A pin badge has crossed the Pacific Ocean twice in almost 30 year interval

There used to be an active ham in San Francisco, Ray Eichmann, WA6IVM. He used to work with japanese beginners on 40m CW in our evening hours from '60s through '90s. For many CW beginners in Japan, he has been the very 1st ever DX or 1st ever USA. He was so kind that he always sent very slow CW to them. I was one of those beginners in '60s, even though he was not my 1st USA. In late '60s, I have donated 2 or 3 bucks to some DX pedition through him. He has paid the ARRL fee for a year for me on behalf of me, which must cost him much more than the donation I made. He also recommended me for a member of RCC. He was such a kind person.

When I came back on the air in 1980, I knew his son Steve, WA6IVN, in a suburb of San Francisco. We often talked on 40m in QRQ. What a thrill and enjoyment! He has had malignant lymphoma since his teen age days. I have been told about it and subsequent complications by him. It was not in rush but steadily progressive. Unfortunately, he has gone SK due to metastatic melanoma in early '90s. We have met in eye ball twice, once at his home in Manteca and the other time at Bob W6CYX's home. It was not easy for him to live with that illness. He has still lived his life so hard as if not to miss anything he could experience in it. 

Since steve's death, I and Ray have become closer friends each other. One factor might be that we had operated 40m CW at the same time in a day. It must be another reason that I had known his son so well in his last decade. I believe Steve was his only son. Ray, a famous ham of the USA in our country, used to visit Japan a few times, I believe, in '60s to '70s. He and his wife, Cathy, have planned a trip to Japan in mid '90s. I have welcomed them at Narita and have driven them here. We have held a reception party in Tokyo, which a few dozens of his old friends gathered. They seemed to be very happy to see old friends there. I believe they have visited a few places mainly in Kanto and Kansai area after that.

He has brought some souvenirs from the USA. One of them was a pin badge shown in the photo.

I thought Ray had told me that it was from the Coast Guard, that turned out to be false later as told later. I have kept it in the book shelf since it seemed an important thing for him. Unfortunately, he has died around 2000, I guess, before I asked about this pin to him. 

A few weeks ago, I have posted this photo of the pin asking what it was and how I should do with it. Another Ray, K7FU, has given me a comment to say his friend, Rick, KD7CAY, has been collecting those items and he would ask him about it. Rick told Ray he would get it for his collection. A few days later, it has been sent to Rick in a plastic box. It has travelled across the Pacific Ocean in almost 30 year long interval.

Today, Rick has given me a home made soap in the same box. And he told me the pin badge belonged to the US Army Transport Service. He also told me he would display it with his chalange coins. I am not sure how the pin is related with those coins. Anyway, I am very pleased the pin badge has found the home for eternity for now. Ray in the heaven might be smiling at this consequence.

I really appreciated Rick and Ray, K7FU. The pin badge has travelled over the Pacific Ocean to and fro. It was all thanks to the friendship of my friends. This kind of communion, pretty common back in '60s through '90s, has been found very scarcely in ham radio nowadays. Recalling of the people who showed me their friendships and fraternity, I again appreciated this hand made soap.

Thanks, Ray and Rick.


Flowers are ready to come out

This afternoon, I have found japanese apricots starting to bloom. It is a bit later than usual. In spite of the long lasting cold snap since last Dec, they are still coming out now. It is simply surprising me. 

Magnolia are ready to bloom as well. My mother used to love this kind of flower. 

It has been almost 34 years since we moved from the small dorm at the med school hospital. These trees have lived together with us for that long time, even though some of us have been missed. They are coming out as if nothing has changed. 


The 22nd anniversary of Toru Takemitsu's passing

On 22nd of this month, the 22nd anniversary of the great composer, Toru Takemitsu's passing, will come. As time passes, I feel more of how magnificient and profound his being as a composer has been. I have introduced the relationship between him and Matthew's Passion by Bach last year. Here.

It has been snowy last night again;I have started writing this draft some 10 days ago. Everything has been covered by snow. In the quietness of this snowed world, I recalled of the episode that he had listened alone to this greatest piece ever in the music history 2 days prior to his death. That episode overlapped with that music still remains in my mind as one of the dearest memories.

Here is one of his favorite musics composed by him. It was originally composed as an anti war song against the Vietnamese war back in 1965. It still sounds like an elegy for human beings. We could do only little in our lives. They are still precious. This song seems to appeal this simple truth with most affectionate emotion.

A translation of the song by Shuntaroh Tanigawa found in the internet;

A man died and left behind a widow and a child.
Oh, that was all the man left behind him when he died.
Oh, not another thing did he leave when he died.
His grave was left unmarked;
there was not a single gravestone.

The widow died and left behind a child and a flower.
Oh, that was all the widow left behind her when she died.
Oh, not another thing did she leave when she died.
Her clothes had turned to dust;
there was not a single garment.

The child died and left behind his legs, a twisted tangle.
Oh, that was all the child left behind him when he died.
Oh, not another thing did he leave when he died.
His tears had dried to dust;
there was not a single mem'ry.

A soldier died and left behind the pieces of his rifle.
Oh, that was all the soldier left behind him when he died.
Oh, not another thing did he leave when he died.
The Earth was still at war;
there was no sign of peace there.

And now in this empty world there's only you and me.
Oh, we are all the people left behind them when they died.
Oh, not another thing did they leave when they died.
Just you and me alive;
not another souls remains here.

When hist'ry died it left behind today and tomorrow.
Oh, that was all the hist'ry left behind it when it died.
Oh, not another thing did it leave when it died.
Today, this shining day,
not another thing remains here.
Contributed by Riccardo Venturi 2009/6/21 - 18:15


A reliable elmer is necessary for a learner of CW

In Facebook, there is a group for CW operators. One of the frequent asked questions there is how to improve head copying. For the past several years, I was often involved in the discussion on that issue. I am feeling a bit bored with it lately.

My answer is simple. Take the meaning of each word. Ask for longer spaces between words if your copying is carried over to the word coming next. Our recent memory buffer is rather small. Unless we understand what the word/sentence means, we could hardly go on head copying.

On the other hand, in addition to the advices from less experienced hams such as just encouraging to go on learning etc, there is the advices from those firmly believing in writing down the codes literally. Some of them seem to be or used to be professional R/O. For them, CW must be a mode to copy completely on letter basis. But for us, amateur radio CW operators, it is to communicate with others. As I have reiterated here, writing down requires excessive function of writing, which is often disturbing to take the meaning of the message. When writing down, we should concentrate on motor function of the arm but not on taking the meaning. Of course, most R/O are capable of reading CW by head even without writing down the message. Their capability of head copying has come not from training writing or typewriting but from reading the message on word/sentence basis. 

There are a lot of "CW operators" who have been educated with writing the message on letter basis. When they are trained that way, they won't be able to convert to head copying later. Writing itself should be the aim for them. In such a case, it is often difficult even for the native operators to change from writing copy to head copy. They could be psychologically dependent on writing process.

Anyway, this thesis, I am quite sure of its rightness from own experience and observation of a lot of CW learners in the past. But there are still a lot of arguments about it. Some people, apparently not able to do head copying, insist their own way of writing training. It is as if we learned music instrument in the internet. We should look for a reliable elmer as a reliable teacher in music.


Spring won't come here so soon.

These photos were taken a couple of days ago. 

Apple trees are budding for the first time after they were planted in the garden 3 years ago. Looking forward to seeing the elegant flowers soon and having the fruits thereafter. 

Japanese apricots are full of buds as well. They will bloom in a couple of weeks.

Those buds are ushering in the arrival of spring here. It is still amazing the seasons are going to change as scheduled even though it has been in a cold snap for the past several weeks.

I was concluding this way when I took these photos.

But, today, it turned to be like this.

Winter won't leave here easily yet. We might have snowfall for a few times for the coming several weeks. It will not be until March when we feel spring arriving here.

By that time, I would finish plowing soil etc and plant veggies in the end of March. 


The first house in Tokyo

My sister has sent me a postcard with a photo on one side, which shows our old house in Tokyo. It was the very first house for us when our family moved there from this place. Literally a hand made house. The wall and roof was made of single wooden plates. It has only one room for 5 of us. The life standard was generally low everywhere in our country those days. However, this was one of the poorest houses, I believe. It was 63 or 62 years ago. The house is on the right upper in the photo. It was in a colony for those recovered from tuberculosis managed by a doctor standing on the left. Without his help, our family could not come to Tokyo.

The generation of our parents have worked so hard from '50s through '80s. It has resulted in the miraculously improved living standard in our country, that is, most of the people could believe they had belonged to the middle class. Macroscopically, it was the days of economically high growth period. People have been paid much more and the social security has been more successful than ever. We should be grateful to those people of my parents' generation, who made it possible with their grinding away for better life.

On the other hand, there is another thing we should never forget. Our country has not experienced any military conflicts or war after WWII. There has been the Korean war in the Korean peninsula during that period, which has brought the economic high growth to our country. While we have enjoyed it, the people in the peninsula have gone through the hard time of war. Even if we are not directly involved in or responsible for the war, we shoule never forget we owe our peaceful and wealthy life to them. Without their hardships, it could not occur.

Our prime minister or the minister of foreign affairs repeatedly states they should pressure on North Korea. It is evidently meaning military pressure. It could give rise to military conflict in the peninsula whether accidentally or intentionally. It would cause millions of victims in the peninsula and in Japan as well. Postwar mess must be hard for the international community to handle with. The president of South Korea is keenly trying to avoid such a disaster by any means. We owe much to them for our present wealth and peace. Despite of that fact, the heads of our administration don't seem to consider of those possible victims and damages due to the conflict. Looking back the modern history in this area, we could never insist to conduct military action against North Korea at present.

In the bed of death, as my sister told me, our father has grasped this photo as well as another of me at the time of entrance to the elementary school. My heart was trembling to hear that. This place of the old house and the family at that time must be things unforgettable for him.


Cold snap causing paucity of vegetables

It has been a cold snap covering our country for a month. They have had much snowfall in north west Japan. It's been far below the freezing point here every morning. They say El Nina phenomenon plus the meandering current in the Pacific Ocean causing this aberrant weather. In Australia, news says, a hot wave is hitting Sydney. In the US, there have been a hard cold snap in the East Coast while a torrential rain has caused land slide in the Sothern California.

I could not help suspecting these are an expression of the global warming. The global warming of the climate change is thought to cause shift to extremes in the weather.

This abnormal climate has caused the rise of the vegetables' price in Japan. Lettuce, cabbage and the other leefy vegtables are becoming more expensive by 2 or 3 times than usual. So are the other vegetables and even the other foods even if soaring of prices are not so marked as the former items. This means our country is so vulnerable to the climate change as for farming products. Considering of food self sufficiency rate in our country, social security for foods has turned out to be very fragile due to such as the climate change or the disturbed imports of the farming products. If the drought causing poor crop harvest in the summer could occur, the result must be devastating.

I have planted some vegetables last fall. Some of them have stopped growing or even died due to this cold snap. However, the other vegetables like this chinese cabbage have survived. There are still some spinach or potherb mustard surviving in the farm. Broccholi may survive and start growing in the spring as well.

I should get ready for the upcoming another hard winter.

A chinese cabbage harvested today. It is bitten by bugs, which is a proof it was grown without any pepticide. It would be a material for hot pot cooking soon.