2021

grilled eel

2021-07-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I finally submitted an academic paper, and to celebrate, Noriko and I are having grilled eel tonight.

This is our 2nd eel this season. My brother sent them via chilled delivery.
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The eel is pre-cooked. Most people probably boil or microwave them. We believe these delicacies deserve a serious steam and grill.
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heat-reflective tarp

2021-07-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I rearranged the heat-reflective tarp on our roof after a weak typhoon passed by. I would prefer a wider air gap between the tarp and the roof. My current set-up is not so bad because the wind lifts the tarp off the roof.

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fresh veggies

2021-07-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our sister gave us a heap of fresh veggies.

We steamed and grilled corn.
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We baked pizzas for lunch.
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First watermelon of the season. Small pleasures remind us how fortunate we are.
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covid vaccine

2021-07-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I are vaccinated for COVID19. The government took its time. It might take several weeks for the vaccine to become effective.

visit mom

2021-07-26 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- Mom gave us grapes and a flower pot of shiso (Japanese basil).

I played trumpet for mom. She was ecstatic! For my display of affection, not my artistry haha. She liked the song "Soleado".
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olympic airshow

2021-07-23 TOKYO, JAPAN -- The 2020 (delayed to 2021) Olympic games begin today in Tokyo.

Air force demonstration fighters flew over our house and drew a five-colored Olympic logo in the sky. We watched with delight from our rooftop. We didn't take pictures because we wanted to view the entire sky with our own eyes. The screenshot below comes from the
Nikkan Sports newspaper. From our vantage point, the pink ring appeared to our far left.
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We assumed that the air force performed aerobatics all across town. We learned later that, for reasons unknown, they drew only one logo (the one we saw) and many people, including television crews, were disappointed because they didn't get to see it.

Noriko and I were lucky! Just like the solar eclipse in Lincoln City, we got to see something special in the sky right over our house.

We wish the athletes the best. But we're not interested in following the spectacle (or debacle of public safety). Frankly we are fed up with the the callous rude greed that seems to drive the Olympics. The airshow was both the beginning and the end of the games, as far as we're concerned.

nearby parks

2021-07-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We took walks in nearby parks. These parks are a bit too far to walk to. We rented a car, parked next to the park, and walked around.

Inokashira park, known for an old spring that supplied water via irrigation canals to what is now downtown Tokyo.
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Kinuta park, with grassy open areas, big trees, and a museum of modern art.
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frog cups

2021-07-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko received a pair of adorable frog-themed cups as a gift from an airline.

The frogs are modern renditions of classical artwork (
鳥獣戯画). The frog on the left is holding a camera. The frog on the right holding a flag must be the tour guide or ciceroni.
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water hyacinth

2021-07-20 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- My mom has a green thumb.

I gave her 3 tiny water hyacinth. The now cover a total area of about 3 square meters in various containers throughout her house.
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escher fish and fowl

2021-07-18 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- My mom copied an Escher painting on her garden wall!

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repair watch and trumpet

2021-07-06 TOKYO, JAPAN -- The day began with my 1st COVID vaccine shot. Then I went to fetch my wristwatch and to have my trumpet repaired.

I went to Ginza (downtown Tokyo) to pick up my wristwatch that came back from maintenance. Nothing was wrong with it, except that after 30 years the watch deserved a rebuild. The watch was sent to Switzerland, where technicians completely disassembled it, cleaned everything, replaced parts that were worn out, reassembled it, tested it, and shipped it back to Tokyo. I am impressed with the durability of the device, and the manufacturer's long-term commitment to care for it.

The watch was a 30th birthday present from my brother. It came back in a bright red case.
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Then I went to Ikebukuro, where a Yamaha store is open on Tuesdays (their Ginza flagship store is closed on Tuesdays), to have my trumpet fixed. My 2nd slide was stuck. A technician pulled the slide out in 3 minutes! Thanks!
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trumpet and cake

2021-06-24 CHIGASAKI AND HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- The day began with embarrassment.

I discovered that I had mistakenly set an air conditioner on "demo" mode (turns off the heat exchanger, so that wind blows without cooling or heating) when I cleaned it last summer. No wonder our sister thought it was broken. My fault, sorry! Works fine now.
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I practiced trumpet at the beach. Passersby and sunbathers didn't seem to care. Noriko stayed in the air conditioned car (she needed to work on her laptop) and took my picture through the rear window.
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We went to Denny's (Japan has them too) and used coupons for lunch and free cake.
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Totally full!
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awashima marine park

2021-06-18 AWASHIMA, JAPAN -- We visited Awashima Marine Park, a delightful tiny aquarium on an uninhabited island located 10 kilometers south of downtown Numazu.

The island is reached by a ferry boat.
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The aquarium admission includes the 4-minute ferry ride.
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Years ago, a cable car connected the island to the mainland. The building seen in the top center is the cable car house on the island. The institution is slowly falling into ruin.
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The aquarium is renowned for its frog collection. The building is tiny (it is the brown structure in the lower left of the picture above) and so are most of the 50 species of frogs on exhibit.
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I did my best to photograph the anurans through the misty glass.
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Tiny conspicuous poison dart frogs.
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Tinier than a penny (1-yen coin).
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I relied on photographs placed by the glass tanks to find the diminutive creatures.
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I used my new camera (a Nikon Z5) that, in retrospect, I could have waited to buy, because it went on sale a mere 10 days after I bought it. The lens is an old Zeiss makroplanar 50 mm F 2 with Pentax K mount.
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One of the largest individuals on display.
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Translucent frogs. While some species camouflage themselves by changing their skin color, other species choose to be semi-transparent so they don't need to change color at all.
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Frogs have excellent eyesight.
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Some frogs look like frogs!
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jougashima

2021-06-22 JOUGASHIMA, JAPAN -- We visited Jougashima, a tiny island off the southern tip of Miura peninsula, Noriko and Kero for their 1st time, and me for my 2nd (mom and I visited for our 1st time on 2021-02-18).

The daikon lighthouse.
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The old lilghthouse.
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We climbed down the cliff to the rocky beach.
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Serrated rock formations.
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The landscape reminds us of our home in Oregon.
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dairy museum

2021-06-18 KAMOGAWA AND MINAMIBOSO, JAPAN -- We enjoyed our 2nd day at the aquarium, then began sightseeing the area.

The morning after my birthday, I ran along the beach. Delightful view and breeze.
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We enjoyed several orca shows. Each show was a bit different. This picture shows a woman gymnast (who doubles as orca trainer) being catapulted out the water by an orca. The orca pushed its snout against the woman's feet and leaped out the the water.
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After leaving the aquarium, we visited the
Rakunonosato Dairy Museum. In terms of equipment on display and factory tours, the Tillamook Creamery Association museum is more informative, especially with respect to modern dairy technology and products. The museum we visited today excels in the history of dairy farming in the Chiba and Tokyo areas. I learned that the Tokugawa shogunate owned choice pasture here, initially for breeding cavalry horses, and later for raising dairy cows. The cattle were imported initially from India and later from Holland. In the Meiji period, an American dairy specialist lived here (close to my dad's country house) to teach local farmers how to raise cattle. No wonder there are so many tiny cattle farms in this region! The dairy tradition at Hokkaido University was seeded in part by cattle from Chiba prefecture. Wow!
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The Morinaga and Meiji dairy companies began business in this area. A-ha!
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For the 2nd night of our trip, we stayed at dad's country house. I practiced trumpet indoors, out of the rain.
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We cooked fried noodles loaded with local fresh veggies. Cheap and yummy!
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kamogawa seaworld

2021-06-17 KAMOGAWA, JAPAN -- Noriko and I celebrated my 60th birthday and 7th anniversary of learning trumpet.

We visited
Kamogawa SeaWorld, an aquarium that is laid out like an amusement park, with an adjacent hotel that lets you visit the aquarium for 2 days.
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The sea water intake is located 2 kilometers away. The machinery shown to the right of Kerochan disinfects the water and pumps it to tanks throughout the aquarium.
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Sea mammals are the main attraction.
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Because it was my birthday, we splurged and enjoyed lobster curry with orca-shaped rice. Japanese lobsters have no claws -- they are more like jumbo prawns.
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Our hotel room has a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean. The last time I stayed at a hotel was over 16 months ago.
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Hotel guests can join guided tours of the aquarium before and after opening hours. This picture shows 1 of the 4 orcas (all female, all born here) having her temperature taken at the start of the day. They use a rectal thermometer that is about 40 centimeters long. Normal temperature is about 35 to 36 C, which is about the same as mine.
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shower

2021-06-15 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I availed myself of having borrowed my brother's tools. I replaced our ancient shower hose and head.

A patient clerk at the neighborhood hardware store found me the appropriate parts.
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I needed to re-use the L-shaped elbow joint because replacement parts are no longer available.
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I used a longer hose to facilitate cleaning the bathroom. Bathing areas are large in Japan.
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Tomorrow I hope to replace another outdoor faucet.

faucet

2021-06-14 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced our outdoor faucet.

My brother let me borrow his tools from his extensive collection. Top left: faucet wrench. Top right: new faucet.
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Kerochan supervised my work.
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The new faucet comes with a spring-loaded detachable coupler for rapidly connecting and disconnecting garden hoses. Note the yellow dot on the faucet handle. Not blue for cold water, or red for hot.
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Our new faucet has temperature-sensitive springs (like automobile radiator caps do) that open and close within a range of temperatures. To prevent freezing and rupturing of water pipes, the faucet allows water to drip when water temperature falls to about 1.7 C. Once the valve opens, it closes again when water temperature rises to about 4.5 C.
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crashing suns

2021-06-12 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I found an online version of a space opera short story I read as a child. I could not put it down (my tablet, that is).

Edmond Hamilton "Crashing Suns"

Mom surprised me by sending me a photo of the very book I had read as a child 50 years ago. "Took me 5 seconds to find it in the family library" she said. Wow!
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roast beef

2021-06-11 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- I brought my mom home-made roast beef and store-bought bagels.

This batch of roast beef is the best we made since returning to Japan on 2020-04-11. Costco's meat department is hit and miss -- they sometimes (not too often) have good beef. We lucked out this time.
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The price tag. For our USA friends, approximately 17 pounds at 6 dollars per pound.
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Every time I visit my mom's house, I am glad that we improved the floor and arranged the furniture. The place is safer, prettier, and healthier.
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aburatsubo aquarium

2021-06-08 ABURATSUBO, JAPAN -- We visited for our 1st time the Aburatsubo aquarium.

The aquarium is situated atop a hill overlooking the sea.
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The weather and landscaping reminded me of Singapore.
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We enjoyed a sea lion and dolphin show.
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At the indigenous species habitat, Kerochan greeted a local frog.
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coastal woods

2021-06-08 MANAZURU, JAPAN -- We walked through woods and by the beach.

Easy, shady trails that let you walk side by side, instead of single file.
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Mushrooms!
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The woods extend right up to quiet, rocky beaches.
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Noriko spotted a crab in the tidepool.
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A sacred rock formation.
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We picnicked in the car at a roadside rest.
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I practiced trumpet looking out towards the ocean.
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hillside walk

2021-06-07 OISO, JAPAN -- We walked over gentle hills admiring flowers and scenery.

Hydrangea are wonderful this year, perhaps due to abundant precipitation.
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Ringed hydrangea have clear orientation -- that is, they have a top and bottom and direction.
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Globular hydrangea have volume and can be appreciated from multiple angles.
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The hills were covered with blooming hydrangea.
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I believe that this year's rainy season began on 2021-05-05 and ended on 2021-06-07. The meteorology agency disagrees. Either way, the heat of summer is on. I practiced trumpet at the beach inside our air-conditioned rental minivan.
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survey for jaltcall

2021-05-08 (UPDATED 2021-06-12) TOKYO, JAPAN -- Thank you for participating in my survey for my presentation at the JALTCALL-2021 conference. The purpose of the survey is shown in the description below. The survey was open between 2021-05-08 and 2021-06-04. Thank you again for your time and expertise.

You may download
my presentation slides in medium resolution (6.6 megabytes).

survey_1

河合 剛 (かわい ごう) 博士(工学)

slice of life, slice of day

2021-06-01 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I walked over to a nearby train station.

The sky is summer already.
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I bought tea for mom.
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I discovered a public library under a railway bridge. Take a book, leave a book.
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The pandemic lockdown is fading. Repeated announcements by the government have diluted the sense of urgency. Just like air raid sirens during World War 2. The yakitori store sign says "open for business as usual".
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flowers bloemen

2021-05-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Flowers in our neighborhood are beautiful.

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Bronze statues of animals adorn the sidewalks.
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antenna mast

2021-05-25 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- I bought a straight steel pipe to use as a mast for my Cushcraft R7 vertical antenna.

My Cushcraft R7 antenna base is a pipe with an inner diameter of about 45 millimeters, of which about 2 millimeters is unusable due to fastening bolts that protrude inside the pipe. Until recently, I was unable to find a pipe that fits well, partly because USA and Japan have different pipe sizes. In Japan, common outer diameters are 48.6 millimeters for construction scaffolding (too big for my R7) and 31.8 millimeters for household handrails and hanger bars (too thin for my R7).

Yesterday, I bought a 2-meter pipe from an
agricultural supply factory that manufactures frames for plastic-sheeted greenhouses. Outer diameter is 42.7 millimeters -- perfect for my R7. I wanted a longer pipe (6-meter lengths are available) but 2 meters was the longest that would safely fit in the rented minivan.
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The agricultural pipe slid perfectly into my R7. The mating section is just in front of my knee. Bolts on the R7 hold the antenna against the agricultural pipe.
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Happy! I'll set up my antenna during my next visit to my dad's former house.

oysters

2021-05-19 KAWASAKI AND TOKYO, JAPAN -- For the first time in our lives, mom, Noriko and I shucked oysters. I cannot believe we had never done this before.

The
iwa (rock) oysters come from an oyster farm in Okinoshima, a group of islands off the southwest coast of Honshu island (the main island of Japan), in between Japan and the Korean peninsula.
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Because live oysters need to be enjoyed immediately, I packed oysters in ice packs, and rushed over to my mom's house. We watched videos and read instructions on how to open oysters. Turns out that techniques for opening oysters differ between the USA and Japan, and between species of oysters. The
iwa oysters we got have large, heavy, hard shells that need to be broken with pliers before a clam knife can be inserted. Full-grown iwa oysters can weigh over 1 kilogram. Ours were about half that.
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Among the species of oysters that originated in Japan,
kumamoto oysters (called shikame oysters in Japan) are the most popular on the Oregon coast, and perhaps all across the USA. Kumamoto oysters are smaller, and easily confused with ma (true) oysters, because they look similar and are almost always harvested together. These are the species that are often breaded in panko and deep fried. Today, we had oysters on the half shell.
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Top a bowl of steamed rice with an oyster, pour its brine (clam juice) over, and the scent of the sea comes to your table.
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laptop battery

2021-05-15 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced the battery for a laptop. I seem to do this fairly regularly! Each laptop is different, so the batteries and replacement procedures are different, too.

One of the screws is hidden behind a flexible flap.
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Battery and dust removed.
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Battery status before and after replacement. The old battery lasted 1 hour tops. The new battery lasts 5 hours. The battery was manufactured 17 months ago. Hmm ... spent some time on the store shelf.

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dad-in-law went to heaven

2021-05-10 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- Noriko's father joined his beloved wife, 6 months after she passed. They were a tight couple.

I am happy for him because, as was his wish, he was moving around until immediately before collapsing, and died at home.

I was close to him, I respected him as a gentleman and samurai, he knew it, and he drank sake to show it.

From our last drink together.
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dream cars

2021-05-08 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I daydream about owning or leasing an electric vehicle.

I enjoy reading about electric vehicles on
edmunds.com. Here are 2 cars that I would love to drive.
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There are at least 2 obstacles for me. (1) The COVID-19 pandemic prevents us from returning to Oregon, USA, where, compared to Japan, automobiles in general and electric vehicles in particular are more easily obtained, maintained, and enjoyed. (2) Although we could afford a car in Tokyo, Japan, here we have varying needs that cannot be accommodated by a single vehicle. Dad-in-law needs a minivan for handicapped people, I would prefer a van or truck for carrying tools and materials for home improvement, and everybody needs a tiny car to navigate the alleys of Tokyo -- an impossible combination. I rented various makes and models, and yes they're all fine, but none are compelling.

Instead of buying we have been renting. Renting allows us to choose the vehicle that matches the mission of the day -- driving parents, buying groceries, carrying building material, sightseeing, for instance. I focus on the driving and ignore the owning because the rental car company maintains the car. Plus, rental cars let you walk away from problems as long as they're not your fault. I was rear-ended last July, and had a break-down last month. Each problem solved over the phone.

Here is a table showing my usage for the
rental car agency I use most often. The column headers are, from left to right: (1) calendar year and month, (2) contract type -- mine is individual not business, (3) total time duration of rental in hours and minutes, (4) total driving distance in kilometers, and (5) total cost in yen. Note that early in the COVID-19 lockdown period we drove very little -- between 2020-02 and 2020-05 we drove a total of merely 256 kilometers, a distance that in Oregon we might travel in a single day. Usage increased swiftly once we started driving to our parents' houses. Since 2021-04 I stopped driving to my dad-in-law's house mostly because Noriko began riding the train to stay with her father.
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The monthly charges are roughly comparable to (that is, in the same order of magnitude as) monthly payments for leasing a car. Hence I could lease or own if I wanted. However, because I need different types of vehicles for different types of missions in Tokyo, I should not drive exactly one vehicle. Ahhh ... that's too bad. Maybe in Oregon?

imperial palace moat

2021-05-07 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I walked from University of Tokyo Hongo campus along the Imperial Palace moat to Ginza. I'll show pictures of the inner moat area.

Let's orient ourselves with this runner's map. This map has north pointed downward. I walked along the left-hand side (that is, the east side) of the line with yellow arrows from point E through point D to the red dot "you are here".
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Hirakawa gate ("mon" means "gate"), point E on the map above. Weather was overcast, bad for photography but good for staying cool.
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The public gardens are closed, alas, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I suspect that many people in this country are becoming restless with a full year of stay-at-home orders. The government's inconsistent lockdown policies undermine the public trust.
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On the inner side of moat lies the imperial palace, surrounded by stone walls, parts of which date back to the early 17th century. The outer side of the moat is lined with government and financial buildings. In years past, tall buildings were forbidden because they looked down into the palace.
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Ote gate, point D on the map. This used to be the main gate to Edo castle.
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I do not know whether these buildings continue to serve a purpose or are preserved empty.
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Nijuubashi ("double bridge") gate, pictured center, and the main entrance to the imperial palace, to the left of the bridge. On a calm day, the bridge reflection on the smooth water makes the bridge look like a pair of spectacles. The "double bridge" is not named for the eye-glass shape, but because it originally had 2 layers for structural strength.
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Running laps around the palace is a popular activity. I have never done it because I dislike crowds. I would like to walk with my mom. It is 5 kilometers around the palace.

work party

2021-05-03 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- Mom, Kan and I enjoyed a work party at mom's house.

Kan installed track-lighting fixtures for the dining room ceiling. A suspended light for eating and a wide angle light for walking around the room.
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Kan and I installed anti-skid strips on the stairs. The strips have adhesive backing and glow in the dark. I recommend laying strips from end to end (that is, the full width of the steps) instead of only at the center (that is, where you are likely to walk) because you can see the entire step (which makes your staircase look wider, and aids in placing your feet especially when carrying items down the stairs) and in case you slip sideways the strips near the end of the steps will stop you.
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Kan and I pressure-washed and bleached the driveway. This should keep the moss and mildew at bay through the end of summer. I got bleach splashed all over my almost brand-new jumpsuit. Honorable casualty of war.
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Mom's minnows and water hyacinths are multiplying fast. She grows several thousand each year.
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water timer

2021-04-30 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- Dad's former house draws water from a well. When he lived there full time, he used enough water so that the water and plumbing were clear of debris and organic matter. Water quality deteriorates when the well and plumbing are left stagnant. I want to frequently draw water from the well and through the plumbing to keep the water clear. I got a water timer, originally designed to turn sprinklers on and off, to run the well water pump when I am away.

The timer is roughly the size of a grapefruit.
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One end of the water timer attaches to the faucet, and for most people the other end connects to a garden hose. The center box consists of the timer and solenoid. The device runs on 4 AAA batteries, which, according to the manufacturer, should last about a year.
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I wanted to attach it to the bath tub faucet to protect the device from the elements. Alas the bath tub faucet leaks. So I attached the water timer to the garden faucet.
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I covered the faucet and timer with a bucket to protect them from the sun, wind, and rain. I observed operation for 2 days. Seems okay ... for now. The device has a dismal record of failing, according to some people who have used it. Many users have no complaints. Let's see how lucky I turn out to be.
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romance car museum

2021-04-27 EBINA, JAPAN -- Mom, Noriko and I visited the Odakyu Romance Car Museum. They opened 8 days ago on 2021-04-19.

The building is a garage for trains that is located next to Ebina train station and yard.
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The trains on static display are mostly retired express trains that required a surcharge over the standard fare. Passengers were assigned reserved seating in plush interior. The trains were designed for pleasure travel, and were named "Romance Cars". Later, starting about 30 years ago, the railway company introduced express trains for commuters, so that business people could sit in their own reserved seat instead of being squished on packed standing-room-only trains. I endured that for 10 years ... never again!
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One car was an old passenger car from when the railway began business. I do not recall seeing this model, although when I was in middle school a similar car without seats carried light freight (such as bales of newspapers) each morning to shops on platforms. At night I would hear the whirring of the direct current electric motors. Life was simpler and quieter then.
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Only recently did I learn why train wheels are sloped -- that is, the inner diameter is larger than the outer. I watched a video of Richard Feynman explaining the reason. Hint: rail car axles lack differentials.
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An intricate diorama of backdrop video displays and miniature landscape and rolling stock is a highlight of the exhibit. The models are so nice that I doubt railway personnel built them. They must be made by professional modelers. Kindly excuse me if I am wrong. I would love to learn that railway employees love their trade and posses talent in model trains.
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clean trumpet

2021-04-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I cleaned my trumpet (a Yamaha YTR-8310Z) using an ultrasonic bath with dish soap, and thiourea.

Ultrasound gets the gunk out fast.
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Thiourea smells bad so do this on a breezy day. Until now I used a cloth to polish the silver finish. Thiourea works faster and deeper. I was able to clean surfaces that my fat fingers couldn't reach with a cloth.
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My trumpet is the cleanest it has been since new. I found lots of tiny dents that I have no recollection of creating!
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electronic keyboard

2021-04-07 TOKYO, JAPAN -- A few months ago on 2021-01-27, I bought a cheap electronic keyboard, a Casio CT-S200. About $150 (about $120 in USA, lucky Americans!).

I was super excited when the keyboard was delivered.
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I use the keyboard in the evening to practice reading music. I find that practicing reading tires my chops (that is, my cheeks and lips), so learning on keyboard is physically easier, plus I can do this in the evening without disturbing neighbors. I play the keyboard with my left hand partly because I am having trouble with my right hand, specifically trigger-finger on my 4th finger (ring finger). The doctor says "no trumpet!". Well I can't use that as an excuse can I? so I practice ...

This keyboard is perfect for my needs and ability. The device has numerous limitations that don't bother me -- the keyboard has 61keys (that's only 5 octaves but that's 2 more than my range on trumpet), only 48 voices (that is, notes that can be played at the same time -- that's 47 more that my monophonic trumpet), lacks touch-sensitive keys (it has simple switches that play notes at full volume regardless of finger pressure -- perfect for me because I cannot coordinate finger strength), and blasphemous "Casio-chords" (shortcuts for playing chords, for instance pressing C plays major triad CEG -- nice because I get to hear what chords sound like). I can transpose the keyboard to Bb to match my trumpet pitch (I transpose 10 semitones up so that the lower range of the keyboard is raised an octave).
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My new keyboard replaces my older keyboard, a Casio SA-46 (about $35). My previous keyboard has much smaller keys that may suit young children but are awkward for my fat adult fingers. I often used the eraser end of a pencil to press the keys.

When I bought my older keyboard, I was not confident how much help a keyboard would be for me, so I bought a cheap model. Later, I discovered that even with my rudimentary keyboard skills (that are not the focus of my music practice) I benefit from having a keyboard that fits my body size. So I saved my pocket money and bought a new one. I still have my old keyboard because I rarely sell or discard old equipment.
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Both my old and new keyboards are lightweight and run on 6 AA batteries. I can easily carry them to my coffee table (I sit on the floor) or bed (I play on my lap).
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My photos show alkaline batteries. I use these for testing only. For daily use, I use rechargeable batteries.
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car breaks down

2021-04-01 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- I didn't need an April's Fools joke this year because I experienced something similar in real life. My rental car broke down.

Dad had a tiny all-wheel-drive vehicle that could climb the driveway to where the well water holding tank is. I parked the rental minivan (a Toyota Noah, not sold in USA) at the bottom of the driveway, like I always do, because I don't have the courage, and the car doesn't have the strength.
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The car wouldn't start. The cell motor ran with gusto, battery was fine, but engine wouldn't start. I called the rental car company, which sent me a mechanic. He came right away (nice surprise) in a tiny passenger car (not a tow truck). He didn't bring many tools (surprise).
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The mechanic tried a few things, and then told me that the car's computer is refusing to inject fuel into the cylinders because the computer detected one or more errors that he can only determine when the car is connected to a diagnostic computer at the shop. Even then, he said, we may never know what went wrong, because the diagnostic tool only tells you which parts to replace. Wow, 3rd surprise of the day (1st was the breakdown, 2nd was the tiny passenger car).
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The mechanic drove away, saying he needed to get back to his garage to fetch a tow truck.
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I went back into the house, spent a few more nights there, and rode the bus home. The nearest bus stop is 1500 meters (about 0.9 miles) away. 6 buses each direction per day on weekdays, 4 on weekends. Not bad for a remote rural location. In fact I am planning to switch to traveling by buses once I finish bringing items to dad's house. There's a 2-hour bus ride from downtown Tokyo to Tateyama, the major city nearby, followed by a 20-minute bus ride from Tateyama to close to dad's house.
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After 3 weeks the car was finally repaired. They never told me what went wrong with it.

laptop battery

2021-03-16 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced the battery for Noriko's laptop computer. Quick to do, once I got the replacement battery.

Kero blesses the equipment prior to replacement.
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Appropriate screwdrivers facilitate assembly. I happen to own these somewhat arcane screwdrivers. The battery comes with screwdrivers for people who don't have them.
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Disconnect the old, factory-original battery.
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For the replacement, I chose a brand with a reasonable reputation.
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Ready to go!
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pressure washing

2021-03-04 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- I borrowed my brother's pressure washer to clean the house and discourage wasps from building nests.

The awning and eaves are prime real estate for wasps. Apparently wasps (hornets, yellow jackets) avoid areas that can occasionally get wet. So I blasted water all over the place!
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Remnant of old wasp nest. I blasted most of the nest away. Wasps use a nest for a year and then abandon it.
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I also pressure-washed the stairs leading up to the house.
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The back porch is organized and sanitized.
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After a day's work, enjoy practicing trumpet looking out the window, without a care for bothering neighbors -- they live too far away to hear me.The rectangular object hanging from the curtain rail near the top center of the picture is the WIMAX mobile internet device.
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My sheet music is on my computer tablet. I use a camera tripod as my music stand.
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screen door

2021-02-28 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I installed a screen door at our kitchen door. The door is great for ventilating the house. Alas in summer bugs come in. No worries now!

Me with the screen door kit.
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The hardware is nicely manufactured, but the instructions are horrible. They need a technical writer.
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We got it to work, and we're thrilled with the result.

rural internet

2021-02-20 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- I have been visiting dad's old house regularly. Today I learned that internet has arrived at our remote location.

I use WIMAX, a mobile internet service that costs about $45 per month for unlimited data. Speed varies by location. Until my last visit, there was no high-speed coverage. Now there is! Yay! I am delighted even with the low speeds (I get faster uplink and downlink speeds in town) because it's enough to do what I want and much better than before. Although we still cannot get wired internet connections, such as fiber or cable TV or ADSL, I don't care!
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miura peninsula

2021-02-18 MIURA, JAPAN -- Mom and I visited for our first time the southern tip of Miura peninsula, located on the west side of Tokyo bay.

Great weather and awesome scenery.
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I love Tokyo winters. The air is clear, crisp, dry, and not too cold. The clear skies give us nice views of Mt Fuji in the distance.
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Their new lighthouse (just opened) looks like a daikon upside down. The Miura penisula is famous for their excellent daikon.
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online conference

2021-02-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I attended the CamTESOL (conference in Cambodia for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) this year online. Last year I was physically there. I would love to visit again. For the purpose of attending conferences, I am beginning to favor online gatherings.

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well pump

2021-02-02 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- For the first time, I stayed over at my dad's old house. He used to live near the southern tip of the Boso peninsula east of Tokyo bay. The house has stood vacant for some time.

We had a problem with the well water pump. I asked the plumber who installed it originally to repair it. His work was expensive and sloppy. I cleaned the holding tank, inside and out.
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The holding tank holds 300 liters of water. There are 2 pumps: 1 at the well-head down the steep driveway, and 1 at the holding tank. The 1st pump draws water from the well and raises it to the holding tank. The 2nd pump sends water from the holding tank to the house.
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Clean the house, enjoy it for some years, and then sell it.
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It's 200 meters (1/8 mile) to the nearest house, and that is with a hill in between. I cannot hear the local farmers riding their tractors. The songs of birds, frogs, and trees are all I hear. This is a wonderful place to practice trumpet (haha) or seriously, music, wood working, pottery, what have you. Close to shops yet far from neighbors.

experiment with rooftop antenna

2021-01-16 TOKYO, JAPAN -- My new amateur radio license allows me to experiment with radio transmissions. I tried setting up an antenna on my flat rooftop.

I began by attaching connectors to coaxial cable. Here is my new heat gun in action. (My old butane torch gave up the ghost.)
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I enjoyed this Cushcraft R7 antenna when we lived in Palo Alto. The antenna has been in storage since 1996. 25 years!
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The antenna is pretty long.
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Oh boy the wind! I am not comfortable installing an antenna so close to our neighbors. Instead of downtown Tokyo, I will set up my antenna at my dad's old house (he no longer lives there) in rural Chiba prefecture.

new callsign for amateur radio

2021-01-08 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I received my new amateur radio license. My new callsign JK1EAS is recycled (that is, somebody had it before). This is my 3rd callsign in Japan, after 7L1FQE and JM8AGU.

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new year's food

law would not have wanted us to skip New Year's celebrations on her account. So Noriko and I visited my mom. We had osechi (New Year's fancy food) and ankou (monk fish) pot. We bought a whole ankou and spent a few days finishing it.

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