Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An Average Summer Night

I'm getting a bit nostalgic about Japan and hauled my camera around with me for a change last Saturday. I got some good pictures and put them up on facebook. This should probably serve as a hint that I'm slowly porting my digial-self to facebook so that is where you'll find me in the future. It wasn't a hard choice since everyone's there. If someone is having trouble seeing the images please contact me below or through email.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

S and L July 19th Wedding

I can't speak too much about the wedding because things are moving so fast in Shikaoi I risk missing something here. Needless to say, it was a great wedding, the bride was beautiful and I was happy for the chance to visit with so many friends and family. Most of my whole week in Canada is a blur. I vaguely remember a couple of hamburgers, potato chips and nice summer evenings. I had so much going on I forgot to carefully record my time in Canada with photos. Thus, there are few pictures of me from the week. It never really crossed anyone's mind to take out the camera. The Birdsell's are very happy to now have five in the family.

My Mom and I before the wedding in front of the house. Man we clean up nicely.

A short composite shot of Sean and I with the the ring bearer Colton and flower girl Aliya.

The parents of the bride and groom.

Sean and Laura's first dance.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Returning to Japan

Things are slowing returning to nomral after a couple of odd set backs yesterday. One that has surely rippled through cyberspace at this point was that my plane out of Vancouver was switch at the last moment causing a nearly 5 hour delay and me to miss my connecting flight to Sapporo (which also happened to be the last flight of the day). The airline automatically rebooked me on the first flight out the next day, put me up at the airport hotel, gave me some food vouchers and sent me on my way. Nothing too crazy marked my short in Osaka except for extreme boredom. I would have liked to explored my surroundings a bit but it was so hot and humid I mostly confined myself to the hotel and the maze of air conditioned tunnels that connect everything in Japan. I also tried a $7 Godiva Chocolate milkshake; except for the small size, it was very good. No pictures sadly. Lastly, when I got to my car at Shintoku station, its interior was predictably oven-like hot. I opened up the driver-side window to let things circulate and the thing slammed into the door, refusing to roll up again. I'm not sure why after a week of no use, plus years of working perfectly, it broke on the one afternoon it would have been nice for things to go smoothly, but in anycase I just added it to the list of things to do. I had to get on it quickly as rain was predicted for that night. Now I'm strictly focused on returning home and some travel plans in September. Tonight: badminton.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In Shikaoi

I finally got into Shikaoi about 45min ago to little fanfare. I don't seem to have been missed. Also, it is very hot. That is all.

Not connected

I didn't quite make it home as expected. Because of a massive delay in Vancouver I missed the last connecting flight to Chitose. Now I am bidding my time at the airport hotel in Osaka. All is well and I am fending for myself.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tomorrow: Home?

Early tomorrow I will make the trek to the Edmonton International Airport and from there find my way home. Please expect the next update to be from Japan and a full post about my trip to come.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Two more days

The wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch; just as you would expect a Birdsell wedding to go.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Top Gear

Things are still progressing rapidly in Stony Plain. Wedding actives are moving into high gear.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Yes. I did make it home. Now onward with wedding actives. BB

Monday, July 14, 2008

In transit

I've scheduled this post to go out just as I'm leaving on a jet plane for Tokyo then onto Canada. Things will porbably be quiet here for a couple of days as I plan to hit the ground running when I get to Stony Plain with wedding preperations.

Lighting Quick Badminton

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I just finished some chocolate ice cream compliments of my boss. I won't lie: being so hot, it really hit the spot. On to reporting about my badminton tourney yesterday; it ended as expected: Played some good badminton but eventually lost. The second match (after which the picture to the left was taken) was the only match we won two straight. We heavily leveraged our shots against the clearly less skilled player for which I feel bad but can honestly say, considering the speed of the game, it was by no conscious choice on my part, just instinctive reaction. We lost the 1st and 3rd matches for a number of reasons. Not that I need consoling; the scores were very very close. We brought both matches to the final set and then went to deuces. The second match might have produced some great highlights on my part but the other 2 matches were real slogs. A lot of winning when teams are so even comes down to getting some good breaks, which I don't mind because we definitely made them earned it and I I played some good badminton in the process. My only goal was to play hard and not make a fool of myself. In the 3rd match the opposing team really hammered my partner, which was a mistake on their part considering how poor my backhand is. In any case, my partner, Uda-san, was really hurting after that. The other story of the day was the heat. It was a very hot day in Hokkaido yesterday making the gym, where over 200 players were located, very stuffy. I actually delt with it quite well; one might almost say I'm use to it but that would not be the compete truth as it was a highly uncomfortable experience. Just watching others play while waiting for your games caused one to sweat. Play then was sweat-drenching. The sweat I've gotten past in my athletic career but it made areas on the court deadly slippery. I brought towels and extra jerseys and socks to switch into through the day and managed fine. My only complaint has to do with the new fangled scoring system introduced a couple of years ago. Rally point scoring really penalizes errors. I will admit here that the lose in both games was due to the shuttle hitting the rim of my racket. Curse that sound forever! Losing - and winning - by an error is greatly unsatisfying. Previously the double serve style mitigated errors and focused the game on kill shots. What really bugs me about the change, however, is that the rally point system was said to be brought in to the make the game more exciting for spectators, but, like most sports, the majority of badminton played globally at any one time has no spectators. It's being enjoyed by the simple folk of the world. Finally, I would like to give credit to the organizes for making the divisions so balanced which made playing enjoyable and rewarding for all.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Two Stories About Friday

This first story comes courtesy of Kamihoronai kindergarten. While patiently waiting as a group for a student to return from the washroom--trying to fill time as there is little point in progressing when classes are so small--the kids were more anxious than usual to ask questions of me. However, upon asking them to stand and state their questions, they repeatedly offered comments instead. Being so young--all five and under--they seemed unable to grasp the concept; but they came close. Example comments include what one boy wanted for his birthday and that a girl had seen a cat on the way to school, etc. This brought quizzical smiles to the teachers' faces. Finally a teacher stepped in and explained, as only a kindergarden teacher can do, what was expected. But still something was missing. "Questions" from that point onward included a length query about how my car could carry pets if needed and one of the youngest kids there, rising to his full stature, summoned all of his courage to say in a big voice he loved bananas.

I bring this up because it's an interesting language point and, furthermore, I intended to melt the hearts of my readers with a simple story of the curiosity and boldness of youth. Having not yet been exposed to years of conditioning, young kids are not shy about much, and so when studying clothes today the grade 1 and 2s were immanently interested in the fact "zubon" were called "pants" in English, whereas the same terms, "pants," in Japanese means "underwear". Being the shy Canadian I am, I was hoping to leave the discrepancy there, but as they weighed with this new language oddity in their minds, they turned their eyes toward me, the inquisitiveness and curiosity in them impossible to ignore. I knew teaching the word "underwear" was unlikely to corrupt them for life, but the homeroom teacher seemed to think it would be a good idea if we drew pictures first to make the connection. The boys did an admirable job, drawing the boxers in great detail on the blackboard, making sure to including both the elastic waist and fly. The girls debated about the details too long and so that also fell to the boys to represent, but here the drawings ended up looking more like eyeless unrecognizable animal outlines. I think we are safe for a bit longer to call their minds unsullied by the complications of adulthood.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Neglected? Kind of.

My Mom left Shikaoi at 9AM this morning She is leaving the Stony Plain deligation early: Mostly for wedding preperations, as we ramp up to that big event, but also--this being her 4th trip to Shikaoi--she has seen most of the sights (several times) before. Today's goodbye was not nearly as difficult as years past as I will be returning home myself (for the wedding) in exactly six days. That takes a lot of the pang out of long goodbyes. I continued on with my busy day; trying to keep my head above water; working through some things in the office for next week to get them out of the way. I was going to post some pictures here but my mom ended up putting them up on facebook (long story) so please check them out there. Immediately next on my schedule is the Ikeda Badminton Tourney this Sunday.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Welcome Party to White Snake

Mrs. Usui and Janet embracing at the July 3rd Welcome Dinner.

A little bit of the spread provided at the Welcome Dinner.

July 5th at the 2008 White Snake Festival.

Launching a lantern into the waters of Lake Shikaribitsu.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Early Pictures as Proof

These pictures are pretty self-explanatory. I have posted them in chronological order. 

At the airport.

Outside Chomin Hall before the arrival.

Inside Chomin Hall in Stony Plain Hall with greetings.