snow and sakura

2016-05-03 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Crazy weather in Sapporo! One day warm enough to run in a T-shirt and short pants. Sakura (cherry blossoms) bloomed. Next day snow, sleet, rain, plus intense winds that blew sakura petals off the branches.

We took our first day off in a month. Walked through sakura in downtown Sapporo.

Late-blooming sakura trees were the smart ones! Today 24 degrees C. Tomorrow sleet is forecast.

Blown-off petals fall through the sky like snow.

We enjoyed an art exhibit of Yokoyama Taikan.

back at hokudai

2016-04-01 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Returned to Hokudai today after stopping by our parents' homes on our way back from Lincoln City, Oregon. We are grateful that all of our 4 parents are healthy and active.

Mom runs a publishing company out of her house. Pictures of my departed sisters adorn the walls.

I'm relieved that there is hardly any snow left in Sapporo. I slipped and fell a couple of times earlier this winter and was sore for a while. Ouch!

Oh and I was promoted to full professor effective today. No big deal -- our school limits the number of full professors so qualified associate professors wait their turn. I qualified years ago. Vacancies were created last month when several professors retired. I ordered bilingual, double-sided business cards.

solid basics

2016-03-26 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- I am delighted that after 21 months and 9 days my trumpet embouchure (that is, the placement of the mouthpiece upon my lips) is becoming accurate and consistent. Not quite there yet though! I started removing my mouthpiece after each note so that I can unwaveringly combine my body with my instrument.

I am excited to deepen my listening of music. During today's lesson (which is our 20th),
John Bringetto lectured on chord changes, specifically on the role of the secondary dominant. Much of what he mentioned was over my head, although not for lack of reading material -- I need to put the theory to practice by working through actual examples. I will review our lesson by listening to its audio and video recordings. I also practice playing straight melody with iReal-pro backing.

John demonstrates by firstly playing the straight melody (which is where I am barely at), secondly embellishing the melody (which I suspect is my limit of possible achievement), and thirdly improvising by moving around the chords.

Much of embouchure is hidden. "Tense the corners of your mouth, and relax the aperture (that is, then opening at the center of the lips". "Raise the back of your tongue, and widen your throat like there's an egg in it". I see the point ... but aren't these instructions oxymoronic? Or I am a moron?

rotary club of lincoln city

2016-03-23 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Lori Arce-Torres, our friend and insurance agent, invited us to a Rotary Club meeting at the Salishan Lodge in Lincoln City, Oregon. The Rotary Foundation sponsored me 30 years ago (1986-1987) to travel from Tokyo to California to study at Stanford University.

I was granted an opportunity to thank Rotarians (as Rotary club members are known) for their generous support.

David Gomberg (
representative in the Oregon state house, and owner of the Gomberg Kite company) gave a talk about the 5-week short session of the state legislature that meets in even-numbered years.

ken saul, inventor of ultrapure oils

2016-03-16 PHILOMATH, OREGON, USA -- We met Ken Saul, owner of the Ultrapure Oils company that manufactures lubricants for brass instruments, at a coffee shop near his factory.

Ken was trained as a composer and trumpet player. After earning his degree in music from San Francisco State University, he studied at Julliard. He continues to perform the trumpet in the larger Corvalis, Oregon area.

Ken is also an engineer. He has an BS in electrical engineering, and an MS in engineering management. He worked at HP's fabrication facility in Corvallis for 30 years. During the early period of his technical career he used high-vacuum pumps which required precise lubrication. This formed a confluence of his interests in music and engineering. He invented a synthetic lubricant for brass instruments which he named Ultrapure Oils.

I use Ultrapure Oils exclusively, partly because I am an Oregonian, and partly because
Carol Brass, the manufacturer of 2 of my 3 trumpets, vouches for Ultrapure. So does Monette, a trumpet manufacturer based in Portland, Oregon. Wynton Marsalis plays Monette. (By the way, Wynton Marsalis and I both use Ultrapure oil, and are the same age. The commonality ends there: Wynton Marsalis plays trumpet, alas I play with the trumpet.)

Recently, Ken helped a trumpet manufacturer that uses stainless steel valve casings and pure copper valves. Last month, Ken improved his oil to reduce electrochemical corrosion caused by the difference in ionization tendencies across the 2 metals.

Ken spent over 100 minutes with us, generously advising me on my trumpet training, and talking about the trumpet industry. His wife comes from Sapporo.

Noriko and I plan to attend his performances with the
Corvallis Community Band this summer at Corvallis central park.

I oil my valves before and after each practice session. I disassemble, wipe, dry, reassemble, and lubricate my instruments every 3rd day. My instruments allow me no excuse for poor playing!

Imagine Coffee is considerably larger than coffee shops in Japan. Apparently they occasionally provide live music.

Ken graciously exchanged my stock of Ultrapure oils with his newest blend.