Sand In My Toes

We may be on the verge of November, but it’s still plenty warm here in Kanazawa.

Today our co-workers held a nice baby shower for Chieko and another woman we work with who is pregnant.  It was very nice, and many of us took advantage of the fact that it’s Halloween and wore costumes.  With full bellies and a few hours of sunshine left when the party finished, Chieko and I took a ride out to the beach to walk around.  There’s a nice park there, and also a nice walking path that runs along the beach.  The day seems so short now that fall is here, and it’s getting dark before 5 o’clock.  Japan doesn’t do daylight savings, and this time of year I don’t mind it so much.  It’s during the summer, when the sun comes up before 5 in the morning and sets at 7:30 at night, that I wish they would embrace the system.  I think they tried it once a while ago and decided it wasn’t for them.

Among the man-made debris that is starting to accumulate on the beach now that summer has gone and nobody is there to clean it, the giant jelly-fish are also starting to wash ashore.  These are the ones I was hoping to (and did) avoid when swimming towards the end of summer.  The shoreline is littered not only with their bodies, but various gelatinous bits and pieces that have broken off.

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There was a pretty good swell out today, and a couple of surfers were taking advantage of it.  There was virtually no wind and the sky was cloudless — it was really a beautiful day.

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I’m glad we enjoyed it because it looks like rain tomorrow, and by Monday temperatures are forecast to sink to more October/November-like levels.  I’m predicting that when the clouds clear Hakusan might have its first coat of snow.

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Now that it’s November (or will be in a few hours), the whole baby concept is becoming much more immediate.  We’ve been counting in months until recently, and now it’s down to weeks, and days are a very real possibility.  Everyone says that the first baby is usually late.  I think the doctor influenced my thinking when he said that our baby is ready to go (he already weighs more than about half of the Japanese newborns we see at our clinic), and now I’m counting on him being early.  If the little man is late, waiting is going to be tough.  I suppose I should look upon the prospect of a few extra nights of solid sleep, and my life as I know it, with a little more optimism, but anticipation is in the house!

Happy Halloween!  Have a lovely weekend.

Blue Skies & Baby Doctors

Today’s visit to the doctor was uneventful but good.  We didn’t get any cool 3-D pictures, but all is well with the baby and with Chieko.

It was a beautiful, warm day, so when we got home we took a long walk — almost 2 hours.  We ambled through the broccoli fields, then the rice paddies, and eventually up the side of the levee for a look at the river.  We got home just as the sun set, so the time was good and Chieko felt great for having walked so far.  The doctor encouraged her to try and move around as much as possible, so for today at least she more than succeeded.

I found myself gazing up at the clear blue skies quite a bit today, which meant I found myself looking at wires a lot.  If you are anywhere residential in Japan, your sky is bound to be strewn with wires.  They don’t always look horrible though.  Blue skies help.

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We passed through this small garden, sandwiched between two rice paddies.  It’s another very typical image of autumn in Japan:  the persimmon tree full of fruit, long leek stalks spiking into the air, along with some other fall/winter veggies (cabbage, daikon radish).  The levee is in the background, and the low mountains are on the other side of the river.

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The one feature I miss from Blogger is the ability to customize the background color of your blog.  I really hate having a white background with some of these pictures, but choosing a new theme (as they call them in WordPress) is also a bit of a pain because links and other things I have in the sidebar don’t seem to transfer exactly from one theme to another.  Maybe I’ll play around with it at some point.  I’m sure if I hacked the code I could tweak the background, but that’s beyond both my ability and level of dissatisfaction.

And there you have it, another wonderful day in the books.

Go Kanazawa Go!

Mother Nature seemed to throw me a bone this morning, figuring that if I had to work, she’d at least give me something pretty to look at for a little while.

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This was actually the second rainbow of the morning; the first occurred around 7 this morning.  The soundtrack of rolling thunder throughout the morning was not lost on me either.

I took this picture with my little point and shoot which seldom gets much use anymore, though I’ve taken to trying to bring it with me wherever I go like I used to (before I got the fancy camera).  While transferring its contents onto my computer tonight, most of which are weeks or months old, I came across this pretty nice picture of Chieko and I from her parent’s rice harvest a few weeks ago.

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Tis dinner time around these parts.  Go Phillies!!

4 Day Weekends Make Me Fat

I live a pretty monastic life during the week in terms of eating well, exercising regularly, and avoiding booze.  On the weekends, however, I tend to kick back and make up for lost time.  This usually works out well, except when we have four-day weekends.  Having extra time off this past weekend meant a few extra days of easing the standards on my otherwise straight and narrow lifestyle, and it’s most apparent when I step on the scale.  But back to work tomorrow and the equilibrium should be regained shortly.

To be honest, I think I might rather have been working today compared to how I spent the day.  It was time for me to renew my license, after first getting it about 3 years ago.  If I miss this window to renew it within a month following my birthday, I have to go through all the hassle of taking the driving test again once my current license expires.  So it was up and in traffic around 8 this morning.  On a good day it takes between 30 and 40 minutes to reach the driving center; it took closer to an hour today.

Things went smoothy as I turned in my old license and submitted my new address, paid the fee, checked my eyes, and finally took a picture for my new license.  It was then that I glanced down at a ticket they had given me, showing me a map of how to get to Classroom C, where I was to report at 9:50.  Then I read what it said next: 2 hours.  WTF?  When I entered the classroom the instructor asked if I could speak Japanese, and I responded that yeah I sort of could.  And so for the next two hours, minus a ten minute break, I sat with about 6 other people and struggled to keep up as the instructor prattled on and on about the most basic elements of safe driving.

Two questions.  1) When do I get those two hours back?  2) How is that in a city where it’s extremely difficult to attain a license, and they force these BS two-hour classes on everyone, that the otherwise lovely residents of Kanazawa can still be such shitty drivers?

At the end of class we were presented with our new license.  I like how the new 50mm lens on f1.8 conveniently blurs out all of my personal details, but allows you to see the main change with the new license — that blurry blue stripe to the left of my mug.

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When you first get a license in Japan, that stripe is green.  If you have no infractions within the first three years, you get a blue license.  If I make it through the next three years without incident, I reach the almighty gold stripe, which is really a crock since many people around here have gold stripes yet suck at driving.  But, insurance is lowest once you get the gold, so there’s some solace for me there.

When we got home I passed out on the couch for a few hours while listening to the radio, and eventually got up and went off to the gym to atone for my gluttonous past few days.  It was rainy and cool, so not a bad way to spend the afternoon.  Much preferable to the morning.  Night.