Monday, October 31, 2005

my new oven

Yesterday, after our food fest, we headed out to CostCo... and I bought my oven! I'm so excited! I haven't had an oven in 7 years. Granted it is not the oven North American's think about - it is probably the size of a North American microwave, but it is awesome for me! I have been trying to cook / bake using a toaster oven and it sucks.

My new oven is convection and has a rotisserie - I am so excited to try that out... I'm thinking rotisserie turkey for xmas! Of course it only takes a 5 lb hunk of meat max, so it will be a very small one LOL Now I just have to search around for some recipes and remember how to cook again. I can even make baked potatos now. Oh life is good :)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

epicurean disasters and delights

Hiroshi and I went to the Nathan's hotdog place at Shinagawa Station today because Cal's entry on his hotdog experience peaked our interest. Unfortunately, we are both of the opinion that Nathan's hotdogs suck. (Sorry Cal) The hotdogs at CostCo are much, much better, and I think that is saying a lot. Oh well.

After the disappointing hotdogs we needed something that tasted good, so we headed over to Dean and Deluca for a treat. We got hot cocoa and a pastry and they were wonderful! A few years ago I got a white hot chocolate at Dean and Deluca, but that must be seasonal or something because they no longer have it. The regular cocoa was still nice though. I had a donut as well, and it was the first time in 7 years that I have had a North American style donut. It was awesome. I loved every bite of it. Too bad I can't afford anything else at Dean and Deluca's LOL... I kid you not, the pasta sauce was 2000 yen a jar! For like 4 cups! I think not. Are there gold flakes in there? Geesh. They do have a ton of spices though and some interesting deli items if I ever throw a dinner party (unlikely considering the size of my apartment). I think Dean and Deluca is a coffee only shop because that is all I'm willing to fork out for LOL

Saturday, October 29, 2005

recording fun

Yesterday I got to go to a recording studio and be the voice of a psychology test. It was so much fun! I felt like a movie star or famous singer. I got to sit in front of a microphone with the panty-hose covered ring in front of it (how's that for a technical name LOL) and was locked into the studio - there were two doors to seal me in. It was like being in a space ship or something. I got to put headphones on to talk to the recording engineer (well, listen to him I guess) and play with my own mini-soundboard buttons (to control how loud my voice seemed coming thru my headphones).

It was a really interesting experience and it paid well too! I hope to do it again some time. The studio was also near an international food store, so I skipped on over there with my cash payment to shop up a storm. I found rye bread - I'm in heaven - and I avoided all the bad stuff I'm not supposed to eat (like yummy cheeses). All in all a fun day.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Too far behind!

I know I haven't written in a few days - I'm actually backdating this post... got busy and forget what happened two weeks ago. So for the first time in the two year history of my blog I am missing some days! Figure it is better to just get caught up then to try to think of things to write for the previous few days.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

CDN $ at PAR with JPN Y

Bowl me over - the Canadian dollar and Japanese yen are at par right now. My jaw just about dropped when I learned that - 6 months ago it was 80 yen to the dollar. That's a heck of a lot of appreciation - wish I had a whole bunch of money sitting in a Canadian account right now!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Do you remember these toys?

This was an interesting trip down memory lane. I remember many of thesepopular toys from childhood.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ontario is extending DST??

I just read something from Reuters saying that Ontario is joining the US in their cockamamie idea of extending daylight savings time. What the heck? I thought that there were numerous studies that proved DST was bad for the economy and for farmers (the two things/people that are supposed to benefit). Ontarians - what is going on? It is hard enough remembering when it changes now.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

There was an earthquake in Ontario!

I subscribe to a newsfeed that lists all the earthquakes in the world and was shocked today to see that there was an earthquake in Ontario! I didn't even know that Ontario had fault lines. It was apparently magnitude 4.2 as well, so people should have felt it. Seeing as it was only a few kilometers outside of Owen Sound I wonder if any of my family felt it (that would be an indirect way of saying "post a comment").

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Another earthquake

Another earthquake hit tonight - this one fairly strong (6.3 I believe). Things just shook in Tokyo, so all is well here. The typhoon that was coming diverted and is heading back out into the Pacific, so that is good - lots of water on displaced ground is probably not good. Makes for mudslides.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

AR - S8E4

Is there a reason why I keep watching this season? At least there weren't any stupid "take your turn" tasks just before a pit stop this time. I almost had a heart attack at the end - thankfully my favourite team is still in. I was worried there. Clarissa is cute and is the only thing that makes this season worth watching. The Paollo's are still irritating and I can't believed that they placed so high. Grr. Please get eliminated next week. Not sure what to make of the mooning - they are having fun, but lacking class. I mean, would you do that if you knew you were going to be videotaped?

Monday, October 17, 2005

I actually don't want the video iPod

It is amazing, but I actually do not want one of these. Personally, I don't see the point - who wants to watch tv on a 2.5" screen? You can't see anything. Perhaps if the screen were bigger I would be interested, but right now, getting a PSP and modding it seems like a much better option. Apparently it will play mp3's and movies in addition to games... and is cheaper! Of course, the nano is a different story - still want one of them. Was playing with one of my student's nanos and it is nice. I'd like to get one for the gym. Of course, for the gym, the shuffle is probably more appropriate... but the nano looks better and has a colour screen!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Japanese movie experience

Hiroshi and I went to see Cindarella Man today. One of my students gave me free tickets (thanks!) and they were not valid at the theater we usually go to, so we went up to Shibuya to see it. I remember why I like the theater in Shinagawa near my house - assigned seating.

First you buy your ticket and then take the elevator up to the sixth floor (yes, movie theaters are up in the air here). Then you line up. This theater at least had a system - normally it is just chaos with hundreds of people all making a mad rush into the theater at once. At this theater (Picadilly) you are given a number when you get your ticket. Upon arriving on the sixth floor via elevator, you wind your way down the stairwell to place yourself in line in order - so we had to walk down two floors. After standing in the unconditioned (read boiling hot) stairwell for a while, we were allowed to enter the theater in groups.

This made the rush for seats slightly less horrible, but the system doesn't work because groups just send one person to the show early, and that person then goes in and takes all the seats in a row, even though the rest of the group is at the back of the line. Kick them out I say! We got ok seats and the theater did have a bit of a pitch so it wasn't too bad. Many, many theaters have no pitch, so half of the screen is obscured with all the heads in front of you. (Another reason why I like Shinagawa - stadium seating).

The movie was ok. Tear jerker for sure. I'm not sure why it is so highly acclaimed though. I mean it is good, but I don't think it is great. Perhaps my standards for entertainment are abnormally high. Most of the stuff coming out of Hollywood lately seems to be garbage. This movie just surpasses the 1800 yen you would have to pay for a ticket - in other words, I am not saying "you have to see this in the theater" nor "wait for video". The new Harry Potter movie is coming in November though, and that better be a "have to see in theater". The trailers look awesome at least.

Oh, one final thing to make this a true Japanese movie experience - as soon as we got comfortable in our seats, a fairly large earthquake hit. The screen was moving! I never like being high up, especially in older buildings, when quakes hits. I wonder what would have happened if the quake had hit in the middle of the movie. Stop the projector? Back track a bit? Nothing?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

China completes railway to Tibet

This is a cool engineering feat - China has completed railway to Tibet. I found the part about sealed compartments interesting - in order to prevent altitude sickness they are sealing the train like an airplane.

I always wondered how people dealt with altitude sickness on the buses that go to Tibet. It would be pretty horrible to get altitude sickness on a bus on the way up (because you need to get off the bus and somehow find a way to a lower altitude). Chinese trains are quite comfortable in the sleeping cars too, so I would imagine the journey would be much more enjoyable than a 24 hour bus ride!

Depending on whether we go to Tibet or not when we travel, we will take this new railway. Why take the bus when you can take a train and actually walk around and stretch your legs?!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Lasik Eye Surgery Video

Not for the squeamish, here is a video of lasik eye surgery being done.

I am almost at my 6 month mark. It is still the best thing I have ever done. I love not having to wear glasses. It is so nice to be able to see all the time! My eye sight seems to have been evening out over the last few weeks. I was worried for a bit because my right eye seemed much weaker than the left. They are equalizing though. My eyes still get tired quickly if I spend too much time at the computer, and my vision slips a bit if I am tired as well (namely late at night).

Other than these minor problems, everything is great. I haven't had any starbursts or halos - well, I do, but the same as I had before. If memory serves correctly, they are not as bad as when I used contact lenses. Sometimes at night brightly backlit signs cause some blurring, but not so bad that I can't read them - it just shortens up my distance vision.

Anyway, that is the low-down / end result of my lasik. They say it takes 6 months for your vision to stabilize and your eyes to heal. I only very occasionally need to put drops in - usually when I've spent a long time looking at bright things (eg computer or movie screen). So, it seems like I didn't get any of the bad side effects that lasik can cause, and just ended up with good vision :)

If you are thinking about getting it done and are squeamish, don't look at the video. If that kind of stuff doesn't weird you out, the video is interesting.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Japanese Post Office

Japan is trying to privatize the postal system - the recent election was called to basically oust those MPs that were holding up the privatization. This should be interesting when it actually goes through. The Post Office holds most of Japanese people's savings. They have tons of money and thus are more a bank than a postal service. That being said, I don't think they are all that interested in being efficient in the postal area. Hopefully privatization will improve this.

The reason I bring all this up is that I had to go and pick up a package tonight. Every area has a post office that is open 24 hours, so I headed down to mine. This service is actually extremely convenient, but they post offices are not usually in the most convenient locations. In fact any time you get a package, it seems it is stored at the inconvenient head post office in your area, rather than the one that is only a few blocks away.

I actually made excellent time walking there and back - about 20 minutes each way. I spent the same amount of time waiting to be served though, as in 40 minutes... and there was only one person ahead of me. By the time I left, there were 7 people waiting behind me. I should note this is at midnight. I think the guy was pretending to help the customer ahead of me, and in reality was going in back and taking mini-naps or something. The guy ahead of me even said to look after me first (obviously he was doing something complicated, although it was quite clear the clerk was bumbing - he brought out about 7 different packages for the man, none of which he took). Anyway, he finally moved on to serving me 15 minutes after the customer ahead of me said I could go first.

I should also point out that there is more than one employee working there, but no one else came up to help. It just makes me shake my head. Anyway, I eventually got my package and wandered back home to bed. Hopefully I will be at home next time they try to deliver something, and it will save me the trip.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

AR - S8E3

Another disappointing AR episode. Basically the order was determined as soon as they signed up for the buses. I mean, you arrive, have to sign up to take turns (one at a time) for the amusement ride (this was not a challenge by any means) and then follow some paths to the pit stop. Sad. Of course the Aiellos didn't move fast enough to grab their amusement ride ticket and were eliminated unfortunately. Oh well. Really liked that team. Please can the Paollo's be eliminated soon. What an annoying, disfunctional family.

I'm still missing my normal AR. Maybe there will be back to back seasons? One can only hope.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

More optical illusion fun

For those of you who like opitical illusions, I have found some more for you to enjoy.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sun's shadow shakes Earth causing volcano eruptions and earthquakes

I thought this article was interesting. It says that eclipses cause earthquakes and volcanos to erupt... and then says the recent eclipse wasn't full so wouldn't cause much of anything.... and yet bam, huge earthquake in Pakistan. It would be very weird if there was actually a connection between large earthquakes and eclipses.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is a holiday in Japan (it is Sports Day) as well as being Canadian Thanksgiving. Unfortunately there is no turkey or pumpkin pie for me *pout* I am so craving turkey right now. I was going to go out and buy an oven specifically for the occassion, but have no space for the oven, nor is there anywhere that I know of where you can buy turkeys at this time of year (American Thanksgiving and Christmas time there are some places that carry turkeys).

So tomorrow will be a relaxing, do nothing day for me. Hope all the rest of you eat your guts out - have some for me. If you want to be really nice, pack some leftovers up in a cooler pack an express deliver them to me.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Like popping bubble wrap?

Well, you can pop bubbles over and over again online - just go here and have fun!

Friday, October 07, 2005

TV roundup

I was finally able to watch the last two episodes of Biggest Loser. I like this show. I wish the women would work more like a team. I'm cheering for Matt and Dr. Jeff. Dr. Jeff was my original favourite, but Matt is showing himself to be an awesome person, so he gets cheers from me too.

For all you Survivor fans out there - is this season representative of what it is normally like? Isn't doing anything for me - just not connected to it. AR and Biggest Loser are just so much better IMO.

The other show I watch (yeah, I watch a lot of TV for someone who is so busy - need something to keep me occupied while I am on the train) is Lost. I like this show - not sure where it is going, but I like looking for interesting connections between players, visuals and the numbers. It is also well produced.

Any other good programs on this season?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Man-made diamonds sparkle with potential

Someone has developed the technology to makeman-made diamonds. I thought this article was really interesting - the applications for diamonds are amazing. Now that they can be made rather than mined, a lot of new technology is within reach.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

AR - S8E2

Well, this episode was much better thant the first. I'm still totally disappointed that they aren't going anywhere outside the US (or maybe North America). Oh well. I'll watch it, but it isn't the AR that I like!

The civil war re-enactment has to be one of the coolest challenges I have ever seen though. The challenge itself wasn't that difficult, but the setting was great. Hopefully they'll have more of that, because so far the actual challenges themselves don't seem to be that difficult.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

People at the gym

I hit the gym at varying times during the day depending on when I have a couple of hours free. It is actually quite interesting to see the different types of people there at different times.

In the morning, it is the elderly crowd. All these little old men and women are running around. This is a great time for swimming, because most of them just do aquawalking and the lanes are free. Too bad I'm usually busy at this time!

In the afternoon, there are quite a few foreigners and people who I would've thought should be at work. Mostly young people in their 20s or early 30s (I insist that early 30s is young!). This is a bit more crowded but everyone seems to smile a lot more at you.

In the evenings it is horribly crowded with all ages of working people. They all look depressed and don't even make eye contact let alone smile. No matter what time you go after 5, the place is packed. I hate going in the evenings, but that is often the only time I can.

I should say that the locker rooms are significantly quieter in the evenings despite all the people. The senior women all shout at each other and make annoying "soooo" and "neeeeh" sounds. These are Japanese active listening sounds, but imagine if you were listening to a conversation where the one person listening just said "eh, eh, eh" over and over again at about 10-20 second intervals. Or "uh-hunh" at the same rate. Sometimes I want to scream "Say words, please!" So, at least in the evening, when no one makes eye contact, you don't have to listen to that.

Monday, October 03, 2005


My friend Cal forwarded this link to me and it isawesome!! Click on the cam link on the page and you can watch animals come to drink at a pond in real time.

So far I have seen: ostriches, elephants, zebras, deer-like things (can't tell them apart), giraffes (these were amazing!), a bunch of gobbling birds (they seem to be there all the time) and a rare-to-see grey heron. I want to see cats now!

Most active time would probably be around 2-4am EST.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Pictures of Meguro Gajoen 2

There was a really pretty outdoor garden at Meguro Gajoen, including a man-made waterfall:

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pictures of Meguro Gajoen

Hiroshi and I went to this place a couple weeks ago. Here is a pic of some of the wood carvings that line the hallway: