2009/09/30

Pandas Don't Hibernate

So what's up with the lack of posts here?

K and I have been doing a lot of sailing this summer, that's what, and blogging about it on Sweet-Bluesette. This weekend, rain or no (hey if we were afraid of getting wet, we wouldn't go sailing at all), we're staying at a resort up at the lake with a friend from Saitama Prefecture and sailing for two days. I promise a post here about that as well as on Sweet-Bluesette.



On August 26th we visited DisneySea, which is a one of a kind park next to Tokyo Disneyland. It is themed on ports of the world and designed to appeal to an older age group. It sure appeals to us. I'll post about that SOON.


On September 13th we went to an airshow at Hyakuri Air Base and watched the JASDF aerobatic team "Blue Impulse" perform again. I'll post briefly on that as well.



In other news....

On Maui, my 6 year old granddaughter Bailey is kickin' goals in soccer games. Six of them in the last two games! At this rate, the Kashima Antlers will want to sign her up. (Her dad played soccer for Hawaii Pacific University - you don't suppose she has a coaching advantage, do you?).

Bailey on the right in the yellow jersey.

And on the mainland US my second daughter, Laura, graduated (again) this summer, this time with a master's degree in computer engineering and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Woo hoo. All that while working full time for an aerospace company.







2009/09/06

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Forget the Mazda ads. I mean ZOOOOM!

As I mentioned back in July when I saw "an unusual formation" of JASDF aircraft fly over, there is an air show happening next Sunday, the 13th of September at Hyakuri Airbase not very far from us.

By the way, the following day, I saw another unusual formation and it circled the area twice. It was, as I suspected connected to the airshow, but it was not a rehearsal. Rather, it was a photo op flight, with the Kawasaki trainer being used as the camera plane.

In the poster below, you can see Kashima Football Stadium (soccer for Americans) in the lower left, Kashima Jingu Shrine (the green area under the 2nd airplane, an RF-4EJ Phantom) and somewhere off the nose of the closest plane (a Mitsubishi F-15J) "Ye Old Academy" where the Moody Minstrel teaches.



Flying starts at 0900 and ends at 1430, with the last hour being the Blue Impulse performance.

Schedule of flying, directions to the base, etc. can be found here:
http://www.mod.go.jp/asdf/hyakuri/show5.html



Go sailing on Saturday or to the airshow on Sunday? (K needs a day of rest on the weekend). Tough choice! But the airshow is only once a year, so Bluesette will have to wait.

2009/09/04

Holy Chiropteran Batman!

I am constantly amazed at the new flora and fauna of this rural part of Kashima City. Recently I heard an insect I had not heard before. It sounded as if someone were hiding in the bush with a bicycle bell - "lriinggg...lrriingggg...". It turns out to be a "suzumushi" or "bell cricket", which is a tiny insect not 2 cm long. It has been long admired in Japan for its beautiful sound and is even featured in the world's first novel - The Tale of Genji, written in the early 11th century.


Click above to hear the song of the suzumushi.


Today, K arrived home and excitedly asked me to come see what she had just found. A bat! K grew up around here and had not seen one in this area before. I double checked to make sure it wasn't April 1st, then went with her to the garage where, trough the open window, we watched this bat sleeping on our wall.

Cute, yeah?


I don't know what kind it is. It is quite small at only about 6 cm in length (less than 2 1/2 inches). Perhaps it eats flying insects. I think it is too big to be one that eats nectar. Anyway, it's welcome to "hang out" here. Bats have an important place in the ecosystem. Fruit bats (which are usually quite large like the ones we've seen in Fiji and in Japan are only found in the far southern islands of Okinawa Prefecture) spread seeds. Insect eating bats control the population of plant eating insects, and nectar eaters are valuable for their pollination function. All of them help to preserve forests.

Since I moved here (almost five years ago) we've seen an increase in wildlife - birds, snakes, frogs, insects, and now bats! Very encouraging. I hope the area doesn't get overbuilt and enough wild patches remain to be a home for these creatures.