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Holiday on the Isle of ManOur plan worked.

One of the reasons for the absence of posting over Xmas was my fantastic wife and I were planning a surprise trip to the Isle of Man for the holidays – and we were doing our best to make sure that members of the family had no idea we would be there.

Two weeks on the Isle of Man, two days in London. I don’t really have the capacity to say how I feel about what I saw and how I felt on the island, so perhaps a gander at the photo album with pictures will help a bit. I love the sea. I love hillwalking. I am lucky to have the people I do in my life.

What you do get to see here, though, is the collection of photos of various family members jumping about.


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Sub-Tropical Island Adventure Part 4: Black Pearls and Okinawan Girls

Our sub-tropical island vacation was finally winding towards the end. Only another couple days left on Ishigaki. The sunshine filled morning set a wonderful stage for the rest of the day. With Japanese-only talks all morning, both Jen and Vladamir cut out early and the three of us went on our own little adventure towards the North of the Island. Kabira Bay was calling, and even without any influence from my love of the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies, I was excited to check out what a Black Pearl looked like, without all the zombie pirate skeletons.

Glass bottomed boat! A visit to the bay is not complete without a glass-bottomed boat trip though! Our wonderful taxi driver even got us setup with a tour company for one of them (I wonder if he got a comission …) and within a few minutes of walking along the soft, white, sandy beach we were off to see what sorts of reefs lie just tens of meters off the shoreline.

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Sub-Tropical Island Part 3: Back through time to a dance party.

(A correction to the definition of Tropical vs. Sub-Tropical Islands brought to you by master-of-all-things-life, Eaon.)

Port on Taketomi Island

I never tire of exploring beaches. I think when Jen stumbled upon me on the beach sitting there pondering the meaning of life with the hermit crabs scuttling about (Imagine carrying all you have on your back, after moving here with our luggage, I could sympathize.) she realized that there could be more fulfilling things to do while here – or at least equally-fulfilling-that-she-could-also-partake-in-and-not-get-bored.  It was decided that leaving the afternoon Seminar sessions early and heading off with a couple of other collaborators was the next best course of action – and like a flash, we were off on a speedy boat on our way to Taketomi Island.

Island Center

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Tropical Island Part 2: Sand, Critters, and things that go bump in the night.

During this week of seminars I was given the very simple instruction by my better half, “Don’t get into trouble.” Easy!

Rain gone!  Explore time! I have a particular penchant for the Ocean. Perhaps a little odd considering I grew up nearly 1000km away from the nearest ocean. It’s my dream to end up by the sea; the amount of life, environments, and pure wonderment that is harbored by the oceans is completely mind boggling. For someone who loves the outdoors, especially the aquatic parts, this draw is irresistible. So I did what anyone who would be relaxing on a topical island for a week who just can’t sit still would do – explore the beaches!

Rusty anchor thing. The seawall was fantastic to walk along, and jumping down during low-tide gave me the opportunity to see various types of crabs, fish off the shore, different bits of washed up critters, and keep me entertained for more hours than I could remember. I might’ve picked up quite the interesting sunburn on my ankles during this time – I guess wearing tall cycling socks all summer long and then forgetting that fact in a UV-rating of 9 for hours on end can lead to bad consequences – but the sun was great, the water was warm and wonderful, and I loved every second of it.

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To a Tropical Island! Part 1.

(Welcome to v2 of this post.  v1 was lost for an unknown reason a couple nights ago, and I had to remake it from the beginning and in a more edited form. So, with that bit of knowledge … enjoy!)

After only being in Japan for a week, barely getting things setup, staying in our new flat all of two nights, not starting any work and still with no command of the Japanese language, it was already time to take a vacation.

Not a bad way to spend the morning. Just chillin' with the local hermits. Jen was invited to attend an International Space Conference on Ishigaki Island, as she is utterly brilliant, and her boss was the head organizer of the conference.  The conference also happened to celebrate the 60th Birthday of one of the leaders of the whole Japan Space Science program, but we will get into that later.

I was lucky enough to be invited along.  It was my decision on whether or not I wanted to stay in Nagoya, by myself, all alone or go to Ishigaki with my amazing wife and be a beach bum / tourist for a week.  I think you know what I picked.

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Some extras from the flight over.

Last night in our hotel so lets see if i can get a couple posts up before I lose internet for a couple days!

Currently I’m using my iPhone and Lumix cameras both, so I’m bound to miss a couple here and there.

This is good as I can then fill things in!

Airplane food.

This is how I knew I was on the way to Japan. More rice & Sushi in airplane food??

WARNING!!! Playing on the travelator will cause it to eat your mother’s clothing.


The jet lag has finally subsided. I wish I had a pedometer on me so I could keep track in how much walking I’ve done in the last few days. Subway or not – that’s a lot of non-2-wheeled exercise that I’m not used to! Carrying all that luggage has destroyed my hip flexors.

Good thing our new place has a room with a tatami mat floor. Hello Yoga room. I’m so pumped.

On the way to Japan!

ES Building Courtyard

Well, we’re here!!!

I’m sitting here at the Engineering Sciences building at Nagoya University (なごやだいがく) right now as I start this to be published later when I actually have internet access – Jen is up getting things started in her new office, I’ve met the new boss, fellow post-docs, and have gotten a little larger lay of the land. Now that you know th end of the story so far, here’s how we got to that point:

In the weeks coming up to the move we took care of a bunch of things; I ended my time at Trek, started massive amounts of donating, selling, packing up stuff to store, tried to learn bits and pieces of Japanese, coordinated new living areas, arranged more flights, hotel rooms, printed out maps, took inventory of stuff, packed even more – and somewhere amongst all that kept sanity, took a trip to Penn State & Baltimore, visited friends in Stevens Point, got to say goodbye to a good amount of friends in Madison (although we didn’t get to see everyone, and wished we had more time!) and stayed excited about this whole marriage thing that we’ve successfully pulled off for over 2 months now ;D!   Read More…