Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Is obesity contagious?

Wouldn't that be a good excuse! Well, apparently it is being researched - scientists think obesity might be caused by a virus because it has spread like an epidemic and you find obesity in people in areas with limited food. Interesting anyway.

Monday, January 30, 2006

everyone is hanging out at the clinic

I stopped into the clinic today to get some stronger medicine... only to find that everyone in Tokyo had the same idea. Everyone really is sick! There were like 30 people in the waiting room, and a line of people going out the door - all of them waiting to be seen. It took two and a half hours of waiting to see a doctor.

I did the whole appointment in Japanese - yay me! I even managed to do the hose machine. I don't know what this thing is, but after the doctor sees you, they send you into a room with this 1970s looking box with several hoses coming out of it. You put an attachment on the hose, press a button on the 1970s looking panel, and some kind of medicine infused mist comes out. You are supposed to breath this. Usually I end up in coughing fits and they just tell to forget about it. Today I was actually able to sit there and breath for the whole time. I'm not exactly sure what this does, but every ear-nose-thraote clinic I have ever been to has one of this medicine mist machines.

I even managed to communicate well with the pharmacist. There was only one point I was confused on - I blame it on fever. She was saying something about pills and my response was about me not being able to take powder (Japanese like medicine in powder form, but it makes me gag so I always ask for pills). Well, it dawned on me as I was walking out the door that she was probably saying the antibiotic would interfere with "the pill". That would be why she looked at me funny -
Pharmacist: "This medicine will make the pill ineffective"
Me: "I can't take the powder, so I always get pills"

Pills are called capsule in Japanese... and the birth control pill is called pill. Everytime I hear pill I think of tablets though. Note to self for next time eh?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I made chicken!

On Friday I picked up a whole chicken from the international food store and I cooked it up tonight. It was my first roast chicken ever! I forgot to take a picture though.

I was actually going to buy another Turkey, but then remembered I didn't like the quality of the bird so much when I found whole chickens about the same weight and about 30% cheaper. So chicken it ws.

I cut up some potatos and threw some mushrooms around it (got those at the international food store too - whole bunch for cheap). Then I just popped it in the oven and OD'd on yummy roasting chicken smell.

It came out perfectly. Hiroshi hates chicken, so the whole bird is just for me :) I picked off a bit of skin - the best way to eat it, and then threw the rest of it out with the carcass. I grabbed all the meat off the carcass and had about as much as the turkey yielded at Christmas time, so that is good. Lots for meals over the next few days. I froze the drippings too after skimming off the fat. Figure I can use them for chicken broth in a soup or something if I get motivated to make one. Or I can make up gravy one day.

So, now I have made a roast, a turkey and a chicken in my little oven. What should I do next? There were some nice cuts of lamb at the store... although Hiroshi would probably hate it because it isn't fish. But, lamb is an idea...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

An alternative to traditional burial

After you die, if you don't want to be buried or cremated, you can always convert yourself into a diamond. There is something appealing about this. Of course generations from now, heirloom will take on a whole new meaning - insead of "this is grandma's ring" it will be "this is grandma".

Friday, January 27, 2006

still sick

I finally gave in and went to the pharmacy to get some medicine. People were saying "That doesn't sound good" whenever I started coughing... and Hiroshi was complaining that I was keeping him up all night.

I was happy to note that my Japanese is finally good enough that I can have a conversation with the pharmacist about which medicine to get. Granted I can't understand everything, but enough to make a real decision about what to buy (instead of eeney-meeney-miney-moe-ing it).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

This explains everything!

I now know why I am so scatter-brained sometimes. Or oblivious as the case may be. It boils down to intelligence. Apparently smart poeple ignore irrelevant stimuli and pick out what is most important. So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Different ways of measuring time

I found this article on how we measure time. It is quite interesting and explains the differences between astronomical and atomic time. I didn't even know there was an alternative to astronomical tiem.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I woke up this morning and big, fluffy, giant snowflakes were floating past my window! It was so pretty! It looked so peaceful - the big snowflakes don't look as cold as the small one that the wind dashes on an angle to the ground. They just float peacefully down.

It was beautiful all morning and afternoon... then around mid-afternoon the snow started to pile up and the sidewalks got all slushy. Yuck. No longer pretty at that point! THen when the sun went down it all iced up. It is so much nice looking at snow when you are inside!

I don't have to shovel or drive in it though, so it is all good. I won't mind in the least if it all melts by tomorrow though!

Friday, January 20, 2006

everybody's sick

... including me. Hiroshi went to the doctor to get medicine today. I am starting to come down with a cold / sore throat... and all my colleagues and students are hacking all over each other. Oh, don't you love winter? Apparently the flu is going around Hiroshi's office, so I'm glad he got medicine. I don't want it! It is a good excuse to laze around this weekend though... although I have to work tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hurray! Packages!

I finally went and picked up a pacakge that was waiting for me at the post office. My mom sent me xmas cake and some cookies. Actually I think she sent a card and the package at the same time ... only she sent the package slow mail. Funny thing is, the package arrived the day before the card did! That was one fast boat!

The cookies arrived in pieces, but they still tasted good. I decided to have one piece... only five seconds later they were all gone. Yum yum. They were broken though, so the calories must have been broken too, right? That's my rationalization and I'm sticking to it!

We'll break into the xmas cake on the weekend.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Chinese lunch

Today I met with my older women class for the first time this year, so we had lunch together. Isn't that great? I get paid to go and eat lunch... and they pay for the lunch. It was nice to see everyone and I got some small presents which was sweet of them all.

The Chinese food itself wasn't that great - it was all in goopy sauces. And spiced down for Japanese tastes. You know how Chinese food sits heavy in your stomach too.

Afterwards we walked over to the mall though and sat around in the food court and had coffee. It was nice to catch up with everyone... and relaxing! I couldn't drink any coffee though because I was so full from lunch.

Monday, January 16, 2006

work got crazy

Fun, fun, fun - I get to do stay up until 2am doing development work. Now this wouldn't have happened (probably) if I had done something over the holidays... when I was sleeping and relaxing. Work has hit full force after the holidays. It isn't fair. I wanna be a housewife. Or get paid for showing up and looking pretty ;)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I'm paying for my fun

Ugh... hung over. I don't drink anymore, so I am really paying for last night. Guess I'd better start drinking water... what I really want to do though is just go back to bed! Does this mean I am getting old? Because I never used to get hangovers.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Living it up

Tonight was my friend Shirin's going away party. Her husband to be got transferred to Fukuoka (Japan's southern island) so she is off to a new life. The party arranger chose a really nice restaurant called Tableaux . We had our little party in the lounge, which was absolutely perfect. The walls were lined with book cases and the chairs were all leather. There was live jazz music for most of the night which created a great atmosphere.

We ordered some nice wines. The first one we ordered was pretty good, but wasn't all that balanced. This was the wine the waiter, who spoke limited English, recommended. I don't think he was all that competent. Later in the evening a woman came over and helped me order (I was in charge of ordering) - I asked about a wine that originally intrigued me, and she said it was very good wine. Glad we ordered it - it was excellent. Very interesting flavours. Usually you get that oak aged flavour in whites, but this was in a red, and combined with a berry undertone made the wine really different from anything I have tasted before. (Mom and dad if you can find it - Costers del Gravet 2002 Capcanes Spain Montsant Denomin acio d'Origen)

Of course as the evening wore on, the cost of all this stuff seemed irrelevant. We ordered a second round of fois gras because it was so good - it was served with persimmon. One of the guys tried to order dessert and Shirin and I instantly complained because he had ordered one dessert for four people to share. We set him straight! The desserts were just as good as the rest of the meal and we were in sweets heaven. After dinner we all ordered a cigar and port - 2000 yen a glass didn't seem like that much after a bottle of wine a piece. Funny how alcohol encourages spending.

The cigars were nice though, and the port was awesome. At one point I looked at my watch and had a minor shock - it was 2 am. We were having such a great time, we didn't even notice. This was bad because it was well past last train. So we just stayed around gabbing and relaxing until 4 am and took taxis home.

Overall it was a really nice night. It brought back some good memories for me of previous nice nights out, and it was really great to go out somewhere nice. Yes, the bill for the evening was a shocker, but definitely worth it. We always go out to izakaya which is like going to a bar for a going away party. This was classy, and something I haven't done enough here.

Of course... tomorrow I might regret all the drinking... I think I drank more tonight than I did all last year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I want a new toy!

Apple - new MacBook - I want! The rumour mill on the internet says to wait because something even better will be coming out, but I want this... now. Anyone got 250,000 yen they can give me? Dual core sounds nice and so does the speed... not to mention the built in camera and updates to software. It will supposedly dual boot Windows too... not that I care to use Windows anymore, it is just cool. Oh, I want new toys.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Work is hard - is sleeping a job?

Work is so draining. It is unbelievably draining. Makes me want to quit and become a housewife... a housewife that sleeps in! Maybe I'm just getting old. I am definitely paying for relaxing so much over the holidays though.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Diet - Day 1

New Year's resolution - eat healthier and workout more. Today was Day 1 of my diet. I've decided to take up running. This is easier said than done... especially when it is only 4C outside. I have new found respect for those people that run all winter. Trust me, even running really hard, you still freeze your butt off. I'm hoping that I'm burning more calories because my body must be burning something in order to keep me warm out there!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan struck by deadly snowdrifts

There is lots of snow in Japan - record breaking amounts. Everyone is talking about how there hasn't been this much snow since 1947. Some towns even have markers showing where the snow reached in 1947 so they can compare how much snow they have in comparison this year. Unfortunately, several people have died and it is getting quite dangerous in some areas as this BBC news article outlines.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Stupid Jumbo lottery

I was convinced that this was my year. I have bought Jumbo lottery tickets every year for the past few years... and have only won 300 yen once. That was last year when I figured out you need to buy a full book of 10 tickets to guarantee you will win 300 yen (they are in order so you are guranteed to get the last number on one of your tickets).

Jumbo lottery tickets are offered three or four times a year and they have really big prizes. Usually the lotto tickets here have fairly low payouts. So lots of people buy these. I always get the ones that come out at New Year in hopes that I will start the new year off as a millionaire.

Of course I was shafted again. Someone picked the wrong number because it wasn't anywhere close to the numbers I had. *sigh* Maybe I should stick to the casino.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I love sleeping

Second day back at work... and I'm exhausted already. I came back from my only class today, which started at the horrible hour of 7:30 am and went back to bed... only to sleep all day long. See, work is bad for me. It must be hard if I need 14 hours of sleep after 1.5 hours of work LOL

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Back to work - yuck!

Today is my first day back at work... luckily I only have one class to teach. I enjoyed sleeping late and then having naps in the afternoon! I don't want to go back to work. This is worse than having been on vacation. On vacation you go out and actually do things - I just lazed around for a week and slept!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Year in review

2005 - I actually did quite alot in 2005. That is probably why it flew by so quickly!

I opened the year in China visiting my aunt Jan. It was nice to visit her again although it was quite cold! From her place I moved on to warmer climates in Hong Kong and Macau, thus visiting three places at the beginning of the year.

At the end of January, my mom and aunt Joan came to visit. We did some sightseeing and lots of visiting... and discovered the calming effects of colouring!

February brought the death of my hard drive and general panic when I realized I had lost all my contact data and lots of work data. Lesson learned - back up, back up, back up. Of course, this lesson wasn't quite learned because when I had a major system crash in December that prevented the computer from reading my hard drive, I lost data again. So the new mantra is backup often, backup often, backup often.

March came in with record high pollen counts and therefore horrible allergies. I discovered that the eye drops that are supposed to make your eyes stop itching, are at the expense of making them feel like someone threw sand in them.

The cherry blossoms bloomed in April, but I didn't do any cherry blossom parties this year. Too busy. Hiroshi and I just went for a walk to enjoy them. At the end of April I went to Thailand and had my LASIK done. So I am now fully sighted without glasses, and aboslutely love it! It was totally worth getting done and I can't ever imagine going back to glasses again!

I spent the beginning of May recouperating on a beach in Phuket - lovely! Rainy season was late, so the weather was perfect... to bad I couldn't go swimming because of the eye surgery. I did do a lot of shopping though! The other event in May was turning 32, but we won't dwell long on that.

June and July was another trip, but this time to Canada for the first time in three years. My sister Jen got married, so it was a good occassion. I got to be a matron of honour (that sounds old!) and see lots of family. Of course I went to the casino while I was home. I won some money, but promptly spent it all on new clothes and makeup. Shopping, shopping, shopping!

August was our four year anniversary - yeah, we've been married that long??!! No we still aren't planning on having kids yet - the freedom of being kid-less is too enjoyable!

Nothing happened in September, except the Aichi Expo ended. I had great plans to go but the news kept talking about record attendance and three hour lines to get in to pavillions and that was enough for me to give it a pass. Should have gone earlier in the year. Nothing much happened in October either except I got an oven! After living in Japan for 6 and a half years, I can now cook hunks of meat and bake stuff... which was the exciting news in November because nothing happened then either.

The year ended with a fair bit of excitement... or lack thereof. I made my first ever Christmas dinner and it was a big success. I also finally made it to Kyoto - I've wanted to go for a long time but it has always been cheaper to go to Thailand or somewhere else. It was a great trip, adn was actually the first time Hiroshi and I had been somewhere on vacation together in two years! The year ended with the lack of excitement - sleep! Which was the perfect way to end it for me because I was pretty tired out!

Hope you all had a wonderful 2005 and will have a great 2006!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year's cards

My New Year cards arrived today. Japan Post does a great job of making sure everyone gets them right at the beginning of the year. Imagine trying to deliver ever Christmas card you receive the day before Christmas!

One of my former students wrote me a "note" that was just odd. Well, downright weird. He says:
Long time no see! How have you been?
I'm really fine but already elderly...
The lady next neighbour always speaks loudly. She really bothers me. Should I call the police?
Don't I have to do it? I can't stand it any more.
Let's talk about daily routine. The first thing I do after I wake up is go to the toilet. How about you?
Once I've eaten lunch I sometimes take a nap. How about you?...

I have to say, this definitely takes the cake in terms of the weirdest mail I have ever received.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Off to see the Emperor

Today we met up with Yosuke to go and see the Emperor give his New Year's address and hit some museums. All the museums in Ueno were free to enter today, so it was a great chance to go and check out some of the ones we had never been to before.

We started off early and hit Bic Camera on the way to the Imperial Palace so I could buy a tripod. I found a really good deal - I got 71% off! Of course it started to pour rain, so so much for my idea of using it to take pics of the Emperor that weren't fuzzy.

As in previous years, we just walked right in. There is a bit of a line-up to go through when they pat you down and check your bags, but airport security in the US is tighter so it didn't take too long. We actually timed it really well because we only had to wait about 7 minutes once we were in the viewing area.

When the Emperor and Empress and Princes arrived everyone waved their Japanese flags. A lot of people didn't put their umbrellas down, which Hiroshi said was really bad manners. I managed to get some good pictures, but you can see the raindrops falling down!

As usual the audience was about 30% foreigners, which the Japanese always find a bit shocking. Probably because we all hang out in Tokyo during the holidays instead of heading back to our hometowns as the Japanese do. It seemed like there were a heck of a lot more people this year when everyone was rushing towards the gates to get out - but that may have been the umbrellas. It seemed like last time I was there the walk out was much more leisurely though.

After that we spent over an hour trying to find a coffee shop where we could get something hot and dry out a bit. Eventually I just suggested we head up to Ueno near the museums because I was not happy and walking around in the rain was less than fun.

We found a place to grab some lunch in Ueno and sat in there and warmed up... our bodies and our moods. Of course, by the time we got to the museum area it was mid-afternoon so we didn't get to see much. We did wander around for a bit though and I was happy to see the decorated Japanese panels, which are my favourite.

After that we headed back to Shinagawa for Outback Steakhouse, but before dinner we decided to go to the new aquarium. It is actually pretty good. We saw the dolphin show, which was so-so, and the seal show, which was funny, and the penguin feeding, which was very educational. The feeder explained a lot about the penguins and how they were different from each other while throwing fish to them.

There was a big tunnel where the sharks and rays were swimming. Since it was late at night, barely anyone was there, so we had the tunnel practically to ourselves. It was cool to see a big ray swim over top of you. In this tank there were also some sawfish wich were also cool.

After the aquarium we just wandered over to Outback and had a huge dinner. We were stuffed! We got Hiroshi some ice cream for his birthday - I was nice and declined the singing. I figured he wouldn't be too into that. And then we all waddled home for bed beacuse we tired from walking around all day!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Today is osechi ryouri day... or New Year's food day. We bought a whole bunch of stuff at the grocery store yesterday and now have a feast of special foods. You can see all the food here, but here is one shot of the main box:

If you click on individual pictures at the link above, there is an explanation of what everything is.

I basically hung out in my pyjamas all day - it was heavenly! In the evening, Hiroshi's friend Yosuke decided to come over, so I had to do a mad dash to get showered and dressed before he arrived. Then we all just sat around eating osechi and watching this super athlete show. I forget what it is called, but basically there are a bunch of strength, speed and agility competitions. In one of the competitions they jump over a gymnastic horse (I think that is what it is called) that increases in height - they get as high as 3m!

So that was my New Year's day - spent perfectly by relaxing all day!