Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rememberance Day

I went to Colare with Johnny P and Sista K last night and watched a movie about a POW camp in Tokushima, Japan called Camp Bando, where German POWs were kept during WWI. The movie, called "Baruto no Gakuen", was in Japanese (and German, with Japanese subtitles) and it had a lot of famous Japanese actors in it. It portrayed the lives of the German prisoners, the Japanese soldiers, and the local people who interacted in and around this camp. I haven't found a lot of information on the movie, so I don't know if the stories are actually true or just based on the events that happended there. At any rate, it was a good movie and opened my eyes to yet another piece of Japanese history.

It seemed fitting that we watched it last night on the eve of Rememberance Day. However, this timing only had significace to me, not my American friends. I hadn't realized that they didn't share the same date as we Canadians for remembering those who have served their country in times of war.

I recall Rememberance Day as always being a day to be regarded in my family. Both my parents have family members who were injured or lost during the second world war. My grandfather enlisted as a young man, but fortunately was not ever sent overseas -he is now a long standing member of the Royal Canadian Legion. And belonging to Girl Guides and Boy Scouts and Air Cadets meant that for years my family, in rain, sleet or snow, made the annual march to the cenotaph in Jubilee Park in GP to pay our respects to those who lost their lives for our country's freedom.

Our schools always held Rememberance Day poster contests -which I never won. We could also write poems and essays at this time of year, the best of which would be chosen to be published in the local newspaper. I think I have always respected this day- even as a child not fully understanding it's significance. Symbols such as the Poppy still conjure sentiment when I see people wearing them. I certainly feel a twinge of patriotism and longing for Canada on this day.

Click to read more about the Poppy

My Grandfather is the handsome one on the right.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lest We Forget

-John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I've always had a romantic image (and wanting) of old books. I think there is something magical in a early edition, authentically bound book. Whose hands have touched it's pages, what countries, homes and libraries has is rested in, why has it remained intact after all these years?

I have a meagre collection of old books -nothing rare or expensive (yet). I like to buy books of stories I like and authors I admire, but what's more, I particularly enjoy books with interesting personal inscriptions inside the covers, or notes and messages within the pages.

Not long before coming to Japan I read a book called "The Island of Lost Maps: a True Story of Cartographic Crime" by Miles Harvey. click here for a description

A good read for nerds like me.

What prompted this post?

The following article which left me envious of the new owner.

World's first printed atlas - 1477 edition - sells for record US$3.9 million

19:16:35 EDT Oct 10, 2006
Canadian Press

LONDON (AP) - The first atlas ever printed sold for a record US$3.9 million at auction Tuesday.
The sale at Sotheby's of the 1477 edition of Claudius Ptolemy's landmark atlas established a new record for any atlas ever sold at auction.
The atlas was part of a collection sold by the family of Lord Wardington, a prolific British map and atlas collector who died last year. It is one of only two copies still in private hands.
The price paid by a private collector, who was not present at the auction, eclipsed the previous record of $2.7 million, paid for the "Doria Atlas" sold at Sotheby's in October 2005.
Ptolemy was a Greek-speaking geographer, astronomer and astrologer who lived in Roman Egypt. He authored several scientific treatises that were influential on both Islamic and European science and devised maps and atlases of the Roman Empire.
"The price for the 1477 Ptolemy atlas was extraordinary - a fitting testimony to the rarity and importance of the work - but the excitement it generated was echoed throughout the sale," said Catherine Slowther, Head of Maps and Atlases at Sotheby's.

Money well spent if you ask me. What do you think?

Am I back in Lethbridge??

I'm sitting in my apartment at the moment and the wind is HOWLING!!! And even more shocking, there was HAIL on my way home from work today.

I feel like I'm back in Lethbridge...the whole building is swaying back and forth, the windows are rattling, the water in the toilet bowl is sloshing, and I could lose the laundry rods off my balcony at any moment.

I remember the long walks to the UofL...well, long if I were going against the wind - I could cut the time in half if I when I was walking with the incessant gales that used to come howling out of the foothills.

Where did this come from? We've had perfect weather here for months now. Is it time to finally admit winter is coming?

I've thought about turning on the heater (I usually use my air conditioner's 'heat' function)...but I haven't done it yet. It's a common game among ALTs - who will be the first to pull out the kerosene heater? Who can withstand the chilly autumn mornings and frigid nights the longest? I wonder who will it be this year -I think I've already beaten Sista K. Those of us with smaller apartments have an advantage since we basically only have to worry about heating up one room. Pity the JET who has a large apartment or, heaven forbid, a house to live in during the winter months.

typical kerosene heater

I got this photo from a website which provides a great explanation of Japanese heating meathods.

click here to view the site

Monday, November 06, 2006

No More Mr. Grumpypants

I teach an adult eikaiwa (ei=english, kaiwa=conversation) class on Monday nights. I've been doing it for 3 years now. We meet in a meeting room in one of the municipal buildings downtown.

For the past 3 years there has been a man at the front desk who is THE grumpiest old man I've ever met. He rarely looks up from his TV program when I come through the door, and if he does, he doesn't say anything. I thought at first that maybe it was just my gaijin-ness (being a foreigner), but no he treats everyone the same way. He's always harsh when he speaks to the students in the class -for example if we try to turn the air conditioner or the heater on without asking permission he'll come banging on the classroom door telling us it's not time yet (there are often predetermined and somewhat arbitrary dates for when things like heaters and fans are to be used in this country, as is the idea that you don't go in the ocean before or after a certain date -regardless of the actual conditions). We also have to pay a monthly rental fee for the room and he will not allow us to start class until it's paid on the first Monday of the month...seriously. I hate to be disrespectful of my elders, but this guy is a jerk.

Well, I don't know what happened to him- maybe he retired, maybe enough people complained and he got turfed, or maybe my students' curses finally worked and the guy fell down a flight of stairs...regardless, he's gone and I couldn't be happier with his replacement. A warm and friendly old guy whom I'd gladly adopt as my grandfather. He says hello to everyone as they come in, he makes sure the room is comfortable when we begin and he's even offered to see me out to me car with an umbrella when he saw I didn't have one (my car was 10 feet away...).

Goodbye Mr. Grumpypants, and WELCOME Mr. Sunshine!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bedside Book: Finished

I have to say I was disappointed with the end of "Larry's Party".

I don't know what I was expecting. Actually, I think I was expecting what actually happened, but I didn't want it to happen, and then it did happen, so I was disappointed.

Now I have to wait for my next Amazon order to arrive (hopefully this week) so I can finish the RING trilogy ("LOOP" finally came out in paperback). And I also ordered Richard Kearney's "The God Who May Be". Couldn't resist after listening to him on CBC's Ideas. Dad, I hope you got a chance to listen to this particular series - would love discuss it with you. And Mom, if you caught the Idea's series on Sleeping and Dreams, I'd like to know what you think.

In the mean time I've scavenged through my bookshelves and have settled on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I've read the complete works, most of them twice and some of them many many more times. Always great bedtime reading.