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Showing posts from 2008

Love Actually

It´s Christmas time... right? Hard to tell with all of this blazing heat down here. The most I´ve seen of Christmas is a color-faded Santa head plastered on some old barn I saw on a random outing. That, and Love Actually. One of the people here brought her computer along with a few select DVDs. This, of course, includng Love Actually, which I watched for the first time last Christmas. Regretfully, I don´t remember much about it. Except that it´s a romantic comedy with quite a bit of cheese. And that kid that irritates the crap out of me only because I don´t enjoy watching kid actors act like adults. No, Christmas this year is just not the same, and for the past few weeks, it´s been starting to really get to me.

When I applied to Pretoma back in March, I had applied for the field position beginning in June (a.k.a. the rainy season). To my surprise, I was offered the position here for November (a.k.a. the dry season). In April, when I accepted, I had nothing to lose. Thankfu…

Who needs tryptophan in times like these?

Written: November 27, 2008

Dear Friends/Family,

I am stiff, sore, sleep deprived, and exhausted... but I am alive. And tan. On this early morning of Thanksgiving, I am watching our walking trash compactors (a.k.a. hermit crabs and jackolantern crabs) move about in herds across the sandy terrain of the kitchen/common area. Though, by the time I type this, I will have made the two hour/9K trek into town to pound some keys at the Coyote internet cafe. I am thankful today to think of all of you, and how you will be spending this evening together in each other´s company.

I am still patiently waiting to have more positive things to say about this experience, but we are shorthanded, and I am far too tired to think much farther beyond my airline pillow, and my mosquito net covered bed. Yesterday was my first full night´s sleep. It felt amazing. The common trend, so far, has been 2-3 hours at strange intervals of the day. I am almost always awake by 7:30am, regardless of how many hours…

So, this is it...

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"You've wanted to do this your whole life!"  It's ringing in my ears.  I think somewhere along the way, I had forgotten that, that is how I feel.  There has been too much "else" for me to remember that this is what I have always wanted for myself; that this is my dream.  Make no mistake.

So, tomorrow is the day.  At precisely 1:30pm (Japan time) I will journey halfway across the world to safely land in the heart of Central America--Playa Caletas, Costa Rica (near San Francisco de Coyote) to be exact.  Where I will live for three months doing what it is I love .  I'll be touching life; living in the wilderness.  In the sun; in the warmth.  I have always wanted to live on the beach.  See the sunset every evening over the ocean.

This is an opportunity for me to begin my career.  I feel very fortunate for that.  And if, by chance, I cannot see myself doing any of these things in the future, I will, at the very least, leave this experience with amazing memor…

Takamatsu

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Pictures up of greasers and wheelers in Okayama, train rides to Takamatsu, and intricacy and precision in Ritsurin. All can be found in the "Seasonal JP Scenery" album.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is an international holiday, at least in most of the Western world; but here in Japan, Halloween is not as huge a celebration as it is in the states.  The holiday is encouraged mostly by foreigners, and celebrations tend to entirely revolve around this aspect.  Western school teachers or tutors (minus one, ehrm) hand out candy to their students; Japanese youth may throw parties for their foreign friends, or attend parties organized by Western groups.

Tonight we will head out with two American interns from Wright State in their hot pink and black wigs; drink unforeseen amounts of brew and wine; and be on the lookout for 24-hour 711s that sympathetically comply with those aimless Western pleas for one lonely slice of cold pumpkin tart pie, and two plastic forks--both being equally unlikely finds.

Who knows.  Tonight I may even temporarily forget that I need to be on perfect behavior, and raise my voice above 60 dB.  I might even throw my gum wrapper on the ground, or put my pl…

Seeping through the walls

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I am three weeks shy of embarking on a journey that I once embodied only as a dream.  The thought--the prospects of emotions that will likely flood through me during this experience--have been quietly warming my insides since I first discovered I had been granted such an amazing opportunity.  I am as calm as I am scared.  I am as happy as I am sad.  This is an anxious unknown that has me squeamishly pondering questions with unknown answers.

I am nearly entirely prepared, equipment-wise.  Emotionally, I am scared out of my wits...

I'd never settle for less

The next fews days are destined to be rather significant.  Tonight I get my first well-needed interactive glimpse in a one-on-one English session with my first Japanese "student."  For the month that I have been here, I have felt occasional instances of alienation.  Even being around a few English speaking people, it sometimes isn't a supple replacement for the usual every day cheerfulness you may be used to passing along to your fellow patrons at the supermarket, or on a run through the park.  The lack of cheerfulness here can be a little unsettling.  No one looks each other in the face when passing.  No one smiles to each other, or genuinely says "good morning," or "how are you?"  People here are bound to their small groups and personal bonds and/or obligations to their very specific segregations.

I acknowledge that my feelings, in many instances, are almost entirely centered around the noticeable fact that I am a different race.  I live in Japan, …

These photographs have a story to tell

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Customs and etiquette in Japan/Hiroshima Carp

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For those of you who are curious, here is a link to what it is like to be polite in Japan. This includes things like bathing, bowing, eating, drinking, gift-giving, letters, hospitality, work, celebrations, etc.


Click above to view photo album
Went to a professional baseball game Saturday night in Hiroshima City.  It was the Hiroshima Toyo Carp v. the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.  This was the last of 3 tournaments between the major leagues that determined who was to go on to the Japanese playoffs.  Apparently, this was an especially important game, because it was the last game that the Carps would be playing in the Hiroshima stadium before it was to be demolished, and rebuilt in a new location.  I was surprised to see international players on both teams--Americans who likely were a little better than the minor league, but not quite as good to go pro.  Apparently this is quite common, and generally the advanced Japanese ballplayers go to the states to play pro for American teams instead.  T…

Diametrical Opposition

I am back in Japan, and you may be surprised to know that I do not really have a whole lot to say about it this time around.  I know that all of you keep checking up on me to see what is new in J-land, and in my most honest description, it is as simple as feeling like I have returned back to a familiar comfort zone.  Japan, to me, is no longer a foreign land.  It has lost its sparkle and it has lost much of its fresh and foreign mysticism.  I did not come back here to rediscover that jaded utopia that captivated me last summer, or the honeymoon-like atmosphere that wrapped me warm last winter.  I have realized, after arriving here again, that those emotions are things that come with any new territory.  My relationship with Japan has not fizzled by any means; it has just become more realistic, and maybe even a little more sincere.

It wasn't until the other day, while we were down by the pond in the park, sprawled on a blanket, reading, and writing, that I realized Japan is no diffe…

Disconnects

Last Chance at Redemption

Stucco walls are never flawless.
Running hands over roughness and touching
the art of humanity upon elders' faces.
Deep trenches have stories to tell.
Chasing dreams of the late 1940s-50s,
when parents were born to war-torn grandparents,
and brass tunes were always a golden memory.
Skirt twirling oldies with a dash of salt and pepper.
Red rose lipstick and soldiers dressed crisp, away
and forgetting the Mrs. home alone in bed.
Where bourbon speaks and cigarette holders need filling.
Spilling burlesque lies from dance moves,
mincing minds around curvy thighs and lingerie.
Gin and tonic with a twist.

Now, in a time where current politics could never represent
the epitome of the then, and war generations in close passing
lower their heads and wish that money had heart,
and their grandchildren could save the world.
Their one last chance at redemption is left
for stories told at the dinner table, and memories
not as sharp as years before have left lasting
impressions of gratitude for a generation that
is al…

Those sorry devils

The following blog is in reference to the Russia-Georgia (most recently recognized by Russia as South Ossetia and Abkhazia) conflict:

I was not as particularly alarmed yesterday after hearing that the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev stated he was not afraid of the prospects of a "new Cold War," though he assured listeners that actions to initiate one were not currently on his agenda. But after reading this article today, I must say that I am quite perplexed and a little concerned. I understand that the "Big Bad United States" finds it necessary to push around their power clout in the name of delusionally-feverish idiocracy democracy, but to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia upon the U.S. missile destroyer, USS McFaul into Batumi, is a little fucking sour. What the hell is wrong with you, Washington? A battleship?!?  President Medvedev is not dumb, and he apparently is not afraid of anything either. Robert Gates is just asking to get us smashed.

Something, al…

City Workers

With a little time left before I had to be back from lunch, I sat in the post office parking lot and decided to finish the rest of my lunch I had packed, while on the run. "A Decade Under the Influence" came on the radio. Nodding my head, I watched a yellow city truck pull up, as its tires slowly crept their way over the curb, to land on a grassy knoll outside the park restrooms. The street is only 15 feet away, though I suppose in comparison to other people's jobs and the shortcuts they create for an efficient workday, driving over and parking on planted environments is perfectly fine, as long as it makes the job easier. This is a stereotype, but a rather widely known one--certain city workers have a knack for sacrificing quality in the wake of quantity--quantity being the number of hours they get to sit around on their butts all day, smoking cigarettes, making crude comments to passing teenage girls, and bitching about their girlfriends/wives.

So I proceeded to watch…

For Emma

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Washed Out

I have posted some **updates to a previous blog.
I don't have the energy to write a formal blog on the amount of stress and worry all of this has caused me.  Certain test results might just be the deciding factor... but for now, I really don't know what to think about it.

Jane Goodall

Meet my childhood heroine of 20 years, the honorable, the loving Jane Goodall:

Crackergate

Cosmic Variance - random sampling from a universe of ideas

by Sean at 12:31 pm, July 16th, 2008
Crackergate

PZ Myers has gone and gotten himself embroiled in another one of those imbroglios. For those of you who don’t trouble to read any other blogs, the story began with the report of a student in Florida who smuggled a Communion wafer — the Body of Christ, to Catholics — out of Mass. This led to something of an overreaction on the part of some local believers, who referred to the stunt as a “hate crime,” and the student even received death threats. (You remember the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says “Blessed are those who exterminate those who insult Me,” right?)

PZ was roused to indignation by the incident, and wrote a provocative post in which he volunteered to do grievous harm to Communion wafers, if he could just get his hands on any.

Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There’s no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes…

Foot Fetish

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I'm starting this new photo project today, where I will be taking a picture of my feet, standing somewhere new everyday, and then incorporating them into an album or a flipbook. I got this idea from Photojojo, which is one of a few photo websites I'm subscribed to, that I find really useful and inspiring.

I know, you're thinking, feet... feet? Yeah, but they are MY feet, and my feet are great! Besides... my first ever pedicure is about to wear off, and I don't plan on getting another one until I graduate with another degree in "awesome."  Ok... that's a lie; I'm going back after I return from the lake for one more dose of TLC. Imagine the possibilities of these photo compositions though, aside from black toenail polish--the limitless amounts of surrounding textures, colors, contrasts, balances. I think this is going to be a really exciting project.

Below you will find my first. I haven't decided if I want to take one everyday for 30 days, or…

I Know No Pardon

"I made enemies of those who might defend me."
--Vetiver

This past Friday I purchased Vetiver's new album, Thing of the Past. First discovering them on Last.fm, they are an alt-country/folk band that I have grown to really appreciate. On a folk kick as of late, their song "I Know No Pardon" was the siren that lead me to their website; getting my first taste of their complete album (you can do the same at the link above). I was so engulfed in their sound and the reminiscent images it generated, I immediately began a review without even considering that the album might not be as original as thought.

After doing a bit more research this morning, I realized that Vetiver's album, Thing of the Past, is actually a set of cover versions of songs by some of band-leader, Andy Cabic's favorite artists. In no way, shape, or form should this bit of information discredit the quality of this album. Some people aren't crazy about cover albums, but if it's any…

**Gut Instincts

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**In case you do not read my shared items to the right, here is a science medicine article that I found significant to all of us**

June, 2008 - From Scientific American

Jeremy Nicholson's Gut Instincts: Researching Intestinal Bacteria
The body and its intestinal flora produce chemicals with hidden health information, Jeremy Nicholson has found. Someday treating disease may mean treating those bacteria

By Melinda Wenner

Editor's Note: The extended Q&A with Jeremy Nicholson mentioned in the July magazine can be found here.

Jeremy Nicholson was only trying to be thorough. It was 1981, and the young biochemist was using a technique called nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which can identify chemicals based on the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei. In particular, Nicholson wanted to study how red blood cells absorb cadmium, a metal that causes cancer. Realizing that he would achieve the best results if he could mimic the cells' natural environment, he added a few drop…

Now I'm no Jackanory, but this is allegory

This morning's run was intense. It wasn't quite as hot as it felt, but shade was limited and the route was new. Still, it was lovely. I like running alone and along water. Along the river, over and under rusty bridges and train tracks. I counted ten uprooted, and rather large trees that had been swept downstream; stuck teetering over the waterfall, waiting for one more hard rain to wash them further down. The sound was amazing--though I've never dodged so much smelly, green goose poo in my life. Trying to pay attention to where I stepped and steady pace.

Take a left down Helena. Past the hoards of screaming kids playing in the water play park; the smell of potent chlorine. Picnic tables and colorful balloons endlessly tied at every covered territory; reserved for people not even there. Reminding me of bloc parties we used to have in McBurney, or Harmon Park.

There were unintentional detours; dodging baby strollers through the Riverside projects--only there for a min…

Parallels

Why is it that we get so stuck in routine? Stuck on a path that loops back to where we first began? Why do we keep living the same lives over and over again, searching? 20-24 lives in a time... a quarter lifetime wasted over almost 25 years. Don't we owe it to ourselves to do something different? Not the different that just ends up being the same--same outcome, same feelings as a result. Something different that makes us feel alive, and keeps us there. Is there such a thing? I think we owe it to our selves to find out. How can we live on such parallels, all miserable at different times or not? Like train tracks that run alongside each other for far too long. Make them collide.

How can we live our lives in routine? How can we keep doing this for everyone else, but ourselves? This is the time. This is the time where we can make it begin. Before it's too late and before there is no ending. You can do anything, and nothing else will matter.

How can we glide around …

These shoes are $300

Two more weeks...

I've been wanting to write something for awhile in reflection of my college career. As some of you may know, my 6 year college career is coming to a close in less than two weeks. I'm not sure how I really feel about that quite yet, but I do know that on June 14, 2008 at 10:00 AM, I am going to probably be more grateful than I have ever been in my entire life. I could never thank my parents enough, for helping me to achieve the gift of a college degree. They have put up with so much crap from and for me in this time.
In the past 6 years, I have gone to 3 different colleges, switched my major 5 times (counting dropping my Spanish minor), moved all my things to new living spaces 7, soon to be 8 times to new locations.
They have put up with my bad grades, dropped classes, and time off to get my head straight from aggressive roommates and legal disputes.
They have helped to babysit my second stray kitty I brought home, Makita (a.k.a. Mmkay, Bubbalow, MKK, ChicaChica, and the occas…

Leina-a-ka-'uhane

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"I feel like a ghost..."




Two little birds sitting
side-by-side
along telephone wire;
talking amongst windy company
high above the city lights;
I, often wondering...

what it is they uniquely have to share.




Join the International Community; be an International Citizen

There are so many things going on in the international community and you should really consider getting involved. Why wouldn't you? You can maintain that you struggle to pay your own bills, fill your gas tank, feed your children. What's that in your hand? A Starbucks double-mocha frappuccino? That was like... a double negative at one point. We could all gain from sacrificing one unnecessary luxury for a day.

I can gladly wait to pre-order Coldplay's new album, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, and patiently wait for its release in June. I can go a week without eating raw fish and tofu. I can do without my usual candy fix, or not tempt myself by looking through the sales rack at Hot Topic and Dick's Sporting Goods. I'll only use Barnes and Noble as a stationary library for awhile, and Amazon... you can forget it. Surely, and I will.

I don't entirely mean to be so critical. Initiative is based on ability, and priority is based on desire. If you t…

Quilted stitches & scrap metal

A few things locked away for times safe keeping--ruins to orchids.
Memories reaping benefits through bountiful orchards. Round and red,
over-ripened fruit falling off tree branches, spoiling all the good.
Stop spoiling all the good.

Lone Boneshaker sitting dormant this time around, though maybe it should.
I will miss you. Silence.
Running and reading far too much these days. Reciting full plays in my head
every third of a second--slap, slap, slapping purple, silver Brooks' rhythm on pavement.
Tybalt is not really dead; he was in The Pest.


Keep it quiet, hidden away safe in preservation. Square boxes won't keep
their shape through the rainy season, though attics keep memories warm and dry a little longer;
permanent markers clogging up my nostrils; army soldiers stealing my collectibles.
Stop the distraction.
Hurry up and get it done so you can travel.
You've always been a hassle, hassling everybody to move like you.
Too quick. Compulsive... graceful.

Charlotte said, it would be …

Toad Xing

Caution: Look down during locomotion.

It's that time of year again to watch for [Eastern American] toads and gigantic earthworms as you run. I counted 3 toads of varying sizes on one run last year that I almost squashed. God, I would have felt terrible... not to mention that it sure would have been messy.

On a side note, I'm really bummed that I likely won't be able to run along the river this weekend... :(


Random Tidbit: My musically talented brother, Jeff and his good friend, Jarod created a band called Ped Xing when they were in high school. My all-time favorite moment had to be when they sang in harmony, and played a killer acoustic version of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here (a.k.a. "fish bowl") during their baccalaureate. Everyone in that room was in tears that night.


I'm going to see Tegan & Sara tonight at Bogarts and I am so hyped! By the way, if you happen to be in the Cincinnati area, stop down at Froggy Blues tonight and catch my friends&#…

Do you never rest...

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... fighting the battle of who could care less.


Bus Stop

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This picture makes me laugh so hard. I had to share; I love it.

click photo for enlargement

photo ©2008 jason p. potter

It's a vrrrace!

Well... not really. I mean, there are prizes involved (none of which I will win even), but it's only a measly 5K. You can't even constitute bragging rights for that sort of win, but at least I'm not sitting at home on my ass. This is basically, almost a typical days worth of activity that I am paying for/participating in through an entry donation that supports the arts--specifically, The Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, Ohio. I say almost a typical day's worth of activity, because a typical day generally includes burning a kick ass amount of calories (500-800) and loving every minute of it. And at the end of the day? I get to attend a bachelorette party with my girls and consume lovely cake, but it's not just any cake. No, this is cake comically shaped into the resemblance of a penis (a.k.a. "penis cake"). Haha, yeah, I know ;)

So my incentives for this race are as follows:
It will be the completion of my first marathonrace (a real marathon …

Happy 38th Earth Day

My Favorite "Green" websites:Love this place (discounts for bikers!) - http://www.parkandvine.com/
Oxfam - http://www.oxfamamerica.org/
Photographs by Ansel Adams - http://www.anseladams.com/
Be a tree hugger: appareal, travel, design, technology, etc. - http://www.treehugger.com/
Get rid of junkmail through Greendimes - http://www.greendimes.com/
Make a difference at Idealist.org - http://www.idealist.org
Gaiam: Green living, yoga, fitness, & organic products - http://gaiam.com
Earth Day 101- http://lifestyle.msn.com/green/greenstaticslideshowoprah.aspx?cp-documentid=6903887&imageindex=2
Center for Biological Diversity - http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/
Go Organic! - http://www.organicearthday.org/
The Rain Forest Site: help save rain forests, while encourage free trade - http://www.therainforestsite.com/
Stop Global Warming - http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/EcoCenter: Living Green (Smithsonian.com) - hhttp://microsite.smithsonianmag.com/content/ecocenter/greener-living/
Je…