Archive for the ‘planning’ Tag

My Mid-year Review: Needs Improvement

Waking up beauty

Random Observation/Comment #243: I spend a lot of time re-evaluating my life and making sure I can: 1) look in the past and nod approvingly at my decisions, 2) predict the future career steps so I can nod approvingly at the image of myself in the future, and 3) follow my routine to make sure it has a happy balance of productivity and enjoyment so both 1 and 2 can be maintained (with an approving nod).  I think I need a more organized schedule for these evaluations… I’ll use what I learned from work: let me write a proposal first! Hah…

Writing the list of goals, aspirations, dreams, and fantasies is more of a year-end thing.  I’m usually too busy writing about traveling during the middle of the year to worry about how the year is going to turn out.  I pretty much approached it by walking towards a general direction and hoping that my 3-steps above give enough padding to make it all work out.  It’s the “loosey-goosey,” “go with the flow,” and “live in the moment” type of mentality that I hope gives me a fulfilling life.  I probably analyze my life too much, but I only get one – so it’s probably something I should invest some time in.

This year, however, is a bit different from the past few.  I have started a “grown-up” routine and do adult things, like read newspapers and sleep on trains during commutes.  Even though I don’t seem like I do much living, I am trying my best to stuff things together and continue meeting my life goals.  Unfortunately, 9 hours at work with a total 3 hour commute drains my motivation to do more work when I get home – well, it’s more like, I feel I deserve to unwind a bit and just bombard myself with mindless media.

My to-do list grows as I think of things to do at work, while I’m outside of work and then I go home and feel the need to watch just one – or maybe two – episodes from my favorite shows.  By the time I feel refreshed, I’m only left with 2 hours before I need to sleep to start the whole routine over again.  Weekends pass way too quickly and my attention is split between friends and family.  It seems that my desire to check-off my personal list just needs a more flexible deadline.

This mid-year review is to evaluate my balance and my accomplishments in the first half.  I took a cruise in Mexico; started a full-time job with a great community life; joined multiple philanthropy organizations including Junior Achievements teaching 3rd graders and FIRST robotics mentoring high school kids; learned much more about relationships; saw her again; became a manager for a band; re-enhanced plans for company; re-enhanced plans for comic book; re-enhanced online profile; attended at least one networking event per week for the past 7 months; studied for the CFA; studied consulting use cases books; learned a bit of French and kept up-to-date with German; got a bit more confident with Mandarin; restarted work-out routine; wrote first half of book and planned second half; took event photography for 7 Credit Suisse events; built solid relationships with multiple mentors; and went skydiving (today).

I already knew that this year would be one for building soft skills, exploring relationships, expanding networks, and setting the foundation for expanding to different career paths, but I wish there was more “umnph.”  Actually, given these goals, I think I’ve been doing a decently good job.  However, I’m still planning an upgrade of excitement!

In order to make this year awesome, I will definitely do my best to complete the following tasks: Pass CFA, take GMATs, apply to MBA programs, help Komtra make a profit, help Komtra get a song on the radio, participate in 3 more philanthropy events, have an unforgettable time in France and Italy, Review 6 more 5 star restaurants in NYC, Revamp online persona with travel and food reviews on yelp, take more event photographs at networking events, buy new DSLR, buy new Android phone, release Android app, release first draft of comic book, get a 4-pack, and publish book.

Some of these are easy and some of these require some extra effort, but I think I would end with a satisfactory mark. (y).

~See Lemons Up the Ante

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Setting Up New Goals

see lemons set light green goals

So many potential goals

Random Observation/Comment #218: Rejection is a terrible thing, but it’s definitely part of life.  Any excuses I give for my role in the situation will never be enough to ease my mind.  I’m not sure if it’s the disappointment in myself for not being able to think quicker or act sooner (or later), or if it’s just self-pity and self-loathing, but it definitely sucks.  At the end of the day, it’s what you can learn from these situations, so over time I will rise from the lull and rebound.  Rejection builds character.

I wrote about a year ago about goals, aspirations, dreams, and fantasies.  I think it was about time to update this entry with my achievements in the past year.

Since last December, I’ve: finished my Master’s thesis, started a company, went on a small roadtrip to Ohio with close friends, studied abroad in Germany for 6 months, traveled all over Europe (at least 15 major cities), sledged on the Swiss Alps, cooked almost every day in Germany, collected about a hundred more beer caps, started a collection of beer labels, tried every flavor of Rittersport, uploaded about 150 albums to facebook, listened to the full Harry Potter series audiobooks, climbed 3 mountains in Germany, fell in love again, wrote about 100 entries, (almost) wrote a book, got to second round interviews to all the companies I applied to, wrote my first chapter to a comic, wrote a study guide for learning languages (key vocabulary words that are used in everyday conversations for Mandarin, German, Japanese, and Spanish), basically reorganized my life, read a book for leisure, bought my first manual camera, and started at least 5 other side projects.  I’ve been keeping busy…

To quote my previous entry:

“Many of the goals are very short term and involve completing tasks at hand to make myself feel productive for the day.  Long term goals exist as well, but they are much more reasonable and can probably be achieved in the next few years.  The aspirations are for my long term career outlooks and accomplishments that occur in the next decade or so.  My dreams are what I deem as possible, but will require a lifetime of hardship or a whole lot of luck to come true.   My fantasies are things that will probably never happen, but their existence makes me happy and keeps me wishing.”

Goals:

  1. Stop procrastinating
  2. Narrow down primetime TV shows because they take up too much time in my life (House, The Office, Heroes, Dexter, Colbert Report, 24, Californiacation, 30 Rock).  Better yet: try not to add more to this list.
  3. Learn to write more in Chinese
  4. Learn to speak fluently in Japanese, Mandarin, German, and Spanish by 25.
  5. Get better at cooking
  6. Review more restaurants
  7. Try more wine
  8. Finish the comic book
  9. Finish the manga
  10. Finish writing book – maybe publish it or just share with close friends
  11. Go sky diving
  12. Write more poems
  13. Add more to my bottle cap and labels collection of beers
  14. Finish my side projects list (top secret for now)
  15. Take more photographs and improve with manual settings
  16. Travel to Japan and Hong Kong before I start working
  17. See Natasha again
  18. Continue to collect memorable quotes from amazing nights

Aspirations:

  1. Get married (hopefully after the love thing)
  2. Find a career with flexible hours, low stress, and high pay (maybe this should be a fantasy or at least a dream)
  3. Live in NYC
  4. Publish a book (autobiography, memoirs, novel, etc)
  5. See the Northern Lights
  6. Make money from photography
  7. Write about drinking expensive wines
  8. Get an MBA
  9. Save someone’s life – change it for the better forever
  10. Own a dog and play in the little dog park with them – yay!
  11. Conquer my fears
  12. Go restaurant reviewing with my brother – he drives the nice car and I pay for the meals

Dreams:

  1. Visit all 7 continents
  2. See all 7 wonders of the world (all of them listed on Wikipedia which makes them like 50 based on different organizations)
  3. Travel to at least 50 countries (currently at 15)
  4. Make my first million by the time I’m 27
  5. Eat at almost 80% of all restaurants in The City
  6. Early retirement
  7. Make a living traveling and writing
  8. Learn to fly a plane
  9. Own a house that I’ve designed (I would build it, but I’m afraid it would fall down while I sleep)
  10. Become as influential as a professor – possibly become a professor
  11. Change the world with something
  12. Get on the Colbert Report
  13. Travel to space – weightlessness would be cool too

Fantasies: (All new sorts of ridiculousness: see last year’s entry for other funny ones)

  1. Time travel
  2. Obtain Jedi powers – most notably mind tricks
  3. Be a part of a heist without any consequence.  I don’t mind getting caught as long as I can say “I want full immunity signed by the President.”
  4. Help build Skynet, but go back in time to try and protect a younger version of myself from the governator
  5. Chainsaw a zombie in half
  6. Sleep with the only hot girl that remains after the zombie apocalypse
  7. Carve a turkey with a light saber
  8. Extend claws and have regeneration. I would also have ridiculous chops.
  9. Swing from a chandelier while having an epic sword fight
  10. Curve a bullet around Angelina Jolie
  11. Play ping pong against Christopher Walking
  12. Lift an entire aircraft carrier from a door while saving a girl
  13. Fly around the world so fast that I turn back time
  14. Play an Australian guy pretending to be a black guy pretending to be a soldier in the Vietnam war
  15. Make a play about a secret relationship that foreshadows the movie
  16. Chant “We Are Spartans” after defeating thousands of Persians on the side of a mountain
  17. Have a split personality disorder that makes me invent Brad Pitt as my alter ego. Not Tyler Durden; just Brad Pitt
  18. Run across the US and back for no reason except “I just felt like running”
  19. Attend Hogwarts for 4 years while fighting the dark lord and then become an outcast for an entire movie to defeat death eaters (which will be so much better than the last one)
  20. When I get mad (or excited), I turn green and huge
  21. Search for a treasure in an ancient temple filled with awesome traps.  Unchartered meets Tomb Raider
  22. Go to Vegas and count cards to win lots of money
  23. Be able to speak like Mickey in Snatch.  WTF does he say? I hate Pikers.
  24. Continuously be chased by the government because I’m a trained assassin trying to figure out my past
  25. Sweet Key Lime.

As always, health and continual strives towards learning is what matters most.

~See Lemons Aim, Exhale slowly, and Squeeze

Join Me Backpacking in August!

Looks like planning.

Looks like planning.

Random Observation/Comment #201: Over the past 6 months, I’ve become a travel guru. I wonder if I have to wear any special attire.  In boy scouts, the badge I sew on would probably be of a guy wearing a backpack with a hiking stick.  In real life, my uniform would probably include sandals and the same badge, but with me also fighting a tiger.  I could always use that huge Europe Lonely Planet guidebook as my weapon – that’s pretty much the only use I have for it anyway.  FYI, everything in a guidebook can be found online.  I think you’re just paying for the binding.

When I first started planning, there were many – well, I guess they can’t be labeled “mistakes,” but I’ll call them “miscalculations.” It was very – what’s the word I used? – Oh yes, Anal.  The way I did it before, I basically saw everything there was to see through other people’s blogs and photographs.  I used Google Earth, Google Maps, and Street view to actually walk through the major cities to the point where I recognized the exits to the underground stations in London.  Everything about the city was mapped out in my mind before even arriving to a detail that made me wonder why I even needed to go.  It was definitely a lot of work, but it was quite comforting for me (but mostly my parents) knowing that every step was planned along the way.  Since then, I have learned a great deal about traveling and created my own refined methodology.  I’ll try to stay on topic this time and write about this travel-planning process with the results for this August.

Knowing the Givens

It’s very difficult to plan a trip without at least some major givens.  For example, it is essential to at least know: 1) Time allotted, 2) Budget, 3) General area of travel (a continent would be nice), and 4) Personal preferences of you and your travel buddies.  The last part is the most important because you will not be able to make any decisions without at least having some opinion about the place.  If you have a list of dislikes towards weather, cultures, or certain parts of the world, then it will be easier to narrow down your travel location.  If you already have a list of must-sees, than that’s even better.

In my case, I have all of August with a tight budget and the general area of Northern Europe.  I bought a Eurailpass for Germany, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), France, and Spain for this month so I am much restricted.  Although restriction may sound bad, it is necessary for making these tough choices.

The Eurailpass is suggested for non-EU travelers because you’ll save a lot of money and you don’t have to worry about buying and printing tickets ahead of time.  A spontaneous traveler will appreciate this freedom.  I bought a 10-day 4 country select pass for August.  This means that the two months after activation, I can use any 10 days and take any train (including ICE) for free.  Great deal for only 310 EUR considering some one-way tickets can easily cost 125EUR.

Narrowing Down the Location

Based on your personal preferences, your travel time, and budget, the list of locations for your vacation should start to look a little more manageable.  I personally spoke with friends that have been abroad, or who are from these countries, to get a better idea of the sights that are most famous and most “underground.”  To get this advice, I suggest going to parties and bringing up this travel aspiration.  Surprisingly, everyone loves traveling and has their own little suggestions for places to go and things to see.  The guidebooks can give you this historical background and a few good tips, but I think locals and friends with your common interests can give you a little bit more relevant advice. Plus, if these friends live in the area and have a place for you to stay, it’s a little hard to resist adding this to your itinerary.  For people traveling in Europe, you will probably be using the super-efficient railway system.  Planning your route with this based on the travel flight should also give you a good idea of what you can see.  Remember not to be too ambitious and maintain within the area to reduce time spent on overnight trains.

In my case, I felt the need for a change of scenery.  I had visited so many old European museums and German places that the thought of a sunny beach makes me want to weep in joy.  Not only has Germany weather been overcast for most of the days, but I also haven’t gone body surfing for almost two years.  Yeah, there were those times in Japan, but I didn’t count them because the waves were so boring.  I miss those summers with huge waves and constant fear of jelly fish or crabs stinging me or clipping off a toe.  Good times.  Anyway, I will spend the bulk of my time in Spain and pass through Amsterdam, Belgium, and Paris.  This was partially due to my Spanish group of friends at Hamburg passing their advice on the main attractions.  I originally planned 10 days in Spain, but it kept expanding to more cities and more must-see locations.  Now, I’m thinking 20 days will let me see San Sebastian, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, and Ibiza.

Creating a Broad Itinerary

I used to write these itineraries in a word document, but I found that making revisions and seeing multiple overlapping itineraries were quite difficult.  The much easier solution is to keep an excel sheet with the columns: Date, Day of week, IT1: Country/City, IT1: Transportation details, IT1: Activities, IT1: Sleeping location, IT2: Country/City, IT2: (etc.).  With the time available for travel, you could just write out a few different itinerary plans and see which one works best.  To help with this decision, it is important to know exactly the length of the commute and the prices.  If you take all of your desired locations as nodes in a network, you can assign the weight to the line connecting these nodes as the travel time and then use any of the famous algorithms to solve for the best path.  Too complicated?  Just make a circle.  I would suggest flights from major airports like London Heathrow or Paris because the flights are more frequent and therefore cheaper.  Once you’re in the heart of Europe, I would suggest finding an itinerary that maintains the shortest travel times by train.

For example, if you have decided you want to see France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany and your flight is arriving and leaving from France, I would suggest a broad itinerary like: 3 days in Paris, 3 days in Amsterdam, 2 days in Berlin, 4 days in Munich, 2 days Brussels, and 1 day in Paris.  Although Brussels and Amsterdam are close to each other, it makes more sense to have a stop between Munich and Paris to reduce the travel time.  This becomes much more relevant for my particular case because a train from Hamburg to Spain takes around 16 hours. Without a stop in Paris, not only would I spend a whole day on the train (which I will probably have to do anyway), but there would also be a problem with the length of usage for the eurailpass (if the train ride is from 8AM to 4AM the next day, you will need to use two days on the eurailpass).

For my case, I will be starting in Hamburg, going through Spain for 20 days, Paris for 5 days, back to Hamburg for 2 days to get my stuff, Amsterdam for 2 days, and then London to return home.  The cities of San Sebastian, Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia make a weird rhombus on the map of Spain so it’s a little bit difficult to decide which way to go.  I decided to see San Sebastian first because it’s the closest to Hamburg and I really want to jump right into the beautiful beaches and scenery.  After 2 or 3 days there, I’ll go to Barcelona for 4 or 5 days before the locals start their vacation.  Next is Madrid for 4 or 5 days for some culture, museums, and a cheap place to stay.  Lastly is Valencia and Ibiza for some relaxing beaches and party islands for the rest of the time.  This may sound like most of the work is already done, but research on accommodations and activities can change the broad itinerary.

Where to Sleep?

There are loads of cheap hostels in major cities with incredible free tours and maps that tell you all of the major attractions.  I found that, even though I did all my research before hand, I wound up “winging-it” when I arrived because I wanted a local tour guide’s opinion.  I would often arrive to the hostel, walk around for the night to get a feel of the city, and then just go to a free tour the next day to hear some history and ask some questions about places to eat or specific museums to see.  In fact, I think it’s enough to go to Frommers [www.frommers.com] or Wikitravel [www.wikitravel.com] and look at their attractions highlights.  Full-on itineraries are available, but you’ll find that these are completely unrealistic to follow.  Walking around the city with a full path planned and exact places to look makes it seem so robotic. I rather just use my sense of direction to guide my way around the city first.  It’s interesting how getting lost and then looking at the map later after finding your way back makes you more aware of how the city fairs in size.  Anyway, I won’t make generalization because I know some people who are just terrible with directions.

Another option is to use couchsurfing.org.  This is basically a community built on a trust that backpackers and hosts will follow the rules of conduct and provide a place for someone to stay in exchange for some stories and hopes that they will grow their network to allow more couchsurfing opportunities in different countries.  It sounds sketchy, but I can attest that it’s quite safe if you do enough research on the right person and make contact with an open mind and transparent itinerary.

In my case, I know a few people in Spain, so I should be able to save some money on my trip.  To accommodate these people’s time schedules, I also needed to adjust my own itinerary accordingly.  For other cities, I used hostelworld [www.hostelworld.com] to pick the best rating and price.  Since August is peak season for travelers, I would suggest: 1) exchange your money earlier (rates go up in the summer), and 2) make bookings to your hostels earlier (to ensure you get a room).

Refining for the Final Itinerary

To reiterate, the main factors that determine your final itinerary include (but are not limited to): personal preference on weather, festivals/activities in specific places, friends’ accommodations, friends’ preferences, type of transportation (eurailpass), transportation travel times between cities, and whenever you run out of money.  The excel sheet of choices really helps.  Below is my itinerary:

Date

City Details Sleeping Railpass stuff

Sat Aug-1

Hamburg – San Sebastian 16 – 22 hrs need to take day train because eurailpass does not work otherwise Sleep on train Railpass3 (3)

Sun Aug-2

San Sebastian hostel

Mon Aug-3

San Sebastian hostel

Tue Aug-4

San Sebastian hostel

Wed Aug-5

San Sebastian – Barcelona 5 hours Barcelona hostel Railpass3 (4)

Thu Aug-6

Barcelona Barcelona hostel

Fri Aug-7

Barcelona

Sat Aug-8

Barcelona

Sun Aug-9

Barcelona

Mon Aug-10

Barcelona – Madrid 3 hours Railpass3 (5)

Tue Aug-11

Madrid

Wed Aug-12

Madrid

Thu Aug-13

Madrid

Fri Aug-14

Madrid – Valencia 3.5 hours Railpass3 (6)

Sat Aug-15

Valencia

Sun Aug-16

Valencia

Mon Aug-17

Valencia

Tue Aug-18

Valencia Take boat to Mallorca or Ibiza

Wed Aug-19

Valencia 15 hrs from Valencia to Paris, 9 hours from Barcelona to Paris – need to take 6AM train

Thu Aug-20

Valencia – Paris (Natasha will be here) Railpass3 (7)

Fri Aug-21

Paris (Natasha will be here)

Sat Aug-22

Paris (Natasha will be here)

Sun Aug-23

Paris (Natasha will be here)

Mon Aug-24

Paris

Tue Aug-25

Paris – Hamburg 8.5 hours Railpass3 (8)

Wed Aug-26

Hamburg

Thu Aug-27

Hamburg

Fri Aug-28

Hamburg – Amsterdam 5 hours Railpass3 (9)

Sat Aug-29

Amsterdam

Sun Aug-30

Amsterdam – Brussels – London EUROStar, 5.5 hrs Railpass3 (10)

Mon Aug-31

London

Tue Sep-1

London – US LHR – JFK Leave @ 3:35PM, British Airways, Arrive in JFK @ 6:10PM Plane Underground

I haven’t booked the hostels yet, but after some feedback from some friends, I can refine this itinerary some more and start making some last minute plans.  It’s important to print out the booking information and relevant maps to get to the hostel.  After that, you can pretty much wing-it.

Many of the anal planning has been left behind.  Based on the research I’ve done, I already know I’ll have an amazing time at each of these places, so I don’t think it’s necessary to list all of the specific activities (and definitely not plan the itinerary down to the hours in a day).  Damn, I was nerdy.

~See Lemons Guru-Travel

Planning is overrated

 

 

A painting in the Tate.  It was my one favorite there.

A painting in the Tate. It was my one favorite there.

Random Observation/Comment #149: I am a compulsive planner.  I like to know what I’m doing for the day and how I reach specific destinations with a large array of possibilities and expectations.  You would be surprised/disgusted at how much I’ve exhausted my technological resources (Google Street View, Google Maps with Images, and Google Earth have been the slide-rule of traveling).  However, given this compulsiveness for planning, I also maintain a level of compulsiveness towards spontaneity.  Everything needs a balance, and small levels of discomfort are required for greater rewards.  “Going with the flow” introduces a forecast of expectations with a very slight chance of disaster.  Besides, it’s quite difficult to plan “fun.”  I can’t write into my itinerary “7PM, dinner; 8PM, have fun” – fun just isn’t one of those concrete things.  I know what I consider fun (such as ping pong and more ping pong), but there are so many unknown places I’d like to visit to broaden my personal definition.  It’s time to explore.

 

Although planning does relieve the stress shared between me and my parents (mostly my parents), it is rarely followed to the letter.  Even when I’ve accounted for outside factors, such as weather, meeting new people, getting too drunk and waking up late, “detox days,” and attacks from British zombies, I often resort to a combination of suggestions, instincts, and mood, which is rarely predictable.  Anti-social fleeting moments are an eventuality, so maybe planning days with compressed tourist attractions isn’t always the optimized way of vacationing.  I would rather spend a week in one city with a relaxed itinerary than rush my travels at an unnatural pace. 

The efficiency aspect of my planning mixed with my flexibility on such uncomfortable situations results in a very crowded schedule.  It’s anally organized and filled with exceptions, but after staring at this masterpiece, I began dreading its existence.  I looked at such perfection with disdain instead of, my expected, relief.  To intentionally spite myself, I placed the plans on my laptop, iPhone, notebook, print-outs, and the ones digitally typed across my robotic interface aside.  Everything was scrapped and I simply asked questions.  Whomever I met, I wanted to know where they went, how they went about it, and what they would do differently.  My questions were geared towards understanding their interests as to see if I would possibly enjoy the same tourist locations.  This technique worked surprisingly well, and I felt much less restricted.  This experience of planning and ignoring these plans parallels to carrying a heavy boulder from miles away, just to reach here and wonder: Why the hell do I need a large boulder?  Well, I didn’t, but carrying it built character.  Anything that builds character has to be positive.  When in doubt, just say it builds character and the excuse is automatically valid.  Physically reprimanding a child for foolish acts?  Builds character.

The first day I arrived, I dropped off my luggage with my couchsurfing buddy and checked into St Christopher’s Village (near the London Bridge stop) on Borough Street.  Not only was the atmosphere very cheerful, but the information was also plentiful.  Free tours, paid tours, and pub crawls were offered in a small brochure filled with the city and underground maps.  This map was much better than the Google Maps I printed out.  This one had pretty colors and pictures, which highlighted the major attractions and made me want to color them with a crayon.  Although I did not want the typical tourist experience of London, I needed to visit many of the typical tourist locations to at least taste the favorites – they are favorites for a reason. 

Taking suggestions can be extremely rewarding.  I asked a random store owner where to get the best fish and chips around where I was staying (near Regents Park) and he pointed me in the direction of literally the best fish and chips I’ve ever had (including metaphysically).  The restaurant “Seashell of Lisson Grove” does not have seating, but always has a long line of customers.  Their cod fish is double the size of the plate and everything is freshly made.  Although the tar-tar sauce and ketchup costs 25 pence extra, everything is fresh and magnificent.  The walk, however, was horrendous from the International Student House (near Great Portland Street station).  I think I walked close to 15 miles that day so the long stretch was wearing me out.  The point is: I would never have found this place if I didn’t follow a stranger’s randomly pointing finger on a map.  I trusted and was pleasantly surprised.  Please don’t take advantage of this gullible nature of mine.

~See Lemons Wing It

 

Awesome Fish and Chips at "Seashell on Lisson Grove" by Regents Park

Awesome Fish and Chips at "Seashell on Lisson Grove" by Regents Park

As the strands of rope once said, you’re not supposed to plan on vacation

Clem(eric)squared

Random Observation/Comment #5: There are boarding cars on trains for ladies only – the stares ensue.

My nails may be bitten to the bed by the end of the day if I don’t at least figure out the city I’ll be near for the weekend. I don’t mind wandering in random places by myself, but I need to at least know of a place to wander. I, of course, made a nice list of places to go in Osaka and Kyoto before leaving NY. It’s nice and organized with activities, travel routes, nearby dining, shopping districts, prices for transportation and special entrance fees, a set hourly itinerary laminated by my personal assistance (Darjeeling Limited allusion), etc.

As I was double and triple checking these plans, along with time of wake, departure, and specific trains to take in this route, a fellow researcher at the lab offered suggestions for places to go. It was quite educational hearing his opinion of what was crap and what could be seen in an hour. He warned me to not over do the tourist scene or else I would get tired and just wish to pass out. If only the locals knew how hard it is to be a tourist. There are so many things to see and such a limited time to see them. Even though half the things begin to start repeating (like the overpriced little toys and even the delicious takoyaki), us foreigners feel obligated to get our flight ticket’s money’s worth. We’re on vacation and yet we still pull out hairs out to make optimize. Cough, Sharon. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy.

The general direction is always a nice thing to have. I can definitely entertain myself in a new culture and environment for hours without anything special or significant. If you look at my notebook (which you probably never will, for it stores the unsolvable puzzle that is my consciousness), you’ll notice that most of the interesting observations came from my mind slipping away to its own paradigm. No, I did not just take drugs and stumble around the crowded streets. It seems like I don’t need those influences to make sense out of nothing. This abstract thinking probably gives me some enormous advantage in the world. On the other hand, it could just make me very weird (kawateru). Either way, I keep myself occupied in the midst of boredom, which is a very useful skill (almost as useful as my other skill: being able to sleep anywhere in any position).

Luckily, today has been uneventful (since I’m still waiting for replies on my upcoming projects), so I have the extra time to prepare my next stops. I’ll publish the entries on the incredible projects at this lab on Monday. I don’t have Internet access at the dorms, and I must admit that it gives me a lot of free time to work out, study languages, write offline entries, and just explore other methods of entertainment.  I picked up origami again, and started making little butterflies and cranes from the receipts.  I’ve also learned Katakana in three days, so this new notebook (I filled my old one, also in three days) will be written with a bit of katakana translations.  I’ll write a separate entry about my technique for this miracle.  You’d be surprised how easy the solution is when I tell you my routine.

I’m torn left and right for my coming weekend. I could go to Kyoto to walk around and take pictures of different temples, or I could stay in Osaka and go experience a larger variety of foods and night life. I’m contemplating whether or not I should stay at a capsule hotel. It will happen one of these days, but I’m not quite sure I’m ready for such a big step. I need to learn to walk before I can run. There needs to be a head start before I can make that leap. I should climb a hill before scaling a mountain. The familiar path should be taken before looking for shortcuts. The fruits must be ripe enough to pick. I think you get the point.

They told me to call back at 10PM tonight to see “what their in the mood for.” It seems appropriate to mockingly place the Erics’ claims in quotes to show that I see through their bullshit… but what can I do but shake my fist in their general direction? Fart in their general direction (Monty Python)?

~See Lemons Not (Able to) Plan