Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween

Didn't do anything Halloweenish today. Well, I slept until 2 (perhaps something to do with Sim City). Not that there is anything exciting happening in Tokyo for Halloween anyway. No cute kids going door to door. What I really miss this year though is making a jack-o-lantern. I am having a wicked craving for toasted pumpkin seeds. One of my students says you can do it with squash seeds too. Wonder if it would taste the same or not.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Evilly Addictive

So I have Sim City 4. After a lot of pain in the butt searching, I finally got it working too. It doesn't like iBook graphic cards, so I had to download a patch and update my drivers. Now I'm wasting all kinds of time playing. Evil simulation games. Time always seems to go by at lightening speed when you play them!
The game is fun. The graphics are cool now. Now if only I can get people to move into my town! It doesn't seem to grow fast enough - too many services demanded by residents, not a large enough tax base to pay for them. Geesh.

Friday, October 29, 2004

No Kidding

I read an article today (from where I forget) that says stress causes short term memory loss. No kidding. That's probably why I'm always making lists and running around trying to catch up on things I forgot.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Top 100 1973 down

Finally finished my 1973 songs. That's about all I did today. Most of my classes cancelled, so I got to laze around and sleep and do nothing. Ah heaven!
So the top 5 of 1973 are:
1. Tie A Yellow Ribbon - Tony Orlando
2. Bad Bad Leroy Brown - Jim Croce
3. Killing Me Softly With His Song - Roberta Flack
4. Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye
5. My Love - Paul McCartney

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Trapped in Roppongi Hills!

There was another earthquake today at about 10:30 this morning. I've decided that earthquakes are not fun when you are on the 47th floor. I was in Roppongi Hills teaching and when the earthquake hit, the building started swaying. Granted it was built to do that, but the creaking windows and girders were not a pleasant experience. Then when I went to leave after my class I couldn't! All the elevators had shut down so I was trapped inside!

They said it would take another hour to get them up and running, which didn't help me because I had another class. Luckily there was an elevator running from like the 30th floor - so I had to wait for security to come and get me and escort me down 17 flights of stairs so I could get to the elevator. At least I was lucky - the poor security guard had to walk back up all of those 17 flights to go and get the next group that wanted to come down!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Sopranos

I've been watching The Sopranos the last few days. I downloaded Seasons 1 thru 4 off the net and am working my way though them. What a good show. I like it! I've already watched all of Season 1. Ah, why is tv so distracting! :)
Anyway, good show. If you haven't seen it, get on the net and download the episodes.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Earthquake Kit

So, after all the earthquake excitement over the weekend, Hiroshi and I figured we'd better get our earthquake kit put together. You know, the one everyone is supposed to have, but most people don't. We hit the grocery store and picked up some bottled water, some emergency biscuits (like fat, square digestive cookies) and some canned food. We've got tuna, asparagus, peaches and tangerine pieces. I'll pick up some more cans of stuff as it goes on sale. Supposedly, you need food for three days. That's a lot of food and bottled water.

We already had the flashlight and bought an extra can opener to keep with the cans. I'll pick up some workers gloves this week to add to the pile (to pick your way through debris) and pen and pad of paper. The problem of course is that this is a lot of stuff, and there isn't one place to put it all. So it is a bit scattered. Ah, at least that way if the roof caves in, we'll have at least part of it available. Not sure what else we need to add - if you have any good ideas, ramble back.

I wonder how many other people had the same idea as us - at the grocery store, there were hardly any emergency biscuits left and the water shelf was a bit under-stocked.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

My hot water heater / Great Japanese products

About a year and a half ago, my friend Jo moved back to Canada and she gave me her hot water heater. Until now it has sat collecting dust on a shelf because I had been to lazy to pull it out. Today I finally reorganized things and got it going. The heater basically heats up 2.2L of water to boiling temperature... so with the press of a button you have a cup of tea ready to go. No kettle to wait for. Well, I've been drinking tea all day. This thing is great. Why I didn't get it out before, I have no idea.

Anyway, I've decided that these are now part of the "things they should sell in North America". Of course, upon googling it, I found that, hey! They do sell these in Canada. I have this hot water heater. They also have one of the other great Japanese products available in Canada and the US - Washlets, which are heated toilet seats with a bidet function. The other great Japanese product, that is also now available in North America, is the Japanese rice cooker which makes totally awesome rice. Way better than the standard North American steamer. These things even have a warming function, so you can cook rice one day, and keep it until the next. How great is that?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Earthquake, earthquake, earthquake... and more earthquakes

There was some serious earthquake activity here tonight. Luckily they were about 200km away from Tokyo so there was only shaking here, and no damage.

It was pretty freaky. I was sitting having dinner with Cal and suddenly it was earthquake, earthquake, earthquake... and then another earthquake. Four in rapid succession! The first (M6.9) hit at 5:56 pm, the next (M6.1) at 6:03, then 6:11 (M5.9) and 6:34 (M6.1). To give you an idea of how strong these are, the quake that leveled Bam, Iran was M6.3, and the one that killed all those people in Morocco early this year was M6.4. (M=magnitude). Now it is quite normal to have one earthquake of this magnitude in Japan. That happens all the time. But four in a row!?

And then, there were more - 7:36 (M5.5) and 7:45 (M5.8). I didn't feel those ones but see there are posted on the Earthquake Hazards Program website. So that is six quakes that show on that site so far... it is a few hours behind. Oh, and just before I started writing this, there was another one (M5.5), which makes 7 quakes in the last 6 hours - three of which have been more than M6.

I didn't like these quakes because they were the circling kind. Up and down or side to side is ok, but when it is circular it is a very bad feeling. I'm really sensitive to them (Cal didn't even know there were quakes until I mentioned them) and these ones made me feel quite dizzy.

Anyway, that was the excitement here today. Hopefully there won't be any more. Despite my theory that lots of little quakes release pressure, lots of little quakes all at once are kind of like foreboding. There is quite a lot of damage near the epicenter of the quakes. Near the over 6 (Richter) magnitude quakes, it was a 6 on the Shindo scale. Roads have buckled, mains have burst, lamp posts have fallen over, etc. The quakes were so strong that even one of the shinkansen (bullet trains) derailed. Luckily in Tokyo there were only Shindo 3 or 4 (Link takes you to an explanation of the scale - basically Richter measures energy output and Shindo measures shaking felt at a location).

Hopefully that was the last of them.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Something for quiz lovers

Know what your Meyers-Briggs type is? If not, you can take the online test. I'm an ISFJ - what are you? Post me a comment with your type.

Oh, and for those of you following the Billboard Top 100 extravaganza, I've finished with 1972 and have moved onto 1973 - which was an excellent year, if I do say so. The top 5 songs of 1972 were:
1. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack
2. Alone Again (Naturally) - Gilbert O'Sullivan
3. American Pie - Don McLean
4. Can't Live if Living is Without You - Harry Nilsson
5. The Candy Man - Sammy Davis Jr.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

another typhoon let-down

Ok, after all the hoopla and warnings yesterday, Tokyo was spared major typhoon excitement and just had a fair bit of rain and wind. So that's good I suppose. I still want to go outside and have to grab a tree to prevent being blown away. The people in southern Japan have all the fun ;) On the news last night it was showing people 'surfing' down the street on their feet. The wind was so strong, they were just standing there but were pushed down the sidewalk. How fun would that be?
Anyway, I have another opportunity because typhoon 24 is now on its way! More rain! Hiroshi says we've gotten 4X the normal amount of rain this year, and have set a 63 year record. Guess that will be broken this weekend...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Typhoon 23

Typhoon 23 has landed in Japan and is causing horrible amounts of damage. It is now making its way to Tokyo. My evening classes were all cancelled this morning because of the typhoon. It was supposed to hit at about 7 pm tonight, with the majority of the rain, and then be super windy until 5am. However, now the typhoon is moving right thru central Japan (rather than along the coast) and won't hit in full force until tomorrow morning.

The damage from this typhoon is unbelievable. The news is showing people holding on to trees to prevent themselves being blown away, Mature trees have been blown over, landslides have taken out homes and killed several people, rivers are raging, and flooding is as high as people's necks in some places the typhoon has passed through. Right now Shibuya has water ankle-deep in the streets... and the rain just started here!

So this is the first typhoon that I'm actually worried about. Houses have been decimated by the typhoon. Kinda scary. The river near my house just overflowed (according to the community channel). The news is saying stay inside, stay out of your basement (flooding), stay away from the coast (waves), and expect possible flooding of the subways. Should be interesting tomorrow when we'll get hit the hardest right during peak commuter hours.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Coulda been a SARS suspect!

So at the doctor today I got the standard questions about when I started feeling bad, and do I have a fever and blah, blah, blah. I'm like, just give me the medicine. Then I got the "Have you been overseas recently?" question. And I couldn't remember! How's that for sad?? I had to look back through my day planner to find out when we went to Thailand (it was July). She even pointedly asked if I had been to China. So I guess everyone is taking SARS rather seriously here. I assume it is SARS they are worried about, because she didn't ask if I had been to South America or India for instance. I thought it was interesting that they are asking that question now.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Sick in Bed :(

So much for surfing in bed - I'm sick in bed. Lots of sick people walking around spreading germs *scowl* Not doing much surfing because I'm sleeping and feeling sorry for myself. I'm allowed. I think tomorrow I'm off to the clinic for a dose of antibiotics. Oh well.

I'm almost finished downloading the top 100 songs for the years 1960 thru 1999. Forty years of top 100 songs (yes that is 4000 songs). I figure this way I'll never have to download music again LOL. I noticed that at 1999 (when I came to Japan) I stopped recognizing the songs, so I didn't bother downloading anything after that. Man, I'm so out of touch. Maybe I'll get J-Pop music... although most of it is pretty bad.

Anyway, tonight's listening pleasure is the rest of 1971, and for your trivia fun, the top 5 songs of 1971 were:
1. Joy to the World - Three Dog Night (good karaoke song by the way)
2. Maggie May - Rod Steward
3. It's Too Late - Carole King
4. One Bad Apple - Osmonds
5. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart - Bee Gees

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Surfin' In Bed!

Whehoo!! I bought a wireless hub tonight, so now I can connect to the internet wirelessly at home now... which means I can surf in bed! How excellent is that??!! This also means I can sit at the kitchen table at a proper chair and do work now too. Hopefully that will save some sore shoulders and back aches. But, I'm super excited about being able to laze around in bed all day and watch movies, download things and surf the web, without ever having to get up except to go to the bathroom. Ah, life is good.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

1970 on to 1971

Today's listening extravaganza was Billboard Top 100 Hits of 1970... and on to 1971. It takes a long time to listen to 100 songs! For your trivia amusement the top 5 songs for 1970 were:
1. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
2. Close to You - Carpenters
3. American Woman - Guess Who
4. Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head - BJ Thomas
5. War - Edwin Starr

Friday, October 15, 2004

Geography Olympics

Hurry up and join the Geography Olympics! America is beating Canada - so all you Canadians, get your butts over to this site and take the quiz!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I'm in 80s heaven!

At one of the download sites I go to, some wonderful soul uploaded Billboard Top 100 for all of the 80s (and 70s). All I can say is, I'm in absolute 80s heaven! These are awesome! I forgot so many of these songs, but when you play them, a couple notes into it you're already humming the melody to yourself. So at this point, I'm almost up to 2000 songs (100 for each year) so I'll be in retro heaven for about the next month. And... I just saw the first one for the 90s. Oh what fun! Perfect thing to add to my music collection!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Please stop raining!

It is raining yet again today. What's up with the weather? Oh, and anoher typhoon is coming. Geesh. That's number 23 this year. I want sunshine! This weather is depressing. I might have to waggle a vacation to some sunny beach somewhere if this continues much longer. ;) Guam, Saipan or Hawaii would be nice...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Poor bears

They are shooting bears in Japan. It is so sad :( Apparently they have come out of the forests because of the typhoon last week... and they are eating people's persimmons. I don't blame the bears, persimmons taste good! I don't know why they have to shoot them though. Poor things. Just tranquilize them and drive them back to the forest. I don't want to watch the news and see more bloody bear corpses. It's depressing.

Monday, October 11, 2004

My hero died :(

How sad - Christopher Reeve died today. It is especially sad because he was a truly inspiring man, and someone I greatly admired. Good bye Superman.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Dinner and a movie

Tonight I cooked! Heh, how often does that happen? And I even cooked fish that I have never cooked before. That is always an adventure. Hiroshi says fish consumption in Japan is decreasing because young Japanese women don't know how to cook fish... like me. I never try to cook new kinds of fish because I suck at using my fish broiler (it is always burnt and dry) and I don't know if it is a light fish (like cod) or strong fish (like mackerel).

Anyway, tonight I cooked saury. I only bought it because it had been beheaded and it looked like they were gutted as well. I'm sure those are not the actual terms, but they sound good to me, because if I were actually doing it, it would be a beheading - close your eyes, turn your head and try to whack it with a knife. (See my previous entry this week on my paranoia about fish parts). Well, the fish turned out pretty good! Of course the guts were not a nice surprise, but I was able to cut them off and scoop them onto a plate. I'm sure there was just as much flesh there as guts, but I wasn't taking any chances! All in all, I did a good job cooking my first saury and it looks like I have a new menu item.

After dinner we went to the show to see I, Robot. It was only so-so. Some good computer animation and stunts. Story not all that exciting. But, you do get to see Will Smith's butt. Whehoo! And hey, when did Will Smith get so buff??!! He is looking pretty fine! I was nicely surprised, cuz I still think of him as that scrawny guy in the "Parents Just Don't Understand" video.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Typhoon 22

Wow! Now that was a typhoon! I left work today around 4 and got thoroughly drenched on my way to the station. My pant legs were wet up to mid-thigh from all the rain. When I arrived at the station the water was pouring in through the roof - the eaves couldn't deal with it fast enough, so great sheets of water were coming down onto the platform itself. When I got to Osaki station 10 minutes later, the wind had picked up. I quickly grabbed some groceries and then had to be let out by an employee who was holding the door closed! Or opening it - I'm not sure if the wind was preventing it from opening, or whipping into the store when it opened and therefore he was keeping it closed. It was like walking into a wind tunnel when I left.

On the walk home I got more drenched and had to fight to keep my umbrella. It even turned my umbrella inside out a couple times! Now this is a typhoon! I arrived home wet but safe and jumped into my futon to warm up and watch the news. The main typhoon hit around 6, and between 5 when I got home and 6 when it hit in force the rain was just pounding down. This combined with the really low pressure served to make me sleepy. On the tv, they were monitoring the water levels in the rivers in my area. At 5:30 they started to rise and an advisory was issued. At 5:40 that went to caution and the flood sirens started (when the river rises by a certain amount in a set time period, warning sirens go off). At 5:45 it flooded. How's that for fast??!!

Around that time the wind picked up and rain was being pelted against the windows on the balcony - which was good because now I don't have to clean them LOL. Rain never touches those windows. I remember thinking about 5:50 that it would be cool to go outside and run around in the street (weird thing I want to do - run around in pelting rain and high winds for fun). Only, I fell asleep!

Yes, instead of going downstairs to look at the rain and wind of my first real typhoon in Japan (let alone play in it), I was out cold in bed! In fact, I slept straight thru until 10 pm. Geesh! So I missed all the street flooding, land slides, flying branches and the like. It looks like there wasn't much wind damage. Just lots and lots of water. I can't believe I slept thru it!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Good-bye Erik, Hello typhoon

Erik left today to continue his adventures in Nepal. He just made it out of Japan before the typhoon came. Typhoon 22 is coming in quickly and the rain started today. This one is scheduled to make a direct hit on Tokyo, which is very rare. It is also supposed to be the biggest typhoon in 10 years. The last one that hit southern Japan and caused a ton of damage is significantly tamer than the one that is coming. We'll see. Everyone always freaks out about typhoons here and it only ends up being a little bit of rain and some wind. Disappointing to say the least.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

More yummy food!

Erik came back to Tokyo last night and is heading off tomorrow, so tonight Hiroshi and I took him out to dinner. I was working all day until late so we couldn't get to the restaurant until almost ten. We had wanted to go to Grand Central Oyster Bar in Shinagawa Atre (modelled after the real one in Grand Central Station NY) but they are booked solid for almost two months! I was shocked. Obviously it is a happening place. So we decided to go to a nabe restaurant in Gotanda instead that a student had recommended to me (another place I've wanted to go to for a long time but had never made it to).

We walked in just before last order. I don't think the staff were too happy about that. Oh well. The restaurant specializes in Akita (a prefecture in northern Japan) nabe. Nabe is hot pot - basically a broth that you put fish or chicken in with veggies and tofu. We ordered the fish one and some horse and whale sashimi as well. The sashimi was really nice! Sometimes horse is really chewy and tough which makes it hard to eat (at least for me). This was nice and tender. The whale was also nice and didn't cause the trauma that I had last time I had whale.

After our appetizers, the main dish came - a huge dish of things for the nabe including 6 whole fish! It was amazing. Apparently the fish are mating right now, so if you are lucky you will find a fish with eggs. I think all of ours had eggs in them (which I didn't eat). I still have issues with eating fish that looks like a fish (from being a former vegetarian) so usually I need to have fish that doesn't have a head, bones nor skin. I was ok with the fish in the nabe though. The restaurant has scaled the fish so the skin was almost non-existent. I ignored the head as much as possible and the flesh was so tender it easily separated from the bones. I basically did fish surgery on a small plate and dumped the offending fish-like parts into the scrap bowl - and then put the yummy fish flesh back into the nabe. Hiroshi just shakes his head at me.

We also had some nice sake. I haven't had sake in years. The last time I had it, students took me out, and to make a long story short, I ended up hugging the porcelain god. I'm glad I finally tried it again. It went perfectly with the nabe.

All in all, an excellent restaurant - and healthy! I'll definitely be going back again. This is a great place to go out and have a nice meal but eat something that isn't laced in fat and carbs. Yum!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Whirlwind tours

One of my students just came back from a whirlwind trip to Canada. I don't understand the whole Japanese tour thing. There is so much crammed into the tour, I don't know how you could possibly see anything - you whiz by everything so quickly I don't see how it is possible. My student went on a 9 day trip - 2 days of which would be flying to and from Canada. So in 7 days, she saw: Toronto, Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake, Montreal, Quebec, Banff, Columbia Ice Field, Lake Victoria, and Vancouver. That schedule is just nuts!

She brought in all her pictures today to share which was nice. The pictures from Quebec reminded me of my Grade 8 trip there! I'll have to go back again one day. I remembered all of the old houses and beautiful churches. I'll probably appreciate it more now than I did then. The pics of Banff, Lake Victoria and the Rockies reminded me of when I used to live out west. I can still picture the beautiful blue of Lake Victoria (probably augmented memory - there are millions of pictures of it) and seeing a glacier. I was six at the time, so obviously it is impressive!

Anyway, my student absolutely loved Canada. Funny how I never really realized how lucky Canadians are to have such beautiful nature. Growing up with it, I never realized it was special.

Monday, October 04, 2004

It's freezing here!

Ok, I don't know who turned the weather switch, but fall fell - with a thud. We went from nice balmy summer temperatures to freezing your butt off temperatures. It is pouring rain again today as it was yesterday. Where did it come from? Noah, get the arks ready. It is supposed to rain for the next two days as well. *sigh* I'll have to dig out my fall coat I guess... and my sweaters. One can only hope that it will rain so much that there will be flooding over the train tracks which means I won't be able to go to work and can stay home lounging in bed all day. Now that would be good!

Sunday, October 03, 2004


Tonight I had a bit of an upset stomach so I was in search for medicine like Tums. Hiroshi pulls out this bottle of "very good medicine for [me]". I don't know what this stuff was, but it smelled like a combination of rotten Vics and smoking wet tree branches. It was foul! Not to mention that each "pill" looked like a little mouse turd - round and browny-black. I took them anyway. I think the side effects are worse than the upset stomach I started with. Maybe it was the tree resins - the ingredient list on the medicine looked like a run-down of resins from about five different trees. Give me Tums anyday!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Suzuki set record hits

The big news in Japan today is that Ichiro broke the baseball record. Apparently there is mass celebrations in Japan. I of course haven't seen any of them because I've been lazing around in my pyjamas all day. Ahhh heaven! I was supposed to go into work today, but just couldn't be bothered getting dressed. Not to mention I got distracted by watching Amazing Race Season 4.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Erik's off

Erik headed off for Kyoto today. I'm envious because I still haven't been there. There never seems to be enough time, and it usually works out about the same cost wise to go to Thailand. So I've never made it down. I will have to go eventually though. Guess I should make it a priority and just go!