Lunch with Peter

These have been very good days. I have been at a meeting where people come and talk about science stuff.  I have met many old friends and it is reassuring that some of them still recognize me.

Tomomi and I go and have lunch with the estimable Peter Fisher. Peter is the best lunch companion being erudite, boyish, enthused and very, very funny. We eat in a classic Boston restaurant where the food is excellent, however I am such a Philistine that I cannot get further down the menu than B for Burger.

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A good burger is a joy forever.

Tomomi and Peter eat oysters, tartare and such.

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Peter is passionate.

He gives us boxes of Dark Matter that he captures with a fly rod.

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Invest now

Anyway it was a wonderful time and demonstrates that there is no greater pleasure than good friends folded into good food.

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Thanks Peter

I have now hitched up the wagon and am on my way back to Okinawa. Thank you Boston.

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Logan 6:30 Sunday 19 Feb 2017

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Dread

So I go to a far off land with great dread. My last long distance excursions have resulted in illness and I am very twitchy that the same thing is going to happen again.

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Not very antique land but very for around here.

I make it through the first day of my thing but I am conscious of mucus in the sinuses. I have been recommended to wash them out with saline so I head to Walgreens.I wander up to an assistant and guilty admit the problem. She gives a big grin , “Just come with me sir and I will talk you through our selection of sinus wash systems.” She is tremendously cheery and helpful as she goes through almost a shelf of fantastic devices. I so love being back in the USA!

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You have to get one of these!

The warm saline solution is forced up one nostril and miraculously comes skooshing out of the other. It is a blast.

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Wide awake at 4:00 am. What better to do than clean out the sinuses?

I am very happy – I have a new hobby.

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Old, Deaf, Fat and Blind

Not having felt well for some time I go for a major health check at the Adventist Medical Center. It starts off bizarrely. On the drive down I am listening to a ‘This American Life’ podcast. I put my IPhone in my pocket and approach the reception desk. Strangely the hospital radio is playing exactly  the same show. I do not find this very odd as this is a kinda American hospital. Anyway I do all the entry stuff with staff looking at me strangely. I go to the toilet to spirit up a urine sample and am amazed by the quality of the radio system even in there. Changing into my operation clothes I realize my IPhone has been playing all this time. Why did I not figure this out?  Maybe the check up will find the answer.

I have a million checks and balances. Out of the blue, a nurse asks me if I want it through the nose or the mouth. It appears I have signed up for a gastroendoscopy – news to me. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/upper-gastrointestinal-endoscopy#1 This is the same as a colonoscopy, which is my hobby, but this is top down.

I say ‘Nose, onegaishmasu’. Everyone shouts Hai!! and starts spraying anaesthetic down my nostrils.

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Snort this

Anyway, they start forcing a huge camera  down my nose but, because of their training, they notice that I am sobbing. They stick it down my throat instead. It is a bit weird, however having already done most things in my life, a new experience is always a blast. The doctor pushes the tube up and down my throat like someone cleaning a rifle barrel. As with the colonoscopy I can watch this in real time on a 5G screen.

It is amazing !  How many of you have seen your duodenum in high definition?  They slice of a bit of stuff with a Swiss Army Knife just for the hell of it.

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Ghost train

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Whoa!

After 4 hours of checks the doctor tells me that I am old, fat, blind and deaf and that I should eat less, drink less and do more exercise – the usual. I ask him about the IPhone problem but this seems to unsettle him.

I then got a lunch as part of the deal.

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I know where you’re going.

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First They Come for the Telephone

For most of my professional life, my main tool has been the telephone. It rang all the time and I could get to know people all over the place, make jokes. You could not see them so you could imagine. I loved it. My phone has rung maybe 3 times in the last month. My cell rings but this is usually local like,”Where are you?”, “We are waiting for you.” and that sort of stuff. All the rest is ghastly email. I am so pleased to be in the sunset of my career. The idea of doing another 20 years of email is not acceptable.  Anyway, yesterday they came to take my phone away. Very few people have them.

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A parting of friends

I have also inherited a gas BBQ. I am ambivalent as to whether this is a good thing or not. I like to light fires. However my beloved Cobbs can not stand up to the Okinawan climate and rot. I could look after them better, put them in bags, cover them, but I am not like that.

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Gen san helps load it onto the truck

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I love my truck

Anyway the BBQ is very new but has also been left outside for a couple of years. The paint is coming off and everything is rusted.

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Blasted

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I spray on 5 coats of heat proof black stuff. This is  er the second.

However it will not light. There is no gas coming through. I decide that the regulator has also been jammed up by seaweed and salt. I spend 3 hours driving around trying to buy a new one. Everyone knows where the propane shop is  – it is in Gushikawa. However I never find it. I stop and ask folks 4 times. I know left, right, numbers and such in Japanese. After each conversation, I set off full of hope but after a while I realize that I am a  dumb, illiterate and have no chance of finding a propane depot. It is depressing.

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This is a regulator. Irish pipes also have regulators.

I go home and dismantle the regulator. I fiddle around and yay the gas flows through strong and clean.

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New deck

I am so excited that I decide to roast a leg of lamb. I can eat it through the week, couscous, biryani, shepherd’s pie.

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Great expectations

Everything goes swimmingly until some 25 minutes into the roast the gas runs out. I am left with a very sad, semi raw gigot. Oh Prometheus.

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Don’t cry-ee, Dont sigh-ee, There’s a Silver Lining in the Sky-ee

So Jonathan and Renee left Okinawa today.

Yesterday we held a  surprise Bye Bye event at the university. Hundreds of staff lined the 100 metre long entrance gallery. They clapped, shouted, held up signs and played music as Jonathan and Renee  ran the the gauntlet.

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We leave the elevator to find the majority of the university waiting.

Jonathan invited me to come and have a look at the then very baby OIST in August 2010. This sparked off the most remarkable six and a bit years of my life.

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Hai!!

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Hai!!

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Wonderful photo

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The crowd goes way, way back

Thank you Jonathan.

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My Bitch

I have written about my beach several times but who cares as she is endlessly fascinating. I have not been posting stuff recently as I really have not done much, having been weakened by Beri Beri, Black Monkey Fever, Crimea-Congo Hemorraghic Fever, West Nile Virus and Chikungunya Disease. I have been going to work and then sleeping.

However this weekend I feel I have shaken off the chains of disease and feel quite frisky. On Friday night we have a dinner to say Bye Bye to Jonathan and Renee.

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Sayonara

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We give them an amazing work by Yamada Shinman. This photo in no way does justice.

On Saturday we host a  wonderful concert of traditional Okinawan music and dance performed by the Nomura School. There are several schools of dance on the island and rivalry is intense.

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You will notice how much closer to the floor the elderly Okinawan gentlemen’s bottoms are to the floor in comparison to mine.

Today being Sunday, I go out to take care of my bitch. She is a wanton, sluttish thing and on Sunday mornings there are always empty bottles and other incriminating evidence.

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Bad girl

But I still love her and I carefully remove the blemishes of last night’s fun.

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Smudged mascara

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Nearly all of this stuff floats over from China. Trump will fix this.

I have a long chat with an elderly Okinawan lady who has been wading around in the shallows collecting shellfish and seaweed. She is worried that I have no woman to look after me.  She promises to find me a beautiful girl to take care of me. Yay!

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I even go to the Octopus shop. This will keep me going for the rest of the week.

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I Love McDonalds

 

So, I finally emerge from my bed of sickness on Monday morning. My flight leaves early Wednesday, so there is just time for a small Tacoma adventure. James and I head for the hills.

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Quatropus

We play with all the 4 wheel drive options and the truck sparkles. Taco is short for Tacoma and Taco means Octopus in Japanese. This makes sense as she sticks to slopes and descents with her huge suckers.

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Water is of course her natural habitat.

We ramble along obscure adventure tracks until there is a general feeling that we should head back towards human habitation.

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James finds mushrooms.

It is in fact getting dark and the road starts climbing towards some high mountain ridges. It starts to snow heavily and an overall impression of, we are lost on the side of a high mountain in California in deep snow, settles in. Are we downhearted? No! By this time the Tacoma has established her credentials as the sort of truck we like by coolly pounding her way up the mountain.

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We start to climb.

We get to the summit but now have to make our way back down a very steep and narrow track with vertiginous drop offs on the left. The snow, mud and pitch black add to the drama.

Anyway our admirable vehicle brings us safe and sound into Clear Lake, Meth Capital of Northern California.

I realize next morning that I have not my IPhone. Bags are searched, clothing searched, motel room searched, burger bar where we ate the night before is searched, but no phone. We head off with heavy hearts. About 40 miles towards the wetlands where the geese live, I remember that I have a Find my Phone app on my IPad. I need a wifi connection to energize the app. Sunshine falls onto the Golden Arches and the amazing free wifi that McDonalds provides, gives the answer. The phone is in the truck! I did not search diligently enough.  It is under a seat somehow. Phew, I am very relieved as I feel much guilt about losing OIST stuff. Thanks MacDonalds.

It is very gloomy and pouring with rain but we watch birds anyway.

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Trump Goose

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Robin Hood

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Muslim hardliner or Ibis.

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This is why they  are called Red Tailed Hawks

I am now back in Japan, in Haneda. Thanks boys for looking after me so well during my hour of need.

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