Friday, August 31, 2007

A few leftovers

Today is my last full day in Fukuoka and I still have a few loose ends to clean up, including this last batch of photos I had hoped to share.

Talmadge Memorial Bridge, Savannah River

Tree root, Newnan, Georgia

Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Fukuoka Mountains, from my veranda


Thursday, August 30, 2007

LoveFM farewell

Last Thursday the staff at LoveFM put together a dinner to say wish me bon voyage. I've worked with these people for nine years, about 1/5 of my life. As my broadcast was on Saturday, and most of the people pictured here worked weekdays, we never saw each other regularly. And so, I suppose, we never had a chance to irritate each other. At least not much. We've parted on very good terms and if I'm ever in Fukuoka again I hope to be working with them again.

I never I thought I'd work in radio.


Something to look forward to

Mostly packed up and ready to go. Anyone got a spare generator?


11 hrs daily power cuts in offing


KATHMANDU, Aug 24 - The country will face up to 11 hours of daily power cuts in the coming dry season (November-April), according to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). The power cuts will be inevitable owing to a peak time power deficit of as much as 354 megawatts (MW).

"The worst power cuts of 11 hours per day will happen in February-March 2008," said Sher Singh Bhat, chief of NEA's Load Dispatching Center (LDC). LDC is NEA's central body responsible for managing the country's power demand and supply and forecasting, preparing and enforcing power cut schedules.


More here.


Old friends

One of the pleasures of going home is seeing friends you've known for years. Visiting with them is like putting on your favorite flannel shirt, the one you've been keeping because you've haven't found another that fits and feels just like it.

Pictured here are three. On the left are Krit and Knot, who most recently finished advanced degrees in the US, Krit in photography, Knot an MBA. Mutsumi had the great fortune to meet Krit's sister back in the early 90's when we were briefly residing in Bangkok and since then we've gotten to know the whole family. They've visited with us in Japan, we've traveled together in Hong Kong, and we've met them in Thailand more times than I can now remember. I'll be stopping in Bangkok this weekend on my way to Nepal and plan to meet up with sister Peung.

Between us is Rebeca, a long time Atlanta resident who gave me a job at Kinko's while I was studying at Georgia State University. Rebeca is the big sister I never had, the one who looked out for me and encouraged me in so many ways. She suggested I visit one of the other Kinko stores to learn how to use a new machine being introduced in the mid-80's, machines that could be used to create simple graphic designs that would feed into Kinko's copy business. That was my introduction to the Apple MacIntosh and personal computers.

The photo here was taken (by Krit) in front of the Atlanta High Museum, where we spent the afternoon taking in the Annie Leibowtiz exhibit (which we can recommend if it ever comes to a city near you.)


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mizu & Toki's wild ride

I haven't known Mutsumi's parents to be as active as the they were during our nearly three weeks in the US. We're glad we had the chance to help them get out and about and many of our memories of Hilton Head and Atlanta center around them.

Like the day we went to the Botanical Gardens. Mutsumi was pushing Tokiko in a wheelchair along a garden path when mom decided she needed a better vantage point for taking a photo - and we all wondered, does she really need a wheelchair?

Then there was the day in Hilton Head when my uncle Tom showed Mizuho how he could help Tokiko's sore back.

Or the day in Atlanta when Mizuho inisted on helping clean the house, resulting in one of the most memorable photos of our trip.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

American animals

Blogspot has been dropping photos. They're there one day and gone the next. So this morning I'm experimenting uploading to Flicker and linking here.

This summer when we got to our rental home on Hilton Head we looked out the back window and found this fellow in our pool.

A couple of days earlier we were walking around downtown Newnan (which doesn't take very long to do), when we noticed a whole army of these guys walking across the lawns of several homes. They were quite large, about the same as a good sized thumb.


Monday, August 27, 2007


Mutsumi and I didn't have much time to ourselves in the US. And that was fine. We enjoyed being with our families.

But as my time here is running short, we wanted to get away, if only for a day or two. So we went back to our favorite town on this side of Japan, Tsuwano, a lovely little place nestled in the mountains of Shimane. This time we took the SL, the steam locomotive, that still runs on the line linking this valley area with the larger city on the sea coast.

We rented bikes and rode up and down the valley, as well as hiking up to the ruins of the castle, from where I took these photos.

In the evening we attended a special Kagura performance, a promotion by the local innkeepers for their guests. Neither of us were expecting much, but most of the dancers were young and their performances quite energetic.

This was our third visit to Tsuwano. We're looking forward to visiting again next year. Maybe you can join us.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

An American Evening at the Ballpark

One thing I've always wanted to do with Mizuho and Tokiko is go to a ballgame. During the season they watch baseball on television nearly every night, but they never go to the park. Their favorite team, the Hanshin Tigers, play a considerable distance from their home in Kobe, so I can understand their reluctance. On the other hand, even though we live a 20 minute walk to Fukuoka Dome they've never been eager to accept my suggestion for a night at the ballpark.

Since we were in America and could see a different version of the game than they are used to, as they might not ever be in America again, as we had to do something with our time in America besides sit around the house, and because planning was up to Mutsumi and I, we decided - actually, I decided and Mutsumi relented - to go to a Braves game at Turner Field. Mutsumi wasn't sure it was such a great idea. But it was. We all had a great time and it was for me one of the best nights at a baseball game I can remember in many years.

It helped, of course, that the Braves beat the Giants, and to make it more exciting, did so in the bottom of the ninth. Barry Bonds had broken Hank Aaron's homerun record only the week before and fans of the game angry with his drug use, as well as hometown fans protective of Aaron, booed vociferously whenever his name was announced or came up to bat. So much for southern hospitality.

It was also Law Enforcement Appreciation Night, and the Atlanta Police had a nice display of gear outside the stadium, including bomb disposal trucks and robots, police dogs, and helicopters.

I found in one of the stadium parking lots this amazing tree. Amazing because it has managed to thrive despite all the construction that has gone on around it, despite its neighbors having been bulldozed, despite the day to day pollution from traffic and threat of being hit by an out of control truck, bus or automobile.

We had an amusing collection of neighbors, from the guy in front who sat through the evening playing games on his mobile phone, to the family of what my mother (who sat directly next to them) described as the "morbidly obese." They spent a good portion of the evening eating.

Towards the end of the evening I ventured up to the top of the stadium for some shots of the city skyline.

That makes two baseball games already this year. Haven't done that, I don't think, since the late '80's.

And we also made it on to the Braves website. Click here and order your own mousepad, coffecup, or calendar.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Three Nieces +1

Perhaps the thing I'll remember most about summer 2007 is my nieces. I've known them all since they were little ones, but over the last few years our paths have crossed infrequently. My brother Chris and his family are in Morocco, Mutsumi and I here in Japan, and our visits to Atlanta until this year have rarely overlapped.

In fact the last time we saw the girls was three years ago in Aix en Provence, at a time when Chris and his wife Carol were in France preparing for work in Morocco. The two eldest nieces were still kids then. Two weeks ago we had the pleasure to meet the young adult versions.

RACHEL is open and warm, with a quiet charm and welcoming smile that draws you in. She likes the camera - and the camera likes her.

REBEKAH is contemplative. She reads, she writes, and she often reflects before she speaks. There's obviously something going on under the hood. But play with her in the pool and she's all giggles.

SARAH is a ball of energy, animated, vivacious, quick to speak her mind - and after a full day together, tiring.

They are all three lovely individuals and Chris and Carol can be proud to have raised such well-mannered young ladies. I'm sure it wasn't always easy, but anything worth doing rarely is. As we say here in Japan, otsukaresama desu.

Mutsumi and I are looking forward to seeing them again soon. We're also looking forward to meeting our newest niece, due this December from Mutusmi's sister, Narumi, and her husband, Mitsuhiro.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Atlanta Aquarium

It's been a while since I've had jet lag this bad. Mutsumi's got it, too. We put our heads down at around 23:00, woke up at 01:00, rolled around in our futons until about 04:30, then got up, made tea, and watched Baraka, a wonderful film for jet lag - no story, just beautiful scenery and serene music. Then it was time for breakfast and Mutsumi was off to the office. I've been at home cleaning up old messes, like piles of cds and stacks of old bills, credit card statements, and investment summaries. Haven't yet slept a wink, though I have had to lay down a couple of times. I feel about like this jellyfish looks.

These photos were shot at our visit to the Atlanta Aquarium last Monday.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Carolyn & Harvey's 50th Anniversary

Mizuho, Tokiko, Mutusmi and I arrived home yesterday evening following two uneventful flights from Atlanta to Seoul to Fukuoka. I can't say Mutsumi and I feel rested yet, but as we don't have any pressing engagements, we're free to get caught up at our own pace. Mizuho and Tokiko are still here in Fukuoka and spent the night at a hotel. We'll be seeing them this evening for a farewell dinner.

Our visit to the US this year was the best ever and I think most everyone wished we could have had a few more days together. Perhaps because we were so busy and the time passed so quickly. But perhaps even more so because we had a chance to speak more openly than we're used to, to talk about things we don't often talk about, and therefore to connect more deeply and meaningfully.

Besides the typical reminiscing that goes on during family get togethers, there was also a dinner celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary at which many of us shared with Carolyn and Harvey what their lives have meant to us, a wonderful, weepy evening more memorable for what was said than for what was served. That was preceded by a ceremony on the beach at which the celebrants renewed their vows, a lovely affirmation of 50 years of trust, faith, and love.

There were also more sober discussions in Atlanta about wills and advance medical directives, discussions on mortality that helped us appreciate simply being together and the time that we have now.

It's a visit we'll always remember and I'll have more to share in the days to come. Stay tuned.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Morning Sky over Newnan

We arrived safely in Atlanta on the evening of 31 July and are now residing in Newnan, a small town south of the big city where my parents moved about four years ago. Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day, with clear skies and very comfortable temperatures, very much unlike I remember Atlanta in summer.

Yesterday was a fairly quiet day around home. After renewing my Georgia driver's license, we stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up a few things we hadn't packed and amazed Tokiko and Mizuho, Mutsumi's parents, with the size and scale of American supermarkets.

They also had a good time driving around the store.