Hunkabutta Archives

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I don't have any Internet connection at the place that I'm staying, so I'm just posting to Hunkabutta sporadically when I get the chance. Right now I'm in the basement at Julie's (Karen's sister) friend's house. They're just wrapping up Julie's bridal shower upstairs.

I have to run now and take care of Jack. He's getting in the way of all the dress trying on and cake eating.

I'm going to try to keep posting regularly, but there might be a few lapses in the future if I can't get to a computer.

More later.

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We're back in Canada. We got off the plane in Vancouver yesterday afternoon and immediately started to suffer from reverse culture shock -- everyone looked overweight, threatening, and poorly dressed. Quite the change from Tokyo.

For the next little while we'll be staying in Langley, which is a semi-developed rural area just outside the major Vancouver suburbs. My father-in-law's girlfriend Jean has a townhouse here that she's letting us use. My parents are coming out from Toronto in a few days and will stay here with us for about a week. I'm happy that they'll get to spend a lot of time with Jack.

It's not as easy taking pictures here as it is in Tokyo. Yesterday afternoon, before going to bed early, I stepped out to take a few shots for Hunkabutta. I took some pictures of the townhouse and the surrounding residential area. I got some apprehensive looks from a couple of young guys who pulled up in a car next door. Then I walked up the road a bit and took some shots of a nearby farm and some stores.

I was only out for about 20 minutes, when, on my way home, I decided to stop and take a quick shot of the street. I was standing on the sidewalk next to a low fence behind which was a backyard with some moms and kids hanging out. As I looked down at the camera to line up the shot I nearly jumped out of my skin because I suddenly heard a thunderous chorus of barks and snarls coming up behind me. I spun around just in time to see an enormous Rottweiler the size of a buffalo coming straight for me from behind the little fence. As I turned to start to run, because I was sure that the demon dog could lunge over the fence if it wanted to, one of the overweight moms, with frizzy-permed dyed-blond hair, leaned forward in her plastic deck chair and shouted out to the dog, "Angel! Angel! You get back here! You stop that now."

So, with my heart still in my throat from the encounter with Angel I continued on up the road towards home. A moment later I was stopped by the two young guys, teenagers really, that I had seen in the car early. One guy, the talker, had long curly hair under a wool cap and wore a plaid shirt. His friend, the little quiet one, had short hair and a stripped t-shirt.

The curly haired guy says to me, trying to sound all tough and mature, "Ah, excuse me, we saw that you were taking a lot of pictures, and we were wondering what you were doing. It's kind of strange eh."

"Yeah, I know," I said. "Don't worry about it, I'm an amateur photographer and I have a web site where I put my pictures. I'm on vacation, I live in Tokyo right now, and I'm just trying to show my friends what it's like where I'm staying."

His eyes bulged out of his face for a moment. "You live in TOKYO, wow, really."

"Yeah, pretty cool, eh?" I said.

"Yeah, okay, I see, well, anyway it's just that my mom saw you walking around taking pictures and she's like, what's this guy doing, and stuff."

"No, problem," I said. "I'm staying at Jean's. You know Jean?"

"Oh!" he said with relief, "You're staying in number 2, yeah, okay, we heard that some people were coming."

And with that I left them to continue patrolling the neighbourhood.

In the three years that I've been taking pictures in Japan I don't think that I've even had one scary or confrontational moment. In my first twenty minutes back in Canada taking pictures I've had two.

I guess I'll just have to learn how to adjust, there are a lot of nice things to take pictures of here.

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Tomorrow's the big trip home to Vancouver, Canada. Everybody's been looking forward to it. As usual, I still have a shameful amount of things to get done before we leave -- I have to burn some back-up CDs of my pictures because I'm taking my laptop; set up a web site for a friend who just registered a domain name; clean the apartment for the people that we subleased to, etc.

Some other good news is that I scraped by on my Japanese language final exam and they're going to let me advance to the next level.

So, I guess for the next three weeks I'll be doing my Kanji studying under the shade of the giant redwood trees.

Talk to you soon from lovely British Columbia.

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I saw something in a local magazine recently that I thought you might find interesting -- Japanese emoticons.

Apparently, Japanese people originally found the Western style emoticons (e.g. the happy face, :-)) difficult to read because the faces are turned on their sides. So Japanese people started making ones that could be read from left to right. Here are some examples:

(^_^) Happy face.
(;_;) Crying face.
(^_^;) Nervous - with sweat down the side of the face.
(*^_^*) Blushing and happy.
(^_^;>) Embarrassed - the greater-than sign is a hand scratching the head.
(^_^b) Thumbs up
m(_)m I'm sorry/Thank you - person doing a seated bow. The m's are hands.
("_") I'm tired.
(*_*) Surprised.
(>_<) Pain.
(^_^)V Peace/Good news.
(^o^) Happiness.
(^_-) Wink
(^3^) Kiss.
p(^^)q Good luck/Go for it - the 'p' and 'q' represent clenched fists.

As a matter of fact, I thought of my own Western style emoticon for the the expression that most of the guys used to have back in the office when I was working. Here it is:


I never could figure out what they were thinking.

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