Category Archives: personal news

Fussa Japan in 1989 and 2013

Tokyo 5 recently posted an image of when he first came to Japan in 1990.  It reminded me of my own time in Fussa, Japan from 1989 to 1991. A friend of mine in Japan, K-chan, took some photos earlier this year of Fussa, which is outside of Yokota Air Base. She used some photos I had taken from 1989 and took similar shots from January 2013 to show how things have changed.

Since Tokyo 5 was interested in seeing these shots, I thought I’d just make a blog entry and share them.  The photos on the left side are obviously mine and on the right, K-chan’s.

Fussa Japan 1989 to 2013

Fussa Japan 1989 to 2013 (02)I’m told that Dunkin’ Donuts is no longer at the Seiyu building (some other donut shop is there now…I think).

Also, it was surprising to me that KFC was no longer there, since the Colonel is pretty popular in Japan.  That place was my first experience with the multi-storied fast food places in Japan. Also, that was my first experience of being treated like a king in a fast food joint.  The doors slid open and two high school girls where there to greet me with a smile and a bow. Then, everyone behind the counter was bowing and greeting me. I think I spent a little extra, just because of all that. *lol*

Good times.  I really do want to go back to Japan some time and visit all of my old haunts.

Me Eye!

Well, just got back from the ophthalmologist office. Looks like I had a minor abrasion of the cornea, likely due to my eye being open while I slept OR opening my eye when I woke up this morning and the pillow case touching my eyeball. Fortunately, this is a minor thing and should be completely healed in 48-hours.

Whew! While I wasn’t too worried, there was always a chance that there was something serious going on with my eye. Thankfully, that was not the case (and yes, I was thanking God profoundly for being so kind to me in this regard). ^_^

Interesting thing about my visit to the ophthalmologist is that the facility is pretty large. I gather they do just about everything that can be done with an eyeball there and considering the size of the place, I believe it. Pretty impressive all the way around.

Now that I’m getting older, I guess I should get my eyes checked once a year (or so) just to make sure they are still functioning within normal parameters. ^_^;

Yikes! My Eye!

Man, I woke up with a little surprise this morning — my left eye is now has blurry, double-vision and it is pretty troublesome. I hope it is something temporary but it would figure that as soon as I have no medical insurance, a medical issue comes up. *chuckle*

We’ll see what happens but if it doesn’t clear up soon, I’ll have to see an eye doctor about this. I’ve done some looking on the Internet and it is possible I may need a hard contact for my left eye in the end. I’m going to wish for this to self-correct, especially since it makes being on the computer a nuisance.

AstroNerdBoy: Home Owner 08

Part of the fun of owning a condo is having a Home Owners Association to take care of certain aspects of things, such as mowing the grass, painting the buildings, or dealing with the sewage.

When our condominium complex was built, for whatever reason, grinder pits (also known as “grinder pumps”) were installed at ever building. For those that don’t know, these are big tanks that store your sewage. Once the tank gets to a certain level, the grinders turn everything in the tank into slurry and it is then pumped to the main sewer line in the street. That can be quite a ways away, depending on how far a building is from the street (the roads through the complex do not currently have sewage lines).

Regardless of the reason a proper sewage system wasn’t put into place, the grinder pits cost us home owners a lot, somewhere on the order of $80,000 a year. That’s a lot of money that our association fees cover. Plus, these things can malfunction, which is why we are told that if the big, red “fire engine” light goes off, we are to call the number on the sign at the grinder pit immediately. Some units have had sewage back up into their basement when the grinder pits fail.

As such, the HOA decided to install a proper, gravity sewage system on the complex. They took bids and as these things go, the low bid won. An HOA meeting was held Monday evening with the contractor making a presentation on the work to be done over the next few months to convert us off the grinder pits to the gravity sewers. I think the thing that surprised me most was how few home owners even bothered to show. Discounting the members of the HOA and their spouses, there were only about 10 of us there. One would think that major construction on the property would have brought out a lot more people.

Regardless, things won’t be quite as bad as we feared. The city is requiring the contractor to fill in the trenches down the roads through the complex that they dig up to install sewage lines at the end of each work day. So for the section currently under construction, those garages will not be accessible from 08:00 until about 17:00. After that, people can use their garages again until the following morning. Also, there will be no work done on weekends and each section should be done in 2-3 days, meaning those garages won’t be blocked again until it is time to repave all the drives that weave through the complex.

So, the next few months will be interesting for the complex. I imagine a lot of angry people showing up once construction starts considering how few people came to the meeting.

AstroNerdBoy: Home Owner 07

This past weekend, my parents came up to check out my new place. More importantly, my dad agreed to help me with a few projects that needed doing. The catch was that (1) I had to take them to lunch and (2) I’d be doing most of the work as Dad would supervise and assist when needed. No problem on either account.

The biggest project took place in the basement with the installation of a new light socket. Prior to Saturday, there were only two (the basement being unfinished) — one in the center of the room from the base of the stairs and one to the right to illuminate the water heater, furnace, and A/C. On the left side was darkness and that’s where the movers stashed a good many of my boxes. So, installing a light there would make it easier to find things.

We had to run wiring from the right light across the basement to the left since the center light was feeding power to the right light. Putting up the box for the socket was no problem, but running the wire across the room ended up being more trouble than initially thought. This was partially due to the fact that we were running the wire alongside water and gas pipes. While that in and of itself wouldn’t be too bad, some of the knock-out plugs in the beams (designed just for running wires through) hadn’t been properly cut and thus we had to drill through. Working the drill in such tight quarters with the fire sprinkler system and the outdoor gas feed was a bit tricky.

However, I made it through and and began wiring the socket in the new box. This meant using wire strippers for the first time, to say nothing of carefully cutting open the casing bundling the hot, cold, and ground wires. Once secured and installed, it was time to connect the wiring to the right light. I’ve never worked with electrical stuff before, so even though Dad killed the lights and I verified no juice came into the socket, I remained a bit nervous about handling the wiring. I soon overcame that and eventually got the new wires connected in with the old. Dad flicked on the switch, and there was light everywhere. I made happy, pig-squealing noises. ^_^

Leaving the cleanup for later, Dad and I worked on other projects including correcting a problem with the deadbolt, fixing a problem with the master bath’s tub drain, installing some new blinds in my bedroom (which was more annoying than difficult), repairing damaged molding on my entertainment center, and repairing a damaged rocker (part of a set that my parents rescued from a barn years ago and restored). A productive Saturday to say the least.

Growing up as a kid, I had no interest in learning to do any of this stuff because I didn’t care about it. As an adult, I have an interest because I have my own place. I’m thankful to Dad for being willing to teach me all these years later. I learned a lot from doing these little projects and I think Dad was pretty happy to see his oldest son not only own a house (which I know my mom is happy about) but willing to learn to do things for himself. ^_^

AstroNerdBoy: Home Owner 06

With warmer weather coming, it is only natural that I’d start using the A/C more, especially since (1) I sleep during the day and (2) the bedroom, which is upstairs, is as much as 10° warmer as the 1st floor. So that meant making some adjustments, including purchasing a couple of additional large, portable swamp coolers (both for the white noise, the extra humidity, and cooling factor as the air blows over me while I sleep) and that helped. When the A/C came on, the air was also sent through the swamp cooler and the bedroom cooled down nicely resulting in the bedroom being cooler than the 1st floor (where the thermostat is). When the A/C is off, the bedroom is only a few degrees warmer than the first floor when the A/C comes back on.

Still, there was an issue with the A/C itself in that the unit began freezing up. That meant that I either had a coolant shortage or the coils were dirty. So I called the company who initially installed the unit and scheduled an appointment for this afternoon. When I got up this afternoon, I checked the vents and the air flow happened to be weak. So I switched the unit to fan-mode with no A/C to start the thawing process.

When the tech arrived, we went down to the basement to check the unit and both the primary and backup drain pipes were dribbling water. He discovered that they’d been installed improperly and since his company was at fault, he fixed that for no charge. The tech’s first thought was that the coils would be dirty. He was wrong. So it was time to check the refrigerant level. The valve covers were barely on and when there was a definite coolant shortage,
he figured that was the cause. So a pound of refrigerant later, we turned the unit back on and wa-la! It is working.

So after signing up for the bi-yearly plan to have the unit checked, cleaned, etc. as well as provide a discount on parts and labor, the tech wanted to make sure everything was OK. However, the unit had shut off and so I hit the override to turn the temp down more. The fan kicked on but the A/C never actually back came on. Nice. After a complete check of the electrical, it turned out the connector switch was the cause. He was manually able to kick the unit on, but I didn’t want to take a chance. I wanted a new switch installed and of course, the tech was more than happy to oblige (more billing time).

When all was said and done, my bank account finds itself lower, but my condo now cools much, much better. Just part of the joys of home ownership, but hey, I wouldn’t change a thing. ^_^

"Oh yes, there is DSL in your area."

I’ve had the worst luck with setting up thing for my condo, as I’ve mentioned before. A month ago, I set up the order to move my phone and Internet service from my apartment to the condo. I asked the person at Qwest to verify that DSL service was available at my condo and was assured that DSL service was available. So while the move of telephone service went off without a hitch, the DSL order was mysteriously dropped. Qwest apologized and had it set up again, assuring me that there is DSL in my area. Then the order is dropped again and re-established for today. The Qwest guy assured me that DLS is in the area and that the others had just made mistakes.

I mentioned this to my neighbors, who were surprised to learn about DSL being in the area. They’d checked into the possibility a year before and it wasn’t out here. I got a bad feeling in my stomach.

When I got up this afternoon, there still was no DSL service and the promised software package still had not arrived. Using my secondary computer (which has a pretty good wireless antenna, thus I was able to get a crappy connection on a distant, unsecured wireless connection), I was able to see an e-mail from Qwest saying my most recent order is canceled. So I call Qwest and after five minutes, the girl gets back with me to tell me that there is no DSL service in my area. Nice.


So, I call up Comcast, who give me a bunch of nonsense but after being transfered to a fourth person (who was in customer service), I think I’ll have high-speed Internet by Sunday. We’ll see though. Meanwhile, my kind neighbors have given me access to their wireless router, so I can at least check e-mail, make this blog entry, and surf a bit. ^_^; Thanks K and L!

Moved but…

The move is over and went well, BUT I’m still having the worst time getting things done that I’ve scheduled with 3rd parties. DirecTV was supposed to remove the dish from my old place today, but amazingly, the order is MIA. Well, at least they did come by the condo this morning with the new dish. Then the cleaning crew was supposed to come by to do a move-out clean, but that wasn’t on the books. Finally, DSL was supposed to be on by the time I moved in yesterday, but the order was dropped. They were saying that it would be done by today but now, Thursday. Nuts.

So, I’m borrowing Safeway’s free WiFi to check mail real quick and write this. *_* I’ll write more when the Internet is hooked up at my condo.

Moving Stinks

My move isn’t until Monday (thank God for that!) but moving sure stinks. I’m ALMOST done packing and should be finished tonight. That will leave the breakdown of my computers, TV’s, stereos, phones, and related stuff. So I’m doing much better this move than I did nearly three years ago when I moved, but it still sucks.

Moving is already a violent experience in a sense. You are taking the order of what was and turning it into the chaos of boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff. Then toward the end of the packing phase, nothing fits together any more. You have a few books here, a few CD’s there, some odds and ends all over, which means at least a couple of boxes (or more) of assorted stuff, which always sucks to go through on the flip side as well.

As I emptied my office closet of what was supposedly just empty boxes for various electronic equipment (stereos, computer stuff), I discover a few hidden boxes of stuff from three years ago. Sheeze. What’s sad is that I never even missed this stuff seeing as how its been sitting in the closet all this time. *sigh* I won’t open the boxes to distract myself (I have an idea of what’s in all of them — books mostly) but I have to be better when I move to my new place though. I’m having most of the boxes put into the basement. The idea is to be able to have plenty of room to store things and then get EVERYTHING unpacked this time before storing the empty boxes.

I’ll be glad when this is over. Time to get back to it. ^_^;

AstroNerdBoy: Home Owner 05

Today started off early and by 08:00, I had a call from the guys coming to do my air vents that they’d be a half-hour late (09:30 instead of 09:00). That was fine as long as they came in the morning. I packed up all my pictures (I didn’t like how the movers handled them last time), an ice chest full of freezer stuff, and a few other things and headed for my condo.

I stopped by Lowes (I think I should get a sponsorship from them) to pick up a new disposal. I hadn’t done any research on these things, and I immediately regretted my ignorance on the subject, to say nothing of costs. Still, I had to get a new disposal and so I chose a model that was about $200, super-silent, heavy duty, etc. I picked up a small carton of plumbers putty (think Play-Doh) and made it to the condo, where Gonza soon arrived to help me install the sucker. It took a little under 2-hours, but it is pretty sweet and so quiet, both Gonza and myself weren’t sure it was even on and working right when we tested it out. It was.

Just as Gonza left, the guys from the air duct company finally arrived. They couldn’t get a hold of me because they couldn’t reach my cell phone (they had the wrong number, even though I tried to tell them when they’d called previously). Further, they thought they were coming to clean my carpets. *sigh* However, once everything got squared away, they did their thing, using a rotating brush and a massive vacuum to get all the stuff out of the air ducts. The cleaning guys said my ducts were mostly not too bad, though a couple were really bad, which is likely what the inspector cited way back when. Still, when they showed me what they got out (big stuff), it looked like a fair amount to me and I’m glad its not in my air ducts.

So, as I see it, that’s the final thing I need to do before the actual move. *shudder* I can’t wait for that to be over.