a bit of salsa and you have yourself a big, hearty meal. It was good, but didn't really have much of a flavor. It tasted like someone mashed up a bunch of eggs, hamburger, and rice. Bland. Add some Tabasco and it was pretty good, but tasted pretty much like Tabasco. So maybe there are other places that will have more flavor, but I get the impression that it is more of a hearty meal with volume for the surfers than anything else. We split one order between the two of us and we were stuffed.
Perhaps it would be better to get it from one of the plate lunch places where it is usually sold, the problem is that it is hard to find those places and we are not locals so we don't know what is where. We also just want to get something easy in the morning without having to make huge plans or do lots of research, so usually we just limit ourselves to things in the area. Anyway, it was interesting to try.
I'm looking forward to some spam dishes. Looks like McDonald's actually has a spam and egg plate so I might try to find that at some point - I love the regional McDonald's differences. I also want to find Krispy Kreme, but that has nothing to do with Spam and is more just a general love of doughnuts.
After Moco Loco we hooked up with Alana and friends to complete one of the wedding items from our checklist: buy white pants for the best men and myself. This turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. The other day Alana had put some items of clothing on hold at the Macy's across from the Moana Surfrider, so we headed out there. The pants were too transparent though, and another style that was less so were not available in all the sizes that we needed. I bought a pair that fit me anyway (on the theory that it is better to have some pants rather than no pants) and then we headed out to a larger Macy's at a mall down the road. They did have a wider selection, and we eventually picked up three pair of the same style of pants for the best men and I, but I'm not too sure of the sizings for the best men. Well, they can probably make do for half a day.
While shopping, I also picked myself up some new shoes, since the ones
I have been wearing for the past two years are about to fall apart.
DK's Steak House
From about 7pm we had reservations at DK's Steak House at the Mariott. I had read good things about it. Another steakhouse that looked good (Hy's) seemed to have a pretty strict dress code, and didn't have any views of the ocean.
So, Alana, Jana, Dad, myself and Risa went out to the Marriot. It was a bit of a trick finding the place, but we managed in the end. Risa had a nice NY Strip, and I had an 8oz Filet Mignon. I meant to get it Medium, but I accidentally said "Well Done". It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't as good as it could have been - and that order mistake was my fault. It was a very good steak. Risa's NY Strip was also very nice. I think everyone enjoyed what they had. The soup that we got - I think it was a potato onion soup. It was delicious. There was entirely too much food, but it was all very nice. I had at least two glasses of a nice merlot with my meal.
After dinner, we got a picture or two (thanks random passer-by!) and then Risa and I headed back to the hotel.
May 20, 2009
USS Arizona Memorial
Dave and Risa at the USS Bowfin (we didn't go in though)
Alana and Jana in a conning tower
After the normal morning work and coffee routine, we finally got moving and headed out to see Alana, Jana, and Dad. The plan: to go to Pearl Harbor and visit the USS Arizona memorial. We got there a bit before noon, waiting in line for about five minutes, and got free tickets to the 12:30pm visit to the memorial. It was really great that everything there was free: parking, and the Arizona memorial and museum. If you had the time and the money, you could pay extra to visit a restored destroyer and a submarine, but we didn't think we had the time. I would like to go back and do that some day though - it looked really interesting. I got Risa a Japanese guided tour and we hit the museum up for the introductory movie and boat ride over. The memorial is really nice, although it is a bit hard to tell what you are looking at. There is a diagram in the museum that makes it really clear, but we didn't see that until we got back. I'm really glad that we did it - it is a really interesting piece of living history.
I wonder how Risa felt, we talked about it a bit, but not in too much depth. It was very strange for me when I visited Hiroshima, but I definitely think it was worth it and am glad that I did it. I hope that Risa feels that same way.
Hotel hopper group at the Royal Hawaiian
Relaxing at the Moana Surfrider. We kept coming back to this centrally-located bar. :)
Ron and Dave
My drinks don't normally have umbrellas in them, but we are entering into the rainy season in Japan now...
After the USS Arizona, we headed back to Alana's hotel and then took care of some business: I played tech support to Dad, and also made reservations for dinner the next night. We also ate the PB&J sandwiches that Alana had prepared in the morning. They were Risa's first PB&J sandwiches, and Alana was bit disappointed that she had to have somewhat stale sandwiches for her first ones, but it all worked out in the end.
A few hours later our friends Ron and Michelle arrived. They had just flown in, and were staying at the same hotel. Since Ron is the architectural superstar, he had some hotels on his hitlist that he wanted to see. We commenced with a hotel lobby viewing party. We ended up at the Moana Surfrider, a hotel that is right on the beach and has a real history attached to it. We got some light snacks and drinks, then split out.
Risa was interested in getting a bit more to eat so we stopped by at The Big Kahuna (some sort of bar / restaurant) and got a drink and some onion rings there on the walk back. It wasn't nearly as interesting as the sports bar (Legend's) that we had visited before, but it did have a kind of commercialized Tiki-bar atmosphere. I really should find a Tiki-bar while I'm here, since I like the Tiki-bar TV podcast, despite not really "getting it".
Then back home and some sleep.
May 19, 2009
We had some time making sense of the menu, and I went for a Rooti Tooti Fresh and Fruity (strawberries.) A while later we saw Charlie trying to get into some door. He was having a tough time because he was about 4x wider than the door. He eventually turned sideways and slid in that way. Surprisingly, he came back out bearing our pancakes! I didn't actually get a shot, but it was very funny. It looked like pancake cannibalism.
Not sure what else happened that night, but we made it home and got some sleep. The rest of the week people start showing up and things start to get busier.
May 18, 2009
Up early, I did a bit more work. I got some coding done and got a build off an running before rushing out the door - I'm a bit curious to see if it worked, so I hope I can spend a bit of time looking at that tonight.
Anyway, we made it out the door at about 7am. We had to be at the place at 8:45am for the check-in, and it is about an hour or an hour and a half to the ranch, so we should have been ok. I punched everything into the GPS and we looked good, but it was putting us there at about 9:15am. Shoot. So I tried to go a bit quick. It took me about an hour to realize that the GPS unit was reading the time an hour fast - probably something to do with daylight saving's time. Well, we didn't get pulled over, so all's well that ends well. We even had a bit of time to stop at 7-11 and get a coffee. Risa got a Spam Musubi. Cool. She said it was good.
Up at the ranch we were about twenty minutes early. So pretty good, all told. The horse ride was very nice. I'll write a bit more about that later.
1.1 Horse riding at Happy Trails in Hawaii
So I set us up with a ride at Happy Trails on Oahu, a nice little ranch up on the North Shore. I think Risa has done one of these horse riding things once before, and I've done one out in Texas. It is generally really nice: get on a horse, and ride around for an hour or two. Enjoy the view, enjoy riding on a horse, and have a nice time. Maybe your butt gets sore.
I don't really have much else to say: I really liked the company, we had a great time, and it was a lot of fun. There is at least one other place on Oahu that does horse rides, but it sounds to me like they are a more touristy place. This place was small, and the people were very friendly.
1.2 Shrimp (lots of) at Romy's Shrimp
Romy's Shrimp Shack
Garlic Butter Shrimp
Peeling shrimp: what a mess!
Fugu on the beach. Whoah. This can't be safe.
We stopped for lunch at Romy's Shrimp. We had shrimp. Lots and lots of shrimp. It was very good, but a lot of work: we had to peel it ourselves. Our hands were just a mess by the time we were done. It was very nice though. I don't think I'll need shrimp for a while though.
After that we drove along, and stopped at a random beach. Really nice, great waves. The north shore looks like it has some great beaches. I found a Fugu washed up on the shore. Crazy.
We then headed to the closest shopping center to try to find some swimsuits. Risa doesn't like the one that I brought so I need to get one that meets her approval. We didn't find anything at Ross (did get some cheap shorts and beach towels though) and now I am writing up the events of the past few days at a Starbucks. We'll head out in a bit to look for more swimsuits.
We eventually found a nice suit for Risa at the Hip Up store on Waikiki, and then went home for a relaxing evening for sleep.
May 17, 2009
At any rate, we headed out for lunch. Risa was being difficult, so (because of that?) we ended up at McDonal's where I got to try a Big N' Tasty, a burger that I always liked. Interestingly, they came with pineapple slices also. Neat. I thought we could get pineapple instead of french fries, but not so: you get both! It would probably be a lot healthier if they just let you do the swap right up. It feels kind of stupid to pay extra to have them not give you the fries though.
After lunch Risa was feeling a bit better. We bought some cheap flip-flops at ABC and walked down around on the beach. After a bunch of walking we went back to the hotel, and took a break. I ended up dumping sand all over the place. I should have checked out my rolled-up pants before laying down for a nap.
For dinner I had noticed a Chili's not too far from our hotel, and Risa wanted some Americana flavor, so we headed that way. A bowl of chili and their "make your own dinner" was enough to stuff the both of us. We wanted to check out a "local bar" so I spied a sports bar down a side street. I was interested in catching the end of the Lakers-Rockets series, so we tried that place. It was a small little place, but the people were having a lot of fun. According to the owner (I assume) that day was the place's 15th Anniversary party, and for that reason the beers were only $3 each. Very cheap! But also because of that the crowd, which had been there drinking since about 5pm, was totally nuts. Seemed like a nice group though. I chatted with a guy, Ike, for a bit. He apparently does something with Harley's. I've got his card around here somewhere…
We made it home by about 11pm or so, and to bed by about midnight. By now I had almost completely recovered from my cold, so I finally got a bit of a break there. Earlier in the afternoon I had looked into options, and not wanting a repeat performance of the morning's inexplicable animosity shot at me, I made an appointment to go horseback riding up on the north shore. That means we needed to hit the road at about 7am, and get up at around 6am. But, I made plans so hopefully that means a less hostile day.
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