Dad and the Japanese Toilets


There is currently a work stoppage at the Port of Los Angeles, one of the busiest ports on the world. There is what seems like an endless line of cargo ships sitting out in the ocean with nothing to do since the union has some kind of bug up their butt about something.

But when don’t they, right?

Anyway, seeing this brought back a pleasant little memory of my dear old Dad. You see, he worked on that very port unloading ships similar to the ones that have dropped anchor due to the work stoppage. One day, I remember him taking my brother and I aboard one of the cargo ships docked on the port, a ship exporting goods from Japan.

I honestly don’t remember much of anything about that tour since I had to be no more than 5 years old. But there is one thing that sticks in my mind.

Thinking back, I can see Dad looking at us and smiling. He knew what he was up to. He led us down the hall and opened a door — to the restroom.

“Look at those! Look!” he said as he laughed.

I peeked in there and witnessed something that left me stupefied for years: the strangest toilets I had ever seen in my then-short time on this planet, a row of about 8 of them with no walls for privacy between them which made things even more awkward. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Now before you think “So what’s the big deal?” I’ll save you the trouble of doing an image search or consulting Wikipedia.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the traditional Japanese toilet, as witnessed by me on board that cargo ship (courtesy this blog):

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And if you think they look strange, just imagine the contortionist flexibility one must possess in order to use them. (If you must know, look up “how to use a Japanese toilet” and be…stupefied like I was for years.)

Thankfully, I hear that the toilets are no longer the norm in Japan where most places have switched to a more modern, sit-down type that would be honored to accept your waste.

This is good because when I vacation in Japan one of these days (or in my case, some lifetime), I want this simple creature comfort from home.

And if I would happen to come across a traditional one, I’m pretty sure I’ll hear Dad laughing hysterically as I stare at it, debating whether to use it or not.

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At the Ballpark


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We drove down to San Diego to watch the Dodgers play the Padres. All I can say is that this is a beautiful ballpark. Gonna go check things out in a few.

This was part of an event held by the University of Phoenix Alumni Association of which Ann is a member. Aside from gas in the car and parking, it cost us very little to enjoy the day.

UPDATE: It’s always a good time in San Diego when the Dodgers are in town. The crowd seemed to be 70/30 Dodger fans but it could be that we were making the most noise. Then again, there was a ton of blue everywhere we looked. Besides, the Padres didn’t do much on the offensive side and were shutout 4-0 behind the incredible arm of Clayton Kershaw.

Before any of this, I drove across the Coronado Bridge which is something I’ve always wanted to do and apparently, so do many others. There’s a u-turn at the end of it so you can turn around. Sadly, as scenic as it is, it’s also one of the top suicide bridges in America and there are many suicide prevention hotline signs posted along its path.

Watching a game at Petco Park is only part of the experience. Sure, you can buy your ticket and watch but Petco has gone the extra mile by adding to the experience and making it much more family-friendly because, let’s face it, kids have a hard enough time sitting still in general let alone trying to watch a baseball game.

Just outside the stadium (but still considered a part of it) is the Park at the Park, a nice little area where fans can sit on a hill and watch the game either obstructed by the centerfield backdrop or on the screen attached to the back of it. This is where we spent inning 3-8 and loved every minute of it. It’s more than just “going to the ballpark”: the park includes a playground, affordable food vendors, and best of all, a small diamond where kids can play some baseball while Padres employees pitch to them.

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Here’s Anthony taking his turn at the plate. Remember: he’s a golfer.

There’s also lots of other fun stuff like face painting and balloon animals.

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There’s also this little area that has a sandbox in front of it.

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And to top it off, it’s surrounded by an amazing skyline.

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Petco Park and the Padres have taken just going to a ballgame a more memorable experience, one that I would be happy to have for my home team.

Toward the end of the evening, Anthony and I found ourselves playing catch in the park with a souvenir baseball he bought.

We’ll never forget that moment.

Thank you, San Diego.You should be proud.

See the complete set of pictures on Flickr

Blogging 365, Day 5: On A Ship


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Getting ready to board the USS Iowa in San Pedro, CA.

UPDATED 1/5/13
Should you ever be in the area or have plans to be, do not pass up the opportunity to see her. Volunteers are extremely knowledgeable about this battleship’s history and the ship itself is in incredible condition considering all she’s gone through. You will not be disappointed.

While the tour is self-guided, we had the luxury of having our personal guide, Ann’s dad, who served on the USS Myles C. Fox for four years. He also was our guide on this tour back in 2008. It was great hearing his stories about his time on the ship and getting details on everything inside the USS Iowa.

And at 75, I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see him practically run down the ladders with such little effort. Keep in mind this man had a quadruple bypass just a few years ago. Well, he did also have four years to perfect his ladder-descending skills but it was still fun to watch.

I also have to admit that I got a bit emotional when I heard Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” playing while we were in the Gift Shop located on the ship’s second level. It’s a beautiful tune that strikes a nerve with anyhow but hearing it on board this ship and considering the time it was active sort of brought it all home.

While I took over 100 pictures (including the bed where FDR slept), I think this one pretty much sums up everything: a statue of the well-known V-J Day photo of the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square.

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Just an absolutely fantastic day.

Read more about the USS Iowa here. She has quite a history.

Wordless Wednesday: Lunch


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A collage from where we had lunch on Saturday.

Staycation: Griffith Observatory


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Just another local attraction we enjoy visiting. The Griffith Observatory was used in the movies The Rocketeer and Rebel Without A Cause just to name a few.

And it’s an absolutely beautiful day up here 🙂