I'm living in Kusatsu-shi, Shiga-ken for an undetermined amount of time and teaching English as a second language at a local high school. This journal is to document my experiences, thoughts, and to stay connected with others at home and abroad.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Following up on that video from the other day, which I know is a tall order, I decided to add some photos from the hike we took the other week in Yokaichi, Shiga (Japan). It's not terribly far from where I live now, but for whatever reason it was my first time visiting. We hiked for a few hours through the mountains and ended up at Tarobogu Shrine (from the video). It's getting a little cold here, but I really glad that Efrem, Erin, and I could make the trek, because from here on I'm expecting nothing but below zero (Celsius mind you).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If they can understand, what wrong with everyone elses' ears?

This is a quote from an article I received in the New York Times about recycling programs suffering during this economic crises.


The part I'm really aiming for is in italics, but I wanted to provide the context as well. Just further shows that we're going to have to start making responsible decisions in spite of the economic weather, because there are certain things that are just non-debatable. Maybe we could try to stop consuming less. I may be mistaken, but I remember reading that Denmark has laws in place that require 100% recycling of certain materials (plastic bottles & glass were the ones I believe mentioned). How is that a bad decision? If everyone plays fair––or is made to play fair because right now they're only in it for the money––for everyone's gain (a cleaner environment), how can we lose?

' The recycling slump has even provoked a protestof sorts. At Ruthlawn Elementary School in South Charleston, W.V., second-graders who began recycling at the school in September were told that the program might be discontinued. They chose to forgo recess and instead use the time to write letters to the governor and mayor, imploring them to keep recycling, Rachel Fisk, their teacher, said.

The students’ pleas seem to have been heard; the city plans to start trucking the recyclables to Kentucky.

“They were telling them, ‘We really don’t care what you say about the economy. If you don’t recycle, our planet will be dirty,’ ” Ms. Fisk said.'

I think one of the saddest parts of watching people age is watching them begin to measure and balance ethics on the same scales as dollars and quarterly income.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Videos from recent temple visit to Tarobogu Shrine in Yokaichi

Probably sacrilege, but it was fun. According to the temple folklore, any liar that passes between these two sacred rocks I was climbing between will be crushed. I guess I got away with one that day--maybe the gods were sleeping.

A scene from atop the mountain we hiked--very serene, very zen.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Explanation of Cancer in Japanese

My Japanese teacher's husband drew this for me to help remember the kanji (character) for cancer. I think it's pretty self-explanatory, just wanted to share. It's a little blurry here, but you can click on the image to get a better view.


I just got this link I literally just got from Martin about a group that calls themselves Reality.


"The Reality Coalition is a project of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, and tells the truth about coal today — it isn't clean. We are challenging the coal industry to come clean — in its advertising and in its operations. You can learn more about the reality of clean coal here or take action and help stop misleading coal campaigns."

Definitely an eye-opener, especially as even Obama appeared confused about the truth on 'clean coal' during his campaigning. Hopefully he was only doing it for the votes; hopefully his ears aren't full of them 'clean coal' dollars.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Bells of Misono

Above is a video of my neighborhood at dusk.
Every autumn and winter evening at 5pm sharp (6pm during the summer), just as the last bits of sunlight are reaching and stretching over the mountains and revealing all of colors that hide in the air during the daytime, the Misono bells play echo their song off the hills and over the fields. It's a sign that soon darkness will come, and invitation for children playing baseball at the elementary school's sandlot, and for the grandfathers, hunched over after more than forty years of kneading and turning the soil, to come on in and wash up for dinner. As idyllic and nostalgic this sounds, it still rings true to the state of things in this neighborhood of Misono.

Of course we are advance beings now, deserving of luxuries our ancestors could yet dream, because when they were children and lying and roughhousing in the fields of their naïveté, the things that are now possible were still six or seven imaginary generations away. Now in a generation we've replaced the beacons of homecoming, the last bit of light trying to outrun the Earth, speeding us away from the sun, our source of life, with the 7/11, our flourescent supplement burning 24/7. That math doesn't add up.

I prefer being the idyllic square on a board of circular and triangular holes than follow the neon bug zapper to the grave.