2/3rds the way home

I’ve been spending the day traveling from Kumamoto back to Orlando, via Tokia’s Haneda and Minneapolis. Right now I’m sitting in Minneapolis trying to fight off the chill brought on by the outside temperature of 5 degrees F. For a Florida resident (I’m not a real native, mind you) that’s just too cold. It never got that cold in Atlanta where I grew up, although it certainly tried from time to time. No, this is just too cold. And the travel back with this long layover (I’ve arrived from Tokyo 12:45pm local time) only adds to the long slow grind of getting home.

Thankfully there’s no more long business trips for 2016, just Christmas with the family. But next year promises to be just as grinding with trips up to Kansas during the winter, as well as next year’s business support trip north of Tokyo near Sendai.

I managed to catch a few multi-hour naps from while flying out of Tokyo. When I woke up, it was about an hour out of Minneapolis. Outside it looked cold and remote, covered in snow. Almost like an alien landscape.

Photos were taken with the iPhone 7 Plus, and post processed using VSCO’s various filters; Distortia Pack for the top, and B4 for the bottom. This post was written using WordPress’ latest iOS app on an iPad Pro 9.8″. Getting the photos to the point where they were visible to the WordPress app required a number of non-intuitive steps, but otherwise the WordPress app makes writing a quite post like this reasonable.


Another two-week-plus trip to Japan and YS-71 has come to an end. I leave in the morning on a 20-plus hour flight back to my home in Orlando. While here I’ve had to put up with sinus problems and blisters on my right foot the entire time. Couple that with the dark-to-dark work schedule for the every day I was here and I’ve had no time to do much more than eat, sleep, and work. No time at all for much of anything except for today, because the exercise ended yesterday. I had a Major with the JSDF come by for a few hours to visit. We did a little bit of sightseeing in the downtown area and we had lunch. I’d met him last year when I installed software for one of the Japanese Army’s training schools. We hit it off and he’s become a true “pen-pal.” I look forward to seeing him when I come to support these exercises.

One of the places we visited today was Jojuen Garden. I did take more than just the cat, but that cat came up to ask for rubs and say hello in his own cattish way. The day may have been cloudy, but the little guy brought a bit of personal sunshine into my life at that moment. Made me think of the Gingersnaps back home. Quite the handsome little guy if I do say so myself.

I haven’t written much because I’ve been busy, and I’m still in a state of shock over the election of Trump as president. I’m gathering my wits about me as it were, and coming up with a long-term plan to counteract what his election has wrought. I’ll have more to write about in the future, but for now, I need to finish packing and get ready for tomorrow’s flight home. I can’t wait to get home.

deep blacks: on the way to sapporo, december 2013

placing a private call

Andy, over at blog.atmtx.com, has redesigned his blog, and in the process gone down a different path with sharing his photography. One of his entries, “Deep Blacks: Checking Status“, reminded me of a similar set of photos I took in Japan while riding a train to Sapporo Japan in 2013. I’ve had my own work buried for so long that I actually appreciate it again. All of these were taken with the original Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the M.Zuiko 12-50mm zoom, a lens that the photographic paperback intellectuals tends to look down on for no good reason.

This photo fits in with Andy’s observation that the use of cell phones on trains is carefully controlled. This gaijin was standing in the section between cars in order to place his smart phone call so as not to disturb the other passengers, who were sitting quietly.

on the train to saporo with friends

metal locusts and memories of past science fiction

metal locusts

This was taken at the Tama Zoological Park, just outside the main building of the Insectarium. I thought these two were interesting the moment I saw them. But they also triggered the memory of a short science fiction story I’d read decades ago, about a lone man, a lone woman, and their lives together in the aftermath of a nuclear war in New York City. The story started about the man finding the woman, and progressed about the two of them slowly growing closer. As their story was being told, there was the back story of odd happenings in the city. The story ends when one day, after hearing strange noises coming from Central Park, the two find that the Alice in Wonderland statues have been re-carved into insect forms. It’s at this point the two realize their end may be a lot closer than they realize.

I don’t remember the story’s name nor the author, only that I read it sometime back in the 1970s. It had come as part of an anthology from the Science Fiction Bookclub. Or at least I think it did. I may be mis-remembering all of this.

tama zoological park

indian elephant pair

Once the Yama Sakura portion of the trip ended I traveled by train back towards Tokyo and Tachikawa, one of the suburban areas of Tokyo. On a Sunday, my birthday, I took the Tama Monorail to the Tama Zoological Park and spent about three hours just roaming and looking at the few animals that were in the park. The day was cold and cloudy, not the best time of year to go and see the park. But I went because I felt it was better than staying in the hotel, or walking around the train station and its stores.

lonely zebra

I went to all the major sections of the park, and found all of them interesting. But of all the animals I saw I like the bigger animals the best.

galloping giraffe

To me the most thrilling thing to see were the running young giraffes in the African section of the park. Tama is very big, and it appears they’re trying to give the animals as much natural space as possible. While I was there I noticed hey were working on a large section, which I can only assume will expand the park space even more.