bikerides 05, 06, 07

2018-03-14 LINCOLN CITY, NEWPORT, AND OTIS, OREGON, USA -- Finally the weather improved enough to confidently ride our tandem bicycle. We rode 3 times in 4 days.

Ride 1: We took a short easy ride in our neighborhood. 17 kilometers. The weather was warm, almost hot. The picture below shows us about to depart from our driveway.

Ride 2: We took a flat, scenic ride along the Yaquina river in Newport. 35 kilometers. We began at the natural gas storage tank, followed Yaquina Bay road along a U-shaped section of the river, and turned back at the turn-around point for the
Newport marathon. The picture below is one of the many bends in the road that gives us constantly changing scenery.

Ride 3: We took a shady, steeper ride in the forest. 28 kilometers. We begun by riding along the Salmon river between Rose Lodge and Otis, then climbed old highway 101 through the
research forest. The picture below is a small waterfall in the woods.

I wasted some time because by mistake I left at home our bicycle's front wheel, which I must remove for loading the bike on the truck. Luckily the bike ride begins not far from our house. I'll be careful next time!

improvising music

2018-03-10 (UPDATED FROM 2018-03-09) SEAL ROCK AND LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- 3 months ago my trumpet teacher John Bringetto has taught me how to play songs. We are on our 3rd song now, all jazz standards: "Autumn leaves", "The girl from Ipanema", and "My funny Valentine". Because I play alone by myself (instead of joining a band or an ensemble) I rely on iRealPro backing to learn how to stay in time. I am thrilled that after 3 years of basic training (reminiscent of the long training of the archer's apprentice in 中島敦「名人伝」) I am finally starting to learn how to play melody. I sound awful but who cares? I just began. In fact I think I sound pretty good (for a zero-talent beginner) because John took care to give me good sound before connecting those sounds into phrases and songs.

I am bewildered at the speed of instruction. I had (apparently wrongly) assumed that improvisation -- one of the characteristic skills in jazz -- was an ability acquired much later, after the student learned how to play melody and perhaps harmony. Contrary to my misconceptions, John wants me to improvise from the very beginning. As soon as I can play a song in meter (straight, in time) he wants me to "play what sounds good". At first I was terrified (see my blog entry for 2018-01-15). I am still scared, but thanks to relentless assignments and encouragement from John, I am worrying less and composing more.

John's teaching technique is (as I understand it today) as follows.

(1) Choose jazz standards spanning a variety of styles. The priority is width of different styles before depth in a particular style. (In my case, I have swing, bossa nova, and ballad. There's more to learn of course.)

(2) Play the song straight, in meter. (I can only play straight. I cannot swing yet.)

(3) For each measure, pick and play 1 note. Synchronize the start and end of the each note with chord changes. (I try to select notes that are in that measure of the original melody, and comprise a melody when my selected notes are played in sequence.)

(4) Add notes to each measure. (I am not here yet. Maybe next week.)

(5) Change rhythm, dynamics, and possibly phrasing. (To play this way, I need to confidently detect chord changes.)

John demonstrates various techniques. I admire, respect, and worship his virtuosity. Although I will never be 10 percent of him, his teachings stoke my curiosity, and his patience calms my fears.

I am a kindergarten kid with a crayon and a coloring book. Noriko says I can now fill in sections of the coloring book without missing spots or crossing over the demarcation lines. I can slowly play a narrow range of notes. Sometimes, when Noriko and I play back video-recordings of our lessons, I sound almost the same as my master teacher. Feels so good!

Below is my homework for tomorrow's trumpet lesson. My improvisation is a series of long tones (l-o-n-g notes that sound exceptionally l-l-o-o-n-n-g-g in this slow song). I tried to give it a melody of sorts.


Here's John's re-write, with instructions for me to improve the last phrase.


2018-03-06 GARIBALDI, OREGON, USA -- An hour's drive north brought us to Garibaldi, a small coastal town known for scenic train rides (steam locomotives pull historic passenger cars), fishing (both commercial and sport), and a hardwood lumber mill (which I confess I was unaware until today).

We talked to the chairman of the board of the
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. He gave us a thorough lecture on the technology and history of the rolling stock.

In the picture below, the black locomotive in the foreground was built in 1925. It was designed to burn fuel oil because coal is not plentiful on the Pacific coast. Today it burns used engine oil, obtained mostly from diesel trucks and some from passenger cars.

The brown locomotive in the background is owned by a private individual (surprise!) who is paying the historic railroad organization to restore the locomotive.

Both locomotives are ejecting steam to purge the pipes and valves of debris. They are preparing for the tourist season which is about to begin.

We walked along a fishing pier built for sports fishing. Crabbing is popular in the Pacific northwest, particularly here in Garibaldi.

The local folk told us that chicken (surprise!) is the preferred bait for crabs.

Lower the crab ring (that's what traps are called). Wait ... a while ... and yes you'll probably find crab in your ring. You can only keep male crabs over a certain size. The rest must be released.

Many American towns sport their town's initial on a hillside. I like Garibaldi because we share our initials. (For the same reason, I like
Groningen in the Netherlands too. I have a hot chocolate mug with our initial.)

mini misadventure

2018-03-04 HEBO, OREGON, USA -- Summary: I got our truck stuck in the snow. Friendly passersby pulled us out. Nobody hurt, nothing broken.

We had several days of warm weather. We drove up a hill for a hike. At the bottom of the hill, the road was dry.

Halfway up, we encountered snow. It didn't look bad at first.

Less than 3 minutes later I got us stuck.

Various passersby helped us.

One family called us a tow truck. The tow truck never came, because apparently they require (1) confirmation by the police or fire department, or (2) persistent requests by the driver of the vehicle.

Another family drove us back to our truck, after we walked down the hill to get help.

A third car pulled us out of the snow. They attached a chain to the front of their truck and to the rear of mine. We put our trucks in reverse. A young strong man pushed my truck sideways to get it out the rut.

We gave the 2 men an unopened bag of
sembei we had. The men have friends in Japan and coincidentally had recently enjoyed sembei that their friend had given them. They were happy to get more.

I am grateful for everybody's generosity. I want to help people too.

trumpet arrives

2017-02-27, LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- My new trumpet arrived!


I ordered it on 2017-09-13 (see my blog entry for that date). The
Hub van Laar people said they would build it in 5 months, which they did -- my trumpet was completed on 2017-02-17, 5 months and 4 days after placing the order.

It took 10 days for my trumpet to reach me. 4 days (including a 3-day weekend) to wire the payment from my USA bank to their Netherlands bank. (The trumpet manufacturer prefers not to use credit cards or Paypal because the transaction fees are expensive.) 2 days to ship from the Netherlands to the USA. 2 days (another weekend) for the trumpet to clear customs. 2 days to ship from the port of entry to my house.

UPS (the shipping company that delivered my package to my door) charged me a
brokerage fee (I believe this includes import duty). They made me write a check. I had almost forgotten how to do that. According to my checkbook, the last check I wrote is dated 2012-03-20, and the one before is 2010-09-15. 3 checks in 8 years.

Today, my purchases and payments are almost totally electronic, plastic, or cash. Online orders often arrive in days.

My experience with buying a trumpet from the Netherlands reminds me of when I moved from Tokyo to California in 1986. My mom sent me care packages that routinely took months to arrive. Because I had to wait for my trumpet, I was reminded of how grateful I was for packages from my mom and brother. To look forward is to appreciate.

This is a
Hub van Laar model B9.2 trumpet. My name is engraved on the 3rd slide.

Compared to my
Carol Brass 6580 (the trumpet I play in Oregon), my new trumpet sounds brighter, feels lighter and smaller, and gives me wider range (that is, I can play a bit higher and lower). I cannot wait to show my new instrument to my trumpet teacher John Bringetto! I want him to breathe life into the instrument, and show me what the it is capable of. (On 2018-03-02 John played his and my instruments. We agree that the B9.2 plays brighter with a piercing tone compared to his Kanstul trumpet and my Carol Brass.)

My Hub van Laar model B9.2 (top) and Carol Brass 6580 (bottom) trumpets with my Bach 3C mouthpiece (left center).

depoe bay walk

2018-02-24 AND 26, DEPOE BAY, OREGON, USA -- Noriko and I walked the back streets of Depoe Bay. We drive through town often. After 15 years we finally discovered the footpaths. We enjoyed it so much that we visited twice.

Depoe Bay is located on a rocky cliff. The waves crash and spray.

Sea lions!

ninja shinobu-san

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

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

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

The heroine Shinobu is shy and cute just like Noriko.

Shinobu's girlfriend Kazumi plays trumpet.

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

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


cooking calamity

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

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

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

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

I cannot pinpoint the cause of my catastrophe.

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

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

valentine dance

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

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

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

Monochrome is much better for music photography I think.

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

delta flight museum

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

Delta's flying car.

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

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

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

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

Delta reservation center in 1946.

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

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

The B-767 tires are not that large.

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

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

jimmy carter

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

The museum has a Japanese garden.

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

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

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

noriko's birthday

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

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

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

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