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2012 in Review

I can honestly say that 2012 was the busiest and fastest pace year of my life. I reckon that life will only get busier. Since this blog is primarily a journal for me too look back on, I thought I’d throw up some pictures to remind myself of the year that went by.

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Good-bye, Charleston, South Carolina. It was interesting. I miss the pink an auburn sunsets, the spanish moss, and walking along the Wando river.  We moved to Northern Virginia in early February

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View from Arlington National Cemetery – Lincoln memory at the end of the bridge, and of course the iconic Washington monument to the right

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Walking in the streets of Annapolis, MD.  Go Navy!

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Air show – F/A 18 Hornet – my favorite jet as a kid growing up.  The F-22 demonstration though sure made these planes look a lot less impressive

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Air show – what happens when a prop plane and blimp…?  I suppose this aircraft was used for zero-gravity testing and training?

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Teaching my son the fine craft of prepping and grilling bbq – the Korean grocery marts have excellent cuts of ribs at great prices.  In the warmer months I was preparing ribs once a month!

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Grilled pork satay

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烏賊 (squid) on the grill

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Great Falls on the Potomic

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Mule ride at Great Falls Park

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Our tour guide – he was full of great information about this history and lives of the people working the canal, and the impacts of rail road development on the canal

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Eden Center – an entire shopping center full of Vietnamese shops, such as food, entertainment, beauty, travel, and grocer shops.  Notice the South Vietnamese flags.

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Bahn mi – liver pate and head cheese and hot peppers – delicious!

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Autumn colors

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View from the Northern Shenandoah Skyline Drive

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Downtown Leesburg, VA – quaint and pleasant town to visit when you want to get away from the bustle of modern life.  There are quite a few coffee shops and pubs along the main street

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Part of the Christmas Parade in Leesburg, VA

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State House in Raleigh, NC – spent the time after Christmas and before the New Year in the Research Triangle Area of NC this year.

Hopefully 2013 will be an easier year with more time to enjoy the little things.

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Sometimes I do feel like this

For your interpretation.

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Transient? Advanced aging due to a life lost in traffic? It could be all.

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Welcome 2013

2013 has arrived.  I fell asleep in a chair around 23:00, but my wife woke me up around 23:45 to welcome in the new year.  I had to rise at 05:00 on December 31st to get into work early, and I just ran out of fuel around 23:00.  I just cannot stay up late like I used to do.  All of my energy goes to my work and to trying to raise the kids, just don’t have much energy at the end of a long day to stay up to watch a ball fall from above or Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffen putz around on the tube.  To think just five years ago I stayed up all night and talked and played card games with friends.  I managed to stay wake for the new year to arrive, but I fell asleep again shortly after 00:30.  Oh well.

For dinner on New Year’s Eve, I prepared 年越し蕎麦 (New Year Arrival Buckwheat noodles, or New Year Arrival Soba).  I could have bought the regular dried noodles imported from Japan, but since I live in little Korea, I thought I’d try to find fresh noodles–they just taste better.  I cannot read Korean, but in the Korean market I found one huge package of noodles with the Korean text and “Soba” in parenthesis.  I compared the Korean lettering on that package with that of the smaller packages, and I managed to take home some fresh Soba.  We noticed that Korean soba is much more brown than the Japanese equivalent.  My wife inspected the ingredients (listed in English due to FDA regulations), and we found that in Korean soba regular wheat is added to the buckwheat, which accounts for the darker color.  Regardless though, the noodles were very tasty, and we sent off the year with ざる蕎麦  (Cold Soba dipped in soup) and a spinach salad.  If you like Soba, Korean soba is damn good too.  We’ll have to buy it more often.

After dinner we watched the NHK Red & White festival listening to all of the different types of music and dancing: J-pop, 演歌 (Enka), and all of the other odd forms of Japanese pop-culture.  We moved from Japan more than three years ago, and I have not really watched any mainstream Japanese TV since moving away.  I still find myself missing Japan…but then I think back to how much time I had to spend at work in that country, and the thought of moving back to Japan fades out of my mind.  Any way, I could still recognize many of the actors, actresses, singers, etc.  These past three years have felt like an eternity to me, but in reality not much time has passed.  Where do the days go?

2012…what a year.  We had quite a few setbacks this past year, but at the same time I have a job now with real career potential, and I now have a precious daughter.  Of course, even at six months of age, she challenges me on everything, perhaps an omen for the future?  I find myself really wanting to buy some land and not having to move for awhile.  I don’t want a big house, but I want some land and a small house.  But here in the Washington Metro Area, I find that to be a pipe dream.  I want to put down a small garden and grow some green vegetables, but reality says I’ll be renting for the next decade at least and trying to grow some vegetables in flower pots.  At least it is a goal to work towards though.

2013 is going to be a big year–it has to be.  I have a lot to do, and I must do it and accomplish it all.  Failure is not an option this year.  I like odd numbered years, which I find to be more easy going than the even numbered years, so here is to hoping for a good year!  Happy New (Calendar) Year to all!!!

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all that celebrate out there, that celebrate the holiday for what it is, for the children, for the time off from work, or just as an excuse for some consumerist behavior.

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This Blue Jay decided not to fly South this year…with the almost freezing temperatures recently, I’m sure he is regretting that decision now

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A hotel in downtown Charleston had a nice rail setup that was too large to photograph in my mobile phone.  Liam enjoyed watching the train go round the track and through the mountain.

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Our humble three this year

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On Malaya

My wife was hospitalized before our son was born and I spent a great amount of time commuting in the rail system of Japan from Hachioji to her hometown on the weekends. Each two-hour one-way train ride offered me the chance to read my copy of Forgotten Wars: The End of Britain’s Asian Empire. If history interests you in any way, I highly recommend this book.  Growing up in North America, naturally all of the history I read was very much specific to the USA. This book, however, focuses on the former British Empire and the demise of British colonies in Burma (modern Myanmar), India and Malaya (Malaysia).  It also touches on the fall of the Dutch Empire in Indonesia and French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia).

Today I finished another novel on the history of Southeast Asia, Noel Barber’s War of the Running Dogs, which focuses on the counter-terrorism war in Malay against Chin Peng and the Malaysian communists.  Barber is a gifted writer, and while he walks you through the history of the conflict, his anecdotes from interviews with important figures in the British and Malayan government make you fell like you’re right there in the jungle or on the front with the men who experienced the insurgency first hand.  In some ways the book does read like British propaganda, like a pat on the back for the good ol’ boys of the civil service, but in the end the book considers critical perspectives as well.  Though this book is not a pure source of academic writing, it is a great book for understanding the Malayan Emergency and getting to know the region better.

I suppose my next step is to find a book covering the race wars in Malaya and the eventual founding of Malaysia and Singapore as separate states.  I’m very much fascinated by Sinagpore and thirsty to know more.

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George Clooney is…

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……………. Golgo 13 ?????

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White Hot Summer

Posting has been sparse this summer.  I haven’t had the energy to do much, and since July it all feels like quite a blur.  Work has been insanely busy (though thankfully I haven’t had to work insane hours like in I used to in Japan), and I guess that coupled with the intense heat and I just don’t have the energy to do much.  I have not been reading, watching my favorite TV programs, riding my bicycle, or really doing much of anything. It’s been quite warm since mid-April, and it’s been downright nasty since June.  It won’t be cooler until November, but by then it will rain and rain and rain and rain…

Charleston is the hottest place I’ve ever lived.  I break out in a big sweat after just a minute in this intense humidity.  Five minutes in the midday sun and I can already feel my skin burning.  The only time I have feel comfortable in this humid mess is after a run.  At that point nothing will cool me down and the breeze from the river–though humid–has a nice cooling effect.

Why is it that I just keep ending up in hotter and hotter climates?  I hated Virginia’s climate, and then I ended up in Saitama, which was much hotter than Virginia.  Then I ended up in that sinkhole Hachioji, much warmer than Saitama due to the hills all around the city.  And now Charleston…if I have to be in this humid mess at least let it be in a decent city like Miami or Singapore!

I do have some things to post about finally, but I need some time to compile my photos.  If I can find more than 10 minutes to spare, I’ll get at them.

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