SCHOOL / JAPAN ACTIVITIES
1982-1985, grades 10-12.
Tennis (3 years), Drama (3 years), Baseball (1 year), Track (1 year).
Off base in Nagai for one month, then to Mabori Kaigan (Yokosuka) for the remainder.
This is a hard one. I really liked Mrs. Fong for drama. But the chemistry teacher in 11th grade, I can't remember his name and he was only at Yo-Hi for one year, prepared me best for the wonderful world of science (Biochemistry was fascinating) that awaited in college.
Cathy Begy. Even her mother liked me better than that Pig she was dating back in 11th grade. Why was it that I could always get along better with my girlfriends' (or would be girl friends') mothers better than the girl?
Being a loner most of my life, my fondest memories tend to be my own personal time. Like sitting outside the Exchange with my notebook computer in my lap entering programs from Japanese computer magazines. Teaching myself how to read from those computer magazines was not only a fond memory, but has proved to be invaluable now that I work in a complete Japanese environment. I had decided back then that I wanted to become a computer programmer in Japan, and after graduating from college, that's exactly what I became.
This isn't so much a sad memory, but is more of a regret. My family would go site seeing on various opportunities, yet I didn't get into it so much. I passed up a chance to go to Kyoto in favor of staying in Yokosuka where my girlfriend was. (Hormones?) I did finally make it to Kyoto (and two more times since), but that was a time when I could have experience more of Japan than I did.
YOHI IMPACT ON MY LIFE
Up until I moved to Yokosuka in 1982, I'd pretty much lived in the same area in Central California. It was a mile to the nearest convenience store (actually a liquor store, but it was pretty much the same thing back then), located near my Junior High School in the little dot of a town off of Highway 198 called Armona. We lived in a nice two story house with our own swimming pool and 2.5 acres of land, but I wasn't satisfied. Then circumstances became such that my Dad, working for the Recreation Department at Lemore Naval Air Station since before I was born, decided to apply for a job elsewhere. He submitted an application to Alaska and Yokosuka.
The thought of moving to Japan thrilled me! I wanted a computer since we got a TRS-80 in our 7th grade class. And to me, Japan = electronics = computers! This would be my chance! While my sister, Jane, wasn't very enthusiastic about leaving her friends, I was a shy, introverted guy without many close friends, so that didn't bother me in the least. I was ready to go as soon as I heard about the application. There were three things that made 1992 a special year for me,
(Not necessarily in that order.)
I had wanted a computer, as I said, since 7th grade. Working as a lifeguard the summer of 1993, I earned enough money to buy my own computer, an NEC PC-8201 notebook computer. It had an LED display above the Japanese keyboard that would display 40x8 characters. I took that computer with me everywhere. As I said before, I would buy Japanese computer magazines every month, and through them I not only taught myself programming, but how to read Katakana first, then Kanji, and finally Hiragana. (Those of you who have studied Japanese formally might notice that I didn't do it in the normal order.) I got to where I could even touch type the Japanese keyboard. (Now days, not even Japanese touch type the Kana keyboard - they enter everything in Romaji and have the FEP (Front End Processor) convert it. FEPs weren't around when I started!)
Well, given that background, it was at Yo-Hi that I set my career goal, to become a computer programmer in Japan. And, that's exactly what I have become. One of my favorite phrases a number of years back was that "I was born in the U.S.A., but made it Japan." Yo-Hi made me what I am today.
BEST FRIENDS - CONTACT WITH
Jennifer Tabb, Cathy Begy (haven't heard from her recently), Diane Shreve (her either), and Sherry Dykstra (Hartman). I even met with Lee Gustafson a couple of years back in Yokosuka.
Gee, there were so many that I enjoyed from MuToma (Music Tomato - TVK). I remember having basically two tapes in my car, Prince and the Revolution and Weird Al. I think that all in all I enjoyed "Like a Surgeon" and "Eat It!" better than "1999."
POST SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
Studied at San Diego State University from 1985 to 1991 with a year at Yokohama National University as an exchange student. (All of my courses at "Kokudai" were mainstream Japanese Information Processing courses.) I was the first student at San Diego State University to sign up for the new minor in Japanese, and was the only Computer Science major in the Japanese classes.
Attended the Career Forum (hosted by Recruit) in San Francisco in 1991. From there I made contact with three Japanese companies. I then went to Japan for interviews during Spring Break, and decided to join Software AG of Far East, a software company mainly working with databases, the main database being ADABAS, created by the original Software AG in Germany. Our company, being independent of the German company and wanting to show it, changed it's name to Beacon Information Technology a number of years back. I still work for Beacon-IT today where I am a Senior Programmer for the Internet Technical Department.
Margarita Valencia-Westbay (not a YoHi Alum). We met in the dorms at San Diego State University, and dated all but the first couple of years there. I told her from the start that I planned on returning to Japan after graduating. Margarita didn't think it'd last that long, so such future plans didn't mean much to her then. After graduating and returning to Japan, we kept in touch, but not with any plans of getting together again. But, you know, once you find that special someone, it's hard to find another. I had crushes on a few of my co-workers, but I prefer to keep work and private separate. The only problem with that is that it's hard to meet anyone outside of work in Japan. It was much easier to keep in touch with Margarita an ocean away. Margarita visited me here in Japan and hinted that she wouldn't mind living here. So finally, I realized that we were simply meant to be, and I proposed over the phone. We were married in her sister's back yard (nothing fancy, but something she said she wanted to do back in college) on September 17, 1995.
Jobana (Castle Flower in Kanji) -- 1996.11.07
San Diego - Yokohama - San Diego - Chiba - Yokohama (near Kamakura) - Yokohama (Nojima)
While not many gaijin get integrated into their communities, I've been very fortunate and have found a wonderful place to live here on the small island of Nojima in Yokohama (near Kanazawa Hakkei Station).
At the annual matsuri after being here for a year, I was talking with one of the older guys following the parade. He told me that Nojima had a softball team that played most Sunday mornings. I really wanted to start playing some sport again as I don't get much exercise working on a computer all day. Then, when the community circular came around and asked for participants in a softball tournament for Sports Day (10/10 every year), I signed up. And I've been playing with the team since.
Now, what, you might ask, does playing softball have to do with the community? Well, the members of the Nojima softball team aren't just a bunch of guys who get together to play softball. They are the community leaders. Every event that goes on on this little island is run by the Nojima softball team. The annual matsui where we parade through the island with a heavy shrine, mochi pounding, etc. Being a member of the softball team pretty much requires my participation in these activities. I've got my Nojima hapi coat, and put my shoulder in with everyone else.
ODDS AND ENDS
Back in 1995 I gave up waiting for work to get connected to the Internet (that was a big shock upon entering the company, no Internet access!) and I subscribed to a local provider. The Internet had changed quite a bit since I was last on in college. Browsers and "home pages" seemed to be taking over where mail, newsgroups, and FTP used to rule.
One thing I looked for was information about baseball, Japanese baseball in particular. And there wasn't any. Then an article about Kevin Mitchell returning to the U.S. in mid season on ESPNet really go me mad. They used every old cliche about Japanese baseball ever made. I came to the conclusion that the guy's total Japanese baseball experience who wrote the article was watching "Mr. Baseball." To set the record straight, I started my own home page on Japanese baseball ("Japan Pro Yakyu This Week"). I updated the site pretty much every week, even during the off season, until I passed the baton off to another guy who had decided to start up his own site in 1998. The site was taking too much time away from my daughter, who was 1 and a half and demanding more attention.
But I haven't totally quit Japanese baseball. I continue to regularly answer questions about Japanese baseball that I get from around the world, and I contribute a great deal to a Japanese baseball mailing list. Furthermore, I've got my own personal database up on the Internet with some Java Servlets that I designed to give an unofficial "Player Meikan" (Player Registry) with players from 1996 to the present. The site is still under construction, and probably won't "officially" open until next season, but designing the site fills my little spare time with an interesting challenge. And I like that.
If you remember me -- drop me a line! I look forward to hearing from my classmates!