Friday, September 30, 2005

Giorgio de Chirico

On our day off this past week, Aukje and I attended an exhibition of Giorgio de Chirico's (click on "House Museum" to get to examples of his work) works of art. The exhibition was at the Daimaru department store, (a common happening) and Aukje acquired free tickets from someone she knows.
An Italian artist who was born in Greece, de Chirico painted both surrealist modern art and later turned to classical art. He was one of the pioneers of "metaphysical painting". Most of the works in the exhibition were of his surrealist works.
I gave it a big thumbs up but Aukje wasn't so sure.

Very Early This Morning...

In a half-waking jetlag induced stupour, I wished that the police car driving by our building had a snooze button on it.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I enrolled at the Osaka YMCA for full-time Japanese Language study. I have been warned numerous times that this promises to be a tough challenge, cautioned that I will have no time to do anything else, and advised that I will have to work extremely hard just to keep up. I am getting more nervous and apprehensive by the minute, leading up to d-day (classes start on the sixth of October).
After sweating out filling in the enrollment forms, there was one left over, which needed to be filled out by a representative of our organization (MUP) vouching for my character and detailing what they thought of me and my character. The very busy Dan Ellrick is the senior representative in the area, so I made an appointment to meet him at 10:30 to get the form together. Aukje and I made an appointment for twelve noon with a staffer at YMCA to submit the application. I thought an hour and half would be piles of time but not to be. As Dan put the finishing kanji characters on the form, time was running short. I grabbed the papers and ran, up the hill. I turned the ten minute walk into about a six minute cross between a speed walk and a stumbling sort or forward leaning jog. I hopped the tube after waiting for two minutes (which lasted much longer than your average two minutes do) and exited at the next station. My watch told me I had four and half minutes left for the three minute walk to the YMCA building. I repeated the above and just made it in time to meet a slightly anxious Aukje wondering what exactly was taking me soo long.
Application submission went as planned.
I accomplished this entire exercise with a tiny but pointy pebble (that was more bothersome than a tiny pebble had any right to be) in my right shoe. It was exceedingly annoying, and wasn't there until I had no time to remove it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Uneventful Flight.

I stayed awake the entire night. My thinking was that I should work at getting a leg up on the time difference, trying to beat jetlag at its own game, without chemicals. It is also a good way to make sure you don't sleep in on the morning of your flight. My good friend Phil drove me to the airport, coming to get me at 5:15. I was early and was checked in by six. The plane was late leaving by a half hour, lifting off at around 9:30. Nearly five hours later I hurried off the plane in Vancouver, paused at the water closet and walked onto the next 737 bound for Osaka. (Needless to say the baggage handlers couldn't possibly work that fast.) The lack of sleep was catching up with me. I was trying to sleep only on Japan time, which was during the flight to Vancouver and the first part of the flight to Japan. The air crew had different ideas and wanted me to eat during the first part of the flight to Japan and sleep at the end. I managed a bit of sleep with the lights on but it wasn't easy. The guy beside me kept putting his table up and down and up and down; continued fiddling, a couple of elbows, more fiddling and Tweet! Two minutes for elbowing. Meanwhile, the person behind me was constantly hoofing my seat from underneath. He also felt the need to take the magazine out of the seat back pocket and put it back in, take it out and put it back in, while simultaneously wiggling the headrest, occasionally giving it a pop making me do faceplants into the seat ahead of me. I have no idea how he managed to keep all three things up. He was remarkably coordinated. After this peaceful nap, I took to watching an episode of Star Trek and That Thing You Do, as well as some light reading of a Bruce Sterling novel, Schismatrix. As I worked at staying awake I succumbed to a few cat naps and a rope-a-dope of caffeine and sugar in its various natural and synthetic forms. So much for trying to beat jetlag with out the aid of chemicals.
I didn't lose any eyes but marathon airline travel seems to be turning into a sport for me.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I was taking the futons off the clothes line on our balcony this morning after making breakfast for my lovely wife. The city was quiet as it only can be early on a Sunday morning (early for a Sunday morning). The breeze generated by taifun seventeen was brisk making the temperature very comfortable for someone acclimatized to the Canadian summer weather. The quiet joys found in everyday life.
It is good to be home.
Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I'm fairly certain it was unused.

On the airplane I used a barf bag for a bookmark.

Safely Home

Whenever I write to people in far away locations about being safely home, I sometimes recall the book The Hiding Place written by Corrie Ten Boom. I remember it being read to me when I was in grade school. The book is a powerful story about Corrie and her experiences during World War II with the Dutch underground and her imprisonment in concentration camps. While she was in prison she received a letter with a secret message under the stamp. "The watches in the closet are safe." This message told Corrie that the Jews that were being hidden in the secret room of their house were safe.

This watch made it safely to his home in Sekime.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Good Guessing

It is a big ass bruise. Before you get taken aback by the vulgarity of that statement, before you get caught up pondering semantics, let me assure you that I am using this particular phrase in the most pious way possible. It is not that I am in the habit of using such colourful metaphors (pun intended) but in this case it seems to be by a long shot the most apt description of the mystery photo.
The photo does not do the bruise justice. I would say it was about 230 millimeters wide and perhaps 130 millimeters high. (Oops, for all my readers in Burkina Faso and the United States still using antiquated imperial measuring apparatii, that is about 9 inches by 6 inches). Apart from being big it was also bad, although in the realm of pain, it only troubled me when I sat the wrong way.
I acquired this trophy during lunch at friends of mine where I had been doing some destruction work for them. I was about to walk down the deck stairs, with a plate of sandwich and carrots. Someone was sitting on the stairs so I stepped down the corner of the stairway. The treads were wet from rain and as I was about to take the first step, I thought to myself these stairs look kind of steep. To make a story shorter, I overestimated the coefficient of friction between the heel of my construction boot and the wet stair tread and applied a little too much backward lean to my stride. I lost my sandwich (the one on the plate) and carrots while landing with my cheek right on the corner of the stair. Itakatadesu. Oooh that smarted.

Friday, September 02, 2005


The Japanese government has seen fit to award a certificate of Visa with my name and mug shot on it. I'm not sure exactly how I managed to pull the proverbial bovine fabric over their optical sensory inputs but indeed they are allowing me to reenter Japan. As we speak the certificate is enroute to me via express mail and I should have it in my hands on or about Wednesday of this coming week. Once received I will need to take it to the nearest consolate and have my passport stamped. And having jumped through these last few hoops, I will legally be able to re-enter Japan. Of course the matter of finding a cheap airline ticket remains. (Notwithstanding fuel surcharges in light of recent price gouging at the oil barrel).