Memory of a good friend of mine JA1XKM

At my age, memories of those who already passed away often come up in mind. One of them is regarding Sugita JA1XKM. A doctor as well as a good friend of mine for more than a couple of decades. 

I have met him on the air for the very 1st ever in 1980 when I came back on the radio at a dorm of the med school hospital. On the quiet band of 15m dead to any DX, late at night, he has given me a call. He lived at a city west of that dorm place. It was 20 or 30 miles away. Each of us was using a barefoor with a vertical on the roof. It was not easy for us to go on chatting with weak signal on both sides. Being in the same generation, we have still shared interests each other and have talked a lot. 

It has not taken too long before he let me know of his history. When I introduced myself as a doctor starting serving residency at a med school hospital, I heard a very impressive story from him. He had been a graduate of medical school of Hokkaido University some years before we met. He has had a sleep disorder, periodic somnolence, which prevented him from getting through the exam for the doctor license for several years. I was so surprised to hear that. Even though I had little to help him, I supported him to go it through since I had just done that a few years before. He was a real nerd for ham radio as well. He told me he had activated the club station JA8YBY of Hokkaido University for a while. He used to visit us at the dorm and spent a night. I still remember seeing him at the station near by. He was smiling at me wearing trench coat at the concourse. A real sociable handsome guy whom I felt we had been friends for a long time.

His hand made QSL card. Ham radio was the window for the outer world for him while he was struggling to pass the exam for the doctor license.  

Sugita and his old fashioned shack. The main radio was FT101ZD. Most of JA hams were using some products of Kenwood. He was loving Yaesu as a real connoisseur in this hobby. He had a military surplus receiver as well. His antenna was a tiny Hygain 12AVQ on the roof, which was hardly visible from streets. He was not much of a CW operator but still had a fine old hand key shown on the photo below.

Thanks to his own much effort for the exam, he passed it in a year or two. His illness was told to get better or at least to improve when the patient got older, even though he has had episodes of somnolence and a kind of depression throughout his life. Anyway, it had been several years since he graduated the med school. It was really a miraculous thing he could pass the exam and started his career as a gastroentelogist at a medical school in Tokyo. His old parents have thanked me a lot even though, as I told above, I and my wife were listening what he said about his life. It was solely due to his own relentless efforts. 

In a couple of years, he invited me to his wedding party at a restaurant in the downtown of Tokyo. With his beautiful bride, he looked to be living the most brilliant moment in his life. Both of us were getting into the busiest chapter in our lives ever since. We have just exchanged the season's greeting cards in the new year season and have not met either on the air or in person for almost 2 decades. I knew he had been settled down at his own home in Saitama and had got a couple of sons. I believed he had spent happy life there.

It was when I got a phone call from his wife that I knew he had passed away from brain stem bleeding. It has occured to him in real sudden way. As soon as he came home from his working hospital, he complained something wrong with him. He has lost his consciousness and, in a few minutes, passed away while he was embraced by his wife there. The ambulance car was not in time for him. Too abrupt. 

I had no words to tell to his wife. In a day or two, I drove down to his home and saw him in the living room. He looked peaceful there. Even though he has lived only 56 or 57 years, he has been blessed with his family and his success as a doctor. What effort he has spent to get it! I am sure he has lived as a doctor kind and affectionate to his patients since he has had his own illness throughout his life and has known what having illness meant to his patients. 

Sure he is still missed. There must be only few who remember of this great person now. But he is still alive in my memory.  

There are people around me from one to another who pass away and leave me. I don't know when it will be my turn. Until then, I should live as well as possible in order to tell them I have lived that way.

Playing at a small concert

I have finished one of my important projects since last year. At a small concert of a piano circle which my niece and her husband belong to, I was asked to play a chamber music. With the help of my good friend violinist, I have played the 1st movement of the 1st piano trio by Mendelssohn at a concer hall in Tokyo.

I have worried that I could cause some trouble which would prevent me from joining that concert. But everything went smooth and well for us. It was a gorgeous public hall in Gotanda Tokyo. Having rehersed for half an hour in the morning, we have played it around 2PM. My sister, that is, the niece's mother and some relatives came to listen to us. Of course, as a performance of amateur players like us, we have had a few accidents. However, the violinist friend, whom I have been playing a number of chamber musics with for almost 2 decades since her music university days, has lead us successfully. We have reached the brilliant coda where the piano plays overwhelming passages in accelerando. Imagine how deeply I was touched and relieved when I played the last D. Someone, I am sure it was my sister, has shouted bravo at the end! I was a bit ashamed to be shouted that way.

I felt so tired after this concert and rushed  back home. Sure literally deadly tired. Maybe, worries have made me feel that way in addition to physical tiredness. I used to go to Tokyo for ensemble almost once a month while working in own practice. I have never felt that tired at that time. Only 10 or 15 years ago. I remembered my mother used to tell us it was fabulous for her to experience something new when getting older. She might mean this kind of experience at that time. Getting older is accumulating experiences which we could only do at certain age.

Anyway, I would return being a chef and a farmer for now.

From lt to rt; the violinist, my niece and myself almost torn out even before performance.


A study of Morse Code learning with f-MRI

Stan K5VR has sent me an abstract of a paper regarding the structural change in white matter associated with learning Morse Code studied by functional MRI. I have read it before and have published my impression on that study in this blog;http://nuttycellist-unknown.blogspot.com/search?q=learning+morse+code

Fractional anisotropy means certain change in the structure of neuronal fasciculus but won't clearly demonstrate any functional meaning, so far as I understood.

I have been wanting to summarize and/or review on the research of this topic studied with functional MRI. But the development of the study technique and my aging are too fast to follow.


A moment of quietness

It was a sunny dry day 2 days ago. A bit hot but not bad. Seeing sun going over the top of canopy, I went out and started, sitting on a tiny chair, cutting the weeds and the remnant of pumpkin plants in the garden. In a minute or two, I felt sharp pain in the abdomen followed by nausea. Sweating a lot. Possible diagnoses were running around in my mind, so called, acute abdomen. No way I could make any proper diagnosis for myself. I could hardly move with those discomforts.

In some time, I could move to the veranda where we store items for gardening/farming. That discomfort has climaxed not too late after that. I have laid on the concrete ground in the veranda and have vomitted a few times. It seems I have made some strange shouts while vomiting. My wife has noticed what happened to me and hurried to me. I could hardly move there and laid for a while. After vomiting, I felt less unpleasant but could not stand up or walk.

The concrete, heated with sunray, felt warm and pleasant to me. When I told my wife it was like bedrock bath, she uttered I was saying the same kind of joke my mother used to. The nausea has occurred me in undulant way even though it was getting less intense as time passed. I decided to stay there for a while until I could walk by myself. Upset at my condition, my wife proposed me to call an ambulance car to bring me to an ER. I said no. I was pretty sure this episode should be some kind of infection like Norovirus or other food intoxicating pathogen and it should be self limiting. I was a bit touched how my wife kindly cared for me at this episode, even though I was sure a psychiatrist could never be a doctor in such a case as me but could only be a good nurse.

With the warmth on the back, I also could see bright blue sky over a big Japanese Zelkova spreading branches and leaves high in the sky. A beautiful and tranquil moment. Despite of going on discomfort, I thought the moment of death should be like this. In this quietness, I would farewell to the earth and to the family. But it was not the case this time sadly. If real moment of farewell to the real world and real life was like that, it should be a real blessing to me. Even though, I should admit, agony at the last moment of life should be much deeper as well as sharp.

It was a mysterious experience for me anyway. I should carry on living with much duties and routine works so far. If the last moment of life is like this experience, leaving this world should be a blessing to me.

Recovered completely from this episode, I have started the same normal routine again. Let's live vividly until the last moment arrives us.


An eye ball at Tokyo Ham Fair 2019

I have been to Tokyo Ham Fair on Aug 31st. It has been a week or so since I started writing this post. But I haven't finished it yet! This evening, I have met Steve JS6TMW on 40m CW. That QSO has hastened me to finish this now!

 I was rather reluctant to go that event at first. But Steve told me to come to see him there by any means. I was interested in him with career as a medical economist and also in the book he had introduced me as I mention later in this article. 

I left home earlier than it was expected to be there in time. Forgotten that the event was held in the South Wing but not in the West, where it used to be held for the past years, I was almost lost and walked around a lot in the West Wing. Finally, I asked a concierge lady about where it was held. She kindly let me know this event was held inthe South Wing. This event venue was too complicated for an old country retiree like me to get to the right place. 

The outlook of this event place nicknamed Big Site, which will be used as the media center etc in the Olympic games next summer. Hopefully, visitors from overseas won't be lost there.

At the entrance of the event, there were already 3 persons gathering. Steve JS6TMW, Yoh JL1MUT and George 7J1ATG. In a minute or so, Hiro has appeared there. I knew Steve had sent me a message through the Facebook later when I came home. No smartphone with me! Anyway, we were pleased to finally get together there. 

Since most of the restaurants were already closed preparing for refurbishment to the media center, it was tough for us to find the seats at a restaurant. When we were settled down at a restaurant, we toasted for this lunch meeting with glasses of beer. As always in such a ham meeting, we have had a lot of things to talk about.

Steve, JS6TMW, originally from NY where he started ham rqadio in his teenage days, used to study electrical engineering at UC Berkeley and has found a job at a medical instrument company. He seemed to be interested in medical service and has turned to the field of medical economy. He has gone through his career in it and is still working temporarily. His marriage with his Japanese Okinawan wife brought him to Okinawa in 2004. In 2015, he has come back to ham radio with help of his old ham friend after a long absence in it. He also inherited a lot of old ham radio equipments from his father in law, JA9BB. He looked like a teen age boy when he was talking about home brew rig, old radios or home brew antennas. Okinawa is located on a path of most typhoons and is apt to have gust of winds in summer. He finally put up a stout crank up tower and a tribander on it, with which he won't worry about the gust any longer. He has had a serious embolism in coronary artery last year right at the moment he was doing with the antenna on the roof. With good care of cardiological sureon, he could survive and has rehabilitated successfully. He was a good walker, at least, better than me.

I was interested in him as he put up a post in facebook which showed a receipt of 150 JPY for a visit to a medical facility. Pretty cheap even from our standard. It might be a real surprise for an American guy that he could have medical treatment at such a fee. I knew he had been involved in the medical service as a medical economist from his bio in QRZ.com. He was grinning to hear me saying that medical service would be possible only with the low wage and long hour duties of medical staff and it would be bankrupted sooner or later. 

In one of the latest QSOs, Steve has introduced me a book titled "The Emperor of All Maladies" written by a doctor, Siddhartha Mukherjee. It depicts on the history of cancer. It was awarded Pulitzeer Prize. Since it was a pretty voluminous book, at first, I was hesitating reading it. Reading it, I knew how attractive it was. It surely reminded me of the days when I was given training as a resident. My very first patient was a girl with intractable leukemia. She has died after spending hard days with various chemo for a year. This book has brought me back to the days I was anxiously treating that girl every day. I could never forget her asking myself if it was the best choice for her or not. The description of each episode the author wrote in this book is backed by his experience. It makes readers zealous at it.

I have worked George, 7J1ATG, for many times especially since he built a remote control station in Izu peninsula. He has started his career as a radio operator on ship and has made voyage all over the world. Later, he has changed job to that of computer security. It seems he owns his business and travels a lot around the world. As a matter of fact, he has own stations in UK and VK4 in addition to JA. He loves making QRP radios by himself in addition to, of course, CW.  I prefered his concise operation style to those rambling on endlessly. As I told him that, he prankfully smiled at me and said I had been too quick talking on CW. I should learn his way of operation a bit more. Both of us have a daughter working as nurse. We have talked about them on the air in the past. She seems to work in VK land at present. Asked by me if he felt relieved to have such a care giver in the future, he again smiled saying she was a bit cool to family members. I don't believe that, George. He was told by Steve to join us there. It was nice to meet such a friend all after many QSOs on the air. I could not feel it was just the very first ever eye ball for us.

Yoh, JL1MUT, was another guy whom I met for the first time, even though we have had a few QSOs in the net, named All Asian net? managed by Lou, VK5EEE. Possibly due to the similarity of the suffices and our high activity on CW, I have been sometimes counfused with him by oversea guys. The youngest ham in this lunch meeting. He is working for a communication equipment company and lives in Kamakura. It seems he has loved CW for a long time and has been involved in the net for years. Since Lou has gone to HS land this spring, the net has had fewer members now as he said. We have discussed why Japanese hams won't enjoy ragchewing on CW despite of studies in English devoted mainly to preparation for the entrance exam of universities. As a young, at least among us, CW operator, hopefully, he would lead the younger CW operators from now. Steve has been a regular participant in the net and has told Yoh to join this lunch meeting. 

The last but not least participant was Hiro, JA7WTH, whom I have known for the past several years. He has actually started learning CW for the past 5 or 6 years. He is an experienced pediatrician. He is a graduate of the med school my brother did as well. That is why I have become close to him. He is enthusiastic for remote operation at present, which I know nothing about. He has brough the system in a snap bag. He is a great challenger for new tech and CW. 

Spent a couple of hour at the restaurat, we got out of there. Steve headed back to the hotel where his wife was waiting for him. Too bad that I have not taken a photo of him and the others.

At a cafe, we have spent another hour without Steve. This is a photo of three of us.

Hiro was setting up the remote control to his home station. From left to right, Hiro, Yoh and George. Hiro successfully worked with a station in JA7 using this tiny set up.

We have parted there promising QSOs on the air or in eye ball in the future. A fun time. It was worth going to see them from this countryside.