Friday, September 30, 2005

End of September already?

I can't believe it is the end of September. This year has gone by so quickly. The weather is moving into my favourite time of year - cool, but still sunny.

Today was the deadline for submitting for time off over xmas at work. I'm not going to do anything. Of course, I should have looked more closely at how the holidays fell before making this decision - the holidays suck this year. I should have submitted for a couple of days off. Oh well. I'm just going to hang out here anyway.

Of course, seeing it is October tomorrow, this means I need to figure out when Canadian Thanksgiving is and when daylight savings time starts... otherwise I call people at ungodly hours. (Feel free to tell me in the comments to save me google time). I'm still debating about getting that convection oven at CostCo - have to get some more shelves though if I do. But, if so, I can make a turkey! Yum! That should be interesting considering I've never made a turkey before. Or even a whole chicken for that matter.

Anyway, happpy fall everyone! Don't tell me how many days are left until Christmas - I know some of you are counting.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Anti-spam measure

I am getting a huge amount of spam in the comment section on my blog (you probably haven't seen them because I delete them right away). Anyway, if you want to comment, you'll notice you have to do a word verification now. Sorry for the extra step, but deleting all the crap posts was taking too much time. Stupid spammers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

AR -S8 E1

Yes, it is a new season of Amazing Race. I'm not sure if I like this family edition though. So far there has been a heck of a lot of screaming teams. That is going to give me a headache. Them and the family that screams at each other. My fav team is the one with the cute little girl. Everyone else I just get mixed up.

The one great thing in this episode was seeing the hotdog vendor guys and thinking they looked familiar and then it dawned on me... Kevin and Drew! (From Season 1 - the all time greatest team ever) And no one recognized them except the last team! I couldn't believe it! I wish they did more of their commentary about the teams because the stuff they did say made me totally miss them. So that was a nice surprise.

Things I'm not happy with - mainly that they spent the whole first episode driving around NY and Pennsylvania. What happened to going around the world? Get these teams to an airport. Geesh. And what is up with everyone helping each other? I mean, sure it is all nice and feel-good, but this is a race. Give me some mean, cut-throat tactics. LOL

I guess we'll see how the season shapes up, but so far, this is not the Amazing Race I know and love.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fashion Faux Pas?

The rules of fashion don't seem to apply in Japan - they have their own set that I am not privy to I think. One of the most obvious is the fact that the rules of not wearing fashion trends after a certain age are non-existant.

So today, I'm walking home and I see this sweet little old granny all hunched over (osteoperosis is a huge problem here) and suddenly realized that she was dressed kind of like a goth - but not. She had on a black frilly skirt, a black blouse, and I kid you not, platform stompin shoes (as I like to call them). And by platform, I mean a good 1 foot platform. Seeing as this woman was only about 3 feet standing (probably 4.5 feet if she could stand up straight), this extra 1 foot of height seemed outright dangerous and precarious. And what is an 80 year old woman doing wearing that kind of outfit in the first place?

I mean, who is to say what age not to wear things, but somehow, the goth look seems really inappropriate on someone who could be my grandma.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Aichi Expo

Yesterday was the last day of the World Expo in Aichi. I had really wanted to go; however, this was the last weekend and my desire to go was strongly outweighed by stories of record attendance and supsended ticket sales due to too many people in the park. According to the news, people were waiting in line for 6 hours to see some exhibits, and, well, that is just silly. I have better things to do than stand in line for 6 hours. I just wish I had made the time earlier this summer to go and check it out. Oh well.

Overall, Expo was hugely successful. They projected 15 million people would attend, and final attendance figures were 22 million, so that is excellent. Probably the most popular exhibits were of the mamoth head and the robots. The mamoth head, according to my mother-in-law was a big letdown because it is actually very small, and therefore hard to see with a bazillion people crowding around. I really wanted to see the robots that gave directions (the ones that looked like women) and the robot pavillion which had all kinds of high tech stuff. I was also interested in hitting some of the different country pavillions which had cultural displays so I could get some ideas / info for the world trip. Well, maybe we'll be lucky and there will be another fair when we are going round the world, and we can hit the next one.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fish paranoia

So the hokke (greenling - kind of fish) I bought at CostCo came as whole fish, and while they had been cleaned and split down the center, they hadn't been deheaded. So I had to do the deheading at home. Hiroshi was all worried because I was weilding a knife while turning my head in disgust, and then dancing around with the heebie jeebies once I had done the deheading (with knife still in hand). I couldn't help it though - fish heads freak me out. Especially those eyes that seem to say, "Please don't eat me".

Then of course I had to handle the fish, including touching the skin (which I hate, and this skin was scaley and weird), while passing them off to Hiroshi who was wrapping them up for the freezer. This is a lot of effort and stress for three small fish. I think paying extra for deheading is worth it. Too bad CostCo doesn't dehead them. Maybe next time I'll get him to complete the whole deheading operation by himself. Then I won't even have to look at those eyes. *shudder*

Saturday, September 24, 2005

CostCo trip

Today I went out to CostCo and spent all my money LOL. Actually, I didn't spend that much, but you know how you always spend much more than you think at CostCo. I got a new grill that I'm looking forward to trying out. I have this giant one that is has a griddle and a grill, but it is the size of a stove top, so it is too much of a pain to cook up 2 pieces of chicken. So this one should be much more convenient.

I also got "The World's Softest Socks". These things are comfy! They really are soft - not sure about softest in the world, but they are pretty nice. They'll be great for cold toes in the winter! I have to be on the lookout for a blanket in this knit, because that would be awesome.

Of course the purchase that I wanted to make (but didn't) was a convection oven, with a rotisserie! And it was only 20,000 yen! I was imagining rotisserie chicken and baked potatoes and all kinds of yummy things! Unfortunately, I don't have anywhere to put it. So I need to do some thinking... and maybe measuring. If I can fit another shelving unit on one wall, I'd have some space. I don't have enough plugs, but I'm already playing rotate the plugs around. So maybe next time I go, if it is still there, I'll get it. It sucks not having a stove (no place for one in Japanese apartments) and I have wanted one forever, so who knows.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Yippee! Another holiday! and TV commentary

This week is awesome - Monday was a holiday, and so is today! I spent the morning sleeping. Then got up and made breakfast... and then went back to bed for a nap. I did get up in time to go to the gym and then came back and watched the second episode of The Biggest Loser and Lost.

Lost is a great show! That and Amazing Race will keep me entertained for the next 12 weeks. The Biggest Loser also seems interesting. I couldn't believe the weight they all lost in the first episode, ie the first week (women around 15 lbs and men around 20 lbs). This week their weight loss was much more "realistic". I would have been shocked if they had the same numbers. It was kind of disappointing when they didn't though. The show is motivating though. Having trouble being patient for the new AR episode which will air next week though!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wacko taxi driver

I ended up taking a taxi today and the driver was really weird. First off, he was kind of beligerent. Some of them are - what can you do. He drove by tapping the gas pedal. Seriously. As in, tap so the car speeds up, and then take your foot off and coast for 3 meters, and then tap the gas again) Can you say whiplash? This guy should have his license revoked.

So then, in addition to his weird driving, I suddenly noticed that he had his pants unzipped and they were wide open, with the fabric of the stomach part folded over his leg. Um, ewww... thank god he had two hands on the steering wheel, otherwise I would have been really freaked out. Needless to say I got out of the taxi as quickly as possible. I'd report him if I knew how.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Back on my diet

I've started back on my diet this week. My online dieting partner wrote me an e-mail last week - I hadn't heard from her in ages, and had lost her e-mail in the harddrive crash earlier this year (back up your data everyone!). Anyway, she wanted to get back on Body For Life and was wondering how I was doing, so it was perfect timing because I've been struggling to stay on track. We really motivated each other last time round, so I'm happy to be back in contact with her.

Anyway, diet is going well. All the cooking I did on Sunday was really helpful! Fall is coming soon too, so that means lots of foods that I like are coming into season - namely persimmons and nabe (Japanese hot pot).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Japan Tobacco's fun smoking manners signs

Japan Tobacco has had a big campaign over the last year or so to teach smokers manners. I believe this all arose (this is probably urban legend though) because some man was smoking and he stuck his cigarette in a kid's eye (accidentally). Anyway, some of the ads are quite funny... and some of them are just weird.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Holiday Monday

Today was a holiday (Respect for the Aged day) and I spent it relaxing :) I actually had two days off! Even better will be next weekend, which is also a long weekend and I have all three days off! I saw something on the net today when I was surfing that said Japan has something like 65,000 people who are over 100 years old. Apparently 80% of those are women.

I sat at home and relaxed ... in contemplation of not getting old (I found a second wrinkle this week and I am less than happy about this development). I also went to the gym for the first time in ages. Right now I'm just cooking up dinner - another thing I haven't done in ages. Hiroshi will be happy because I'm making fish, rice and miso soup. I found some saury (a long, thin fish) that had been gutted and deheaded for 100 yen a fish. Saury are cheap when they are in season. It is just hard to find them without heads and guts!

Tomorrow I have to get up really early - ugh. I hate early mornings. At least my evening class cancelled, so I can come home early and hit the gym again!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lazy Sunday again

It is lazy Sunday, except today is not so lazy! I've been cooking all day! I'm trying to eat healthier, so I cooked up a ton of stuff so I can just grab it. No time to cook during the week, so gotta do it up ahead of time. I also realized that part of my problem is taking food out to defrost and then having it go bad before I get around to actually cooking it, so I threw some cooked stuff in the freezer today. That way I just need to defrost!

Other than cooking, I just surfed the net all day and listened to my podcasts which I am really far behind on! I need to delete some, but I like all of them. Maybe I just need more time!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

20 questions game

Can you beat the online 20 questions game? So far I have beat it twice - first time it took 35 questions and the second it took 30.

Friday, September 16, 2005

What's your password?

Here is a list of bad passwords. Mine was on the list! Guess that means I should change them. Then I'd have to write them down somewhere - I've always choosen easy words because they are easy to remember!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Encouragement to be a vegetarian

For anyone who needs help eating less meat, this video is for you - it is PETA talking about cruelty to animals, and be forewarned, is quite graphic. This one deals specifically with KFC chickens but there are other links on the page as well.

Of course, I've decided meat tastes good, and I'm sure these videos highlight horrible exceptions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Whehoo! Harry Potter Trailer

The trailer for the new Harry Potter movie is awesome! Looks like this will be the best one yet!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I want a Nano

I want an iPod Nano. It looks awesome! Of course I don't need an iPod Nano, but they're cool! And they have a colour screen ... although I'm not exactly sure what you can actually see on it. I think I have to avoid the Apple store for a while. Toys, toys, toys...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Umm, yuck - where is your collagen coming from?

I just stumbled across this article about beauty products coming from the skin of executed Chinese prisoners. From the sounds of it, they are harvesting the collagen, but well, ewww. Do you want human remains in your cosmetics?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday, lazy Sunday

Another Sunday where I whiled away the time doing nothing. I basically got up, got all up to date on my newsfeeds (haven't had time over the last few days to really check), had sushi for lunch/breakfast, then had a nap in the afternoon and the day was finished! I had plans to go to the gym, but my nap ended up lasting until 8pm, at which time it was too late to go. Oh well. I feel well rested though, so no complaints from me. I like sleeping.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mmmm pizza

Tonight Cal and I went to a pizza restaurant in Roppongi called Pizzakaya, which is a play on pizza and izakaya (Japanese name for bar or tavern. It was rumoured to have American style pizza and the pepperoni did not disappoint! We also tried an anchovy, carmelized onion and olive one - it sounded yummy, but was too sweet. It needed some meat on it ;)

They were playing the movie School of Rock so we just hung out and watched the whole movie... cuz it was in English! Hurray! So, I think this is definitely a place to go back to, but you need to stick to the pizza's with meat.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Just finished a seminar

The last three days I have been down in Yokohama doing a seminar. We stayed at the Yokohama Novotel which is a huge step up from the normal accomodation that we get (dorm rooms in a training center). There was a normal bathroom even, instead of the Japanese unit bath, which consists of a microtub, toilet and sink crammed into a space about 1 meter square. Even better, they had internet access for only 1000 yen for your entire stay! This is incredibly cheap. I was expecting internet access to cost 1000 yen a day. Looking at the rates, the hotel is quite cheap too. Especially for Japan.

If anyone is looking at going to the Yokohama area, I'd recommend this hotel. It is very close to Chinatown and is right across the street from Yamashita park (a park on the ocean). The staff speak very good English as well.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Orleans flooding pic

I am not reading any more depressing Katrina stories, but I found a good picture of the extent of the flooding. This gives a good idea of the extent of the flooding. I'm sure those in North America have it on the news 24/7, but for anyone overseas (especially those of us who don't get CNN), this shows the damage very clearly.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Try to convince this online computer that you are a human. The answers to most of your questions or comments are suprisingly appropriate.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Another plane crash??!!

What's going on with airtravel? This is like the fourth or fifth plane crash in the last couple of months. Makes me wonder about how safe I'll feel next time I get on a plane! This is just freaky.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I have to stop reading Katrina news

I think I have to zone out from the Katrina news - things just make me more and more upset about the state of humanity ... or rather the lack of it. For example, this article from BBC news talks about women being raped in the Superdome. Now, I really don't understand how this could happen. If I heard a woman's screams while she was being raped, I would go over and try to help her. How can people just sit there and do nothing? To me this is very disturbing.

So, I've decided to stop reading the news. This is why I stopped buying newspapers a long time ago - all the news is horribly depressing. I guess I have to stop clicking on the stories now too.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Insane rain storms

Recently it has been raining like mad in Tokyo - it seems like rainy season actually, but that is in June. The skies just suddenly open up and release a huge amount of rain. There has also been quite a few thunder storms which are also unusual - you hardly ever have them and we've had like five in the past month.

Last night it started pouring again. I had been at the office working late and had my computer with me so decided to hail a taxi - last time I walked home in this type of rain, my umbrella gave out and I was completely drench. Figured a 1300 yen taxi ride was much cheaper than ruining my "baby". Anyway, it just kept raining harder and harder so that the you couldn't even see the dividing lines on the road. I was also really worried about hyrdoplaning because there was a layer of water on the road several cm deep.

It all makes things very amusing. When it is time to get out of the taxi, the driver says, "take care not to get wet". Yeah right! I pushed my umbrella out of the car and popped it up, then grabbed my bag and ran the 10 meters into my apartment, and I still got wet! I think taking the taxi was a good decision! Geesh - don't want to think about how wet I'd have been if I had to walk 15 to the station and then another 15 minutes from my station to my home.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Belly dancing

Went to my co-worker's wedding party tonight which was held in a Turkish restaurant in Shinjuku. Hiroshi wasn't too keen on the food, especially the lamb. I thought it was good. It has a lot of strong spicing though which Japanese people tend not to like. We might have to change our plans on going to Turkey - Hiroshi doesn't want to go anymore LOL. He seemed horrified when I told him the entire middle easter region eats lamb in great quantities. As the smell was making him nauseous, I think he wants to cut out all those countries now. (There is also a fair bit of chicken in middle eastern food which he hates, so he might starve if we go there)

The highlight of the evening was the belly dancing. What a hoot. The first woman was ok, but the second woman really got the men's attention. Perhaps because she had boobs? I don't know. At one point she was balancing a sword on her head though! Belly dancing seems like oodles of fun and seeing it has renewed my interest in actually doing it - there is a community group in Tokyo that does lessons once a week. Unfortunately, I'm always working in the evenings. So, if my evenings ever free up, I will probably join. I figure it has to be good exercise!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Low cost iBook cooling system

The battery on my 12" iBook heats up really quickly when there is a lot of hard drive use - such as when I am downloading something or watching a movie. I actually saw this trick somewhere online, but have just tried it out myself. You can buy metal fans that plug into your USB port that act as coolers, but they are like seven thousand yen! Crazy. So my home made solution is PET bottles.

Get two square 1 litre PET bottles. Place them underneath your laptop. So far it works. My battery seems to be much cooler, and the plastic hasn't melted (something I was worried about). An added benefit is it puts the laptop in a better eye-line position, resulting in better posture. I have a bad tendency of slouching to look at my monitor no matter how I adjust the screen. So, if you have the same problems - heat and/or bad poster, try this out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Whatever: Being Poor

This is an interesting link that talks aboutwhat it is like being poor. Perhaps eye opening for those with a priviledged background like myself.