Fun in Japan

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind trip so far. Done a lot of walking around and train riding. 

We are staying in Osaka for a couple days and using that as a base of operations. Sakura season is in full effect and the Japanese are definitely out in droves to see the blossoms that last for only two weeks or so. It’s strange seeing business people in suits sitting under a cherry tree picnicking, but alas, it’s what happens. The other sartorial comment that I have is that Japan is, apparently, the land of trenchcoats. Every woman seems to have one on – and not just any color too – only camel. Strange. 
Here are some highlights:
Controls to my hotel toilet 
Very large tuna fish heads at the market. Mom these are for you:
Sakura in full bloom

Fushimi-inari shrine in Kyoto and Lawrence.


Yesterday, I submitted my resignation email.  April 9th is going to be my last day working for Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, TN.

After at least three-month of breather, probably I will find another consulting job.  But, not sure yet.  In the meantime, I am looking forward to travel with Rena and working on her addition project.


Nat and Dara are renting our basement starting in April, so all the misc things that we’ve been storing in the basement had to come out and up.  Sofas, coffee tables, ping-pong tables, fiberglass batting, random chairs and a queen sized bed – all moved upstairs.  I have good leg strength, but I have very poor arm strength.  Like a T-rex.  Fierce, but tiny-armed.

I’m having a tough time giving away stuff.  I have a beautiful coffee table – solid, wooden, a real piece of furniture – no one local wanted it on Facebook.  I took it to Goodwill, they didn’t want it claiming it was damaged.  (Shocked!  I’m a frequent Goodwill-er and the coffee table would have met my standards.) So I guess I’m going to give it a go on Craigslist.

I love this sofa.  We bought it when we were first married and spent a crazy amount of money on it and I remember thinking on that day, I will never buy IKEA furniture again.  Oh, all the things I think to myself which are false.  Now I think, I will never buy furniture that isn’t from IKEA ever again.


Jeremy left for Seattle on Sunday.  Now I get selfies of him in a suit in a park.


I went to Sunday night dinner with the kids minus Jeremy.  I learned about this delicious cheese called “sweet munchee”.

Jane showed us this video of Lady Gaga doing a Sound of Music medley.


This is Boba’s mom, Thu.  She hosts a monthly potluck with a theme at her house.  This month’s theme was local ingredients.  I love Thu and I love Boba. And I love the idea of these potlucks and I have a good time when I go, but I’m always a little intimidated.  Because I can’t cook and because I can’t really remember anyone’s name, even though I’ve seen them three months in a row now.

See why this can be intimating to a non-cook?  Look at this – Thu made a dessert with cocoa meringue, fresh berries and mint. So to go to this party, I feel like I’m imposing on Jeremy to ask him to make something smashing and then I bring it (sometimes with him and sometimes without him) and then I fail to use anyone’s first name.     Except for Boba.  I remember his name.  He remembers mine.

Also, another reason that I’m slightly intimidated.  I’m totally used to being out in public with Edda, I don’t care that people slightly stare.  I don’t care that sometimes she can laugh inappropriately or slobber slightly.  I can explain Edda to little inquiring children or large pleasantly inquiring adults and I can carry this all pretty lightly.  But in a party situation, were I don’t know most of the people and it’s just me and Edda – even when I know everyone is going to be totally friendly and accepting – I get a little extra anxious.  I’m already shy at parties (which I generally can overcome), but there is this extra shyness that comes from being with Edda.   Who do I talk to? And where do I put my body?  Can I leave Edda watching TV in her chair by herself?  If I need to sit next to Edda (which I feel I do), will someone sit next to me and chat?

Mom Invited Donald to Come Here for His Birthday. But, Japan Is Better, I Think

Yesterday morning, Mom showed me her iPad with Donald moving & talking in it while I was working on our yard.

He told us he is heading to Japan for vacation.  I guess Japan is also attractive to us even though I utterly dislike their approaches toward those years they invaded and brutalized China.

Just presents two examples here:

1) When their Prime Minister took a picture recently in front of one of their air force planes.  The series number on that plane happens to be 731 which is the notorious WW II cold-weather human lab code number in Harbin, China in which many nationals were experimented upon with horrible medical methods. Even today, that place is haunted because Rena and I have paid visit there.

2) The name of their recently launched helicopter carrier ship (~20,000 ton) is named after their flagship which was parked in Shanghai harbor and served as their invasion headquarters during WW II.

These can’t be just coincident but rather sending messages toward all Chinese around the world – never forget to glorify their past, no matter how evil they were.

In short, though I pretty much admire Japanese accomplishments as a nation and considering myself far from a radical, Japan (in her current mentalities) is the only nation on earth that I am willing to fight against with all costs.

Bye Donald!

Donald is off to Japan for vacation for two weeks.  Lucky guy, gets to see the cherry blossoms in Japan!  I just get to imagine the cherry blossoms in DC around the tidal basin because I’m not going to go where there are swarms of people and no parking.  (Oh, maybe I am going to go downtown to the cherry blossoms.  We’ll have guests in town.  I’ll parallel park for visitors.) We were talking about a certain TED talk which advocates having this “power pose” (look up Ann Cuddy) to feel confident and ooze competence and so we both did our power posing and felt like we could take over the world for about thirty seconds.  OK, no really, we just both fell over laughing because, you know, it’s silly to do power posing with your sibling over FaceTime.


Have you seen “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix?  It’s funny.  Perfect for procrastinating which I am constantly doing.


For part of my psych class, I have to go to four different twelve-step meetings.  This week already, I’ve gone to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous.  It’s been a week of a lot of sharing.  I’ve said out loud the Lord’s Prayer more this week than I have ever before in my life.

I love.

It was a beautiful day in DC today.  It got to 70 degrees today Tomorrow it might snow!

Edda is still in her old (little) wheelchair.  Her regular (big) wheelchair is still broken.  The wheelchair selling/repair model is very much like a car manufacturer/car dealer model.  We buy the wheelchair from our local dealer and they repair it when we need it fixed.   Unfortunately, we’ve had trouble with our local dealership.  They are slow to return calls and emails.  Repairs take months to wind their way through insurance and then the repairs don’t stick, the wheelchair breaks 3 months after the repair.  The dealer is located in Alexandria, VA, so I have to cross off hours of my day to make it down there and back.   Even though it’s a hassle to get it repaired, I’m also mad at the manufacturer because the brakes keep breaking.  And once the brakes are broken, the bus ride is impossible.  They won’t take Edda on the school bus with a wheelchair with no brakes.  Understandable.  One wouldn’t want Edda wheeling around on a moving school bus.

I’m a little baffled by the whole thing because every other family I know that owns one of these wheelchair LOVES their chair (Well, as much as you can love a wheelchair.  Feelings are mixed about these things.  Always).

Finally, I called the manufacturer, Convaid.

Convaid said that I need to send it back to California.  Not me exactly.  I have to get our local dealer to send it back to California.  So I’m trying to figure out when I can take a half day off during business hours so I can drive to Virginia so I can watch them pack Edda’s wheelchair in a box and address it to California.

I don’t think that’s going to happen because even after I’ve taken the time to drive to Alexandria and I’m standing in the office with a box, packing tape and a sharpie, I’m sure it will take 5 weeks to get insurance to pay to send the wheelchair to California.

Hmmm.  I’m a little grumpy these days, huh?


Just me and the kids and the dogs for dinner tonight.  Jeremy was out of the house listening to a person who happened to be wearing a brass rat.  This Sunday, Jeremy will embark on the first of five business trips in the span of seven weeks, so there will be a lot of dinners with just me and the kids.  I’m trying not to think about it too deeply.  What could happen really?  We could eat fish sticks for seven weeks.  We’ll be fine.  

Edda’s teacher texted me this photo of Edda’s birthday party at school.  Oh!  So sweet.

Yvonne (au pair when Edda was 3) texted us this photo of her enjoying pancakes all the way on the other side of the world.  One would have expected this photo to have been taken in Germany, but no, Yvonne was in Sydney on Edda’s birthday!

Surnames of LEE (LI) and CHOU (ZHOU)

Rena’s surname is Chou (Zhou) and my surname is Lee (Li).  In ancient China, there was a poem-like listing of hundred surnames ranking Lee and Chou the 5th and 6th most popular surnames in China, respectively.

Today, a new statistic listing becomes available which shows that Lee ranks first and is the most popular Chinese surname with 95,300,000 people and Chou is the 9th with 24,600,000.

I guess there are a lot of LEEs and CHOUs around 🙂