Monday, January 30, 2006

Mukka Java

I will admit that I have a new favorite kitchen appliance. The kitchen is not my domain. Toast, cereal with milk, nachos (melted cheese on chips), this is about my level of ability in the kitchen. Occasionally I will venture out an prove my abilities with a mean chocolate chip cookie of which is the only recipe I have memorized. But my normal duties in the kitchen involves the coffee maker. That I am skilled at. However, we have a new coffee devise that we are totally addicted to and can't be without.

We first learned about the Mukka Express at my in-laws house during Christmas. One of the first things we did when we got home was to run out an purchase our own. We got the cow print one. My mother-in-law has the shiny stainless steel one. They both do the same thing but we paid $20 less to get the cow print, so we took our $20 to Starbuck's to get a 1/2 pound of espresso roast.

This little device makes the best cappuccino I have ever had. I have one almost everyday. Mmm... coffee.

Don't be frightened off by the price tag... it is well worth it. Just think of what you will save by not having to run to your local java supplier to get your fix. In just a couple minutes this thing brews up the perfect mix of coffee and milk. Heavenly.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Motorcycle Airbag

I don't know if it would have helped in my accidents (yes it's plural) but I wish I would have had this this past summer... click here.

I saw a show on this product while I was in Japan... forgot all about it until I was reading this blog... take a look... thanks Boone for the reminder.

The Bail

I feel terrible... yet I don't.

Normally I pride myself on being a reliable person. If you ask me to do something, or if I tell you I'll do something, I'll do it. This weekend I am supposed to be up in Washington with our youth group. We'll I'm not there. I bailed at the last minute. Actually it was a day or so before but you know what I mean.

I mostly blame my trip to Japan. It got me so behind at work by the end of the day Tuesday I just couldn't see taking Friday off as a viable option for my sanity. On Wednesday I had to call Tom our youth pastor to let him know I wouldn't be going. I had major knots in my stomach, even though I knew it was the right decision. However, I will miss being there. Trips like this help make connections with the students like no other experience.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Office

Are you watching "The Office" tonight?


You should... it is funny, inventive, creative, but occasionally rude.

However, the best show on TV, bar none, is "24". Fast action, intense characters and story lines, great acting, and shoot'em up scenes that rival the movies makes this an awesome show. If you haven't started yet with this season, don't. Rent the DVD's of past seasons to catch up... it will be worth it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Welcome Nate

Congratulations to my sister and her family. She gave birth to her first son this weekend.

His is born as the second child to my sister and the thirteenth grandchild to my parents. My brother and his wife are having the fourteenth.

Welcome to the world Nathaniel Glenn. Hope to see you soon.

Home Sweet Home... Finally!

I have finally returned from Japan. A trip that started well and ended very poorly.

Saturday morning I woke up just before 4am (Tokyo time) to see snow falling on downtown Tokyo. It was very beautiful and prompted me out of bed to get ready for a walk. It took about an hour to wake up, wash, and wait for a little daylight before heading out. My first trip out was a little dark for photos so the camera was left behind. What did come with me were a bunch of stares from the local cab drivers watching the crazy American walking the empty streets of Tokyo in the snow. I soon returned to the hotel for a little breakfast and to check my email.

My second venture out I took my camera. Here are a couple of photos:


The Imperial Palace and it's resident swan.

After my leisurely stroll I returned to pack my stuff and head out to the airport. I first checked in with the bellman to make sure by bus was running on time, he said it was.

Bags are packed and I'm heading out the door when one of the other guest's heading home put the first bit of worry in my head with an off handed comment about the Japanese being able to handle snow at the airport.

I was the first one on the bus, got the primo seat, kicked back an relaxed as much as I could. There was a guy up front who talked non stop to another guy the whole drive to the airport, this kept me from napping, he wouldn't shut up. He was a blowhard know-it-all-done-it-all who everyone fears sitting next to on the plane. I winced hard when he said he was on NWA flight #6, my same flight.

Once I arrived at the airport I checked the board to see that everything was on time. Phew. I took my time to return the rented cell phone and to check my bags. All was looking good.

I quickly passed through immigration and was on to the gate for a short wait for my flight. As I neared the gate which was changed from the original, I saw my the guy from the bus, hoping and praying his seat was far from mine. I then saw an old friend of mine who was traveling for Nike. Good to see a familiar face. We actually first saw each other briefly on the way to Tokyo from Portland. Small world.

The announcement came first on the overhead speaker then shortly followed on the flight status board... our flight has been delayed an hour.

This is when things turned bad. At this point of the story I am putting the fast forward button on for the sake of my audience. The next 30+ hours were a lifetime.

After a couple of delays we were put on a bus to get to the plane. This bus ride was an unexpected torture. There was about 100 people with their carry-on's shoved on a bus made for 50. The ride seemed endless, it was almost as long as the ride from the hotel to the airport.

We were finally on the airplane some time after 5pm... it was half empty. This was nice because I was tired and planned to sleep for the flight home. Well, "The Dukes of Hazzard", some beverages and pretzels, and the latest Reese Witherspoon movie later we were told that our flight was cancelled due to weather. Three inches of snow shut down Narita airport, the people in Chicago would just laugh at that. The announcement on the plane was that we were to go to gate 25 for further instructions. It was time to get back on the bus.

There was nothing and no one at gate 25 when we arrived. The rumor circulating was that the whole airport was shut down. We could still see some planes leaving, all cargo planes, but planes nonetheless. The Korean Air desk was full of some angry customers getting their verbal licks in on an employee who obviously didn't have the answers they wanted.

Situations like this show the true nature of people. There were those that immediately jumped to anger and those of us that sat to watch the fireworks show the angry people put on. I guess some people think that yelling and cussing makes things happen. In this situation they soon found out it doesn't work.

After an hour of milling around in confusion with the rest of the passengers we were greeted my Mr. Mak a NWA representative. This was a man I quickly felt sorry for, he was handed 1,000+ tired, confused, and angry passengers with no plan to get them home. He told us that we were to find a place to sleep and call the toll free number in the morning to re-book our flights. Not good. Mr. Mak worked until we left on our flight. I think this experience was harder on him than any other person in the airport.

I got in line to make a call home to Kathi to solicit her help in re-booking me on the next flight. Numerous phone calls home later I was booked on a flight for Tuesday. At the time this was all they could do. I was not satisfied with this so many hours and many lines later I was rescheduled on a flight for that same day at 3:5pm. I had a small celebration with some fellow passengers and consoled those still looking for a way home.

The rest of the time I hung out with some folks from Nike in the NWA business lounge. We celebrated with beer and Kit-Kat bars. I was too tired to do anything else. Sleep was not an option since I feared sleeping through any new developments. We began to plan our version of a reality show about our experience in the airport. We were going to make clothes out of the airline blankets, auction of the food we had, and start a betting scheme on the flight board. It would have been a combination of "Lost", "Survivor", and "Airline" (The Southwest airline reality show). Mr. Burnett are you reading this?

Finally it was flight time... no wait... another two hour delay. No gate listed, no assurance that our flight would leave, I again waited. I was now on at least my 36th hour with our sleep and decent food. Exhaustion was setting in.

I sat at the gate waiting for the infamous bus to take us to a plane we were praying would take off today. Some time later the buses were moving.

Once on the plane I settled in my aisle seat and got set to sleep. I had removed a blanket and pillow from the business lounge since it was nicer than the pathetic little pillow and blanket we get in coach. The jealousy around me was apparent. The announcements of delay started immediately and continued for the first hour on the tarmac. I was not surprised. About an hour or two we finally pulled away from the gate. At this point time was irrelevant, it was a blur.

About 40 hours in with no sleep, I was out, really out, sleep at last. During the first food service I was awaken, probably by my stomach, to eat. I was awake just enough time to get the bad food down and some water in me before sleeping more.

The announcement that we were preparing to land was what got me up for the last time. We landed, finally, in Portland around 11am Sunday.

To cap off the previous 48 hours of pure fun, NWA put my luggage on the wrong plane. Nice, another line of people to wait with and complain with and sympathize with to report our lost luggage to the solo employee working the counter. My kind friend and his wife offered my a ride home. I thank them very much. The MAX ride I planned to have taken may have put me over the edge.

My boss had called Kathi and told her I could take the day off. I did.

13 hours of sleep is a good cure for jet lag.

Today my luggage arrived at about 1pm.


Many details and the sort have been left out because I know for a fact that I am not the first or last to go through something like this. For those that travel a lot my sympathy is thick and solid.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sushi Time

I survived the sushi... Barely.

I was caught gagging a couple of times. Some was good... really. Some, wow, how do people eat it? There was one item that was tough and chewy and it was hard to get down. There was some giggling and some laughter, but I think they understood. If it wasn't for the beer I don't know what I would have done; I may have become acquainted with a Tokyo alley.

Speaking of alley's; this restraint was located in one. I was told it is a very famous place for sushi... it was as small as my bedroom. We sat on the floor to eat, very Japanese.

After the sushi came a visit to an exclusive bar. My host had a password to get in. Very nice. My name was the big topic of conversation. I am not sure what means in Japanese but there was some talk about samurai, camels, and being comfortable in the evening... eww. This bar, like the restraunt, was in an alley, well away from prying eyes. The hostess sat around the table with you to serve your drink, she never leaves, as if she is part of your group. We were early so all of the hostesses sat with us and would leave one by one as others came in. They all had business cards... when was the last time you went to a bar where the waitress handed you her/his business card.

All in all it was a nice evening, interesting to say the least.

Good night, or morning depending on where you are. It is 11:10pm Tokyo time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Some Things Remain the Same

FYI - A Starbucks Venti Latte tastes the same in Japan as it does in the US.

Early Morning Stroll

I took a walk this morning around the Imperial Palace this morning... just my luck, it is closed today. No breakfast with the royals I guess. It was a nice stroll, long and cold, but nice.

It is sunny and 2 degrees out today.

I still can't find a good cup of coffee. There is hope... I saw a guy carrying a Starbuck's today.

I walked amongst the commuters today. At 6'-2" I stand out to begin with, add the fact that I was wearing blue jeans, t-shirt, and a leather jacket I was quite the stand out amongst the dark conservative business suits.

I miss my family... love to you guys.


6:00 am Tokyo time... must find coffee. I hear there is a Starbuck's nearby so it is time to hit the street. I don't look forward to the whole jet lag thing, it is already not been much fun.


From the Palace Hotel in Japan I send my greetings. This is a beautiful hotel located directly across from the royal family's palace.

The trip is going well. I am done with the bulk of it and all that is left is dinner tomorrow night with a customer. Then it is back to Portland.

Japan is an amazing place. Like most things in life, reading about it wasn't enough; experience is the key. Fortunately for me I have had a guide for the last two days who is fluent in English and Japanese. What I have had to do on my own has been easy, mostly because Japan is ready for Westerners.

As of today I have been fortunate to have avoided Sushi. It has been all noodles and rice thus far. All of my other meals have been from vending machines. There are vending machines everywhere, I mean everywhere. For the last two days I have been in the city of Oyama and on the way to the plant from our hotel there is a vending machine on the side of the road in front of a rice field. Seriously, there is nothing there but the vending machine. I wish I could have got a photo but spaced it each time we passed by. Downtown Oyama there is a vending machine that sells rice. No kidding. Ten pound bags. They even sell hot coffee in a can, yep, just like a soda, but it's hot.

Here is a photo from my first hotel room upon arriving in Tokyo. It is a little blurry due to the mass of condensation on the window and my camera's inability to take night photos.

It is getting late, or early, I am confused as is my body...

More to come...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Breaking in the Passport

On Monday I will be traveling to Japan. This will be my first time overseas. I am excited and at the same time nervous. The purpose of the trip is business. I am going on behalf of the company I work for to service a customer who is having issues with our machine.

I leave Portland on Monday and arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday. My return trip I leave Tokyo on Saturday afternoon and arrive in Portland Saturday morning. It's like time travel. I expect it to be hard on the body.

I hope that during my time there I will get to experience some of Japan in my free time; site see, eat, and maybe shop a little. Sushi is not my favorite, okay I actually don't like it at all, but I am willing to try things... we'll see.

During the past couple of weeks I have been reading up on Japanese culture and business practices. This has been an interesting learning experience, I look forward to seeing how accurate what I have read is during my trip. I am prepared with gifts for those I am going to see, gifts from Oregon. This is one of the traditions I am familiar with.

I will have a computer with me and hope to make a couple entries on my trip.

Pray for my safety and success.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Jesus Loves Porn Stars

You don't believe me? Blasphemy? Check out this link and read the last few entries.

I challenge you with this question... who is more effective and honest witnesses of God's love; these guys or the protesters marching out front of the convention center?

This is God's love in action. Pray for this ministry and the lives they touch. I don't need to say much more - just read the blog.

God is good.

Related links: - the blog of a life changed. - the home of (hero's of the faith).

Friday, January 06, 2006

So Far...

Every New Year we think things are going to change, or will be different in some magical fashion. We count down the best of the prior year, we review and relive the previous year, we look to the ball dropping like it is the end of the old and the beginning of the new, or we just make a resolution to eat better.

So far this year the only thing that changed is the number I write at the end of the date.

I didn't make any resolutions, or promises, or anything of the like. But, in the back of my mind I subconsciously looked to 2006 as the start of something new. So far, so the same.

Oh well, considering my life is good, my family is healthy, my home is warm and secure, and I have a job, I guess I can live with that. God is good.

For amusement here is one thing I did on New Years at our youth groups party that was new... at least to me... Sumo Brian... I got my tail wooped by a 16 year old.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

*** 2006 ***

No predictions...

No resolutions...

No worries...

God is in control.