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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

GAWA Day #56: The Future of the Takahashi Family

When my brother Stan passed away a couple of months ago I became the eldest in the family line.  My two brothers had a total of one daughter and 7 sons.  However, only one of the boys, Eric, now has a son, which makes him, Mateo, the only current hope for continuing the Takahashi legacy.  I stayed with this family in New Jersey:


Nicole (at top) is away at Rutgers combining majors in finance and fashion.  Marisol is from Colombia and Eric is a medical doctor.   We had a lamb late lunch with red and white wines:


My focus today will be on the two younger children, who are now a bit older than the above photo:


They live in a 3500 square foot, 4 story home, and Mateo, on the left in both photos, goes to school two blocks away (what Sofia Pearl is holding and the purple box in front return latter in this narrative).


Sofia Pearl is 4, is really knowledgeable about colors and wants most to be a rainbow butterfly...


...and will someday be a star.  She went to her play kitchen and kept foisting on me cranberry juice and toast (yes, that photo above).  She also had several rings and got me involved with hide and seek.  The pure joy of her finding anything will forever be etched in my brain.  For a substantial period, I got involved with her B Creative etch a sketch pad for the 21st birthday party of her friend, a spider, where a blue birthday cake and six blue cupcakes were served to her bunny, dog, duck and cat...you had to be here to appreciate the interaction.  As joyful and cute as this all was, my cocoon-like existence back home, even with 200 neighbors, will be a welcome lifestyle shift.

Mateo is nine, in the fourth grade, and says he's smarter than a fifth grader.  You've all seen that TV program and marvel at what fifth graders know.  We played a game of trivia and I asked him what the largest animal in the history of Planet Earth was.  His response was immediate and correct, a blue whale, but it was more the body language and how he said it, like, is that the best you can do?


So I up-ticked the difficulty by asking, how long does light take to go from one end of our Milky Way Galaxy to the other.  He immediately surmised that it takes 8 minutes for sunlight to reach us (something I didn't know), tried to calculate from there in his head, couldn't, so strike one for Mateo.  In case you also didn't know, the answer is around 100,000 years.  

We were at the Cro-Magnon stage 25,000 years ago and North America was first settled maybe only as recently as 15,000 years ago.  We are genetically different from the Homo sapiens of those eras.  To the right are Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon and us.  100,000 years is a long period, and our Universe is, indeed, massive.

As light moves so fast--7.5 times around the world in one second--it is difficult to conceive of how large our little ole galaxy is, and we are only one of more than 100 billion galaxies. I also asked Mateo how old our Universe was and he guessed a billion years.  The latest estimate is 13.8 billion years, but just to show how much I don't know, the Methuselah Star (HD 1402830) located just 190 light years from us is supposedly 14.46 billion years old.  Something to do with uncertainty and error bars, I think.

Anyway, Mateo showed me how Mine-Craft works.  Never heard of it?  It's a computer game (learning tool, whatever)--leggo on steroids--where you can build your own ecosystem, virtually.  A decent 25-student classroom of today should be able to gain access for around $400.  About six years old, I have thought that this computer tool could build imaginative floating cities.  Here are two (although the second one is not from Mine-Craft):


While these are isolated entities, I asked Mateo to utilize a more functional pattern, as suggested in my recent posting of PROGRESS ON THE BLUE REVOLUTION:

Mateo thought about it, and said he might need two years.  That would be fabulous, for as an eleven year old, he would be at the forefront of floating city concepts.

His mind is not quite there yet, but I have done considerable roots searching--taking me to Utashinai, way north of Sapporo--and will someday pass on to him my file of what I've found thus far.  It took me into retirement to get interested, so I'll probably send these documents to his father, who himself might have an earlier interest in doing something about discovering the full story.  In short, my father's father left Japan sometime after 1890 for America, learned something, and on his back home stopped off on the island on Kauai to build a hydroelectric plant at Wainiha.  The facility produced around 3 MW in 1906 and today still generates 3 MW, 109 years later with essentially the same water supply system and turbogenerator.  Unfortunately, he fell at the site and died when my father was 3 years old.

The most exciting part about the potential search is that it is remotely possible that one of Kenjiro's (that is the name of my grandfather, and mine is Kenji, so I must have been named after him), grandmothers was a female samurai.  This would have occurred in the Northern Honshu area, for Kenjiro's parents came from Akita.  He was born in Otaru on Hokkaido.  This grandmother might have looked like this photo in the mid-1800's.

So this stop in New Jersey is my official passing of the baton to Eric, Marisol, Mateo and Sophia to find the ultimate truth to the foundation of the Takahashi clan.  That rainbow pattern above is a colorized version of our family mon.

As I never did make it into New York City, we went to Vu for lunch and had quite a view of One World Trade Center, which once was called Freedom Tower:


One WTC is 1776 feet high, making it the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere, has 104 floors and cost about $4 billion.  Unfortunately, as of mid-year it was only 60% occupied because of the high rent cost.  Worse, in various stages of construction and occupancy are Three World Trade Center and Seven World Trade Center, with four more on the drawing boards.  Of course, there is another part of Manhattan:


Off Eric's shoulder I could see the Statue of Liberty.  So, anyway, that was my New York City Experience this time.

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