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Wednesday, December 24, 2003



Sunday, December 21, 2003

I arrived nearly without incident in Chicago and I am making Geneva, Illinois my home for the next two weeks. Well, there are a lot of American flags around here. There are holes in the road. The "Chicago Welcomes You" signs at the airport include the name of the current mayor. There are tolls with sullen attendants that charge 40 cents. White men here are really into Asian women (rather passe now in Vancouver). People string giant festoons of pine branches across their houses. Apartment rent is astronomical. Heck! Everything is expensive here. People don't smile much here (the media fear described in Bowling for Columbine?). Not many Asian people here in Geneva. Some stores I've never seen before, like White Hen Pantry.

And, on top of it all, I am back in front of a damned Japanese keyboard.



Sunday, December 21, 2003

Today's morbid word of the day: cruentation. Blood that seeps out from cuts in a corpse.



Tuesday, December 16, 2003

A friend who asked to remain nameless decided to explore her new town. Driving along a lonely country road one night she got peeved that the car in front of her was moving so slowly. Then she noticed the ladies at the side of the road beckoning to that male driver in front of her.

She decided to follow him and find out what kind of person he was.

Unfortunately she can't tell me what this guy was like, nor what woman he picked. Her boyfriend phoned her while she was trailing this other car and she could no longer concentrate on the john.



Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Ben really slaughtered the spelling of Ceausescu: Tchiechesku.



Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Sarah says Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, Tennessee and parts of Florida have gentlemen. Sometimes good are the fellows in Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Ohio and parts of Illinois. Horrid people come from New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Chicago.



Tuesday, December 16, 2003

What great surnames: Stoneburner and Clinkingbeard! Though affixing Mrs. at the front of these might not be so elegant.




Friday, December 12, 2003



Friday, December 12, 2003

I made about ten ATCs of the twenty I needed for my trades. It took me about an hour - sometimes two - per card. For the last ten I discovered that colour photocopies are reasonably good (Kate even asked me if one of my copies was an original) and cheap.

Yet, even the photocopied ones took me a long time to mount on card paper, as well as attaching the required information on the backs of the cards and writing addresses on the envelopes. I developed a nice font for the addresses and my flourishes are getting quite elaborate.

The problem with ATCs is that I spend a lot of time on something I will never see again. For my twenty this time I spent over ten hours. Plus, with my best ATCs, I am reluctant to give away the original.

I've decided to continue my ATC hobby, but to quit trading ATCs online. This is too time-consuming as I've got definite deadlines under which I have to mail them. ATC traders seem to reply very quickly asking when I'll live up to my end of the bargain. I will make pieces for the monthly trade on Main and limit myself to that. Even there most of my cards will be photocopied ones.

I love getting mail and especially decorated mail...but I will have to encourage my own distant friends to doodle more than to rely on artsy strangers to entertain me.

*****

My address font proved to be immediately useful in my day job. Gwen the account executive wanted handwritten notes in each card. She gave me a short script: "To X, Best wishes from the Service Delivery Team and staff at Y Ltd." For two glorious days I transformed these simple words into a stack of curlicues and plumes for management in my company.

No one had any idea I have artistic pretensions so my wild flourishes stunned everyone in the company. Meaghan said she wanted my font on her computer. Lisa joked that I should write her Christmas cards. Hopefully this will translate into yearly commissions of Christmas card writing.

My goal by then is to master Queen Elizabeth I's signature.



Saturday, December 06, 2003

Mark Abley writes that children typically take a pidgin and turn it into a true language, changing the pidgin into the creole. And the newest language developed by children is the Juba Arabic of Sudan.



Saturday, December 06, 2003

I am still reading Spoken Here. The printing is rather small, so I have only reached page 34. I am also trying to memorize the following words in the Tiwi language on Australia's Bathurst Island:

1. Arawunga: early morning before dawn.
2. Tokwampari: early morning when birds sing.
3. Wujakari: first light before sunrise.
4. Yartijumurra: darkness before daylight.

Also, I plan to use sugarbag (a hive of wild honey) more often in speech.



Thursday, December 04, 2003

Ben asked me if Laura Lee has a boyfriend. Of course, in all my wisdom as a matchmaker, I said no. He suspected the sincerity of my "no." Because "all good girls have boyfriends."



Thursday, December 04, 2003

Sara and I are both godparents. We haven't solidified our new identities with the required religious rituals, but we are both confident we should have magic powers real soon.



Thursday, December 04, 2003

In another dollar store I saw a box of calendars. There were horse, teddy bear, puppy, kitten and inspirational calendars. I looked at all the photos. Then I saw a North American wildlife calendar. The pictures were of an elk, a grizzly, a polar bear, a bald eagle, and, for June, a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

*****

I already have three calendars for 2004.

I bought one for 99 cents at Value Village because Allison and the shop lady assured me the coupons inside would prove very valuable. The pictures are of people in Value Village clothes with prices and exclamation marks. Everything looks so clean. No lint on the t-shirts!

A wildlife organization sent me a promotional calendar with a plea for payment. This calendar is innocuous enough to grace my cubicle next January.

The third calendar is from a car insurance company. The whole time I was talking to the representative serving me my eyes were on the stack of vintage car calendars. Before leaving I asked if I may take one.

I can keep one calendar at home, but what will I do with the third? Carry it around like an organizer? Use it in my car for jotting down things during cell phone conversations at red lights? I have issued a moratorium on calendar-obtaining for this year. Unless it's a 2005, I don't want it.



Thursday, December 04, 2003

Friendster as a Band-Aid. My thoughts exactly.

Besides it's becoming a gay dating site, according to one of my friends.

I now have 214,286 Friendsters and still no one will accompany me to the company Christmas party. But then I am going only for the free food.



Thursday, December 04, 2003

I went to the dollar store district. I found Korean Barbapapa stationary and I rummaged through the entire pile to find the the other pink packages. I found twelve. I stepped away from the stationary section and realized that they would cost me $12. What would I do with so much Barbapapa stationary? So I returned ten of the packages. After all, I could come back for more Barbapapa stationary once I use up my current inventory.

I walked around the store with two packages, yet, just as I finished my tour of the aisles I thought, I already have Japanese Barbapapa stationary and I haven't used that up. Maybe I should write letters first on that set then buy the Korean variety. So I dumped my two sets on a pile of towels and left the store.



Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I read recently that people with multiple personality disorder change their eye colours. I frequently switch between blue, green, grey and a hazel speckly mishmash. The hypochondriac in me is rather worried.



Wednesday, December 03, 2003

To answer the request for details on my life in Japan, I will here begin reminiscing.

First, here is the kofun, or burial mound or "Japanese pyramid" as JJ called it, from in front of JJ's house. JJ would make me run laps of that field in an effort to get me down to a svelte 90 pounds.

But I have good memories of that field too.

It was there that I built an exact replica of a tri-spherical Western snowman. Japanese snowmen are a mere two snowballs.

I went through my bird-watching craze here too, spying on the Northern Pintails in the moat.

Here is the scary kofun next to the Buddhist cemetery next to JJ's house. I was always afraid of Japanese demons when I walked this way at night. About twenty years ago someone anonymously pinned a curse to one of the trees.

Here is the Sakitama Fire Festival. I only attended once, because, as a minor local celebrity, my pesky fans would not leave me alone. (Actually the first year I returned to Canada for my sister's graduation). This festival takes place every May in JJ's backyard.

The story behind the festival is that a mortal woman loved a god and she went into a burning house to prove that she was worthy of loving a god. I think. It is just a good chance to see a lot of fire and to watch the straw house burning up. It is also a good time to hear JJ's father give speeches.

The slot game on this page provides hours of fun.



Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I am looking at Chris' website of his photos of Japanese tv screens. The first photo says duckthing. A common Western fallacy.

It is in fact a kappa. Japanese would warn their children to avoid going near the riverbanks because the kappa might "rip out their anuses."

JJ first told me about the kappa when we were in Taiwan. He couldn't explain the dynamics of this anus-snatching but he did say that when he was young there was a sign in Sakitama Park warning of kappa.

A kappa has an indentation filled with water in its head. If you can make the kappa spill its water, it is powerless to rip out your anus. Kappa also like to eat cucumbers. Oddly enough, there is a lot of sexual kappa imagery around Japan.



Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Foiled again!

I thought I finally had a chance to relax the young people's way. Non-Arizona Cheryl offered her living room floor for the night so I didn't have the long drive to Porn Movie (Port Moody in Japanese). Then we got a taxi voucher from the party to her house. Then the drinks were free. But of course they were quite watery. Despite this setback in my plans for an evening of alcoholism, I still managed to stagger about and collapse at the end of the night.

Tonight is not a water night for me. I looked around the dusty bottles and found the ingredients for a Black Russian. I pressed the button that forces out ice from the fridge. A buzzing noise but no ice. I peered from below into the ice-hole. A shard of ice popped out. I put my glass back under the hole - suddenly a flood of ice exploded into the kitchen.


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