Sunday, April 30, 2006

90 days

We have 90 days before we leave for Japan.*

* We leave on July 29. I don't have any other details yet (time of day, etc.), only that we leave from Ottawa on that date. And check out the funky Countdown Clock in the sidebar - too cool!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Weekend Round-up (and a look ahead)

Rebecca was in town visiting this weekend on her way around Ontario. (Honestly, she did have an endpoint in mind, but you wouldn't know it judging from that post of hers - poor fried brain!) Unfortunately, it poured rain most of the weekend, so we couldn't frolic on Parliament Hill with the Mounties like last time, but I am pleased to report we went shopping. I even got up early Sunday morning so we could go shopping again at Chapters before she left for lunch at her aunt's!

Purchased (by her):
1. tea (different flavours)
2. smelly soap from Lush
3. one pair of sensible brown dress shoes
4. two books (one biography, one cultural studies book)

Purchased (by me):
1. one pair of girly black sandals
2. one black, grey and white tweed purse
3. two books (one art book, one book of poetry)

It seems to me I'm missing something but really, that's not bad for a day's work.

Yesterday I had my Art History final exam, and I think I did all right on it, though not stellar by any means (I just wasn't in the mood to rack my brains for the names of old Renaissance paintings that inspired Manet's Le déjeuner sur l'herbe).* I also got back my paper on Norval Morrisseau and am pleased to report a 90% mark on it! That was nice.

Thursday we are leaving for Toronto for 4 days. A friend of ours is having a roving art gallery opening on Thursday night so we decided to go. Rion must stay home for the evening with the grandparents, however. Then we have 2 1/2 days free to roam the city and eat sushi till we burst! Because who knows when we will have a chance to eat sushi ever again... :)

I will try and update from the road.

* Argh. I just looked it up online and at least one of the paintings which inspired him was Giorgione's Concert Champêtre. I wrote down Concert Pastorale (which, ooh, I just Googled and it turns out they are alternate names for the same painting - one point, yay!), and couldn't remember the artist's name (though I knew it started with a "G" and I should have written that down too!), nor the other painting which inspired it (apparently Raphael's The Judgment of Paris). Possibly worse, I just realized that I named Concert Pastorale and then described Raphael's Judgment. Eek!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


This week's Japanese Word is bōken, which means "adventure". It's also just an excuse to post the text of my final speech for my Japanese class, which finished about a month ago. Thankfully, I was able to find the copy of the text that was corrected by my teacher, so all the hard-core Japanese out there will not have to suffer through my sad attempt at particle and verb conjugation. Simultaneous English translations. Plus I've decided to be fancy and post the accompanying photos too!

Bōken no Kyōto
Adventure in Kyoto

Watashi wa Kyōto ni ototoshi yokka taizai shimashita.
The year before last, I went to Kyoto to visit for eight days.

Tomodachi wa Okayama de sensei o shiteitta, hōmon suru ni tassurimashita.
My friend who was teaching in Okayama, came to visit me.

O-tera o takusan tazunemashita, soshite yama e haikingu ni ikimashita.
We visited many temples, and then we went hiking in the hills.

Subete no saīn wa Nihon-go deshita, ga watashitachi wa Nihon-go no yomikata ga dekimasen deshita!
All the signs were in Japanese, but we couldn't read Japanese!

San-jikan michi ni mayoimashita ...
We were lost for three hours ...

Futsuka kan wa ashi ga itakatta desu, watashi wa tsukaremashita.
For the next two days, my feet were very sore, and I was tired.

Ga, yakakatta desu!
But it was fun!

Nihon to Kyōto ni mata kotoshi ikitai desu.
I want to go, this year, to Japan and Kyoto again.

And now I will be!!! (Well, at least to Japan. I still have my fingers crossed that I'll be placed in or near Kyoto. We'll know by mid-May.)

If you want to see more photos of Japan, and other such exotic places, go to my Flickr site. I couldn't post directly from there, for some reason.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This week's Japanese Word of the Week is a bit of a cheat. Say the word as it looks, without stressing any one syllable over another: deshijon ("deh-shee-joh-n").

deshijon = decision

As in, Julie and Randal have a big decision to make this weekend.* (They have 8 days left to decide.)

* Normally, I'd give that example in Japanese but I left my study materials at home and I have a vague recollection that some of the verbs in that sentence must be transformed into nouns (eg., "to make" needs to become part of the noun "a-decision-that-is-in-need-of-making"), and I don't even want to attempt my hand at it now.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Porn for geeks

Speaking of Japan (who? when?), I finally took a peek at this month's National Geographic magazine which has been lying in its brown mailing wrapper on my kitchen table since sometime last week. I unwrapped it and was excited - because I am a geek - to see the cover story was on earthquakes! *sigh* I shoulda' been a geophysicist...

Anyway, I skipped to the earthquake article immediately, the final one in the issue (rather than reading each article in order, as I usually do), and read it over dinner (chicken thighs in honey and cayenne pepper, green beans, and a mountain of mashed potatoes - mmmmm). It talked about the science of earthquake prediction - or rather, the attempt thereof. Quite an inexact science, in fact; no one can quite determine if earthquakes occur on a fairly predictable schedule or whether they are completely inherently random. Well, Japan has decided that, like its bullet trains that run exactly on time down to the second, it can predict earthquakes, and in fact since 1978 has been preparing for the next big earthquake which is predicted to strike in the Tokai region (Shizuoka prefecture) sometime soon. When I say "big", I mean in the 8.5's or larger. We're talking the same size as the earthquake that hit the Indian Ocean off the Sumatra (Indonesia) coast on Christmas Day 2004, spawning the huge and horrific tsunami. Kobe, the 1995 earthquake that many still remember, was "only" 7.2. Anyway, Shizuoka prefecture has been aggressively targeted since 1978 by legislation and other government regulations that are all aimed at upping the emergency and earthquake preparedness* of the region.

Japan feels confident it can predict the next Tokai earthquake since the area has regularly had a massive quake every 100-150 years. We are at year 146. Many experts believe it may happen between now and 2010. We'll see. And hopefully if/when I go to Japan, that won't be the day it strikes...

* I'm a little annoyed about the fact that I just spent over half an hour searching Google for the original "How to Prepare for an Earthquake in Japan" guide that I had seen. I either dreamt it or the yakuza (Japanese mafia) removed all traces of it from the Web. The one linked here is good, but not as good nor as cute as the one I originally found. Mental note to self: When you find something cool, no matter how unlikely you think it is that you will want to return to the site another time, bookmark it!**

** My bookmarks are another story altogether, having mysteriously disappeared in their entirety from Netscape the other day, and I can't find them elsewhere on my laptop via a Windows Explorer search. Seems they have fallen deep into a fault-line somewhere.

WWJD : What will Julie do?

I got a certain letter in the mail today confirming that I have been accepted for a certain teaching job overseas in a certain country. (I've actually known about this since last Friday - forgive me, my adoring fans, for holding out on you; I wanted to wait till I had the official offer in my hand.) So now I must decide whether it is worth putting two postgraduate degrees away (temporarily) on a shelf (as well as a not-insignificant chunk of salary) in order that I might garner teaching experience, in an unrelated but no less challenging and interesting field, whilst living in a country whose culture, art and language I am fascinated, enthralled and intrigued by.

I have 16 days to decide.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


If anyone out there besides me checks the Ottawa Parliament Hill webcam on a daily basis, you will note that today the grounds in front of the parliament buildings are once again fairly snow-covered. This, despite the vast expanse of green (well, muddy brown) that was apparent for the last week or two. I was actually on Parliament Hill on Sunday with Randal and Rion, and it was lovely. But this morning, when I woke up, it was snowing. No momohiki necessary, thank goodness, but I did take out the winter jacket, gloves and hat. The snow is supposed to turn to rain later today (if it hasn't done so already).

Anyway, all of this is a long run-up to the Japanese Word of the Week, which is either very late or a little early (depending on whether anyone noticed that I forgot to post a word last week):

yuki = snow
(pron. "yoo-kee")

There seem to be many different ways to say "snow" in Japanese, but as far as I can ascertain, yuki is meant to indicate the basic, bare-bones, plain-and-simple phenomenon that we know as snow. Not "gosh darn it my buns are freezing" snow, or "where did my car go" snow, or even "early winter" snow, but just snow all on its own.

Regardless of the exact meanings, I for one submit that the resemblance of the Japanese word yuki to the English word yucky is no coincidence. 'Nuff said.