I’m pondering on returning to Japan for a short trip. ‘Maybe flights will be cheaper now?’ I naively assumed. And after some research…

United doesn’t fly to Japan as a destination alone, but as a stopover to the States.
And oddly, when I did a further search, no longer registers any stopovers in Japan.
They must be very frightened. Or my search techniques are severely lacking.

Cathay Pacific is $610.60 for a 9hr 35min flight, but arrival at night.
If I want to arrive in the afternoon, it includes a stopover in Hong Kong.

China Airlines is $712.20 for a 18hr 22min flight (!!) with stopover in China. (Nooooooo!!!)

ANA is $1132.22 for a 7hr 15min flight but only 4 seats remaining.
So many people traveling back??

JAL is $1150.05 for a 6hr 55min flight.
SIA is $1449.60 for a 6hr 45min flight, arrival in the morning.

Looks like flights aren’t as cheap as I thought they would be.
I wonder why?


Doing some further research for Mother (who has yet to get a data plan after a week being in Japan), I chanced upon this very useful blog (click above image for link). Although it features temporary plans for the visitor (helpful for me), it also contains several nuggets of information for the long-term resident using an iPhone/iPad.

Now the problem is, how in the world do I explain all that to my 62 year old mom?

I sent the pertinent details to her anyway and am hoping the nice chap she meets at the Apple store will be able to do a better job than I can. She’ll be venturing forth into town tomorrow, and one of the to-dos is yes… get a data plan. I gotta admire Mother though. She’s probably the most techie woman in the elderly town of Atami right now.

I remember a taxi-driver I once met there, who proudly told me that he didn’t have a mobile phone, didn’t use the internet and basically stayed away from all things digital because they were for the younger generation. Odd then, that prior to the earthquakes, the elderly care home (where Obachan resides) was shifting to HD cables & television sets for all their occupants.

I wonder if they’d have noticed the difference, seeing how so many need their glasses & hearing aids.

I mean, today, on Skype, we were hollering at our laptops, trying to communicate with my 92-year old grandmother… when she suddenly remembered that she hadn’t put her hearing aids in. Nice. And all the while, I thought it was because of the Skype upgrade I recently installed. Although I have to say… after the upgrade, my video & audio connection seemed to suffer more lag than usual.

Okay. Enough rambling. Now back to research.

This time – music for work.


i’m a junkie. now hit me.

Ever had the ‘chills’ when you listened to a song?

Well, it seems like music could quite possibly function as a drug for some people. In a recent study published by Nature Neuroscience, they found that music can increase the dopamine levels in your brain (like how you feel after having that delicious dessert you’d been craving for) and certain tracks – from classical to rock – actually causes you to feel that wonderful ‘shiver’ down your spine.

In the study conducted with 26 individuals, their emotional arousal (monitored via a brain thing-a-majig… not anything else!) was documented and their top 40 hits can be found here.

I’m not surprised that some of my all-time top bands were on the list. And at the same time, pleased that these scientists have a wonderfully diverse playlist.

Yes, I am a music junkie. And now we know why. Take a listen to some of my personal favourites.

1. Lamb – Angelica (electronic)

2. Explosions In The Sky – First Breath After Coma (post-rock)

3. Led Zeppelin – Moby Dick (rock)

4. Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake (classical)

5. Ennio Morricone (Film score for Kill Bill)

6. Steve Vai – Beethoven’s 5th (rock/metal)

7. Tiesto – Adagio For Strings (trance)

8. Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (rock)

9. Dave Matthews Band – #34 (rock)

10. John Williams – Across The Stars (film score for Star Wars)


When I think about how music has the power to cause such reactions in people… is a wonder then, that the importance of harnessing this power to create dreams becomes all the more important to me, and what I do?

Dream Maker… you know what makes people tick. Cause me to hear that heartbeat – yours and the people’s – and to create landscapes upon which they too, can paint their own visions for tomorrow.