Friday, August 29, 2008

Japanese Culture for 100 yen ($1)

There are two major religions in Japan: Shinto and Buddhism. Although, I don’t know a lot about them, esp. Shinto, I will try to convey in this and future Blogs some of the things I come across.

On our Misawa tour to the Buddhist temple there were many grave sites.
These are the ones for those with $$. Those who don’t have $$ have them inside in a smaller form.

By Japanese law, or maybe it’s an imperial mandate, all the dead are cremated. The grave sites are for whole families, not individuals. They pay a lot of respect to the dead/ancestors. There was a recent Oban festival right when we PCS’d here. They go to the grave and take there ancestors home to partake in some of the joy’s of life again, i.e. celebrations, food, etc. Then they return them to the temple. They also place large sticks at the grave sight at certain anniversaries of the ancestor’s death, like at year 1, 3, 7 etc. (not too sure about that part).

So there is lesson one, a bit shaky on details but hopefully enough to keep it interesting.*once I get my nice SLR camera back from the slow boat I hope to be renewed in my photography and blogging spheres.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dentistry in Japan

So…Work. I am the base’s only Pediatric Dentist, so it is weird to walk around the base and church and know that every one of the kids I see is my patient!! It is exciting and overwhelming. I have a lot of expectations to fulfill. A few of the general dentists have been filling in for pedo for the last year and have been very excited to see me. I should start seeing patients at the beginning of September. They have me busy/not busy doing base orientation (called in-processing), hospital orientation, taking CBT’s (computer based tests) like HIPPA, Security, etc. We also HAVE to take a Misawa tour (done) and a tour of Hachinohe (scheduled for Sept) as part of in-processing.

So my days have been real easy/boring/productive, so I’m trying to take the time to get everything in order and look up a million different acronyms: PCS- permanent change of station, used- I’m PCSing to Japan from Rhode Island; not used- Em I'm really PCS'd right now. TDY-temporary duty used- I did a TDY for COT at Maxwell AFB; not used-m Em that is a nice TDY. BX- Base Exchange; like a Walmart. ETC- etcetera. I’m also enjoying being home a bit more.

So I am the pediatric dentist. I will have two DTR’s (dental treatment rooms) and two assistants. Thus we will have one for cleanings and exams, while the other is scheduled for operative patients. I am currently trying to decide how I will want to do sedations. They have an OR facility to use, but I don’t think I’ll have as big a need as we had in RI. That’s good for the kids, but I really enjoy that part of my job. My supervisor is the base's Periodontist and a Lt Colonel. Above him is the dental squadron commander, a “full bird” colonel. Above him is the group commander, who is over the whole medical group, i.e. the hospital. Then there is the wing commander, another colonel. He is the man in charge of the whole base.

My days will be real busy, but quite manageable and probably not as busy as residency. It is nice to come home and be home. We have PT (physical training) 3 times a week. This has become so important that they schedule it into the end of the day during the week and make it mandatory. The idea is to have everyone fit for deployment. I made a goal to do the base’s triathlon next year. My friends just did it yesterday. Janeen won first place for the women’s!!!! So I need to get my swimming game on. I need to find a nice Speedo too!!! j/k (used-just kidding). We also have emergency medical, chem warfare, etc exercises to keep us on our toes. Misawa is a very safe small city (40,000+ people), but we have a lot of interesting neighbors [i.e. China, North Korea, Russia(that's a lot of red!)] who keep it a very important place to keep the 35th Fighter Wing.

I look forward to starting my patient care. I will have a great deal of say in how I do things and am excited to find my style of pediatric dentistry. I have a wonderful job and task ahead of me!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cooking With Mamasans

Tonight I took my first Japanese cooking class. It was really fun. It started with a Japanese lady who works for the AF giving us an introduction to the ingredients and recipe that we will be trying. Tonight was cooking Hiyashi chuuka or Japanese cold noodles. Then the cooking began. all of a sudden there we three more older Japanese ladies whirling around the mini "Kitchen Stadium" chopping, pointing, shredding, etc. It lacked a traditional instruction, but once I got into the flow I was able to pick up on what ingredients were going where. What made it more confusing was that instead of cooking the scheduled recipe they made three additional dishes. It was wild.

Here is the cold noodle dish. It was really good, despite having forgotten to put the vinegar sauce on top.This one was my favorite, the hot noodle dish. It's basically a raman dish, but the best I've tasted, including the handful I've tried around Japan already.
The Japanese people are sooo nice. Everything is done with a smile and a bow. They like it when I try to say a phrase in Japanese. I want to be able to speak and read Japanese so bad.

The major victory tonight was getting introduced to a few of the Japanese cooking staples and how to go buy them. One favorite was the Shiso leaf. It had a wonderful aroma. Strong aroma like cilantro, but citrusy. It was placed in a rice dish, a potato/bean salad, and garnished the cold noodle dish. Now I need to brave Univers, the Japanese supermarket for some ingredients!

One of the other guys there summed it up perfectly: "all I've learned is I need three little Japanese ladies to come into my kitchen and cook for me."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Feeling A Bit Bloggier

Sorry for neglecting my 3 faithful readers for so long, well 2 since Em already knows whats going on. As you most likely know we are in Japan, it’s been about 19 days now. Veterans! When we arrived they put us into the Misawa Inn, which is the on base billeting. It had a kitchenette, living room and 1 bedroom and bath. It was also stifling hot and humid for the first 8/10 days. Then it has begun to cool off and rain more. First trip to the housing office told us that there were no four bedrooms available on base. Disappointed we convinced ourselves off-base is better and ended up finding a nice house, but would have to wait a month to move in. Then the next day we got called with news that we got approval to get one of the available 4-bedrooms on-base in the “field grade” area which is right next to the “company grade”. [I as, a captain, am in the company grade officer level. Major, Lt Colonel, and Colonel are the field grade officers and the military is picky about mixing rank levels.] So we decided to take one on base. We are now just completing the process of convincing ourselves that on-base is superior, which it is…I think. Really, there are a lot of pros and cons on both ends, but the convenience of being on base won out.

Our home is a 6:34 minute walk to Max’s school. He started today! It’s fun and crazy that I have a first-grader!! (My brother must be freakin’ out sending his daughter to college this year! Good luck Madi!) It is also only a 3 minute walk from our door to the clinic door. This makes it an easy commute. I can’t blame traffic for being late on my way home anymore. Also, we plan to do a lot of classes and activities so it will be nice not having to come on and off base so much. Max is taking piano and some sort of Japanese Martial Art. Sam is doing gymnastics. (Em gave him the choice between gymnastics and dance. He chose the lesser of the two evils luckily). Em is taking a ceramics course, for which she is wicked excited! I am doing a bonsai class as well as a short survival Japanese language course and a Japanese cooking class. I may also do a little bit of dentistry while I’m here, but that is still up in the air!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Be Patient

I'm not currently feeling too bloggy, but its coming.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sleepy Boy 2

This is a follow up video to Em's Cheese Roll post: Jet Lag meets Japanese Food.

Graduation Parade

So here are a few pictures from our graduation parade at COT: Commissioned Officer Training.

It was sooo hot. As you may notice we are wearing black shinny shoes. For about 20 of the 24 minutes of the parade we are standing completely still i.e. at attention. The shoes got so hot it truthfully felt like I was about to get a burn on my feet, really.Anyway, I graduated.

This is a picture of most of my flight, the group that I was together with for 24/7/31.

* Em informed me that I looked very mean as I marched. Well, its called extreme concentration as I try not to mess up as I march past the commanders.