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March 25, 2010

Mona Makes A Conference Call

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No, we are not teaching Mona how to use a computer yet, but now that I have the nifty web-cam. I just put the computer in front of Mona and let mom watch her as long as she wantes to. Unfortunatly, in this photo mom didn't have her web-cam on, so Mona couldn't see grandma, but she seems to like to stare at the screen anyway. But Mona has not only taken over my computer, she is also the main attraction on Tomoe's desk-top photo.

A few days ago I took the photo below to compare with Mona when she was one-week old. (Sorry, Kelly, the cap you knitted doesn't fit anymore.)

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I think I will just leave you with this.

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Snow Season Winding Down

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Its been a busy but fun extended weekend. On Friday Ryan, a loyal reader who refuses to admit to experiencing withdrawl symptoms when I don't post, and his family came out to visit, and we were joined on Saturday by a potential helper for the summer visiting from Virginia. Family consists of wife, five-month-old Monika, whose name just happens to share the same character for "mo" as Mona (萌 - meaning "to bud"), and grandma and grandpa visiting from Canada. I think they were here expecting a little more hiking than I had prepared for, but I think it all worked out well considering it was Monika's first hike.

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In addition to a couple short day-hikes with kanjiki snowshoes, and a hot bath in the cold river, everyone seemed to enjoy the local not-so-traditional snow festival. While there was taiko drumming by the local girls (an award winning drumming group), and a nice foot bath, I say "not-so-traditional", because of the kindergarteners doing a pon-pon routine to Avriel Levine's "I Don't Like Your Girlfriend", and the masked WWF style profesional wrestlers competing against people in teddy-bear costumes.

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On Sunday, we joined a three-hour walk through our village together with the locals from my hamlet - an event organized to get people out and moving after a long winter, in preparation for the upcoming farm season. We arrived at the hot-spring for a big lunch and "pass-the-babies-around so the local's can coo at them" party followed by out-door bath and rolling in the snow. naked. It doesn't get any better than that.

The day after Ryan's family left, I took our potential "intern" to Jigokudani Monkey park, were I was lucky enough to bump into a family from the Yokosuka base that needed a bit of guidance. Luckily, I am a guide! If you are reading this, I really hope you can get a group of guys together. I am itching for a challenging ride/hike with people that will leave me in the dust!

Yudanaka and the Monkey park are two hours away from my house, but it just so happened that the inn we randomly picked, is run by a former teacher from our local grade-school, who actually tought a few of my friends from the village many years ago, so we had a lot to talk about, and I have found a new favorite inn in the area to take customers too. Very nice people, and it is one of the most affordable inns in the area, yet is still very beautiful. I am Kevin Cameron, and I officially endorse Matsuya Ryokan if you are visiting Yudanaka, Shibu Onsen, or the famous Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani

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March 18, 2010



Tomoe is insisting that I post this photo on my blog. She already has it as her screensaver. Personally, I prefer one of these below.


I haven't posted in a long while because 1) I was busy with a customer making snow-shoes and camping in a snow cave at the top of a mountain (doesn't it sound exciting?); and 2) I was busy with a couple of friends from nearby, and another friend and his young son from the big city who slept in a tent for his first time, and I almost enticed to jump naked with me into the snow. In the end, I jumped, he didn't and his dad filmed it all on video. If it pops up on YouTube I will post a link. The boy was mostly interested in digging holes in the snow though, so we spent the majority of our time on that. The other friend's daughter's highlight seems to have been holding Mona.

Later, we received a wonderful gift of over ten hours of unedited video taken by the TV crew following us from the night Mona was born until two weeks later. I set about to add subtitles for my parents, but after two days of searching and trying various software, I couldn't find a software to do it. Any ideas? I am not about to buy some professional editing software, but something simple and easy would be nice.

Sometime in those two days, my computer, which had been gradually getting worse and worse finally frustrated me enough that I reinstalled, twice. It just keeps breaking more, so I figure it can only be crappy Dell hardware and nothing I can do about. In a desperate move, on a trip to the big city two hours away, I was determined to get a new computer. Somehow I found a used MacBook (mint condition) that was only slightly more expensive than the lowest level PC.

I was leery, and Tomoe was warning me against it, after listening to all my complaining about that B.S. iBook I suffered with for so many years. Man was she wrong. I LOVE this. Mac has come a loooooong way since 2004. For one thing, the letters actually show up the instant I type them now - just like on a PC! And I don't have to wait 20 seconds for an app to open like I did with the iBook. Nice job Apple.

The best thing though, is that it has the little camera thingy built in, so now I can video skype with my family and see nephews and nieces. We tried it out for the first time today, and the call became a bit long so I just propped it up facing Mona and mom stared at the screen for twenty minutes without me even having to talk to her.

This last photo is the photo I took of Mona when I read this post to her and asked for her opinion.

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