Afternoon Walk in the Last day of March, Niigata, JAPAN.

My another photo blog “LQ Laoshi’s Photo Gallery”(outside wordpress)

So many Japanese bloggers do the same thing this time of year. It’s spring, and now is the time for cherry blossom “Sakura”.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

Cherry trees were on the other side of the river. I wanted to cross the river to get there.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

Sakura flowers were not in full bloom yet. Although it was not so clear, I could see Iide Mountains behind.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

I could still see some buds of pink color.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

The mountain in this photo is part of Mt. Gozu Ridge. They are lower than Iide Mountains. The altitude is less than a half of IIDE. So the snow remaining on Gozu became already very little.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

I was walking on a river bank. And then I turned to where I came from, to go back home.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

I saw vessels floating on the water when I crossed a bridge again to go home.

Not Circle, but Oval Dishes that are Very Useful.

My another photo blog “LQ Laoshi’s Photo Gallery”(outside wordpress)

Most of dishes are circle, but some are oval. I think an oval dish is useful because it fits the shape of food in many cases. Recently in a morning, I found one of oval dishes was missing. I use it to put a half toast for my mom every morning. Yes, the oval dish fits very well for the shape of the toast cut in half. I was looking for it in the midst of busy preparation for breakfast. I couldn’t find it. So I put a half toast onto a small circle dish. Edges were out of the dish so it was unstable and slippery. I worried it might get out of the dish and fall down.

I found the oval dish after the breakfast. It was in front of the photograph of my dad who died last year. On top of the dish were the sweets “Ohagi”. My mom offered that two Ohagi(s) to my deceased dad. Let me explain a little about Ohagi. It looks like a ball. At the center is sticky rice. And the ball of sticky rice is wrapped with sweet soy beans paste. The soy is usually a brawn/purple one “Adzuki”. It is very common to offer the Ohagi to dead person in equinoctial week in Japan.

I think there are differences depending on culture and customs as to how to deal with those offerings to dead person. In our custom, the food offered is to be shared and eaten by the family who are still alive. Sometimes I see the colorful sweets for the purpose of offering to a dead person are being sold in the store. They are unnaturally colorful because of use of artificial color additives. We don’t eat them, but for other type of “usual” food and especially sweets, we will eat them after a period of offering on the altar. Because of this custom, I have been eating a lot of sweets for more than a year. I am a person with a spirit of “Mottainai” that means not to waste anything.

But an issue is that my mom does not care about what type of sweets to be offered to my dad. She very often buys and offers fresh and moist sweets. It would not be a problem during winter time because temperature is low. But now is the time of spring. Even in Niigata, located in northern part of Japan, the temperature is going up day by day. It means that fresh and moist sweets don’t last long. For my mom, it is not an issue as to eat or not to eat those offered sweets. She just wants to offer sweets to her husband who liked sweets. That’s it.

So the issue is on my side only: to eat or not to eat. When my mom brought down two Ohagi(s) from the Dad’s altar, the surface of them looked dry. No mold was observed. The taste was uncertain. Edible or not? I thought how I was going to do with them.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN
Two Ohagi(s) on an Oval Dish

While I was thinking what I was supposed to do with Ohagi, my mom threw them into plastic tank in the garden. The tank is to make compost by throwing fresh garbage. That was the end of Ohagi’s fate. I always tell my mom to buy and offer the long-life sweets with longer days of “best by”. But showing an early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, my mom cannot memorize what I say to her. So she buys and offer sweets without caring about expiry date.

When it comes to an oval dish, a sad thing had happened. I posted recently about butterbur. And in the post I uploaded a photo in which butterbur was put on another oval dish. The dish was broken. My mom dropped it. Actually there was a pair of the same two oval dishes. So it is not certain the broken one was in the photo, but it is certain that the pair reduced to be “a single”.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

I hardly fry in the kitchen. The day before yesterday I found small horse mackerels were being sold very cheap in a supermarket. I thought that was a good chance to practice to cut and open the bodies of horse mackerels. I did that 12 to 14 fishes and fried them. Shall I call them “Freedom Mackerels”?

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

My blog has got no visitors, no views for these two days. I found that I haven’t posted these days, so I wrote down this one. I spent two hours for my training to write an English post. It’s tough to me.

Bitter Taste of Butterbur Tells you Spring has come.

My another photo blog “LQ Laoshi’s Photo Gallery”(outside wordpress)

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

I found them in my garden. They tell you that spring has come, although cherry flowers “Sakura” have not start blooming yet. I picked them up and washed by water.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

It should be boiled as short as you can. If you boiled too long, its green color and bitterness would be lost. So, instead of boiling them in a pan, I poured boiled water onto butterbur using a colander.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

I mixed miso paste, Japanese sake, and sugar for seasoning. I was not sure how sugar would affect on the taste. So I checked the taste, felt a little sweet, and then I put small pieces of fresh ginger.

Photo taken in Niigata JAPAN

And this is the main dish last night. It was canned mackerel “Saba”. My mom bought it for my dad to eat several years ago. However, it was expired on February 2020. Although the expiration was more than one year ago, I wouldn’t like to throw it. Having hoped that was not harmful because it was canned food, I ate the Mackerel with sliced onion, grated ginger and garlic, and soy sauce.

Making “Pre-Amplifier” between Microphone and the Main Amplifier

My another photo blog “LQ Laoshi’s Photo Gallery”(outside wordpress)

Recently I made an electric device so that my mom could talk to me from her room to my room. However that device could not amplify my mom’s voice well. The reason was that sound level by the microphone unit was too low. So I needed to put a “Pre-amplifier” between the microphone unit and the main amplifier. I looked for it by and ordered it. The issue was that it was not a unit but a kit. That meant I had to assemble many parts.

This was delivered yesterday.

The package was from a Japanese company. I would say what Japanese do is elaborate, maybe too much. The package is being put in thick plastic bag. There are a lot of detailed explanations on the sheet of paper, including the circuit diagram. The parts are neatly divided in three small plastic bags. Those elaborate things are basically good, but often ends up high price. This kit costed approximately 12 USD. I think that high prices and excess qualities are typical to Japanese products. It must be a disadvantage in current harsh international competitiveness.

So I needed to solder each parts one by one on the small circuit board.

This is the bottom side of the board. All the parts were soldered, but wires were not yet. I should say my soldering is not good becasue there was a poor soldering at one point. When I turned on this unit first, actually this didn’t work. I checked my soldering and found a poor soldering. I melted it again. And then this pre-amplifier became functional. I haven’t done these soldering electric parts for so long. This time was the first since the last time 30 years ago.

This is the top side of the board.

I put the pre-amplifier into the box. It seems as if the left space in the box would have been designed for the pre-amp unit from the beginning (Actually not).

And I put the device again on the column in my mom’s room. This time I put indications to tell her what the switch is and where the microphone is. My mom shows the early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. So for her it is difficult to learn anything new. She always try to push the volume control to turn on it, although it is not to push but to rotate. Anyway I have to tell her how to use this, on and on.

Mic on the 1st Floor and Speaker on the 2nd

My another photo blog “LQ Laoshi’s Photo Gallery”(outside wordpress)

My family is not wealthy by any means. However, our house, located in suburban, is a little bigger than those houses in urban area. I am always in my room on the second floor, doing PPT slides making for online Japanese teaching. My mom is in her room on the first floor. So when she calls me, she needs to come out from her warm room to cold corridor and shout my name aloud. I had been thinking about if there was any good way for her to call me from her room. I thought of making a device with a microphone, amplifier, long wire, and a speaker.

I bought several electric parts by The solder was the only thing that I needed to go buy in DIY shop.

I forgot to take a photo while I was assembling. The device was finished as in the photo. Voice caught by condenser microphone is amplified by 6-Volt. And the speaker with 77mm diameter sounds at the end of the long wire—–If it could work as I designed. People may say “Oh, you should have arranged those parts a little more left in the box, because there is an empty space.” Yes, I thought the same thing when I finished assembling. But I would say, that empty space on the left will be used, liking it or not.

So I put this device on the cedar column in mom’s room. I wish that this device will not be disturbing when my mom puts the futon down in the night and puts it back in the morning.

My house is a kind of traditional wooden Japanese style building. So it is relatively easy to place a long wire from room to room and make a hole on the wall. This is a photo in my room.
But I found a big PROBLEM with this. The voice on the speaker is too small even in the maximum volume. In Japanese expression, this would be metaphorically said “voice of a mosquito’s weeping”
I know that the amplifier works well because I tested and confirmed that it could make sufficient sound volume before assembling. So the problem is on the microphone unit. The unit does not make enough gain for the signal that is coming from the microphone. I have already sent a question to the vendor through amazon, asking whether or not the mic unit output did not gain a good sound level such that can be connected to amplifier directly. I don’t expect that the vendor can answer my question soon because now is the time of lunar new year.
So I think that I need to add a “pre-amp” between the microphone unit and the amplifier. I will buy a pre-amplifier unit from amazon and place it in that empty space on the left in the box, probably.

Yesterday I went to a DIY shop by walk, to buy solder. On the way I found two swans when I was walking in rice fields area.

Weekly Logs: Jan. 25-31, 2021

My another photo blog “LQ Laoshi’s Photo Gallery”(outside wordpress)

I haven’t recovered from fatigue that had accumulated by hard work in the last semester. Most of the time I couldn’t get up from my bed even in daytime. Nonetheless the university forced me to work for scoring “Contest”. I worked for about 16 hours in total for evaluation each student’s performances.

Now the first year anniversary day of my dad’s death is approaching. Although numbers of the expected participants to the ceremony are small, I ordered return presents for those people. They are all elders and trying to come through bad weather of the middle of winter. I thought I had to choose good presents for them. I went to the only department store in the city to make the order. While I was looking at the gift catalog at the gift corner in that department store, the clerk lady didn’t want me to be there for long. So I left there with the catalog, got back to my house, and let my mom choose the present. That was on Thursday, I had to go there again to fix the order on Sunday. Two times of go-and-back required me to pay for JR-train, of course the department lady didn’t care about such things, Okay, those were good excursions for me.

The main dish for Monday supper was Mackerel boiled with soy sauce; Fried sliced pork on Tuesday, Soba noodle with Tempura on top on Wednesday, Leftovers of lunch that was Chinese food on Thursday, Grilled salmon slice on Friday, Chicken thigh boiled with soy sauce on Saturday, and grilled salmon slice again on Sunday.

I put a small wooden plate so that the pigeon could rest on it without being hit by snow fall.

Weekly Logs: Jan. 11-17, 2021

My another photo blog “LQ Laoshi’s Photo Gallery”(outside wordpress)

January 11, Monday
I used two hours in the morning for posting the last week’s log here in the morning. I worked for six hours in the rest of the day. The main dish in supper was boiled fish.

January 12, Tuesday
I cleared snow in the morning, worked for four hours, and went to a library and supermarket. I cooked curry for supper.

January 13, Wednesday
I worked for ten hours. That was preparation for the Japanese business manner class in coming spring semester. I cooked pork for supper.

January 14, Thursday
As was the day before, I worked for ten hours to prepare for the business manner course. I went to the library in the afternoon by walk. The main dish in supper was grilled salmon.

January 15, Friday
I got to know that the university would make me work even in the winter break.

January 16, Saturday
I went to Niitsu 1st-6th morning market in the morning to buy Kimchi from Ms.Yamashita. Since I wouldn’t like to work, I spent most of the afternoon by internet-surfing.

January 17, Sunday
I worked all day as usual to prepare for spring semester. Now my concern is whether or not I will be able to be ready for the coming spring semester because the university is going to make me work for an additional task during this break, which I didn’t predicted.

Weekly Logs: Jan. 4-10, 2021

My another photo blog “LQ Laoshi’s Photo Gallery”(outside wordpress)

January 4, Monday
One and a half hours were spent for posing the last week’s log here in the morning. The rest of the morning hours were used for reviewing my scoring of the final exam for reading class. I just made scoring on image files captured from PDF because I could not get students’ real answer sheets in paper format. Once I finished reviewing, I started the second check by inputting students’ answer one by one into a big spread sheet of excel in the afternoon. After the supper, I made some tables of my grading so that it would help me input grading on online registering system. I went to bed at 10:30p.m.

January 5, Tuesday
I started working in the morning. That was to register my grading for the students’ performance in the fall semester. But when I was still doing that, the system had become stopped its function. I knew that the capacity of that registering system was very limited. So I just thought I would do that later. And then I went to out and got on a local train. I needed to get rid of snow in a house. Now the house doesn’t have a person to manage. If there was snowfall, the path from the road to the entrance would be completely covered with snow. It took two hours to make a path by digging and throwing snow with heavy steel shovel. It made me tired. I went to bed at 8:30 p.m.

January 6, Wednesday
I just wasted my time in the morning. Probably it was partly because I was tired from the hard work in the fall semester and mostly because I couldn’t even open the web page for the online registering system for the students’ grading. It seemed that I could not complete registering by the deadline. I took a long nap on the bed in the afternoon. I woke up and then went out. I got on a local train to go to Niigata. I bought a mouse in the electric appliance store by the JR Niigata station. I got back my house at 5:30 p.m. I cooked supper. The main dish was boiled flat fishes with soy sauce.

January 7, Thursday
Since I couldn’t register myself the students’ grades online, I asked the chief to register them on behalf of me. Although I asked the task, I myself had to used the whole morning hours for this to be done. In the afternoon I started preparation for the coming spring semester. I tried making the course design for the business manner class for the third grade students. I cooked salmon for the supper, practiced my bass an hour, and then went to bed at 8:30 p.m. I usually read an English book on the bed until I feel asleep. For this kind of reading a foreign language book, I think it is common not to use a dictionary. But this time I try to use my CASIO electronic dictionary as much as I can understand meanings of English sentences. There are a lot of words that I don’t know. A lot ‘n’ lot. Never is there an end for the second language learning.

January 8, Friday
I didn’t work in morning hours. I just rip music from my music CD and saved them in my Sony Walkman that was mp3 music player. Let me say this; the CDs were that I bought by my money. The mp3 player is for me to listen. So there is no copy-right violation because it is sheer personal use only.
In the afternoon was as follows; I took a nap for an hour. I went to a supermarket to buy foods. I revised the course design for business manner class. I cooked chicken for supper. I recorded my voice so that my students could improve their listening. I practiced my electric bass for an hour. I went to bed at 9 p.m. And then I fell asleep with the help of reading an English book.

January 9, Saturday
We had got a lot of snow in this winter. I got rid of snow a little in the morning. And then I reorganized picture files on my another photo blog on “goo”. This task used two hours of my time in the morning. In the rest of the day, I had just worked for recording my reading voice to make listening materials for my students. The main dish of supper was the slice of mackerel grilled simply with salt.

January 10, Sunday
I worked hard in the morning. But that work was not as a Japanese teacher but as a labor to clear snow. Not only for my house, I made a path for the community although it was just a ten meter or so. I was exhausted. After I finished and I was taking a little rest, I heard a sound of a heavy machine coming. It was a big snowplow probably hired by the city. In a few minutes, the machine had done what I could never do with my hands. It was just like go-and-back, and then the work had done. No sign remained that indicated I worked hard to get rid of snow before the machine came.
But that was not the end of my fight against snow. The air-conditioner as a heater in my mom’s room didn’t work. I was not sure for the reason, but I guessed that the outdoor unit was buried in snow and it could stop the fan rotation. Snow depth was already more than one meter (three feet). I dig the snow and reached the unit. As I expected, snow and ice piled up and went into the unit. They were preventing the fan from rotating inside. What I needed to do was simple; to get rid of them. But the problem was that I couldn’t remove the big circle like mesh lid on the surface of that Hitachi made air-conditioner outdoor unit. I used hot water in a kettle, a long chop stick, and even plastic straw to remove or melt the snow inside from outside through the meshed lid. I blow my breath through a straw in order to melt the snow that was sticking on the fan. Actually this method didn’t work well. I confirmed the fan could rotate, then turn on the AC. I found that that sent a warm air. It took two hours.
In the afternoon, I took two hours of nap on the bed, I went to the library by walk to return books and borrow new ones. Back in the house, I continued recording my reading a textbook for business manner course. I cooked pork for the supper.