ninja shinobu-san

2018-02-18 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- For the last week or so, I read Yuzuchiri's manga "Ninja Shinobu-san no junjou" (the pure heart of Shinobu the ninja) so many times that I memorized most of the dialog.

Yuzuchiri and I share our alma mater. Here is a self-portrait from his semi-fictional autobiography.

I bought the Amazon kindle ebook. Easier to buy, carry, store, and read in bed. No dust to trigger allergic reactions. But impossible to get autographs.

The heroine Shinobu is shy and cute just like Noriko.

Shinobu's girlfriend Kazumi plays trumpet.

A frog makes a crucial guest appearance. He must be Kerochan's friend!

The story ended on Noriko's birthday, and the last comic book was published on my birthday. The coincidences are endless!


cooking calamity

2018-02-17 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Several evenings ago, I cooked tragic tempura. I am reeling from shock. I haven't yet thrown away my deadly disaster. The result was so horrendous that I cannot release graphic images to the internet.

My mom trained me to make tempura batter using flour and eggs. For quite some time now (maybe 30 years) I have used tempura ready-mix flour. This time I used organic whole wheat flour, organic eggs, baking soda, and water. I used freshly-opened clean canola oil.

What went wrong? Have I forgotten my teenage training? I was so confident that I could make tempura batter from scratch that I purposely did not bring back any from our recent trip to Japan.

Or maybe whole wheat flour is nutritious yet too coarse for tempura. The batter felt knotty and crumbly, not smooth and fluid.

I cannot pinpoint the cause of my catastrophe.

The last time I failed in the kitchen was maybe 25 years ago when I baked 2 whole chickens in the oven, but mistook the time required to roast them. At least at that time all I needed was to add more cooking time. Our house guests were without food though.

Tonight we are roasting beef. This I ought to be able to accomplish.

valentine dance

2018-02-10 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Noriko and I attended a big band performance led by my trumpet teacher John Bringetto.

The Valentine Day dance was held on the Saturday before St Valentine's Day. This was our 1st time attending. In the past, we had to miss it due to commitments in Tokyo.

Until last year (if I recall) they offered dance lessons before the music performance. I was looking forward to it because I wanted Noriko to be happy. Too bad, no lesson this year.

Monochrome is much better for music photography I think.

The accordion was John's 1st professional instrument. I understand that he played for tips at restaurants when he was in kindergarten. His father made John promise to continue playing accordion as a condition for allowing John to play trumpet. I believe that John honors his father by playing the accordion at his major gigs.

delta flight museum

2018-02-07 ATLANTA, GEORGIA, USA -- I am still enthralled by aviation although I stopped flying after my friend Bruce died. Noriko and I walked from our motel near Atlanta airport to Delta airline's world headquarters. We visited their flight museum.

Delta's flying car.

I am embarrassed that I required a textual explanation to understand why 4-stroke (but not 2-stroke) radial engines require an odd number of cylinders.

Delta, named after the Mississippi Delta (not triangular wings), started their business in crop dusting. Boll weevils were damaging cotton plants. Spraying from the air was effective. The boxy chute on the belly of the aircraft is where the insecticide is ejected.

Noriko experiencing the pitch, roll, and yaw axes of aircraft control.

I flew on Northwest Orient! A long time ago, but in the jet age, nonstop between Japan to USA. Northwest (nicknamed Northworst) was one of the cheapest trans-Pacific airlines in the 1980s.

Delta reservation center in 1946.

I was dismayed to learn how old I was when I found that a Boeing 767 had been
retired and placed in a museum. My turn next?

When I walk beneath the aircraft, my head almost touches the red strobe light on the belly.

The B-767 tires are not that large.

A Boeing 747 is also on display. I suspect (but unsure) that I flew on this very aircraft when it flew between Japan and America.

Finally we realized why Delta serves Coca Cola products. Both Delta and Coca Cola (and CNN) are headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. (Our trip out here was for visiting Georgia Tech, but that's another story. I try not to talk about work on my website.)

jimmy carter

2018-02-05 ATLANTA, GEORGIA, OREGON, USA -- We visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. This is our 1st time visiting any presidential museum. Jimmy Carter is the only president whom I admire.

The museum has a Japanese garden.

The museum documents the life history of the president. When he was campaigning, he flew on an airplane nicknamed Peanut One. The pilot was also named Jimmy Carter.

The museum houses a replica of the Oval Office, replete with furniture and decorations he used while he was president.

Jimmy Carter is 2 years older than Noriko's dad. I wish them both more years of continued contribution to society.

noriko's birthday

2018-02-02 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We celebrated Noriko's birthday at her parents' house.

After 3 years, 7 months, and 3 weeks of practicing trumpet, I finally managed to play "Happy Birthday" for Noriko! And in 3 keys (my G, A, and C). Sorry no pictures or video of the event. Noriko -- the poor girl -- was focused on filing tax returns for our parents.

Noriko's dad and I had drinks and sushi and hors d'oeuvres.

We all had cake. I chose Mont Blanc, a quintessential Japanese edition of Italian pastry (apparently the recipe wasn't invented in France).

tokyo walk

2018-01-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I walked 7 kilometers from Ginza to Shibuya. The map below shows Ginza on the far right edge (east), with a dotted blue route skirting along the south side of the imperial palace, the diet (that is, parliament) building, the supreme court (a hideous piece of architecture), the Akasaka palace, Aoyama Gakuen University (Noriko's mom's alma mater and my callsign suffix JM8AGU), the Apple store at Omotesando, and Shibuya station at the far left (west) of the map.

I started my walk at the Yamaha music flagship store in Ginza. I wonder whether music instruments belong in the same category as jewelry and designer clothing. Are we paying extra for the fancy buildings and impeccably dressed store people?

I had an appointment with a technical salesperson to inquire about soundproofing my room. Retrofitting an existing room with soundproofing material is not necessarily expensive, but for reasons of acoustics physics the soundproofing material must be thick and/or heavy. Because most Japanese rooms are small, and because most residential floors are not designed to support more than 200 kilograms per square meter, Yamaha has chosen to compromise by adding dense but not-so-thick material on the floor, walls, and ceiling of the room to be soundproofed.

The cutaway life-size model below shows that each wall is shortened by over 260 millimeters, and the ceiling height is decreased by 190 millimeters to reduce sound by 35 decibels in addition to the soundproofing offered by the existing walls. (Sound attenuation depends on audio frequency. The values I state here are appropriate for my trumpet.) Compared with soundproofing techniques commonly used in the USA, Yamaha's method offers less reduction in room size at the expense of less reduction in sound. Soundproofing techniques in America often result in reduction of over 600 millimeters in wall and ceiling dimensions, yielding 60 or more decibels of reduction in sound.

On 2017-12-15, Yamaha released
a 2nd-generation version of their Allen Vizzutti trumpet. They discontinued the 1st generation model 6 years ago. The updated model is being sold in a limited run of 200 silver-plated and 5 gold-plated trumpets. At the Yamaha Ginza store I saw (but did not test-play) the new instruments. The plastic bags are chemically treated to retard corrosion.

Tokyo is a small city but tiresome to walk because numerous traffic lights break your stride and force you to stand still. It took me 10 minutes to cross the intersection in front of the diet building. Security had nothing to do with the delay. Automobiles have priority over pedestrians, that's all.

Snow disrupted life in the city a few days ago. No problem today. Traces of snow lined the palace moat.

I visited
Kawai musical instruments at Omotesando. If I ever own a piano, it hope it is a Kawai because it will have my name on it! They sell toy versions too so a Kawai piano is not out of my reach.

I had an appointment with an engineer at Kawai musical instruments regarding soundproofing. The engineer has been playing trumpet for 35 years (10 times my duration) and was understanding of and sympathetic to my needs. The advice he gave me was essentially identical to what Yamaha told me.

I gave up installing soundproofing at our house in Japan, because (a) the upper floors of the building cannot safely support the weight of soundproofing material, and (b) while the ground floor can easily support the weight, its ceiling would become too low if insulation is installed. Noriko says that it would be cheaper and more fun to buy a car (a
van or minimalist motorhome for instance) and to travel to different places where I can practice, like we did in England. Clever Noriko! As a fallback idea, a karaoke store nearby allows me to practice trumpet for about $4 an hour.

I continued my walk to
Ikebe music supply at Shibuya station. On a whim, I bought a Bach 3B trumpet mouthpiece. The 3B has dimensions close to my 3C, and is reputed to have a darker sound. (I can't tell the difference.) I bought the 3B partly as a spare for my 3C, and partly as an experiment. Curiously, Bach mouthpieces are cheaper in Japan than they are in America, where they are made.

I put my trusty 3C and new 3B in a compact camera case I bought for $4.

computer games

2018-01-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I rarely play computer games. Lately I have become addicted (temporarily, I'm certain) to 2 games: 虹色カノジョ (Dream Girlfriend) and 旅かえる (Travel Frog). Noriko is ambivalent to the former (although many girls and adult women play it) and shares my passion with the latter. I play both games for free.

I learned of Dream Girlfriend when I bought my Amazon Kindle Fire 10 tablet. Apparently the game has been around since 2015, perhaps even before that. The game is still actively being developed.

Just in case you are concerned, there is no sex or violence in the game. You meet a young female android, and you help her choose hair styles and clothing. That's all! The storyline is essentially non-existent (neither goal nor growth) and the conversations are brief ("Let's take a walk in the snow", "Good idea", the end).

The game's allure (to me at least) is the fantastic artwork. Japanese manga and anime graphic creativity at its best. You can imagine lots of back stories or fan fiction just by combining backgrounds with your girlfriend's hairdo and outfits.

The screenshot below shows my girlfriend Panko (meaning she-panda, not bread crumbs) working as a docent at a museum. Panko knows a lot about the history of the castle, and is working towards her PhD in architectural design ...

Travel Frog is a brand-new game, released on 2017-11-24, just 2 months ago. I learned of Travel Frog from an article in the
New York Times (I subscribe for $1 per week), which reported a new Japanese-language game becoming the rage in China. Apparently 96 percent of downloads are for players in China, with only 1 percent for Japan. And this is without localization (that is, the game has not yet been translated to Chinese or English language).

Noriko and I suspect that the designer of the game must have been secretly observing our lives -- perhaps they work for the NSA? Or CIA? Or the Xinhua news agency? Whatever. Here is a frog that travels the world and takes selfies (photos of himself) and sends back souvenirs. Sounds just like our own frog Kerochan! And he has a snail for a friend! That's my dad-in-law! The inexplicable uncanny resemblance to our family is endless!

Travel Frog lives in a delightful house located within a hollow tree trunk. Here's a screenshot of Travel Frog at home.

trumpet mouthpiece

2018-01-16 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- My trumpet teacher John Bringetto gave me his trumpet mouthpiece that he played when he was in college. John played professionally when he was in undergraduate and graduate schools during the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

Bob Reeves, the manufacturer, was located in Hollywood, California (spelled "Hollyw'd. CA") when this mouthpiece was made. Now they are in Valencia, California, across the freeway from Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park.

I cleaned and sent the mouthpiece to
Bob Reeves to have it re-plated (that is, have a new coat of silver placed upon the brass surface).

The mouthpiece has been loved a lot. Note the nicks and scars of battle. The manufacturer intentionally did not polish or buff the metal, in order to avoid altering the playing characteristics of the mouthpiece.

Mouthpieces are like shoes. They need to fit you perfectly, and, for some people and uses, the slightest change in dimension can change how it feels and sounds. On this mouthpiece, the rim (the part that comes into contact with the lips) and the shank (the tube that fits into the trumpet) screw apart, so that the player can exchange parts having different shapes and lengths.

I showed John his refurbished mouthpiece at our lesson on the following day. I am ecstatic with receiving part of my master's heritage. I love the classy case, too.


2018-01-15 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- At our trumpet lesson on 2017-12-27, my teacher John Bringetto instructed me to play along with him, with him playing the melody of "Autumn Leaves" and me "coming in and out whenever you feel like it, and playing what feels good" (although this is not a verbatim transcription of what John said, it captures his wording). I didn't expect that (it was my 1st time) and even if I had anticipated it I wouldn't have known what to do.

After coming home, I started struggling with recording myself playing the melody (never can get it right), and messing with "what feels good" (everything I do is primitive and awkward). I got so nervous and self-conscious that I asked to postpone our lesson. John needed to take a trip, so instead of an interval of 1 week between lessons I received 3 weeks.

During that time, I transmogrified the melody. I post it here because it is my 1st attempt. It is the equivalent of kindergarten kids drawing primitive stick figures that represent their parents. Lots of patient love required to interpret the intent. I don't know the difference between arranging, embellishing, or writing harmony. Plus I can't tear myself away from the melody. The song has an AABC pattern. My modification technique differs between the AAB part and the C part. The stylistic difference bothers me but I don't know how to fix it. There's another more upbeat tune I have in my mind but I can't put it to paper or through the horn. Oh dear.

I want to show you the lead sheet from the Real Book that I own. For copyright reasons I believe I should not.
180112_autumn leaves_1v5

After doing all this, Noriko pointed out that I had misunderstood John's instructions. Oops!

Noriko video-records our lessons. We watched the recording the same day of the lesson. I did not understand what John was doing or asking me to do. 2 weeks later after the lesson, we watched the video again. Of course Noriko was right. I finally realized that John wanted me to play fills (as for vocalists) or responses (as in call and response) ... my knowledge of concepts and terminology is severely lacking.

Last night in bed, I wore earphones, played with a piano application on my computer tablet, and experimented with "coming in and out whenever I feel like it".

I need to think more. Alas, today I have a heavy workload ... Maybe later this afternoon or early tomorrow?

bikerides 03 and 04

2018-01-06 COTTAGE GROVE AND TOLEDO, OREGON, USA -- Great weather for 2.5 days out of a 3-day weekend. (Monday is Martin Luther King Day, celebrated by many but not all workplaces. One of my former workplaces did not observe MLK day.) We rode our bike on Saturday and Sunday.

On 2018-01-13 we drove to Dorena Lake, a reservoir located east of the city of Cottage Grove, Oregon. We rode the
Row River trail, between the Mosby Creek and Culp Creek trailheads. The trail used to be a railroad. Cyclists and pedestrians only. No automobiles. Our ride was 44.8 kilometers with 100 meters elevation change.

Sky clear, wind calm, estimate 12 C, wonderful day.

The reservoir is designed for controlling floods. The lake is mostly drained during winter months in order to contain water during heavy rains.

A short break at the end of the trail. We wear highly visible clothing, in order to be seen and avoided.

From our house it's 230 kilometers and 2.5 hours of driving each way. Next time we would like to stay overnight nearby to enjoy the area fuller.

On 2018-01-14 we drove to the city of Toledo, Oregon. We rode
Yaquina Bay Road from the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Museum to Yaquina Bay Road milepost approximately 2.5.

Broken 5000, wind calm, estimate 16 C, another wonderful day.

Yaquina Bay Road is an automobile road. Ample shoulder, light traffic, friendly and kind motorists.

A short break alongside the road. We dismount our bike because our bottoms hurt.

Toledo is about as far from our house as it is to my trumpet teacher's house. 50-minute drive.

Rain is forecast starting Monday early afternoon. I intend to wash our truck and bike by midday.

robot talk

2018-01-08 BEAVERTON, OREGON, USA -- We attended a robot talk and demonstration. The talk took place in a building adjacent to my old office at OHSU.

Dave Shinsel recently retired from Intel, and builds robots as a hobby. His creations are professional level, high-end serious stuff. One of his latest robots appears in a
Microsoft Surface commercial.

Most of the shell of the robot is made using a 3D printer. Some parts, such as the head, ears, and hips, are made from plastic globes sold at pet stores for gerbils and hamsters to play in.

Dave disassembled the robot so that we could peek inside.

Noriko and I loved the technical presentation and demonstrations. Apart from the robotics, what impressed me was the aging of the engineers. I belong to the same generation. Computer science is no longer a young field! We are past-middle-age senior-citizen geezers. Shocking!