Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Country's Prime Minister is an idiot

From this source.... CBC

Now I didn't vote, so I will be the first to acknowledge that I have no right to complain, but I have not read one bit of news about Canada's PM that endears me towards him.

When are these jerks going to get their heads out of their butts and acknowledge that global warming is a real threat! Kyoto might not be the best solution in the world, but it is a definite step in the right direction. If politicians are worried about the effects on the economy it simply shows short-sidedness and unwillngness to think "outside of the box" to find ways to stimulate the economy in a more ecologically responsible way!

Harper's letter dismisses Kyoto as 'socialist scheme'

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | 10:15 PM ET

Prime Minister Stephen Harper once called the Kyoto accord a "socialist scheme" designed to suck money out of rich countries, according to a letter leaked Tuesday by the Liberals.

The letter, posted on the federal Liberal party website, was apparently written by Harper in 2002, when he was leader of the now-defunct Canadian Alliance party.

He was writing to party supporters, asking for money as he prepared to fight then-prime minister Jean Chr├ętien on the proposed Kyoto accord.

"We're gearing up now for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership," Harper's letter says.

"I'm talking about the 'battle of Kyoto' — our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto accord."

The accord is an international environmental pact that sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.... (to read more follow the link at the top)

OKAY! I swear the next post will be about Japan again!

Movies

Sorry! I have been a little behind the 8-ball so far this week so I lost a couple of days of posting!

On Sunday afternoon in the middle of my lazy afternoon, I happened across an old movie on Wowow the local equivalent to HBO. The movie was called The Collector, and I just kind of stuck on the channel and realized I was slightly interested in it. The movie was made in 1965 and starred Terence Stamp (General Zod from Superman I and II or more recently as Chancellor Valorum in Star Wars episode 1) as a sociopathic maniac that kidnaps a girl and tries to 'collect' her like his collection of rare butterflies with the hopes of her falling in love with him. Other mentionable names tied into the film was director William Wyler who is most known for directing Ben Hur and Roman Holiday. Usually I find the acting in old films to be quite campy and exaggerated (much like modern Japanese dramas) but I was quite impressed with the performances in this one and it was an interesting study in the mind of a madman many years before Hanibal Lecter was even created by Thomas Harris. While watching the movie I remembered that I had actually read about the book before one night while meandering through the Internet. Apparently the book rates up there with The Catcher in the Rye for influencing real life mad men ( actually I am making a big leap in assumption here, I have never researched Catcher in the Rye fully- I am basing this on the part of the movie Conspiracy Theory when the FBI had flagged the book...). According to this highly reputable source (well maybe not - it is Maxim a magazine geared towards single men...) the book has inspired at least 5 serial killers. Well either way if you stumble across this one on afternoon TV one day, give it a watch, the pace is a little slower than modern day thrillers, but I thought it was alright.

Tonight I watched a movie that I remember loving when I was a kid (well 30 minutes of it)- Clash of the Titans. All I can say upon re-watching it is terrible! The special effects are obvious, poorly done and so blatantly clay-mation and blue screening I can't believe that even as a 9 year child I liked it. Is it that the film is aged so it loses it's quality over time, is it that the other special effects at that time were horrible too (nope- I can still watch Star Wars Episode IV and marvel at what they achieved) or is that as a child I was just stupid? I will have to think about that for a few minutes.

Okay, back to some more Japan related blogging next time!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Chinese Food and Karaoke

I was invited to join Chris, Peter and Adam at one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hamamatsu on Saturday night. The event was one of Adam's co-workers birthday and some students also attended.The restaurant is called Lorlan(? I think I can't find a link to direct you to though) and it is a little pricey, but not one dish that they serve was bad! If you have never been there, it is in what used to be Hamakita across from the drivers licence center.

We really enjoyed the food and a few drinks. You can see me with 3 beers in this picture....
We also had the opportunity to meet Rachel, who apparently I never took a picture of. She was apparently a weight lifting champion back home in Iowa and her nick-name is Hercules. She was pretty cool, so I am sure we will see her again!

After the Chinese food, we stopped off at some karaoke spot across from Nayuta Hamakita. We enjoyed many songs and Pete and Adam enjoyed a kiss...


Pete and I sang a duet of the romantic song, Nirvana's Breed...


All in all, everyone had a good time.

Today, I wasn't really hungover but wanted a lazy day. We had talked about playing basketball, but by the time I called Chris we both wanted to just take it easy. So I went to his place and we played some Wii. I whupped his butt in boxing a number of times, but he is still the bowling champ!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturdays

On Saturdays I work in a town called Araimachi at a farm called NL Farm. That's right I teach English at a farm. In the above picture you can see the view from the parking lot. The big building in the background is where the boat races are held- it is a very popular hangout for oyaji's (a term referring to an 'uncool' old guy- they love horse and boat races!)
The view from the other side is of Hamanako, the large lake that is a popular destination for travellers to the region.
Two weeks ago, one of the goats on the farm had a baby- he doesn't have a name yet but he is pretty cute.
The kids love playing with the animals and today a couple of the students had the pleasure of feeding this little guy. It was a pretty funny day!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bits and Pieces 2

Nothing special has really happened so far this week, so a few short topics;

1. Bike Ride
I didn't really get my required exercise in through the weekend, so I took my bike out for a bit of a ride. I went to Cainz Home which is a home center- like Home Depot or Rona back in Vancouver. The ride is about 6 kms and includes a killer hill that should help condition me a little bit for the Forest Park mission. I did alright on the hill but about 2/3 of the way up I had to get off and push the bike. On the ride, there used to be a couple of farms with a bunch of trees with funny things hanging from the branches like mirrors and CD's. While they were probably there to scare away birds- I was hoping to use them for comedy in my blog. Tragically they were taken down from the trees.Cainz is a great place to shop, anything you need for around the house. Furniture, landscaping, lumber, even pets- yes it was at this Cainz home that we found the irreplaceable Santa;
2. Pickton. Back home in Vancouver there has been an interesting trial of a pig farmer that had allegedly murdered a large number of hookers. The details can be pretty gross, but it amazes me that this sort of sick person can walk the same earth as we do. Well if you want to read about the Pickton trials just click here.
3. Hockey All Star Game. Okay I have only watched the Super skills competition so far, but Vancouver's only representative Luongo looked good so far, good job! I think it is a travesty that the Sedins are left out of the game though!
4. What it takes. I was thinking during my bike ride yesterday about what it takes to live in a foreign country. It boils down to Patience, Hard Work and a Positive Mentality. You need to be patient with learning the language and becoming more functional and a part of the environment (it is easy to have the illusion that you don't need to learn Japanese when you teach English but it isn't entirely accurate). You also need to be patient with meeting people, networking and making friends. All our best friendships take time to develop and basically will always take time. The Hard Work comes into play with establishing yourself with a job and learning the language. The positive attitude helps you get by day to day. Sometimes it is easy to question your decision to live somewhere else, but it is more healthy to accept that you made the decision and not to waste time asking 'what if...'. You made the decision stick with it! If you aren't happy with the way things are at the moment, then work to make it a better situation, or move again.

That is all for today, have a great one!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The ballad of Ritsuko

The sky was an interesting shade of pink at sunset tonight, but it has nothing to do with the story below!

My poor wife! Yesterday she had to work the graveyard shift at her hospital (hmm I don't like the term graveyard when talking about a hospital...Okay overnight shift). I learned that when she got to her work, the blood van was there so she decided to give some blood. I think she said she only gave 200 mg, so it wasn't so draining (hmm I don't like the term draining when talking about giving blood). After her 14 hour shift, she came home and I was up and getting ready to go as we had pre-arranged to run some errands today.

The beginning of the errands went pretty well (go to the bank, pay some bills, pickup some paper work, pay the mortgage for the month) but even then it was already 1 pm by the time we finished them. We then headed over to the South tax office to fill out the paperwork required to get a refund on the tax paid on our home. To make a long story short, we spent about 2 hours in the office going through the right paperwork and trying to figure out why we could only get a credit for half of the money we should be able get (basically it is my fault, I am a gaijin and I own half of the home, but the loan is in Ritsy's name). That is a good chunk of money we lost out on. Ritsy called the bank( to fix it so that I can maybe get that money next year) and the bank promised to get back to her. We got home and scarfed down some lunch and by then it was 3:45 pm. I headed off to my Japanese lesson and business lesson and Ritsy tried to get a nap. But less than an hour later the bank called her back. After the call the cats decided they were hungry even though it was an hour and a half early for their dinner. Basically she had no sleep at all through the day! Finally she got to bed around 12:30 because I made her stay up and watch 24 with me!

Well sleep well Ritsuko! You earned it!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hockey Night in Hamatown

Sunday was mostly spent resting the head after a night of drinking (of course after I made it through my classes- sorry to my students!). But I was glad that I called Chris up because he reminded me that our other friend Pete had invited us to watch him play some hockey. He even promised to score some goals and get in a fight for us.

Well even Ritsy was interested to go and watch- it's pretty dry for watching live hockey around here.

So when Ritsy got home, we hopped in the car and picked up Chris, then headed off to the Miyatake Sports Center to watch some hockey. Our plan was to have some McDonalds on the way, but we changed our plans and settled for some kaiten sushi nearby. What a great call! My hungover body was so happy to be taking in sushi, I automatically felt 5 times better by time we left. Incidentally if you ever have a chance to eat kinme(gold eye red-snapper) nigiri do it! It's delicious!

Pete literally letting off some steam between periods.

The game was actually pretty interesting, I think even first time hockey watcher Chris was enjoying it. Unfortunately Peter Wright's team only had 8 men so couldn't actually change a whole line out at a time. So by the third period the team was really slowing down and looking exhausted against a fully stocked opponent. They got up to a 5-3 deficit, but then the other team started scoring like mad and it was a 9-3 final I think. Pete was great though, he had some great stick handling, could muscle the opponents out of the way, and even tried a Mario Lemieux style behind the feet shot. Well I want to check out a game when he has some more players! Or even better yet try to learn to skate and play too! We'll see....
Incidentally if anyone was looking to buy a single Ice Skating item, they have it for sale at the center. I wonder what the one item is, I hope it is a skate...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pete and Mari's Wedding

Took a day off yesterday, had to rest my aching head!

On Saturday Chris and Aki, Miyuki, Ritsy and I went to Peters wedding held at the local Grand Tiara (a place made exclusively for weddings). Look at these attractive people...

The event kicked off with a little wait where we could enjoy a spot of wine. Afterwards, the ceremony started right on time. Both Pete and Mari looked great...

The reception was held in the 'Rose room', any guess as to why it had that name?
There were a lot of good pictures from this day(So I threw together another video and uploaded it to Youtube Here) , but I can't really post them all, here is a good one with the bride and groom
Chris and I sang Shima Uta to rave reviews. The only hitch was that the MD we had was too quiet so they had to abort the song and fire up the karaoke machine- then they proceeded to pick the wrong song some old Japanese Enka song...
The initial party concluded with the happy couple coming down the steps, Mari sporting a new dress, unfortunately all my pictures are a little dark, sorry!
At that point the camera's battery ran out of power. After that we all went home and changed and came out for the nijikai (or second party) which was quite fun- especially with Peter's crazy surfing friend getting much delight in making me gulp back entire glasses of beer at one time ( a Japanese party tradition). We later found ourselves off to a sanjikai (third party) at an izakaya (I don't know it's name) and Chris and I caught the $50 (5000 yen) taxi ride home around 3:40. All in a very fun ceremony and a good time! My heart went out to Pete, Mari and their family as they woke up at 8 am to go and see Kyoto!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Knuckles and Sunny Streets

A little bit of Hamakita life for ya today.

First, there is a great restaurant that I have only seen in the
Hamamatsu area and around it (Shizuoka city, Kousai city) that I think should be a hit all over Japan. The place is called Sawayaka. I have eaten there many time but I have only tried one thing off of their menu. They have a menu item called genkotsu (which literally translates to knuckles but rest assured, there is no knuckles in the burger), what you get (vegetarians, don't read any further) is a big ball of a hamburger that looks nicely grilled on the outside. The burger is served on a heated skillet, they cut the burger in half press the red meat against the skillet to finish the cooking. It is then topped usually with Onion sauce, but for onion haters like me, they have a nice demi-glace sauce. With the red meat that you usually get, there is no way that there can be a restaurant like this in Canada (it's illegal to serve a hamburger cooked any less than medium), but is actually is quite delicious.
My local Sawayaka

Across from this Sawayaka they've been building a new shopping center over the past 3-4 months.Little things like this news don't usually excite me, but living in a country-side town It's pretty exciting when new things come along. Last week, they put up a new sign outside of the construction site.

The New Sign
This new sign promises us that we will be able to shop, watch movies, eat, or enjoy a bath (yes you read right).
The mall is overlooked by Guriin Alina (Yes- that's Green Arena)
The location for the new shopping center is totally convenient, about 4 kms from my home, just across the street from Sawayaka and the billboard advertising my favorite local Language School, ESL College - and it is also right next to Hamakita's Green Arena (local sports center). Well anyway, the new spot will be called Sun Street and you can check out the website by clicking on the place name.

Tomorrow is the wedding and I know that I will mess up the song. I will do my best!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Looking Back 2- Trip to US (Disneyland)

This should have been my first `looking back` post because it pre-dates our trip to Japan. When Ritsy and I first started dating, we went on a nice to trip to Anaheim, California to visit the 'happiest place in the world'- Disneyland.

Here I am pointing at the park from outside, wearing some goofy sunglasses I had. I was actually making fun of another guy that had taken the same picture about a minute earlier. I am so funny!
After goofing around outside, Ritsy and I headed into the park.

Once inside we enjoyed all the standard rides- except the Matterhorn which was closed for repairs (incidentally, the Matterhorn was closed the time I went to Disneyland before that too). We also saw some old friends. This guy was getting fresh with Ritsy and I was going to punch him out, but I didn't want to make the children cry.

There is a second park there now too, that had just opened 5 years ago called California's great adventure, which wasn't fantastic, but had a couple of good rides and not only could you get alcohol there, but there was even a free wine tasting with Modavi wine. Much like Disney Sea in Tokyo, I am sure it will get better with time. Here we are in California's Great Adventure:
We had a really nice 4 day trip and a couple of great meals. they have developed the surrounding area so there are a bunch of good restaurants right around the gates! It was a great time, and a good bonding time for Ritsy and I. But alas we had to leave the fun and adventure of California, back to the dull life of living in Whistler.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A quick one

A view of the Lions Gate Bridge from Stanley Park in Vancouver.

A short post today. My laptop that keeps dying and then coming back to life has decided to die again. Well it kind of works but I have to shake it to help the Hard drive move, a little counterproductive.

Warren sent me this link to some beautiful pictures. This winter, it sounds like Vancouver is having some of the worst weather I can ever remember it having. Back in December there was a severe windstorm that devastated Stanley Park, one of the great destinations for people. Thousands of tress were blown down, and this Flickr slide show really captures some of this devastation. I heard during this windstorm my mother was without electricity for a day and a half!

Another thing that happened this winter is BC Place stadium, which usually looks like this, couldn`t seem to handle the extreme weather conditions and the roof ripped. Very tough year back home.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Baths, Bikes and beyond...

In last night's class I was talking with my students about Yamaha Living Tech, Yamaha's line of nice looking and well- built household components. This industry is really large in Japan, the kitchen set or bathroom set is usually sold together as a package when you are building a new house. Unfortunately, my home doesn't have one of these nice looking kitchens or bathrooms, and I wish I could change that. My student that works there, Harry, was inviting us to visit the showroom in Hamamatsu. One interesting thing, if you make a reservation, you can actually take one of their baths for a test drive- that's right you can take a bath in the showroom! Don't worry the bath would be totally private and closed to prying eyes! Very interesting idea. I heard they also have a cooking class- but it is for women only! Well if you are in Hamamatsu, check it out!

My mission for the bike ride 2 days ago also was a failure. I wanted to get some serious distance in to burn a few calories, but my tire decided to get punctured only about 4 kms from my home! So I ended up sitting at an Eneos gas station for an hour waiting for them to fix my tire for me. That cost me 2100 yen ($20.00) so I had no money and I lost my energy while sitting and waiting, so I just went home. Oh well, there is always next week! I think the next mission might be to take the bike out to Hamamatsu central to check the job board- I need to get some work for my mornings!(Edit: Just after posting this I received an e-mail from Satomi offering a new morning class! Thanks Satomi!!!)

Pete's wedding party is this weekend, so I have to start working hard on practicing Shima Uta as Chris and I will be performing it during the reception. Could be a disaster!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Enshudainenbutsu

Here is a definition of the Dainenbutsu stolen from here;

Enshu Dainenbutsu (Buddhist Chanting Ritual)

When a family commemorates the first Obon holidays after the death of a loved one, they may request that a dainenbutsu (Buddhist chanting ritual) be performed outside their house. This is one of the local performing arts of the Enshu region. The group always forms a procession in front of the house led by a person carrying a lantern and marches to the sound of flutes, Japanese drums and cymbals.

On Saturday, Ritsy attended the annual neighborhood meeting, I didn't because I wouldn't be able to understand what they were saying. It seems that everyone in our community has taken part in the dainenbutsu ceremony that is held here, which basically means that it will be our turn probably next year or the year after that. Now the ceremony is quite interesting and unique to this area of Japan, so that is kind of exciting- but it would also be quite tough. We watched a little bit of it last year at a house near ours and they chanted for a very long time! Ritsuko volunteered to take part in the ceremony, but the tradition is that the man of the house has to take part. Usually it happens over the course of three days- and Ritsy says that it will go over night - so I would lose out on work and sleep while doing it (two very important things to me!). But the scary thing will be for me, an outsider, a gaijin, to have to learn the Budhist chants and possibly dance and perform it over three days. While I may have a couple of years still before really worrying about it, it really provides motivation to work a little harder on studying Japanese!

Ritsy pointed out the other day that my blog title might not be entirely appropriate if I am going to talk about things other than Hamamatsu. To me it still fits as my home base is in Hamamatsu so even if I am talking about Canada, I am doing it from Hamamatsu... Well, if anyone can think of a more appropriate title, I would be interested to hear it!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Todd Versus Forest Park

This year, I want to shave off 5-10 kgs and hopefully I can get some results this year - to be honest it has been a goal of mine for a while. In December I was seriously mulling over the idea of joining a gym here locally. The problem with that plan is that a sports gym is so darned expensive here. It could cost me between 7000-8000+ yen (meaning $7o.oo to $80.00 roughly) which to me seems like a huge commitment. A couple of my students mentioned that a coworker of theirs had lost weight by simply riding his bike around Forest Park once a week. Well I am about 4 kms away from there, so I thought I would try for a second time to make it out to the park.

This time I set out on my MamaCheri (Mama Chariot= an old woman's bike with a big basket in front) towards the park. I managed to make it to the point I got stalled at last time, the Shrine (or temple) in Miyaguchi that I walked around and blogged about before, with no problems and continued on up what I hoped would be a short hill. About 4 minutes in I was feeling a little dizzy and out of breath and stopped. I haven't been riding in a while and was probably a bit dehydrated from only drinking coffee in the morning and not water.

The place I stopped interests me. There is one main freeway that connects Tokyo and Nagoya known as the Tomei highway. The govenment has been building a second highway ( I will call the Tomei 2) to help ease the traffic strain the Tomei has on busy days ( I guess). The interesting thing is how long it is taking to build the thing- they were already working on it when I first came here 5 years ago and seem no closer to being finished now then they were then. Here is an empty looking highway bridge...
Seems like a ghost highway.

I restarted my endeavour to climb the hill and eventually got off the bike and pushed it up the steep parts of the hill. I had to make Forest Park this time! Finally, I made it to the sign, but there was no sight of the actual park. My head hadn't cleared very much so I had to sit down and gather myself and turn around. But I made it to the sign this time!
Next time I will make it up the hill all the way! Either way it was good conditioning for future riding. I had felt that a shorter, steeper ride would be easier for me to handle than a longer ride, but I am simply not ready for this task yet! Well, at least I ended up riding about 12 kms, so I did get some exercise out of it.

Today I am going to ride my bike out to a shopping center called Ito Yokado and have a coffee there and study a bit of Japanese. The good thing is that it will be about 22 kms round trip, should be good exercise for me!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Today was the first day back to teaching the children at ESL College. Sometimes I really notice how far the kids are coming or am surprised at what they remember from the classes. The kids are always cute, but I was blown away today at the progress not only the students I taught, Koki and Sana have made, but also some of the younger ones too. Today was one of the days I was happy walking out of there. Of course it's not always like that.

Tonight the wife decided to give the cats a shower. Unfortunately I didn't think to take a picture of Lanny when she was wet, but Santa looked pretty danged funny coming out of the shower.



And here is the after pics of Santa and Lanny looking clean. Of course Santa is still wet, 2 hours later, he has so much fur...



We watched Good Will Hunting on tv tonight. I really liked that movie. I find it hard to believe that Ben Afleck had anything to do with writing that script though and the makers of the Family Guy agree with me as witnessed here (Caution before clicking the link, fart humour). It's just too smart to be him, though Matt Damon looks like he isn't the brightest candle (hence his only lines in Team America: World Police- "Matt Damon!") but I can buy him being the smart one of the two. Also great performance by Robin Williams - he really showed the undertones of anger and delivered some great lines in that movie. If you haven't seen it, I recommend to watch it.

Well time to hit the hay!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Living in a different Culture {Japanese Beauty}

When I go back home I am often stumped by the question, what is it like to live in a different culture? ( Or something roughly on those lines) Of course I am experiencing different and interesting things everyday, but I can't quite explain the differences. The little things add up and for the most part it is a positive experience living here.

Some people I have talked to living here have a somewhat negative viewpoint on the experience. They site racism and ignorant treatment of us gaijin because we are different. Some even feel that we are not 'living in the real Japan'. While I know that I have encountered some racism at one point or another in travels even when teaching, although my students usually are fantastic. But I wonder if some people aren't being just a little too sensitive. Let's look at the facts, we are outsiders, and if you are like me in the inaka (the country side) we are a little more of a rarity. I personally have found children or obasaons (grandmas) staring at me in the shopping center like I was an alien (which ironically enough, I am). But I think we should not get angry if the waitress at the restaurant offers to bring us a fork and knife because they don't know that 97% of foreigners can use chopsticks. To me, there is a sincere (though ignorant) gesture behind trying to help us feel at home in their restaurant.

As for not living in the Real Japan- that is completely false. To me everyday I am reminded of the unique Japanese customs and attitude towards life.



The Japanese have a natural appreciation for nature that often amazes me. When they ask me how nice the changing of the leaves is back in Canada, I have to honestly answer that I never even noticed it before living in Japan. Now when I go back I notice how beautiful the trees look (before I would just notice how messy all the leaves on the ground were). And the same with Cherry blossoms. I had neve seen Magnolias before living here and I was amazed that the street shown above has a Magnolia theme (mokuren dori- which literally means Magnolia street).

I mentioned the Cherry blossoms before, known as sakura. They are basically everywhere and they come to symbolize spring, always my favorite time of year! If you have never been here, the Japanese are infamous for their Hanami parties (hana mi literally means to look at flowers) where any park with Sakura are basically crowded with people getting drunk and enjoying the beautiful view. To me the Hanami embodies Japan and it's beauty.
When looking for the real Japan do you imagine an amazing techtropolis (if you are Japanese- I made this word up-- think technology and metropolis combined into one word)? Or perhaps roving bands of Samurai? Well to me the above mentioned love of nature and the temples and shrines are the Real Japan to me. And they are everywhere! The above picture is from the center of Tokyo. About a 15-20 minute walk from the thriving hub of Shinjuku lies the quiet Meiji Jingu. Quite a nice break from the hectic pace.
The people... Well to be honest, I have never had a problem with them. My classes have always been talkative, up front, honest, and kind and outside of class people have usually been helpful if I looked lost. These great guys agreed to help lead me and my friends Chris and Pete (in the picture) to a temple to pray at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve.

Really I think Japan is a beautiful country, the people are great and we need to do our jobs and act as ambassadors from a different culture, and we can teach them one person at a time about us. Keep positive, and your experience will be positive and enjoy the differences! If we come here with a notion of what Japan should be that is wrong, is that so different from ... well... chopsticks?

Slingbox

I sometimes am interested in technology news and will talk about it sometimes in my blog, but if you aren't interested don't worry, I won't do it very often!

I was pretty interested in what I read today coming from CES. I have been known to enjoy watching hockey games that I download and movies and American tv programs that were backed up on my computer. That used to mean waiting 2- 3 hours to burn a dvd to watch, so I have been waiting forever for a product that will allow you to watch video from your pc on your TV.

Well, it looks like the time is here. Slingbox has announced a product for streaming video from the pc, and it will compete with an announced product coming from Apple named iTV that will have the same function. The nice thing is the price tag will be below $200 and therefore cheaper than Apple's product.

This article also mentions that Router maker Netgear will be coming out with a similar product and Microsoft boasts the same functionality for the X-box 360. I can't wait to see who puts out the best product and put it to use in my home!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The video

Here is the link for the video, if you are on a slow connection, you can easily skip it, but I thought there was some nice pictures in there that I wanted to share so just click on the link below!

My Video on Youtube.

Looking back part 1: First Trip{b}

Continuing my first adventure into Japan....

We didn't end up taking a picture with the bride and groom at the wedding, so here is a picture of Ritsy looking great, me with a white tie, and a number of Ritsy's Nurse friends...

Later that night, we went to a nijikai party (or second party) and I can't remember what we won in bingo. We capped that night with my first foray into karaoke- I vaguely remember singing Guns and Roses with another guy (Taka I think?)

The next day we spent at Ritsy's family's house that have always been very kind and accepting to me! Next day, we hit the road to Kumamoto to visit some of Ritsy's friends down there. Yes, we did eat raw horse there- and it wasn't bad! Well one of the most interesting things to me was Kumamoto castle.


That's me and Ritsy's friend Moto. The day after that we hopped in the car and went to Aso- a volcano very close to Kumamoto. I never saw any lava, but the area was quite beautiful.


I remembered my friend Phillipa who had spent time in Osaka talking about seeing wild monkeys in Japan. So I was obsessed with seeing monkeys- but to an avail, the best we could do was to catch a monkey show near Aso.


Later we headed back to Hama-town and then we went to USJ Osaka with Ritsy's sisters. Ritsy was almost eaten by a dinosaur there...


All in all it was a great trip and I still remember all the people and places from that adventure fondly. I will link to the video with the other pictures before tomorrow's blog!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Looking back part 1: First Trip{a}

Today is back to work, so I hope I can keep up my posting, but sometimes the work wears me out a bit.

As not too much happened today, I want to talk about my first trip that I took to Hamamatsu. As I don't want to overload with pictures, I will only show you one for each main topic and I will link to a video with all the remaining pictures should you wish to see them. I know not everyone has a fast connection, so I don't want to overload the pictures.

Sadly, one New Years day, I took my wife's camera to a party with me and on the way home, I lost the memory card for that camera, so half of the trip's pictures were lost! Needless to say, you can imagine that the wife was less than impressed.

I first came to Japan in November of 2001. I remember the year vividly because the day we drove from Whistler to pick up our tickets was Sept 11, 2001. Most people know what happened that day. Well we arrived in Osaka and met our dear friend Kayo. We stayed in a pretty seedy party of town, which was interesting to see what that looks like in Japan. But needless to say I was pretty happy to move on the next day to Kyoto. We stayed at the hotel at Kyoto station and took a tour. On the tour we started out by seeing Heian shrine, which was quite beautiful and starkly orange...

Next stop was Chionin, which had some interesting history, but if I remember correctly we were not allowed to take pictures, this was the only one;

After that we visited Kinkakuji and kiyumizudera that I mentioned in my previous blog entry;

Next day we headed into Hamamatsu for my first encounter with my future home. We traveled straight to Ritsy's friends house where they made a huge feast. We attended the wedding reception for her friend Miho, they were very generous and welcomed me to the party with never meeting me, they also let us stay in a hotel room that night, their treat! Very memorable. Well I am already running into photo trouble, so I will post more next day, and I will start with some photos from the wedding, and then I will post the link to the video with the pictures!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Anniversary Dinner

Some people think it is crazy, but Ritsy and I choose to celebrate our dating anniversary as well as our wedding anniversary. I would like to think it's because we want to celebrate the importance of that begining but I think it really is because we both like an excuse to celebrate (there was talk of celebrating the cat's birthdays).

We went to a place called Setsu Gekka. If you live in Hamamatsu it is on Hamakita Ohashi Dori next to the kyolindo, and it is expensive, but the food was so excellent, I recommend it as a great 'date' venue. We were celebrating 6 years together. You can choose between French cuisine or Japanese, we chose French.

There was five courses, every one of which was excellent. First there was a smoked salmon plate followed by foie gras. Next was a Carrot soup, here is a picture of us enjoying our soup.

Of course we enjoyed some wine with our dinner:

Next we had a small serving of Gold Eye Red Snapper (kinme) and that was followed by an impressive plate of lamb;
That was followed by some cake, which we managed to stuff in, but we were both quite full.

Tomorrow is the last day of freedom for me before getting back to work. I will do my best to make the best of the day but I would say the holiday was restful and fun.

Edit: for the tales of our end of year parties, Chris has blogged about our adventures here.