Seattle’s Biospheres – Exclusive Connection to Nature?

Because “Amazon employees need connection to nature” (geekwire quote). Yes. We all need connection to nature; it connects us to ourselves. Hopefully, parts of it will be accessible to the general public –

http://www.geekwire.com/2016/amazon-biospheres-will-happen-inside-giant-glass-orbs-company-building/

The most recent news as of July 26 by the Seattle Times is that there will only be opportunities for public visits. Specifics  are not yet available. Generally, the space is closed to the public, though much can be viewed from the street.

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“Breach” – Live Koto Jazz & the SyntHorn @ The Royal Room; NW FOLKLIFE Next

Here is a live recording of a tune I first played at Stone Way Café’s Fremont Art Walk on April 1st, then recorded live at The Royal Room on April 13th with Koto Jazz accompaniment by Patrick Wilson on the SyntHorn –

🎶  “Breach”, by Chris Kenji & Patrick Wilson.

 

Koto Jazz on soundclick.com

 

Join me and Koto Jazz partners next week in Pioneer Square and Northwest Folklife –

April 29th, 7-8:30PM, Saturday, Koto Jazz @ FREDERICK HOLMES AND COMPANY Art Gallery, 309 Occidental Ave., Occidental Mall, Pioneer Square, dowtown Seattle; #206-682-0166.

May 27, 4:30- 5:10 PM, Friday, 2016 NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE;“Koto Jazz – Sounds On the Coast” by Chris Kenji, Center Theater, Seattle Center, Seattle WA. No cover

KotoJazz 84: Low Budget Area Garden Design

‘80% of a garden’s beauty can be made from resources already available around your home or among friends. Remember, nature offers its own beauty that may only need minor enhancements. I personally don’t care for regularly maintaining a yard, especially constantly mowing lawns. It just brings out the sneezing in me. Lawn mowing is among the world’s biggest wastes of water and consumes unnecessary time in my lazy, stubborn opinion. Frankly, it offers no creativity or inspiration of natural beauty.

AREA GARDENS:

We start with creating a garden image in your head. Imagine an idyllic beautiful scene in your head. Then, dig a space of dirt, any shape you want it to be. Apply that idyllic scene to this bare space. First, simply turn over the grass and put it upside down, occasionally scraping off the loose dirt to further expose the grass roots, so the grass is certain to die. Then, take cedar droppings from underneath cedar trees in the back yard and spread it throughout the dug out space. Cedar is highly acidic and will largely reduce if not eliminate the need for weeding the area garden space. Not much of anything can grow under cedars; maybe a few rhodies (rhododendrons) which thrive in acidic soil.

In the case of the above pictured garden, I dug out the entire side of the front yard off of the concrete path. I left a few “accents” of grass to provide lining for the area garden’s borders. These can be easily held at bay with an occasional weed whacking. If you want you can raise the garden, which I did for the area garden beyond the concrete path toward the top of the above photo. You can raise it as much as you like by simply adding more soil to the area and more mulch. I moved the rhody from another part of this house where it was hidden away, and is now featured in the raised garden. A general rule when creating your own garden is to place the larger items –  bushes, trees, or stones – toward the back, while shorter smaller flowers and plants should be placed toward the front. As a taller, larger bush, the rhody serves as an attractive back drop to this area garden.

BORDERS & HIGHLIGHTS:

It’s always nice to have borders for the area garden so as to define its space. Borders can be stone, bricks, slate, wood, bamboo pieces, even plants. In this case, I used stones found in the ground when digging out the garden area. As for the larger boulders highlighted around the rock creek, I was fortunate to find a friend who was excavating a part of his property and was trying to get rid of these beautiful blue-hued boulders (with more to come in later phases).  These boulders give the impression of a mountainous terrain with a valley carved  out by a rolling creek. Reinforcing this mini- mountain  scene is the meandering  creek. I place various types of sheet moss, tree moss, and fern moss on the north, more shaded side of the garden area. Eventually, all dirt areas you see in the garden will display a plant, fern, moss, or ground cover of some type to add personality.

DRY CREEK:

The dry creek appears to naturally flow between the larger boulders. Each boulder enforces a bend in the creek, as it does in natural creeks. Large creek rocks are generally placed toward the outer borders of the creek, while smaller rocks are toward the center, again mimicking these natural occurrences in nature. The creek narrows and appears to flow into a small lake in the foreground toward the street. I recommend using black creek rocks if available; otherwise, the varied colored rocks will do. To make the dry creek, I dug out the space and put in a thin layer of cedar mulch, then a thick layer of sand to prevent weeds from growing in the creek rock. Soon to come will be a natural stone recycling water feature at the beginning of the dry creek.

Japanese style rock creek garden

 

FLOWERING PLANTS & THINGS:

As for the flowering plants and things in this area garden, I looked for anything that might complement the “bones” of these area mounds. Fortunately in the Pacific Northwest, there are lots of plant life growing everywhere, some considered weeds in some circles. For example, ferns, wild white flowering heuchera, crocosmia, and wild blue bells grow like weeds in this region, but one can never get enough of their natural beauty.  I placed the wild heuchera on the north side and underneath the rhody where it thrives in shady areas. I scatter the wild crocosmias, blue hyacinths, and blue bells unevenly throughout the area gardens to reinforce the natural look. The blue bells and hyacinths  will flower in the spring while the crocosmias flower in late summer into autumn. I also have a relative of the ‘lamb’s ear’ ground cover which grows wild here and flowers a gorgeous deep magenta flower at the ends of each antler-like stem. I also have another ground cover that emerges a bouquet of hundreds of tiny white bulbous flowers during the summer and autumn seasons. I plan to add various types of ornamental grasses in addition to the Japanese red grass and the yellow bamboo grass clumps around the garden areas.

I have shoots of Japanese red grass planted to the side of the weeping blue cedar, tulips and other bulbous flowers not yet blooming scattered around the area gardens as well. I was gifted a rosemary to add a year round pungent aroma and a gorgeous orange rose bush.

PURCHASED HIGHLIGHTED ITEMS:

The low budget provided for a few highlighted features, such as the Japanese lantern, Japanese coral bark maple, the weeping blue “dragon” cedar, Chinese purple lantern flowers, two red dogwood bushes, and a few ground covers such as English daisies, heucheras, and grasses. Outside of sweat equity, the total budget was a remarkable mere $141! For the future, I plan to add another raised garden across the walkway in the front, mock bamboo, a Japanese purple lace maple, ornamental grasses, and maybe a rare plant such as an aromatic variegated pink daphne, a cone flowering hydrangea, Asian tiger lilies, or a few exotic pink or magenta Japanese anemone flowers. The blue pots can feature beautiful maples such as local vine maples, or anything that requires a controlled environment such as bamboo.

 

Japanese Health Care Offers Private Sector Options

US-Japan Foundation/NCSL – Japanese Health Care for Elderly

Though published so along ago, I was cleaning out the basement storage the other day, and came upon my only printed copy of US-Japan Foundation/NCSL – Japanese Health Care for Elderly which was published by US-Japan Foundation and National Conference of State Legislatures (1990). I couldn’t find it anywhere. It has been referenced on a number of library websites, but no copy. I realized my co-author Dr. Bill Steslicke and I may have the only copies, along with a few die hard former legislators around the country, so here is a Word doc version. Noteworthy- 1) certain Japanese companies may form their own in-house HMO-style coverage and provisioning. 2) Japanese insurance covers eastern medicine, including but not limited to herbal remedies and acupuncture.

Whales Breaching Live @Northwest FOLKLIFE

From the Sounds from the Coast CD, “Whales Breaching is a celebration of life, sharing the seas with our ocean friends, and a hope that we will never take them for granted. Let’s support their rights as our own.

 

Koto Jazz 85: Next Wednesday @The Royal Room

Take a mid-week break next Wednesday and relax by stopping by The Royal Room at 7:00-9:30pm, April 13th as Patrick Wilson and I demo our experimental session of Koto Jazz with bossa nova rhythm and beat on the Steinway and Patrick’s invention, the SyntHorn. We’re attempting to further refine it to make it truly stage worthy in preparation for Northwest Folklife opening day. We perform for Northwest Folklife on Friday, May 27 at 4:30pm-5:10pm. The Koto Jazz will be stage worthy with bossa nova fusion. The Royal Room is located in south Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood at 5000 Rainier Ave South, Seattle. See http://theroyalroomseattle.com for quality dining and drinks. This will be part of a donation of $100 I plan to give to the Royal Room and Wayne Horvitz toward piano repairs!!     

Traveling Correspondent for Asia Pacific Economic Review (1990s)

Sometimes, I confess I do dwell on the past, and after completing my first year of graduate school at the University of Washington, I knew I had a difficult choice to make. While I was so overwhelmed that year at UW GSPA, I realized I was doing a disservice to myself and to my amazing professors.  I was performing well in each of the classes, but realized I was spending too much money on these graduate classes yet too often missing classes to jet set across the Pacific to Asia. Sometimes I need to write things down in order to affirm I made the right decision for myself. So no more dwelling; here it goes.

This junk in Kowloon Bay is an iconic symbol of the city of Hong Kong. In a way, it also represents my years in the 90s as a young writer – an old crickety boat floating among the booming high rises of imposing commerce. Lol. Yup, I very much felt like an old junk in Kowloon Bay. And today, I’ve come full circle, as a freelance technology writer for Northwest Asian Weekly.  If you ever decide to become a writer, you can expect to make just enough income to subsist, but experience some amazing, at times perilous life experiences.

In the 90s, I co-published and wrote for the Asia Pacific Economic Review, which was published by the Asia Pacific Chamber of Commerce, a boutique business organization whose goal was to bridge the gap between U.S. and Asia. My friend partners at the time were Mick Matsuzawa and Ross Knudson. The memories of those years as a young twenty- something trying to trudge my way through life were magical, and here are a few of those experiences. The photos can be poor quality, as I used disposable cameras in remote areas, and I am not much of a photographer. :-)  Pictured below are Vietnamese Trade Minister Le Van Triet, business leaders from Seattle, and then Washington state Governor Mike Lowry.

Asia Pacific Chamber of Commerce hosted VietNam Trade Minister Le Van Triet in Seattle resulting invitations to Vietnam and two trade missions to Vietnam. The second invitation led to the first American trade mission following President Clinton lifting the trade embargo with Vietnam. Governor Lowry's office got wind of our trade mission to VietNam, including meetings with the Prime Minister, the Commerce Secretary of Cambodia, and leaders of the Thailand administration.
Asia Pacific Chamber of Commerce hosted VietNam Trade Minister Le Van Triet in Seattle resulting in invitations to Vietnam and two trade missions there. The second visit led to the first American trade mission following President Clinton lifting the trade embargo with Vietnam. Governor Lowry’s office got wind of our mission, raising its profile. The trip included meetings with the Prime Minister of Vietnam and Trade Minister Le Van Triet, the Commerce Secretary of Cambodia, and leaders of the Thailand administration. While I was excluded in Thailand, I followed up with the Bunnag family at the International Law Offices of Marut Bunnag. The most extraordinary part of this mission was our visit to the killing fields outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

 

China Supreme Court Justice Zhong Yi Fei

China Supreme Court Justice Zhong Yi Fei visit to Seattle. Justice Fei co-authored China’s original intellectual property laws. There were some productive meetings with Howard Lincoln and Bill Neukom. Piracy protection in China lingers but has much improved.

Joel Kotkin, Author of Tribes, APER advisor
Joel Kotkin, Author of The Human City, Tribes, The New Class Conflict, and then APER advisor

 

The late Speaker Tom Foley prior to his appointment as Ambassador to Japan. Tom became a good friend and mentor through the years, particularly while the late Ambassador to Japan resided in Tokyo.
The late Speaker Tom Foley prior to his appointment as Ambassador to Japan. We hosted him at our offices at the Asian Resource Center, Chinatown Seattle. Tom became a good friend and mentor through the years, particularly while the late Ambassador to Japan resided in Tokyo. Side note: While he was featured in Sports Illustrated as an avid weight lifter, as Ambassador, Tom changed his tune to Ju-jitsu training. He loved classical music and loved to share his over 1,000 songs on his iPod. Later that year, we also hosted Adlai Stevenson Jr. at the Asian Resource Center, who authored the creation of the U.S. Export Administration.

 

with Seattle friend Don Pickering following a meet up with then President Fidel Ramos; at Pangsanhan Falls and canyon. There is a cave enabling you to walk behind the falls
with Seattle friend Don Pickering following a meet up with then President Fidel Ramos; at Pangsanhan Falls and canyon. There is a cave where you can walk behind the falls. Don is now CEO of BluHaptics, a robotics operating systems developer and service provider in Seattle.

 Travel to Asia included frequent visits to the media capital of Asia, Hong Kong (see top photo). I remain a business acquaintance with the folks at SCMP.com and Kuok Koon Cheng, South China Morning Post, and the Kuok Group. This originated in Tokyo where I attended Jo-Ochi Daigaku (Sophia University). There, I started a long time friendship with Rufo Colayco (who worked his way up to become President of the Kuok Group Properties and Kerry Trading in his younger years). This served me well in my internet days as they both invested in FreeInternet.

 

with Rufo, Tess, & son J.V., in Makati, Metro Manila during one of many visits to the Philippines..
with Rufo, Tess, & son J.V., in Makati, Metro Manila during one of many visits to the Philippines

 

weekend break following interview with Rujira Bunnag, Law offices of Marut Bunnag, then Speaker of Thailand
weekend break following interview with Rujira Bunnag, Law offices of Marut Bunnag, then Speaker of the House, Kingdom of Thailand.

 

with Speaker De Venecia at hotel in San Francisco
with the late Philippines Speaker of the House Jose De Venecia Jr. at his hotel in San Francisco

Mindanao Philippines

Philippines Speaker of the House José De Venetia strikes Mindanao Philippines peace treaty with then Mindanao Governor and Muslim leaders.
The late Philippines Speaker of the House José De Venecia strikes Mindanao Philippines peace treaty with then Mindanao Governor and Muslim leaders. He convinced then leader of Libya Muammar Kaddafi to stop sending arms to Muslim rebels in Mindanao, and negotiated a delicate compromise between Christians and Muslims in that region.

 

I returned to a bed and breakfast community south of Tokyo and Yokohama where I had lived for a summer as a child - Enoshima Island, Fujisawa, Kansai, Japan
I returned to a bed and breakfast community south of Tokyo and Yokohama where I had lived for a summer as a child – Enoshima Island, Fujisawa, Kansai, Japan during my college spring break, Sophia University (Jo-Ochi Daigaku), 1985.

 

Mono No Aware – Acceptance

Sea-Tac Airport – The first photo features CD covers of Pearl Jam by Muni One. Mono no aware in Japanese means the awareness of the impermanence of everything, and acceptance of things as they are. The second photo shows samples of the Chihuly glass productions.

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Where was the Bass Guitar Invented?

Bass guitar was originally invented in Seattle native Paul Tutmarc developed this instrument in the early 1930s, although he didn’t receive much recognition or success from it. It became more revolutionary after Fender and Fullerton’s rendition came out shortly after in the 1950s (source: onlyinyourstate.com).

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Patrick Wilson’s SyntHorn on the koto jazz tune

For the off beat eclectic innovator, the SyntHorn is an amazing, fun and crazy instrument. One of my neighbors and friends Patrick Wilson in Seattle created a digital instrument he calls The SyntHorn (short for synthesizer horn). The horn itself produces an unique, distant echoing cavernous sound effect. The SyntHorn includes the horn, a mini- digital keyboard, Oscillator, Chaoscillator, Monotron delay unit, two Internal Horn speakers, and one external speaker. Since the the features and function completely run on rechargeable batteries, it can played anywhere at any time. A carrying strap fits over the shoulder. All this resides in one unit.

Here is a sampling of Patrick live on the SyntHorn –

3                   2

Join me in my next performances at C&P Coffee, Columbia City’s Royal Room, and Stone Way Café to hear our progressive electronic jazz. Patrick, a former DJ at a local college radio station, will join me in jazzing up my koto jazz tunes and offer up a few of his own originals with my accompaniment on the keyboard.

It makes sounds and rhythms you’ve never heard before.

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A piano synthesis of Japanese Koto themes & progressive electronic new age jazz.

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