Saturday, April 30, 2005

long walk back

long walk back

looking out from the place the tsutsuji (azalias) were to where we parked the cars. the black speck is where the cars were.

walking thru the mtns

walking thru the mtns

want to try a bite?

want to try a bite?

On Thurs one of the students' parents took some of us teachers up into the mtns to look at azalias. On the way we passed this poisonous plant. It's a slow killer: a little in your tea each morning...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

"Conflicting Goals" or "The Mounting Frustration"

1.) You should save as much money as you can, because who knows when you will ever have this much un-taxed liquid cash again. This is the best opportunity to start on saving for your retirement.
2.) You should buy a larger car, because you don't want to do any permanent damage to your knee.
3.) You should buy a computer so that you can get ready for finding your next job. You will need to prepare your portfolio and resume for a graphic design company, after all.
4.) You should take advantage of living where you do to travel around and see more of the world.
5.) You should make the most of this opportunity to learn the local language. Communication is important.

And then there are more things on top of that. There is no way I can do 2, 3, and 4 without totally annihilating 1.

Sometimes I really wish I knew why I was here. People have asked me a lot, I have asked myself a lot, and still I am no closer to an answer.

expensive little fella

expensive little fella

For when you need that $15 handful-of-watermelon fix.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

My sentiments exactly

A quote I came across recently which I could really identify with. Perhaps you can too:

Now... they resolved to go back to their own land; because the years have a kind of emptiness when we spend too many of them on a foreign shore. But... if we do return, we find that the native air has lost its invigorating quality, and that life has shifted its reality to the spot where we have deemed ourselves only temporary residents. Thus, between two countries, we have none at all...
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

great math

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Second Opinions

Originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

So I went for a second opinion and found out this time what is REALLY wrong with my knee, and much to my relief, it is nothing as severe as a damaged ligament. Ligaments don't recover on their own, but they also don't get damaged gradually; only suddenly.

My second opinon was from a doctor who spoke some English. I think that fact alone made him more confident to understand my Japanese. Also, I had thought of some other things to mention since the first opinion. The result? It would seem that my knee is suffering as a result of undue tention in my quadroceps (thighs) and in my hamstrings. If after a month of regular stretching (a couple times a day) I still have a problem, then we will do an MRI scan to see if I have a "shelf."

A shelf is a little knob of flesh that protrudes into the membrane that surrounds the kneecap area. Everyone has it, but in about 20% of people it is unusually long, and can get pinched between the kneecap and the femur. They have treatments for this as well.

That's the long of it. The short is that I have a lot more peace of mind than I did a couple days ago.

As for reducing the stress on my knee, he advised that I get a larger car. I guess everyone was right when they laughed and said, "That car is too small for you!"

More Sakura

More Sakura

(Try to ignore the large black speck.)
I took this on saturday when the blossoms were at their hight. The petals have largely fallen now and new green leaves are growing in. Beauty is fleeting, ne.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

'take' is pronounced 'tah-kay'

'take' is pronounced 'tah-kay'

later we cut off the inedible part. the remaining 30% needs to be boiled with rice husks for like 2 hours to make it soft and good-tasting. then you can use it like any other vegetable!

lit. "bamboo's child"

lit. "bamboo's child"

Then we cut them off at the root! It's very hard to find them, but at least if you know the method it's not so hard to dig them out! Nonetheless the principal had keen eyes and spotted many.

Take no ko = Bamboo shoot

Take no ko =  Bamboo shoot

then we dug out around them on the side they curl towards. they grow out of the network of roots that is laced through the ground.

Take no ko Day!

Take no ko Day!

Today (saturday) the school principal invited all the teachers over to his house where they have a bamboo forest. We looked for the green tips of the shoots peeking up out of the ground.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

So I found out what is wrong with my knee.

Although my consultation with the doctor was conducted all in Japanese, having now looked up ligaments on the internet, I can pretty confidently reiterate in English what he was trying to tell me in Japanese. I don't have the neat little model that he had, but I do have this picture:

knee illustration
Originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

After examining my knee by pushing and pulling and twisting it in different ways he showed me what was wrong using the model to demonstrate. My Anterior Cruciate Ligament has loosened. This is not the kind of thing that will ever heal, but if I strengthen the surrounding muscle, that will compensate well enough. If I continue being active without strengthening the surrounding muscle (which I have for about a year), I could damage the cushioning cartilege (lateral meniscus in the illustration) that rests on top of the tibia (shinbone). So I have probably damaged it already.

Reading about it on a webpage I suspect that the wear leading to the damage was incurred last winter and spring, when I was doing a lot of running up and down hills. I would do 2.5 km uphill and then the same back down. It never occurred to me that I might damage my knees on the easy part going downhill.



The more accustomed you are to a given location being normally green, the more wonderful the sudden change to white and pink becomes. The world fills with colour after a brownish-green winter.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

How could I have the blues when the world is so beautiful?

So the dream is over. And just begun. My sister left a week ago yesterday and my parents went back 5 days ago. I think that had the trip been less jam-packed with activity I would feel more sad that they are gone. And the fact that it is currently the most cheery and beautiful season of the year in Japan helps too. The day my parents left (they left on a bus at 8 am) I read the two books my dad left behind: Rain Fall and Hard Rain. They were quick reads, okay for mass market fiction. They are tokyo hitman novels. The following day was spent mostly reading manga. If you get a chance to read the science/mystery manga called 20th Century Boys, it's well worth the time. I think there's even and english scanslation on the internet somewhere.

And I have also done the neccessary seasonal event: 花見 [hanami: flower viewing]
This entails sitting under loads of gorgeous spreading soft-looking trees full of sakura (cherry blossoms) and eating food. Fortunately my parents got to see a few of these trees at the beginning of the season before they left. Unfortunately the trees really came into full bloom two or three days after they were gone. There is little that is quite like having your neighborhood and town suddenly naturally transfrormed into a festival of pink and white, soft, and happy-looking prettiness. Add to that weather that is suddenly 20 degrees C or warmer every day. What do you get? A Matthew that just can't be sad. The only disappionting thing is that my family is no longer around to share it with. Oh well, you can't have everything. But apparrently you can have a lot. I'll post a pic or two later.