Flowers are budding

An enkiantus perulatus tree has boren a lot of tiny flower buds on branches. It has been far below the freezing point every morning for past weeks here. But the tree must sensitively perceive elongation of the day light and is getting ready for the spring coming soon.

Hoping that the blossoms may come out for now, I have turned eyes to a japanese apricot tree in front of the other house. I haven't taken notice to it in this season yet. The flower buds are swollen and even coming out already.

In front of the fence facing south of our place, I remembered there was a japanese apricot tree in the neighbor's lot. It has already fully come out for now. Whether it is another species or is thanks to its place without any obstacle to have sun light, it is fully blooming.   

The magnolia's flower buds are also becoming grown. These may bloom in a couple of months from now. As I already told, it was my mother's favorite.

In this season every year, I have written almost the same thing with those flower trees budding or even blooming as the earliest sign of spring. But we are changing from a year to another. The neighbor guy about 20 years older than me used to talk to me over the fence with his smile and in the local accent. He has passed away a few years ago. Of course, my parents who loved these trees are not with us any longer. I should get ready for the time when I say farewell to the world, even if the flowers are coming out in the same way every year.



A T shirt of 30 years long history.

 Eric, W6DU, SK might allow me wear this T shirt when I paint the wooden veranda. I have worn it for the last 3 decades. He was a kind gentleman and, as the president of NCDXF at that time, has donated this T shirt to the crew of XU0JA in 1991.

Eric and me at his home in mid '80s.

I sure miss him.


A mutant against neutralizing antibodies and its meaning

 There have been a number of articles showing a mutated strain escaping the ordinary neutralizing antibodies. This article in a preprint server is such an example.


It is no wonder such a strain could be brought up since a strain of SARS CoV2 could undergo mutations for 20 times in a year.

This finding warns us to urge the present vaccination program. 

It is also found that the original strain could survive in asymptomatic carriers while the mutants are alive for a limited time. That is why there are surges of infection in certain interval. We should disclose the asymptomatic cases in the society and keep them isolated from the other people.

Unfortunately, our government has implemented the policies oriented the opposite way. They won't try to pursue the asymptomatic cases in the society but would let them go on their routine lives. They have been unwilling to perform PCR tests as they are required. They have been concerned only with the cluster analysis which won't work in the time of community acquired infection. They have recently decided to impose pretty severe punishments to those who denied to be hospitalized. It will make those infected, who could not accommodate themselves into isolate facilities or hospitals, hidden in the society. Such infected people would further aggravate the outbreak.

Our country is going along the worst scenario so far. People are being irritated but have no idea to do so far. The government and the professionals in the advisory councils lack of ability to deal with the problem. Researchers in virology, gene sequence science, epidemiology and interdisciplinary studies are required. I hope the vaccine could work as a gamechanger but, with such a finding cited above, it might not come true. 


A snowy day

This morning, I found everything covered with snow. Not so much. Dry powder like snow of a few mm in thickness. Exactly, we have had the 1st snowfall for this winter yesterday, which was very small in amount and melted away in an hour or two. 

My wife hates driving on snowed street and left for work earlier than usual. Coming back home this evening, she told me it had snowed only in this city and it was dry when driving westward. This area is a kind of basin and is always cold in winter.

With rather high humidity associated with snowfall, it was felt not too chilly. Still cold outdoor. This is a scene of the forest south of here over a field. A lot of miscellaneous trees, deciduous or ever green, are growing there around a community center. They are all tinged white. This scenery is typical for this area 70 years ago when I was born. No houses around here but a lot of such trees surrounded the tuberculosis sanatorium where I was born. A kind of nostalgic view.

Our cat could not go for a walk like this with a lead. He has been confined to the utility almost all day. He is too mischievous when he is freed in the living dining room. Since my wife came home, he would enjoy some free time with her sometimes making her scream.


Vaccination and mutations

 I am glad there are vaccination programs started in a lot of countries. It will take us a couple of months at least before it starts in our country.

In Israel, they have started vaccination for the people on Dec 19 last year. Since the population is pretty small there, that is, only 5 million and they are vaccinating 10% of the people for 10 days, they will finish it in 10 weeks as they planned. The efficacy of the Pfizer product will be shown in a few weeks. It could be my bias but the graph of the daily diagnosed number of cases and of the death cases seem to be flattened now. Close observation is necessary to conclude about it.


They say the virus is undergoing mutations 20 times a year. There could be a mutant for more infectivity or for more virulence. For example, the recent UK mutant strain is told to be 70% more infective. The strain reported from S. Africa seems to evade from our immunity, that means it could be resistant to the vaccine as well. We should hasten the vaccination program all over the world before such mutation is prevailing.


I have heard they are registering the vaccination in the internet. It seems a bit complicated to some people. There could be people who could not access to the internet as well. In our country, so far as now, I have never heard them preparing for the vaccine program. Pfizer product requires very low temperature storage. And there are a lot of elderly who are supposed to take the vaccine first and are not readily accessible to the internet. I just wonder how the administration office handles it. From the experience of H1N1 Influenza in 2009 as a medical staff, there could be a big mess with vaccination in our country, I suspect.




 Twenty meters was half open to the US this morning. In a series of QSOs with guys in the East Coast to the Middle West, whose signals were pretty weak, I got a call from Dennis WA2USA in Indiana. His call sounded familiar at first look from the suffix. But I was cautious not to mix it up with another friend of mine WA0USA. 

He told me he had been glad to see me after a long absence. It has convinced me of our QSO in the past. My old index notebook I used to keep before starting with the PC log about 10 years ago told me we had had the 1st ever in 1989. He was pleased to know our 1st ever was back such a long time ago. He told me he was 71 years of age now. 

I have told him the following story; I am in the same age. There are a lot of hams with the same age. We call ourselves as 49ers, sometimes, almighty 49ers. 

I was surprised that he had mentioned of John K1JD as another example of 49ers. i answered to him that he had been the guru of 49ers. Dennis has agreed that and told me John had been the main person. 

 Not too often but sure sometimes, I have fun to see those with the same age. In Japan, 49ers are the last generation of the baby boomers after the WWII. We 49ers have fought in the competition of entrance exam for universities, of that for "good" companies and so forth. We have got through the same mile stones of life for the past decades. Even though the situation might not be quite same in the US mainly due to their experience with a series of wars out of their country, we might share many things in the past time. It makes us feel close each other. While talking to Dennis on the almost closing band, I was thinking of such a thing.

Our generation might go away from the history not too long. But until then, may we have pleasure to share our own histories as 49ers on the air.

John in his young days; the right, the left is K1MEM when he was still alive.

Me and my wife in early '80s when I came back on the air from a resident house of a university hospital, taken at the campus.



The stock price of BOJ hit lowest ever

Needless to say Bank of Japan is the central bank in Japan responsible for monetary stability and smooth operation of financial system. Its stock price has been dropping for the past years, especially, since the former Abe administration started the massive quantitative easing in 2012. It has reached the lowest price ever in Jan. 5th when BOJ published its own financial report. The stock price has fallen from 755000 JPY in 1988 to 25200 JPY. Its total assets rose to 702 trillion yen, that is, 6.8 trillion USD. It was 23% rise in the last year mainly due to purchasing national bond and ETF, which was to financially embellish the former administration.

This drop of BOJ stock price means the market judges its finance is jeopardized with debt monetization for the government. In addition to the astronomical amount of the debt of the government, this financial crisis of BOJ may bring forth decline of currency value for JPY in the near future. It will cause the uncontrollable inflation in our country. BOJ could not take the countermeasure of selling the national bond in the market. It could cause further drop of the national bond price.

Debt monetization has been deemed as a forbidden policy after WWII when our country experienced the hyperinflation. But it has been neglected by the government, mass media and even the people. 

This simple and most probable prospect for the finance of BOJ and of our country won't be discussed fully by the politicians, either of the ruling parties or of the anti ruling parties. Of course, the former is more responsible for this issue since they have implemented the policy of astronomical quantitative easing. 

The solution could be either starting war or letting the economy and finance go into hyperinflation. Of course, the latter is much more probable, I should say. I don't know when it starts but it will hit our country possibly related with this corona crisis.

It is a tragedy that most of the people has not realized of this crisis in our country.


Gardening getting ready for spring

It has been 10 days since the New Year's Day. Time is elapsing in the same way. Even in the mid winter, when the temperature drops even to minus 10 degrees, it is getting brighter in the daytime. I am trying to be busy at garden while sun is shining. 

I have pulled the weeds in the lawn facing to the street today. I wondered if I should spray the herbicidal a bit later when they started growing again. At least, I would have it look neat until then and have done the job. The lawn has totally withered but the root is still alive below the weeds. Getting off them may help the lawn grow later in the spring. There were some people taking walk along this street, who always greeted me saying hello when they went by. 


The trees of enkianthus perulatus, a kind of azalea,  along the lawn have leaves fallen. But the new buds are ready to grow. They may bring fresh leaves and pretty flowers in spring.

My wife, in a long week end, is feeding fertilizer to her roses. This rose is named "Knock Out" pretty sturdy in cold weather. She also transplanted a pot grown rose. She is responsible for flowers while I am for vegetables. 

Silk pods seedlings grown from seeds are as if they were in winter sleep. Under the cold protection cover sheet, they are surely alive and are ready to grow in the spring. They look lovely, don't they? I have never felt plants in that way when I was young. But these days, they look like own children.

I am getting ready for the small farm to plant vegetables in the spring. Mixing home brew leaf mold, I am plowing the soil with the deep layer reversed on the surface. It is to avoid continuous cropping disorder for such as tomato or potato.

This is where I make the leaf mold. At the south eastern corner of the yard, I accumulate fallen leaves and pulled weeds. The right half is the old one while the light half is the fresh one. The fresh one will turn to be fermented and turn to be leaf mold in a year or two. 

 So everything is going on in the same way while we are getting older year by year. Nature won't be changed easily but we are changing ourselves pretty quickly. That is why we should treasure every moment of our lives. 


Year in and year out

In the end of a year, I have been issuing a greeting mail to friends and family members for over the past decade. I have, however, omitted it last year. I felt it had been in mannerism and had lost energy to do that.

Having had simple dinner of soba noodle with my wife, I am writing what the year out has meant to me now. In itemization style simple and concise. I have started writing this article late at night yesterday.


In the end of Jan. or the beginning of Feb., when I first knew of this COVID 19, I have never expected it to prevail all around the world in this way. The pathogen, SARS CoV2, an anthropozoonosis, with moderate virulence and rather high prevalence rate, could contagion all over the world under the circumstances of no treatment/vaccine and of global traffic developed. This pandemic was inevitable in a sense.

This pandemic has clearly revealed what the government in certain country is for the people. Our government has stressed on the measures to maintain the economy. The countermeasures should be based on science. But policy making should be through transparent decision. In our country, unfortunately, not only policy making but also the published epidemiological data have been unlikely to be realized in transparency.

The biggest fault of our government has been limitation of the number of PCR tests for correct diagnosis. Even after cluster analysis won't solve the problem, they have not changed their policy not to do the tests as they are required. The other issue is that they have intentionally underestimate the number of the cases, the fatality cases or the serious cases. 

The mass media have not showed these issues at proper timing. There have been so called professionals for this issue who supported the view of the government. At this explosive epidemic, people are starting to recognize these issues. 

These problems resulted in the worst outbreak and victims due to COVID19 in the Eastern Asia.  

I am not sure if the present vaccination programs will work as a game changer or not yet. But it will be the only candidate of the maneuver to overcome this pandemic. By March, the efficacy of the vaccine will be revealed in such as Israel, where vaccination program has started in last month. If it would work and 70% of the people could get immune to the virus, it will bring them the ultimate solution to the pandemic. I still hope it will come true.

*Politics and society*

Populism and tendency for fascism have been noted in various countries in the world. Our country was not an exception of such trend. I believe the politicians who appeal for populistic and dividing policies have been more and more approved by the people. I suspect more people are accepting such politics. Selfishness and ephemeralism seem to prevail among people. I suspect the neoliberal economy which has covered the world since 1980s or 1990s has left it in various countries, either communistic or capitalistic. I would keep interests in this trend and go on studying about it.

I won't discuss further but am most concerned about the budget deficit and astronomical level of debt of the government. BOJ has been buying tremendous amount of national bonds and of stocks. It is surely abnormal. I am afraid this corona crisis would the coup de grace to our country in the near future.

*Music and radio*

I have played the 1st movement of the 1st sonata of Brahms with my niece in Oct. I felt I had gone through the last stage of my cello performance history in my life. Through practicing for that performance, I have realized what I could do with it and what I could never reach with it. I still go on playing it but just for own fun. I am more inclined to listen to good music like chamber music of Faure or of Brahms, Bach's religious works or Beethoven's chamber music in the last part of his life. 

I could not help saying that what ham radio/CW used to be for me has almost gone away. Good friends of mine have gone inactive or even silent key. I believe it will be the time for me to downsize ham radio activity if not completely.


We have had struggles in a family member. It is impossible for me to describe about it right now. So far, everyone is getting along OK. My wife is still working in full time. It may take her a couple of years to retire. I would support her and the other members as much as possible as a house husband. In such hardship of life, the meaning of our lives becomes clearer and more evident. I am learning how little I have served my family as a father and a husband. Wondering if I could catch it up in the rest of my life.

Wow, I have written too much pessimistic and discouraging. I am still in good temper and willingness. I ran across with Darrel AA7JV on 20m this morning, who used to be a researcher in radio astronomy. I have asked him if he had done with observation of the background radiation. He answered yes and told me it was a struggle against the receiver's noise floor level and the noise from the thousands of satellites orbiting around the globe. I have read the research of the background radiation has taught much about the origin of the universe and the progress afterward. So intriguing. Struggling against aging with loss of memory, I still would like to know more of such a thing before my life is put an end. In spring and summer, my garden and small farm might keep me busy. It is a real joy for me to work there under sun. House chores and cooking will also be a pleasure for me. 

I appreciate all of you, my friends and the visitors to this trivial blog, for your support. Leave a word or two if you notice or feel anything about the topics in it. May the new year be healthy and happy to you all.  

A Happy New Year to you!

Shin Onisawa