11:16 PM

WTF Japan?!

First of all, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who's been reading my blog ^__^ I'm always super happy when I see comments from you guys. And you can be sure that I'll be revisiting the baby issue when it comes closer to my friends' delivery dates.

But for this installment, I wanted to post one more set of photos from Japan. As the subject line will indicate, these are all things about Japan that cracked me up or made me go 'Huh?'.

For a country that is so technologically advanced, they sure have some old looking pay phones

From 2006 - Japan ...

Can someone tell me the relation of ostriches and snow?
From 2006 - Japan ...

Does anyone else remember 'Battle of the Planets'?
From 2006 - Japan ...

You mean, you have swords made by the REAL Hattori Hanzo?
From 2006 - Japan ...

An entire movie of a cat just playing and doing regular cat things.
From 2006 - Japan ...

(NB: It's apparently insanely expensive to buy a cat in Japan. They even have services where you can pay a fee to play with a cat of your choice for an hour or so. I didn't know that when I took a picture of this DVD, but now that my friend living in Tokyo told me that, I can sorta understand why this movie was made)

Who knew curling was big in Japan. We found this DVD in a Tower Records.
From 2006 - Japan ...

(You can bet that the game they won against Team Canada will be on there)

An adult dress-up store in Akihabara. I wasn't expecting it to be so prominent, especially not in what could be considered geek central.
From 2006 - Japan ...

11:50 AM

Is it just me, or...

...are a ton of people that I know all into having babies now? I found out yesterday that Jensen and his wife are expecting a baby at the end of June. So, now I can add him and Viv to the list of 'parents to be' along with Janice and Harold, and Ernest and Debbie.

Jamie and I have been married around the same time as all of them (except for Ernest and Debbie, who only got married in 2006), but we haven't even contemplated children. Then again, it might be because I'm of the general opinion that I don't want any. But geez, deciding to have kids seems like such a 'grown up' decision to make. I can't say that I feel ready for that kind of commitment yet.

11:10 PM

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

Every year, the Yee Hong Foundation has a massive fundraiser called the Dragon Ball, and it's held right around Chinese New Year. My Chinese dance group often gets invited to perform at it, which is a pretty cool honour. We started rehearsing for it at class tonight, and I have to laugh. I have been cast as a wolf. Yes, a wolf. I apparently get to chase the little kid's class, who are dressed up as piglets.

Okay...that's all.

(oh my god...still laughing)

8:15 PM

Visiting Sister Mary Cecilia

From Sister MC

Richard and I ended up making the trip to Ann Arbor for the January 6th visiting day. We brought along two big tins of Tim Horton's coffee, and with minimal hassle at the border arrived on a rainy Saturday at the motherhouse. Since we were there last, the construction has been finished, so no more mud being tracked everywhere. Glenn and Barry showed us photos of the completed chapel from when they were there, but it really is rather spectacular in person.

Sister MC is doing very well, and since our visit will have started her student teaching appointment at a nearby Catholic high school. She'll be teaching a few units of physics there. Their community is growing so much. They now have two separate living sections for the professed sisters, and the novices and postulants, and have just enough space for everyone right now. There are apparently plans for another phase of construction when they get the money for it.

I brought along the disc of photos from Aaron's wedding that Jessica made for me, and we looked through them all (Thanks Jess!), and talked about a lot of random things. I had forgotten how little she hears about Canadian politics down there, so we talked a bit about how the Liberal Party now has a new leader, and just what's been going on in and around the city. We also talked a bit about how things in a religious community work. Some of the Sisters have been sent on missions now, which was an interesting thing for us to learn about. I believe one cohort has been sent to Phoenix, Arizona, and I can't remember where the other group went. They are all teaching in schools there. We also discussed things like how a new Mother Superior is selected (there needs to be enough finaly professed Sisters before they can have a General Assembly, and when that happens, they meet every 6 years to go over their constitution and conduct other business. One of those things is to elect a new Mother), sports (Sister MC has taken a liking to college football), and just updating her on what everyone was up to. She sends everyone her love and prayers, and hopes you're all doing well.

Stay tuned for more information on her next visiting days. I originally thought that her sister would be taking the one in April, but it seems that Paulina has since moved to Montreal and may not be able to make the trek. Sister MC said she'd keep me posted though.

8:09 PM

Food, Glorious Food!

I'm going to let the pictures do that talking. But let's just say that I ate very, very well during this trip!

Tonkatsu with Miranda, Yen, and Naho

From 2006 - Japan ...

Chanko Nabe (Sumo wrestler's hot pot)
From 2006 - Japan ...

Sake served in bamboo flutes (Mt Takao)
From 2006 - Japan ...

Yakiniku grill in sand pit (Mt. Takao)
From 2006 - Japan ...

Fish skewers (Mt. Takao)
From 2006 - Japan ...

Start of our kaiseki dinner (Nara)
From 2006 - Japan ...

One kaiseki plate (Nara)
From 2006 - Japan ...

The aftermath - glad I didn't have to do dishes (Nara)
From 2006 - Japan ...

9:21 PM

Traditional beauty

So, as promised yesterday, here are some photos I took that I felt showed a glimpse of the history and tradition that is so engrained in Japanese culture. I haven't shown any of my photos from Kyoto yet (which all fall into that category), but I think I'll save those for another post!

Children in traditional garb at a Shinto temple

From 2006 - Japan ...

Cute lantern hanging from a shrine
From 2006 - Japan ...

A small Buddhist statue at the foot of a larger one of Guanyin
From 2006 - Japan ...

Japan's 2nd largest Buddha (Kamakura)
From 2006 - Japan ...

A Shinto wedding (Mt. Takao)
From 2006 - Japan ...

Momiji (Red Japanese Maple leaves)
From 2006 - Japan ...

Next post: The food!

10:07 PM

Memories of Japan...and no, not the sauce

So, back in November, Jamie and I went on vacation to Japan and Hong Kong. My cousin in HK was getting married at the end of November, so we used that as an excuse to go on a bigger trip. We arrived in Tokyo on the 13th, and stayed until the 25th, but bought a rail pass to travel around. One of the things that struck me most about Japan is just the contrast between insane high-tech and old-fashioned tradition.

Here are some photos that I thought could be considered 'typical Tokyo'

Outside a pachinko parlour

From 2006 - Japan ...

Inside a Toyota dealership in Ikebukuro
From 2006 - Japan ...

Shibuya at night
From 2006 - Japan ...

Snoopy Town in Harajuku
From 2006 - Japan ...

Tomorrow: Tradition! Tra-di-tion! ♫ (how do you say Fiddler on the Roof in Japanese? ha ha)

11:34 PM

Countries that I've visited...

Okay, I know this is yet another 'Karen isn't really writing anything of note' kinds of posts. But I thought it was pretty neat regardless.

Create your own visited country map

Apparently, I've been to 5% of the countries in the world. And here I thought I'd been to so many places already. I think I'm going to make it one of my life goals to hit every continent.

Coming soon: Travel report from recent trip to Japan and Hong Kong

10:10 PM


I like X-Men...so I couldn't help doing that stupid little quiz when it popped up. XD

You Are Shadowcat

You're like a little sister to some, but others see you as a sex kitten.
You are well trained in martial arts, a bit of a computer geek, and can totally kick butt.

Powers: the ability to "phase" through walls and other physical objects

Oh the internet...filled with such useless and random things. And so much fun (ha ha)

2:04 PM

Gunman update

Okay, so I learned that they wound up calling off the search around 11am or so. They didn't find the guy, but the part that I didn't know when I came to work this morning was that the Prime Minister was coming to Sick Kids (which is really close by) for a press conference today. And that explains why it was such a big deal.

Now, I just learned from my co-worker that they found the gun. And it was found at the public school right next to the hospital I work at. No details as to when they found the gun, but we did notice when we went out to grab lunch that there were police dogs sniffing around the school. We were wondering what was going on, and I guess that was the reason why.

Pretty crazy, huh? I mean, what kind of sicko leaves a gun at a PUBLIC SCHOOL by the PLAYGROUND??!! Especially when there are so many other places that he could have dropped it. Guh.

EDIT added at 6:03pm: Okay...I just read that the gun was buried in the playground of the school, and some kids found it. GAH!! Luckily, they told a teacher right away and no one got hurt...but seriously. Absolute worst place to statsh a gun.

9:12 AM

Excitement for the day...already

So, my day's hardly started and yet I have already had a nice dose of excitement added to my day. I heard on the radio news this morning as I was leaving for work that there was some armed gunman on the run in the downtown core, and the police were looking for him. And then just as I was about to leave, they said that they chased him to University and College/Bay and College area, and that they were surrounding various parking lots in that area. >__< Yeah. So, I decided to wait a little bit before coming to work.

But after about 10 minutes of not hearing any new reports, I figured that what the hell, I should just go to work. Considering they were scouring the parking lots, I wasn't able to take my usual route to work where I cut through the hospital parking garage. So, I walked along College (which is what pretty much everyone on their way to work decided to do) and passed by a gazillion emergency vehicles. When I came over, they hadn't closed any streets yet. But, I just talked to a doctor in my office area and she said that when she got here they had closed some parts off with caution tape, and were blocking roads with firetrucks. To this moment, I have no idea if they caught him or not. I'll update when I hear more news.

So yeah...pretty crazy, huh? My hats off to all those police, fire, and ambulance people who are putting their lives on the line out there. I mean, they've quite literally put themselves between me and a gun-toting criminal. They might say it's just part of their job, but dammit if it's not a terribly heroic thing to do.

9:38 PM

Awesome dinner

Kaiseki Sakura is an amazing, amazing, amazing place to eat. Jamie and I went there for dinner tonight and had the 6-course meal.

Course 1 - Appetizer plate
Seaweed; herring roe with seaweed; burdock with sesame dressing; Japanese asparagus and veggies with egg; sweet potato and chestnut paste; sweet black beans with gold leaf flakes

Course 2 - Soup
Zouni (which is a traditional Japanese New Year's soup) with fish cake, mochi, fish, and carrot and daikon

Course 3 - Sashimi
Aberjack to be dipped in soy sauce with grated chili-daikon; Grouper coated with crushed rice cake to be dipped in soy sauce with fermented soy beans and wasabi garnished with fresh water seaweed

Course 4 - Main Course
Lotus root with Japanese mustard; sake-marinated duck; shrimp wrapped in deep fried tofu skin; scallop sushi and shitake mushroom sushi wrapped in leaves; salmon slices filled with egg, seaweed, and carrot; deep fried potato with white miso sauce; lotus root chips made to look like snowflakes; lily root made to look like sakura petals; garnished with daikon cut to look like a crysanthyum flower

Course 5 - Meat Dish
Beef tongue stewed for three days in a miso sauce topped with green onion

Course 6 - Noodles
Fresh noodles infused with shiso in broth with green onion and shiso

Sweet potato with caramel sauce; yuzu cake with whipped cream; sweet azuki beans wrapped in sticky rice cake topped with dried sakura petals

I totally recommend this place. It is quite pricy, but well worth it. The portion sizes, in my opinion, were perfect. The service was wonderful, as was the atmosphere. Simply amazing!

9:17 PM

3....2....1...BLAST OFF!!

While I can't claim that this is my first blog ever, this will be one in which I don't babble on about knitting. I apologize in advance for when the posts will get silly, but I figure this is a nice place for me to record my thoughts, and let everyone know what's going on in life over here.

The emergency exits are located here and there *points* Please fasten your seat belts. I hope you all enjoy the flight.