Why the right tools matter

A few years ago, I went off to Japan to visit my friend Chris. I took along my (at the time) fancy digital camera: a Canon Pro 90 IS. Fancy in that it was big mega-pixels (for the time) and had an image stabiliser built-in (that’s what the “IS” stands for). Like I do now, I used it to document the heck out of my trip.
One thing Canon had on its prosumer cameras at the time that they took out of the DSLR line was the panorama assist mode (I don’t think it exists in any of their models now — does it?). A handy feature, it let you create panoramic views by being able to line up your previous shot. Then you used some included software, and BOOM!, you had a panorama.
Or that’s how it was supposed to work.
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Calgary is big enough for better transit

As I’ve said before, I’m no expert. I haven’t been everywhere or done everything. But one thing I have done is paid attention to public transit systems, especially the ones I’ve had to deal with on a daily basis.
Such as the one in Calgary. You already know [[Calgary Transit Sucks|how I feel about our beloved transit system]]. And we’re long overdue to consider how much bigger it should be.
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Wandering around Tokyo

Tokyo is a wonderful city. Even in the rain. Despite a delayed start (we were up late — it doesn’t help that Chris and I yak a lot), we soon found ourselves in Ginza, walking through the mist-like rain in search of not much except yarn (Amy’s got a project she’s trying to finish).
We went through the sweet electronic sanctity of the Sony Showroom [insert drool marks on the screen here], then over to the Apple store (four floors of pure industrial design nirvana), before crossing Ginza dori in search of, well, food. Amy spied a small sign that led us down an alley barely wide enough for us to walk, then down a set of barely-marked stairs into a basement restaurant that served some darn fine raumen, and some pretty funky dumplings.
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Turning Japanese Again, Tsukiji Market

Why had I gone to Shinagawa to kill time? Simply put, it was far enough away from Tsukiji that walking alone would eat up some time, but not so far that I would be exhausted by the time I got to my destination. I had originally thought Shibuya, but a quick glance at a map ruled it out immediately.
To add to my time getting to Tsukiji, I also planned to walk to Tokyo Tower for some night photographs. Beyond that, I was making up everything as I went. That wasn’t too hard, considering I didn’t really know where I was going. I wasn’t looking at a map, I was just using my sense of direction (usually very reliable) and certain landmarks to know where I was.
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Turning Japanese Again, Touring Tokyo (more still)

We got up a bit later than I’d hoped for, mostly because I’d accidentally turned off the alarm instead of snoozing it.
We took the first train we could get to into Tokyo. I stood, wedged in a space between the door and the side of the bench, watching the scenery pass. At the time, I had thought this to be my last trip into Tokyo. Having been to Japan twice in two years, I can’t honestly imagine returning any time soon.
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Turning Japanese Again, Touring Tokyo (still)

The alarm went off early. Earlier than usual, anyway. Jen was still sleeping, so I thought I’d let her sleep a bit longer. But at 9:00, I got her going.
Unforunately, Jen started off with a killer headache, so she didn’t move very quickly. Compound to that a very irregular bus schedule and not being able to catch a limited express to Tokyo wound up pretty much killing the point of today’s journey — going to Nikko.
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Turning Japanese Again, Touring Tokyo

The household woke up slowly. The events of last night (see [[Turning Japanese Again, Reception Party in Chiba]]) had done us all in. Kaz and Chris were tired from all the attention they’d been getting. Jen and I were tired from all the things we’d done and drinks we’d had.
As such, we were in no hurry to do anything. I was the first up, my bladder calling attention to itself, and sat down to catch up on my journals. Chris and Kaz were up shortly afterwards. Chris needed to go back to his apartment before going to work, and suggested that I come along to collect last night’s laundry.
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Turning Japanese Again, Shinkansen to Tokyo

More tofu for breakfast. Blech. Well, not so much blech as bland and really not what I’d like to eat first thing in the morning. Jen didn’t eat much.
Today we’re back to Tokyo (and Yotsukaido). But first, we wanted to do a little touring around. And I do mean “little”. Specifically, two stops up the Karasuma line to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. I really wanted to see what it’s like in there.
But first, we had to pack up and check out. Which wasn’t easy — we’d spread ourselves all over the room. Although it didn’t take me long to pack, Jen had to take a bit longer out of necessity. It’s safe to say that, either way, both of us officially have too much stuff.
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Turning Japanese Again, Shinkansen to Toyohashi and Irako

I slept a little oddly, considering we’d been up for over 24 hours straight. Woke up once around 3:00 (mostly to go to the bathroom), again at about 5:00, and finally at about 7:50. At that point, it was enough to say I’d probably adjusted to the time zone.
Jen and I proceeded to get on with our morning. For me, showering and shaving (showering when it’s eight degrees in the shower room is a bit of an odd experience), gathering our things from the previous night, laying out Chris and Kaz’s wedding gifts (that they don’t yet know about), and getting breakfast.
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My Trip to Japan, Imperial Palace and Ueno Park

Today was my last full day in Japan. There was so much I still wanted to see and do. I couldn’t do everything … but I darn well tried!
Chris had to work, so would stay behind in Yotsukaido. Kaz, her friend, Ellesen, and myself went into brave the city of Tokyo and what wonders there were yet to find.
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My Trip to Japan, Odaiba Seaside Park

Today was a good day. Not that other days have been bad by any means, but when you can sit back and reflect and feel really good — that’s a particularly good day.
Chris was up early to meet Kaz at Tokyo station. We had loosely planned to hit something interesting in Tokyo today, but Ellesen and I needed to sleep in a bit. (Where Chris finds all the energy he’s got lately, I’ll never understand.)
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My Trip to Japan, Harajuku and Shibuya

I think a good rule of thumb for how long you should stay in one place while on vacation is your comfort level. When you become too comfortable, you’ve stayed too long. I’ve become very comfortable with Tokyo.
That’s not to say I’m bored with Tokyo — far from it. This city — this country, in fact — has so much to offer that it is seriously impossible to cover all of it in a mere two weeks. I could spend almost two weeks in Tokyo alone! I wish I didn’t have to go home right away, so I could spend more time seeing the country. Four days remain.
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