Friday, June 29, 2007


So yeah, today, lots of rain. Ranging from showers to downpours. I'm a bit more busy tonight than planned so I decided to post the images without explination.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

It must be Friday.

I did snap some pictures today but I forgot my camera stuff at home. Thus a start and pictureless post. It is again raining in Shikaoi, the third Friday in a row. I know its the third Friday in a row because for three Fridays in a row instead of going for a nice run after work outside I have had to retreat into the sport center. An amazing streak of probablity don't you think? I will get the images up tonight or tomorrow.

The writing of Speeches

Nothing too much new to report. I am waiting around because soon I am suppose to help translate some of the Shikaoi town officials speeches. To help them read more naturally I guess. This is all in preparation for the Stony Plain deligations arrival next week. Lots of meetings going on around town, only now do the major details seem to be coming togather. Even with that they still won't tell me until next week. Still, I know the drill, so I don't get too worked up about it. You know that something is happening next week because every flower bed in Shikaoi is getting worked on and every blade of grass inspected. Everything will be in tip top shape for the arrival. This starts my July, on top of many open classes we have in my schools. Then it will be off to Canada for the first two weeks of August.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Must be Monday

I don't have too much time to spare today but I thought I would share how my day is going. Not even 10 minutes into work today and I made a student cry. Normally he is a rock solid student to call upon; I asked him to stand up and that's when he fell apart. It really wasn't my fault, there was no way I could of known he was having worst day than I. His homeroom teacher apologized later for not warding me off. This story ends well; the student was his bright and normal self by the end of class. Me, however, still has to make it through the week.

Where are the Tomatoes?

My internet was down for some of the day yesterday. It probably had something to do with the earthquake and thunderstorms. Luckily the world kept turning while I was otherwise unconnected.

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A shot from Friday. Notice how sunny it is? The weather has turned pretty ugly since then; just clouds and on and off again rain. This is suppose to continue into Monday, which somehow seems fitting. (Small thumbnails to the left can be enlarged by clicking.)

A new product has made it into 7-11. I had been craving that super sweet ice tea we have in Canada and I bought it on impulse. They also had peach and, get this, pineapple flavor, along with straight summer ice tea. My review isn't favorable. I think it tastes like soap; I guess I'm trying to say it didn't taste like tea or lemon. (I couldn't finish.) I guess I will have to wait until I go to Boston Pizza to indulge my craving.

Made pesto pasta tonight. It was absolutely delicious if I do say so myself. The vegetables (in the local supermarket) were amazing this week! Readers may be aware of the tread in Canada to buy local foods. But this has been the historic norm in Shikaoi. Perfect asparagus, green onions, and carrots all locally grown within an hour of Shikaoi. Even the chicken breast was from Tokachi. The red pepper, which really did look and taste great, and whose price has finally fallen from the winter highs, looked to be sourced from the Philippines. The whole point of making pesto pasta tonite was to use a package of sun dried tomatoes I had, but, in the end, I forgot to put them in. D'oh.

And the piece de resistance:
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And I end this post with a question: What happen to the rest of the truck?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Saturday Morning's What if?

We had rolling thunder in Shikaoi from 4 in the morning to 6AM. (Very rare.) and then an earthquake at 7:21ish. It has left me wondering what this Saturday could bring...

Friday Post

I got a flood of traffic earily in the week when I posted about the Drudge Report and Keanu Reeves. Over sixty distinct visitors showed up through searches only to be disappointed that my blog really has nothing to do with either. I don't think they will be back. It's cloudy today and I am concentrating on sending out good thoughts to stave off the rain but I did kill a spider earily today. (It was me or him!) Nothing else worthy to report except to say: Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday Summer Time

Just finding the time to update has been hard this week. At present the office is pretty empty due to some high level meeting I was neither invited to nor want to attend. I'm pretty sure they are discussing education but I'm pretty sure it boils down to money because that's what our office is in charge off. (But not me, that's just where my desk is.) I paid for my tickets home yesterday which is a big worry off my back, and I got paid today, so everything evens out nicely. Dropped running down to four days a week from five but included another day of badminton. (And my body is thanking me.) So now I do that now three days a week. I am pulling back a bit but will increase it again soon. As long as one isn't running uber-far everyday it's an attainable goal. I really am in great shape but I don't want to push my luck with a nasty injury, then I wouldn't be able to run at all! I haven't had anything too serious yet but reading the injury forum on a running website was a real eye-opener. Let's run healthy, I thought. Running outside is a bit of a challenge because I hate running on busy roads or even right beside them. Luckily, just west of my house a bit are long stretches of open country roads that only have the occasional truck on them. There are actually stretches of roads I have never seen cars on. An empty road is a bit daunting in the heat of the day but at sunset is quite relaxing. The fields are pretty much being left alone this month to grow and the green hills just roll off into the distance.

The writing of this post was violently interrupted be a rain shower. A single solitary grey cloud with a grudge. Pretty spectacular but it would only last a couple of minutes as we could see the sun the entire time. The "we" here is a bunch of teachers and students caught under the canopy of the building waiting for the rain to stop. Everyone was having a good time trying to push each other into the rain and once that because boring we searched out the inevitable rainbow. I was tired before but feel invigorated now and I'm sure if our readers could be here they would agree the air seems fresh.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who is wearing my shoes??

Those shoes make him look older than he is; he's only three and a half. (And a bit of a rabble rouser.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007


If anything conjurs up images of stiflingly hot days for me it's the sounds of Cicadas. The high-pitched whine is alien to Alberta but familar to all Japanese. The cicadas cry is loudest when the sun is high in the sky, giving the impression the air is stiller and hotter than it really is. This weekend it was louder than I remember, completely drowning out my tunes while running passed a strand of trees. I don't think any description can do it justice; it's hard to describe the exact sensation becuase it blends seamlessly into life. Considering how strongly the sound is assoicted with hot sunny periods makes me realize how Japanese I am becoming, despite assumptions to the opposite.

Fun With Internet News

This may only be of interest to hardcore news watchers - it which case they may have already seen it - the sight of a joke on Drudge Report; the first such joke I have ever seen on that most powerful of news sites. It struck me as an important event worth repeating. Throughout most of Saturday, which to put it in context means the slow Friday night period in North America, Drudge was running an Associated Press picture showing a Hamas militant on the phone (pictured below, click to enlarge). The significance lie in the small caption affixed to photo - the first bracketed comments to grace the sight - simply reading, "[Photo is not of editor Matt Drudge getting ready for '08]" A playful reference to Drudge's role in the coming US presidential elections. I laughed, but in truthfulness, I'm pretty lame. It's an interesting photo none the less: well composed and full of contradictions, it breaks some of the assumptions we have about Islamic Extremists. I apologize for not getting a screen grab for posterity's sake. The image has made the rounds of the internet by now.

To contrast a drab and depressing topic, I offer a humorous image of Keanu Reeves looking surprised. Again, I admit, I laughed. (Yeah for photoshop!)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday post

Just back in the office, busily typing while clock ticks down to the weekend. Finished my classes. Finished a meeting about my classes. Finished playing tag. Now I just need to keep myself staring at the second hand of the office clock. It rained all morning and while relatively cool is now pretty humid. I wanted to take a funny picture to post but nothing really inspirationally presented itself today despite me laughing a lot. Again this week the grades 1 and 2 covered sea creatures and we stumbled onto the most dreaded of problems: The Dol-phish. This is not the first time we as professional teachers have faced such a enemy. There are eight flash cards to learn but four are important to this story: fish, jellyfish, starfish and dolphin. Imagine a group of students, everyone saying the names correctly except one. And though I can hear someone saying "dol-phish," I am never quite quick enough to see who. This is a teachers nightmare. One can see how it's progressively combined from the others but it can be an amazingly hard to stamp out. At these young ages, everything is done by rote, and so it has to be un-programed before being re-learned. My heart sank when I heard "dol-phish" today and as of this posting I'm unsure of my success or how the problem will resolve itself.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Japanese in the News.

Just got back from a hot and sweaty badminton game. It's rainy now but all that has increased is the humidity. I pulled this article off the Kyodo News network. It's interesting to see where Japanese are advancing in the world - surprising really - and it reinforces my view that whatever a Japanese puts their mind to, they do well. Supposely it was in a wide field of 200 other violins. Here's a snippet:

Japanese win top 2 places in violin-making competition in Russia.

MOSCOW — Two Japanese men have won the first and second places in the violin craftsmanship division at the 13th International Tchaikovsky Competition held in Moscow, organizers said Wednesday.

The violin crafted by Hiroshi Kikuta, 45, a Nagoya native, won the first prize on Tuesday, and the instrument made by Akira Takahashi, 36, a native of Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, received the second prize. Kikuta and Takahashi learned violin craftsmanship in Cremona, Italy, where maestro Antonio Stradivari and other master craftsmen worked.


Well the mini volleyball tournament is behind us. My team from the Board of Education went 2-1. I was the anchor of the team despite it only being the second time I have ever played. The first time being last year's mini volleyball tournament. I don't really enjoy the game because it's so easy; it uses a softer beach-type volleyball and a smaller court. But I will say in favor of mini-volleyball that at least it brings many levels of players together so that everyone can have a good time. The absolute best thing about the mini-volleyball tournament is that I know 3/4 of the people. It's so much fun to smooze around between games and then again at dinner! The sun has finally retreated behind some clouds and the temperature has dropped to a respectable 25C. Days and nights of 30C is too much for this Canadian. Tomorrow is Friday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I'm a bit busy because of the mini-volleyball tournament and accompanying dinner but I wanted to pass on what I saw on a t-shirt today. Typical Japanese English, as profound as it was wrong, "Loverly." What does it mean?

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Dog days of Summer

I'm trying to limit my movement as I write this. I'm not sick, but lately the temperature has sky rocketed along with the humidity. Everyone is moving lethargically as they do their work. My students seem handle the heat fine but they wear expressions like they are melting as we go through the lessons. Interestingly, I just read a note in the news that the rainy season that normally starts this month has been practically non-existent this year. Update date on the lock: it's still not fixed but it wouldn't entirely matter as I left all the windows of my house open to get a cross draft through. Lastly I wanted to add that I have finished running, for the next three days at least. Tonight badminton but tomorrow is the Board of Education mini-volleyball tournament that was a lot of fun last year on account of all the people I know in Shikaoi. Thursday night badminton again. But as the world turns I promise to run again Friday.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A good day goes bad

I am seeing this event in the humour of hindsight, but today a normal occurance went tragicly wrong with just a dash of Japanese thrown in so I always know where I am. I'm sure this will put a smile on everyone's face Monday morning. Arriving home from Obihiro I put my keys in the door to unlock it as usual but it wouldn't open. The lock was jammed and I was locked out. After trying for ten minutes to no avail, I knew I had two (nearly identical) options: 1) Break into my own house. 2) Phone the town office (whose house I rent) and have them break into the house for me. I decided to cover all my bases and used my neighbour's phone to call the office. I waited in the shade of my car for about ten minutes until help arrived. I quickly explained my stituation and let them try the lock themselves. What I found humorous was that ast this went on, more and more cars kept arriving. Chuckling to myself I wondered how many people they had phoned. I was feeling bad about being locked out and felt horrible about interupting everyone's Sunday afternoon. However, it was nice to witness how far my community was willing to go on my account, even with the mere mention I needed help.

The next scene was also quite humorous: After the assembled group of men was satisfied that, yes, the lock was indeed broken they held council. A couple more phone calls. Some were looking seriously at the ground while smoking, deep in thought. Soon a consenus was reached and I could see action was to be taken directly when out came a hammer. That was the sign I was waiting for because I knew soon I would be in my house. We ended up busting through a smaller side door. Even with the many thanks I gave, the reader should understand that the situation is not quite over, I know that come Monday this will all have to be explained again to my office and another council assembled to get my door fixed.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Friday's Smile

I have been waiting to put up this image all week. This display of clothed rabbits in unlikely, unnatural positions has been put up in a ditch near my house. It is Tacky with a capital "T" but more power to the owners for throwing off the burden of my contrived opinions. In anycase, it made me chuckle that someone found this attactive, but with the irony that my tastes probably won't be all that different when I hit 70.

Class today was a breeze. (Then why I am so tired?) The one-two split has been seperated for English class because the grade two's were a bit too gun-ho about answering all the questions and it was feared the grade one's English was suffering. So now I get twice the fun really. The grade one's were exceptionally chaming as they learned about different sea animals. One of the most out-going boys in grade three - he has that great sense of humor Osaka is known for - really woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Adding powder to the keg, he was day leader for the class today. He preceeded to abuse his position; demanding more than some bigger grade fours could take, and finally crossed the line with the homeroom teacher. I've had several opportunities to neigoiate with 8 year olds and the expereice always ends up being slightly absurd.


I discovered why it got so hot here all of a sudden this week. The normally brisk wind of Shikaoi disappeared. But I think it is only temporary. Throughout the winter the wind hallows, ranging from a breeze to a gale daily. I never wore scarfs in Canada, but since moved to Shikaoi I have seen their clear advantages; mainly stopping the wind from entering around one's neck and in the process keeping you a heck of a lot warmer. Turning to summer again, I thing everyone can agree that a gentle breeze is always welcomed. But on Tuesday and Wednesday the wind was dead calm and the air very still. It immediately felt hot and humid, inside and out. Today the sky looks quite threatening, but since I brought my umbrella I don't expect it to rain.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wednesday Update

Not too much to share about my world today. A day in the office was welcomed as I wrote on and off all day. Now it's after four and I am losing my motivation for anything. I will probably go for a run after work but I feel so bored, lazy and lethargic that every atom in my body feels like it wants to lose molecular cohesion which would turn me into a puddle. That feels like the most desirous position at the moment. Had a great day at badminton last night, still lost every game but I was fearsome. Smashing and digging! Grrr. What fun. My smash is all wonky too. People keep telling me I will hurt my elbow. I should work on that. I also kept hitting everything out the back of the court; which if I am looking on the bright side means I am powerful, if I'm looking to the bad side it means I have no control. Oh well. It was fun. I will be out on Thrusday night too. Also, since yesterday the humidity has shot up. Maybe that is another reason I keep losing focus? I think to myself; why can't I be wearing shorts now?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'm A Writing Machine!

I have an office day today with my classes getting cancelled at the last minute. I am taking full advance of the day in the office free of interruptions to keep writing. I say free of interruptions because Monday is generally busier than Friday and thus today no one has time to speak to me. I'm just trying to keep my head down and stay out of peoples way. I also made a very nice phonics worksheet. I'm only taking a break now from writing because I got frustrated when I couldn't spell "guarantee." I'm definitely not a spelling machine. In any case, I have tea and will soon be writing again.

Warning: The following contains comments on politics and the environment.

Listening to Canada's honorable Prime Minster Stephen Harper sometimes boarders on the absurd and he really cracked me up this week. I think he needs more pre-school aged advisors because then he wouldn't come off as seemingly disconnected from reality so often. This week the honorable Prime Minster is going the G8 summit in Germany. I don't really have an opinion on the summit other than the protesters are acting like cry babies. The environment is on the agenda. Again, I don't really have an opinion on that. However, it was released that the Prime Minster plans to ask the other G8 counties for special treatment for Canada. Despite Canada having arguably the worst environment record in the G8, the honorable Prime Minster feels that Canada should be exempt from any targets because of our growing population and gas industry. Probably surprising to the readers, I don't have any problem with Prime Minster Stephen Harper holding this opinion. However, when he asks other nations for an exception the whole situation looks absurd. I'm surprised he can ask with a straight face. He is asking the other G8 countries to clean up Canada's share of the mess. The reality is - that the Prime Minster seems to be ignoring - is that these countries have their own problems. They are not waiting by the phone, waiting for Canada's call, to please clean up our mess.

The analogy is this: I have been to many craft days at various kindergartens. A situation that rarely happens is that Kid A makes a mess, turns to the other kids and asks "please clean up my mess." It happens rarely because even young children understand responiblity and they understand the underlying logic that one should clean up their own mess. Why is something basic in a pre-school classroom lost on Prime Minster Stephen Harper's advisors? (Yes, I know the whole issue it more complicated than that, the poor guy has to be re-elected someday.)

Sunday in the Sun

Nothing too much to report this weekend so I will keep this short. Saturday I rushed around until 3:00 PM getting every conceivable chore done, then a run, then pesto pasta, then out for drinks. This left Sunday empty for me to be lazy and write (hence the lack of a quality blog update). I'm elated to repot I ran a total of 30km Saturday and Sunday. We had such nice weather that as soon as I got outside I felt like I could run forever. I did have a pitful run Friday night after work but I was definately dragging. (After eating I was in bed by 9:30PM.) Still got my hour and five minutes though.