Friday, March 28, 2014

Off in the morning

The problem with having family members who have all been to Japan at least once is that they know what we have to offer here and therefore what to order when we occasionally go back to New Zealand.  At least Singapore Air has a very generous baggage allowance and I guess it gives us an excuse to go shopping to fill up the boxes again for the return journey!  
We are off for a very short visit leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  Can't wait!  Hopefully the blog will resume after our safe return....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bugger off!

I have spent the last few nights sneaking into the tunnel house in the middle of the night with a torch trying to catch sight of the little buggers who have decided that tunneling in my beautiful lettuce patch is a fun thing to do.  Unfortunately I can't actually locate them, but I'm guessing they are moles and not gigantic stag beetles hatching and tunneling their way out.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they are moles who are feasting on the stag beetle larvae...
We often have mole tunnels in the lawn, but stomping on them seems to deal with them okay and they never really cause any damage.  Unfortunately the same can not be said for the tunnel house beds.  It is hard to tell from the photos, but they are pulling everything up from the roots and mixing it all about.  It is definitely time to look into some mole control methods.  Those of you who only know moles from the Wind in the Willows and think they are very cute, think again!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Unusual sight

This is what is left of a house just up the road from us.  There has been no one living in it for a few years now and it has slowly been deteriorating and starting to fall down.  Over the last week there have been trucks coming and going, carting parts of it away as diggers pull it down.  
Considering the number of deserted houses around this area this is a very unusual sight, especially as I'm fairly certain there is no intention of the land being used or sold at any time in the future.  I think the cost of having them pulled down combined with the large amount of excess land in our area means that most people just leave old houses and wait for them to merge back in with nature.  It makes it a sad area to live in..... surrounded by deserted, falling down houses.  Hopefully others in the area will follow this family's lead and our area will become less like a ghost town in the future.  Even better, hopefully many people will see the potential of our beautiful area and come and build houses on all the deserted land - not too many though, I still like living in the countryside!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Small boy paradise

Considering we live in the countryside it has been very noisy around here lately.  For the past week or so there has been a constant beeping outside the kitchen window as concrete mixers come and go.  There is some work being done on an agricultural dam just up the road from us but as the roads are so narrow the big concrete mixers can't get to the construction site without falling into the river.  The car park behind our house has been transformed into a concrete loading zone where the big concrete mixers back up onto a ramp and transfer concrete into the smaller concrete mixers. 
Unfortunately, while they are waiting for the small mixers to come back, the big mixers continually beep... and I mean continually.  Fortunately the last of the concrete was poured yesterday and we are now back to our normal boring, but quiet view out the kitchen window!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The concept of exponents

At the moment my daughter is not particularly enjoying maths.  She is in the "why do I need to learn this, there is absolutely no need for it in the future" phase.  I can remember thinking something similar when we were studying exponents at school, but now I can see exactly how they work and that in fact they are very important in the real world.  It wasn't a textbook that taught me all about exponents, but my daffodils.  I think I probably started out with one small packet of daffodils about 10 years ago and have slowly divided them up around the garden and every year they grow exponentially until they now really brighten up the back garden at the start of spring.
I can remember thinking when I first bought the bulbs that they were slightly expensive, but hopefully would be worth the money.  Now I am convinced that they were a bargain!  It looks like they may need some more dividing next year.... I may need to start taking over a few more rice fields!

Monday, March 17, 2014

A couple more running videos for the family

On Sunday we spent most of the day in the sun at the last athletics competition for the year in Saiki City.  It is close to a 2 hour drive away and we had to be there by 8:15am so it was an early start.....again!
Despite having done athletics as a child, I would have to say I am still very much in the learning phase here.  At this meet I learned all about the effect of the wind on the races.  At Sunday's meet my son broke the meet record for the 5th grade boy's 100m... well he would have if the wind had been blowing 2m/second rather than the 2.2m/second that it was at the moment he ran.  He ran his personal best - 12.90 seconds.  But, because the wind was blowing that tiny bit too hard it isn't recognised as an actual record either.  Apparently it is almost impossible to break records at that particular track as they built it on the top of a hill where the wind whips in, giving everyone a tail wind push.  You would think they would think about that a little more before building it, but obviously not.  Anyway, despite not getting any official records he still came first and most importantly got another medal for his shrine.  At least the wind can't take that away from him!

Coming home to roost

It is a little hard to get a decent photo of this, but... every Monday evening on our way home from swimming my son and I encounter the crows coming home to roost.  There is a long stretch of straight road with huge power lines beside it which become completely full of hundreds, possibly thousands, of crows as the evening gets closer to night.  It is incredible to watch them all flying in in unison and settling on the wires, then all taking off as a silly twit stops their car and gets out to take a photo of them.  They then all fly back in in unison onto a slightly different part of the wires.  
I have no idea who makes the call as to which section of the power lines they will land on for the night, but somehow they manage to get all the birds coordinated and settled for the night.  All I can say is - I'm really glad it is not on the wires outside our house!  The cleanup could become a little repetitive every day!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Early Earthquake Warning System

Early Friday morning we were woken to the house shaking.  It was an earthquake that was centered pretty close to here and was about a magnitude 6.3 on the scale. It seemed to go on for ages - at least enough time for me to find my glasses and race upstairs to see if the kids were okay.  There was nothing broken and there have been zero aftershocks that we have felt, so here's hoping it was just a strange one off occurrence.  I ended up spending the night on the floor of my children's bedroom just in case there were any extra wobbles.  Usually I would just jump into bed with them, but as they are now bigger than me I tend to have all the blankets pulled from me and get pushed out as they try to turn over.
I have no idea if any other countries have the same system, but I am always impressed about the early earthquake warning system they have here in Japan.  I know it is not always accurate, but a minute or so before the ground starts shaking there are big warnings splashed all over the TV that there is an earthquake on its way so please take cover.  All the cellphones in the area also start bleeping out warnings and then send messages to say how big the earthquake was, where it was centered etc. almost immediately after it has occurred.  
The day after the earthquake I was taking a break at lunch time and watching TV when another one of these warnings flashed across the screen.  I diligently rushed under the table and sat there alone waiting for the big one to strike, images of the kids schools falling down, no one being able to get to anyone else etc.  After a couple of minutes of no movement I decided to come out from my safe spot and saw that the TV was showing that an earthquake of approximately 6.3 had just occurred very close to where we live.  I was a little confused as this time I hadn't felt a thing.  Of course it was then that I remembered that the TV program I was watching was one that I had taped and that it was on at the time of the original earthquake.... I guess at least there was no one there to laugh at me and it gave me a little practice of hiding under the table!
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