Wednesday, February 20, 2019

LOL This is the first time I saw the curvature of the globe on Google Maps

Was trying to search for a train from my hotel to Capcom Cafe, and accidentally did "home" to Capcom Cafe. Whoops haha!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Preparing for Japan - lesson 2

3. Transport - so transport from home to Chicago (drive), place to park car (got a package through drive and park and ride and fly and sleep or something like that - my parents do it all the time), then shuttle to airport. ANA to Narita (which is about an hour from downtown Tokyo) -- oh and by the way, the in-flight food looks like a lot of fun!

So then we're there -- in a Japanese airport -- midday on a weekend. There are a multitude of transport options to get to Tokyo. We will probably choose to go with the least complicated, yet most expensive, train option, which appears to be the Narita Express.

The touchiest transport is going to be getting from our hotel in Shinjuku BACK to Narita in order to fly to Sapporo fairly early in the morning during a weekday (rush hour at the busiest train station in the world anyone?). I'm just hoping someone gives us some tips.

From the airport in Hokkaido we are renting a car. I have it reserved but have not yet paid, so hoping the Seinfeld car rental scenario doesn't happen. We did get a hotel in Sapporo that includes parking, so hopefully it all works out.

We therefore can drive to Kokusai Ski Resort, where DMV plans to rent a snowboard, and I plan on sledding and taking the gondola up to the summit and having tea at the café.

After we drive back to the airport and return the car the next day, we'll actually be flying into a different Tokyo airport - Haneda. We then need to get back to our original hotel - again - hoping for help here.

After that, pretty comfortable with the rest of the transport issues. At the airport when we first arrive, it appears that we purchase a card that then let's us pass through train gates and deducts payment. We've watched a few videos on it and it looks like the machines are in English. So we'll do that once we get there.

BONUS More than you ever were curious about the two Tokyo airports

Haneda is the older airport, built in the 30s. Before that, people landed planes on the beach at Tokyo Bay. The airport was taken over by the USA after WWII and returned to Japan in the 1950s. As the airport grew, noise from increasing jet traffic lead to the creation of Narita airport. Haneda is still the busier of the two, and slightly closer to Tokyo.

In 1966, a strange string of air accidents ended with the destruction of (British) BOAC Flight 911 which crashed into Mt. Fuji after a wind gust in excess of what the plane was designed to withstand took it down, leaving a 10 mile debris trail and killing all aboard. A 8mm video was found in the wreckage and helped determine what had happened. A group of people who had decided not to board the plane, and there for lived to see another day, included a group of film scouts for the James Bond movie "You only live twice", one of who's names was Cubby Broccoli.

Narita airport was built in the 60s and 70s amid turmoil. A strong resistance group including local residents, unions, and political groups objected to the building of a second airport and the eminent domain rules used to size land to build it. Through many years, building was slowed due to this, and a police presence persisted through the airports eventual opening. At points, both police and protesters were killed in violent incidents. At one point, two towers  of 100-200 feet tall were built by protesters to impede the landing of planes. Eventually, judicial decisions intervened and  allowed for the destruction of the towers without compensation.

In a more modern incident, Sir Paul McCartney was caught with over 200 grams (almost 1/2 a pound) of marijuana when trying to enter Japan in 1980, and was subsequently arrested and jailed for 10 days. “When the fellow pulled it out of the suitcase, he looked more embarrassed than me,” he said in 2004. “I think he just wanted to put it back in and forget the whole thing, you know, but there it was.” His explanation as to why he had so much pot "for personal use": “We were about to fly to Japan and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything to smoke over there, this stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I’d take it with me.”

(P.S. as of this writing, it is illegal to bring any stimulant medication into Japan, including some sold over the counter in the USA. Some notable mentions are:
・Viagra and other sexual enhancers.
・some inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain Pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or Codeine are prohibited if it contains more than allowed quantity of stimulant raw materials.

And um yeah, still illegal to bring in marijuana.)

Preparing for Japan - lesson 1

Here is some stuff I have learned so far, in no particular order:

1. The household power outlets in Japan are close-to, but not exactly the same as, power in the USA. After some research, and reading a comment on I believe TripAdvisor where someone said they have never had any problems except for hair dryers and curling irons (neither of which I am traveling with), I have decided I will be OK. The only things we will be bringing to charge would be two-prong (non grounded) plugs like for cellular phones, so I am not going to worry about it.

2. Money belt, fanny pack, small purse, etc. - general luggage. A short time ago, I purchased a three piece luggage set since I'd been using the same luggage from Target since I became a "grown up", and after taking the backpack and the rolly-bag for a few spins around the country, I decided it was best to leave the biggie at home and just go with those two, along with a small purse to carry around when I get there. The rolly-bag in fact is pretty large for a roller - close to 24" with the wheels vs. 22" which is standard for airlines to allow as carry on. I haven't had much of a problem up until now, so I think I'm going to hope for the best.  

I have a small purse, but it's mostly brown, and I'm planning to go with a mostly black color scheme, so I'm hoping to get two that I ordered online delivered before I leave. We'll see.

Is it too early to start packing?

Friday, February 01, 2019


After a valliant search (again... when will my nearly-middleaged self learn?) I've decided to create my travelogue here on my weblogue. It's the closest, most accessible online thing I have to creating a zine on the go, which is teally what i want to do.
SO...without further adieu, I'm going to Japan! I can't tell you how long I've seriously wanted to go, but DMV and I have been planning nearly as long as we've been looking for a new house, so like 3 years. Still havent found a house so decided we had to do something we felt in control of, so over the New Year, I found a pretty good package deal on Expedia so I snagged it.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Well, back to the blog.

Social media has not filled the void of being able to get my work and thoughts out of my head and into the world very well, so I'm back to this blog. Because I'm too passive to continually engage, all alerts are turned off on my phone, and because I'm paranoid about the fairies using my real name, I also mainly keep my identity to myself. Plus, no matter what platform I end up using - Instagram for pictures, Twitter for politics  - I mainly get the echo chamber of individuals I already know. Facebook came the closest, with a mix of words and images: with the ability to post links and connect thoughts, but it had become less of that in recent times and more of a relay through bad memes, unchecked articles, and a mire of sad copyright and privacy confusion. I predict it will end up an event app and business card site.
Instead I choose sitting alone on my blog.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Is the world still here when you die - and what about my passwords?


Tum-te-tum. Here we are again. Back to the unedited ramblings of serial misspeller, wanting to capture fleeting thoughts like a kid collecting candy at a parade, and instead of gorging on the empty calories myself, trying to find a way to share the momentary bit-o-honeys with the masses.

"Not back on it, Joe, still on it." - TMBG

This brief interlude is to present a window into the grey October morning the cover photo was taken, and the newspaper my laptop is resting on. The image replaces the former name of this web blog: "Adventures of a Rural Explorer," as I am reverting back to simply "Belle the Cat". It better reflects what I am trying to do and gives me more mental freedom to explore the varied topics I always have.

And yes, I do love absinthe

Don't ask me why I get the newspaper. Everyone should. We also get the "big city" paper, but the paper in question is lovingly referred to as "the local rag" in this household, a fairly new conglomeration of tiny local papers bought up by a slightly larger tiny local paper. Within you will get a mighty lick of local meeting notes, musings, and high school sports updates.

It was the musings that pulled me in today. One, which last week featured the writer's dog, this week sported a photo of a goat that lives on his property. The other one is the Geiger Counter column by local writer and pontificator Matt Geiger. I don't always read his column, but I will never forget the "I tried to buy a monkey when I was 8 years old" one from a few years ago, so I skimmed the current one, called "One form among many..."

Perhaps it was the initial paragraph relating the trials and tribulations of coming up with a new password, only to realize the password I just tried to change to is my current password. Also, with recent Facebook breeches, I've had "reset passwords" on my to do list for a few weeks. But as I read on, imagine my surprise to find that the column was actually about existentialism and the fleetingness of existence?

"There is such peace in that idea - that our individual lives are fleeting, and insignificant," the author relates.

And I connect to that. Who cares if we redo our kitchen, buy a new house, loose everything in the stock market, write a blog post? Our life, the memories and goods we leave behind, the candy-wrappers of our existence are really nothing... really... This is not an excuse to do nothing, to hurt people, or to undermine your beliefs. It is a reset of the mind that honestly probably saves a lot of people from loosing it.

Anyways, you can read it here.  


(Written on Notepad)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

PUPPYBOWL 14! 2018 - Fantasy football draft open now

puppybowl fantasy football

Welcome both new and returning GMs to the 2nd annual Unofficial Puppy Bowl Fantasy Football league!

To add enjoyment to the (already highly enjoyable) Puppy Bowl event, I once again constructed a free game for participants of all ages. No money, no prizes, no pressure - just puppies!

No cable tv needed.

Here is how it works:

1. Go to and read up on the players.

   a. I very much suggest checking out some tips from past years on how to draft, or YouTubing “Puppy Bowl Highlights” to see some trick plays and get a feel of what types of dogs typically score.

   b. Realize none of this will matter. They're puppies.

2. Are you TEAM RUFF or TEAM FLUFF? Choose one.

    a. Wikipedia’s Puppy Bowl entry states that Ruff won 2015 (first year Teams were assigned) and 2016. 2017 saw a stunning upset by Team Fluff.

3. Alright – are you ready? Pick 3 PUPPIES to be on your team. They can be from EITHER Fluff or Ruff, regardless of what team you chose to win it all.

4. Points will be awarded thusly:
- Touchdown = 7 pt.
- NEW FOR 2018 Field goal = 3 pt.
- Penalty = -2 pt.
- Winning team = 5 pt.
- MVP (most valuable puppy) = 10 pt.

5. *MOST IMPORTANT STEP!* Post your TEAM and your THREE PUPPIES on Facebook or in the comments of this blog. Also, choose your Most Valuable Puppy and post them as well!

    a. I will also have non FB players - all are welcome! I'll be in charge of posting those.

    b. You can enter your picks at any time -- up until kickoff!

6. Watch the game! Keep track of your puppy stats using this handy sheet:

    a. If you don't/ can't watch, DON'T WORRY - I will score all puppies to the best of my ability and post them after. You can then add up your points. Disclaimer: no guarantees I catch everything. (The penalties are esp. hard.)

7. Afterwards, I will post results. *Note: I am going to try to do my best to report out on the details of each puppy, but no promises on my ability to actually no this, nor my accuracy :-P Feel free to keep track of the game and post yours as well!

Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl XIV (14) airs on Super Bowl Sunday, February 4, at 3 p.m. ET, just before the real game gets going.

Here is the official PB-FB =

(Note that this game is in no way shape or form endorsed by Animal Planet and no goods, services, or money will be exchanged - you win bragging rights only!)

Special note:
Puppybowl is filmed in October. If it comes to my attention that the winner/s have been leaked, I will need to shut down the game and declare a winner from those who have posted. Not that I want to, but it’s incentive to get your pics posted early!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

6 Minute Egg Sandwich

2 slices soft bread (alternatively, 2 slices whole grain bread, taken from freezer where you store it to keep it from molding, popped in the toaster for a few minutes to thaw and barely slightly toast)
1 egg (large, cage free, organic, local, vegetarian fed or any combination of those)
1 T. (approx.) Hellman's light mayonnaise
2 dashes Lowery's salt
Butter for the pan

Additionals:  greens (such as a few leaves of romaine), slice sharp cheddar, avocado spread

Melt enough butter to frost the bottom of the pan.
When hot, crack egg into pan and break yoke.
When egg is cooked on one side, flip egg with a delicate sliding motion.
Meanwhile, spread mayo on one slice of bread.
Lay greens on mayo if adding greens.
Lay cheese on the other slice of bread if using cheese or spread with avocado if using that.
Slide egg onto cheese.
Sprinkle egg with Lowery salt.

Place the other half of the sandwich on top. Push down slightly and wrap in a paper towel or cloth napkin to serve.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Adventures with Hermit Crabs

I ended up adopting two hermit crabs and am currently doing research into their life and habitat needs. Some links I have found useful so far:

Their tank is 30 gallons and I found that out here:

Their heater:

Mobile Life

It's mornings like this - Sunday, the freaking chipping sparrow wakes me early - that I contemplate leaving my smart phone in my bedroom all day. 

Audio clip from

That is to say. with fewer distractions in my head, I start listing off the things I would be using my phone for and how I am completing those tasks instead (kinda like those quit smoking commercials about re-learning how to do ordinary things without cigarettes).

The first thing this year, over the past few months at least, has been "check to see if Brewers are still above .500 (i.e. more wins than losses), and still in first place in the National League Central division". This I know from listening to the game last night and hearing that the Cubs are still behind, so no need to check there (but if I did, I would click the ESPN App, click MLB, scroll to Brewers vs. XX and then click "standings")  

I would then check to see the chance of rain using my Weather Kitty App - it is usually not the most accurate, but it is the most filled with cute kitties, and kitties are my stand-by feel-good injection so that is a plus for me. But I was pretty sure there is only a slight chance of rain, and it looks like it when I peek outside, so no need to check that.

So now I am to the point of, ok, grab a cup of coffee and... then what? I have just purchased some ratchet straps and pool noodles to create a car rack for my paddleboard, to enable me the freedom to take it to the lake on my own (vs. tying it to having access to the van or getting a hitch). So I decide to concentrate on figuring out the ratchets. I briefly consider looking at YouTube for information on the ratchets, but instead trust that somewhere in the package there are instructions (although I cannot see them) and lo and behold, there are. They seem pretty straight forward, dispite me being rather confounded by their physics. I would say that at some point, if they did not exist, I would probably have come up with carabiner clips but someone else would have had to come up with ratchets as they are not intuitive to me.

So here I am - to the point of going out to put the car rack on. I've watered the lawn, watered the garden, and let the cats out, as well as checking on the hermit crabs, the fish, and my 3rd shift husband's schedule (works tonight).

The phone is still in my bedroom.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Henry Rollins is imperfect

Just read this article published on HR bday:
A few choice word-morsels:
" I fear comfort. I fear falling prey to it. I fear things stopping because I lost the courage to potentially fail trying something new."
"The older I get, the more suspicious I am of many things that are considered traditional."
And he goes on to describe how things in the US are currently leaning traditional and how things have gotta change.
- posted from my phone

Friday, January 20, 2017

Day 1 of First 100

I woke with a headache.
Not a great start. Coffee will make it go away, but I also had one of the worst nights of sleep I've had in a long while. Too bad. Time waits for no one.

From now through April 30, 2017 I'm tracking my first 100 days of political advocacy, but also, the first 100 days of the next 4 years. I hypothesis that this is going to be tough. I wager I do talk to all 5 of my representatives, weigh in on policy regarding my two big issues - environmental protection/green energy and birth control access, and make connections with allies to help retake the political football from our opponents past this first short burst of activism.

This may seem counter intuitive to those who want to win - showing my plans like this. But while I do believe politics needs to be conducted as if it were a game, I also believe that rules need to be agreed on and followed, goals need to be set, and if possible, plans laid out in such a way that they can be tracked and recreated and tested again if they do indeed reach the intended outcomes.

My research for this came from reading a lot of articles, some planning equipment like Alex Vermeer's 8760 hours (you can find it on line), and talking to thoughtful friends and relatives about the hazy path to the future. I thank them all.

Now - this initial post on this, my old reliable personal blog, isn't indicative of how or where my political exploits will be documented. Check out my twitter handle: goatmaiden or my newly minted political blog: or the Pirate Goat Facebook page for more.

I do have other goals not related to advocacy which include understanding a little more written and spoken Japanese and to create and share more fantastic creations, so you can watch for more tracking of those type of things here.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wisconsin Fish Boil: A Recipe

(Crosspost on For Health's Sake)

4 small red potatoes, scrubbed
2 small white onions, pealed
2 whole Lake Michigan whitefish, cleaned and heads removed
Salt, pepper, rye bread slices, good coleslaw
Boil a pot of salted water. Drop in potato and onion and cook until just tender. Add whitefish, cut into hunks. Boil until fish is flaky. Drain. Serve potato and onion in a bowl with lots of butter. Lay fish on a plate with rye bread and butter. The butter is important. Salt and pepper to taste