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Author Archives: James

Japan is pretty good..
There are some things I love about it and some things that still get on my nerves. 

Things that I love about Japan:

  1. People – The people are vary thoughtful toward each other.  An exmple of this is in traffic where people let each other in and out ot of sideroads.  Another example is at night many Japanese cars have a way to dim the headlights so that they are not too bright for oncoming traffic.  Typically a car will dim thier lights when stationary so as not to cause uncomfortableness to the people that are in front of them.
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    Personality –
  2. Food and Culture – there is a rich diverse culture of food and drink, and the Japanese people enjoy both immensly.
  3. Mechanical redesigns and small improvements – The Japanese have a way of accepting new things from different cultures and then trying to improve upon the original concept.  Sometimes this works out for the best, sometimes not.
  4. The Land – Despite the fact that there are so many people packed onto a few islands that together are barely the size of one US state, the people manage to reserve spaces of beauty scattered amongst the concrete and steel.  Some of my faforites include public and private parks, onsens, shrines, and beaches (what’s left of them).
  5. Trains (being able to get most places by train)
  6. Tips are included
  7. Funny TV and Commercials

Things that get on my nerves: (get those out of the way)

  1. Traffic and Roads – I can ride a bike faster than I can get to most places off base.  Major headaches are the trains crossing the roads, and the dis-organization of roads (with no names).  It will take me 33 minutes to travel 10 miles in the morning.  Many “2-lane” roads are really narrow (even for 1 car)
  2. Houses near train stations (highly desirable) are densely plotted, leaving very little room for beauty.
  3. Trains – It’s a love-hate with trains. the part I don’t like about them is they can get very crowded when going certain places during rush our.  Something I would not want my children to experience.
    If you come home late on a train they stop running abour 11:30-12:00 PM so if you miss it you have to pay and expensive taxi ride or walk home.
  4. Cost of living – Japanes Beer costs $7-8 a sixpack.
    A C0ke costs a minimum of a dollar, many times it’s 150 Yen which is actually more than $1.50.

In summary, I’m still getting used to Japan.. and I expect that I will still be getting used to it when I’m ready to leave but I don’t want to think about that now.. since I’m enjoying it here.  I truly am glad I came out here and I’m thankful the Japanese and the command would have me.  I think the experience for me and my family is one that we will remember fondly of for our entire life.  I am especially proud of my children Lindy and Evan who are adapting so well, and I am excited to see what they take away with them when we return to the states.

Green Tea IPA

Not only is Baird Beer my favorite Japanese Craft Brewer. They are also collaborating with another of my favorite US Brewers Stone Brewing Co.. Baird-Ishii-Stone Green Tea IPA is a collaboration brew, with the proceeds from the beer going to Tohoku disaster relief.

Read more here on the Baird Beer Brewers Blog, and on Stone Brewing’s site.  Click on the photo for a video by the 3 brewers involved.

It was a nice day in the Kamakura area.  We went to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Daibutsu in Japanese) is a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha in the city of Kamakura, Japan.  But forget all that, check out the surf!  These are pics from Sep 25 (Kamakura), and Sep 26, 2010 Chigasaki (Tsujido beach).  Waves were pretty good as a result of a Typhoon off the coast. 

From 2010 September Surf

Seated serenely in the grounds of Kotokuin, a Buddhist temple of the Pure Land sect, the Great Buddha is one of the icons of Japan.   At 13.35 meters high and weighing 93 tons, the Daibutsu is the second largest monumental Buddha in Japan (after the one at Todaiji in Nara) and to many, the most impressive.

The Diabutsu was cast in 1252 in the Kamakura period and was originally housed inside a temple, as in Nara. But a huge tsunami washed away the wooden structure sometime in the late 15th century, and the statue has sat out in nature ever since.

The Great Buddha is seated in the lotus position with his hands forming the Dhyani Mudra, the gesture of meditation. With a serene expression and a beautiful backdrop of wooded hills, the Daibutsu is a truly spectacular sight.

The Daibutsu is Amida Buddha, who is the focus of Pure Land Buddhism. Originating in China, this sect gained prominence in Japan in the 12th century and remains very popular today. The central teaching is that through devotion to Amida Buddha, expressed through mantras and sincerity of heart, one will go to the Pure Land or “Western Paradise” after death – a pleasant realm from which it is easy to attain nirvana.

(All this Great info from Sacred Destinations)

I ran the “Shinnenkai (新年会) Run” in Tsunashima on Sunday and it was great!  The weather was nice and a little overcast and cool.

I got there via the Tokyu Toyoko Line having to get on a local train to make sure it stopped at the right spot.

Tsumashima is a smaller town with some buildings but not too big.  Being just after New Years and the weekend there were lots of people going to the shrines with large lines exiting from the shrine in to the nearby streets.

My favorite part was going to a restaurant afterward where you can catch you own fish and then they will prepare it for you in any one of at least 3 ways:

Shabu Shabu – Thinly sliced and cooked in a boiling soup at the table

Sashimi – Raw and delicious like Sushi without the rice

Tempura – Lighty Fried in batter

Nitatsu – Simmered in Soy Sauce, looks kind of baked

I’m not too sure about the last name… will have to check on that.

I was just looking around on Google Maps and noticed this spot very near where I’m working.


I will have to check it out when it warms up.  Evidentally you can check it out on the surf cam so we’ll see.  I’ll put up the surf cam link here when I have the link.

Also here is some additional info regarding surf in Japan.

JAPANThat’s right, I applied for a job in Japan, and to Melissa’s and my own shock, I was faced with the decision to accept the job offer.  The initial assignments for 3 years, with the option to extend it for another 2 years.  After that I think you have to come back to the states, at least for a little while.

When I got the job offer on a Friday from Salesforce
I was a little in shock.  I remember going.. how can they offer me a job, I haven’t even had an interview.  I don’t know what I’m signing up for; they don’t know what THEY are signing up for.   Despite having spent some time on my resume to tailor it to the Japanese job, I was surprised that I had no interview.  I had spoken (email) to some of the engineers that I would work with and got their impressions of the job and the living.  Also I had spoken to friends that had lived and worked there in the past.  My brother and sister in law lived in Okinawa and thoroughly enjoyed.

After submitting forms to the HRO in Japan, and working with numerous offices here to ensure I have the forms filled out correctly, I have received my “travel orders”. These travel orders say when, and where, and how, we are going to make our move.

The reality of leaving for Japan is beginning to sink in, as I have just finished planning for the movers to pick up the 3 different shipments that will take care of all of our earthly belongings. For a time I thought I was going to have to decline even though it was such a great opportunity, because my parents health had declined and I couldn’t leave my sisters alone to take care of it all. Thankfully we were referred to a company called Home Care Assistance Sea Island, and I decided to pay them a visit at Home Care Assistance 9050 W Olympic Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211 (310) 857-4764. As it turns out, they provide exactly the service we needed, which is a health professional assigned to their care, in their own home. My sisters would be able to handle the rest of the load in that case, so I felt comfortable leaving.

PCS shipments are as follows:

  1. HHG (House-Hold Goods) – All the stuff that you plan to move to the destination. This shipment usually travels by boat so it takes a while to get there.
  2. NTS (Non-Temporary Storage) – All the stuff that will not fit in the small Japanese houses that I will leave behind in the states.  These items will be stored in a controlled environment (not necessarily air conditioned) and per my sponsor and others, they will be pretty safe.
  3. UB (Unaccompanied Baggage) – Stuff I/we will need soon after traveling. These items will be shipped by air, and can be delivered within a 2-6 weeks after I arrive.

Each of these shipments will most likely be picked up by different moving contractors (transportation specialists) so they have to be scheduled on different days.   Shortly after the movers come and go, I will be flying over to Japan, and Melis and the kids will go over to stay at my parents.  It is so great and we are blessed to have my parents here in Jax.   We’ve had so much fun together and we look forward to many more good times.  I can’t thank them enough for being there, and for not hesitating one bit to let, Melissa and the children stay there.  I can not think of a better transition than for them to stay there, while I try to get things settled in Japan for their arrival.

Go to for free local Surf Forecasts, Surf Reports, Surf / Swell timelines, and more.

Well, i have a project.My Z32Click Photo to right for more photos —> I have plans for the car, we’ll see how it goes. Today I received the official copy of the title back from FL DMV so it’s official. There is a fantastic, and friendly community of Z owners, and a large selection of after market performance parts available for this car. Also there are many sites and forums with info on how to restore, and enhance the driving experience. This car will be a true classic soon and it’s design seems timeless.The engine was out of the car when I bought it so I am currently tearing down the engine to determine if it is worth a partial rebuild. If not I will get a low mileage on from the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) since the Japanese sell their cars as they approach about 50 K miles, and of of all the car dealerships in hanford is number 1. I plan to do a lot of routine maintenance and replaced parts since this car has 187K miles on it. Surprisingly the car is in pretty good shape, very little rust (battery tray), and some door dings etc. The front bumper cover will need to be replaced, but I am told that everyone who has a Z has beat up their front fascia to some degree. After getting it back on the road the enhancements will commence, glassnet bridled only by budget that is…One cool factoid about this car is that a souped up Twin Turbo model won and still holds the E/BMS land speed record of 419.84 km/h (260.87 mph) from the 1991 Bonneville Speed Trial. This record remains unbroken.

Shoppok serves as a central market for vehicle buyers and sellers. It acts like an online auction house where people can go to find and purchase used cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, motorcycles, boats, RVs, and sports cars. Shoppok uses proprietary data in order to compile information about individual vehicles. It does not require users to purchase membership or sign up fees, and the site boasts hundreds of thousands of listings. In addition, Shoppok has developed a number of tools and software applications that allow sellers and buyers to manage their accounts, conduct vehicle-buying transactions, and perform preventive maintenance on their vehicles.

E/BMS class is now known as E/BGMS.E/BGMS means:E = Engine size, 184-260 cid (3.01 to 4.26 liters)BGMS = Blown Modified Gas Sports class.This record is for GT class cars, modified, with blown engines of 3-4L.

After its debut in 1990 the 300ZX (Turbo) was named Motor Trend’s “Import Car of the Year” and for every year thereafter in the US it was named one of the “Ten Best” by Car and Driver. Even after production stopped magazines continued award the 300ZX:* 2004: Automobile lists the Z32 as one of the 100 greatest cars of all time.* 2006: Automobile lists the Z32 on both the “20 Greatest Cars of the Past 20 years” and in the “25 Most Beautiful Cars in History”.But the real truth I didn’t know this stuff before, it’s just that since college, it’s always been one of my favorite body styles, it never seems to look outdated.


So here we are back in October.

Something's missing

She needs some cleaning up

There was a lot to clean up.

The Ballantyne, Gostage and Sapp families just returned from another great vacation in the Florida Keys.

The weather turned out to be hot and sunny in the Keys this year and there was one rain in the middle of the week. The lobsters were scarce in the Gulf of Mexico possibly due to the large and protected Goliath Grouper that were spotted in many of the lobster holes that we came across. Click here for picturesClick here for more photos

We had some new lobster wranglers with us this year with Jennifer bringing her boyfriend Drew, and Chad bringing Brittany. Lindy and Evan were just giggling to have Martin back this year. Art and Katy were gracious again to let us stay at their beautiful house in Pompano on the way down. Mark Debbie and Taylor came prepared this year for lobsters and fishing. Chrissy busy with her new business, Tropical Brace and Limb made it in after her conference. She also brought her boat which is a great addition to the fun.

When it comes to boats for sale, there are so many things to think about. Boats for sale come in such a wide variety of different shapes, sizes and models that it can be quite overwhelming. One of the best ways to sort through the masses is to get on the internet and use a service like Zeboats. These types of sites can narrow down your search by listing boats by the year they were manufactured and even by the make. A good site will also provide you with a listing of all boats for sale in the area. This is especially useful because you will know which boats are in good working condition and that need a little TLC before you buy.

Drew brought his guitar, and we managed to play a bit. He showed me some songs that he’d written. I’d never seriously thought about it but I should try to write a song sometime. Sue and John came and we all had a great stay together. We really enjoyed being there and hope everyone is looking forward to the next vacation together.

Click here for pictures Lobsters were good this year and we did as well as we did last year, which is a blessing, and keeps us coming back for mini-season (the last Wednesday-Thursday of July). We all managed to make it our to Sombrero Reef for a brief snorkel. It was one of the rougher days so we did not stay our there as long as usual. Lobster wrangling got off to a slow start, but we ended up getting a good first day with the hard work of our lobster team especially Katy, Art, Mark, Debbie, Chad, Chrissy, Martin, Drew and myself. Taylor and Lindy also were close and could help spot the lobsters. Brittany and Jen helped out in the water, and helped do secondary size checks for the lobsters.

Fishing was great fun as usual with Art’s awesome 36 ft Sea Vee, twin 300 Mercury Verado’s and his keen eye and intuition for finding fish.

Drew caught the first keeper a 30+ lb Kingfish which was much bigger than the ones I’ve seen before. Martin wiffed an unkown fish. Next Drew catches a Sailfish and manages to pose for a picture or two before a successful release. Not to be outdone Mark caught a Sailfish with the same vigor. Martin wiffed an unkown fish. Chad get’s one on and pulls in the biggest Dolphin (Mahi) of the trip. On another run Mark and Chad both snag some nice Mangrove snapper and we rejoiced knowing we going to have some lucious fish for dinner. Click here for pictures Martin wiffed an unkown fish. Art, with his ability to read the water like Neo can read the Matrix, spots a school of dolphin (Mahi) swimming past the boat. All I remember, there is a blur of casting, yelling, resetting hooks, cheering and measuring fish for an unkown amount of time that leaves us with 7 more Dolphin and a bit of cleaning up to do. I’m sure Martin got at least one of the dolphin, so no-tears. The last day of fishing was hotter than two rats in wool sock and we were just trying to stay cool. I think the fish new this and were hanging deep, with the numerous sharks that were taking our bait. This still did not stop us from jumping in to cool off once in a while.