Sunday, May 22, 2011

Defeat and Victory marry to make: Orlando

Okay, so we were, at first, deeply bummed that we didn't manage to win the Toyota minivan. But then we realized what we'd had in mind was a HYBRID minivan, so we figured it just wasn't our time..., yet.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Karen, Rome had actually been meditating deeply upon our upcoming team building session at the ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) Conference. (This is why we drove all this way and why we are in Orlando.)

Thus, our team building session this afternoon went well... a smashing success, I believe....

Honestly, it's what we do: we get people to remember they make something cool happen and have fun at the same time.

Details: We're at the Days Inn off International Drive, which is not a "conference hotel" but is close to the convention center, a Walgreen's and a neighborhood market. It's clean, has door that open to the great outdoors (in case we need to sand some bachi or something) and is old enough to have a real-size swimming pool.

I had written a bit more, about how hard Rome was going to work as I sat by the pool reading Jane Austin, but the network choked and all my words were lost. Now I must sleep. So, your intrepid taiko adventurers call it a day, and hope you've had a good one, too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rome’s turn to blog.

Today began in Junction, TX, and it’s ending in Gulfport, MS. If you know your US geography, you know we drove nearly 800 miles today.


After driving nearly 800 miles yesterday.

Double ugh.

But, on the up side, we only have about 600 miles to cover tomorrow to get to Orlando.


Today was actually a good day, 800 miles aside. It’s easy driving, all freeway, and we only got lost once (missed an exit in San Antonio, and it only took about 10 miles to notice the signs said “West” instead of “East.)

There’s just not much to say about a day of driving, though. I still remember all the words to “There is a Sucker Born Every Minute,” the original Broadway cast of Chicago is still the best, and I learned I can play Angry Birds in the car without getting sick.


We’re looking forward to arriving in Orlando tomorrow and settling in for a few days. I really am looking forward to the ASTD Conference, and I’m glad our session is on the first day. It’ll leave me free to enjoy the rest of the Conference (and Sea World and Harry Potter world. No wands at the former, no Shamu at the latter)

Today we passed Iowa—y’know, the one in Louisiana.

Whenever I’m far from home, I ask my hotel clerk where I can find a delicious meal I just couldn’t get in Tucson, AZ. Tonight, we didn’t hit Gulfport until after 10 PM, and all of the restaurants our clerk wanted to send us to were already closed. Rather than a restaurant we COULDN’T go to in Tucson, we had to settle for one we WOULDN’T go to in Tucson. I don’t want to plug the place here; suffice it to say I think I’ve lost every shred of feminist cred I ever had.

Tomorrow, Orlando!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Junction, TX

A long day of driving, to be followed by a similarly long day of driving. The minivan is filled to the brim with drums and other sundry items, including bags of bachi we still need to finish, and some swag to assemble.

We drove through Texas Canyon in Arizona, completely through New Mexico, and then over Michigan Flats in Texas. It's windy and getting more vast, more humid, and more green, in that order. Rome and I have (possibly) already exhausted our collection of cds. (I say "possibly" because I know our moods will change and that tomorrow, Alanis Morrisette or the original Broadway recording of Chicago might be just the ticket).

Our books on tape are a bit questionable. The narrator for the Yiddish detective novel talks really fast and has an overwhelming penchant for clever, lurid detai, so that we can't relax at all while it's playing. And the wizard novel is strangely oblique and badly written (which can never be narrated into goodness). And I think we're already halfway through the savory road snacks!

We're excited about seeing the Mississippi River and New Orleans tomorrow. We'll get there through Houston, drop off a couple of drums for a buyer, and then shoot for Gulfport. I looked online to make sure I-10 is open as we head into the flood zone.

Tonight, we're in a little mom & pop hotel called the Legends Inn. It's cute, apparently favored by avid recreationalist outdoorsy types and serious bikers, and has a new free breakfast!

I'm going to try to figure out how to link Facebook and the blog, so the pictures I upload show up here. I got some nice ones today.

Must sleep. Must wake and drive drive drive again tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rome & Karen's Excellent Adventure begins mañana mañana

The lull in Taiko Time Blog activity ends tomorrow, as Rome and Karen hit the road, DRIVING to Orlando, Florida. They will be presenters at this years American Society for Training and Development Conference. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 7, 2009

NATC Day 2: Immersion

Opening Ceremony
Marketplace opens
Taiko Games at lunch
First workshops
Daihachi Oguchi-sensei tribute
Taiko Ten concert

WOW!!! Did we have a FULL and FANTASTIC taiko day!!  It's 10 pm and we're on a high from the Taiko Ten concert ... ten groups from around the country performed tonight in a celebration of our gathering.  It was wonderful to see a variety of different styles as well as a diversity of ages and ethnicities ... everyone playing with great energy ... sharing our love of taiko.

But that was just the icing on a memorable taiko day.  After the opening session there was a mid-day demonstration of taiko games ... from Taiko Pirates (aarrrrr!) to Tic Tac Don (cool stuff!!).  Then an afternoon of amazing workshops.  Just when we thought we'd had a full taiko day, many were brought to tears as our taiko community remembered and paid tribute to Oguchi Sensei.  The tribute ended with a joyful and stirring performance in honor of Oguchi Sensei.  

Now time for bed to get ready for another wonderful taiko day at the 2009 North American Taiko Conference!


NATC Day 1: Amenities

I must admit, this entry may be less about the conference and its goings on and more about my fascination with our hotel room.  If you know me (it's Nicole), you know that I love to travel, and this is one of the reasons why.


One of the most exciting things for me abaout any trip is getting to stay in new and exciting places, the Miyako hotel does not disappoint.  If you know me, you also know that I have a fascination with photographing interesting signs.  In this realm, too, the Miyako hotel does not disappoint.  Let me tell you what awaited us!

We have your obligatory two beds, a night stand, a desk, a coffee maker, etc.  But the bathroom, oh the bathroom.  We have a BIDET!  Yes folks, I never knew that a toilet could be so complicated.  The picture shows the daunting controls that await you on a modern bidet.  I suggest those trying one for the first time to make sure that the water temperature is not all the way on cold.  Use your imagination.  And, like any good Japanese appliance/fixture, it comes with friendly little pictures under the toilet seat warning you not to tug on hoses or splash water on the seat.  This picture shows my favorite piece of advice.  You should know if you have sensitive skin.  Proceed wisely.

That's all for now, I promise I/we will write more about yesterday's leadership forum, welcome reception, and all the friends we have seen.  For now, yummy Japanese baked goods await us in Little Tokyo.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Little Tokyo: first day of North American Taiko Conference (NATC)

Well, the Odaiko Sonora advance guard (Rome, Karen, Nicole, and Kate) have arrived in LA, with Tracy and Sonya arriving later today. We just had an-pan and curry doughnuts for breakfast at Yamazaki Bakery in Little Tokyo, and are digesting whilst blogging.

Yesterday was uneventful. I mean, 8 hours of driving, how eventful can that be? Our highlight was to be letterboxing-- Karen thoughtfully printed out the directions to 3 letterboxes on the way. But, it was 109 degrees when we passed through Avondale, and experience has taught us that letterboxing when it's over 100 is a recipe for a cranky Rome. So we passed that one up. 

Then, in reviewing the other directions Karen printed out, we realized one was in a public library that was going to be closed by the time we reached it. That left only the box at the General George S. Patton Memorial Museum at Chiriaco Summit, CA. We pulled in at 4:45 PM, excited to walk their grounds, see some tanks up close, and stamp our books. Alas-- they had closed at 4:30 PM! See our distress for yourself in the photo below. (Kate's not quite as upset at Nicole and I. She hasn't letterboxed before, she doesn't understand.)

The disappointment sent Karen back to Atlas Quest to find another box. Within minutes she was fuming about some box in Redlands with the directions "Drive to California. Park by the Oak Tree." I mean, seriously, we'd been in the state for 3 hours by then, and seen hundreds of Oak Trees, THIS was a clue?!? But, when we got to Redlands, Nicole noticed Tennessee Street. Then Alabama Street. Soon, California street! Karen cut across 4 lanes of traffic to make the exit, and we headed into town, scanning street signs. Maybe there was an Oak Tree Street?

After about 8 minutes of driving, we turned around-- no Oak Tree street had been found. Nicole: "Hey, wait a second, guys-- could that huge tree in the distance be an Oak?" It was! Karen parked illegally by the side of the road, Rome stayed with the car, and the others went to scrabble around the 40 foot base of the tree to look for a box.

Here's the punchline: we didn't find it. But we did find the Oak Tree in California, and that's kind of good enough. 

Our sound track for the drive included Beatles, india arie and, of course, Chicago. The musical, not the band. Rule #1 of road trips with Rome: Chicago will be played. Original Broadway cast recording. Accept no substitutes.

We checked in, and went for a drink in Little Tokyo. We wound up at the "Sports Bar," which is nothing most Americans would identify as a sports bar. Up 2 flights of red velvet stairs, with the steps individually wrapped in industrial strength saran wrap (I'm not kidding), to a small dingy room with shabby overstuffed furniture, a karaoke machine, and 6 Japanese men. There were 4 TV screens, and 3 were dedicated to the Karaoke video-- only 1 was showing sports. They put on a Madonna retrospective CD just for us. 

That's about all so far. Leadership forum this afternoon. The reunions have started-- so far, we've run into Meg from San Jose, Joe Small, John Paul from Edmonton, Linda, the Stanford Taiko advisor, and Jon and Skyler from Smokin' Bachi. Which is why we all love conference. Along with the great workshops, and great discussions, and amazing workshops, it's a time to catch up with all those other crazies who just don't feel right without a pair of bachi in their hands.