Monday, January 30, 2012

Math Fun

I love math. One of my favorite blogs recently posted an observation that I found pretty cool.

See if you can see the pattern.

1/998001 = 0.000001002003004005006007008009010011012013014015016017018019020021022023024025026027028029030031032033034035036037038039040041042043044045046047048049050051052053054055056057058059060061062063064065066067068069070071072073074075076077078079080081082083084085086087088089090091092093094095096097098099100101102103104105106107108109110111112113114115116117118119120121122123124125126127128129130131132133134135136137138139140141142143144145146147148149150151152153154155156157158159160161162163164165166167168169170171172173174175176177178179180181182183184185186187188189190191192193194195196197198199200201202203204205206207208209210211212213214215216217218219220221222223224225226227228229230231232233234235236237238239240241242243244245246247248249250251252253254255256257258259260261262263264265266267268269270271272273274275276277278279280281282283284285286287288289290291292293294295296297298299300301302303304305306307308309310311312313314315316317318319320321322323324325326327328329330331332333334335336337338339340341342343344345346347348349350351352353354355356357358359360361362363364365366367368369370371372373374375376377378379380381382383384385386387388389390391392393394395396397398399400401402403404405406407408409410411412413414415416417418419420421422423424425426427428429430431432433434435436437438439440441442443444445446447448449450451452453454455456457458459460461462463464465466467468469470471472473474475476477478479480481482483484485486487488489490491492493494495496497498499500501502503504505506507508509510511512513514515516517518519520521522523524525526527528529530531532533534535536537538539540541542543544545546547548549550551552553554555556557558559560561562563564565566567568569570571572573574575576577578579580581582583584585586587588589590591592593594595596597598599600601602603604605606607608609610611612613614615616617618619620621622623624625626627628629630631632633634635636637638639640641642643644645646647648649650651652653654655656657658659660661662663664665666667668669670671672673674675676677678679680681682683684685686687688689690691692693694695696697698699700701702703704705706707708709710711712713714715716717718719720721722723724725726727728729730731732733734735736737738739740741742743744745746747748749750751752753754755756757758759760761762763764765766767768769770771772773774775776777778779780781782783784785786787788789790791792793794795796797798799800801802803804805806807808809810811812813814815816817818819820821822823824825826827828829830831832833834835836837838839840841842843844845846847848849850851852853854855856857858859860861862863864865866867868869870871872873874875876877878879880881882883884885886887888889890891892893894895896897898899900901902903904905906907908909910911912913914915916917918919920921922923924925926927928929930931932933934935936937938939940941942943944945946947948949950951952953954955956957958959960961962963964965966967968969970971972973974975976977978979980981982983984985986987988989990991992993994995996997999...

After a while, math is magic...

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I may have a new love. Forget flannel. Fleece sheets are the way to go in the winter time.

My bed just became a Weston bathrobe. It's like sleeping in a Snuggie only better because you can move between the layers.

So warm in such a cold house. Thank you, family, for such a body-warming gift!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Warm Fuzzies

In the summer between my junior and senior years of high school I attended a student council retreat in middle Tennessee. The two week camp was filled with bossy overachievers like myself. It was one of the best two weeks of my life and I brought home more than just campfire stories. On the last night our leader read us the story of the Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies. It's an exercise I recently used at work here in Japan during a stressful new software launch. I thought I would share...

Once upon a time there was a village. All of the people in the village got along very well. There was kindness, love, compassion, and justice. Every person in the village owned a special bag. It was given to them by their parents at the age of 3. Inside this bag were hundreds of warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies were soft, cuddly, cottony little puffs. When you gave someone a warm fuzzy, they felt warm and fuzzy inside. People in the village gave each other warm fuzzies anytime they wanted to let someone know they were loved. When someone received a warm fuzzy, they put it in their bag.
One day, an evil sorceress came to town. She saw that everyone was giving out these warm fuzzies from their bags and she didn’t like it. She went up to one villager and said, “Why do you keep giving away your warm fuzzies? Aren’t you afraid you’re going to run out? Here, take this bag of cold pricklies and give these to the people in your village instead, and keep all your warm fuzzies for yourself.” The villager took the bag because he believed the sorceress’ tale. The next time he ran into a friend, he handed him one of the cold pricklies from his new bag. A cold prickly made someone feel cold and prickly inside, like they were swallowing a pin cushion. Soon all the villagers went to the sorceress and asked for their own bag of cold pricklies since they didn’t want to be the only people handing out warm fuzzies if everyone else was going to hand out cold pricklies. Once you had a cold prickly, you wanted to give it away to someone else as fast as possible.
The sorceress was pleased. Her plan was working perfectly. Now the village was in a state of fear and panic. Everyone started avoiding everyone else so they wouldn’t be given a cold prickly. People hoarded their small supply of warm fuzzies and didn’t give them out to anyone anymore. But no one was happy anymore either.
One day a prince arrived in town and almost immediately someone handed him a cold prickly from their bag. The prince, recognizing the cold prickly, refused to take it. The villager was surprised and tried again. The prince handed the person a warm fuzzy from his bag. The villager was surprised, and a little ashamed that he had tried to give this warm prince a cold prickly and instead received a warm fuzzy.
The prince addressed the crowd and said, “Why do you give each other cold pricklies?” One villager said, “Why should we give away all of our warm fuzzies? Shouldn’t we keep them for ourselves?” Other villagers agreed. But the prince said, “Every time you give away a warm fuzzy a new one is created in your own bag. Don’t you see? The more you give away, the more you will have.”
To demonstrate, the prince had everyone put down their bag of cold pricklies and retrieve their bag of warm fuzzies from their homes. He asked everyone to take out a warm fuzzy from their bag and hand it to a neighbor. This they did, but warily. Then the prince told them to notice that they all still had the same amount of warm fuzzies in their bags as before. People started giving away more warm fuzzies and noticed their bag was never empty. There were indeed enough warm fuzzies for everyone.
The sorceress was very upset and tried to interrupt the prince and get everyone to give out cold pricklies again. But the villagers didn’t want to listen anymore. They threw all their bags of cold pricklies into a wagon, set the sorceress inside it, and sent her out of town.
The villagers realized they’d learned a valuable lesson.
When you give someone a warm fuzzy, they in turn will give it to someone else. Eventually, it will come back around to you.
What do you carry in your bag?

Friday, January 27, 2012


A few weeks ago I had my semi-annual cleaning at the dentist. My technician was a small Japanese woman who spoke very little English. In fact, the only word she spoke to me during my visit was "suck." She would say it when I was to close my mouth and let a tube suck down saliva and water.  The best part was the great emphasis she put on the word. "SUCK!"

Yes, ma'am.

The cleaning was very routine. She held up laminated cards that had the steps of the procedure.

"Now I am going to floss teeth." "Now I am going to polish teeth."

At the end of the exam she handed me a small piece of paper that I took to the front desk. I was then scheduled for another appointment for what I thought was just a filling.

I was wrong. When I arrived the desk attendant told me to go down to the pharmacy because I needed to take drugs before the dental work.

(What?! I thought this was just to get a filling!)

Turns out they had scheduled me for a procedure to remove and replace all my old fillings. Four shots, Percocet, and a high-pitch drill later...

ouch. ouch. ouch.

Never again will I trust the laminated cards!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Just a tumbleweed blowing in the wind...

A short filmed commissioned by the Columbus Museum of Art.

Just for fun!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kure, Take 2

Today was my second trip to Kure by boat. Blue skies and much better seas!

The boat

Acorn cap makes an appearance!

It was a much better trip. Still very chilly, but not as bumpy or scary as my last journey.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Very Bad Day

Can you see why I had a very bad start to a very bad day?

Tip: Look through the glare on the window.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

An Italian Goodbye

I recently attended a going away dinner for two of my work teammates. One is moving to Italy to manage two branches there.


To celebrate, our team went to an Italian restaurant and gorged on huge pasta servings with amazing garlic bread. I don't know how Italian food tastes in Italy, but in Japan it was pretty tasty!

Being goofy

Someone ordered octopus!


Goodbye to great coworkers!
It was a really fun night. The food and company were fabulous!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

$1M Penny

Dustin is a numismatist. When I met him he was just collecting wheat pennies, but has since expanded to include buffalo nickels, state quarters, and mercury dimes. We also collect silver certificates and older $2 bills.

I recently read an article about how all money contains trace amounts of drugs and fecal material. With that being said, what are we really collecting? Hmm..

Maybe one day we'll make some real money off the money collection.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Japanese New Year

Although we celebrated a little differently we thought it would be interesting to learn how our host country celebrates the coming of a new year.

Here in Iwakuni many people with eat osechi. It consists of seaweed, fish cakes and mashed sweet potatoes. You can buy it at the stores in dried form. Many people eat it this way as it is traditional (from before refrigerators). They also put out a kagami mochi - this is a small tower made of sticky rice. It is put out as decoration with mikan (tangerines) sliced on top. The sticky rice is put out as food for past and future generations. On January 4th, most families will eat from it. In the last couple weeks many of these small sticky rice towers can be bought from 100 yen stores. A friend explained that most grandmothers will make a tower from scratch and the whole family will eat at their house. The small ones at each house just get thrown away.

The Buddhist believe in bell ringing at midnight on December 31. Many families will go to the temples at midnight to hear the bells rind 108 times. They believe this clears their sins from the past year. Merchants set up shops and sell blessed trinkets to ward off bad spirits in your car, house, etc. They will pray over you for good health, pregnancy, etc. On New Year's Day each member of the family rings the bell.

Our friend explained that many Japanese will play Beethoven's 9th on New Year's Day. This tradition is falling a little is mostly just done by older generations. She couldn't explain why, but I found an interesting explanation:
The Ninth was introduced to Japan by German prisoners-of-war held in Japan during World War I. Japanese orchestras, began performing the symphony in 1925. During World War II, the Imperial government promoted performances of the symphony, including on New Year's Eve, to encourage allegiance to Japanese nationalism. The symphony was considered appropriate in this regard because Nazi Germany was an ally of Japan. After the war, orchestras and choruses, undergoing economic hard times during the reconstruction of Japan, promoted performances of the piece around New Years because of the popularity of the music with the public. In the 1960s, performances of the symphony at New Years became more widespread, including participation by local choirs and orchestras, and established the tradition which continues to this day.
Pretty interesting how different cultures celebrate the coming of a new year. So whether you rang a bell or ate spinach and black-eyed peas, Happy New Year!

Tokyo Tower

Monday, January 2, 2012

Zero's First Trip

We have officially been here for 1/12 of our total time and Zero has never been off base! We walk her almost every night in a loop around the housing area and let he run in the fields, but have never actually taken her off base. We walk out in town all the time, but usually with the end game of finding good food. Taking a dog doesn't make trying new restaurants very easy.
So now with the car we have set out to change that. Our first trip with Zero off base was back to the Kintai area. Our first visit was a very long walk, but have been back multiple times to hike the mountain. We thought it would be a good place for Zero to explore.

"Please take this sweater off me"
The beginning of the trail is an old paved road up the mountain. The incline is pretty intense. I don't think the Japanese people believe in switchbacks.

This picture does not do the incline justice.

Do you see him?

A hidden Buddha on the trail!

Old Well

Small waterfall

Interesting camouflage tree

Zero leads the way!
It was a wonderful day for a hike and a great way to spend the afternoon. Zero curled up in the backseat fat of the car and slept the whole way home. She had a great first experience in Japan!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Another year, another chance
To start our lives anew;
This time we’ll leap old barriers
To have a real breakthrough.

We’ll take one little step
And then we’ll take one more,
Our unlimited potential
We’ll totally explore.

We’ll show off all our talents
Everyone will be inspired;
(Whew! While I’m writing this,
I’m getting very tired.)

We’ll give up all bad habits;

We’ll read and learn a lot,
All our goals will be accomplished,
Sigh...or maybe not.

Oh well, Happy New Year anyway!