March 30, 2015

Oh, it has sprung all right

How do you know it’s spring? When the Wienermobile takes two laps at the Mazda Laguna Seca raceway in Monterey! 
Hot dogs, cars, and sunshine: spring is definitely in the air.
And yes for me that means baseball!

Jays: The only bad news is Marcus Stroman suffered a torn left ACL and will be out for the 2015 season. 
Japanese baseball: the Carp are always in my heart. But I am warming to the Yokohama Bay Stars: “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

And how could I post without the mandatory shots of cherry blossoms (near my neighborhood).

Big Mahalo

- Visit to Hawaiians, last cruise in the Mazda3 - 

The Rising Family™ dispels the winter blahs by annually visiting the Hawaiians Spa Resort, a sprawling water park, hot spring and entertainment complex with a – you got it! — Hawaiian theme. 
It is located about a four-hour drive north of Yokohama. This year was the third time we’ve gone there, and this year is the spa’s 50th anniversary: Big Mahalo! What better way to shake off February’s cold embrace than with blue pools, waterslides and tropical drinks? 
Yessir, it works. Going to Hawaiians also has a do-the-right-thing element because we are contributing to the local economy, which is close to the area most ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. So we are doing a little good and having a ton o’ fun.

Besides, we just like it there and always have a good time. See for yourself:

How? We get up super early, motorvate up through Tokyo to the spa, and then spend the whole day and evening being transported to this little bit of Hawaii in northern Japan.
Every year I marvel at how easy it is to get everybody to sleep when the fun ends. The next day, on the way back we stop at the Hitachi Seaside Park, where we rent bicycles and ride around the place. When the wind isn’t gusting it’s quite nice; there are many amusement park rides as well. 
This year there were hordes of Chinese tourists due to loosened visa rules and because it was Chinese New Year. Now this is something relatively new, especially in places far off the beaten tourist track. I chuckled when watching these two very different Asian peoples interact. 

I chose a prophetic parking spot at the park. This was the last time we were to take our trusty Mazda3 on a long cruise, and we parked next to an exact copy of the Nissan model we ordered as our next car. 
 A nice touch to end another terrific weekend.

March 10, 2015

Random Acts of Photography

The premise is simple: capture some of the oddities that add to the flavor of our lives, particularly during weekend family outings. Here are a few.

Birthday Mayhem
A trip to Pureland (a.k.a. Hello Kitty Land) has become an annual January ritual that I will cop to secretly enjoying even though I am officially a functioning adult male. There is just too much excitement and joy in the air not to feel young and giddy. Great way to celebrate Lady E.’s birthday and kick off the new year. Check this out:
Since I snap most of the photos, I am only occasionally in them. So here are a few of the kids and me:

Exhibit A: Lady E. and me at Cocos, a family favorite for cheap eats. The girls favor this chain because their “getting dessert ratio” is high. 
Exhibit B: Marina making peace with me after throwing dried beans at my head with uncanny accuracy at early February’s Setsubun ritual. The idea is to throw beans at nasty demons (like daddy) to bring in good luck. Perhaps it is an old tradition for children to release stress?
Credit: B.Davis,
Cosmic Lady E.
As she gets older, Elena is exploring her own Doors of Perception. She can’t read Aldous Huxley yet, but:
This is Major Tom to Ground Control
 I'm stepping through the door
 And I'm floating
 in a most peculiar way
 And the stars look very different today

And this is Marina’s current worldview: feces, Doraemon and Anpanman.
(Interpret this any want you want to, folks.)

The Final Frontier
Leonard Nimoy died recently. The universe has gained what we lost—LLAP. I always liked his equanimity with being inextricably and forever associated with the role of Mr. Spock. Years ago Nimoy inspired my annual goatee-growing habit in February. Canadians, in their egalitarian way, have chosen to honor him by Spockifying $5 bills. I think it’s terrific! “Why not, eh?”