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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Old Time Sci-Fi

I started writing science fiction when I was around ten years old. My stories were more like comic books, and they had been inspired by many old SF shows from the 1950's to the early 1980's. I started actually reading whole novels when I was around fifteen years old. I was influenced by the works of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Donald Wollheim, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. I wrote a few stories where I tried to emulate these great masters, but the stories sounded more like pulp magazine stories. I gave up on writing any kind of science fiction until a few years ago.

I wanted to model my stories off of more mature works of the genre. When I am using the term mature, I am referring to the more recent novels and short stories of the last twenty or so years. I thought that the old stories of the fifties and earlier were a little childish and naive compared to more contemporary stories.

That opinion started changing in the last few years. The ezine, "Raygun Revival," renewed my love of the old stories. They were not so much focused on sex as many of the modern stories of today are. They were clean and very entertaining. I recently discovered the Internet Archives where I have been downloading MP3's of old time radio science fiction shows like "X Minus One," "Buck Rogers," "Space Patrol," and an old BBC program "Journey in Space." It was cool to listen to them. I started realizing that these old school SF stories were not always corny. Many of them were very original and thought provoking. "Buck Rogers" and "Space Patrol" were very corny, but they tried to introduce a generation of youngsters to science and the possibilities of spaceflight.

Signs of Reassurance

(This had been originally posted in the spring of 2010, but I think that the message is still relevant today.)

I do not know about any of you, but sometimes I find it difficult to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. God has been pruning me (John 15:2,4) during this past week. He has been asking me to give up certain things and change some of my bad habits.

I am not always trusting in God, so I foolishly ask Him for signs at times.

Today, the weather in Niigata was beautiful. The sky was clear and sunny. We do not have a dryer at our house, so I hanged the laundry outside to dry before going to work.

My wife, Kiyomi, finished work and told me that the laundry had dried by the time she got home. I had only hanged the laundry out four hours before she returned home!

The past two months here in Niigata have been cold and cloudy. It has always either been raining or snowing during that time. My wife and I had to hang our clothes inside to dry. This took a very long time. Sometimes, we used our heater to stay warm and to dry the the clothes.

God used the quick drying time outside to show me that He will always provide the best way. He will always support us. He is never lazy and He never sleeps (Psalm 121:2-3).

So please never hesitate to trust Him and do what He says and how He wants it done when He asks.

Robert A. Heinlein Form Letter to Fans

One of my favorite writers is Robert Heinlein. I have read most of his books. "Starship Troopers" is my personal favorite. I read his collected letters "Grumbles from the Grave" ten years ago. I remember reading that he received so many fan letters that he and his wife Virginia were not able to personally respond to all of them. I just discovered this post on another blog that had a copy of the form letter (yes, form letter) that he regularly used to respond to fan letters. It is worth a look over.

The Road to a Princess

This is a past post that  about the love story with my wife, Kiyomi.

I went on a missions trip to Joetsu, Japan, in June 2005. I spent one day with the oldest of the son of the missionary that we came to assist. We played video games at the local arcade, and rode bikes everywhere in the city. He had told me about a local restaurant that had an antique shop in its basement. He told me that I could pick up a yukata (a traditional Japanese shirt worn during the summer) for 500 yen ($5.50 USD). I did not have any traditional Japanese clothing, so I thought that this would be a great chance to pick up one for a very cheap price.

We were met by one of the waitresses at the restaurant who was named Kiyomi. Kiyomi shook my hand. I felt an instant attraction for her. She helped us around the antique shop in the basement. The owner said that he did not have any yukatas, but he was willing to sell me a men's winter kimono for 1,000 yen ($10.10 USD). It was a little small but did suffice.

For the rest of the trip, Kiyomi and spoke to each other on and off. She had been coming to English classes held by the missionary and his wife at their church. Kiyomi and another waitress from the restaurant came to the church on our last day in Joetsu to give us a very simple version of the Japanese tea ceremony. The type of green tea used in the ceremony was very bitter. Thank God for the sweets that were part of the ceremony, because they had helped to kill the taste.

Here is the first picture that we took together:

After I returned to the States, Kiyomi and I exchanged emails almost everyday. I did not want to get involved in a lost distance dating relationship because I had been hurt on several in the past. One of my pastors in my church and the missionary in Joetsu encouraged me to continue sending emails to Kiyomi with Bible verses. (Kiyomi was not a Christian at this time, but she was interested in God and the Bible.) We did this for over a year.

Kiyomi came to my town, in Illinois, in late December 2006, to visit all of the people who came on the mission trip. During her time with some Japanese Christian women at a Christian conference in Indianapolis, she gave her heart to Jesus. She was baptized in the Holy Spirit the next day. She got water baptized shortly after the New Year in 2007. She returned to Japan a few days later.

Kiyomi and I continued emailing each other. I would send her notes from my pastor's messages every week. I refrained from telling her my feelings for her because I wanted her to concentrate on her relationship with Christ first. I asked in my heart that if He wanted Kiyomi and me to enter into a dating relationship that He would give us the best time to start it.

Kiyomi returned to Illinois in April 2008. I had shared with one of my pastors about my feelings for Kiyomi and that I just did not know what to do with them. (I had been very hesitant about entering into any relationships because I had been hurt very badly in the past.) My pastor stated that I should just ask Kiyomi to date me. (I had been telling him about my feelings for Kiyomi since I had returned from the missions trip in 2005. He had always been praying for me and encouraging me on waiting for the Lord's perfect time in starting a relationship.) Another pastor in my church had asked Kiyomi how she felt for me. She told him that she cared for me to and that she would not mind dating me. I had asked Kiyomi to date me at a nice Chinese restaurant close to my university. She said yes. I told her that we would not be official until I got the blessing her both of her parents. (I had already received the blessing from my father a few days earlier.) Another Japanese friend of mine translated my request to date Kiyomi into Japanese.

Kiyomi went straight to her parents' home after she had returned to her hometown. Her parents gave their blessing to the relationship a week later.

I moved to Ulsan, South Korea, after I had completed my masters degree, in August 2008. I had been employed by the city government to work in a local public elementary school there as an Guest English Teacher. I was assisted in my teaching duties by a Korean English teacher. God blessed me with an awesome church behind my apartment who helped me to adjust to Korean life. Kiyomi came to visit me for four days during my 37th birthday there.

Here is a picture of us sitting in the church dining room after the morning service:

Kiyomi had moved to Niigata, Japan, in June 2008. I went there during Christmastime to meet with her parents and ask them for her hand in marriage. They gave their permission after I had returned to Korea.

I came to Niigata, Japan on September 1 of this year. Kiyomi and I got married on October 10 at Grace Chapel, in Niigata.

My Princess and Me

Well, this is how I met and married my wonderful princess. She is doing a wonderful job of training this gaijin in the ways of Japanese life.


Tanabata is a special ceremony that is celebrated in Japan on July 7 in some places, August 7 in others. It is based on an old Chinese folktale where the granddaughter, named Weaving Maiden, of the Queen Mother of the Western Heaven descended to Earth where she married a herdsboy. In Heaven, she wove brocades that her grandmother would use to decorate the sky. The were very happy and had tow children. He would tend his herds and she would weave. The Queen Mother searched for several months. When she found her granddaughter, she dragged her back to heaven. The herdsboy pleaded with the Queen Mother for her return, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Both of them became very depressed, so they did not work. He would not tend his herds and she would not weave. The Queen Mother became so irritated by this that she turned them both into stars. The herdsboy became the star Altair, and the girl became the Weaving Star (Vega). They were separated by the River of Heaven, the Milky Way. They were only allowed to me together during the night of the seventh day, of the seventh month of the old lunar calendar. On that night, all of the magpies in the world fly to heaven to form a bridge where the two lovers are reunited.
People write wishes on paper. They can be for health, studies, good health, prosperity in business, and a wide variety of other things. Sendai has a big fireworks display on August 5.

The Amish

I got a chance to visit the Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, during a stay with my sister many years back. It was a very eye opening experience.

Many Americans view the Amish as backward and technophobic. This is not the case at all. They use modern conveniences and their concerns in life are the same as those of other people. I went on a tour of a house that was modeled on the ones that the Amish use. The Amish do not use electricity because they want to be a people set apart for the Lord. They have come up with very creative ways to get around the use of electricity in modern appliances. They use propane to power their ovens and some of their other appliances. A diesel generator is used pump compressed air to power blenders, automatic milking machines, and other machinery. Kerosene space heaters are used to heat the downstairs, and older style kerosene lanterns are used to provide lighting for the upstairs.

The scariest device that I saw during the tour was a gas-powered iron. It looks like a regular iron but it has a small gas tank at the base. A hot iron that close to a gas source can be quite disastrous, but this is my personal opinion.

The Amish tend to wear plain cloths because they do not want to draw attention to themselves. I believe that this is also based upon their philosophy of simplicity. The men and women do not wear any patterned cloths. All cloths are composed of solid colors. They only form of jewelry that the men are allowed to wear is a pocket watch. The women do not wear any jewelry, including wedding bands.

All decorations in the house must be functional. There is nothing in the house just for the sake of making place looking pretty. There are many calendars in the house because they are the only pictures that you will find in an Amish home.

The community structure is unique. Each community is divided into church districts of approximately twenty-six families each. There are two ministers and one deacon over each district. (Ministers do not receive any formal training. The Amish believe that God will lead the ministers in what they should preach during the service.) A bishop is over two church districts.

The Amish have services every two weeks instead of weekly. There are no church buildings. Services are held in the homes of individual families. Each family in the district is expected to host church at least once a year. An average service goes from 8:00 AM to Noon. People socialize afterwards. Courting couples will attend a service singing hymns later in the evening.

The household that will be hosting the service on a particular week will clear the living room (or “great room” as they call it) on the preceding Wednesday. A wagon will come with the benches and items needed for the service. The room will be converted in a short period of time. The room will have two rows of benches. The men and boys will sit on one side and the women and girls on the other side.

Services are held in High German. (Low German and English are used in daily life.)  The only version of the Bible that is used is the one that Martin Luther German translation from Latin.

A person is not considered a full member of the church until they are baptized. Men are usually baptized when they are between 21 and 23 years old. Women are baptized between the ages of 17 and 18 years old.
My sister and I went on a buggy ride. The man who was driving the buggy told us that a lot of Amish trade their buggies in about every two to five years. This sounded funny because it is exactly what many Americans do with their cars. He told us that a new buggy can cost up to $7000.

South Korean and Japanese School Years in Brief

(This is a reprint of an earlier post from my Hoshi to Sakura blog.)

I do not know if anyone besides me has ever wondered if the starting and ending time for the average school in other countries was different from the United States.  I spent a year in South Korea and I have been in Japan for a several years now, and I can tell you that both countries start and finish their school years at different times from the States.

The school year in South Korea starts in March. There is a summer vacation from late July to the end of August. There is a winter vacation during January. Students and teachers come back for two weeks in February with the school officially ending during the third week of that month. There is a ten day Spring Break afterward where teachers plan for the next year.

The Japanese school year starts in April. There is a summer vacation in July and August and a winter vacation in January. The school year finishes in March.

I hope that anyone who is planning on teaching in either South Korea or Japan will find this information helpful.