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2008 July 30 Wednesday and July 31 Thursday.

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On July 31, the Hokkaido Newspaper held their annual Big Fireworks Display 花火大会 along the banks of the Ishikari River 石狩川 just below Tokiwa Park.   

Charles Hamel and his oldest son came over to my place at about 18:40, and soon thereafter walked with Ikuko and I over to the same location that we went to on July 25 when we watched the Yomiuri Newspaper's Fireworks together.   

This time, instead of my snapshot camera, I brought my digital video camera.   

It has been a long time since I have used this rather expensive but very good DV movie camera, so I had to sit down and read the instruction book again.   

I bought a new tripod because my very old one broke during the photo session on July 25.   

The four of us arrived at the river bank about 10 minutes before the start of the show.   

When the final salvo of fireworks was finished at about 19:50, we all walked into the downtown area where the 3・6 Downtown Merchant's Festival was in full swing.   

As usual, there was a lot of interesting and amusing things to see there.   

When I got home, I downloaded my fireworks video onto a special computer hard disk, and began the editing process.   

I was able to come up with the best 18 minutes of the fireworks display and put it onto a customized DVD.   

The quality of the video is very good on the DVD.   

I will send a copy of the DVD to my sister who lives in Seattle Washington.   

For most of the rest of you, I have begun uploading the movie to my YOU TUBE account which is called PrivateHokkaido.   

You can see the videos from that server, by clicking here.   

The image quality of the DVD is much much better than what you can see on YouTube, but you can still get a good feeling for the excellent timing and combinations that the fireworks professionals put together, for the dazzling light show.   

ENJOY!!!

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2008 July 29 Tuesday.

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Happy Birthday to ME!   

Yeah, it's true.   I'm still alive.   

And, at 52 years young, I am finally playing with a full deck.   

It's important to have a full set of tools, when playing the game of life.   

Speaking of DECKS, I am going to spend most of today cleaning the big deck of my balcony with soap and water.   

Summer fun, in the sun.   

A clean deck is a happy deck.   A happy deck for happy campers.   

Count me IN! 

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2008 July 25 Friday thru July 28 Monday.

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Summer vacation starts off with a bang.   

At about 18:40, Charles Hamel and family drove all the way from Shibinai to the Asahikawa Michi no Eki, which is right next door to my classroom.   

At about 19:00 Charlie and I walked on over to the river line below Tokiwa Park, and set up our cameras and tripods just below ShinBashi bridge.   

The women and the kids, took the bus and arrived a bit later.   

I was surprised to see that the place was not all that crowded.   

In fact, it looked about half empty.  I was drinking a bottle of Otokoyama Sasa Ori as I always do at this event, but I didn't share any with Charles.   

Sorry Charlie, you have to drive back to Shibinai when this is all over, but I can walk home.   

By the way,  Charlie got some really good photos of the event, which you too can see by clicking here.   

Three full weeks of no classes to teach for me, so I will be able to get out and about, or just stay at home and do some cleaning up, and bass guitar practice. 

The more I play the bass guitar, the more I like it.   

Oh No!!!   Another obsession!   

Time to get out the alto recorder again too.

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2008 July 22 Tuesday thru July 24 Thursday.

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Just one more day of classes until the start of my summer vacation.   

On Thursday July 24, Ikuko and I went to the annual Biei Fire Festival 美瑛火まつり for the first time.   

Every year on July 24, they hold this powerful event.   

Why has it taken me so long to get there and see it for the first time?   

Lack of planning.    For years, I have been driving thru Biei on my way to the Mt. Tokachi Observation Area 十勝岳 望岳台 and FukiAge Outdoor Spa 吹上温泉露天の湯, and I have seen the posters for this event many times.  Finally this year, I made the smart decision to go and see it.   

It was awesome.    The contrast between WATER and FIRE has never been more obvious.   

Charles Hamel and family were at the event as well, and Charlie has a new digital camera, Canon EOS Kiss F 10.1 Megapixel DSLR which takes awesome photos!   

CLICK HERE to see one of his best.   

A photo good enough to be published in National Geographic Magazine.   

I also took a lot of photos on that night, with the very first digital camera I ever bought. 

The CASIO QV-3000EX.   This camera has the largest diameter glass lens, of all my digi cams.   

Perfect for night time photos.   

With a digital camera it is cheap and easy to take a massive amount of photos.   

Among those many photos, there are always some really good ones.   

Once and a while, a really great photo.   

You can see a slideshow of the best photos I took at this event by clicking here.   

The origin of this festival in Biei, has a lot to do with the repeated eruptions of Mt. Tokachi in the years;  1857, 1887, 1926, 1962 and most recently in 1988.   

That is very active volcano, if ever there was one.   

As you can well imagine, having a volcano blew it's top in a place that is close to where you live, is a big disaster for human beings.   

The main purpose of this festival which began exactly 20 years ago in 1988, is to beg the mountain to remain quiet, and not blow up again.    

It seems to have worked so far.  I think that I will make this one of my yearly traditions, and go every year from now on.   

After all, I have had the experience of driving from Seattle Washington to Spokane Washington on May 18, 1980 when Mount St. Helens blew up.   

It was a scary experience that I will never forget.   

There is nothing humans can physically do to prevent a volcanic eruption. 

Spiritually, we may have a chance, if we show our respect for the power of MOTHER EARTH.   

That is the real reason why this festival is so important.

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2008 July 20 Sunday and 21 Monday.

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Umi No Hi, 海の日 or as I like to call it, Marine Day, is a National Holiday in Japan.   

Ikuko and I were planning to go to Sapporo and stay overnight on Sunday, but I backed out of the deal at the last moment because I had an awesome stomach ache.   

No thank you, to riding the train for 3 hours and walking around a big city, far away from toilets, all day long.   

I stayed home.  So, Ikuko went with her mother instead.   

Her younger sister lives in Sapporo now, so they all had a merry time as a happy trio.   

While they were swilling it up at the Sapporo Beer Garden Genghis Khan BBQ beer hall, I was sitting at home, eating brown rice and natto.    

After that, I had a midnight snack of hot buttered popcorn.   

Thanks to Charles Hamel, I can once again enjoy the smoky flavor of fresh popped popcorn, right here in my own home.   

He brought it with him from Houston Texas USA, when he and his family made their big move to Hokkaido.   

What a treat and a much appreciated and often used gift.   

Thanx again.    Ikuko came back from Sapporo at about 12 noon on Monday morning, and showed me all of the photos she had taken on her mobile phone camera.   

Looks like everybody had a really good time.   

Me too, in a lonely sort of way.    Starting tomorrow is the last week of classes before the start of a three week summer vacation.   

I'm giving a final exam tomorrow at AU, making use of the internet to get the job done.   

Being able to find the information you want on the web quickly and easily, is an important job skill in this day and age.   

College kids need to learn this as fast as possible.   

Some of them will.    Others won't.   

It's an individual choice.
 

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