Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The G-bot Build - UPDATED!

Welp, once upon a time I decided to build a robot. It ended up being a little creepy because of how it was built. I had used a cheap doll to provide the bits for the body, because otherwise my first robotic attempt would look like nothing more than a few servos attached to each other with no anthropomorphic qualities at all.

This is not about that robot.

The first robot creeped me out so I put it away. Never having done much with it. It was just wrong. Then I found on a guy from japan who made a roboone robot out of cheap servos and wood. The wood piece made me think of , of all things, popsicle sticks. Hmm…..

I pondered this design before thinking that wooden popsicle sticks would be a handy and cheap materiel to use for support structure and simple bones. I spent sometime thinking about how I could design my next bot. Not having access to the machine shop and the scrap metal had also been a big part of my delaying any more robotic work and this could be an easy way to do it.

Welp, after some though it was off to AC Moore to find some popsicle sticks, and see if I could find some cheap small right angle brackets. Found the popsicle sticks no problem. Wow, 300 for 3 bucks, I might be onto something here. No brackets were to be found so as a thought I bought a cookie cutter with a few right angles, half thinking I could cut it and make a cheap if flimsy set of brackets. On my way home I spied a Lowes and decided to stop in for some machine screws and lo and behold found a couple of cheap brackets. They were a much to heavy gauge but I figured 3 bucks how could I go wrong.

So I got home and and collected the cursed doll robot (ok not cursed but definitely creepy) the rest of my servos and a dollar store toy robot I had bought months ago for this very reason. And then set about making an enormous mess on my kitchen table.

I was flying by the seat of my pants eyeballing this, cutting that and generally being reckless about building the bot. This will come back to haunt me later.

My first step was salvaging the old servos from the doll and finding my other servos. Not having been able to find my drill bits since my move I couldn’t drill new holes to mount the servos on the brackets I had bought. I decided to not let that stop me, and removed the servo horns and replaced them with big servo sprockets instead. I got out the wire ties and went to work mounting the servos to the brackets with black wire nylon zip ties.

I looked at the popsicle sticks wondering how to cut them. I didn’t want to saw them that seemed like to much work. I decided I had 300 to experiment with so I pulled out my dikes (diagonal cutters for those uninformed) measured it out crudely and cut. It took a little force but they cut nicely that way. Nice clean edges and the parts of the sticks shot in opposite directions. NEAT!
Well with that out of the way I started cutting the pieces for the forearms and using my not patented construction method of popsicle sticks, double sided sticky tape and electrical tape I attatched it to the servo and having previously removed the forearms from the toy robot, taped them in place. I then used a skinny jewelry screwdriver to drill holes into another stick that then got attached to the shoulder servos and mounted them to the elbow servos. One arm down, one to go.

I then attatched another servo to the back of the body servos for a neck again with double sided tape and electrical tape and mounted various objects as a head. Finally deciding on my miniature wireless cam from my RC project. That made for a suitable head.

Now I had half a torso with long arms and a head. I decided I needed a base for it all so I went nosing around and grabbed a left over piece of lexan from a projector project. I also cut 2 more popsicle sticks square at the ends and mounted them to the bottom of the servos and then (having found one big drill bit) drilled holes for mounting them to the servos and left over brackets. Once those were attatched with the machine screws I took the brackets found a decent spot to mount them on the lexan marked them then drilled holes and mounted them too.

At this point the Gbot was more or less built but now I needed to attach the controller card. Grabbing my handy Velcro I cut a few pieces and stuck them to the bottom of the SSC32 serial servo controller and then mounted that on the lexan. Mounted the battery pack with double sided tape and I was good to go.

Powering up for the first time was interesting. Once powered it went to the home position for all the servos.


Shoulda done that first. They were close enough but not quite. But it did more and even though the shoulders are a mockery or proper building technique I discovered it does have a decent range of motion.

Now to disassemble it all to set them in home position and reassemble it again.


Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Current Gear.

It has occured to me that I take a lot of electronics with me when I travel and a lot of electronics accompany me on my daily routine. So I figured I'd put up a required equipment post so the world can see how much of a geek I am.

Daily gadgets.

In my Messenger Bag or on me.

1. Pioneer Inno XM Radio.

2. LG VX9800 "The V" cell phone. **Update** Helio Ocean Cell phone (It rocks)

3. MP3 watch (2gb, FM radio, voice recorder, removable storage)

3. iAudio M5 20gb mp3 player.

4. Plantronic bluetooth Headset

5. Toshiba E750 PDA with WiFi and Bluetooth.

6. Targus Wireless IR Keyboard.

7. Olympus 4.3 MP digital Camera.

8. Logitech Bluetooth Wireless headphones

9. JVC Portable Folding Behind the Head Headphones

10. 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter.

11. Various USB Cables

In my car.

1. Roady XT XM Radio

2. Plenio VXA 2000 7" Display GPS Nav System

3. Off Brand Chinese In Dash DVD, MP3, MP4, CD, CD-RW Player with SD and USB

What I take on the road.

1. All of the items in my messengerbag list.

2. Virgin Boomtube VS0200 Portable Speakers

3. Acer Aspire 5050-3242 Laptop

4. 400GB HD in USB Enclosure **Update** 160 GB External. 400GB drive relegated to NAS Enclosure

5. Flashtrax XT 40GB

6. CF to XD Adapter

7. CF to SD Adapter

8. USB Flash Card Reader

9. Multiple Thumbdrives

10. VuPoint DV-DA1-VP 5MP Camera/VGA MP4 Camcorder.

11. Requisite Chargers for all of the Above.

Home Theatre System

1. XBOX modded with Xenium Ice chip and 120GB HD

2. XBOX360 Premium

3. Sony 550 Watt Home Theatre System

4. 46 inch Yamaha HD Projection TV.

5. Digital HD Cable Box.

6. Toshiba DVD Player. **Update** Removed to make space for XBOX360 on reciever.

7. Neuros MP4 recorder 2.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Random Thoughts on Religeon, after death, evolution, and the start of life.

Posted this in a forum but felt it was worthwhile to post here as well. These posts were answers to questions in a forum poll about the Belief in "God/Gods". Here's the link for more info...

Natural Born Atheist.

I guess you could say I was a Natural born athiest. When I was born I was baptizd in the hopes I would follow some religeon.

When I was 5 or so my parents brought me to my mothers church first (philipino catholicism) and though I didn't understand tagalog my mother translated the sermons for me.

The things she said didn't resonate as truth with me and sounded suspiciously like fairy tales. Grand figures doing things for the good f the people. Then came the talk of sins, and heaven and hell.

I was a smart kid mind you and even at this point and I knew then that the planet was solid and full of lava, and that the earth was a planet in the solar system with other planets.

I couldn't reconcile hell with the center of the earth or heaven with space. It just didn't jive to me. So they brought me to my fathers church. Protestant I think. I just remember more of the same basic stories, a lot of standing, kneeling, sitting, over and over. There was even singing.

It didn't make sense to me. I told my parents that I didn't understand and didn't want to go anymore. Apart from a few weddings, and midnight mass (my girlfriend at the time was catholic or some flavor of catholicism.) Ihaven't been back since.

Maybe I wasn't designed for religeon. I didn't believe in the easter bunny (a rabbit with chicken eggs?), the tooth fairy (I just couldn't see the point of someone paying me for my useless teeth, I mean who does it benefit?), or even santa clause for long (though I did play along for a while).

My parents respected that I didn't believe and didn't push. I was always inclined to science, and how things worked. I guess at a young age I realized if something sounds to fantastic (not great, but outrageous) to be true, in all likelyhood it isn't. Miracles can be attributed to statistics, creationism is a fairy tale, and the ten commandments can be boiled down to simply "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

The whole thing smacks of either fairy tales or fables to me and I can't for the life of me understand how anyone still needs to believe in something that was written to explain things we couldn't and to put on paper how best to live. Morals, ethics, trustworthyness are all that are necessary to live happily in my way of thinking.

I always thought that the belief in heaven was putting to much hope in something that you won't know is real until you die, and what if you end up being wrong? You'd miss out on so much because some book, someone wrote about a guy who lived 2000 years ago said its wrong. I couldn't fathom it. Living life to its fullest makes so much more sense to me.

I'm not trying to push my thoughts on anyone, or try to convert anybody. These are my experiences and beliefs (or lack of depending on point of view) and nothing more. I only write them because I have a habit of typing to much, and to explain my way of thinking and perhaps inspire some thought.

Life after Death of a sort....

I can almost give you that heaven and hell could be alternate dimensions. String theory works because it is based in a universe that has 10 dimensions. We exist in four and it mathematically states that a 10 dimensional universe would be incredibly unstable. One theory that I rather like is originally there was a 10 dimensional universe that was so unstable it split itself into our universe and its self. So it could be 2 universes, though what a 6 dimensional universe would be lke is anyones guess. Most people have trouble with the 4 dimensions we have now (length, width, height, time).

Of course if there is another universe we probably can't detect it, nor they us. So if heaven and hell are alternate dimensions then I doubt we vacation there after death.

Mind you I don't thik we as souls go to a reward, but I do have a afterdeath theory of my own, and it sort of explains both reincarnation and ghosts.

The human body loses weight at the moment of death.a miniscule amount but tangible. The human nervous system is electrical in nature and creates an electromagnetic field. I think that the field generated by humans survives after death. It's not really concious or even sentient but I think it moves on.

Now this electromagnetic field is what I would term a ghost. It moves and has memorys. When its traumatized it may loop over and over through its death as is always talked about in ghost stories. And humans may not see these ghosts with their eyes so much as sense their presence and see (not optically, but more like visualization/imagination) the ghosts.

Now take this a step further, because its now an electromagnetic field but somewhat aware and still storing the old memories I think reincarnation is basically when a ghost comes in contact with a pregnant woman and the developing child is unformed mentally, the ghost can through induction imprint itself on the child. I don't think this means it inhabits the child, but makes a sort of copy on the child.

That could explain why several people claim to be Cleopatra reincarnated. The conventional thought is they're all crazy. But it could be that as a ghost she's prolific and they really are all her.

Now the child thats imprinted isn't really a copy, it just has a bunch of memories that are a bit unformed but came to be in fact from a reality it never saw.

I know there is a lot there that I don't know the mechanisms for but I think are plausible and likely true. It sounds fantastic, but it probably works like that and we just do not yet know why. And it seems like magic because we don't understand. OF course at one point we never thought we'd be able to travel faster than 30 miles an hour either. Times change, technology changes, ideas change, and our knowledge grows. What we don't know now, we probably will at some point.

I know, its a long post but how else do you explain these things :)


I know I believe it. The human genome project (the real one not the one fromthe show) has shown that our DNA is virtually identical to the DNA in a chimpanzee. Now saying virtually identical is still saying different but only a little. When you realize that chimpanzees and orangutangs have a much larger variation in dna than humans and chimps. That being said, that makes us monkees, or rather members of "The Great Apes". I believe what truly started the differentiation is our thumbs. Our opposable thumbs allowed us to use and make tools. We used the tools to hunt and consequently we got more protien. The protein and the drive it gave us feuled our expanding brain. We got smarter and more different. What I think happened next goes a bit in the conventioal view of our development but it makes a lot of sense. Its called the aquatic ape theory.

The aquatic ape theory posits that at one point in our evolution we ended up spending a lot of time in the water. Now the reason could be as simple as its safer in the water and the tigers can't eat us there (they don't like getting wet). Our bodies adapted to our spending so much time in the water, we have vestigial remnants of webbing between our fingers and toes for swimming. We developed body fat below the skin as insulation from the cold water the same way seals and walrusses have blubber. We lost our body hair and what we have left is streamlined and allowed for easier swimming.

We becane more human. As we started spenidng less time in the water our development towards becoming aquatic mammals stopped and we consequently continued developing to what we are today. Slightly different genetic makeup from other great apes but vastly more intelligent and just diferent enough from the other animals we think we're special. But once you go right to the heart of the matter, we're all still animals underneath the bravado. We're all made of the same stuff monkeys and other mammals are. We're very accomplished monkeys but still just monkeys.

All because of our thumbs :)

Now we understand how to answer the question of "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?". The answer is the egg, because before it was something that was almost a chicken but not quite.

Evolution will turn a fish into a parrot and a monkey into a man.

The Start Of life on this planet....

What created those. Now that question made me step back. Not to rethink my views but to try to figure out how to describe it and not go into pages of text.

An incredibly good book that describes the process (briefly) that created life on this planet is called "The Blind Watchmaker" it is written by Richard Dawkins and he is in fact on of the great intellectuals of our time. It adresses creationist theory and systematically debunks every argument in the name of creationism put forward while explaining in clear not technical jargon evolutions role in the creation of life on this planet. An excellent read.

The premise is if someone were to find a watch and examine its complexitiess it could not have arisen by chance and must have been designed, and thus life in its nearly infinitely greater complexity must also have been designed and couldn't have arisen by chance.

Scientists have attempted to explain lifes origins by recreating the initial state of the planet, its chemical makeup, atmosphere, and enviroment to see if life can be created from nothing. The earth in those times was violent and radically different. The atmosphere was predominantly carbon dioxide, chlorine, sodium and toxic to todays life. Violent storms with great lightening strikes constantly hitting the primordial ocean, and the existing chemicals.

This is the enviroment that scientist have created. The lightening strikes into this environment created certain amino acids and that was the precursor for life. The primary building block if you will.

While they never created the spontaneous life they intended, its not so much suprising. Evolution is a process that took thousands of millions of years. The creation of life took time. Thousands of millions of scientists working for a year wouldn't generate life.

The conept of evolution itself is based on small change having large consequence. A lot of people wrongly assume that evolution happened with a goal in mind and that is hardly the case. As humans, a lot of us (myself not included) arrogantly assume that we are the goal of evolution but there is no goal in evolution.

When you consider the time that the earth has existed 4.57 billion years ago, and the first self replicating molecule (the original precursor to life on earth) formed roughly 4 billion years ago its not suprising a handful of scientists were unable to replicate this event in a few years of experimentation.

That initial self replicating module took another half billion years to become a true single cell organism that was the original common ancestor of life on earth. Later when photosynthesis came to be developed it slowly replace the carbon dioxide atmosphere with ozoze and oxygen. The ozone eventually became the ozone layer in our atmosphere that we're recklessly destroying.

Groups of different single cell organisms working together (not truly working together but these organism adapted to what was around them which was other single cell organisms.) soon developed multicellular life. Simple creatures existed later and evolution slowly made these more complex. Eventually fish, and these left the water, they became reptiles some reptiles became warm blooded and became mammals. Some Reptiles became dinosaurs, some became birds.

Follow down the lines and you get to us, we exist and continue to change.

The concept of evolution is so hard to grasp for most because it takes place in spans of time that we can't wrap our minds around. For us a few years is a long time but its NOTHING evolutionarily speaking. We're not the goal, we're another step.

Luckily enough for us intelligence is something we possess, and we have come to terms scientifically how we came to be, but large portions of our society still cling to what was a precursor to science and that is religeon.

We have developed a concept of right and wrong and these simpler ideas are what we need to govern our lives. What really counts is what you do and not what "God/Gods" you believe in. That truly is what is important.

There's no need to be a lost soul. Who you are and what you do defines you. The love you have and recieve are what counts. Where we came from is kinda unimportant if you just want to be a good person. There is no need for a rewards based system like religeon to guide you. If you look inside yourself and use the intellect that evolution has given us, moral decisions are easier without needing a book to guide you.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Just found these pics. Had to post them.....

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Installation of a Multimedia Nav system and DVD/MP4 Head unit. Part I

Part I

Well, on a recent business trip I became infatuated by my coworkers nav systems. I decided I need one. So I got back and did a bunch of research and pricing. As nice as the TomToms and Magellan systems are I thought it would be nicer to have larger screen.

Well a trip to let me discover just the ticket. The Plenio VXA-2000 7” Touch Screen Navigation system . An interesting feature of this nav unit is that it allows you to utilize the screen for fun things like video games or video. That prompted me to go searching for a mobile video source. I had contemplated using something like a portable mp4 unit for video but I still liked the idea of being able to toss in a DVD for road trips without having to rip and encode it to divx, xvid, or any of the other numerous formats and containers for video files.

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Further Perusing of the site landed my on a combination DVD/CD/MP3/MP4 in dash unit with both a USB slot for Thumb Drives and an SD/MMC slot right on the face of it. It appeared tailor made for what I wanted and the price was dirt cheap. All of $129 plus tax. The Nav unit was a bargain too at $338 plus tax. Shipping for both were cheap and the total came out to be around $500 for both pieces. Try finding that retail.

Additional bonus. I recently purchased a Neuros MP4 Recorder 2 Plus. It essentially acts like a mini digital VCR that records directly to Compact flash, SD, or Memory sticks. In MP4 format so theoretically I should be able to record a show, and then simply pull the card, insert it into the stereo, and watch or listen to the recording on my commute. Nice!

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The head unit is some Chinese off brand with no branding. It looked to me to be a unit that would be sold on so a quick hop over there confirmed my suspicion I read up on its specs a bit more. The unit I have is the equivalent of their DVD-393x-TV, minus the TV tuner. Not a big deal since I doubt I’d get any reception anyway.

So the package ended up arriving on Wednesday and I stayed home from work to sign for the package. I was a bit annoyed I hadn’t put “Send Signature not required” on it but then I didn’t really want several hundred dollars of equipment just sitting on my porch until I got home.

The packaging for the Plenio was standard retail style packing and the unit was packed well. All the accessories were accounted for and in good shape. The head unit was packed in a white box with no markings, but it was packed well and looked nice once unwrapped.

I had planned on waiting until this weekend to install both units but temptation hit and I decided to at least install the car stereo so I could see it all lit up and working. Not to mention this way I got to play with it and get to know its features before I add the nav system and have to figure out how to integrate them,

Step 1. Liberate the old system.

The Stereo I had in there was a nice Sony CD head that played MP3’s and had either Aux inputs or CD changer controls. It was a simple matter of removing the faceplate, the bezel (snaps on/off), and using the keys included with the Sony unit to unlock the Main unit from the mounting sleeve. It is standard practice to sell stereos that mount like this.

Since I didn’t want to Mess around with splicing wires directly into the car last time I managed to pick up a wiring harness for a few bucks from Walmart when I originally bought the unit. So once the unit was physically free it was a matter of disconnecting the harness from the unit, and unplugging it from the car. These things make life so much easier. Then it was simply bend the mounting tabs back into their original position and remove the sleeve. I brought all the parts into the house and repacked them into the box the new unit came from then went to work on the harness.

Step 2. Set up the wiring harness.

I had used butt connectors previously so I simply cut the wires on the harness side right at the junction to the butt connectors so I had more wire to work with. I then hooked up the wires by matching colors and functions.

The new radio followed the same color connections So it went together easily. I again utilized butt connectors for speed and ease. No wire nuts for me. Crimping give a more solid connection and wire nuts have a tendency to fall off in an environment like a vehicle where they are subject to vibrations. Exposed leads cause a short and shorts are bad.

Step 3. Install sleeve and unit.

Took all the new components out to the car and made the connection to the car using the newly modified wiring harness and threading the required connections out thru the sleeve. Then I mounted the sleeve by bending the tabs down to lock it in place. I then connected the cables. First Subwoofer connection, then Aux in to a 1/8th jack to rca adapter (for hooking up mp3 player, xm radio whatever), then antenna, then the harness and that was finished. Then it was a simple matter of sliding the new unit into its home in the sleeve (not so easy because there is limited space inside the dash and wires KEPT getting in the way), snapping on the new bezel and installing the faceplate.

Step 4. Test unit.

Well first thing was to set the clock, following the instructions and using the scary large remote. I tested the tuner first and tuned it to my favorite stations to test reception. It came in crystal clear and so did most of the other stations I can normally receive near my home. Popped in an MP3 cd and after a second of scanning it it started playing nicely. Tried a regular CD and it worked fine again. I nosed around the manual to figure out how to adjust the sound and found 4 different EQ settings. Not bad but not quite what I was looking for so staring at the screen for a bit, I figured out how to manually adjust the sound and did so. Much better now. Tried plugging the Aux input into my iAudio M5 and listened to that and it worked very nicely.

I didn’t have a chance to test the USB or SD functionality yet but all in all I’m satisfied with the unit. MY only gripe is it takes a little longer than my Sony did to scan the cd’s before playing but it really is minor. I’m already used to the display and face controls but I have yet to master the remote. I also haven’t tested the video functionality yet as the Nav system isn’t yet installed but it will be this weekend. A full report will be here then on the combo.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Some of my noteworthy posts from

My rants and thoughts:

My requisite myspace:

Thoughts about evolving superpowers:

Thoughts about creating superpowers:

Thoughts on how the character powers work:

Thoughts on how Logistically Timetravel Works:

"Heroes is like serial Crack."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Japan Trip!

Funny and factual account of our last trip to Japan. Pictures to come soon.

Tokyo Trip.

Day 1.

Woke up at 6to shower and catch our limo to the airport. It’s was 13 degrees out and we wanted out of Jersey badly. Limo arrived around 7:20 and then it was an hour-long ride to EWR. The driver said nothing and kinda sucked.

Got through security very fast. B got stopped for his big honking battery pack.

14 hours is a long flight, and we entertained ourselves and each other with “Lost in Translation” (appropriate I think) reading and a bunch of music. Shortly after we took off they turned out the lights. Then in short order all the window shades were closed and it was suddenly nighttime. We did get a couple shots off in the plane. At one point we were over one of the great lakes and it was completely iced over. You could see the plow marks over some land.

We had the continental in flight entertainment stick. Basically a phone/TV remote/game controller/light controller and a 6-inch screen that showed every channel but the one we wanted to watch.


Finally got to Narita and after much stumbling around waiting for our luggage, exchanging money I got to have a cig and oof 16 or so hours without nicotine and it’s a free head rush! The shuttle took around 2 hours and in that time we found the Japanese have a proclivity to mounting their rearview mirror way up in the front of their cars. Also big ferris wheels, As in the Worlds Biggest.

Finally got to our hotel around 6:30 or so Tokyo time. Promptly marveled at the room. Awesome room. Unreal view. Absolutely gorgeous, I swear. We were a little confused about the toilet, I mean it had a bunch of buttons that looked a little ominous and the functions are downright intrusive, though oddly pleasant. The blue button rocked, the pink not so much.

We promptly got changed and cleaned up a bit and bounced right out on the town. It goes without saying that at this point we were up for around 25 hours.

The walk to the Train station was only around 7 blocks and we found a Wendy’s restaurant. And had our first experience with the vending machine phenomenon. They are everywhere and a bewildering array of drinks and things can be had.

The train station is interesting because it has little automated ticket purchasing machines and a HUGE map of the confusing subway and Rail system. We became good friends with the railroad. The way it works is it shows you your stop on the map and all the other places have a number next to them. The names and in Japanese so we whipped out our handy English copy of the map figured out where Shibuya was and its correlating price, about 160 yen, inserted a bill and got our tickets and change. This was where we noticed they have a lot of coin money with values up to 500yen (about 5 bucks). I also decided I like coin money.

The trains are clean, crowded and quiet. A huge change from the NY subway system. Everyone is polite and stays to themselves.


Shibuya is insane. Gorgeous, and bright and dizzying to the first timer. After much walking and looking around we started getting hungry again and decided to find a place to eat.

They put plastic replicas of the food they serve outside so you can see what they have and most menus seem to have pictures also. So we went into this little doorway and down some stairs to a basement restaurant. We were seated and were stunned at the size of the place. The entire restaurant, including the kitchen, was maybe as big as my kitchen (my kitchen is big but not that big) and we were seated next to a few girls who were very attractive.

We pointed at the menus to order and our food came out pretty quickly. We ordered pasta forgetting that they only had chopsticks. That was fun. I actually managed to eat everything in my bowl with them and got pretty good at it. Very reasonable prices I might add. Tokyo is notorious for being extremely expensive but we didn’t really find it to be so. Maybe its because we’re from jersey and its expensive as hell there too. Anyway after dinner we took off and started bouncing around Shibuya some more. We came upon the seedier section (not that bad really) and found “Love hotel Hill” that was neat. Also a strip club but they were a bit expensive so we went in search of a cool bar.

We found a bar called “Tombstone” and thought why not? Again we went into a tiny hallway and into a tiny bar. They had a biker/outlaw motif but the bartender was friendly and there were no fights or anything. When I say tiny, I was right next to the coat rack which was on top of the bar fridge. There were maybe 7 places to sit in the entire place and a live dj took up the only open space at the end. The bartender was constantly having to duck down under the bar crawl through to the fridge to get beers. People came in and out regularly and there was steady flow for such a small place. A couple other tourist stuck their heads in and exclaimed “Is that all there is?!?” and left.

We were very much getting into the Tokyo experience and when we were getting good and drunk we had to leave and run to the train because they shut down at 12 putting a cap on the fun for the night for everyone.

We finally got back to our room and crashed out we were so wound up we didn’t go straight to sleep immediately. We just talked for an hour or so while raiding the minibar before finally getting changed and crashed out hard. It was about time too; at this point we had been up over 30 hours.

Day 2

Got up and went down to have breakfast and had a fun hangover. The restaurant looked very nice and the prices were commensurate with what you expect from a 5 star hotel, extremely expensive. Ordered a ham and cheese omelet and got something I didn’t quite expect. It tasted funny and that along with the bitter coffee worked in conjunction to make me make a hasty departure and suffice it to say I made my mark on Tokyo that morning. After another quick change we went strolling around and found a Buddhist Temple next to Tokyo Tower. At this point I realized I wasn’t feeling better and really should try to eat and get something for my head. I actually found Excedrin in a pharmacy and stopped at the Wendy’s to grab a bite to go. After which I took a nap and B took off again to Tokyo Tower.

That evening I got cleaned up and decided it would be fun to hit Shinjuku. That place is absurd too. I thought it wouldn’t be a bright as Shibuya but I was wrong. And its seedier section is much seedier. After nosing around in shops we went looking for a pub to get some dinner. I ordered a pizza and B got Fish and chips. His Chips were excellent and my pizza was good. Or at least half of it was good. The other half was, well, strange. It had raspberry cheese on it and I couldn’t eat it. We paid and left to continue around scooping things out.

We had an amusing time with one meek quiet guy that was trying to offer us a hooker or 2 for sex. We politely declined and finally ended up being offered something that sounded, well, not as illegal.

The “Snack shop”

A guy on the street offered us a huge discount for an hour and a half with attractive girls and free drinks the whole time. I decided to take him up on his offer figuring at least it was worth the drinks. I got a hot blonde and Brian got and attractive filipino girl. He was not into it but figured what the hell. After a while I got into it and even extended our stay. Drinks for me free, drinks for her were not. But I figured we’re on vacation so live it up right? Brian and his “date” got along pretty well while I was licking salt off my “dates” breast for my tequila shots. Then we realized how late it was and like mad we dashed out after I paid and had some drunken words with the proprietor of the place because he was trying to gouge us even more and made for the street so we could get to the train. Once out there we were almost surrounded by pimps trying to sell their wares and going so far as to offer us rides back to the hotel after. Good marketing ploy I might add. We politely told them no and managed to get to the train station on what may have been the last train.

Tired and drunk we both passed out on the train only to get booted off 2 stops early. Now its after midnight, there’s no train, and I have to pee. I went all the way back into the station only to find the door to the men’s room locked so off I went. Running around and finally hopping a turnstile because I say a bathroom there. By the time I got back out to Brian he had flagged down a cab and, I later found out, had left his own mark on Tokyo. Finally arriving back around 1:30 or so we crashed again, pausing only to take off our shoes.

Day 3.

Out of Yen. I woke up pretty early for the day and ended up waking B up to go get food. He was in poor shape and somehow I was feeling no pain. After consulting with the front desk and changing the last of our American dollars to yen we asked about an ATM and got directions. We finally found it and I pulled another 20000 yen and off we went. I got a bun thing and he got a jelly based energy thing and soon enough we were back on our way to the train station. Off to Akihabara, electric town.


As loud and bright as Both Shibuya and Shinjuku were this place is like that during the day. As far as the eye can see are electronics shops. Any piece of equipment you need is there. I mean anything, from titanium ear buds (awesome and expensive, around 168), to statues of nude anime girls (much more than I would have expected, average around 60-120). Both being good navigator helped us not at all and frequently we found ourselves walking in circles down aisles we’d been in just a little while ago. Everywhere there were people hawking their wares cell phone shops for NTTDoCoMo and Softpac were in abundance.

I have a fascination with Japanese cell phones probably because of the lack of choice offered by carriers in the states. Every size shape and color were available from companies I had never even heard of as well as brands I knew. Cell phone usage in the states is high but it’s nothing like Tokyo. In the trains and restaurants everywhere actually you’d see somebody using their phone and not just to talk. Reading, texting, surfing the net and occasionally talking. I found myself jealous as mine doesn’t work there and I didn’t rent one when I got there. So super connected me was out of touch.

We found a restaurant that had Italian food in AKIBA ICHI and it was spectacular and cheap. I am so falling in love with this city. We went to Yodobashi-Akiba and that place was nuts, NINE floors of shopping. If you couldn’t find it in this store your just not going to find it in Tokyo period. Unreal. We walked every level and though almost every section in their. It actually became too much. Too many adds, to much stuff, just too much. After getting beaten senseless by the sensory overload we had to duck out and find somewhere quiet. We happened on a Café, which was once again underground, and had some time to just chill and reflect. At this point we were punch drunk and blown away that by the time we got on the train and it went to the next station we realized we were going the wrong way and had to pop off and on to the right one.
So sore, tired and needing a break we came back to the room a made an early night of it. Tomorrow perhaps Harajuko, and one or 2 more places. Then we may change our plans of staying in a capsule hotel and stay here one more night. The simple logistics or moving all our/my baggage to a capsule hotel on a train after checking out of here just seems like too much. We’ll see. We decided to cap the evening with a simple store bought diner consisting of soup and something that’s not entirely unlike egg foo young. After several rough nights a quiet night is important.

Day 4

The search for Godzilla.

So day five we extended our stay because the logistics of getting our things to the capsule hotel on the trains and stuff was daunting and we were lazy. We decided that today was a good day to see some of the last things on our list. Harujuku, Roppongi, and Godzilla in Hibiya Park. So first we decided that Godzilla would be good to start with as it was early and since school was in session and Harajuku is a youth teenage kind of attraction and Roppongi is an adult kind of attraction it sounded like a logical first choice.

On the way to the train station we noticed something we’d been walking past for days. A really nice park and we decided to go in. I finally managed to get to a nice Japanese park and garden. There was a lake with a few islands and bridges connecting everything and it was beautiful. We got some very nice photos there too. After dodging the children who showed up on a field trip and were obnoxiously loud (though forgiven as they may have been only around 5). We cut short our trip and we left.

We caught the train to Yurakucho Station and decided to find the park. But first we needed to eat and stopped at a nice place with a name we couldn’t decipher but with an attractive menu (nice pictures). We ended up having a very nice lunch and were taken care of hand and foot by a Korean lady. She came over and poured the soy sauce for us and even offered us forks even though we have gotten extremely proficient with chopsticks. She doted over us like she was our mother and that was very nice.

After lunch we struck out in the direction of the park and found it to be beautiful and completely bereft of any Godzilla monument. We took some great shots and the park was gorgeous. We then started venturing off from the park in the hopes of finding the elusive beast but were unsuccessful. I looked up hot to ask where he was (“Sumimasen, Godzilla o sagashite”) and finally met our first gaijin in Tokyo. He was a resident and hadn’t heard of a statue and our hopes were getting low. Finally I worked up the nerve to ask a police officer and waited the beating for the possible racial slur. Surprisingly enough he figured out we were looking for something and once I said it as gojira the shoe dropped. He pointed us to go around the next block and so we went. And there he was resplendent in his bronze casting. After searching for around 2 and half hours we sat and basked in his glory and took several photos, much to the amusement of the sari men (salary men or professionals) standing around smoking. On the way back to the train station we saw a Nissan Showroom and unfortunately only saw Pinos. I asked about the Skyline and was given directions to another showroom a few maybe 5 blocks away and off we went. I was surprisingly under whelmed by the Skyline but was thoroughly impressed by the Fairlady 350Z. Our mission complete we headed to the train station and then off to Harajuku.

Harajuku is an interesting place but it is crazy in the way that teenagers are. Bright lights loud music and silly clothes were the norm. I only took one shot of the main strip there and found a coffee house and tried to detox from the silliness outside. After exploring a bunch of side streets and finally finding our way back to the train station we went back to the room and chilled out for a while before changing and heading to Roppongi.

Roppongi has a reputation for a wild nightlife but all we managed to see was one bar because we were thoroughly annoyed with pimps trying to hawk their wares at us and left completely annoyed after having a few drinks at the “Propoganda” bar. An uneventful ride back on the subway and a quick stop at a liquor store to refill our minibar so as to avoid any outrageous fee and it was back to the hotel. A fitting last day to our trip. Off to the airport tomorrow and off to Korea for me and home for B.

Final thoughts on Japan.

I have fallen in love with this country. Everyone is polite. Everything is suprising and so is the food. The sense of efficiency is everywhere and for me that’s heaven. The toilets rock. AM/PM Stores will be your best friend. Japan is not as expensive as they make it out to be. If you can’t speak Japanese it is a major unintended relief to speak to another person from your country. Japan is quirky, and that is apparent no more than in Harjuku where hello kitty Lollita Goth is an actually fashion sense. Japanese guys are goofy looking. Japanese women are gorgeous, the outfits are amazing and the high pitched voices are great. You will end up wondering why they aren’t freezing all the time because of the short skirts, but you won’t mind it. Wendy’s is a known quantity here, portions are smaller and there are menu items that aren’t stateside but its more or less the same. Diet coke and pepsi taste funny here, due to the use of a different sweetener than nutrasweet.JR Railroad will we another of your best friends. Scooters and motorcycles are everywhere, from little goofy Vespa’s to the huge confortable “limo” scooters (I don’t have abetter name for them they are big look comfy and have room for at least on more person in style), hot sportbikes. I am definitely coming back, probably once a year and now my goal is to find a native Japanese speaking girl in the states and learn how to speak this language (may as well have a little fun while learning).

Japan is not for everyone. Some people will be miserable here, being unable to communicate or read. If you have an open mind and a decent amount of money it is a great place for a few days. I spent around 900 here for 4 days and I didn’t go buck wild shopping. Japan isn’t as expensive as they say, it’s comparable to hanging out in Atlantic city or NY for the same amount of time.

Try it, you’ll probably love it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ok, I'm impressed. Screw DSL. Cable Rocks.

Friday, July 14, 2006


So it's been a while since posting last. Realized that when the going to reread the link in the last posting and realizing it's not there. Oh well.

I don't have anything really to say. My work situation has become interesting. I've sold a house, rented an apartment. My birthday passed with no real fan fare. It's basically been more of the same old stuff.

I went to Harrisburg PA for work last month. We busted our butts for a week, finished, and ended up driving home that friday. I got home around 3:30 ish (3.5 hour drive) only to get word at 6:30 the same night that I needed to go back. Apparently one of the NET guys had an issue in the family, and I was the only one that could cover the NET slack. So back to Harrisburg the next day. For another week.

Then this month it was out to NC. Unfortunately it was worked out that the travel day was the fourth of july. No bar-b-que for me. Since being here (NC) my team has done an unprecedented amount of work. Not another one of the teams since the beginning of fielding can claim to have come close to what we did here. But I'm not bragging, I'm more concerned with setting precedents on what can be accomplished, by either my team or any fielding team. We just happen to be on our game ;)

I sold my house on June 1. So for the 28 hours previous, I and a good friend of mine went crazy packing, moving and cleaning my old house. Then after a shower it was right to closing. Then asleep for 18 hours. Finally found an apartment though, moved in the 1st of july. Now if you noted in the last paragraph, I left on travel on the fourth. Yup that means when I catch my flight back tommorro I'm going to walk into my apartment and it looks like a tornado hit it. It's about 30% setup. So no relaxing for me. Oh well. As I always say, "No rest for the wicked".

My birthday passed on the 24th of june. No party, no fanfare. I just left for the weekend and got a nice hotel room so I wasn't sleeping on a couch during my birthday. I didn't even bother trying to pick anyone up. I just kinda wanted some peace and quiet.

So here I am. I catch my flight tommorro at 6 in the morning. That means I need to get to the airport by 4:30 or 5. No problem til you realized my hotel is 90 minutes from the airport. I may not sleep tonight as a matter of practicality. With the car turn in and the getting ready to go in the morning I'd need to get up around 2. Right around the time the bars close ;)so like I said. I may not sleep.

Aint my life fun?


Til next time.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The next big bang: Man meets machine

Great read about man machine integration.