To Get More Active

Been away from this blog again.

Saying “hectic” must be a good excuse but I want to honestly say, “I have been hectic”.

From March to June is the busiest period of my work and I have been occupied not only with my work but also other things to do.  And I even didn’t have time to be on the air a lot.  Only FaceBook and weekly CW NET of FISTS East Asia were  methods to communicate with my friends who pound the brass in the main Island.

“Oh, Leo got inactive. He used to call CQs almost every night.”  This must be the way they think about me and I don’t deny it.

But I guess I will be have more time to spare enjoying CW after this summer.  Before that, I have to assemble my new antenna, Cushcraft R-6000, to QRV on the high bands.  I’m looking forward to hearing some signals from EU and USA this autumn.

 

 

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Wings that fly us home

There are many ways of being in this circle we call life
A wise man seeks an answer, burns his candle through the night
Is a jewel just a pebble that found a way to shine
Is a hero’s blood more righteous than a hobo’s sip of wine

Did I speak to you one morning on some distant world away
Did you save me from an arrow, did you lay me in a grave
Were we brothers on a journey, did you teach me how to run
Were we broken by the waters, did I lie you in the sun

I dreamed you were a prophet in a meadow
I dreamed I was a mountain in the wind
I dreamed you knelt and touched me with a flower
I awoke with this: a flower in my hand

I know that love is seeing all the infinite in one
In the brotherhood of creatures; who the father, who the son
The vision of your goodness will sustain me through the cold
Take my hand now to remember when you find yourself alone

And the spirit fills the darkness of the heavens
It fills the endless yearning of the soul
It lives within a star too far to dream of
It lives within each part and is the whole
It’s the fire and the wings that fly us home
Fly us home, fly us home

It’s been said…

that Japan has four seasons and therefore people enjoy beautiful scenery in each season, which makes Japanese people artistic and they have rich and abundant culture. I’m one of them who don’t deny it though.  But look at this!

Another snow storm hit northern Japan. A low pressure system as strong as typhoon reached yesterday and one of my friends in Sapporo gave me a text message that says they had pouring rain last night and another snow storm would follow.

Global climate change can’t be denied.

Two years ago, we had snow fall in the middle of May, and then over 30℃ next day.  We used to hear the slow  footstep of spring and then admire stunning cherry blossoms.

Indeed, spring was just around the corner but it tears through at a breakneck speed.

Learning English

I have learned English for over 3 decades. No, actually it’s for 4 decades including my school age.  When I went abroad for the first time in 1986,  I only could speak some terms of everyday conversation such as ” how are you?”, ” how much?”, ” what time is it?”  and so on.

I still cannot believe that I could achieve that reckless trip along the Silk Road in China, Tibet and Nepal with my poor English speaking ability for several months.  Since then, I worked at an international hotel franchise and most of the employees spoke English there. So I learned it through working.

Most of Japanese learn English from the age of 12 to 18 but these 6 years don’t make them fluent in speaking.  They are forced to be concentrated on grammar, reading and composition, which is called “preparation studying” for entrance exams of universities.  Once they enter colleges or universities, they tend to forget most of the terms and sentences they learned in those period of “exam war”.

This is one of the reason that Japanese seldom speak English.

In the end of January, I was in Annaburg, near Berlin and was having a product training of some agricultural machinery. While I was having a dinner with representatives of machine dealers from EU, there were guys from Czech republic and Slovakia.  The job training itself was held in German and it was simultaneously interpreted into Russian and English by two sales persons of the manufacturer.  I was astonished with their fluency and asked one of them how they learned and trained their skills of speaking foreign languages.  On the dinner table, sipping a glass of good wine or two, our dialogues became focusing on the education of second languages in each countries.

I explained them about the education in Japan as mentioned above and the guy from Czech told me that they had quite the same way of learning English in his country. Another man from Slovakia agreed with him and said ” only reading comprehension was the most important things for us when we were students.  And when I graduated from a college, I couldn’t speak English at all. So I decided to learn English again and went to the United States.  Those two years made me capable of communicating with English speaking people”.

I had believed that the grammar-translation method in English-learning is taken only in Japan and therefore Japanese people are not good at communicating in English, but I was wrong. I found that there were not so drastic differences between those EU nations and Japan.

I assume that “how to seize an opportunity” to speak out the terms and sentences which he or she has learned at school is a KEY and the accumulation of these experiences encourages people to speak English in front of native English speakers.

Fortunately, I can write English like this but my composition and usage of terms are obviously the one of non-native’s and my speaking ability must be still in the level of primary-school children.  I sometimes think if my mother tongue were English, my life would be totally different. On the other hand, I admire the beautiful structure of Japanese language and I appreciate living as Japanese on this globe.

Only one thing I want to emphasize for my children is that….

If you speak only Japanese, you can communicate with 0.14 billion people. If you learn and speak English, you will be able to communicate with 1.4 billion people.

Now in The UK

This is my 5th visit in the UK and I’m now staying at a hotel named Egypt Mill in Nailsworth.A jetlag forced me to wake up around 2 AM and I am boiling water for my hot chocolate.

Arriving at Heathrow airport in the morning of 6th March, I headed for Peterborough. There was a Precision Farming event and two of our suppliers exhibited their stands.  Actually, farming is now gradually changing its method and more and more farmers are installing some advanced equipment which utilizes GPS and ISOBUS systems on their tractors and implements to control their productivity and cost efficiency.   There were a lot of young farmers accompanying their farther and they were looking at those cutting-edge-equipment with eager curiosity.  I joined a couple of seminars and enjoyed gaining knowledge about how they are working on the agricultural machines.  They were some sort of “must learn” technic for us because farmers in our Island Hokkaido is now getting bigger and bigger. They are completely different from the farmers in other areas in Japan.

This time, I’m travelling by train.  I left Peterborough in the late afternoon of 7th March and came to Stroud, Gloucestershire via London. At King’s Cross railway station, I was told I had to change from underground to national railway at Paddington.  On the plat form 3 at Paddington, there was a train leaving around 5 PM for Bristol.  I jumped on it and found a seat on  a standard coach.

Reading a novel that I brought from Japan, I sometimes enjoyed the scenery through the window. About 40 minutes later, a conductor came in and everybody showed him tickets. When I showed mine, he put a trouble expression on his face and said, ” Sir, your are on a wrong train”.  ” Well, I’m going to change the train at Swindon, am I?”, I asked him.  “No, this train doesn’t go to Swindon” he replied.

“Gosh! What’ll I do?” I mumbled.

Everybody around was watching a poor middle aged Japanese man.

The conductor said “don’t worry Sir, I check the other train schedule for you”.  And he gave me a piece of paper which my new itinerary was written on.  “You are going to get off the train at West Burry and go to Bath. And then take another train for Swindon”.  There were exact time each train leaves and plat form numbers.

Thank to him, I could see the town of Bath which I used to know the name of it on a student textbook at my English class before I was employed at my current office. It was beautiful and I wanted to visit there in the future with my family.

No travel is completely risk-free, and therefore, unexpected encounter with those stunning sceneries and kind people could become a highlight of the travelling.

Leaving Stroud this evening, I will stay a night near Heathrow and catch a flight for Japan tomorrow early morning.

My Business Trip

The day 13 of my business trip is now over and I am staying at a hotel near Aarhus Railway station, Denmark. Driving a rental car from Amsterdam, my accompany and I entered Germany and toured Salzkotten, Bad Essen, and Annaburg.  We visited our business partners and had some training of some products. On the last day, driving through the Brandenburg Gate, we got to the city center of Berlin on the 3rd of February.  Our driving distance was about 1500 kms and I was relieved when we returned our BMW 321 to the Hertz office where we took a long time to find out on the under ground of Berlin main railway station.

I left my home in the afternoon of 23rd of January with saying “Good-bye” to my wife and daughter and I’m feeling that it’s like a remote event now.  It was a tough trip indeed and my suit case getting heavier and heavier with those manufacturers brochures, booklets and operation manuals.

We took a train from Berlin to Hamburg this early morning and changed a train for Denmark.  Crossing the border, we got to Aarhus.

Another supplier is waiting for us in Nykobing Mors on Monday and we are going to stay in the port town.  It will be my last assignment that translate the meeting and will head for Japan in the morning of Tuesday.  Flying from Aarhus to Helsinki via Copenhagen, I will catch the flight to Japan.

Got used to driving on the right side of the road and those roundabouts which direction is opposite to ones in UK and also in Japan.  And I  had a good time chatting with my Ham Radio friend, Tomas, OK4BX on the mobile phone while I was having a dinner with suppliers and dealers from 20 countries in Annaburg.

There were a lot of interesting things and I have been excited to be here in northern Europe for these two weeks.  But now, it’s time for me to miss my normal life with family, and Japanese food.

Finland

Arriving in Helsinki, we moved to Rantasalmi located about 300 kms west of the capital city. A business negotiation went well and my 3 accompanies and I were invited to a SAUNA.  In the forest near the Arctic Circle, we got undressed and drank a glass of Vodka or two and ran to the small wooden shed where a very hot smoke sauna was installed.

“Run! Run! Run!” we shouted because the external temperature was below minus 20 C and I felt I was almost dying when I ran through the path with naked. But the sauna worked as a very good stage to boost our friendship with the business partner.

“You have to do the same thing as we are doing now if you want to get more discount on our machine”, Mikko, the president of the company said and he suddenly jumped into snow his head-first on. My accompanies were in pause but I dived into the white and freezing snow.  I was thrilled and got very excited to have this first experience.

After staying a night, we headed for Helsinki again and flew to Aarhus, Denmark.  I’m writing this in a hotel room on the way to Copenhagen. Here is a video when I was taken to Rantasalmi and the driver is Jens, an export manager of the manufacturer.