Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Back to the gym

After a very long absence, I finally made it to the gym yesterday... and of course I'm feeling it today! But it is that wonderful pulled muscle feeling. Hopefully I'll go a bit more consistently than, um, er, never.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Trip to the Chinese embassy

This morning I went to get my visa to enter China. I headed off to Roppongi with my 5x5 photo and a bunch of other things. It was surprisingly easy! Basically the form just asks you for your name and address, and what places you are going to see. I didn't even need the copy of my plane ticket that I had made. Of course the photo should have been 3X4 or something, but they had a fandangled cutting machine there that would cut the picture down to the perfect size. (Hopefully this picture won't go anywhere, because it is actually worse than the one already in my passport.) The whole thing took all of ten minutes - that included filling out the form, copying my foreign resident card (had to wait in line at the copier for that) and standing in line at the counter.

And get this, the woman at the counter was not only polite, she was actually nice! Of course the woman who decided that lines don't mean anything and just butted in and started to talk to the woman at the window was a bit irritating, but I guess that is the Chinese thing (lines don't matter). So the embassy staff lady gave me a receipt for my passport, and smiled and even politely answered a few questions I had. Can someone please send the Tokyo Immigration staff here for training in basic politeness?!?!

The additional good news - despite the website saying it takes 4 days to process, it will be ready in 3. How's that for service?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Glorious weather

The last week it has been about 14C and sunny every day. What fantastic weather! Of course as soon as the sun goes down, it's as cold as, but in the day time it is great. If it stayed like this all winter I'd be more than happy!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Japanese lesson #2

Today we reviewed demonstrative pronouns and spacial relationship words. I know these, but continually say the wrong one, so this is good. I didn't do my homework this week (bad student!) so I'll have double for my next lesson. Need to practice my phonetic sounds (not characters). I write sooooo slowly. Hopefully it will speed up soon. I am seeing that studying by yourself (where I have learned most of my grammar) is completely different from doing it in a classroom. I understand, but can't produce. So while the classes are still simple, I think they're good for me. I'm also getting a lot of questions answered about different levels of politeness. This is very good, because I will sound like a woman speaking (rather than using men's Japanese as I sometimes do now) and will be able to address people properly. So all is well on the Japanese front... I just need to get my butt in gear about homework. Not having studied anything seriously in six years, it is hard to get back into the groove!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. I didn't even remember about Canadian Thanksgiving until a week after the fact when I was talking to someone back home and couldn't figure out why there were all these family get-togethers. Nothing much is celebrated in Japan. Some restaurants have a special Thanksgiving meal. I've given up on my quest to have turkey and stuff - it would mean I'd have to fork over too much money for a giant toaster oven (which is the size of ovens here). Hmmm. I do miss pumpkin pie though. If I make them though, then I'll eat them - so I'm trying to avoid that.

Hey, it is only one month to Christmas now. Where did the time go this year? It seems like this year just sped by.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Shopping, shopping, shopping

Hmm... I think the shopping for my trip to China may end up being more than the trip to China itself LOL. I picked up a waist pack today - one that can carry my guidebook, etc. Also got a money belt for those overnight train rides. Don't want to be robbed in my sleep - and who knows who will be in the car with me (don't worry mom). I didn't want one of the neck ones, because people can see it and if they try to take it from you, can strangle you, give you whiplash etc.

Then I did my order at Land's End - hey! Shipping is free to Japan now! That is fantastic... well, bad because I'll want to shop more now. I picked up some more of the awesome bras, and a windproof / waterproof coat. In bright pink. Hey, everyone will see me now. I could have gotten yellow. Actually the ones that were super-discounted were either pink or white. I figure the pink was better.

And finally I ordered another guidebook online. The Let's Go guide that I have is the most up-to-date (it was just published this month) but it doesn't have information that the Rough Guide has. So got that one from Amazon too. I do not want to be standing confused at a train station trying to get somewhere with no clue and no one who speaks English to help me. So I picked up a Mandarin phrase book. Try to make situations as unstressful as possible!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

AR6 - Episode 2

I'm soooo glad the ditzy girls are gone. They just seemed so stupid and out of it. Can't believe the old couple took the wrong car. At least they brought it back. I wonder how much time they lost with that one. Still lots of bickering and fighting. The constant "honey", "dear" etc is starting to bug me now (I didn't notice it the first episode). And if that one couple took two clues, how come there were enough left for all the teams?

This season doesn't seem to be as good as previous seasons. Why am I watching a show that is mainly people screaming at each other? I think I enjoyed the other seasons more. They should have shown footage of how the teams chose who would go in each of the two boats. That would have been interesting and given a better insight into team dynamics, and future alliances and enemies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Yokohama Chinatown

Today was a national holiday, so Hiroshi and I went down to Yokohama today to have lunch in Chinatown - and to buy jasmine tea. We went to an all-you-can-eat dim sum restaurant. It was ok, but we got full really quickly. I'm not sure if it was worth it. Basically it was 3000 yen a person - Chinese food is expensive here! A bit much for lunch. Surprisingly we haven't eaten anything else today because we are still stuffed - you know how Chinese food usually leaves you starving an hour later.

What got me as we were eating, was that there were tons of kids running around the restaurant, and as far as I could tell, there was no special children's price. Who pays 3000 yen for their kids to eat lunch? Well they running around being obnoxious more than eating. Of course, this was an excellent counter measure to the old biological clock. Gosh kids make a lot of noise - is there any way to breed silent ones? I think we would have enjoyed lunch a lot more if there were no kids present.

After lunch we went walking thru Chinatown and had to push thru tons of people. It was pretty busy. I wasn't too into pushing and shoving, so we moved on to Yamashita park which is a big park on the bay. It was beautiful out today so it was really nice walking around enjoying the sunshine. There were lots of gulls circling, and magic shows and families with (quiet) kids. We then continued on towards Minato Mirai, which is a futuristic development area a couple kilometers north of Yamashita park. There is a big walkway and some other buildings to drop in and shop at along the way. So we had a nice long walk. We went into the old storage house (a huge red brick complex called Aka-Renga in Japanese) that has been turned into an upscale shopping center. We soon left because it too was crowded. So much nicer outside.

We were going to go to Landmark Tower (which has the world's fastest elevator) to the viewing platform to see if we could see Mt. Fuji at sunset, but we were too tired. So we just hopped on the train back home. And despite being perfect weather in terms of temperature and sunshine today, tonight is absolutely freezing... and, oh no, the heater has been turned on! My fingers were icicles! So much for fall!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Japanese Lessons

I totally forgot to mention that I started Japanese lessons on Saturday. My first lesson was pretty good. It was a bit simple, but seeing as I can't say the simple things perfectly all the time, it is good review / practice. My teacher, Asada-san, answered a lot of questions I had about polite Japanese. Finally, I can get rid of my casual male Japanese phrases (which sound very bad coming from a woman). Now I just have to make time to study!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Top 100 of 1976

Finished the latest batch in my 1970s music extravaganza. 1976 was not such a great year. 1977 which I have just started listening to is so much better. But for those of you wanting the trip down memory lane, the top 5 of 1976 were:
1. Silly Love Songs - Paul McCartney
2. Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John
3. Disco Lady - Johnnie Taylor
4. December 1963 (Oh What A Night) - Four Seasons
5. Play that Funky Music - Wild Cherry

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Decisions decisions...

Ok, I don't know what to do. A cruise up the Three Gorges will take 3 days out of my limited time in China. A lot of reviews have said that it was really boring after the first day. However, if I don't go now, I will never see the gorges because they are in the process of being submersed by the rising water levels from the dam. So, do I take three days to read and relax, or do I go an find adventure elsewhere? What do you think?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Is there no WiFi in Tokyo at all??!!

I spent hours today trying to find a WiFi spot to no avail. How frustrating! For future reference, Bic Camera in Yurakucho has WiFi but will not let anyone use it. Selfish weinies. If only Tokyo would do
I finally found a connection in Ebisu but it was just teasing me. After it connected for a whole 30 seconds, it wouldn't let me back on the network. Grumble. Basically I lugged my computer around today (with my fifty million pounds of other crap) for no reason. Come on Tokyo, get with the WiFi trend!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

China trip

So after I go and visit Jan for xmas, I have some sightseeing to do! So here is the definitely want to do list:
- Three Gorges
- Anshun caves
- Chengdu Panda Reserve

On the maybe list is; Kunming, Lijiang and Yangshuo.

I'll also hit Macao for a night (casino here I come!) and wander around Hong Kong. Man, I have from the 24th until the 8th which is exactly 2 weeks (not including flying days) but that is like no time at all! I guess the big question is whether the pandas are worth two days (but check out those cute pics above!)... or if I should sacrifice the cute, cuddly bears in lieu of Yangshuo which is the camel hump hill landscape area. Where I can lay back and relax... but be with a lot of foreigners... but close to markets selling lots of cheap things. Decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Got my ticket

I booked my ticket to Hong Kong today. Why is it always so much more expensive than what is advertised? Ignoring the 7000 yen in airport fees even. Geesh. Glad I booked early this morning because I got the last ticket on the plane apparently. I'm going to fly Dragon Air. Is that a cool name or what?

I'll be leaving on the 23rd and coming back on the 9th. That's two weeks to run around and explore China! What fun!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wow - Conrad Black is being charged with fraud!

I just read on google news that the SEC filed fraud charges against Conrad Black. I haven't been surprised by news in a long time, but for some reason that one threw me. Maybe because he's Canadian. Is it big news in Canada?

In other news, it is getting very cold in Tokyo. I actually had to wear my winter coat last night. This does not make me happy. Bring back that 19C weather!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Bowling flat on my face

I went bowling with my colleagues yesterday afternoon. I haven't been bowling in years! It was great fun except for my first bowl (shot? not sure what to call it). The shoes I got were too small and as I was walking up to the bowl the ball, the velcro strap popped open and I stumbled and feel forward in an extremely ungraceful manner. I thought my pride was hurt more than anything until I tried to walk this morning. In addition to the massive pulled butt muscle pain, my knee is all bruised up. So now I walk funny LOL Oh well, it was a fun day and I enjoyed myself. I hope another one is organized in the future. (I bowled 86 the first game which I think is pretty darn good seeing as I've only bowled like twice in the last ten years. We won't talk about my score on the second game which totally sucked).

After bowling we all went out to karaoke and sang and drank. My poor body. It isn't used to this. I don't drink that often, and when I do, it is usually just one beer. I never used to get hangovers! What happened? Ah, it's another one of those depressing signs that I'm getting older ;)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Socializing on a Saturday Night

Hey, I actually went out last night! Sometimes I go out for dinner with a colleague after work, but usually I just come home and veg out... which was starting to make me feel old! Last night a few of us went out after work. I suggested my local yaki-tori (grilled chicken restaurant) so we all went there. Everyone liked the food, so that was good. We also had a few beers - which of course put everyone into a singing mood. So off we went to karaoke and sang for a bit. It was fun. I haven't drunk that much in a long time though (darn "all you can drink" option at karaoke). There were yuzu-honey (yuzu is a citrus fruit) sours (made with a Japanese liquor called shouchu) which went down a bit too easily. They were nice. And now I am paying for it by being fairly hung over this morning. Oh well, we had fun. Now I just have to get myself in working order for round 2 - I'm going out with colleagues later this afternoon too.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I love shopping

I went into Ecco shoes last night to pic up a catalogue for one of my students. I couldn't resist. I now have new shoes! They're cute, but I hope they stretch out soon - they're pinching my feet a bit. (They're leather so I know they'll expand a bit). I was also thinking of one other pair, but I am waiting until next week. Ecco shoes are great. So comfy. A bit boring on the style side, but with all the walking I do, as long as they are comfortable and look decent I'm happy.

I also got my package from Land's End. I found this very cute pink jacket. My blue jacket doesn't match my blue pants, and I think it looks stupid, so rather than trying to find a match in navy (and as all women know there are about 100 shades of navy out there) I just got a coordinate. I'm really pleased with the jacket. Nice and soft and has a good woven texture. And I think the colour looks good on me too. Nice and bright for winter. Not to mention, only US$69. I also found the most comfortable bra in the world. I was going to order two and said "No, it may not fit right, only get one". Well, now they aren't on sale any more. Geesh. It feels non-existent though. Love it. Hopefully it will go back on sale again soon.

So that was my shopping extravaganza. Of course this means I have to go and throw away an equal amount of clothing that I am not using (or more). I'm still trying to decrease the volume of my possessions!

Friday, November 12, 2004


So, I've discovered there are a ton of free ebooks on line. Who knew??? So I spent most of this evening downloading a whole bunch of them. When I bring my laptop with me to work, I don't bring my book because it is too bulky. Well, now I don't have to worry because I've got about 30 books on my Mac.

I never though I'd read an ebook to be honest. I like flipping pages. Same with photos - I prefer albums. However, now that I have a digital camera, I like having the option of choosing which photos to print out for the albums. Having read half of The DaVinci Code (great book by the way!) as an ebook tough, it isn't too bad. I just might get around to reading all those classics that I've always meant to read.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Top 100 1975

Moving right along with the top hits of the 70's, I've finished 1975. I think the later 70's is like a big dark disco hole. I may have to jump ahead to the 80's. But for those of you keeping track, the top 5 songs of 1975 were:
1. Love Will Keep Us Together - Captain & Tennille
2. Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell
3. Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John
4. Before the Next Teardrop Falls - Freddy Fender
5. My Eyes Adored You - Frankie Valli

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas

Christmas trees are going up everywhere. Isn't it a bit early? The decorations are going up on store fronts - there are lights and wreaths and other Christmassy things. I'm all for Christmas decorations (as my family will attest to - I hope you are all enjoying the decorations your robbed from me LOL), but it is just too early for that. It's still 20C here (about 70F). That is not winter weather. So while it may be starting to look like Christmas, it definitely doesn't feel like it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The 200 yen tomato

I was in the supermarket today in the produce section and just about had a heart attack. Since when did veggies get so expensive??!! It costs 200 yen for one tomato! That's ridiculous. Sure, I understand that with all the typhoons this year, the crops in Japan suck... but Japan imports most of its produce from China. There was no big agricultural calamity there as far as I know. I feel ripped off.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Movie Review - Collateral

Went to the show last night to see Collateral. I had heard good things about it, and well, Tom Cruise is in it. I must say the gray hair doesn't work for him. I mean, I can see changing into a "mature" actor, but not when you are only in your mid-40s (I think that's how old he is). Anyway, the Tom is always a big draw in Japan. The nearly empty theatre should have been a big hint though. This movie sucked. If I hadn't slept in, I would've fallen asleep.
Basically the movie is a dialogue between Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. Now, there is nothing wrong with a movie based on dialogue - Twelve Angry Men comes to mind as a masterpiece of this genre (including the television remake). Collateral didn't cut it. The characters didn't grab me. Jamie Foxx was almost there, but I didn't get feeling and passion from him. Tom Cruise was a non-entity (sorry Tom, this role did not work for you).
Anyway, don't even rent this one on video.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

All I Want for Christmas...

is a new iPod Photo! I've been waiting for these to come out! I want one soooooo bad. Basically, it is the regular iPod with a colour screen and an even bigger hard drive to store photos on as well. What more could a girl want (other than diamonds that is). I like the iPod mini's too in terms of design, but the hard drive is too small. Phft on 4GB - I'm sitting on 21 GB of music right now and I haven't even started loading in my CDs yet. If they came out with an iPod mini-photo I'd probably buy it in a second. But for now, there is just the normal sized iPod style. So, that 60GB iPod Photo is the one and only thing on my xmas list! Pretty please Santa!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Top 100 of 1974

So I'm still working my way through the 70s. I'm still importing the hits from the 60s actually. Although, once I'm done with the 70s I'm going to back to the 60s because a lot of that music is really good. I'm making myself wait for the 80s LOL. Anyway, the top 100 hits of 1974 were:
1. The Way We Were - Barbara Streisand
2. Seasons in the Sun - Terry Jacks
3. Love's Theme - Love Unlimited Orchestra
4. Come and Get Your Love - Red Bone
5. Dancing Machine - Jackson 5

Friday, November 05, 2004

Human body

I went to see an exhibit today called Jintai Plastomic: Mysteries of the Human Body , that I had wanted to see for a while. Basically it is models of the human body and all of the systems. The super cool one was of blood - all of the veins and arteries and stuff. Amazing. Only, I thought the models were made of plastic. Turns out they are real people! Or were real people! That was a bit freaky. Yuck. Interesting exhibit anyway.

True to Japanese form, there were fifty million people in the exhibit room. Museums really need to learn crowd control here. I hate fighting off people when I'm trying to look at things. Oh well - at least it wasn't the weekend crowd!

There were two bizarre behaviour instances. Near the end of the exhibit there was one model that you could touch. (It felt kinda waxy) While we were waiting our turn, Hiroshi and I were joking about grabbing on to its penis... but then a young girl (like 7) went up and started playing with it (as in stroking and tickling). For some reason, that just seemed wrong. The other strange thing we saw was the women around the one female model in the exhibition. Basically they were bending over and looking up at the woman's genital area. Lord only knows what they were trying to see.

Overall the exhibit was a bit freaky - especially the babies. They had the babies at different periods of gestation. I don't want to think about where they came from. How sad. The other stuff was a bit repetitive - it showed different things but basically each body just had certain parts cut out - the rest of the body was the same as all the other ones. Except of course the blood model. Still love that one.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Say it isn't so

I can't believe Bush won. Geesh. What a close race though. Maybe a miracle will happen. *sigh*

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Beauty Day

Today I went for beauty day with my coworker Shirin. We first went for waxing, aka torture. Not having had it done in like three years, it was painful. I'm happy now. I think waxing could be an addictive thing... I could go for waxing my legs, etc; however, wax will never be touching my bikini line. That is pain I just don't want to experience. My eye brows are bad enough. I love that smooth feeling though. I'm happy to have a good esthetician in Tokyo now. Of course it costs a heck of a lot more here than in Canada - I'm trying not to remember that it only costs like 8 bucks (700 yen) in Canada to get it done.

After the waxing, we went to get our hair done. We had to wait forever despite having appointments - as in, an hour and a half. Neither of us were too impressed about that. I got a really good cut though, and I got highlights! I decided I wanted a total change, but I wanted to keep it a little long rather than chopping it all off though. So I thought shoulder length would be good. Well, I cried when I saw my hair on the floor. My hair was long! There were pieces over a foot long. I'm trying to not grab it very much because I can't even pull it back any more. I like the cut, but it is so short, and I really liked putting it up in clips and things :( That was like 18 months of growing it out! So I'm mourning my hair loss right now. I'll get over it though. It'll be easier to take care of and won't get knotted and tangled and stuck in my food and stuff any more. And it has shape and style now, and it makes cute little curls with minimal product. Gotta love that. Just wait until I freak myself out in the mirror tomorrow morning LOL I have blonde highlights in it - I've always gone with red tones, so this is a big change for me! I think it brightens up my face a lot.

All in all, it was a nice beauty day. I'll have to do it more often. I get lazy and well, cheap is probably the better reason. Forking out 6000 yen (US$60) to just cut your hair is insane in my opinion. (It was worth it though - especially since I got 50% off for being a new customer). Anyway, I figure it was a nice reward for myself because... I fit into a pair of pants that have been too tight for the last six months! That made me very happy this morning! Beauty days sound like an excellent weight loss reward to me!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Random Things in my Neighbourhood

Lots of little tidbits today about things that are new and "exciting".
- First, the leaves turned red all of a sudden and there are some nicely coloured trees near Osaki station right now.
- The weather can't decide if it want to be warm or cold and oscillates between 13 and 19 degrees... that being the difference between a sweater and a coat or just a blouse.
- There is a brand new theater just down the street - called "Cats Theater" because, well... Cats is going to play there. Does this mean I'll be hearing Magical Mister Mistoffelees every night for the rest of my life? Lord, I sure hope not.
- Hiroshi says I am not allowed to play Sim City anymore because I get frustrated and turn bitchy and mean. Who me?
- Our apartment building will be torn down eventually, and the plans for the new building recently went up on the bulletin board. Should we be looking for a new apartment? Cross your fingers that it will be at least another year - I do not want to fork over 10 grand US to relocate again. (Yes, that is how much it costs).
- I've decided to go to Hong Kong and China (to visit my aunt) this Christmas. There's no jet lag, it is somewhere I've always wanted to go, I will be able to visit Jan, and I can have a real vacation... where there is sunshine and warm weather.
- I'm going to start taking Japanese lessons. Yeah, I know, it is about time. I've only lived her for 5 1/2 years now. Geesh. Hopefully I'll be able to carry on a conversation eventually!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Feeling SAD?

Well, I can't believe it is November already. How did that happen??!! This means winter will soon be here (bah humbug) and the winter blues, which of course is now a disorder called SAD. And, guess what, now there is even a formula to determine how likely you are to get it.