Sajjad Zaidi's Blog

Daily Musings

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Monday 30th December 2002

Went to Akihabara again to help a friend buy a Linux PDA. Since the Sharp Zaurus is the only one that comes with it installed, thats what we got.

Sunday 29th December 2002

It was a nice and sunny day so rode my bicycle to Akihabara. I used to go there almost every weekend at one time to look around for new computer parts and check out prices for RAM, CPU etc, but realised that this was my first visit in months.

The only reason I went there was to buy my last toy for this year. A digital camera. I have had my eye on the Canon IXY 320 because of its small size and thats what I got. Its small enough to fit in my jacket's pocket and would be ideal for the Hokkaido snowboard trip next month. 3.2 Megapixels, rechargable Lithium ion battery and a multi-lingual menu. Included with the camera was a 64MB Compact Flash card and an aluminium carrying case though I would have preferred a smaller, more portable cover.

Wednesday 25th December 2002

Christmas today but it doesn't feel like it here in Japan. Few people officially celebrate it, though some Santas and decorations can be seen in restaurants and shopping areas.

Off to our Bonenkai. Wonder why they put it on Christmas day.

Monday 23th December 2002

I had decided on getting my own snow-board boots after the last, very painful, experience with rentals. Went to Jimbocho with Rainer and found some really good and reasonably priced boots. They seem a little tight, but they are supposed to reshape to fit your feet after a while.

After I got those, I just had to get better bindings since the rentals I got were quite worn-out and you end up keeping everyone waiting while tightening them. And, since it would waste so much time to have the rental place put on the new bindings on the rented board, I thought might as well get my own board, which off course, needs its own carrying bag and grips.

Total cost: You dont want to know. All I can say is that its the most expensive sport Ive done. Wait till I start sky-diving.

Sunday 22th December 2002

Dan had a house-warming party at his new place. Met lots of new Japanese people.

Thursday 19th December 2002

Tonight's blogging meetup was cancelled because not enough people confirmed that they could attend.

Tuesday 17th December 2002

Funny how I have healed completely. It took more than a week the last 2 times I went. Here are the photos Rainer took:

The place we stayed at The inn again David and Fujie Judd
Judd again Rainer Rainer again Rainer again and again
Yours truly with white hair Yours truly stuck in the snow Near the very top View of Zao and surroundings
Monday 16th December 2002

Was too tired to write about the trip last night. Here is the whole thing. Will post more photos when I get them:

I got to Tokyo station at 7pm on Friday and met Rainer, Judd and Fujie there, while David was late as usual. There was no sign of Lawrence. He disappeared before our last trip as well.

From Tokyo, we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Yamagata, way up North, which took about 2 hours. Then a taxi van to the mountain town of Zao. There was some snow in Yamagata, but it didn't look promising. Things got much better as we went higher up. The driver seemed to be in a hurry and the van skidded a few times on the icy road, but we survived. We arrived at the inn around midnight, took a bath and went to bed.

I should say something about the water. The whole place had a strong rotten egg stench and all the pipes and drains had yellow deposits indicating a high sulphur content. I wonder if the Japanese style baths have any good effect on the skin.

Managed to wake up early, despite not being able to sleep till quite late last night. After breakfast, Rainer and Judd went ahead while David, Fujie and I went to rent boots, board and skiis. They didnt have the right size boots for me and that would cause me a lot of pain for the remainder of the trip. Next time, I will at the least bring my own boots.

The three of us couldn't meet up with Rainer and Judd till after lunch, but had a lot of fun. I hardly fell and seemed to be doing pretty well. For lunch, we went to a Yakiniku place (meat and other things that you cook yourself on a hot plate in the middle of the table). I just had some rice and fried shrimp.

These photos were taken with my cell phone so the quality isnt great:

Rainer waking up Icycles in front of the window Onsen hidden between trees and ski runs

After meeting with the others, we went to the top of the mountain which was very cold and windy (about -15 C I think). I was told that my hair looked completely white since I wasnt wearing a hat (those things get pretty hot), but didn't get a photo. The rest of the day went very well, until the last run. That was when I got a call from Yoshiba-san that a VIS (very important server) had gone down. I had to walk him through bypassing login restrictions and fixing the actual problem, part of it while standing on my board on the slopes. Felt pretty strange. I will now get a wireless modem so I can do this myself with my PDA. That would be even more bizarre.

Lawrence made it at long last, just as we were heading back. He went all the way to the slope for a night run, but realised they closed at night. Poor guy.

The first few hours of this morning were terrible. My feet hurt a lot and the slightly over-sized boots caused excrutiating pain. David and Fujie had to leave before lunch to visit her parents. For lunch, all I could find was plain rice and potato fries. Judd on the other hand, decided to stick to his strict vegetarian diet of meat curry and rice.

From the chair lift In the train: Judd Lawrence. Showing us how he spent the whole of Friday Rainer. Annoying as ever

I've noticed that things get much better in the afternoon of the 2nd day and so they did. We went to the very top once again where there was an even stronger wind. It was strong enough that the ice stung our faces and managed to slow us down to a halt. After that, it was smooth boarding most of the time. Lawrence decided to go the wrong way and we didnt see him until we got back to the inn.

The trip back was uneventful and I reached home about 10pm with nothing broken.

Friday 12th December 2002

17:30 Just 2 hours to go before I'm on my way to Zao, Yamagata-ken for snowboarding.

10:30 Aargh. Some recabling last night cut my machine off from the internet and I stopped receiving my email. Now Im stuck with either having a global IP and no access to the internal net or vice versa. Guess its time to get 2 machines.

Thursday 12th December 2002

Attended a talk on copyright law and linux by Larry Lessig. Law is not one of my favorite subjects, but it went pretty well. One of the things I remember from the talk was the importance of blogging with regards to free speech.

Had a huge dinner of shrimp and cheeze with Dave and Stuart afterwards at TGIFridays and did some late night shopping for tomorrow's snowboard trip (food and some snacks).

Wednesday 11th December 2002

Just signed up for the PDA meetup.

.. and for the Linux meetup.

Tuesday 10th December 2002

Lots of birthdays these days.

Monday 9th December 2002

Wow. Snow in early December.

Sunday 8th December 2002

Met some Pakistani families. Rode my bicycle half-way across Tokyo and had to ride back in the rain, but it was fun.

Friday 6th December 2002

Eid today. Had a celebration at the mosque and some very nice Iranian food.

Wednesday 4th December 2002

21:39 Posting from the wirelessly connected iPaq. At long last.
(Note to self: Always check case when specifying ESSID.)

Bought a wireless LAN card for the iPaq last night. Still trying to get it to work.

Also met Dan around his place and had some great Chinese ginger ale plus 'Flafal' at Shamaim.

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