Sunday, June 25, 2006

First Godzilla, now Giant Jellyfish?

First Godzilla, now Giant Jellyfish?

According to the Yomiuri newspaper, there is a plague of Giant Jellyfish that are “wreaking havoc” around the coast of Japan. As mentioned in the article,

“ Early on the morning of July 20 that year, Shinichi Ue, a professor of biological oceanography at Hiroshima University's Graduate School, was awakened by a student knocking on his cabin door on board a training ship as it made its way through waters off the Tsushima Strait.

"Doctor, there's trouble! The sea is full of jellyfish!" the student shouted.

Ue rushed up onto the deck, to find the Toyoshiomaru surrounded by a swarm of pink jellyfish. The ship plowed its way through a shoal of behemoth jellyfish for three hours before their numbers thinned out, he recalled. ”

The giant jellyfish ruin fishing nets by clogging them up, and damage the fish by stinging them with their tentacles, threatening the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.

Now might be the time to break out the Godzilla (Gojira) horn, or whatever they use to call him (her?) from the depths to save Japan from other gigantic menaces.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Sunset Beach

Last December, I was driving home ealry one day, and noticed that the air was particularly clear. You could see all the way down to the end of both the Izu and Miura peninsulas (we're sort of in between them). Usually at least hazy if not visible at all, Mt. Fuji looked like you could reach out and touch it.

I rushed home, grabbed my camera, and dragged a bundled up Melody (it was pretty cold) out the door and down to the beach to take some pictures. Here is a short video I made with them...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Beach Bonfire and Bye Byes

Last night, our friend Lori had a beach party to say farewell to some friends who are getting ready to go back to the States. There was about a ton of food, including pink chicken (though I managed to convince few 9 year olds who were there that it was alien meat). We had a great time all just hanging out. After eating, we lit a bonfire and hung out on the beach for a few hours. The gray weather finally broke and the moon came out at about 9 PM or so. At one point, Lori made a torch out of the root ball of a big bamboo stalk. Very exciting.

We also hung out with Cali, Lori's new dog. She's a sweet Golden Retriever who loves living by the beach...she spent a lot of time frolicking in the water, and really seemed to enjoy getting right next to you after rolling in the sand and then giving herself a nice shake.

It was a wee bit sad seeing our friend Claire for what may be the last time (at least in Japan). But, like it or not, farewells are a part of the military lifestyle. People are always coming and going, but the longer I stay in, the more I realize that you probably will see them again sometime. It's really a small world.

One of my best friends, Andre and I have continually bumped into each other over the 20 years we've been in the military. We started at West Point in 1986, lost touch for a couple of years after we both ended up on the "Dean's Other List," and then literally passed each other on the highway enroute to San Antonio TX 3 years later. We pulled off on the side of I-20 somewhere west of Shreveport, and found out that we were going to the same place, Ft. Sam Houston. After that, we spent a month or so in VA, then were company commanders together at Ft. Campbell, KY (101st Airborne Division). After a couple of years there, we were in Louisiana together ( sure to check out this month's issue of Wired magazine, as there's a good article on the Joint Readiness Training Center - JRTC, where Andre and I worked), then Washington DC. It's been great, and we look forward to our chance meetings to continue.

Random Thoughts...Transitioning from Life at Sea

One month has passed since I officially departed USS KITTY HAWK for the Naval Hospital Yokosuka. Although I enjoy being home more often than naught & spending most weekends with my honey, I do miss the crew of the Hawk. Yes, being at sea meant being away from loved ones. I was lucky; I had my own office so I could close the door if I really wanted/needed privacy. I did close my door but usually long after the dinner hour. Sailors could and would stop by and chat. I miss that in my new job.

Here's a quick shot of the HUGE Don't Tread on Me flag in the hangar bay. This was hung for a promotion/frocking ceremony for a couple hundred sailors.

Fuji-san from the sea... this was during my 1st winter cruise. The winter months are the best time to see Fuji-san--the air is so clear!


Choppy waters from the Officers Smoking Sponson... Ididn't smoke but loved coming here in the morning before going to my office.

Me and my 1st roomie, Yetunde, in summer '04 at a Hail and Farewell party at the base Officers Club pool.

Winter cruise 2005: On the flight deck, freezing my arse off!

My new office is in a great place, right in the middle of the pediatrics department. Okay, I'm being a bit sarcastic. Location means I get to tell folks they turn left at Winnie the Pooh and my office is at the end of the hall on the left, right across from Winnie the Pooh. Location also means that I get to hear the cries/screams and the pitter-patter of little feet every morning. Come on--did you like going to see the doctor when you were a child? "Ahhhhh--sob-sob-ahhhh" has come to mean: "Person in white coat w/needle--must--get--away!" On occasion, I do hear the pitter patter of little feet. For instance, the other day, there was an escapee from down the hall. Boy, a terrified 2 year old can run! I've jokingly said that having an office in pediatrics is like birth control... in reality, it's giving me a good idea what life will be like as a parent when we start our little family.

It isn't that I don't see the Fleet life every so often. I see their families every day, the loved ones who endure the daily life without their sailor for weeks, months at a time. Sometimes the situations that I hear about tear at the heartstrings. The ones who amaze me daily are the young parents trying to make the best of a stressful situation. One parent may be deployed for months at a time and the other parent has to play both roles for the duration. (I was at sea for 10 months out of 2005. I missed my hubby terribly but I knew he could feed, bathe & dress himself.)

Just the other day, I saw the Kitty Hawk coming back from a few days at sea--what a weird feeling, not being onboard. She will decommission in a couple of years and I'm glad that I had a chance to serve onboard before she is sent back to the States. I survived life onboard the Navy's Oldest Fighting ship... and loved it!

Friday, June 02, 2006


I just got back from a trip with my interpreter up to the North of Japan, first to Misawa Air Base, and then across to the other side of the island to Aomori Prefecture. We were doing some coordination with local hospitals to accept foreign patients, and it was a very productive trip.

That part of Japan is beautiful, and our trip across the central mountains to Aomori was a really nice ride. We drove past old-style houses with thatched roofs that were several feet thick. It took us up the side of one mountain, and down into a valley that looked more like Colorado or Switzerland than Japan. There's still snow up there at that level. While Misawa was partly cloudy, the western side of the country was overcast with low hanging clouds that just wouldn't break. We got to the airport yesterday morning at about 7, and were advised to get on the first flight back to Tokyo, because the airplane had remained there overnight. As we could barely see the tail of the plane when looking out the window, it's probable that later inbound flights were delayed.

We stayed in Goshogawara, a smallish city south of Aomori. The business hotel we stayed in was nice, but had really small rooms. My room was about 8 feet by 10, with a small bathroom attached. It was comfortable, though.

At one point, we were driving around and saw a sign for the Statue of Liberty. That seemed strange, since we were in Japan, and we decided to check it out. Sure enough, at a small recreation area with athletic fields and a nice gym, was the Statue of Liberty. Apparently, that particular part of Japan is at the same latitude of the real one in New York. So, to commemorate that fact, they built an exact (except for the size) replica.

Also while up there, we stopped at one of those observation decks / tourist centers. We stopped for lunch, and while there took a trip up to get a look around. It was a nice view, and even though a bit overcast, the visibility was not too bad. The region is also known for its apples, including one variety that grows to the size of a canteloupe. Amazing...I bought 2 "normal" size apples which I ate over the next couple of days. Keeping them in my room at the hotel was like having an apple scented room freshener. Very nice.

Overall, it was a good trip from a professional and enjoyable standpoint. I had a chance to see a really interesting part of Japan...hopefully we'll have a chance to go up there and spend some more time. There are some interesting festivals later in the summer where they parade huge pictures of scary looking dudes who are lighted from behind.