2020-07-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- On my way to my mom's house, planning to drive her to her dentist, my rental car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light. Nobody was hurt.

I bring my own dashcam when renting cars, primarily to record the scenery and to view the trip at home. This was the first time the dashcam came in handy for an accident. The camera is placed beneath the rearview mirror, facing forward through the windshield. Because I install and remove the dashcam every time I rent a car, I use a dashcam with a suction cup. I do not have a rearview dashcam because I do not know of dashcam products that allow rapid and frequent installation and removal of rearview cameras.

Here is dashcam footage taken at the time of the accident. If you cannot play the movie within your browser, try downloading the file to your device, and play it from there.

The rear window was completely smashed. Curiously and happily most of the glass fell outside the car, although the impact was from the outside. Safe automotive design!

The other vehicle (a 2-ton truck) was hardly damaged. Sturdy automotive design!

A police officer nonchalantly filled out forms. The truck driver, who admitted complete fault, swept up glass shards with a broom he was carrying on his construction truck.

My rental car agency arranged to have a tow truck carry my car away. The tow truck driver and the accident truck driver hit it off. They engaged in friendly conversation.

I walked 6 kilometers back home. On my way, at the Frog Stone I offered thanks for keeping me safe.

Omiya-Hachimangu shrine is preparing for tanabata festival. I want to go with Noriko.

I received an oracle, which admonished me to "pray before travel" and "exert thyself and thou shalt be employed". I am grateful.

Later in the day, the rental car company and insurance adjusters from both parties called, and reassured me that I have nothing to worry about, nothing to pay, and if I experience discomfort (such as whiplash) please seek medical assistance, which will be completely paid by the other party's insurance.

Noriko congratulated me for driving Oregon Coast style, keeping plenty of space between the car ahead. Truth be told, I had been disillusioned lately because when I leave space in front of me, invariably somebody cuts me off. This happens in urban areas both in the USA and Japan. I had been feeling that (a) people must think I'm a country yokel driver, and (b) there goes my safety margin. I'm glad I kept that safety margin when stopping at the red light today. Otherwise I would have hit the car in front of me.

trumpet by the beach

2020-06-29 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We visited Noriko's parents.

We arrived early to beat traffic. Because Noriko's parents were not yet prepared to receive us (having breakfast and stuff), we parked by the beach and took a walk.

We were astounded to count over 2000 surfers. What happened to the COVID-19 lockdown?

I practiced trumpet on a pedestrian overpass spanning the coastal highway. Lots of traffic noise and far from houses so I would bother nobody except passersby. Well an elderly gentleman taking his morning walk took notice and asked if he could take my picture! This was a first. I'm sure he's going to frame his photo and put a title beneath saying "old dog learning new tricks". Or maybe "sound pollution".

I look forward to receiving my first income playing trumpet. Until now it's been "pay or I play".

On our way home, we prayed at Samukawa-jinja. They grandly remodeled the buildings and grounds.

I received an oracle, which exhorted me to "avoid travel" and "patience shall be rewarded with excellent employment". Thank heavens!

cool dessert

2020-06-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- On hot humid days, cold desserts cool mind and body. We enjoyed mango jelly in a Thai pot (originally for serving steamed rice). 203 yen for 1 kilogram, if i remember correctly.


where did i put it?

2020-06-24 TOKYO, JAPAN -- June is rainy in Tokyo.


I organized some of my belongings indoors. I discovered several items I had been looking for.

tortilla pizza

2020-06-24 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We baked pizza using tortillas instead of pizza dough. Excellent if you like ultra-thin pizza. Stack 3 tortillas if you like thicker crust. Sandwiched pizzas are fun too.

We drew with pizza sauce.

Tortillas puff up during baking.

Kero inspects his creation.


2020-06-18 TOKYO, JAPAN -- This year, the PanSIG-2020 conference is taking place online (instead of Niigata, Japan as originally planned) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My talk takes place on 2020-06-20 12:00-12:35 Japan time.



2020-06-17 TOKYO, JAPAN -- It's been many years since I celebrated my birthday in Tokyo city. Summer hasn't begun yet, and it's already hot.

Noriko ordered multiple birthday cakes so that my mom and sister can celebrate at their homes! I miss talking with my family.

The castella cakes come from
Bunmeido, my favorite!

The decoration is so adorable I didn't have the heart to cut it.

I sliced the cake horizontally to save the decoration on the top half.


We ate the bottom half. But not before we carved out a likeness of Kero.


I practiced trumpet. I warmed up (Maggio style), practiced major and minor scales (ascending and descending in 12 keys in the order of the cycle of fifths -- until a few days ago I practiced in chromatic order), and tonguing (one of my many weak spots). Unusually (for me) I played a bunch of songs that I have been learning over the past 3 years. On a typical day I might practice 1 or 2 songs. Today I went through a bunch, mostly for fun, and to see how far I have come. I began trumpet lessons exactly 6 years ago.

My birthday presents were a laundry drying rack and hangers. I am super lucky to be (doubtless) the only person in town who received household utensils as a birthday gift.


reflect heat

2020-06-12 (UPDATED 2020-06-16) TOKYO, JAPAN -- I spread a heat-reflective sheet (imagine a white tarp) over about half of our roof. My intent is to create a layer of air between the sheet and the roof in order to prevent our house from getting too hot. The roof is a concrete slab that rises to above 60 degrees C in the summer sun. Much of that heat comes into our house. By creating a shady layer of air above the roof, I hope to keep the temperature of the roof no higher than the temperature of ambient air.

heat-reflective sheet uses rather advanced technology.

Our living room was our staging area.

My plan was to hold up the sheet with a low and long sawhorse. I do not want the sheet more than 50 cm off the roof.

I purchased water bags (plastic foldable bags with handles) that become 6-kilogram weights when filled with water.

The sheet is heavier than most tarps, I discovered. (I ordered the material from an
online merchant, sight unseen.) The sheet sags under its own weight. I need more sawhorses or perhaps wooden crates.

If the sheet is effective and stays where I put it, then I might place a second sheet on the other half of the roof.

Updated -- We touched the roof at various places. Too hot to sit where it's sunny. Cool to the touch where it's shady. The heat-reflecting sheet works! The next step is finding a way to lift the heavy sheet off the roof, and to hold the sheet in place so that it won't blow away in the wind.


neil stalnaker

2020-06-06 (UPDATED 2020-06-13) TOKYO, JAPAN -- Neil Stalnaker, my friend and mentor, passed away on 2020-06-06. I learned of his passing a week afterward.

Neil was formally trained in music in college and at Berklee.

Neil was a student of Carmine Caruso (famous for his
"6 notes" regimen). Neil told me how Caruso would wear ear-protection headsets when teaching trumpet students because Caruso had a medical condition where loud sounds would cause him to lose balance (as in falling out of his chair).

After a career playing trumpet in a US Navy band and later as a freelance jazz player, he became an artist.

A picture of us, taken at his art show held near Tokyo central station on 2019-03-31. This was our last face-to-face meeting. We connected frequently online.

His autographed painting is placed on a cabinet behind my music stand.


A day before his death, we exchanged greetings on Facebook. After learning of his departure, I offered condolences to those who survive him.

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fluorescent lighting

2020-06-10 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced the fluorescent tubes of lighting fixtures in our bathroom. This is the first time in 20 years that the tubes have been replaced. Although they were not due for replacement (the ends of the tubes had not yet blackened), I chose to change them because fluorescent tubes gradually dim and become inefficient as they age.

Old tube above, new tube below. National changed their domestic brand name to Panasonic during the replacement interval.

The electrodes at the end of the tubes are sheathed in waterproof boots to keep out bathroom moisture.

You may wonder why I did not replace the fluorescent tubes with LEDs. I believe in LEDs -- in fact I was an early adopter of white LEDs, and years ago, I paid dearly for flashlights that were underperforming novelties. However, in the case of replacing fluorescent tubes but not the lighting fixture themselves, I prefer fluorescent because LEDs designed to replace fluorescent include circuitry for use with the fluorescent lighting fixture's power supply (such as a ballast). When the power supply fails the LED bulbs can no longer be used because by that time I will probably not own lighting fixtures containing power supplies intended for fluorescent tubes. Replacing the entire lighting fixture maximizes the benefits of LEDs. In my case today, I like the aesthetic design and waterproof construction of my light fixtures, so I kept them.

The tubes I installed today are brand-new premium technology. I pre-ordered them. They should appear on store shelves 10 days from today. They are expensive ($25 each, yikes) but cheaper than good LED tubes and should last 30,000 hours. I expect today to be the first and last time I replace tubes in our bathroom.