sake and cakes

2020-12-29 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We visit Noriko's father often. Tonight we had sake. One of our top favorite brands is Hakkaisan. We poured their "aka echigo" sake that is available in limited quantities. We also had sweet cakes. The year of the rat (or mouse) is ending and the year of the ox (or cow) is coming.


walking fridge

2020-12-16 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- A fridge walked away from dad's house.

At our house in Tokyo, we got 2 short fridges and placed them side by side. We needed short fridges because a beam restricts height along the wall. By having 2 fridges, (1) we increase their total volume, and (2) we can set the fridges to different temperatures (for instance, freeze vs thaw). This is the first time in my life owning 2 reefers in 1 house.

In conjunction with us getting new fridges, we disposed of 2 old ones, 1 from our house in Tokyo (a Mitsubishi fridge manufactured in 1995), and 1 from my dad's former house in rural Chiba (a Toshiba manufactured in the 1980s).

Dad's house is on top of a hill, about 100 meters horizontal distance and 30 meters vertical distance (roughly 8 to 10 stories worth of elevation) above the road. I needed to carry his fridge across overgrown grass, down a flight of stairs, and down a run-out-of-breath-steep driveway that I was too terrified to drive up of (it's washed out underneath in places, and the van was unable to climb the slope anyway -- the tires spun).

I know realize what aliens were doing in Utah. They were carrying a fridge from their mountain retreat to their spaceship. Of course they got tired and had to rest.

The alien fridge in Utah.
This actually exists. Beautifully clean.

Dad's fridge. This also exists. Horrendously filthy.

So dirty that I wore a mask.

So heavy that I had to rest after carrying it 3 steps. (self-timer photo)

The mere task of carrying the fridge to the edge of the glass doors in the next room made me feel like I had built half the city of Rome.

This is when I realized that aliens were carrying their fridge to their spaceship.

The fridge enjoys the scenery.

The fridge makes new friends. Hello praying mantis, spiders, grass, trees.

A natural setting for a fridge.

At the foot of the stairs.

Yours truly communicating with the alien appliance.

After crossing the overgrown grass and walking down the stairs, the dreadful driveway begins.

Loaded the fridge on the van that I parked at the bottom of the hill.

Yours truly communicating with the alien appliance again.

Back at dad's house. Practiced trumpet with the glass doors open, while admiring the Japanese maple trees. The nearest neighbors live at least 200 meters (an eighth of a mile) away, on the other side of a hill. I do not hear them (they are farmers) and I doubt they hear me. I wanted to play longer but the winter sun was setting fast. I needed to turn off the electric power and close the house while there was still sunlight so I reluctantly stopped playing.

mom-in-law went to heaven

2020-12-12 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- Today on 2021-04-28 I resumed my blog on my website. In order to catch up, I wrote about events at the rate of roughly 2 to 4 per month. I have been silent since 2020-11-29 because we lost Noriko's mother a few days afterwards. I was close to her, I loved her, she knew it, and she loved me back. I was devastated. Thank you folks, I am recovering.

She is the first of our 4 parents to depart. I am not confident how I can bear the loss of my remaining parents. I am glad that I am physically closer to my aging parents, and while I continue to look for a job (I want to contribute to society) I have plenty of time to be with my folks. I realize that one day -- perhaps tonight -- somebody dear to me will die and I will fall apart. Until then, we are having fun and telling each other we love each other.

2020-12-12 would have been Noriko's mom's 89th birthday. We celebrated with her favorite cakes.



christmas tree

2020-11-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We are trimming our Christmas tree this afternoon. Pictures coming soon!

oil painting

2020-11-28 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- Mom showed me an oil-painting kit I used in middle school and high school.


My brother and mom have art talent. I chose art class through a process of reluctant elimination. My music was atrocious and calligraphy was not quite in the style my teacher appreciated.

I wonder about the condition of the paint.

I fear the oil is in bad shape too!

Mom's favorite stray cat watched us tinker with old memories.

iwasaki house

2020-11-26 TOKYO, JAPAN -- A few minutes from my alma mater stands the Iwawaki House (also see alternate explanation). Hisaya Iwasaki, the 3rd president of the Mitsubishi zaibatsu, commissioned the British architect Josiah Conder to design and build the house in 1896. Conder had arrived in Japan in 1877 having been invited by the Japanese government to design buildings and train architects.

The grounds are merely 1/3 of the original area, and the 20 or so buildings are reduced to 3, yet giant gingko trees still stand.

Iwasaki built the house when Japan as a nation and Mitsubishi as a company craved recognition by European and American powers. The house projects an ostentatious presence.

The south facade is American colonial style.

The buildings on the grounds are comprised of 2 distinct styles -- British-American mix vs Japanese. Instead of incorporating elements of each into one structure (say, having a tatami room in a house with western-style exterior), Conder chose to build 2 types of houses side by side. Some were connected with hallways or underground passages, the latter, I surmise, for household staff to go from one building to another unobtrusively.

A large tatami room with a formal cabinet area may have served a purpose analogous to a drawing room in the west.

The Iwasaki House served 2 roles: the private residence of the Iwasaki family (who lived in Japanese style in private), and a reception complex for dignitaries (where occidental customs prevailed). The Iwasakis were
seishou (businessmen with strong ties to politicians). Networking was essential. Perhaps some of that took place in the billiard hall, an unusual building at that time (or perhaps at any time anywhere).


The plumbing, including toilet fixtures, are original. Made in the UK.

I was glued to the lightbulb on display. An artisan was trained by Thomas Edison's team on how to fabricate light bulbs.



2020-11-23 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We celebrated Thanksgiving 3 days early, because in Japan today is a holiday while Thanksgiving day is a work day.

Costco in Japan sells frozen Butterball turkey, just like in the USA. I did not know that a Butterball turkey "contains up to 8% of a solution of water, salt, spices and natural flavors for tenderness and juiciness". Hmm, I prefer untreated birds!

Sprinkled paprika for color. Roasted for 3 hours, just to be safe.

Chopped onions and celery (hard to find in Japan) for stove-top stuffing.


Deliver to family. Sister lives downstairs. Brother lives a 35-minute drive north. Mom lives a 35-minute drive southwest.

soldering iron

2020-11-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Years ago, a decade ago, I bought what to me is a top-of-the-line soldering iron (a Hakko FX-888 soldering station, since replaced by the FX-888D). So what's the big deal you ask. Nothing, except that I opened the box after all this while. In the meantime I had been using my older, less sophisticated, perfectly capable soldering irons (I own several). I should stop saving stuff for that special moment! Life is getting too short!

From left to right: Hakko soldering station, an electronic keyer for sending Morse code (a hand-made gift from my friend Akira), a
Panavise vise model 301 (makes life easier), Fluke DMM (digital multimeter) model 179, and at upper right corner, a can of chilling spray, just in case I burn myself.
P1920476 copy

Today's mission: to fabricate a cable for connecting my telegraph key to Akira's electronic keyer. Alas I cannot photograph myself while I solder. Here's a spade lug connector being held by clamps (locking forceps) which in turn is held by a vise (not shown). I think I do a decent job of soldering but close-up photos are not flattering!

Things are coming together. The needle-shaped object held by the vise are the clamps seen on edge. My telegraph key (one of the 4 that I own, a
Bencher BY-2) is at the lower right. Akira's electronic keyer was damaged during the move from Sapporo to Tokyo (the speaker wires broke). And the batteries leaked (grrrr -- cleaned with vinegar). I learned recently that removing mercury from batteries made them more prone to leaking.

Desoldered the contacts and replaced with speaker wires with a slightly heavier gauge.

I didn't want to soil the dainty sponge that came with the soldering station so I used my trusty 3M sponge (I love it).

I bought a heat gun to replace my old
Portasol that gave up the ghost after 30 years. The heat gun I got is essentially a tiny electric hair dryer. It is about the size and shape of a cucumber or zucchini (actually these vegetables can grow quite large but for the purpose of my explanation please imagine supermarket size). It blows hot air that shrinks heat shrink tubing.

The yellow section is heat shrink tubing that has been shrunk. Nice snug fit around the wires. This photo is the back side of the iambic paddle.

Now I can practice sending Morse code with any of my 4 telegraph keys. From left to right: (1) Morse Express annual Christmas key 2008 edition sold exclusively by Marshall G. Emm, N1FN through his online store for telegraph keys.
Marshall became a silent key -- that is, passed away -- on 2020-02-17. His business died with him. Christmas keys were miniature collectible keys that Marshall sold each winter. Toshihiko Ujiie of GHD Keys made the Christmas keys between 2008 and 2019. Too bad there is no Christmas key this year. (2) Akira's keyer. (3) Mizuho "baby" BK-1 key. Only 890 yen. I am looking for a suitable base for it. A base is a weight that prevents the telegraph key from moving when it is used. The base is usually a heavy piece of metal, stone, or wood. Instead of attaching a heavy base, the key can be bolted to a desk, especially on a ship. (4) GHD model GN607 iambic paddle. The 607 went through several versions. Mine is the earliest. I suspect the later ones are better, because mine does not feel as pleasant as its price would make you expect. (5) Bencher model BY-2. Apparently the top seller in amateur radio. I used it when I was at W6YX (Stanford amateur radio club) from 1986 to 1999. It has several design flaws that are inexcusable given its price and length on market (that is, plenty of time and money to improve the product). One can buy an entry-level camera lens for this amount of money. Camera lenses are much more complex. Hmmm ...

Close-up photo of the Christmas key, in memoriam for Marshall N1FN. I sent condolences to his colleagues, who politely acknowledged my message.

An excerpt from Mizuho's user manual for the BK-1 key. Mizuho went out of business in 2012 when the founder, Tsuguo Takada, JA1AMH retired. Ardent fans keep memories and know-how alive. I talked to whom you might call the fan club president, Mr Takahashi, at his tiny store in Akihabara.
P1920669 copy

early christmas presents

2020-11-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- A publisher of amateur radio technology is offering gifts when you buy their books.

During normal years, the gift promotion happens in summer, at the
Tokyo HamFair (similar to the Dayton HamVention in the USA). The convention was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So the publisher delayed the sale till Christmastime and shifted the sale online.
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They gave me what they promised! A shopping bag with morse code hidden in letters of the alphabet.

I received my books and presents the day after I placed the order. I don't think this speed is possible on the Oregon coast.

baked apples

2020-11-20 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I baked apples for the first time at our house in Tokyo.

Baked apples are easy to make. I found that a knife and spoon are better than an apple corer because you can follow the core and seeds as they reveal themselves at an angle you cannot see from outside. With a corer it's hit or miss.

We hardly ever buy butter. This is the first time I bought butter in maybe a year?

Another first: I baked without wrapping apples in aluminum foil. The combi oven adds enough steam so the apples won't dry out. Some had to crack, hrrumpf.

We discovered that baked apples taste almost as nice as freshly baked when warmed in a microwave. Next time we bake apples, we'll bring some to our families.

late sunrise

2020-11-19 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- The sun rises a few minutes late each day.

The morning sky reminds me of the atmosphere of Jupiter.

People gather to watch the sun rise through the clouds.

Sunbeams over Sagami bay.

I practiced trumpet over the autumn foliage.

Snacks in the warm car.

time difference living

2020-11-17 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- Noriko once wrote a short novel titled "Time Difference Living" (which, by the way, received a review in a literary periodical). The protagonist chooses his own time zone to live in. He gets up way earlier than other people in his community. He has lunch, works, plays, rests all at different times of day. He escapes the crowds and gets the best treatment by living in his private time zone.

We tried time difference living at a restaurant. We arrived at 17:00, too late for lunch, too early for dinner.

We had the entire restaurant to ourselves! hurray!

Tranquil isolation calls for leisurely dessert!

555 timer IC

2020-11-16 TOKYO, JAPAN -- My home office (den, playpen, pigsty, cattle barn, call it what you like) is becoming more comfortable because I am spending more time there. But today, I played in the living room because it's brightly lit.

Today's program is brought to you by the 555 timer IC.

I confess I cannot memorize resistor color codes. Plus some pairs of colors are hard to tell apart.

Magnifying glass (made in UK), assembly instructions, tablet computer (for looking up resistor color codes -- I lost my paper color wheel), and my trusty toolbox (I attached the handles only today because when I was in Sapporo the toolbox never left the shelf it sat on).

keroppi donuts

2020-11-14 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our niece gave us donuts made in the likeness of Kerokerokeroppi and his mom and dad.

Too cute to eat! But ... they're gone!

The image below is copied from the
promotion website.

copper grater

2020-11-10 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I treated myself to a copper grater for making daikon-oroshi (grated daikon).

Purchased at Kappabashi for 100 dollars! I might break even after grating 1000 daikon. Let's see ... 1 daikon per week, 50 daikon per year ... 20 years!

Medium grain on one side for daikon, fine grain on the other side for spices.

Ooya is a group of craftsmen that was incorporated in 1928. I bought a grater in size "2", 2nd largest.

Each point (too short to call it a spike, no curve or angle to call it a hook or barb) is chiseled by hand. The inherent unevenness in the angle of the hooks allows the daikon to be rubbed back and forth without needing to rotate the daikon. Machine-made graters have hooks that are perfectly aligned so that the daikon develops ruts or grooves that impede grating.

Tried it!

Hmm ... You still need arm-power. Elbow grease.

Daikon-oroshi topped with nametake-chazuke is surprisingly yummy with roast pork.

akihabara shopping

2020-11-09 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I had a field day in Akihabara. I visited various stores on a mission to buy cables and hardware for my Cushcraft R7 antenna (see my article dated 2020-11-03).

Akihabara opens late and closes late. I arrived at 11:00, just as most retailers were opening for business.

I wonder if some shops ever open. The store on the right seems ... er, haunted?

I canvassed the neighborhood in search of deals. I bought coax (coaxial cable) connectors and stuff at
Fuji Musen (Fuji Wireless). Like many other shops that carry transceivers, Fuji Musen has an amateur radio club station at the store. Their callsign is JJ1ZAC.

Truth be told, this 15-meter run of coax is sold at a 37.5-percent markup. I can buy a 100-meter roll for 28600 yen. I debated ... went to the store that sells bulk cable ... paced back and forth in front of the building ... finally, decided against it, convincing myself that I would rather have more space in my house instead of a big roll of coax. The 15-meter roll is about the diameter of a basket ball, give or take. The 100-meter roll is the size of an automobile tire.

I had a conversation with an 89-year old lady at a parts store specializing in solder-on connectors. Her store (or should I say booth or box?) was about 2 meters wide and 2 meters deep. She told me that she has been tending the store for 63 years. Broadcast stations plead her to keep her store open because she sells scarce parts. But her 68-year-old son won't take over the store. "Next year", she says, "I'll close for good. I keep saying that."

The spoils of the day.

odakyu department store

2020-11-09 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Today was my last day visiting the unemployment office. They gave me benefits for 180 consecutive days. Thanks! Helps a great deal!

The unemployment office is on the 23rd floor. Through embarrassingly dirty windows I gazed at the 10-story-tall Odakyu department store.

From the ground floor of my elementary school (the 2nd of 3 primary schools that I attended -- we moved a lot), I could see the Odakyu building 2 kilometers away. It was one of the tallest buildings around. Shortly afterwards, the Odakyu disappeared from view.

In a year or two, they begin demolishing the building. The new building will be much taller.

inductive range

2020-11-08 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our house is all-electric except water is heated with natural gas. Our kitchen has a steam-convection oven (also called a combi oven) and an inductive range (I grew up in Toronto so I say "range" instead of "stovetop"). Our inductive range is temperamental (didn't know that until after I bought it) and rejects many pots and pans that would work fine on other inductive ranges. Hrrumph!

Our inductive range destroyed our favorite enameled pot. Grrr!

I bought a metal disc that claims to be heated by inductive ranges and then heats whatever pot is placed on top of itself. A-ha!

The stainless steel disc is 220 millimeters in diameter. Smooth on the back side.

Yes, it works! At least some of our pots have been saved from the scrapyard.

clear skies

2020-11-05 CHIGASAKI, JAPAN -- Beautiful autumn day! I practiced trumpet at Chigasaki Southern Beach while enjoying mountain views.

Fuji is snow-capped now.

A closer view of Mount Fuji, similar in size and perspective to what I feel I see when practicing trumpet standing on the sand.

The beach is popular with surfers. Alas starting next season the city will charge for parking.

I would love to stay for a week at one of these beachfront properties! There's a nice walkway that goes on for miles.

jindai botanical gardens

2020-11-04 TOKYO, JAPAN -- My mom and I visited Jindai Botanical Gardens.

The gardens are surrounded by other parks, some free, some for a fee. We began by strolling through the free zones.

The big leaves remind me of Toronto, Ontario.

I walked through a pile of dead leaves, kicking them with my shins, just like when I was a kid.

Within the fee area, there was a
chrysanthemum show going on. Serious stuff!

Mom wanted to see the rose garden.

Beautiful place, even to a person like me ignorant of botany.

cushcraft r7

2020-11-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I opened a box that I had stored for a quarter of a century. Never expected to say that!

This is a Cushcraft R7 vertical antenna for amateur radio, still in its original box. I had to discard the box today because it was too old for further use.

I bought the antenna as a Christmas present for myself 26 years ago. The antenna was shipped to my office at
SRI International. I remember my work phone number!

My friend Akira and I set up the antenna at my apartment in Palo Alto, California. We sandwiched the balcony fence with 2 pieces of plywood to serve as a mounting platform. Sorry, there are no photos of that installation.

I was pleasantly surprised to find all the parts astonishingly clean. I must have wiped them carefully when I disassembled and packed the antenna for our move from Palo Alto to Tokyo. This was in early 1996, just before I began graduate school at the University of Tokyo.

I need to assemble and adjust the antenna. As a general rule, antennas work best when they are high above ground, located far away from everything else. Climbing ladders or bringing down antennas is a scary chore, however. I want to adjust my antenna closer to the ground (my flat and safe rooftop, to be precise). I decided to use the tripod for a work light as a temporary antenna stand.

Looks lovely!

Ignore the warning decal -- all antennas say that.

The R series went through several versions (R5, R7, R8, R9, R7000, R9000). My antenna is the
1993 version of the R7.

Cushcraft was bought by MFJ on 2009-07-31. I am glad that MFJ has kept Cushcraft alive. I own at least a dozen MFJ products. I am not quite impressed with their sense of aesthetics. But they do design, manufacture, and sell a wide range of amateur radio gear.

Here is my
MFJ-259 antenna analyzer, shown with its dip coil placed (rather nonsensically -- for photogenic purposes only) near one of the coils in the R7 antenna matching box.

What is fascinating is that you can now purchase a pocket-sized VNA (vector network analyzer) for pocket change! The nanoVNA has a
user group. This month's issue of "RF World (volume 52)" magazine has a special feature on the nanoVNA. Read excerpts for free.

once in a blue moon

2020-10-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- This year's Halloween is lit by a blue moon. The next blue moon Halloween is in 37 years, I believe?

Enlarged photo of moon.

Night view from our rooftop.

shounandaira walk

2020-10-28 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We walked around the hilltops of Shounandaira.

On the hilltop today are a radio tower and observation deck. A few centuries ago there was a major Shinto shrine here. Daimyo traveling along the Tokaido highway would show their respect by stopping and getting off their palanquin.

Nice footpaths connect neighboring hills.

We came down the other side of the hill, and discovered what the original shrine had become in the last 150 years.

A sign explains the history I mentioned above.

I offered spring water to a dragon diety and prayed for good rain.

When we returned to the hilltop where we started, we saw Fujisan in the clouds. Ah

drive with mom

2020-10-28 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We took Noriko's mother (whom I love just as much as my own mom) to her dentist. Afterwards we drove around the neighborhood. Here are some screenshots from our dashcam.

Her dentist.

The Enoden tram.


fresh produce

2020-10-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our sister gave us fresh produce from a farm in Gunma prefecture. Yummy!


heat-reflecting tarp

2020-10-26 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I dried and put away the heat-reflective tarp that I put on my roof (see my article dated 2020-6-16).

Spreading the tarp was easy. Elevating the tarp off the roof but preventing the wind from blowing the tarp away was hard.

I used traffic cones and barricade bars as stand-offs because they were cheap. I connected 3 cones with 3 bars so they wouldn't blow away in the wind.

Drying each side in the warm autumn sun.

The heat-reflective sheet was highly effective in reducing heat from penetrating the roof into the house. The tarp of course is a temporary solution. I intend to have a contractor build a deck on the roof.

I stored the tarp in a cardboard box indoors. The traffic cones and barricade bars stayed outside. Frankly I don't know what to do with them. Maybe the contractor will take them?

mom's birthday

2020-10-23 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- We celebrated mom's 85th birthday.

We admired her minnow ponds. She raised several thousand this summer. Alas, a bunch were devoured by a murder of crows. The attack made the fish skittish. They are all hiding in this picture.

Noriko ordered 4 identical mini-cakes so that our family could celebrate mom's birthday at their own homes.

My brother sent flowers.

I played "Happy Birthday" in at least 4 different keys many many times. Some times I got it right.


2020-10-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- An article in the New York Times (the only newspaper I subscribe to) says that many people are exercising less due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aye, that includes me. I swam 2 kilometers on my last day in Sapporo (2020-02-29). The gym was being forced to close starting the next day. I happened to terminate my membership on the last day they were open. Since then I ran a bit (swimming pools in Tokyo were also closed) but had to stop running during the hot Tokyo summer. Now I'm resuming my regimen. This morning I ran 14 maybe 15 kilometers. Not much compared to most runners, but for me this is a milestone.

We got a pedometer for Noriko's mom to encourage her to walk. The frog pedometer belongs to Noriko. Neither device is reliable, I must say. They seem to show less steps than you actually take.

snowcapped fujisan

2020-10-20 CHIGASAKI, JAPAN -- Fall advances swiftly this year. The air is clearer and the wind is chillier.

The recent typhoon gave snow in the higher elevations.

Fujisan (Mt Fuji) is not tall compared to summits in many other countries. But it
looks tall because it is surrounded by a fairly large plain. Or, to be precise, the volcano grew alone in the middle of a plain.

Binoculars (free, not coin-operated) at the Shounandaira viewpoint shows zigzagging paths on Mt Fuji's side. There are no vehicular roads on the top half of the mountain. Bulldozers carry provisions going up and mail coming down (there is a souvenir post office on the mountaintop).

imperial palace

2020-10-15 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I enjoyed visiting the Japan Camera Museum, walking near the Imperial Palace, and attending a cooking demonstration at Rational Japan headquarters.

The Camera Museum is deceptively diminutive, but has a massive collection and knowledgeable staff.

The Camera Museum is located next to the
British Embassy. The embassy faces the moat of the Imperial Palace. The embassy walls are Japanesque, and match the walls of the palace.

Although I live in Tokyo, I hardly know the place. I walked through Kitanomaru Park in the rain.

Shimizumon, a gate dating back to the early times of Edo castle, stands historic and surprisingly unnoticed in downtown Tokyo.

The moat looked menacing in the cold autumn rain.

Just several blocks from the palace, I got lost amidst the winding streets of downtown Tokyo. Sun blocked by clouds, horizon blocked by tall buildings, no way to get bearings.

Luckily, I came across a landmark, the Kanda Catholic church.

Haha, then I got lost again. My destination was a big, tall building, but it was hidden behind a row of smaller buildings. I walked around the block 3 times before I found the entrance.

Rational's demonstration kitchen is well-equipped with their latest products.

Rational has a reputation for feeding their customers well.

daughter and her famiily

2020-10-14 CHIBA, JAPAN -- A star former student of ours introduced us to her husband and baby boy.

I practiced trumpet while waiting for them at a river bank. The river seems popular among water skiers.

What a wonderful young family! We are so happy for them. Too bad we couldn't hold the baby because of COVID-19 pandemic.

They took us to an observation tower where we could see all the way down to Yokohama.


2020-10-12 CHIGASAKI, JAPAN -- Rain finally stopped. We saw Fujisan (Mt Fuji) this morning from the beach. No snow on the peak yet.

Apologies for the poor-resolution photo from my iPad.

bigger monitor

2020-10-10 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I brought home my mom's old computer monitor. This monitor broke a while ago. (I recommend against buying this make and model, unless you buy through a vendor that takes your side when you need repairs. The monitor does a fantastic job when it is operational.) I got her a new, different monitor because she needs to work. I got the old, repaired monitor, and set it up in my room.

First things first: clean the windows so we can leave them open while we set up equipment. Alas our house is in a dusty neighborhood, and our windows get dirty quickly. The rain made it easier to wipe the dirt off the rails and screens. Can't let that dust blow into the house!

My old setup. Dual monitors, 1600 x 1200 pixels. I've been using dual (or more) monitors since 1996.

Remove everything, clean everything, and place everything back.

Tall monitors are good for posture. Keeps my neck and spine straight. Less pain.


2020-10-08 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- We ate at a restaurant for the first time in 7 months. The last time was on 2020-03-16, when we ate at the Mazatlan Mexican restaurant in Depoe Bay, Oregon.

The store had just opened for business. Noriko declared the place would be deserted long enough to have a quick bite.

Japanese-style hamburgers come on a skillet instead of buns. They mix lots of chopped onions with ground beef, so the patties are soft and moist.

The restaurant uses a
Woodstone grill to cook hamburgers on tiny skillets. The most common use of Woodstone grills is for baking pizza, I believe.

Kero has an idea! Let's eat out more often! Jump in to a store just after opening, and get out before the crowds arrive.

After our early lunch, we walked through the mall, and admired the illuminated bamboo Halloween decorations.

I wonder how they cut the holes. Lasers?


2020-10-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- 3 kilometers north of our house is Hinasakudo, a sweet shop that sells gekotan cakes. Gekotan means "Croaky", a diminutive form of the onomatopoetic word for "ribbit". An easy reason to walk half an hour to fetch a baker's dozen.


An artist was commissioned to design the branding irons and wrapping paper.

I bought 2 each of all 7 flavors. Some flavors change by the week or by the season. More reasons to shop!



2020-10-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko mailed in our census form. Japan has held censuses every 10 years since 1910.


thai curry at home

2020-10-04 TOKYO, JAPAN -- My brother gave an assortment of heat-and-serve curry sauces.


We steamed turmeric rice. Nice way to finish last year's crop of rice. We start enjoying this year's crop later this week.

Quick and delicious.

temple fair

2020-10-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Every "3" day (the 3rd, 13th, and 23rd of each month) a neighborhood Buddhist temple has a street fair.


The fair is for local folk.

Today might be one of the last fairs that goldfish are sold this season.

We enjoyed
deep-fried bean-paste buns.

wildfire support

2020-10-02 (UPDATED 2020-10-23) OTIS, OREGON, USA -- Our friend Frank King lost his house in a wildfire. I am in awe of the outpour of support from his friends and neighbors. Noriko and I wish Frank and everybody else affected by the recent disaster in Lincoln county to be safe and as comfortable as possible during this most difficult time.

Screenshot of fund-raising webpage taken on 2020-10-22.

Screenshot of fund-raising webpage taken on 2020-10-02.
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shine on

2020-10-01 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- We viewed the chuushuu-no-meigetsu (harvest moon) from Shonandaira, a hill located west of downtown Hiratsuka and north of Oiso town.

When we arrived in the morning, it was raining, and I practiced trumpet beneath the eaves of the observation deck, which was closed at that time of day.

The rain stopped by mid-morning. We visited again after sunset. We walked up the observation deck to view Sagami bay and the harvest moon.

The hilltop is popular for lovers. The gift shop sells padlocks that couples can permanently attach to fences to declare their neverending devotion to each other.

The hill's original purpose was a site of a radio tower. It is actively used today, although the radio frequencies are much higher.

Kero was distressed that he failed to halt the rain in the morning. (He is the rain deity of our household.) Here he sits contrite, beneath the Ring of Love.

I brought a battery-operated lantern to illuminate Kero.
Shine on Harvest Moon!

i remember bruce

2020-09-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Today is the 7th anniversary of the death of my friend Bruce Lowerre (see my blog entry dated 2014-02-09 stored in the 2014 folder).

To honor Bruce (who played piano for us) I started taking music lessons for the first time in my life.

Although my progress has been slower than my worst estimate, I surprise myself by becoming able to play passages that were impossible several months before.

I garner hope in the words of a violin teacher, who wrote in
an article: "A person who does not possess musical talent can play the musical instrument of their choice if they possess the following attributes: dedication ... passion ... determination".

From time to time, I send recordings of my playing to Bruce's sister so that she might find solace in knowing that somebody mourns together. She is an accomplished musician, who played french horn in the navy.

Here's a bad recording I made today of "I remember Clifford", which, to me, is "I remember Bruce". In a few days, I hope to send Bruce's sister a better recording.

Here's how it should sound like:
Lee Morgan Sextet - I Remember Clifford 1957 Blue Note Records

grilled tuna cheek

2020-09-26 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We grilled a pair of tuna kama, or cheeks -- that is, the 2 sides of a tuna head, from behind the eye and mouth to the leading edge of the gills.

The pieces are fairly large, about 30 centimeters across. The tuna probably weighed 50 kilograms.

Terrific bargain at only 500 yen per piece! In areas where fresh fish is plentiful and mundane (such as fishing villages, where sashimi comes with every meal while buttered toast is a delicacy), fish is cheap. Where we live, the opposite holds.

We add no flavoring. Grill at oven humidity 50 %, oven temperature 210 C, heat until core temperature reaches 65 C.

The meat shrinks and pulls itself off of bone and cartilage. Noriko likes the crispy parts (like well-done bacon that breaks and crumbles instead of bending or folding). I like the moist soft parts. Eating together we could not finish in a single meal. Tuna salad tomorrow!

windy trumpet

2020-09-25 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- We found another public beach parking spot off of route 134 at Hiratsuka Southern Beach.

We visited twice over the last 3 days. It has been raining and blowing (a typhoon is passing through) but surfers (the black specks in the water) were unfazed.

When the rain stopped, I practiced blowing my horn, but the wind blew stronger, and I needed to lean against a fence with the wind to my back to hold the trumpet steady.

The beach parking lot is open from 0430 to 1600. Parking is free, although apparently pricey during summer swimming season. We bought boxed lunches at a supermarket we found nearby.

We plan to go again. The view is as nice as highway rest areas along the Oregon coast. This spot is rumored to have grand vistas of Mount Fuji on clear days. Plus it's free, and a 6-kilometer 12-minute drive from Noriko's parents' house.

ceiling lamp

2020-09-24 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced our stairwell ceiling light fixture with an old Japanese-style light that I had kept in storage for some time.

I pasted synthetic rice paper (plastic that looks like Japanese hand-made paper) on the bottom side of the wooden frame to hide the lamps and circuitry. The paper must be removed if I ever need to replace the bulbs.

The paper is not quite as taut as I wanted but pulling too hard might break it.

I placed plywood over the stairs so that I can reach the electrical outlet on the ceiling.

I have never seen these outlets in the USA. In Japan they are common. You push and twist the connector in the receptacle, which provides electrical power and supports the weight of the fixture.

Noriko approves.

sister gifts

2020-09-23 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our sister brought us lots of fresh veggies!

We begin with fresh ears of corn!

Steamed, no flavor added, superb!


2020-09-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We experimented steaming a whole smallish kabocha.

We usually cut
kabocha (Japanese pumpkin, colored green not orange, with unusually tough skin that can break knives) before steaming or baking. I am scared of cutting myself if I slip while cutting the tough skin. So tonight we steamed the kabocha whole.

We knew that steaming would soften the kabocha. What we wanted to determine was how messy it would be to remove the fibers and seeds. This step is easy when the kabocha is uncooked.

Turns out that the cooked fibers and seeds can be swiftly removed with a spoon or chopsticks. From now on we will probably steam kabocha whole for safety and convenience!

roast pork

2020-09-19 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We are becoming better at roasting and delivering pork for our families.

First we steam through, oven humidity at 100 %, oven temperature at core temperature + 60 C, heat until core temperature reaches 60 C.

Then we crisp the skin and heat through, oven humidity at 50 %, oven temperature at 190 C, heat until core temperature reaches 72 C, let stand while meat continues to cook.

Meat shrinks (compare the gap with the picture of uncooked meat above). Sizable enough to feed a family for a dinner or two.

Wrap and deliver.

We eat some too.

fresh delights

2020-09-19 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We decadently opened fresh jars and tins purchased at Costco.

Peanut butter has been in short supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Nutella impostor costs half of the real thing, but more importantly, less viscous, and easier to scoop and spread.

Tastes pedestrian, like Yorkshire tea, just the way I like it.

trumpet at the beach

2020-09-18 ODAWARA, JAPAN -- We found a public yet obscure (probably intentionally unpublicized) beach access road that splits off the Sakawa on-ramp of the Seisho Expressway.

The beach is marked on the map but nothing tells you how to reach it. We found it by exploring side streets off of route 1.

A narrow paved road leads to (for Japan) a fairly large gravel parking lot, adjacent to the beach where you can rest, walk, fish, or sunbathe.

A warm humid stiff breeze from the west. I estimate temperature 28 dewpoint 27 wind 240 at 15 gusting to 25.

We had been stuck in traffic until several minutes ago. We welcomed the open space.

Noriko worked in the car while I practiced trumpet for the 2nd time today.

japanese garden

2020-09-17 MAKUHARI, JAPAN -- We strolled through the Mihamaen Japanese garden, located near the Makuhari Messe convention center.

What a delightful place!

Artificial nature within an artificial metropolis.

Ponds, miniature seashores, grassy fields, miniature mountains.

We walked around the pond, fed by a miniature river.

Fall is on its way.

Flower clock nearby.

fall is in the food

2020-09-15 TOKYO, JAPAN -- You know autumn approaches when you crave warm food.

Wonton soup replaced hiyashi-chuuka (chilled noodles) today as our lunch.

Hiyashi-chuuka just 3 days ago. We're sure that there will be plenty of hot days over the next several weeks.

points, lines, shapes

2020-09-14 KAMAKURA, JAPAN -- Noriko and I have been visiting her parents more frequently than before moving to Tokyo. Our decision to retire from Hokkaido University was correct -- yes I lost income, yes I continue to look for a job -- we are closer to our families in space and time.

Today we explored the area near Noriko's parents' house. I want to learn the lay of the land. We know some spots -- the house, mom's dentist, several supermarkets, a few shopping malls. I want to connect the dots into lines, and the lines into 2-dimensional shapes.

I hate the narrow, crowded, torturous roads, but they sometimes offer unexpected views. We chanced upon the
Shonan Monorail. This is the first time I followed a monorail from beneath. I felt like a submarine tracking a surface ship!

From our dashcam:






art in life

2020-09-10 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We ventured out the house, like a pair of mice gingerly poking their noses out their hole in the wall.

We visited the
Suntory Museum of Art in the Roppongi district of downtown Tokyo. Skyscrapers and glass domes.

Only until after we entered the exhibit area did I learn that photography is allowed! I should have brought my camera. The work on display were (to my untrained eye) understandable, purposeful, and aesthetically pleasing. Here is a screenshot from
their website.

We had boxed lunches outdoors in the breeze.


2020-09-10 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Our friends in Otis and Lincoln City are evacuating from their homes because wildfires are approaching the city. We are concerned for their safety.

The evacuation map below was issued today.

Evacuation orders come in 3 levels.

Level 1 (the lowest level) "be ready" (some people say "get ready") means "prepare to evacuate". The area colored green at the south end of Lincoln City is at Level 1.

Level 2 (the middle level) "be set" (some people say "get set") means "prepare to leave at a moment's notice". The area colored yellow at the center area of Lincoln City is at Level 2. Our house is in this area.

Level 3 (the highest level) "go" means "leave immediately". The area colored red at the north end and east side of the city extending to the town of Otis is at Level 1. Our friends who live in this area have evacuated.

Thankfully, the fire is coming under control, and our friends have been allowed to return home. However, electrical power is intermittent because the fire continues to rage, and falling trees break power lines.

Noriko and I pray for the safety of our friends, acquaintances, and everybody else in our community. Hugs!


2020-09-04 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I was organizing my room. I was wondering what to do with the pieces of drywall that were left over from my soundproofing project.


I decided to put the drywall on the wall because the wall in my room is made of dried mud, which is crumbly and sandy and messy.

The west wall went okay. I placed the chest of drawers my friend Chris Perry gave me. (By the way this room will be professionally renovated in a few years.)

The south wall did not fare as well.


Bullseye! I drilled right through an electrical wire that had been plastered into the mud wall.

Surprisingly, the circuit breaker did not trip. Everything is now fixed of course. I wasted half a day! Honestly I could not have known ...


2020-09-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- On my way home from the doctor (routine checkup) I bought cakes for Noriko and Kero. A year ago this would not have been a big deal, but nowadays shopping at stores is rare.


Kero declares "Yum!".


2020-09-01 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Mom's friend sent her a box of satsuma-age (fish paste fried in oil). We got to taste some, and they were so good that Noriko and her sister ordered a box each.

Sotto voce: These are the priciest satsuma-age I have ever seen.

Our box came with a pink sea bream, thought to bring good fortune.

We grilled the fish cakes along with eggplants, shiitake mushrooms, and atsu-age (fried tofu).

No flavoring needed! Great with beer.

trumpet practice outdoors

2020-08-31 EBINA AND FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- On our way to Noriko's parents' house, we stopped at 2 places (a highway rest area and a seaside park) to practice trumpet.

The Ebina rest area has a dog run (an enclosure where dogs can exercise and go to the toilet). I sat on a bench and warmed up just like my teacher John Bringetto told me. I miss him.

The player's point of view.

The seaside park is the place where a passerby asked to take my picture some time ago. Today Kero kept an eye on me.

ultrapure trumpet oil

2020-08-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I finished a bottle of UltraPure trumpet valve oil.

This is the first bottle I bought in Japan, at
Nagae Musical Instruments, 950 meters from our house in Tokyo.

Finishing a bottle of lubricant isn't that big of a deal for most people. But for me, it's a tiny milestone. I hope Ken Saul (the inventor of UltraPure oils, a professional trumpet player, and a friend) agrees.

Actually I have several open bottles, because until 6 months ago I lived in 3 houses, each with its instrument. Now that we live in 2 houses, my bottles (and everything else, from kitchen knives to staplers) are being consolidated.

science of music

2020-08-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I am reading a most wonderful article that explains the science of music, particularly concerning why the chromatic scale has 12 notes, and why major triads sound "nice" while minor triads sound "off".

You can read it for free online. I highly recommend it.

Daniel Shawcross Wilkerson (2014) "Harmony explained: Progress towards a scientific theory of music" https://arxiv.org/abs/1202.4212

frog arts and crafts

2020-08-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- For the first time in 6 months I believe, we bought at a store an unessential item (that is, something you don't need for eating, living, or working).

Noriko discovered a temporary show for frog-themed arts and crafts located a 12-minute walk away from our house. Today was the penultimate day of the show. Had to go!

Noriko fell in love with a compact carrying case for credit cards, membership cards, business cards and the like.

Kero will use it as his document filing case.

lekker belegde broodjes

2020-08-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- In 2 days it will be 6 months since my last day at work. Today I submitted yet another job application.

Noriko celebrated by getting us fancy sandwiches (belegde broodjes) from a
nearby bakery that she and her sister like.

Almost like taking a virtual trip to Belgium!

We reminisced over life in Antwerp with onion soup in
UA (Universiteit Antwerpen) mug. Good days!

kero in the flesh

2020-08-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Kerochan rarely exits his protective case. Today he stepped outside to replace a package of desiccant placed beneath his seat cushion.

Kero looks great!

Old and new packages of CaO (calcium oxide, commonly called lime). The old packet is thick and heavy after absorbing moisture.

maccha at tea shop

2020-08-19 IRUMA, JAPAN -- We gingerly venture outside. Today at the Mitsui Outlet mall in Iruma, Saitama prefecture, we had a refreshing iced maccha (green tea) drink and maccha ice cream at a rather deserted tea shop.


We like the austere decor.

This is only the 4th time since 2020-03-17 eating or drinking at a shop. Just for fun, here are the dates:

(0) 2020-03-17, Mazatlan Mexican restaurant, Depoe Bay, Oregon, USA (day before state-wide lockdown)
(1) 2020-08-03, Nana's Green Cafe tea shop, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, Japan (shop was deserted)
(2) 2020-08-05, same place as (2) (we like their drinks and empty seats)
(3) 2020-08-10, same place as (2)
(4) 2020-08-19, Maccha House tea shop, Iruma, Saitama, Japan (today)

minivans with lifting seats

2020-08-16 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Over a period of 4 days, we (or rather our mothers) tried 2 minivans that have mechanized seats that swing out of the vehicle so that passengers with limited mobility can enter and exit the vehicles easily.

Nissan Serena minivan with lifting seat
Toyota Noah minivan with lifting seat

We learned a great deal from this experience. Soon, I'll upload a bunch of pictures along with commentary.



2020-08-13 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Mom's friend sent mom a box of satsumaage (deep fried fish cakes). Mom gave us some to eat at home.


Instead of boiling them (as is customary) we baked them in the oven. Delicious!

W6YX online meeting

2020-08-12 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We attended a club meeting of the Stanford Amateur Radio Club W6YX. We have been unable to attend in person for oh so many years.

They showed a demo of meteor propagation during the Perseids meteor shower. When the meteor burns up in the atmosphere, ionized particles are created that allow radio waves to be refracted, so that radio communications can take place between locations that are otherwise unable to reach each other.
Screen Shot 2020-08-12 at 12.21.46

ieee oregon chapter

2020-08-11 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I attended an online seminar (webinar) hosted by the IEEE Oregon chapter. We are glad we could attend while being so far away.

Tokyo is 16 hours ahead of Portland, Oregon. We watched the talk at 09:00 Tokyo time.

The talk was about Wifi's 5th and 6th generations.
Screen Shot 2020-08-21 at 16.05.07

noriko's father's birthday

2020-08-10 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We celebrated Noriko's father's 94th birthday.

I helped with some chores around the house. Here's me cleaning the dehumidifier.

atomic bombs

2020-08-06 TOKYO, JAPAN -- 1945-08-06 and 1945-08-09. Read about those days and what they mean today. Subscribe to support the authors and publishers; otherwise read for free.

John Hersey "
Hiroshima", New Yorker, 1946-08-24

Michael S Rosenwald "
The US hid Hiroshima's suffering. Then John Hersey went to Japan." The Washington Post, 2020-08-06

William Langewiesche "
The reporter who told the world about the bomb" The New York Times, 2020-08-04, a book review of Lesley M M Blume "Fallout: the Hiroshima cover-up and the reporter who revealed it to the world", Simon & Schuster, 2020-08-04

Additional reading suggested by the New Yorker magazine, 2020-08-02.

rokusho jinja

2020-08-05 OOISO, JAPAN -- Rokusho Jinja is the 6th and last shrine on the list of the 6 most significant shinto shrines in Kanagawa prefecture. We completed our pilgrimage today.

The shrine's driveway leads from Route 1 to the shrine grounds. Route 1 is Japan's main non-express automobile artery that runs from Tokyo via Nagoya and Kyoto to Osaka. In this part of the country, the highway is a simple road lined with shops and houses.

Part of the shrine's driveway is a semi-private underpass that tunnels beneath the Tokaido train line, Japan's premier non-express railroad also connecting Tokyo via Nagoya and Kyoto to Osaka. Here's a screenshot of our dashcam footage.
The cicadas were deafening.

The shrine grounds are well kept, with koi ponds on either side.

Even the koi seem hot!

We prayed for safe travel.

The main building sports an impressive
shimenawa (a rope that marks a sanctuary).

The earth-retaining rock walls were built 400 years ago by the Hojo clan that lived in Odawara castle, about 13 kilometers away.

hiratsuka hachimangu

2020-08-03 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- We visited Hiratsuka Hachimangu, the 5th most significant shrine in Kanagawa prefecture.

I like the shrine's see-through sign.

A dog donning a surgical mask guards the entrance to the shrine grounds.

A one-year-old divine horse wanted us to feed it carrots.

We parked at a local soccer (association football)
stadium located on the west bank of the Sagami river. Noriko took a walk with Kero along the levee.

I practiced trumpet. The rainy season ended and all of a sudden the sun came out. Blazing hot! I had to take off the top half of my jumpsuit. I was wearing work clothes because we were on our way to Noriko's parents' place to help clean their house.

5 months since retirement

2020-07-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Today is 5 months from my last day of work at Hokkaido University. The 29th of each month is a temporal milestone for me. Not that I did anything special ...

I hung toy aircraft from the ceiling. Battery-operated fans make the plane fly in circles.

A red light flashes on this helicopter. Silly things like this make me happy.

Easy cooking with our steam convection oven. Throw all ingredients (uncooked macaroni and all) in a pan.

Stick the pan in the oven, do something else (like taking a bath) and dinner is served.

cookie monster

2020-07-25 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko got me a box of maple syrup cream cookies.


I spent my early childhood in Ontario Canada. My top favorite sweetness is maple syrup. Absolutely delicious!

In one sitting ...

9-year-old camera

2020-07-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I purchased my trusty camera (a Panasonic GX-1) on 2011-11-14 for 85300 yen. This was the first time I pre-ordered a camera (that is, decide to buy when the product is announced, before seeing it or holding it at the store).

Today I learned that I have taken 85147 pictures with this camera. About 1 yen per shot! (I bought a viewfinder and extra lenses for this camera so the mean cost per shot is closer to 3 yen.)

We were expecting the camera to die (that is, malfunction so badly that the cost of repair would exceed the value of the camera) during our trip to Europe in 2017. I am glad that the camera is still chugging along.

Too bad I cannot say the same for my Pentax K100D (I own 2, 1 of which is totally dead, and the other rather sick). My Pentax K5 (I also own 2) are okay.

sakitori jinja

2020-07-20 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- We prayed at Sakitori Jinja, the 4th most significant shinto shrine in Kanagawa prefecture.

The shrine is seated near the Sagami river, close to the river mouth, in a woody area.

We heard cicadas for the first time this summer.

The etymology of the shrine's name is unclear. It probably derives partly from "saki" (headland, promontory) because the shrine stood on a piece of land that jutted out into the Sagami river or perhaps the river snaked at the point, creating a peninsula of sorts. The shrine's name is written in various kanji (somewhat akin to "Smith" and "Smythe") but none of the kanji have meaning.
T7201001_trimmed T7201022_trimmed

They gave us a brochure and we bought an amulet and an oracle.

Later, at a nearby riverbank, I attempted to practice trumpet.

Alas, it was too hot for me!

book money

2020-07-20 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I won 1000 yen (about 9 US dollars) worth of book money from "RF World" magazine. Thanks! T7251508_trimmed

The prize were 2 magnetized cards (each worth 500 yen) that you hand over to the bookstore cashier. I will buy study guides for an
electrician license exam (an unofficial, commonly used English translation is "chief electrical engineer") that I am slowly working towards.


2020-07-03 (UPDATED 2020-07-17) 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. Correction: the accident is being reclassified from only property damage to both property damage and personal injury. My doctor of orthopedic medicine diagnosed me with a neck problem. Nothing serious, time will reduce pain, please don't worry.

What we should worry about is the astonishingly poor education among the staff at the
police department. This letter addressed to me suggests that the person who wrote it did not finish middle school. (It reads something like "Mr c/o Goh Kawai".) This is but one of the strange behavior displayed by police personnel. At first I attributed my bafflement to my ignorance of police matters. I now believe there is a simpler explanation -- substitute "my" with "their" in the preceding sentence.

The rest of this blog entry is unchanged since 2020-07-03.

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.

deliver dinner

2020-07-14 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- We delivered grilled yellowtail to my mom.

steam convection oven and its temperature probe grills the fish to perfection.

Noriko wrapped the fish in aluminum foil, and placed it in an aluminum grill pan. These pans are unavailable in Japan. We brought them from USA years ago.

I feel like a pizza delivery person! Wish I could chat with mom for a while, instead of dropping of food and driving away.

hibita jinja

2020-07-13 ISEHARA, JAPAN -- We've been visiting the 6 major Shinto shrines in Kanagawa prefecture (formerly Sagami-no-kuni) in descending order of status. 1st in line was Samukawa Jinja on 2020-06-29. 2nd was Kawawa Jinja on 2020-07-06. 3rd was Hibita Jinja today on 2020-07-13.

The name Hibita apparently comes from Hida (sunny rice field), with the syllable "hi" doubled for luck.

The site of the shrine has been inhabited since paleolithic times. A museum (sadly closed due to COVID-19) displays local artifacts dating back from 10,000 years ago. Imperial court records state that offerings were delivered to the shrine in 645, implying that the shrine was a significant presence at that time.

Purification rituals are abbreviated due to COVID-19.

The shrine grounds are peaceful, not commercialized, and full of hydrangea.

The oracle I received today was somewhat more ambiguous than the ones I received at Samukawa Jinja and Kawawa Jinja.


2020-07-11 TOKYO, JAPAN -- After what felt like 20 years, although in reality probably around 10, I finished a big bag of umeboshi my mom lovingly made for me.

Each umeboshi is the size of a chicken egg yolk.

Umeboshi are horribly (sorry mom) salty and sour. I was unable to eat them until recently when Noriko began to soak them in hot water.

The sodium and acid would leach into the water that I could drink as a refreshing beverage after physical exercise. Then I would eat the not-so-salty-or-sour umeboshi.

Incidentally, we do not add salt to our cooking. The salt in whatever sauces or prepared food we use is enough. We have yet to finish a 100-gram jar of salt that we bought in 1996.

The humongous bag of umeboshi is finally empty. Noriko is wondering what to put in the special corner of our refrigerator that was occupied for so long by this bag. I am not asking mom for a refill!


2020-07-08 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We hung a second hammock in our living room.


The first hammock is a seat made of meshed fabric (a net) that we bought at a sporting goods store in Tillamook, Oregon.

The second hammock is a bed made of thick canvas. We bought it at Yodobashi Camera, which sells camping and outdoor equipment especially during summer. We bought it online to avoid people.


2020-07-07 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Tanabata is a festival held on the 7th day of the 7th month. In Chinese tradition, odd numbers are auspicious, hence 1-1 (new year's day), 3-3 (girls' day), 5-5 (boys' day), 7-7 (tanabata), and 9-9 (chrysanthemum day) are celebrated in Japan.

According to mythology, a weaver girl (Orihimeboshi, the star Vega) and a cowherd boy (Hikoboshi, Altair) are lovers that meet once a year on this evening across the river of heaven (the milky way) if and only if the skies are clear ... alas today it has been raining on and off, heavily at times, stopping ever so often but only to resume.

We celebrated with Kerovis (a frog version of Elvis) serenading to Crystal Kristin (a frog princess).

Kerovis and Crystal Kristin were gift from friends in the USA and Belgium, respectively.

kawawa jinja

2020-07-06 NINOMIYA, JAPAN -- We offered thanks at Kawawa Jinja, a Shinto shrine about 30 kilometers west of Noriko's parents' house.

I imagine that few people can read the name of the shrine written in kanji. Ancient texts posit its etymology as "river bend".

The origins of Kawawa Jinja are lost in the mists of time. Legend has it that the shrine was founded during the reign of Emperor Suijin, a mythical emperor who may have existed in the 3rd or 4th century. Court records compiled in 927 include Kawawa Jinja among the 13 shrines in present-day Kanagawa prefecture that were acknowledged as significant by the imperial family.

I received a pithy oracle that read "piously patiently persevere thus prevail". Thank you.

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.


2020-06-09 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I learned that thiourea (/θaɪoʊjʊəˈriːə/) quickly removes silver tarnish. Until today, I used polishing cloths or cream containing fine abrasives to polish silver. That method is preferred, but for hard-to-reach surfaces such as necklace chains or machine screws (for jewelry and trumpet parts, respectively), immersion in liquid is effective.

The manufacturer's
video and instructions show how quickly thiourea removes tarnish.

Apparently, the rule is to use thiourea sparingly -- that is, infrequently (only when the silver item is heavily tarnished) and briefly (do not let the liquid remain in contact with silver surfaces for more than 10 seconds).

Kerochan oversaw my first experience.

The chemical's effect is difficult to see in my photograph because of reflections on the silver surface. You may notice tarnish on the tubing pictured at the top of the photo below. By contrast, the area around the manufacturer's logo on the bell shown at the bottom of the photo is clear of tarnish. This after only a few moments of wiping with a cloth dipped in thiourea. Much quicker and less work than rubbing with a polishing cloth. My hands stayed clean, too. With the polishing cloth, your fingers become black.

I learned from
Wikipedia that thiourea is a organosulfur compound. Yes, it has a "rotten egg" smell like sulphuric hot springs. The chemical structure bears an uncanny resemblance to my body. Noriko approves!
110px-Thiourea 110px-Thiourea-3D-vdW

masked mom

2020-06-07 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- We delivered roasted pork to my mom this morning. Alas we were forced to wear masks, and to part in less than 2 minutes. I felt like a newspaper delivery person.

Truth be told, as far as family is concerned, I can hardly wait for COVID-19 to become less of a concern.

I have few complaints other than being unable to see my friends and family. We were planning to quit my job and stay at home anyway. However, I confess that our house is not being organized or improved at the speed I promised myself.



2020-06-06 (UPDATED 2020-06-12) TOKYO, JAPAN -- This year, the JALTCALL-2020 conference is taking place online (instead of Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan as originally planned) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is
my poster (1 page, PDF format, about 250 kilobytes):

I invited members of the audience to email me suggestions, complaints, and questions.

I submitted a poster for the following reasons:
(1) I am not confident that I can provide a realtime video-conference because my internet bandwidth is shared with my neighbors. At my location, connection speed fluctuates greatly and unpredictably.
(2) I am not convinced that a prerecorded video would add much information to my poster. The filesize-to-information ratio of my talk would not be compelling enough to warrant uploading a video.
(3) During poster sessions, in my experience, many passersby do not interact with authors of posters, although some do, and give much satisfaction to me.

My talk is online at

I tested my connection. Thankfully, during my presentation, I had sufficient internet bandwidth.

A virtual background (a photo of Cascade Head, north of Lincoln City, Oregon) hid my homely (in the British sense) surroundings.

kama and saku

2020-06-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Tonight's menu: grilled yellowtail.

The temperature sensors adjust heating.

I set the finishing core temperature to 72 degrees Celsius, clearly meeting and exceeding guidelines for safe food preparation.


The cheek is called
kama, literally meaning sickle, due to the curved shape of the gill cover. The filets are called saku, meaning wood blocks, again due to the boxy shape resembling wooden blocks or planks.

We delivered to our sister who lives downstairs. What a shame that we are forced to leave the food outside the front door so that she can bring it in. I haven't talked to her in months.

grocery shopping

2020-06-02 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- We rented a car, walked at a bayshore park, and shopped at a hardware store, supermarket, and Costco. This is our 3rd time going shopping since we returned to Tokyo on 2020-04-11.

We watched ships enter port.

$500 worth of groceries. I'm becoming numb to grocery bills, haha!

Items that were scarce are returning to shelves (or, at Costco, on pallets): rice, toilet paper, pasta (spaghetti and macaroni), and hygenic masks (I know the proper term is surgical mask but few people buy them for surgery). I could not find peanut butter. Good news: tomorrow we are grilling fish!

I wish we had a car with a big refrigerator. The weather is getting hotter day by day.

walking more soon

2020-06-01 TOKYO, JAPAN -- The Tokyo municipal government is lifting the COVID-19 lockdown in stages. We look forward to taking longer walks. I replaced the battery for Noriko's pedometer adorned with a Keroppi sticker.



2020-06-01 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We are pleased with ourselves for cleaning our refrigerator.

Years ago we needed to defrost the fridge. Ironically fridges (or reefers if you prefer that term) were cleaner back then because you would periodically empty the fridge and wipe it down. Today's fridges are frost-free, so we tend to forget to clean them.

We bought our fridge 25 years ago, when I began my PhD program.

We emptied our fridge. Noriko washed all the shelves and boxes. I wiped the fridge itself with bleach.

Spick and span!

Our fridge door is decorated with frogs (one plays trumpet) and my plaque for my food processing certification (which allows me to operate a restaurant).


2020-05-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We polished a silver-plated bronze trivet that Noriko received as a wedding gift.

The trivet was hand-made by an artist named Michael Aram.

We replaced the felt pads with synthetic cork that was originally intended for my trumpet's waterkey valves. (A waterkey valve lets water flow out of the trumpet tubing.)

The new feet are softer, quieter, and raise the trivet away from the tabletop.

financial aid

2020-05-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We applied for financial aid for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sapporo city government sent us forms because we lived in Sapporo until recently.



2020-05-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We ordered sushi delivery. Yummy!


Enjoy life!


electronic keyboard

2020-05-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I got an electronic keyboard! It's a children's toy and I'm excited like a kid!


My new instrument is less than half the price of my trumpet mouthpiece ($32 vs $78). I marvel that a complex electronic appliance costs less than a piece of metal, even allowing for the fact that the mouthpiece is solid brass drilled on a CNC machine and plated in silver. Both the electronic keyboard and trumpet mouthpiece involve expert knowledge, which arguably ought to cost about the same. Hmm ...


This electronic keyboard has many flaws. But it meets my immediate purpose, which is to save my chops when I struggle to learn how to read music. Rather than get my cheek muscles tired by playing trumpet, I can hear the notes as they're supposed to sound by hitting the keyboard keys with 1 finger. (The trumpet is a monophonic instrument, which means it can play 1 note at a time, instead of many notes together as you can on a piano.)


The electronic keyboard can play trumpet sounds! Dial "tone 46" for trumpet. Sounds awful compared to expert musicians. But -- tell you what -- it sounds just like me! Is that awful or awesome? haha! (By the way, centuries ago those 2 words had the same meaning.)


Truth be told, I wanted (and still want) a nicer keyboard, such as
this model, to learn piano. But a full-size 88-key keyboard is too wide for my narrow grotto (1320 mm vs 890 mm).

id photos

2020-05-24 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko took my ID photo. In Japan, you glue your ID photo on your resume or CV when you apply for jobs -- unthinkable in the USA. I printed 24 pictures on photo paper stock for only 120 yen ($1.20). What a bargain!


oomiya hachiman

2020-05-24 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We walked over to Oomiya Hachiman. In 2 days, when the lockdown in Tokyo is lifted, we can take longer walks than today.

We passed through a ring that cleanses us of evil.

The shrine is known for the Frog Stone.

Frog amulets abound.

A flower show was in progress.

remote controls

2020-05-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- After several embarrassing mistakes, I installed remote control holsters on the wall. The remotes control ceiling lights and air conditioning.




2020-05-20 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We discovered candles among our moving boxes. We had a candlelit dinner!



hone knives

2020-05-18 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Weather was bad. Instead of running, I exercised by honing kitchen knives.

Can you guess which knives are my favorite?

In the above photo, from left to right: (1) Noriko's heavy Chinese chopping and crushing knife, (2) my favorite Japanese nakkiri (veggie chopping) knife that was a gift from my mom, (3) my favorite Japanese gyuto (meat) knife that I bought in Sapporo about 15 years ago, and (4) Noriko's mom's Japanese deba (meat and bone) knife, which alas is beyond repair.

3 photos of nakkiri showing detail after sharpening.



3 photos of gyuto showing detail after sharpening.



cooking for family

2020-05-13 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Now that our pantry and refrigerator are full with food, it's time to feed the family!

I made diabolically hot mabotofu. Oops!

Baked sweet potatoes. These are beniharuka potatoes. Big and sweet.

Roasted beef. I improvised a roasting rack out of a yakitori (skewered barbecue chicken) rack and chopsticks.

We shared food with our sister and her family. I wish we could eat together! 10 meters away but not a word exchanged face to face.

clean the house

2020-05-13 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I did minor chores around the house.

Clean the air conditioners.

Read the manual. Daikin manufactures excellent air conditioners, but they need help with technical writing.

Wipe the floor. (Oops took no photos of me with my favorite mop.)

Hang shoji paper on windows.

Glue shoji paper on wooden frames for our tatami room.

Attach light-reducing fabric on the railing.

costco again

2020-05-12 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We went shopping again. Shopping is a rare event these days. We hadn't gone grocery shopping in 16 days.

We feel like we are living in medieval Japan or wild-west America, when market days were spaced apart. Instead of riding our horse and buggy to town, we rented a car and drove to a hardware store, a supermarket, and Costco. These 3 stores are located close together.

The driving distance from our house to Costco is about the same as from our house in Lincoln City to Depoe Bay (the next town south) but it feels much farther! There are lots of stoplights that run on timers rather than sensors, so traffic is slow even if it's not congested. Our traveling speed averages at less than 20 miles per hour, compared to about 40 miles per hour between the not-so-fast roads between Lincoln City and Depoe Bay.

We spotted a truck with frog sign! Sorry for the poor resolution photo. The truck was too far to capture legibly on our dashcam.

We are fully stocked on food. There were some items that were sold out, such as macaroni (wonder why) and fish heads (they tend to sell out quickly when the fresh fish section opens). Fish heads are tasty when grilled.

attenuate more sound

2020-05-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I added loudspeakers to my semi-soundproofed closet.

To save space, I placed the sub-woofer on top of my cabinet.

Mirrors and flashlights help see behind the equipment so that I can connect wiring.

The loudspeakers are easier to listen to when I play backing tracks for trumpet practice. Alas, low frequency sounds (which carry the bass beat that I need to hear to keep time) escape from the closet. This is a problem only when I play backing tracks.

The speaker amplifier generates considerable heat. (My previous speakers were battery-operated Bluetooth speakers that were cold to the touch.) Just another reason to stand up, open the door, drink tea, and rest my chops (lips and cheeks) so that I can practice some more.

As a side benefit, I can listen to FM radio stations. The white wire in the picture above is the FM radio antenna. However we rarely enjoy broadcast stations. We don't have a TV set. This is our first and so far only radio in the house. I do have amateur radio transceivers but they are not for listening to commercial radio stations.


2020-05-02 (PHOTOS ADDED 2020-05-07) TOKYO, JAPAN -- At long last, I completed soundproofing my closet so that I can practice trumpet and listen to music.

The result was 16 dB attenuation at 1 kHz. (The degree of attenuation differs by audio frequency.) I was fairly confident of reducing by 10 dB, and hoping for 20 dB.

Professional installations promise 35 dB, and achieve that in only a few days of construction work (the workers assemble soundproof panels that are pre-fabricated at the factory) compared to a year of on-and-off do-it-myself labor. Professional soundproofing costs about 20 to 30 times more than what I paid for materials and tools.

I learned a great deal through this soundproofing project. The fit and finish is awful (haha) and the acoustic attenuation is much less than professional quality (hmm) but I love my outcome more. I would gladly and eagerly practice in my tiny spot.

What is most important (and will be evaluated over the next several weeks) is how much less I bother my sister and her family who live downstairs.

The initial indications are promising. Noriko cannot hear me from her office. Standing outside the closet door, I can barely hear music played through loudspeakers placed within. Although I do hear sounds, unless I follow the bass beats I cannot tell which part of the song is being played. If doubt neighbors would hear anything even if our windows were open. Practicing during the day seems acceptable. We will discover more in the following days.

Here is a chart showing before and after degrees of attenuation. I should note that because "attenuation" means "decrease", the values in the chart ought to be positive. I may replace this chart later with a correctly worded version.

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I played sine waveforms (that is, pure tones) at frequency values of 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 kHz through loudspeakers placed inside the closet and facing the door. I stood just outside the door facing the loudspeaker, and compared the audio level when the door was open versus closed.

In the chart, the orange and gray values represent respectively the degrees of attenuation before and after soundproofing. For instance, closing the door decreased the 1 kHz tone by 24 dB before soundproofing, and by 40 dB after soundproofing.

The yellow values show the difference before and after. For instance, after soundproofing, the 1 kHz tone decreased by 16 dB more than before. This 16 dB is the improvement after soundproofing.

For all values, the lower values (that is, closer to the bottom of the chart) are better.

At 0.5 kHz, soundproofing made no difference (only 1 dB, but values below 3 dB are almost certainly within the range of measurement error). In general, low frequency energy is difficult to stop. I am disappointed because I was hoping to see at least some difference. Even a modest 6 dB would have been cause for celebration.

At 1 kHz, soundproofing made a respectable difference if I may say so. Not bad for a first attempt by a rank amateur. I was hoping for more but I am happy with what I got.

At some frequencies at and above 1.5 kHz, I obtained fair to good attenuation. Given the loudness of my trumpet (I tend to play rather soft), I am fairly confident that from a distance few people would hear these frequencies. The degree of attenuation differs by frequency, however. We see that 2, 3, 7 kHz tones are reduced less than 4, 5, 6, 8 kHz tones. I do not know why this happened in my case. Generally speaking, soundproofing materials (which are acoustic filters) have 1 or more passbands (that is, frequencies that are not attenuated). Perhaps that is what I am experiencing.

All in all, combined with my subjective hearing evaluation, my closet muffles sounds emanating from within to a level that I hope does not bother my loved ones when they are active during the day. If I were to play my trumpet at night, my family will probably notice.

Here is a picture of the door, sandwiched by sound-absorbing wadding. The door closes rather snugly.

The walls are covered with sound-absorbing wadding. The closet does look like a room in a psychiatric ward.

View from where I sit and practice. The closet is L-shaped. I sit at the end of one of the legs in the L.

Surrounded by technology, haha. Sheet music on the left, backing track on the right. I sit on the floor, Japanese style, so the music stand is low.

job hunt

2020-04-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- A few days ago, I visited the unemployment office to request benefits.

The unemployment office overlooks north Shinjuku from the 23rd floor.

Today I submitted a job application. I found the job announcement on an online depository for academic positions. They let me submit my application online. Yay!
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2020-04-26 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Once the 14-day quarantine period ended, we went grocery shopping.

Japan has Costco too. Here is dashcam footage from our rental car. (I attach my dashcam when I rent cars.)

We spent 58115 yen (about 570 dollars) on groceries. We broke our record!

Fresh fish grilled by yours truly.

We shared roasted beef with our sister Keiko. I wish we could eat together! Instead we give her food to take home.

organize house

2020-04-20 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Staycation (as they call staying at home for vacation) is an opportunity to organize the house.

Organizing means making a mess before sorting and storing.

Stocked my semi-soundproof closet with books and musical instruments.

I sit on the cushioned floor of this 90 x 170 centimeter cozy cubby hole to practice trumpet.


2020-04-16 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Hokudai sent me my termination papers that I will submit to the unemployment office after my 14-day quarantine period ends.


an immovable feast

2020-04-11 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We are ordered to stay indoors for 14 days except for medical emergencies. Our sister can leave the house for grocery shopping and exercise. But we cannot, because we returned from the USA, which is deemed an area of concern by the government of Japan. So we dine splendidly at home!

Sushi delivery! Seen with red suitcases in the background.

Delivery rice pot! Complete with soup.

Our sister Keiko bought us fresh produce for us to cook.

Our cousin Satoko sent us fish and roe.

Fresh steamed rice!

Well-stocked pantry.

travel during COVID-19 lockdown

2020-04-10 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We traveled from Lincoln City to Tokyo.

The airports at Portland, Seattle, and Tokyo were deserted. Lots of flights canceled due to the COVID-19 virus scare.

Our flight from Seattle to Tokyo carried about 29 people. I got a row of 4 seats to myself, and stretched out. Better than business class!

We wore masks.

The people at Delta airlines were all extra-friendly and caring. They placed a handwritten note on our luggage.

Quarantine officials at Tokyo Haneda airport swabbed our nasal cavity (no photo). Noriko and I both tested negative for the COVID-19 virus.

We rented a car from Tokyo Haneda airport to home because the quarantine officials prohibit airline passengers from riding on trains, buses, or taxis. Rental cars and private vehicles are allowed.

more neighborhood walks

2020-04-04 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- My last serious exercise was on 2020-02-29, the day I left Sapporo, when I swam 2 kilometers. Since that time, walking through our neighborhood has been my weak excuse for exertion. Quite enjoyable, actually! We check out our old haunts and discover so much more.

A few minutes from our house, there is a statue of a viking warrior whose girth is said to resemble mine.

The beach is deserted because of the city and state lockdown. I did not expect governments to react so drastically to COVID-19. If they were going to do this, then they should have done so sooner for greater effect.

Most houses are quite nice. Some are expensive. Weather-worn empty dwellings add character, I think, to the scenery.

I have no idea what these flowers are. My mother probably knows.

We are donating to the Cultural Center. This is where Noriko goes for yoga lessons. My trumpet teacher's big band plays jazz here from time to time. When you donate, they make a brick with your phrase on it. Ours will be "Kerokki the pink frog"! Look for our brick when they pave the footpath.
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Coast Guard helicopters patrol the beach several times a day.

The black specks in the center of the picture are sea lions.

We bought catnip for my mom's cat.


2020-03-31 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We cleaned up our front and back yards a bit. Not a lot. Just a tiny bit!

Ivy and blackberries were climbing our trees and fence posts.

Didn't take long to remove the vegetation. Did a number on my allergies though! We're smack in the middle of pollen season.

Ivy was suffocating our hydrangea.
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We gave our hydrangea some breathing space.
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We are burning through our stockpile of firewood at a good pace. I am impressed how well the tarp has protected the wood during the past 2 years.


2020-03-31 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We responded to the US Census.

We went to the census website.
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There were only a handful of questions. I wonder how useful or detailed is the information they collect.
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We finished in several minutes.
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neighborhood walks

2020-03-30 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We took 2 short walks today when it stopped raining.

When the fog and rain went away, we saw Cascade Head to the north from a hill behind our house.

At the end of our street is a statue of Abraham Lincoln on horseback. They recently built an attractive gravel garden around the statue. Behind the statue is the parking lot for the community center. The center (including my favorite swimming pool) is closed due to the COVID-19 disease. The parking lot is empty.

forest trumpet

2020-03-22 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Today is the last day of good weather for a while. We got out of the house.

First we took a walk in a
shady wood.

In our truck, we had sweet biscuits we brought from
Tokenukijizo in Tokyo.

Then we parked at the entrance of an inactive logging road to practice trumpet.

Noriko says my sound echoed off the hills. I hope nobody was listening!

I played "When you wish upon a star" for Kero.

This area will soon be built up, we fear.

online learning

2020-03-19 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Oregon governor Kate Brown issued an executive order prohibiting colleges and universities in Oregon from conducting face-to-face instruction until 2020-04-28. She states that colleges can continue to teach by remote and online learning.

I am grateful that online learning is considered a viable alternative. I am saddened that a pandemic is underscoring the value of e-learning.

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bayocean spit

2020-03-18 TILLAMOOK, OREGON, USA -- We went for a walk along the Bayocean spit.

The spit separates the Pacific Ocean and Tillamook Bay.

The tide was out.

We usually eat in at the
Pacific Seafood factory and restaurant in Bay City. All restaurants in Oregon are closed due to the COVID-19 corona virus scare. The oyster factory and store were open. We bought a small jar of fresh oysters for $8 and added that to heat-and-eat clam chowder. Fancy easy hot food at home!


2020-03-16 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Alas, our city, state, and nation have declared a state of emergency over the new coronavirus COVID-19.


depoe bay

2020-03-16 DEPOE BAY, OREGON, USA -- We went for a walk in Depoe Bay, located 22 kilometers south of our home.

The distance from our home to Depoe Bay is about the same from our home in Tokyo to my mom's house in Kanagawa. Driving to Depoe Bay is faster, smoother, and more comfortable because traffic on the coast is rural.

Just for fun, I used an
online tool for appraising automobiles. Our car is probably worth about $11000.

Family totem pole!

Fantastic weather.

Depoe Bay is known for whales and seals.

When we had Mexican lunch overlooking the ocean, we did not know that all restaurants in Oregon would be closed for the next 4 weeks.

Cliffs and rocks and waves. We walked between the place where this picture was taken and the promontory in the upper center of the photo.

pho noodles

2020-03-15 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Easy noodles for lunch at home.

I roasted beef a few days ago. Today we made Vietnamese pho noodles with spinach and beef. Quick to do and tastes fantastic.

neskowin walk

2020-03-15 NESKOWIN, OREGON, USA -- After a few days of rain, fantastic weather returned. We went for a walk in Neskowin, located just north of where we live.

Cherry trees are pretty.


Nice views of the ocean and golf course. The golf course is submerged several months of the year.


Neskowin used to be a tiny village. Now it's built up and rather crowded.

Some families seem to love frogs like we do!

easy fancy food

2020-03-11 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Easy fancy food at home tonight.

We bought heat-and-eat food at the store.

We steamed lobster ravioli. Boiling tends to result in soggy and broken ravioli. Steaming produces cleaner, well-formed ravioli.

We heated ready-to-serve king crab and corn chowder.

Placed ravioli in a deep bowl, poured thick soup over them, and topped it with home-made smoked salmon. Easy yummy dinner in half an hour!

chocolate frog

2020-03-11 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We visited our friends at the Chocolate Frog candy store.

Love their new store!

Dark, milk, and white chocolate frogs!

Peanut buttercup!

downtown salem

2020-03-10 SALEM, OREGON, USA -- We enjoyed brunch and a walk along Salem's riverfront.

Wild Pear is apparently named after 2 sisters nicknamed the Wild Pair.

The river was running low and slow.

Cherries blossom earlier in Oregon than in Tokyo.

We walked beneath 3 bridges.

regatta park

2020-03-09 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Gorgeous weather we're having!


smoking whole salmon

2020-03-08 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- I wish I could fish! Until I learn how (or at least join a fishing boat for tourists) I buy at the local store.

T3080103 copy

Today we smoked a whole salmon. The fish had been cleaned by the store person so I used a cutting technique that wouldn't usually use.

Our kitchen window faces west. Lots of sunshine today.

We place the smoker just outside the glass door so that we can check up on it.

The white portions are fatty paste that we don't mind.

Steamed veggies on the side.


2020-03-07 NEWPORT, OREGON, USA -- My trumpet teacher John Bringetto played for the theatrical performance "Cinderella" at the Newport Performing Arts Center.

Noriko and I got seats on the 2nd floor balcony overlooking the orchestra pit.

My eyes were glued to John's music. I viewed his music through binoculars. Great practice for reading music, because I could see (for the first time) the sheet music, and hear the correct answers as he played them. I got lost many times (almost always) during long rests.

I hardly paid attention to the play itself. Must have been wonderful, and sorry I missed it, but for me, John's trumpet was everything. Truth be told I didn't hear most of the other instruments.

These pictures were taken when the band was rehearsing immediately before the show.

trumpet lessons resume

2020-03-06 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We are back on the Oregon coast. I had my first trumpet lesson since 2019-09-04 (oh my that was 6 months ago). Today was my 50th lesson with John Bringetto.

He inspected my playing technique, diagnosed my playing ability, and played duets with me so that I can learn how to read music. Fun!

moving from sapporo to tokyo

2020-02-26 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We are moving from Sapporo to Tokyo. It feels like a double move -- that is, as if were moving out of 2 houses at once -- because I am simultaneously vacating both my office and apartment. Each place has computers and stationery items (naturally) and kitchen items (unusually), the latter because I would occasionally spend long hours at the office, and would cook while working instead of eating out (the time spent away from the desk seemed wasted).

It's snowy out.

A total of 25 boxes left Sapporo for Koenji, to join the 50 boxes waiting there since 2019-11-30. Our Koenji house looks like the ruins of Ankgor Wat.


Empty drawers! Ta-dah!

A mini-celebration is in order.

A few days later, on leap day 2020-02-29, the office was barren except for items that my colleagues requested I leave for them, and my apartment contained only my luggage.


I returned my employee ID card, and keys for both my office and apartment. In the afternoon I went for one last swim (2 kilometers, breast stroke as always), then hopped on a plane to join Noriko in Tokyo. We will miss Sapporo!


2020-02-18 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Hiroshi Watanabe, professor emeritus and former colleague of mine at Hokkaido University, spent a few decades translating Samuel Richardson's "Clarissa". Clarissa is one of the longest novels in English literature. The original book contains over a million words. The Japanese translation is approximately four million characters long. Richardson's style of writing to the moment made this mid-18th-century novel tremendously popular in its day. Hiroshi's translation is the first time "Clarissa" has become available in Japanese language.


I am indebted to Hiroshi because he chaired my job interview (we were strangers at the time) and he believed in me. Hiroshi is an avid photographer -- his monochrome candid pictures received awards from magazines. We shared a common hobby. I have nowhere near Hiroshi's photographic skills (regardless of my hours in the darkroom for both monochrome and color photography), but I do have an edge over him on internet technology, which brings me to the story behind Hiroshi's translation of Clarissa.

Hiroshi was concerned, wary, worried, fearful to the point of certain failure in finding a publisher who would print his translation. The book is simply too long. Plus, Hiroshi wanted to add notes to his translation -- notes that elucidate his interpretation of Richardson's writing, and that help readers appreciate the customs and values of Richardson's day. Hiroshi wanted a publisher that would not only publish the first edition of his translation but successive revised editions as well. I suspect he was correct in presuming that no publisher would accommodate his desires. Hiroshi dejectedly predicted that his manuscript would be locked away in a library, doomed to obscurity before anybody learned of it.

I offered to disseminate Hiroshi's translation via the internet. I set up a web server 15 years ago (2 years after I was hired, and 1 year after he retired), and managed the web server until yesterday. Beginning today, Hiroshi's translation is delivered from
Hokkaido University's library website. Finally! Yay!

The translation is available in PDF file format. Clarissa Harlowe’s composition "Ode to Wisdom" is available both as an audio recording in MP3 file format, and as a music score in MIDI file format. Click on the links below to obtain your own copies.

Clarissa translation in PDF format, about 57 megabytes
Ode to Wisdom audio recording in MP3 format, about 2 megabytes
Ode to Wisdom score in MIDI format, about 4 kilobytes

former graduate students

2020-02-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our former graduate students (who are each successful in their professions today) threw us a good luck and farewell party! We are overjoyed.

Truth be told, I was never popular back in elementary school or middle school ... sometimes picked on, sometimes ignored ... had I went to high school in the United States I am sure that I would have skipped the prom. So having our academic sons and daughters wish us well was a heartfelt surprise. I couldn't believe it.

First and best time anybody had thrown a party for us!

They showered us with gifts. They gave me towels that I can wrap around my neck. (I have a permanent minor neck injury. Keeping my neck warm keeps the pain away.)

A delightful keychain with a leather trumpet. I will attach this to my trumpet case!

We enjoyed castella (sponge cake) at home.

angkor wat

2020-02-06 ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA -- I visited Cambodia for my first time. There was an academic conference in Phnom Penh, the capital of the kingdom. I was ignorant of how distant Angkor Wat and other ruins were from the city. The drive took 6 hours!

Tuk-tuks were my means of transportation. For short distances (say, less than an hour) I prefer them over taxis. The air conditioning of taxis does not condition you for the weather outside! Tuk-tuks offer pleasant breezes and unsurpassed views.

I viewed sunrise over Angkor Wat.

The 5 towers are placed in a quincunx pattern (as in the 5 dots on a dice). From my vantage point I saw 3 clearly, and 1 partly hidden by a tree.

Crowds assembled before dawn.

Lots more photos of course! Come visit me for a slideshow!

farewell paddy

2020-01-30 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I have been the faculty advisor for Hokudai's ultimate team PADDY since before the team was formed. I am retiring from that position because I am leaving Hokudai.

PADDY chose their name after the name of a dog owned by a founding team member. I know there is a
brand of whisky with the same name. I saw it at a bar near Sapporo train station.

I sent farewell videos to PADDY at their request. Good luck to you all!

last class

2020-01-24 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We had our last class at Hokudai. Immediately afterwards, I submitted my students' grades to the registrar.

I will miss classroom S-5, which I was indirectly involved in designing.

My former grad student and co-teacher Naomi gave Sirokuro a beaded likeness of him. Delightful!

We celebrated with hot chocolate (warme chocolademelk) from Antwerpen.

leaving hokudai

2020-01-20 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I are leaving Hokudai (Hokkaido University) to live in proximity to our 4 aging parents, who live in Kanagawa.

We started to consider moving oh maybe a few years ago, but it wasn't until last spring (about a year ago) that our decision solidified. Each semester (that is, 2 times a year), Hokudai allows up to 5 full-time faculty members to take early retirement. Leaving in summer was too early for us. We asked to leave at the end of winter. Today we learned that our request was approved. My last day of work is 2020-02-28. I leave Sapporo the following day (leap day). We will take vacation (paid time off) during the entire month of March.

Early retirement means that we receive the full amount of retirement pay (otherwise only a small amount is paid), and I can apply for unemployment benefits while I search for my next job. I haven't found a job in Tokyo yet. Wish me luck!

I will miss walking to work across the snowy campus. I'm the person with both arms raised in this picture that Noriko took from our apartment.

piano lesson

2020-01-18 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Ivy Lin, my former graduate student, gave me my first piano lesson today at her house. I am electrified!

Ivy was trained originally in classical piano. She has a degree in jazz performance in piano and guitar.

Ivy autographed a copy of "Beyer" she gave me as a gift. The book is written in German, English, and Japanese languages.

I hope to buy a portable electronic keyboard once we settle into our Tokyo home. Maybe a Kawai? Our names would match! Or maybe a Casio ... their products used to be considered toys, but nowadays their high-end models are highly regarded.

ethernet cables

2020-01-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our students practiced reading assembly instructions in English language. They built ethernet cables by attaching RJ-45 connectors to twisted-pair cable.

We test connections. Of course nobody succeeds the 1st time.

What surprised me most was that our students had never seen ethernet cables. Everything is wireless these days! I knew young people have never seen typewriters or record players or rotary phones (a student asked me where the "off hook" button was). I was unprepared for students having never seen an RJ-45 connector. Wow the speed of innovation.

Wired connections are faster, more reliable, and more secure than wireless connections. But it does seem that as if my crimping tools are becoming obsolete.


2020-01-14 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our TAs gave me a T-shirt that says I have teacher super powers. Thanks!

I hope the powers are more than giving course credit to students!


puppets and telescopes

2020-01-12 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We visited a puppet exhibit and an astronomical observatory, both in downtown Sapporo.

Theater puppets were on static display (that is, the puppets were placed stationary, instead of being manipulated by performers). The difference is size, materials, and texture were apparent because we could see them close up.

A scene from Rudyard Kipling's "
Just so stories -- the elephant's child". This is where the crocodile says "Come hither, little one, and I'll whisper".

Some puppets are so large that they could be called giant props. This elephant head is handled by at least 3 people -- 1 for the head, 1 for each ear, plus maybe 1 for the trunk.

This puppet expresses emotion by raising or lowering eyebrows. The importance of eyebrow angle to the Japanese psyche is evident if you look at manga. Eyebrows are always drawn, even if they would be hidden from view by hair or hats.

astronomical observatory is located smack in downtown Sapporo. Not the darkest place to view stars at nighttime, but definitely the most convenient place to walk up to. Local kids play with their tobaggans (sleds) on the mound where the observatory sits.

A friendly docent explained the apparatus to us. He advocates refractive or Newtonian reflective telescopes over Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, because the latter suffer from distortion caused by heat convection within the telescope tubing.

During brief moments of sunshine, we viewed the sun.

happy new year

2020-01-10 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Happy New Year! We spent our winter break with our family.

Noriko and I walked over to a shinto shrine and a buddhist temple near our Tokyo house. They are both popular sites of religion. We avoided the thickest crowds by visiting early.

Oomiya Hachimanguu, a shinto shrine known for military fortune in general and archery in particular. By extension, the gods enshrined here assist worshippers in their quest for victory in any competitive endeavor, such as winning sports events, passing exams, or finding employment.

The shrine has the Frog Stone, a natural boulder somewhat resembling a crouched frog, believed to bring fortune back to you. The word "frog" in Japanese language is homophonous with (that is, has the same pronunciation as) the word for "return" or "come back". What goes around comes around.

Every January 2nd, the shrine hosts an archery ceremony. This year, the responsibility was handed from the patriarch of the Ogasawara family to his son. The picture shows the father, the 31st-generation head of the clan, holding an arrow tipped with a whistling arrowhead. The whooshing sound was originally intended to intimidate enemies before battle. Now it is sounded to ward off evil.

The son pictured moments before loosing the arrow. In Japanese archery, the bow and arrow are first raised above the archer's head, and lowered to eye level as the bow is fully drawn. The Ogasawara family crest is printed on the fabric screen in the background.

Myouhouji, a buddhist temple known for medicinal healing powers.

They served us ceremonial drinks in a tiny sake cup with drawings of mice. This year's animal is the rat or mouse or gerbil or whatever you like to call it. They are often depicted with long tails, so I guess they are not hamsters!