I had nothing to do with this video but I liked it. Yes, we start going crazy here at some point. Of course many of us were crazy before we came! Enjoy.
Freshly prepared eggnog bears no resemblance to the preservative filled mixtures on sale in the dairy case. This is usually reserved for Christmas and or New Years.
Separate - 6 eggs / Beat together in a punch bowl / 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk / 2 cups (500 ml) half and half / Egg yolks / ½ cup (125 ml) brandy / ½ cup (125 ml) bourbon / ½ cup (125 ml) rum / Prepare a stiff meringue with Egg whites / 2 Tbsp (30 ml) sugar Beat until stiff / 1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream / 2 Tbsp (30 ml) sugar / 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract / Fold the egg whites into the punch bowl. / Then blend in the whipping cream.
If not serving immediately, keep in refrigerator. Sprinkle on the individual servings as a last touch. Ground nutmeg.
Jody's last newsletter talked about dealing with the holiday season in a healthy and happy way. Give yourself a few minutes and see what you think about her ideas.
There’s Never Enough Time - Give Yourself a Most Important Gift This Holiday Season: The Time of Your Life
A healthy and happy holiday season to you all,
What are you New Years Resolutions?
I am collecting them now and will post them in the New Year. I will only post your name or contact info if you request it.
I will of course share mine as well. All things welcome - serious to silly and everything in between.
I hope everyone has their shopping done!
I discovered Bob's blog tonight and was fascinated by his story. Bob said it was cool if I posted his Christmas story but thought it might make you sad. I am impressed that although he has a very sad and hard story he does not sound like he has given into hopeless and despair.
I am sure he would welcome your comments.
Feeling extra love for all the family and friends I have this Christmas season,
My email is MindofZ@gmail.com so you are welcome to send me comments directly. Any feedback is appreciated so please feel free to share.
--Z Labels: Personal Note
What I know about Japanese figures and comics can be put on the back of a matchbook. This site is sleek, smart, and has fantastic graphics. http://www.dannychoo.com/ The following is the official description:
...this site for the exclusive figure coverage direct from the manufacturers, photos and guides on living in Japan, Japanese subculture and the occasional stormtrooper dancing around in Tokyo.
A Big Thank You to all of you that have given me feedback! Please keep it coming and let me know what you'd like to see.
Sending the Love,
This food explains general types of Japanese food and has lovely pictures. I looked through it and thought, oh yeah I'll remember that. Sure.
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://www.unicom-lra.co.jp/jkw/tkjf_e.html&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dreal%2BLife%2BJapanese%2BFood,%2Bby%2BCraig%2BDibble%2B%2526%2BSetsuko%2BMatsumoto%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26hs%3Dccu%26sa%3DX Labels: Food
Many of Japanese schools have this kind of heater which to me seems like something from the 1950's in America. Anyway, instead of standing around the water cooler (which none of the public schools have) they stand around the heater. When I stand by it somehow I am reminded of the bums in the alley with their trash cans on fire.
Anyway, I have been joking for the last week that they should put a tea kettle on top of it. In my incredibly bored state at work this amused me. When I came back from the bathroom in the afternoon there was the tea kettle as you can see. No one seemed to think this was strange but I couldn't stop laughing. Taking out my trusty camera I knelled down and started taking pictures. The Japanese teachers thought that me taking a picture of it was funny.
More pictures from my school on my last day of boredom soon.
What if Steve Jobs ran one of the Big Three automakers?
One Man's Bible by Gao Xingjian (Author)
(Not a religious book)
A beautifully written book about the main characters trials, experiences, and loves in China under Mao. Labels: Personal Note
For comments I am sorry you must look at the crazy formatting for word verification. I have gotten spam and no one wants to see that! Thanks for understanding.
I hope they do more cities like this.
The Auto Industry is getting their bailout but I have no idea if it is a good thing. What do you think? I think these articles give some good insights. Please share your thoughts with all of us in a comment. Thanks!
CNN has an interesting interactive map that allows you to see how each state is effected by the auto makers problems.
Fox news fact sheet:
I think we all feel the same about the executives and their bonuses.
Click on the picture and you can see why I love my wide angle lens.
Labels: Picture of the Day
I have some Brazilian friends that are going back to Brazil because a factory is closing outside Nagoya. I am just lucky that the public schools always need native English Speakers.
Only third of Japanese think U.S. ties healthyhtpolltp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081218/pl_nm/us_japan_usa_
Labels: Japanese Culture
I slept in today. Actually, I slept the day away. My cell phone vibrated against the tatami mat and woke me up. Opening one eye briefly I saw a message which I didn't like. Responding to that message I was perhaps not very nice.
Turns out the message didn't mean what I thought it meant at all. So I felt hurt and shared that hurt and there was no reason for anyone to be hurt at all.
So I didn't have a latte with Tomomi at the Starbucks up in Nagoya Tower. Instead, I looked around and waited for half an hour before she told me the train was taking her home.
You think you understand someone and maybe you do but with language and culture to overcome it is not easy.
All I know for sure is that I hurt someone and we both feel sad.
If you like humorist Dave Barry you should enjoy his take on how books could be shorter.
I love to read and if the story is good a big thick book is wonderful. But tell me, am I the only one that thinks many books could stand to lose the middle hundred pages? Where are the editors that say, "Hey Bob, you know your um story is nice. But what is with that middle section describing everyone within a hundred mile radius of a minor character?" Then Bob says, "Oh yeah I was just waiting for you to call me on that mess!" One can dream I suppose.
For now just let me say that against all the odds I still hope that the governor whose name no one can pronounce will finally resign. His soul is lost but at this rate he's going to take a lot of people with him. I just want to wake up and find that he left town with no forwarding address. Or is in a box. Oh you bet I am angry! The amount of damage he has done and could still do is terrifying.
You can read up on all the latest gory details at the Chicago Tribune's webpage.
I was looking at a new blog and discovered the story I was going to start writing! So for the story of Coke and Santa please check out this link.
If you want an exact number as of 11:36 a.m. 1 dollars = 90.450 yen. For updated information try this link:
What do the Japanese have for breakfast? Most people have a Big Mac because there’s nothing like grease and fat to get you going. Oh wait, that’s the American mindset. Sorry about that I am still waking up. At times Japan has little in common with the Western world. But like everywhere on earth a McDonalds is never far away. In Chicago there was a 24 hour McDonald’s two blocks from my apartment. In Nagoya there is a 24 hour McDonald’s two blocks from my apartment. So some Japanese people have an egg McMuffin and bad coffee for breakfast.
The traditional Japanese breakfast is rice, miso soup, baked fish and green tea. Really, fish in the morning? I speak the truth. At first I thought it was crazy but now not so much. Many people I’ve spoken to like fish in the morning but don’t have time to indulge. That’s their excuse and I’ve made it my own.
When I have time in the morning I do eat rice but refer Earl Grey tea. Each morning at school there is hot green tea on my desk when I arrive. For a short time in the summer everyone drinks cold green tea. Summers are brutal here and the humidity can easily reach 80 percent.
My vacation starts tomorrow so I can get up at a respectable time like 9:00 and cook fish. Even I can’t have a pastry filled with cream everyday!
We all believe in Santa Claus of course but that doesn't mean we don't need some explanations now and then.
I hope you enjoy this link.
In Germany the cabs are cream colored Mercedes or Audis carefully maintained. The drivers are middle aged and respectful. They don't drive so fast but like the UPS they are going to find the right address no matter what. If they need to ask a person on the street for directions they are happy to do so. Between the nice car, the well groomed drivers and their desire to help, you feel safe in a German cab like everything will be okay.
An Argentinan taxi is black, cheap (for foreigners) and usually has a middle aged to older taxi driver ready to fly at your command. At red lights and stop signs they often slow down a bit and then hit the accelerator if no one is coming. Ever wanted to go 100 miles an hour in a cab? This is the place for you. Your heart beats too fast but it is about twenty times faster then the bus. Taking a cab in Argentina can feel like a grand adventure into itself. A word of warning, the taxis at the airport in Argentina are known to have less than scrupulous drivers so be careful. See the following link for more information and a video.
In Japan taxis are often black but also a rainbow of other colors. Like in Germany, drivers are usually middle aged and kind. There is no uniform but they dress nicely and normally wear white gloves. In the western world taxi drivers only unlock their doors to let passengers in or out. In Japan drivers often keep the door open until a passenger steps in. When you are seated they push a button and the door closes. The cab is always immaculate and the driver pays attention like you are important. Generally they only speak Japanese so explaining where you want to go can be difficult. If you want to go close to a train station or a major landmark then tell them that. If they don't understand anything anything then try another cab. You are not allowed to smoke and drivers only use their cell phones to help find your destination. Like the Germans they are going to find your address and nothing will stop them from their quest.
On the plus side they don't tip in Japan so the number on the meter is what you pay. On the minus side the cost of a cab rises dramatically at night. A trip during the day that costs 500 yen can easily be up to 1500 yen at night. Yuki, a woman in Tokyo said that after a night of serious drinking she woke up hung over and full of regret about taking a cab home.
I can't live without Google but I do recommend another site for all your searching needs. Metacrawler http://www.metacrawler.com/ searches Google, Ask.com, Yahoo, and MSN Search every time you query it. It also filters offensive adult material and asks if you want to view it before showing you the results. If you want to find this link later it is on my recommended links as well.
So check it out and see what you think. Just don't tell Google that I sent you there, they pretty much own me at this point.
My day job is being an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher to a Japanese Teacher) in the public schools teaching of course English. I should maybe write about that in a blog you think?
I also teach business classes and one-to-one classes and work with a few companies. One of them had their holiday parties tonight and that was fun. The restaurant looked great as it was bathed in red and artistic lighting. When you are at a party the artistic part sets a great vibe. Unfortunately if you want to take video it can be challenging. So no video for my loyal readers but please enjoy the pictures.
A little break from Japan, Chicago and my voice this time.
My friend, Jeremy Jones is a fascinating person and has spent much of his life traveling. We met when I found out he was selling his guitar. I stopped by to pick up the guitar and we ended up talking about two hours. When two guys with big music collections get together (he has more music then I do) it can be a grand time. Jeremy is a good musician and has a great voice so it was fun to hear him.
He had been to India before and a few months later decided to return. This time he was on a spiritual quest and traveled throughout India. While in India he sent out a number of group email to his friends. With Jeremy’s kind permission I am putting some of them on my blog.
So without further ado, here is a posting from Jeremy in India.
I hope all is well in your part of the world. I've been wrapping up things here as I am India bound on March 27th. Only six weeks to go in Japan. I'm beginning my journey in Delhi for a couple of days, and then I'll be northbound to Dharamsala for an indefinite period. In case you don't know, Dharamsala is the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He's been living in exile there for a few decades now. Dharamsala is in the far north of India right in the heart of the Himalayas.
I hope all is well wherever you are. I apologize but I don't have much time to write a proper e-mail. Anyway, I have made it to my destination and I must say it was a long and tiresome one. I've been in Mcleod Ganj for 4 days now, and things are definitely really nice here. I feel a sense of peace from the spiritual atmosphere in this remote mountain village. I am going on retreat starting tomorrow and won't be around a computer for a while.
Furthermore, I like this place so much that I will likely stay here for a while. I'll be focusing on Yoga, meditation, volunteer work and learning Hindi (and maybe Tibetan). There are people here from all over the world working with the Tibetan refugees. It's really an interesting place with many interesting people. I also took a 12 hour hike yesterday and caught a great glimpse of the Himalayas. They truly are massive and breathtaking.
I hope all is well.
Peace & Harmony,
In a strange land and I have twisted and turned, laughed and screamed, and tried to find my way. Who am I ask myself and sometimes there is silence in my head. There is rarely ever silence in my head. At this moment I can hear singer John Mellencamp, Chopin and the voice of an old friend. What I have lost and why I have lost it is clear to me but the future is as always a path I cannot see. Maybe I choose not to see it and don't want to set a route. Like driving on the highway with no destination in mind or walking just to enjoy walking.
I am haunted by two lines from the movie The Dead Poets Society. In the movie a professor quotes a line of poetry (Keats maybe) - "Show me a man unfretted by foolish dreams and I will show you a happy man." Robin Williams character who is also a professor makes up this line. "Only in their dreams have men been free. Thus has it been and thus shall it always be." In my heart I agree with the line about dreams. Big wonderful novels, long playing i-Pod mixes and hours of writing make me sane. Too often I have denied my gifts and wished to be an "unfretted" man.
Have you um seen a therapist Z? Of course I have and there is no shame in that. Now I know how to be healthy and a little wise but does it help me? I am not getting any younger and I live in a strange country whose culture I may never really understand. My friends and family live twelve hours in the past and the distance is something I can feel like rain on my glasses.
This is not as it might sound my path to despair. Most days I don't linger in the past and go over the decisions I've made until my head wants to explode. In April I did that to my breaking point and I don't wish that on anyone.
Being in a strange country is also exciting and I learn new things everyday. Japanese girls are the most beautiful girls in the world. I talk to my friends & family over the Internet and feeling their love is easy. Here in Nagoya I have several good friends and am trilled to be part of their lives. There are no house or car payments waiting in my mailbox. I am free to stay in Japan, go teach in Korea, move back to Chicago or try out New York city. Life is confusing and generally makes no sense to me but I am unbound by the things that keep many people from their dreams. For many people I realize that having a family and all the responsibilities is their dream and that is a wonderful thing.
I dream of being a professional writer & photographer and want to map out the future more to make that happen. But not too much because I live for the moments of each day and the joy they might bring. Being this free is not something I want to sustain for a long period but right now it is mine and I cherish it.
If none of this makes sense I do apologize. But I have to say I have rarely felt more clear and level headed in my life.
Thanks for listening. Again.
Peace & Understanding to You All,
A quick note - The news feed at the top of my blog now includes; Japan, Chicago, New York and Obama. Most days I read at least some of the New York Times, Detroit Free Press, BBC, and the Chicago Tribune. You need news trivia I am your man!
My blog entry on our company party this year was a rush job. I moved some of the details to this blog and updated the previous blog. My urge is to spend hours making each entry properly creative and interesting but when I do that new entries happen about once a month.
[For those that are curious I have been influenced by Papa Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Baldwin's writing styles. As a side note the schools make everyone read Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby but I think it is his weakest work. The Beautiful and the Damned is his true masterpiece. ]
In America and Japan companies have holiday parties at restaurants, hotels and bars. More and more employees are paying for these parties. I am old enough to remember when they were free. Generally American parties go on for a couple of hours. If you work for a law firm the chances are good there will be an after party bar followed by a late, late bar. If you are lucky a wealthy attorney picks up the tab.
In Japan most restaurants reserve two hour time slots for parties. I discovered this fact by accident. Last year my company’s party was in the Kanayama area of Nagoya where I used to live. The Japanese map made no sense so I just got got off the train in the general area of the restaurant.Lots of other people took the train so I thought I would run into them. Walking around early I didn't see anyone I knew. At this point I was relaxed and sent a text message to two friends about the party. One texted back saying she was relaxing and home and not coming. Her husband got a large bonus and she was exhausted from a day of shopping. Walking around some more I started to worry. I called several people and sent more text messages. Still no replies so I stopped at McDonald's for an ice coffee and waited. As I was finishing up my coffee my co-worker Darrel called and told me where the restaurant was.
I quickly found it and discovered for once no one was on their cell phone. So my messages had gone unheeded. People in American use their cellphones all the time. The big difference in Japan is that calling people on your cell is expensive. They all like the American idea of free nights and weekends. So in Japan people are always checking their phones and sending text messages. Yes, that sounds like me too! Many people also plays games, especially on the new iPhone.
Anyway, the party was in full swing and the restaurant was elegant with lots of dark wood and creative lighting. My friend Jurai (pronounced July) passed me food of some form which I don't remember and picking up some chopsticks I found it delicious. Jurai, who speaks fluent English introduced me to his wife and new baby. My boss introduced me to some Japanese students and I chatted with them. Then another friend offered me a drink which I didn't know about and that was delicious too. So I was having a grand time and life seemed good. As I was getting a second drink at the bar I noticed that people were starting to put their coats on. I thought some people had to go home early to their families or something. So as I talked with a friend I was ready for more food and looked around to find a waiter. Looking back I found they were quickly cleaning up and everyone now had their coats on. "The party is over" someone told me as I too reached for my coat. Thus, I learned that holiday parties are two hours long!
Happy Dreams to all of You,
I have had better days then today but at least it has been relaxing and my apartment is warm. And my apartment is also very clean and tidy which always makes me happy.
Ever adding more cool stuff to this my free blog you will now find a list of blogs that I am following. Just scroll down on the right hand side and you will see them. Some of these blogs are from Japan and others from different parts of the world. Like my links these will be continually updated.
As a reminder you can scroll down on the right hand said and choose to follow my blog. Again, you can sign up as anonymous if you want.
Friday afternoon and the city is blanketed in darkness and rain which I find comforting. In my head Miles Davis is playing Summertime with a mute while Herbie Hancock caresses the piano and Tony Williams gently touches the cymbals with a brush. There are few things I enjoy more on a rainy day like this then listening to Miles and drifting into a delicious sleep.
So maybe I will skip yet another English party tonight and enjoy some candle light, wine and my tunes. People tell me silly things like, “Why would you bother with candles when you are alone?” Or, “Why go to the trouble of setting up a good vibe when you are alone?” I don’t listen. People said the same things in Chicago when I painted my bathroom bright purple with black trim. That bathroom rocked and I still miss it. The funny thing is my landlord thought I wanted to paint the whole place purple and was okay with it.
Dr. David Burns (http://www.feelinggood.com/) describes self-esteem as, “How you treat yourself when no one else is around.” I love this definition and continue to learn how to be good to myself. Many of you may understand how much easier it is to be nice to other people.
Thank you for hanging out with me for a bit and sharing my mood.
Love & Peace,
Such moments never last of course and none of us were learning anything about the map. One of the guys with a nice leather jacket half heartedly pointed to a side street for me to take but we all knew he was guessing. Leaving them to find their fun I thanked them profusely in Japanese for their time.
Shoving the map angrily back into my pocket I promised my stomach Mos Burgers or the Mexican place in the next fifteen minutes. Sleepy and starving I wondered from this street to that and finally recognized something from the map. “This must be a hallucination my stomach” said to me. “Hey take what you can get” I told it. Turning the hundredth corner finally there was the Mexican restaurant.
As we were eating my stomach thanked me for the food but asked when we were going back to Chicago where they know how to make Mexican food. I felt the same and started to hope I could find the train. Almost all Japanese people know the word train and will point you in the right direction. So much I thought for my recent attempt to give up asking for help. Things could be worse, the Japanese people are very nice and seem to enjoy helping out foreigners. Besides I have been lost a few times in my life. Or maybe a few more times than that. If you are a rational person you don't get lost so much I think. If you are a writer and therefore not generally rational you get lost often but sometimes are lucky and find a story in your head.
(A great song by Information Society)
This year my company's Bounenkai (End of the Year Party) was at a popular restaurant chain in Japan called Yamachan. Unlike like year I had no problems finding the restaurant. Yamachan is easy to recognize because they have a big chicken sign. Getting off the train I was rushing to be on-time as the Japanese are often punctual. Then I slowed down and started laughing to myself because it was a gaijin (foreigners) party after all. Taking a nice slow walk I still got there before about 90% of the people.
They had delicious chicken wings and other things (something was a form of potato, something else was like a hush puppy back home but not) were yummy. A little bit of drinking took place. Okay we are talking about young foreigners in Japan, I think they may have run out. The waiters came by to clear the tables and when we asked for more food they said dinner was finished. As often happens in Japan more food came out ten minutes later. I know there was chicken but I can't remember if it was with noodles or something else. It probably was chicken I think. . .all I remember for sure is that I was hungry and it was good.
People at the party were from: America, Scotland, Australia, England, New Zealand, Hungrary, the Philippines, and an Eastern European country whose name I forget. The girl with the red hair is from that country and I forget her name too. Our party included people from several different regions in Japan so I got to meet fun new people. After stretching out our two hour dinner most of us moved on to the Hub, a popular English Pub nearby.
I hope many of you out there have wonderful holiday parties! If anyone has a good story from their party let me know.
Labels: Food, Japanese Culture
Please remember to tip the wait staff; they are working hard while you are readeading. Or as they say at Second City as an army of waiters come out of a hundred doors (or so it seems), “The more you drink the funnier we get.”
After doing more research I discovered there is a ridiculously easy way to add pictures. It reminds me of spending hours looking for something you lost only to find it finally in a place that makes sense. Sure that receipt was in the jacket I wore last week not in the closet I just destroyed. Not that I would do something silly like take everything out of my closet and spread it across the bedroom. Really, I would never do that because the dresser is too heavy for me to remove. Nor would I try to download complicated new programs when you can simply add a link from Picasso Web Albums to Blogger.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. You should be able to double click on the slideshow and make it bigger have you the urge. If there are problems, please let me know.
Flower Exhibition with a friend
I am trying to keep this blog updated so you know about Zackland. Writing the blog is fun but I have been writing less email. This week I wrote many messages but am still behind. My apologies if it seems I have been blowing you off. My friends in Japan are great but I do miss my loved ones in America dearly. The continued love, understanding, and kindness of my friends and family is what keeps me sane. Thus has it been and thus shall it always be.
Please continue to send your great email so I know how you are doing. Even the more mundane stuff is nice for me to hear. This year is ending quickly and I feel out of touch with some of you.
Depite everything, I feel better than I have for years.
I am off for the holidays starting on December 17th. After I get a few days of serious sleep (I get up at six and rarely get to bed before 1 anymore), I will catch up on all my correspondence. There will also be many long blog entries about everything.
Please take good care,
Love & Peace,
A big welcome to all the people now following my blog via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
If you are not familiar with Twitter, I have added a link to it on my recommended web page. You can use it to follow my blog and do all kinds of fun stuff. Here is the blip from Twitter:
"Twitter is a privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking world news to updates from friends."
Or I am on Skpye, ZackaryPrince. Skpye video is fantastic and free, free, free! I cannot recommend it enough. Downloading the program and getting started takes about two minutes tops. All you need is a headshet and a webcame if you want people to see you. I didn't think video but be a big deal but it has been fabulous.
As I've said before, I may be the most accessible person you know. If you would like a pagepage or blog linked to this site, please let me know.
As always thank you for reading and keep the comments coming!
I am in the process of updating the look, feel and construct of my blog. If you experience any problems please let me know.
I am still trying to figure out why the big spaces are there.
Thank you for coming by to see my Blog.
To my great surprise they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here. They do celebrate Independent Day with gusto. Wow you should see the futuristic fire works! Or, um maybe I am making that up.
In the Western World Christmas is often the main holiday of the year. Families gather, presents are opened, arguments break out, too much food is eaten, random hugging breaks out, and most people hope for at least some snow. I personally hope for nice big snowdrifts so heavy all you can see is the glorious snow. There are all kinds of advantages to not having a car.
Everyone goes to work in Japan and most people don’t celebrate at all. There are a few stores that have Christmas decorations but they are boring. If I see anything good I will take some pictures and put them up. Some people do talk about exchanging presents and the Japanese do love to shop. Many girls I have talked to think that Christmas is a great time to receive an expensive gift. Another time I will talk about shopping but for now let me say that finding luxury items in Japan is as easy as finding a McDonald’s.
Throughout Japan you will find Christian churches here and there. Two blocks behind my apartment is a decent sized Catholic Church. There are foreign missionaries from many different denominations walking the streets. Most of them seem to be wearing white shirts, ties, nondescript slacks and are just a bit to friendly. To be fair one of my friends here is a missionary and has a wonderful and relaxed demeanor. When we talk he is always kind and listens carefully.
New Years (shogatsu or oshogatsu)
This is the holiday that everyone gets excited about. If you haven’t seen your family throughout the year you see them during New Years.
Larger temples are open until Midnight and with long lines. Last year I waited for over an hour but it was worth it to bring the bell and clap twice. I don’t know why they clap twice or why I like it so much but it is great fun. Many temples ring a large bell at exactly midnight. The one I went collected donations to ring the big bell. There was a good mix of Western and Japanese people. Some people rang the bell with a gently touch while others flexed strong muscles and made the bell sound like thunder. Yes, the thunder people I saw were westerns. One guy looked liked a professional line backer and had arms of steel.
As I have mentioned explaining food is not my gift so I am pasting this information from Japan-Guide.com
On New Year's eve, toshikoshi soba (buckwheat noodles), symbolizing longevity, are served.
Various kinds of special dishes are served during shogatsu. They include osechi ryori, otoso (sweetened rice wine) and ozoni (a soup with mochi).
You can buy expensive pre-made items like this although most people make them at home. Some people buy them to give as gifts. One of the business classes I taught told me about Oschi Ryori you can get at the store for over 10,000 yen ($100). After learning this I often reminded them of my address if they wanted to drop off a present.
Take care, ^^^^Z
I also added U2’s webpage. U2 has spent serious money to create an amazing site. From lyrics (all of them) to interviews to video to merchandise to U2 news it has everything a fan could want. Well, except for a copy of the new album and a chance to tour with the band. And a weeks stay at the new hotel they re-modeled in Dublin. Wow, is that a sweet place. http://www.theclarence.ie/
A big thank you goes out to those of you that have made comments. Please feel free to comment, make requests, or whatever. You can choose to be anonymous when you make comments if you want. I kind of like knowing who comments but being anonymous is okay too.
If you think someone might enjoy my blog, please pass along the link.
After spending two hours with a Norton technician last night I didn’t have energy to figure out my posting pictures problem.
Tonight some friends are having an early Thanksgiving Day party. I have been looking forward to this and will no doubt get stuffed. On Saturday morning and early afternoon I plan on sleeping and then sleeping some more.
Saturday night I am going to an English party. There are small compaines here that set up private students for one-on-one lessons with a native speaker. The students pay a one time fee to the company and then it is just the student and teacher. These English parties are sometime small in a conference room or in clubs like that one I am going to tomorrow. For native speakers the party is free. I really like the word free in any langugae. Japanese students pay a high fee to get in. The last big English party I went to was a blast. So I am looking forward to the one on Saturday.
Time to go run for my afternoon bus.
"Please tell us about your travels in Japan. You know, a full circle synopsis so if we never venture to Japan, we'll still know something about the country. If we go there sometime, we'll know what we want to see for ourselves firsthand as we'll have "seen" bits and pieces of what you've experienced."
Perhaps one day I will write a book about Japan. To give a "full circle synopsis" would be a series of books. Sharing "bits and pieces" are one of the main reasons I write this blog. Is there a particular thing you want to know about?
Maybe about one of the following things:
- relationships between Japanese people
- realtionships between the Japanese and foreigners
- what the Japanese schools are like
- what shopping is like in Japan
- how the banks work
- how and what the apartments are like (Yes there will be pictures of my place soon. This weekend I swear.)
- how to get a job and what they are like
- the experience of teaching English
- information about the Japanese language
- popular music
- clothing styles
I will work on a short overview of Japan and see how that goes.
Peace & Love,
As I have many new readers I am posting an updated blog from last year.
Today is cold, dark and the rain looks to last all day. This is the kind of day I love to stay in bed, read a good book and turn up Kind of Blue nice and loud. As I have a cold this scenario sounds especially attractive.
In Japan employees only take sick days when they are really sick. I don't think they get paid if they call in sick. If I have perfect attendance I get a bonus each month. On the plus side the government health insurance pays your wages if you are too sick to work. People across the board wear masks in public, the kind that doctors wear. Children wear them too and they come in pretty colors and designs. Disney alone makes a fortune selling masks.
On a side note, Tokyo Disney is insanely popular in Japan. I would love to own stock in the company and set on the beach all day while someone brought me frosty drinks. Disney icons can be seen everywhere, even more than in the US. When I talk to woman about Disney their eyes glaze over like I am talking about paradise. I am not mocking them, I love Disney too. My friend Carl went last weekend and had a great time.
Toyota's corporate headquarters are in Nagoya and they are like the Vatican. Toyota has their own city and pieces of many businesses. In their city they have dormitories for employees and many live there. It is common for men to stay in the dormitories during the week and go home to their families on the weekend. Many other companies also have dormitories for their employees. When you go out shopping or to a cafe during the day you see a sea of women. Asking a woman when her husband gets home, she will quote a very late time. I was with my friend Jeremy at a large Starbucks and he said, "We are the only men here." I failed to see how that was a bad thing. As we were leaving a half hour later high on venti lattes there was one male employee.
Toyota being Toyota decided they could change the rules. So they decided to not observe most of the national holidays. Instead, they created Golden Weeks which combine holidays into blocks of times of about a week or two. Many other companies follow the Golden Weeks in one form or another. One of my friends has to follow the Golden schedule but doesn't like it because most of his friends are off when he is working.
People ask me if Chicago is the automotive capital of America. I am sad that they get Detroit and Chicago confused as Detroit is not such a nice place. They do have a new beautiful airport. I never know what to say the main industry in Chicago is. Generally I talk about the financial markets and banks. Some days I feel like a goodwill ambassador for Chicago as I tell people about the wonders of the city. I was always proud to live in Chicago and I have never loved it more.
The Internet isn't working here at school today for some unknown reason. I am reminded of an Onion (a satirical newspaper) article entitled, "Lack of Internet leads to employees actually working." Without the Internet one does need to something to do. I guess in a worse can scenario that would be work.
The Internet just came back but I have a class.
As I have massive amounts of free time I visit the Web often. So I thought it would be fun to give you some of my favorite links. If you have read something interesting lately on-line please share with me and I will put it on my blog.
I hope you enjoy these links, it was fun for me to share them.
And I am back!
This is a short note to let everyone know I am still alive and such.
Anything you would like me to write about?
Take care and keep in touch,
Love & Peace,
--Z Labels: Personal Note
Peace & Love
My blog is now public and can be viewed by anyone. So if you are reading this via an Internet search, then welcome to my blog! If you are enjoying this blog (or not) please let me know. I write what I want to write but suggestions or questions are welcome. Feel free to ask me questions about Japanese culture, lifestyle, teaching, shopping, America, Chicago (my hometown) or anything. I am not a real estate or travel agency but I can answer basic questions.
I am still adding things to my blog and soon there will be pictures. So stop by again soon to see more pictures and gadgets.
Thank you for stopping by and allowing me to share with you.
Best wishes from Japan,
What is it like living in a foreign country?
This is a bad day:
You are sad passing people you can't talk to and signs you can't read. What are they thinking about and what are those signs for? You wish daily life made sense. You stop in a convenient store to buy the new Boss Zero Café Latte in a white can not knowing it is badly flavored water. You are starving but the restaurants offer nothing you want. You wonder why you have done this to yourself.
Everything made sense back home and you could read and talk to people. There was Mexican food so delicious you forgot your troubles in a moment. Things were simply easier back home and you miss that. Leaving your wonderful friends and family behind was madness. How did you get to this place Twelve hours in the Future where the trains stop running every night at Midnight? Can't you go back in time and wake up in your old apartment that was huge, close to a gorgeous lake and where you weren't alone?
Getting out of bed takes too much energy and when you finally do evening is upon you. Putting on some Miles Davis and enjoying a long cold shower you pretend there is something different outside your door. Crawling in bed too late you hope to remember less tomorrow.
This is a good day:
Walking down the street you wonder what people are thinking just as you did back home. Many of the signs are in English and the ones you can't read don't bother you. Kanji is complicated but there is a beauty to the symbols. You pass a vending and pick up a Real Gold energy drink and feel human again. You don't need to talk to anyone but you enjoy seeing the pretty girls in perfect make up, stylish clothes and five inch heels.
The clean and new 7:26 train arrives at 7:26 and you make your transfer to the well cared for 7:58 bus at 7:58 as you do each working day. Before work you stop at the same 7-11 and the young Japanese girl that ties her brown hair back tightly rings up your snacks. She doesn't put them in a bag because she knows you don't need one.
At school you joke around with the cleaning lady for wearing a pink shirt, pink belt and pink socks. You put the wrong item in one of the twelve recycling containers and she laughs. She only knows a few English words but you both enjoy your routine. During your lessons the children don't understand much English but they are delighted to have a foreigner in their mist.
During the school lunch you have delicious noodles and laugh at the thick stale white bread as you cover it with strawberry jam to redeem it.
In the evening you meet a Japanese friend at a station you are familiar with. He chooses a place you never would have noticed on your own. Once inside he asks if it is okay for him to order for you. Smiling you say yes and enjoy watching him talk with the pretty Japanese girl with long brown hair who takes your order. When the food arrives you don't know what it is but everything is delicious. Your friend mentions you use chopsticks so easily and you feel great. During dinner you focus on your friend so you can understand his English. There is an intimacy to talking in Japan as you have to focus on the other person and make sure you are clear yourself. He asks about America and you ask about Japan and you both learn something. You agree in a manly way that girls are confusing in any language.
In the elevator on the way home you have a brief chat with a nice student from the UK.
Before going to sleep you curse the time that you start work, just as you did back home. At least in the morning there is a snickers and coffee to comfort you just like there was back home.
* * * * * *
Actually, in the morning most days I drink green tea and take black tea with me in my Starbucks cup. My breakfast is whatever my stomach can handle so early in the morning.
Those are two days on their opposite ends. Most days there is the usual mix of good and bad. When I get home I cook dinner, do laundry and all the usual things. Some days life in Nagoya isn't much different than it was in Chicago. Okay, it is always different but I have been here long enough that it feels like home.
I miss my friends and family back home a great deal but most people enjoy email so I am able to stay in touch. Please keep the email coming, I love it! And download Skype or Yahoo Messenger so we can talk for free. Free is a wonderful thing and it is only a download away.
My new dream is to become a professional photographer so I have a lot of work to do. Being in Japan is a great opportunity to get unique pictures. When I have holidays I will be devoting my time to traveling to places for good pictures. This dream has given me a new focus which feels fantastic.
Despite the bad times I am still happier and more focused then I have been for years. The support from my friends in Japan and back in America (including my family) has been amazing and I am grateful beyond words. A kind word can carry you through the day and I think everyone for their words and compassion. Life is often hard but with people you love giving you love it is often beautiful.
---ZLabels: Personal Note