2019

home repair repair repair ...

2019-02-20 TOKYO, JAPAN -- At our house in Tokyo, the contractors are smoothing the sheetrock surfaces and hanging wallpaper.
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The entrance to the house is where in-coming equipment is stored. From left to right: the vanity sink, the steam convection oven, and toilet.
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commercial kitchen show

2019-02-19 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I visited a trade show for owners and managers of restaurants and hotels. Vendors exhibited services and equipment.

Alas, no photography allowed
indoors.
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I noticed 3 things:

(1) The booths are huge. Some vendors rented space exceeding 30 x 30 meters. They had full-size kitchens and tables for customers. Wow!
(2) The buyers expect respect. Chefs typically work (or should I say slave) for several years before advancing to leadership positions. They are proud and can be haughty.
(3) Many vendors offer food samples but (surprise) you don't get full! Buy from vendors who give you all the food you want to taste and test.

valentine's day

2019-02-14 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Valentine's Day!

All the boys got chocolate from Noriko.
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Today is the 20th anniversary of my submitting my PhD dissertation. At my department (at that time) we revised our dissertation after the defense. This was the last step before commencement.

snow festival

2019-02-10 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Sapporo has its snow festival in early February each year. Noriko and I walked the streets to see the sights.


The Japanese army builds some snow sculptures. The army signals group built the Helsinki cathedral shown below.
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The army's 11th artillery built sculptures of a rock band that comes to life with projected lights and powerful music. (The picture below has low quality because it is a screenshot of a movie I took.)
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A freight train traverses the landscape. Night-time sculptures are colorful.

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In daylight, the snow statues are all white.
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Frozen aquarium.
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Pink Frog meets Ice Frog.
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azalea

2019-02-05 NIIGATA AND OTARU, JAPAN -- I took another ferry back from Tokyo via Niigata to Sapporo.


The
Azalea was launched in 2014 for the Shin-Nihonkai Ferry line.
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Plenty of deck space!
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My cabin was slightly smaller than the
Kitakami but no complaints. Same off-season discount -- a cabin for 2 for the price of 1.
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The TV has an HDMI input port so that I can connect my laptop or digital camera.
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The shower has fantastic water volume and pressure.
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Pick-and-pay cafeteria. I had beef stew,
nikujaga (pork and potatoes in sweet soy sauce broth), veggie salad, and a big bowl of rice.
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home repair continues

2019-02-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our house repair is progressing. Work halted several times while the construction crew waited for materials to be delivered. We were unable to order materials before start of construction because nobody knew what needed to be repaired until the ceiling, walls, and floors were removed.


We installed sound-absorbing ceiling tiles to reduce sound reflection. The eye bolts are for Noriko. She intends to relax in hanging chairs and hammocks.
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The shoddy workmanship of the original owners of the house gives us no end of headaches. Our construction crew fixes as much as they can.
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Cross section of our new flooring material. The top layer is decorative. The middle layers support the weight. The bottom sponge layer cushions the floor, so that if people or objects were to fall on the floor, the shock would be reduced. The total thickness of this composite flooring is 19 millimeters. We installed this on top of our existing 2 layers of flooring material. The floor is now over 30 millimeters thick.
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The ceiling is ready. The walls need to be papered. The floor is ready.
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Glass sliding doors were replaced. The old doors (see above photo) were clear on the top half and frosted on the bottom half. The new doors are a single pane of clear reinforced glass, so the room feels airier and more naked than before.
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sendai sightseeing

2019-02-02 SENDAI, JAPAN -- On my way from Sapporo via Sendai to Tokyo, I spent several hours sightseeing the city of Sendai. I have been to this city several times, always for work. Until today, I never had the opportunity to enjoy the scenery.


A
hop-on hop-off mini-bus travels to major attractions.
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Date (pronounced [date] not [deit]) Masamune founded the Sendai clan. He lost the sight of his right eye due to smallpox (not a war injury) and his eye-patch gave him the nickname "one-eyed dragon". His mounted statue is at the ruins of Aoba Castle.
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Also at Aoba castle is a monument for
Doi Bansui. He wrote the lyrics for "Koujou no tsuki". Taki Rentarou wrote the music, which became a hymn at a monastery in Belgium. Together they moved Japan's music from Japanese Edo-period style towards European Meiji-period style. I often play their song on my trumpet. I was under the mistaken impression that Doi Bansui was steeped only in Chinese and Japanese classics. I learned that he was also competent in several European languages, a notable achievement even today, and certainly so in the early Meiji period.
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Date Masamune and some of his descendants are entombed at their
family mausoleum. The structures were destroyed when the United States fire-bombed Sendai during World War II. After the war, the tombs (which themselves were underground) were excavated, and the structures were rebuilt following the gaudy ostentatious style of the Momoyama period.
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The highlight of the day was a visit to the
Sankyozawa hydropower plant.
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Sankyozawa is Japan's oldest hydroelectricity plant. It started with a 5-kilowatt generator. A unit similar to the original is displayed in a glass case.
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Today Sankyozawa produces 1310 kilo-volt-amps. The fat disc in the center of the photo is the Siemens electric generator. The tubular apparatus on the right of the picture is the Voith turbine that uses a pair of
Francis turbines. The turbine and generator are connected via a flywheel and spin at 429 rpm.
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A panel explains the generator's construction.
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new kitakami

2019-02-01 TOMAKOMAI AND SENDAI, JAPAN -- I have been regularly flying back and forth between Sapporo and Tokyo to oversee construction at our house in Tokyo. To break the monotony of airline travel, I took a ferry from Tomakomai to Sendai.


The
Kitakami is a brand-new ship that entered service last week for the Taiheiyo Ferry line. She replaces an older ship of the same name.
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I got a cabin for 2 people for the price of 1 because winter is off season.
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My cabin faces the bow.
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Brrr! The deck was cold! Windy and chilly. No trumpet practice on deck!
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Brand-new ship. No rust anywhere.
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home repair

2019-01-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We have been repairing and remodeling our house in Tokyo. It is partly an irritating process, because the building should have been demolished (it was not built to code) when we obtained it. Alas we are stuck with it. Our contractor team is removing or replacing faulty plumbing, and insulating and sealing the drafty house. I am determined to make the best out of a poor situation.

We ripped out the old ceiling, walls, and part of the floor. We are insulating and sealing all inside surfaces. Already the room feels warmer. The ceiling has been sheet-rocked. The walls will be too, as soon as the electrical outlets are installed. We will add a layer above the existing floor to reduce sound propagating downstairs.
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This corner is where the new sink and
steam convection oven will go. I am excited to cook for my extended family!
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We are aiming for a spacious room where we can cook, laugh, watch movies, and (gasp) play music.
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archery event

2019-01-02 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We went to the Oomiya Hachimangu, a shinto shrine about 2 km south of our Tokyo house. After praying for purity for the new year, we watched an archery ceremony conducted on the shrine grounds.

The event consists of 2 ceremonies. In the 1st ceremony, an arrow with a ceremonial whistling arrowhead is shot. The whistling sound wards off evil. In ancient times, the sound signaled the opening of battle. In the 2nd ceremony, 6 archers shoot 2 arrows each. This is a ceremonial competition, where the symbolism within the rituals is more important than the shooting.
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The target is large and fairly close to the archers. The objective is to cleanse body and spirit, not necessarily to hit the bullseye (although all 13 shots did hit it).
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happy new year

2019-01-01 SAPPORO AND TOKYO, JAPAN -- Happy New Year everybody! Best wishes to all of you!

Screenshots from "
Dream Girlfriend" (虹色カノジョ). My grand-daughters have been collecting cute outfits.
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