Final Semester

The first week of classes has ended, with both relief and repudiation. Since returning from my internship in Arizona, there has been much to do here in Indiana. I have also spent three days taking a Japanese friend to a doctor for a dangerous eye infection. My 2011 Honda Fit has all-electrical steering, no hydraulics, that has begun failing briefly and intermittently, so that is in the shop to be examined.

In addition to doing a final section of the assembly programming lab for ECE 362, I have three electives:

  1. ECE 321: Electromechanical Motion Devices about motors, generators, magnets, inductors, and such.
  2. ECE 463: Fundamentals of Computer Communications about networking, which looks to be quite interesting.
  3. ECE 421: Advanced Digital Logic Design, a VHDL course that requires much work with Xilinx' Vivado.

Tokyo Housing Stock and Demographic Decline

Today I read an interesting article on Tokyo's growing number of abandoned homes, though it's a problem everywhere in Japan. Every city I lived in or passed through during my life in Japan had vacant homes, or homes so overgrown with vines that they surely were.

Not uncommonly I would watch a TV program about an island of fisherfolk where the youngest person was in their 40s. I would read about schools closing, because there were no longer enough children to justify the expense of an elementary school, which forced parents to send their children to boarding schools or move to other more populous locations. Junior colleges and four-year colleges were closing because there were no longer enough students; the good colleges maintain their capacities at the expense of the lesser colleges, with the result that the better colleges' students' quality begins to drop.

One thing I wonder is whether this problem might encourage Japan to loosen its property ownership laws. As I understood it, only foreigners married to Japanese nationals or foreigners with residency right (e.g., a work visa as I had) can buy Japanese property. I briefly considered doing so in both Tokushima and Tokyo, but I never did.

We're it possible, I would love to own a bit of land in Tokushima Prefecture. Indeed, I would be most interested in areas that are already probably rather inexpensive.

Nosing about Winchester, Kentucky

I'm in Lexingotn, Kentucky, writing this at a Panera. I've driven down to Winchester, Kentucky, to see the friend in whose Columbus, Ohio, apartment I'm living for the summer. I will most likely be helping him move back, whenever he does.

Winchester is quite a nice small city. It surrounded by the rolling hills of thi spart of Kentucky, a topography I enjoy, one inseparable from the Ohio River valley. Around Winchester are lenty of stone fences, usually built by Irish immigrant stone masons in teh 19th century. This is horse country, as many license plates will remind you, if you somehow manage not to stray off the interstate, about the only place where you won't see horses here. Beer cheese, which I've never had, was first whipped up here, and various restaurants promote it. I also see a number of "Coal Keeps the Lights On" license plates, since Kentucky is coal country, especially to the east.


The Kentucky River flows nearby and is currently quite swollen, large chunks of debris floating from recent heavy and fatal rains. There are surely ample canoe and kayak options, but I don't have the money to plump for those right now. I have been on a variety of trails, including one up to the old foundation of an earthen Civil War fort, Fort Boonesboro.  Later this evening I might stroll the cemetery, which dates from 1814, I think, to seek some neat old headstones.

There is a local soft drink, Ale-8, that has been in production for decades. Stopping in the local tourism office and Chamber of Commerce, where I was treated extremely well, I learned that there are a number of Japanese firms nearby, which is not a surprise, given the large Toyota plant up the interstate in Georgetown. But the people in the office were interested in my Japanese past.

Winchester also apparently hosts the headquarters of its local utility, the name currently escaping me. I had wondered whether AEP, my current co-op employer, might operate here, but unfortunately they do not.

I will head back to Ohio tomorrow with some of my friend's stuff, but it will be something of a disappointment to leave here. It seems a nice small town, with thriivng Lexington simultaneously near and far enough.