December 2, 2018

Droning Boy: snowy Hokkaido

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I dragged my ass out of bed a little after 6 a.m. in spite of my lack of sleep yesterday.  One of the things I wanted to accomplish on this trip was to take some shots of Lake Toya (洞爺湖) from the air, and I had gotten my drone fixed just in time before we flew here.

I went out the front door of the Hotel Windsor Toya, and after a short walk trying not to slip on compacted snow, I realized that the hotel parking lot would be a good spot for me to take off.  I unfolded my portable landing pad, tried to secure it on a pile of snow flattened by a bulldozer, and launched my drone into the sky.

This was my first time trying out the panoramic mode on the DJI Mavic Pro, and the functionality only came out about a year ago.  I was pretty excited to check out the spherical panorama mode, where the drone positions itself to take 34 pictures which can later be stitched together on the app itself.  I also took some wide, horizontal panorama shots.

I focused on shooting video for my second flight, and pushed the drone towards Nakajima Island (中島) in the middle of Lake Toya.  I was almost over the edge of the lake, at a distance of around 2.5 km, when I decided to bring the drone home.  There still seemed to be a healthy buffer between the estimated time remaining on the battery and the minimum time for the drone to fly straight home.

But the wind was picking up, and it seemed the drone was fighting the wind as it tried to come home.  I quickly saw the buffer disappear, and I started to wonder whether there would be enough juice to bring the drone home.  Panic ensued, and my heart was racing pretty fast as I began to think that the drone wouldn't make it back before the battery died.  Given that I was on the edge of a cliff, that means I probably wouldn't be in a position to recover the lost drone.  Shit, shit, shit!

Thankfully the drone made it back to me, with an estimated 8% of battery life left.  This was the second time I came close to losing the drone from pushing it too far, and I decided to take it easy on the next two flights.

After standing out in the freezing cold for about 2 hours, without any fuel or hot drink, I decided it was time to head back for a hot shower.  I asked Hello Kitty to run down to the restaurant before they stop the last order at 9:30 a.m.  I needed a hot shower to thaw myself out, and I tried to get it done quickly.  As I was drying my hair, I got a message from Hello Kitty at 9:25 a.m. that I needed to get to the lounge ASAP, as she and My Birdbrain Cousin had asked the staff to save me a Japanese breakfast set.

I got to the lounge entrance at 9:34 a.m., only to be told by the staff that I cannot eat there.  I could see the ladies seated at a table, and asked to join them.  The staff refused to let me enter.  Knowing from experience that arguing with the Japanese is futile, I quickly went to Gilligan's Island (yes, I know...) for an American-style breakfast.

Besides the usual viennoiserie, I got myself an omelette made the Japanese way, along with sausage, bacon, and boiled seasonal vegetables.  I declined the glass of sparkling wine.

This was most certainly not the satisfying breakfast that I was hoping for.

So here's the thing.  I've lived in Japan for a few years, and I understand the Japanese way of doing things... which is to say everything is done by the book.  They are sticklers when it comes to following the rules, and they don't much care for or understand how to work their way around limitations.  Many are as straight as an arrow and refused to bend.

I arrived at 9:34 a.m., which was 4 minutes past the time for last order.  I didn't make the cut-off time.  I get it.  He had every right to refuse me service, going by the book.  But what I don't get is that... here's a guy who works in the hospitality industry.  He was informed of my impending arrival beforehand.  The restaurant wasn't running out of food.  He could have easily served me that breakfast, but he simply refused to do it out of principle.  And in so doing, he chose not to be hospitable - and failed in the most basic aspect of his job.  He could have had a very happy and satisfied customer in me, and he chose to have a pissed off hotel guest instead.

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