Category Archives: General

Cacophony

I’m enjoying an afternoon with the wifey at an on-base coffee shop. It’s built into the Airmen’s Club, as an off-shoot of the snack bar. They renovated a few months ago (or more?) and the atmosphere is usually perfect for a quiet relaxing coffee outing or for some focused writing.

That back corner screams “writing nook” in my mind.

The Club’s PA system is playing a steady stream of 80s and 90s music, stuff you might hear in any store. And the snack bar / coffee shop has their own music playing. Loudly.

I’ve got a lighthearted yet punkish rock song playing at a decent clip in three-four time with some heavy bass, and on the other side is Take a Chance on Me.

Sitting where I am, I’m right between both sounds and it’s atrocious. The snack bar’s music is loud enough that I’m pretty sure it can be heard anywhere in their section (kind of the point, I suppose). But regardless of the comfortable, cozy atmosphere of that picture, the sound is just wrong.

I’ll mention it to the managers. It makes everything seem off. Ever been in a place like this, where one easily corrected aspect ruins all the hard work that obviously went into the rest of the setting?

Calm Before the (self-inflicted) Storm

I regret not participating in BlogBattles or posting, but I am enjoying a week off of work and a relaxing vacation to Okuma, the beach resort at the north end of Okinawa.

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Here’s the view from the cabin porch. It’s ok, I guess…

Also my mother-in-law is here. At least that’s not a bad thing like the stereotypical joke might imply.

After this week, I jump back into a flying schedule with double the standard workload and none of the additional support to make it work. So work is going to be crazy for a good while. And I still have an office to run when we’re not in the air doing the mission.

On top of that, I go to my PT test next week knowing I’m doomed to fail based on gaining too much weight and too much waist over the last several months. I don’t have any excuses; I know that if I log everything I eat, hold roughly to the suggested caloric intake, and get a decent amount of exercise, I can pass the test. The diet is the biggest part of achieving success, and it’s tiring to live like that for months on end. So my next few months will be not just flying but incorporating more exercise while watching and logging every calorie.

On a more positive note, prep for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is in full swing, and I’ll be participating in that again this year. During November, people around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and 30th. That works out to 1,667 words a day, assuming life never gets in the way. I’ve been planning a story and a setting with a friend, and I’m ready to dive in. I’m also the Okinawa Municipal Liaison, one of four for all of Japan, which means setting up meetings, posting messages to all of the participants in the region, and trying to help the whole event go smoothly. I love doing this but it’s a workload.

More important than all of the above, I have a wife and four kids that deserve attention. I can’t just write and workout when I’m not flying. (But I can write while getting some light exercise on a bike or a walk on a treadmill, so that’s one way to kill two birds with one stone.)

So we’re making the most of this down-time. We built a fire at sunset and roasted marshmallows, after I grilled some dogs, burgers, and corn. Last night, my wife and I enjoyed some quiet time just chatting on the porch, enjoying the cool breeze.

We’ll build a fire tonight if the rain stays away. Swimming one more time is on the menu, as is cycling around the resort. If the rain gets bad, we have some card games to play — we might get to those anyway, since my middle son is begging for them.

And maybe I’ll get some writing done. My NaNoWriMo project isn’t going to prep itself.

Japan Living

My family and I have been fortunate throughout my military career, and one such blessing is that the Air Force has seen fit to station me in Japan for the vast majority of my 20+ years.

Japanese culture is amazing. Honor and courtesy matter a great deal. Service is valued and something people take pride in. Offering a tip at a restaurant, for example, is frowned upon. The workers know the quality of their product and their service, and they charge you for what is fair. They don’t need a tip as a bribe to put in good effort nor do they want you to feel like you have to help them out financially. (I’m probably vastly misunderstanding the reasoning behind this but the point is, you don’t tip like you would in the States.)

It sometimes seems like the treatment or culture that is too good to be true.

There are some downsides… Traffic laws are such that any accident is partly your fault even if it’s clearly entirely the fault of the other party. If you hadn’t been where you were, they wouldn’t have hit you, or so I guess the logic goes.

So when a landscaping crew’s high-power weed whacker accidentally launched a rock into my minivan’s passenger side window, shattering it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

whoops!

While stopped and waiting for the light to turn green, I certainly didn’t expect the sudden pop and Pssshh of crumbling safety glass falling into my car. I may have said something unkind to the worker who–back turned to me, oblivious to my plight and rage–continued trimming the plants on the sidewalk’s edge. His co-worker noticed, called his attention to the situation, and helped start a rough conversation involving contacting his manager’s secretary who thankfully is bilingual. On the phone, she apologized and said someone was coming to take a look. 

In the States, I could almost imagine getting the finger and being sent on my way to sort matters out on my own. I worried that, like a traffic accident, this might fall into some mystical category of “But did you not contribute to the damage to your vehicle by placing your vehicle at that intersection, at that exact moment?”

The company offered to repair the window, which I at least hoped would be the case. I was happy enough with that.

Then they offered to get me a rental car in the mean-time. 

They repaired the car in less than half the expected time.

Then they cleaned out my car and (I’m pretty sure) filled up the gas tank. 

They paid for the rental–or technically, I paid for it on my credit card then they paid me in cash.

And then the manager handed me another envelope that looked like money. With some help and laughter from the bilingual ladies at the car rental office, I found out this was “for dinner.” It was a 10K yen note, which is roughly $100. I mean, the minivan might indicate a large family, but still… That’s a pricy dinner!

It would have been rude to refuse, because this is another custom. When you make a grievous error or do someone harm, you apologize and bring a gift of some sort to smooth the relationship.

As I type this, the taco style brick-oven pizzas my family loves are being cooked, purchased with the “dinner” gift, to be enjoyed with a family movie. Not too shabby. 

(Okay, being honest: the teens will probably thieve some pizza, opt out of family time, and hide out in their rooms watching YouTube videos. Just because we live in Japan, that doesn’t mean everything changes from what you might expect in the States.)

Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.

Remember when Apple being innovative and progressive meant coming up with technology and functions that benefitted the consumer?
I know I’ve repeatedly “lost” files on my iPhone, and I assumed it was just dumping off files to make space for new photos or updates.
But I never joined Apple Music… and I’m sure glad I didn’t.

Author & Book Promotions

From Dave – many of you on WordPress know the Opinionated Man, Jason Cushman. He has often made his blog available to help those with smaller followings gain some free exposure. He is now using his large following as an opportunity to promote indie and self-published authors, myself included. 

My experience with Jason has been very positive. He’s shown himself to be dedicated and eager to help others pursue success. 

Please share this on! I am offering contracts to promote authors and their books. I know there are many indie authors and writers that struggle to get their books noticed! It is a tough and competitive business right now and everyone wants to write a book these days. There are very few opportunities to get […]

https://aopinionatedman.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/please-share-this-on-author-book-promotions/

Beat the Snow

Yesterday was among the coldest days on record for Okinawa, Japan, to include a light bit of snow (barely noticeable and only on the highest part of the island, to be fair–nothing like what some of you see on the regular in the States).

We will try to rebuild and recover. 

Still, a chilly day inspires me to enjoy a nice warm soup and sandwich, something to beat the snow and fill me with joy. And my favorite combination is a bowl of robust and flavorful tomato soup, with what Panera Bread calls a “Big Kids’ Grilled Cheese.”

The sandwich is a thick toast triple-cheese parmesan-crusted taste of awesomeness with bacon in the middle. The soup that I’m making has been kicked up a notch with italian seasonings, extra garlic powder, and a sprinkle of southwest chipotle. 

 

The start of a satisfied smile on my face
 
Since I have a swarm of hungry kids, there’s a pan of tortellini boiling to ensure everyone eats their fill. (Confession time: I want tortellini and the rest is pure justification.)

Yes, this is going to happen today. 

The herbs count as a vegetable, right?

Bacon of course, plus some 5-cheese Italian sprinkled between two slices of cheesy Texas toast, then the top of the sandwich is dusted with parmesan and it all goes back in the oven to melt into delicious crispiness.

And since it wouldn’t be a reasonable facsimile of Panera without coffee… I’ve got a special pot of cherry chocolate coffee brewed up for me and the wifey. 

Suck it, “cold” mid-40s Okinawa weather!