Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Yoda lives, and he's a japanese missile scientist. I have been proofreading for a professor from the local university who is actually a leading japanese expert in missile defense theory. He's really just Yoda in disguise though.
Get this, he's short, even by japanese standards, he has an unkempt mop of grey hair, he has brownish-greenish teeth from all the coffee and whatnot that he drinks and the clincher is that he makes the same throat noise that Yoda does, constantly. Who better to calculate "Force Vectors in Anti-Missile-Missle Countermeasures" than a Jedi Master? Believe me if I ever want to know about the Force, I'll go straight to Yoda.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Hey party people, has anyone been to the Philippines? If not, just wait till I get back and can tell you all how cool I am for going to such an exotic and wonderful place. If you have been there, then please feel free to give me all the advice you can. Jennifer and I are going sometime around the 17 of September, hopefully by which time the typhoon season will have settled down a bit. I've heard that the only gurantee is that there's no gurantee on the weather though. I'm hoping to have mostly sun and some serious sweat stains by the time I get back. The planning is still in phase 1, so any input would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Today was an interesting one. I started off teaching the saturday class at the girls highschool that i pretty much hate. Moreover, the saturday class is 2 hours long, a long damn time in the annals of teaching and thirdly began at 9 which made it my earliest class of the week. When I arrived i saw 5 japanese girls and 1 blonde haired blue eyed tan skinned north american. There's an exchange student at the school and she was in the "Special English" saturday class. It was strange to have that sort of combo, not just a student who was better than the others, that's normal, but a full blown native speaker in the class. It went all right, she was a trooper and even though serious boredom clawed at her she perservered. Me, it's my job. I am no stranger to boredom. She is one of the Rotary Club exchange students and as such is a trooper. I can't imagine myself as a highschool student picking up and traveling to another country solo, much less living there for a year. It would be one thing to do as Laura Moench (Annie's first year roomate and my last summer housemate) did and travel to a European country where one may have at least studied the language and may have a chance at least of blending in, this girl however is shit out of luck in that respect, blue eyes, blonde hair, Canadian accent, the works. Good luck to anyone who can handle such a culture shock. I myself had a pretty damn hard time and I'm a quarter century old (good way of saying 25 huh) at 18 or whatever i would have folded like a wet McDonalds napkin.
After my strange english class I went rock climbing with my predecessor at my job Jodi and Lara. It was my third time to climb outside and it was soooo great to be better than the previous times. I really felt successful this time, I even started a lead climb and did reasonably well at it. I am looking forward to chances to try outdoor climbing in the future.
Lastly, i went to a barbecue where this Kiwi guy Hayden remarked, "Lemme just size those up here, good lord, you've got hobbit feet!" It was the first time my feet were called hobbity and while somewhat shameful, it was a really good slam, one of the best I've had leveled against me. Hobbit feet they are.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

I just got back from a weekend spent on the small island of Sado, about 2 hours ferry ride from Joetsu in the neighboring Niigata prefecture. Jennifer, Lara, Jodi and a new kid on the block Carrie all drove up to Joetsu at 5am and hopped on the ferry going to the island. I really like ferry travel. It's a good time to read a magazine or a book and there's something really cool about being on a big frickin ship. As there had been recent typhoon activity the swells were pretty fierce on the way out. Lots of folks were seasick, barf smell in all the restrooms. I wasn't feeling so bad, partly because I was looking out at the bounding main the whole time. I'm glad I did because I'm the only one in our whole party to have seen a whale. I've really got no idea what kind it was, medium sized something or other. It took a breath and arched its back and was gone.

After arriving at the island's harbor we walked about 100 meters to the camping are, tres convenient no? We set up our tents and proceeded on to the festival area. The whole reason for the trip was to see the Earth Festival sponsored by Japan's renowned Kodo drummers. As it turned out, we didn't get to see the Kodo drummers, but we did watch many of the other acts and some lesser Taiko drum ensembles. The highlight was probably the Saturday evening show where we saw Fanfare Ciocarlia from Romania. THese guys are kind of like a combination Jewish Klezmer, Italian traditional brass band, some German Ooompah and a healthy dose of rural rowdiness. It was a great show all in all.

Island life is always mixed for me, it's nice to be in such a relaxed atmosphere, but at the same time, it's a little claustrophobic. I am a kid of the Midwest, i really need my stretching vistas and my endless highways to nowhere special.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

And the smug look tells it all. I secretly think that I rule. Hard to believe that the handsome devil in the red jacket was hit by a car not two days previous.

Here we are at the summit, we're standing in front of a big friggin cliff, and honestly, if i'm going to go to someplace death defying, i'm not taking Lara or Jennifer. They're both pretty chicken when it comes to heights. Notice the crouch position.

As we walked up the ice the warm air hitting the snow created a great bloody fog bank that we walked through. I hate fog because it, not surprisingly, fogs up my glasses and makes it hard to see.

The first time I've really walked on a glacier. Honestly, I'm not sure that I'd really call it a glacier, but it's pretty damn close, this much snow in August is gonna stay, regardless of what you do to it.

Shane in his natural element, at 2700 m
So, i slapped a bunch of pictures up on the ol website. nothing is too new, in fact they are mostly from earlier this spring at the Ombashira festival. We're currently watching the documentary "Supersize Me", the one where the film maker takes it upon himself to ingest nothing but McDonalds for a month. It's pretty good edutainment. It's educational, not particularly biased and interesting to watch. I'll give it 2 thumbs up. Something I thought was interesting from the movie was that many of the "Nutrition Experts" or "Food Specialists" were pretty fat or flaccid themselves. I suppose it's either a case of "the pot calling the kettle black" or " maybe, "it takes one to know one".

Anyway, this week has been good. Why good? Because when it comes to the work week, short equals good. I've got a 4 day weekend this week due to the national holidays for Obon, or "Visit dead people weekend" where people go out to the cemeteries and clean and burn incense. It's kind of a nice family holiday, nobody is freaking out like for Golden Week in May.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Cheer Squad

Let's enjoy fun times.

Dazed and Confused

Community Involvement

Log Riding

Festival Food


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Ok first, about my bike accident.
It was kind of the standard bicycle car affair, and i wasn't even doing anything really stupid. I was riding on the bike path/sidewalk along the main drag to Nagano Station when a car pulled out of a parking lot and cut me off. I tried to avoid it but just ended up smacking into the front fender and flipping over which landed me on my back, shoulder and noggin. Fortunately for me, I was wearing my beloved pink helmet (may it rest in peace). My shoulder is a little bruised and my knee as well, but according to the CT scan the next day (not my idea, the insurance company's) my brain is beautiful. My helmet is all smacked up as was my front wheel and fork. Overall it was rather a pain in the ass, but the result is fine now, I've got a new front wheel and fork and there's a fancy new helmet on order from the bike shop for me. I also got to see the scan of my brain, which is pretty cool. It looks grey and smushy, from what I could tell. The woman who hit me also dropped a box of fancy cookies off at work. It was my best bicycle accident ever.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

IN the past 4 days i've had my front wheel, fork and helmet totaled by a car, gotten a CT scan, hiked up a glacier, ascended a peak of 2970 Meters, been passed on the trail by 70 year old women, hiked for 9 hours to get down and obtained a shitty old motor scooter for free. It's been a good week. I'm pretty pooped from it all and i've got to take the bus to work tomorrow to pick up my bicyle on the way back home, so i'm not really going to write much tonight suffice to say that I'm fine and that my knee hurts a lot when i bend it, so i guess I won't bend it right now. More later of course.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The Fuji Rock Festival was held in the fancy pants ski resort town of Naeba. The whole place was in a scenic valley that also served as a channel for rain and wind.
It was a pretty stacked weekend, but all in all i don't think that I liked it as much as the Winnepeg folk Fest. For one, it was rainy, and that always puts me in a foul mood. Also, the shows had a really different atmosphere, not so convivial, that really prevented any sort of connection between the crowd and the audience. I believe that the lead singer from the Aussie band JET summed it up in his crowd interactions. "Are you with me?!? I saaaaaid are you WIIIITH MEEE? Can you understand anything I'm saying?" Whether it was the language barrier or the cultural one, I'm not sure. Even with the ridiculously loud soundstage, it must be hard to put a lot of energy out to a crowd of 60,000 moderately interested people.

However, now I can say that i've seen, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, The Pixies, The White Stripes, Lou Reed, Primus and PJ Harvey live. Of the aforementioned, i think that Lou Reed was the biggest letdown and probably the White Stripes were the biggest pleasure to see. I did really love Primus onstage though, Les Claypool is just plain wierd. It would have all been better if the crowd hadn't been dampened by rain and by the fact that they're Japanese. It just wasn't so charged up as elsewhere.

Aside from seeing the bands i knew, the best thing is always seeing people you don't know. I really liked three new groups; Buffalo Daughter (Japanese electronica/pop fusion) Santos (Spanish nerdy but talented DJ) and most of all Simple Kid (British alternative rock). I would thoroughly recommend Simple Kid to anyone with tastes remotely similar to mine.