Friday, November 30, 2007


There are various things I've nearly posted about in the past few weeks but just never got around to, due to busy days and nights of exhaustion. So first, for the scant handful of people who care, an update on my dull life in an exciting city.

I'm still volunteering at the UNU three mornings a week, and frankly the thrill has mostly worn off. I'd love to work there full-time (paid!) so that I could be more involved in the actual work. Only being there 7.5 hrs/week means they end up giving me only dribs and drabs of work, eg., researching film fests to enter their just completed documentary into. Also, the 1/2 hour of cycling for each 2.5 hours of volunteering is an extra bit of exercise I really don't need, seeing as I walk G-dog for an hour daily before dinner, after my shift at the embassy.

And work at the embassy hasn't exactly been a gas lately either. There're squabbles going on and tension due to budget cuts and an audit that's currently in progress. And that's not to mention Aran's misery at being completely and utterly bored out of his tree.

Anyway... on to the fun little things I should have recently been posting about:

Beam: We've been enjoying our new laptop. But particularly the stereo playing stuff from the i-Tunes that was pre-loaded by the friend that sold us the machine, who incidentally has awesome, extensive, eclectic taste.

Autumn and foliage: I heard there's snow back home and I don't envy that at all. We've still got daytime highs in the teens and the fiery leaves on the ground are only just beginning to outnumber those left on the bush. The ginkos (pictured above) are in their full yellow glory and won't begin falling for a couple more weeks. Summer is my favourite season at home but fall is definitely tops in Japan.

Nihon-shu: The last charity event of the gov't workplace campaign that we attended was last week's sake tasting. Sake is in fact a Japanese word for alcohol. What we call sake back home is actually nihon-shu and the stuff we get in Canada is not exactly the cream of the crop. Here it is most popularly served cold, whereas in restaurants at home it's always served hot, which doesn't do it justice in the least. But I digress. The stuff we were privileged to try (donated by top nihon-shu makers) was phenomenal and we've decided to try and stop buying so much wine and focus on enjoying more great nihon-shu while we can.

Wardrobe wonders: I keep meaning to snap some shots of the great finds I picked up last weekend at my regular thrift shop in Harajuku. I bought a new fall wardrobe for $50: a gorgeous sage fuzzy cardigan; two other shrug-like cardigans; a tweedy wool skirt with a saucy split and flirty flounce; a cool deconstructed cotton top; and my new favourite scarf, a multi-coloured gauzy number. And I believe that only one of these items was ever previously worn. I have also taken out of storage the fabulous ankle-length fitted brown tweed coat I bought there last fall for $20. My reign as thrift queen continues!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

caught a touch of affluenza

Here I am at our home desk, typing on my good 'ole 5 year old PC when I could be sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table upon which sits my new (used) and much beloved Powerbook G4, aka Beam. I'm still adjusting to the track pad and so decided that since I'm in a hurry, I'd best use the keyboard & mouse with which I am more adept.

Yes, I seem to have fallen into temptation and bought something I don't need but was just coveting. Apparently affluenza can strike even those with high resistance...

Living in the Decadence Capital was bound to affect us, I suppose. Those who know us well know that A and I have tended (despite or maybe because of our love of travel) to live rather simply and even thriftily. We don't own a car, preferring to commute by bicycle; we don't buy fancy clothing, preferring second-hand shops; we don't buy DVDs, renting instead; when we occasionally eat out it's usually at very down-to-earth joints; and we rarely go to bars or clubs.

But whenever we visited the home of the friend who sold me Beam, I so envied the awesome music he streamed to his stereo from the Internet via his Mac. We had also been jealous of the many people we know here who'd been downloading their favourite TV shows and good movies from back home via bit torrent. I mean who wants to watch Hart to Hart, Friends, or Field of Dreams type reruns all the time? It's 2007 after all!

And that's not to mention the whole main advantage of a laptop. Next time I post, perhaps it will be from a WiFi café or even our patio, the weather's been so sunny and gorgeous lately (yesterday it was 21C).

Down with consumerism, said the hypocrite.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

inspired by Gandhi

On Friday, because I had to go push papers at my paying job, I missed the opportunity to hear a lecture at the UNU by someone who is inspired by Gandhi.

He particularly likes this quote, as do I: "A technological society has two choices: first, it can wait until catastrophic failures expose systemic deficiencies, distortion and self-deceptions. Secondly, a culture can provide social checks and balances to correct for systemic distortion prior to catastrophic failures."

The inspiree was the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which, even if you're not an environmentalist you may have nonetheless heard of, since the org was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (jointly with Al Gore).

Now I don't usually get "heavy" in this silly blog of mine, because I'm not certain who might be interested in the more serious things that may interest me. But some of the IPCC's recent findings (part of a report coming out in a couple of weeks) are quite scary and I've decided that I'm done tiptoeing around naysayers!

Hitting the big four-oh this year, I realized that I've been personally concerned about the environment for around 20 years now. And I am utterly mystified by people who—still to this day, in the age of already risen global temperatures, increased flooding, emissions thresholds crossed, etc.—do not care in the least. Wake up folks, please wake up.

I'm hoping the upcoming IPCC report will make a big media splash, throwing cold water in the faces of the zillions who deny climate change.

But if you're already awake, why not read two interesting (quite brief) docs on the IPCC's site?

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