Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Its official at last (for many of you this may be surprise news) - Joey was just trasferred to his BAE location in NJ! That means we get to move from the lovely town of Brooklyn!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I'm out sick this week! I have enlarged tonsils but I am getting better. I've been out sick since monday! Anyway, the video is something my brother in law sent about engineers. Its hysterical!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This weekend was a good one - after a quiet, relaxing Shabbos, we had some of my work friends over for lunch on Sunday. It was nice to have Joey finally meet people who I speak to all the time! Plus I hadnt seen them in a while, so it was nice to catch up.

I made a spread and was able to use all my dairy dishes [The twist collection of Bea, Clea, Dora and Anna] which is always fun and I discovered that my platter looks really good with watermelon, honeydew and pineapple because of the colors! It was nice to relax and hang out. It also was the first time I used my chicken salt and pepper shakers (or rather, just the salt because I didnt have a funnel for the pepper). It was a great, relaxing weekend!

Yesterday I went to get new glasses. They convinced me not to get the same pair I have now (which I personally love) and I got something which they say is a little trendier, but still classes. Its very similiar to what I have now but the frames are a little thicker. I also sprung for the $60 anti-glare coating because I sit in front of a computer a lot! So I figure it would be helpful for my eyes. Add in $25 for upgraded frames and my free glasses turned out to be $85! But I guess that is still pretty cheap when you consider the frames alone really cost $200 without the lenses....I will post a picture when they are ready.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The last few weeks have been rather busy! I started a new position at Con Ed as a permanent member of the Mechanical Engineer department. I am an associate Engineer (I earn full engineer in about a year or so) and I work on problems on the steam system. I figure out how to fix it!

Anyway, on January 7th our good friend Orit Adonolem got married to Tzvi Schnur. We had an awesome time at the wedding.

It was at the Surf Club in New Rochelle, so close enough to not be an annoying trip out. The following night we went to their sheva brachot (which is always fun because you get to see the bride and groom right after they are married!).

Wednesday night we had another wedding -- a good childhood friend of mine, Elisheva Mayerfeld (who married Shmuel Erhlanger). The wedding was in Monsey (so yes, a schlep) but it was a lot of fun and I got to see so many of my friends who I never get a chance to see because of distance and time. We didn't get back until about midnight, which doesn't seem late except Joey wakes up at 4 and I wake up at 5:30. So midnight is late :-)

Monday I had off for MLK day (Joey was working) so I went to visit my sister and brother in law in Lakewood. I brought Bella and Maya's birthday presents for them. Maya got this really fun toy where you build it up and roll marbles through where it twists and turns and jumps. Unfortunately, Bella had school so I didn't get much chance to be with her, but she got a tennis outfit for her Felicity doll ( if you are interested). It was really nice to spend a lot of time with my sister [and her family] because she moved away from us! So sad! My new niece, Adira, will not know me as well as the other two will.

Otherwise it was just a busy week at work.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I guess its time to finish off our trip. We left Japan on Moday, January 1st at 11 am. We got to experience December 31st twice (crossing the international dateline) [so this is our 2nd 2007]. We landed at 9:30 am on January first. Time travel is really exhausting! And such a feeling of deja vu....

This week I started a new position at Con Ed as an associate Engineer for the steam system. So far its going well. I have two challenging projects that I'm starting to struggle through. Today is our good friend's wedding (Orit Adonolem).

OK, more another time.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

On Friday we woke up to snow. Yes snow :) It made Kyoto look very picturesque. As we walked out of the train station, it started coming down hard and sticking. It was the good, pure, white snow that makes you want to sit in front of a roaring fire drinking hot chocolate.

So we went on our bus bound for Sanjusangendo. Its a Buddhist shrine where they have 1001 statues surrounding a huge Buddha. Unfortunately, you couldn't take any pictures, so all of ours are slightly blurry (stolen pictures without flash!) but they were unbelievable to see. They are so intricate and beautiful, made of wood and then lacquered and covered in gold. There were many statues in front also who were other protectors (but I don't remember their full stories), some with scary faces. It was just unbelievable to see them all standing there as people prayed. There was a monk who started the morning prayers when we were there, with someone accompanying him on the drums. They burn these sticks that are sold - for about 600 yen you can write your name and wish to Buddha and then they burn it for you and it supposed to come true.

After that, we went back outside and it was snowing. Full swirling buckets of snow coming down all around us. The beauty of the white snow on all the old shrine structures was amazing. It makes me miss the old days of being a child and watching the snow fall out of the den window in my house and then going outside to ruin its perfection.

Anyway, then we left for the train station. I had been warned that trains would be really packed because its a holiday weekend, and then we tried getting reserved tickets and they were sold out for non-smoking. So we ran to the train to try to get seats and when we got on the non-reserved section, it was practically empty! So that was really nice. We were able to get seats right near our luggage. On our way, we had great views of the Japanese countryside covered in snow, as well as another clear shot of Mount Fuji.

When we arrived in Tokyo, we went to the Chabad House, dropped off our stuff before a quick errand to get transformers. We found Joey some exciting stuff!

We had another great shabbos at Chabad (I highly recommend staying with them for shabbos if you come to Japan) and it was nice to have non-instant stuff to eat! We will actually be staying at the Chabad House until we leave.

We leave Japan in about 26 hours. How sad. That's all for now.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Today we trekked to Hiroshima. The train ride takes about 2 hours from Kyoto. As experienced trainriders, we now went to the correct cars and got good seats :) It was raining when we left Kyoto and I was worried that it would be bad weather in Hiroshima because we were going to an outdoor shrine first that was supposed to be one of the most beautiful sites in the country, but being on the water wouldnt look so good if the weather was bad. Luckily, as the train sped through the countryside, the weather got better and better. We landed in Hiroshima with sunny, blue skies.

To get to Miyajima (the island where the shrine is), we took a subway to a ferry (all covered under our unlimited JR train pass). The ferry ride was a short 10 minutes, but gave us beautiful views of Hiroshima and the shrine. When we got to the island, there were tons of wild deer floating around (food for 200 yen which we did not buy) and you could approach and pet them. At one point, two deer were head butting and fighting, which was really funny to see! After that we walked down to the shrine, which is absolutely beautiful. Its bright red and tall, and if you come during high tide, it looks like its floating in the water.

Then we walked through the shrine complex and exited near a temple that was being used. The video of it can be seen here (dont know what they were doing though):

After that we went back to the main area of Hiroshima to see the Peace Park and Museum. When we exited the station for the museum, we asked the guard for directions. A woman nearby helped us with the english/japanese, but it seemed like the guard didnt know! It was odd because hundreds of thousands of tourists do this all the time, and he didnt know how to get there? We decided to figure it out for ourselves, and found the tram right in front of the station went there.
Anyway, first we saw the atom bomb dome -- one of the few surviving structures from the atom bomb. It was really spooky to see the building -- most of it blown to bits but the basic structure still there. Pieces of metal were just hanging off as is. It was a somber way to start before visiting the museum.

The museum itself was very informative. The entire museum stressed peace and nuclear disarmament. It shows the city before and after, and gives stories of those who died and those who survived. Its incredibly sad. It was also wierd to see it from Japanese perspective, as we always learnt it through the american eyes. It wasnt that any details were different, it was just that we learnt it was important to end the war, and the horrors of what happened are not stressed as much. I dont know if I am making myself clear, (because I dont think America is insensitive to what happened), but it was just different.

After the museum, it was snowing, so we went back to Kyoto. Usually we take direct trains, but this time we had to transfer, and it went very smoothly. We are now native train-takers :)
(This post is for Wednesday)
Kyoto is a city full of temples, shrines, shrines, shrines and temples. We saw quite a few, and barely scraped the surface! I wont bore you will all the details (because I could go on and on and on and on....), but I will tell you some of the highlights.
We started out the day at a shrine which houses a wooden Buddha thats about 1000 years old. Its really beautiful, but you cannot legally photograph it. They also had a lot of other smaller old statues of Buddhas and other guardians.
Then we went to a shrine with a famous zen garden. It was laid out in like the 1600s and they keep the format. Needless to say, Joey and I did not see the wisdom (though we didnt try really hard -- we do tend to mock things).
After that we went to the highlight of our day -- the golden pavillion. Its a pavillion where the top two floors are covered in gold. Its absolutely fantastic. Unfortuantely, you cannot go inside it or chisel the gold off, so all we took away were pictures. [Honestly, pictures do not do this place justice -- its an unbelievable experience to see]
Then we went to another zen garden. All we saw was gravel with two mounds in the middle of nowhere. We continued around to see some rocks and moss in the next few areas. Joey and I were both thinking "We paid 500 yen a person for this?" but then the monk came and explained it to us -- the whole garden signified lifes struggle and sometimes you hit a palce where you cannot go on (a dam) but really you can and although you really want to go back sometimes, life always goes on, until you reach the ocean of calm (hence why there was really nothing there). Anyway, way too deep for us :) But the monk did sing "Row, row, row your boat" to us while showing us the different parts of the garden! Totally worth every penny.
Next was the silver pavillion -- which never actually got covered in silver. They had beautiful gardens surrounding the pavillion. Then we went to Nanzenji, another temple, where you could actually climb the huge gate. The stairs are really narrow (made for asian feet) and it was really high, but well worth the climb because of the unbelievable views! You also have to remove your shoes, so you are climbing in your socks! Its odd.

The last shrine of the day was the Heian shrine, a garish, colourful newer shrine. It was the end of the day so everything was closing, but we did get a glimpse of the shrine inside and all of the exteriors of the building.

On to the last stop of the day -- Gion. We went Geisha hunting (for those of you who do not know what a Geisha is, watch Memiors of a Geisha -- but its basically an escort girl [or glorified prostitute]) At first we chased down any woman in a kimono (and got a couple of pictures -- the poor people!). But this is what we actually saw! She looked like she was 12-14 years old, but Geisha start young. She looked like a little kid playing dress-up, so who knows is she was real or not. But we'll say we saw a Geisha :)