29.5.08
Cockroaches
Doesn't that word send a shiver down your spine? I have recently discovered that I have quite a strong visceral reaction to cockroaches. The word for "cockroach" in Japanese is "gokiburi." I think that word has a very disgusting, vile ring to it-- quite appropriate for the foul insect it represents.

Tuesday night I bought eggplant, green pepper, carrot, and ground beef to make a Chinese dish called, roughly translated, "fish-taste eggplant." I found a sauce packet to make the dish in my local grocery store (who'da thunk it?) and I was super-excited to try it out. Since I had veggies left over, Wednesday night I made a yummy concoction of eggplant, green pepper, garlic, and spaghetti sauce to pour over rice. After putting the soiled frying pan and utensils in the sink, I decided to let the dishes sit while I ate my food and watched a movie. Two hours later, the movie was finished, I was stuffed, and I was not looking forward to cleaning the grease and veggie pieces off of all the dishes in the sink. I walk into the kitchen, turn on the light, look in the sink, and scream. There is a big, brown, shiny cockroach sitting in the net used to put unwanted veggie pieces in. My fear quickly turned to anger-- I'm angry that there's cockroaches in my apartment and angry that I squealed like a junior high schooler. Fuming, I grabbed a paper towel and started cursing the cockroach out, psyching myself up to try to smash it. In the time it took me to get the courage up to kill it, it had started on its escape plan. "Screw this," I said out loud. "I'm getting a shoe." I ran to my entryway and grabbed the first shoe I could, then ran back to the kitchen where the cockroach had, by this time reached the front of the cabinets under the sink and was making his way to a small gap in the cabinet doors. "Oh no you don't!" I yelled, opened the door, and tried to smash him. The fast little sucker got away and quickly ran behind the cabinet through a tiny crevice between the sink unit and the wall. Cursing, I ran to my stash of lethal chemicals, grabbed a bottle of insecticide, and fumigated the crevice with as much bug spray as my eyes could handle.

Defeated, I turned back to the sink to start doing the dishes. I lifted up the frying pan to find ANOTHER cockroach. I squealed again, then sprayed the living daylights out of it with the can of spray that was still conveniently next to me. As my skin began to tingle from the chemicals, I grabbed a paper towel and, now unafraid to feel the bug's exoskeleton crush under my fingertips, vanquished the foul beast. The rest of the night I kept feeling phantom bugs crawling on my arms. But that may have been the chemical vapors that seeped into my skin.

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written by Ruthie @ 10:04 PM   8 comments
23.5.08
Popular Music
Lots of Western music is popular in Japan, and since I've been here I've noticed that a particular few bands are extremely well-known throughout the country. Here's a list I've compiled (in no particular order):

Bands/Musicians:
  • ABBA
  • The Carpenters
  • The Beatles
  • Avril Lavigne
  • Hillary Duff
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Celine Dion
  • Michael Jackson
  • Beyonce
  • Mariah Carey
  • Madonna
  • Cyndi Lauper
Songs:
  • Country Road-- John Denver
  • My Heart Will Go On-- Celine Dion
  • Bad Day-- Daniel Powter
  • All I Want For Christmas Is You-- Mariah Carey
  • We Are the World-- Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie
  • Canon in D--Pachabel
  • Prelude in C-- J.S. Bach
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring-- J.S. Bach
  • High School Musical soundtrack

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written by Ruthie @ 1:50 AM   2 comments
20.5.08
Random
I experienced my first earthquake yesterday. I was trying to take a power nap on the couch in the English Lounge and I felt a shaking. I thought it was the wind from somebody slamming a door, but it lasted about 15 seconds. It wasn't very strong at all. I'm sure it didn't cause any damage, but it was quite exciting to feel an earthquake!

I saw a T-shirt yesterday that said "A TIGER IS FURIOUS AND IS HARD TO TREAT" in gold, sparkly lettering. It was so funny at the time that I wrote it down in my little notebook, since I couldn't get a picture.

Every conversation class I have with my second-year high schoolers, one student teaches the "Word of the Day," an English word of the student's choosing that is new to all of the class. Today's word of the day was "sea anemone." I wonder why she chose that word. Did she watch Finding Nemo?

I went to a used store with a huge suitcase (It was Buck, Mom. I got rid of Buck) full of clothes and random household nicknacks. I figured I could get at least 2000 yen (about $20) for all that stuff, since the original value had to have been over $100. Out of all that stuff, the store decided to take a shirt, a sweater, an small journal, and an almost new CD. In return for taking these things, they gave me 120 yen-- the equivalent of roughly $1.25. I was slightly insulted. I took back the CD, figuring I could sell it for more at a different store, took the 120 yen, and let the clerk throw away the rest of the items in the suitcase.

At karaoke, I love to sing "September," by Earth, Wind, and Fire. I also like to sing Lisa Loeb's "Stay." "A Whole New World" from Aladdin is also a big hit.

I'm not looking forward to Coldplay's new album. I just heard the single on the radio today and I was disappointed. Parachutes was so awesome, and all their subsequent albums have not met up to the one previous. Every song on Parachutes was fantastic. It was effortless, ethereal. Rush of Blood to the Head was pretty good, but lacked the emotional depth and musical quality of Parachutes. X and Y felt like watered-down Coldplay to me. It's good, but not amazing. I'm worried their new album will be crap.

Yesterday I washed a load of laundry with hot water (I filled the washer with water from the shower, since my washer is not equipped with hot water), rinsed it twice, and hung it out all day today in the sun. When I brought it back in tonight, it was clean and crispy-dry, not the usual mostly-dry and maybe-slightly-soapy. This makes me happy.

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written by Ruthie @ 6:21 AM   3 comments
17.5.08
Ten Things
Shamelessly stolen from Amanda.

Ten Things I Can’t Stand:

1. Comic Sans
2. repeating myself
3. socially awkward people (you know, the ones who just don't get it)
4. people doing things for me that I can do and want to do for myself
5. squid
6. octopus
7. fish eggs
8. Japanese fermented beans called nattou (they're sticky and smelly and apparently healthy)
9. miso soup
10. tofu

Ten Movies I Adore (in no particular order):

1. That Thing You Do!
2. Joe Vs. the Volcano
3. Shakespeare in Love
4. Pride and Prejudice (Keira version)
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
6. Stranger Than Fiction
7. The Empire Strikes Back
8. Babel
9. William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (Baz Lurhmann version)
10. Forrest Gump

Ten Programs/Games on my Computer:

1. Microsoft Office
2. Mozilla Firefox
3. Antivir Virus Protection
4. Google Desktop
5. 123 Free Solitaire
6. CCleaner
7. Spybot
8. AdAware
9. Minesweeper
10. Spider Solitaire

Ten Things I Want to Do in my Lifetime:

1. Have a dog
2. Dye some part of my hair purple
3. Write a symphony
4. Have my music performed in a major concert hall
5. Go to New Zealand
6. Go to London
7. Go to Paris
8. Own my own home
9. Get married
10. Have children

Ten CDs I Love:

1. Eric Whitacre-- The Complete A Capella Works
2. Mute Math-- self-titled album
3. Radiohead-- In Rainbows
4. Keane-- Under the Iron Sea
5. Aubrey's 2007 Christmas Mix
6. Angela Aki-- HOME
7. Lauryn Hill-- The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
8. Coldplay-- Parachutes
9. The Beatles-- White Album
10. Gnarls Barkley-- St. Elsewhere

Ten Things in my Desk Drawers:

1. pencils
2. rubber stamps
3. scissors
4. American money
5. Chinese money
6. sticky tack
7. old greeting cards
8. tourist brochures from all over Japan
9. empty CD jewel cases
10. business cards

Ten Books I Treasure:

1. 1984-- George Orwell
2. Timeline-- Michael Crichton
3. The Chronicles of Narnia-- C.S. Lewis
4. old journals and diaries
5. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs-- Judi Barrett
6. my Chihuly Seaforms coffeetable book
7. Ethnomusicology-- Bruno Nettl
8. The Selected Works of e. e. cummings
9. Deep River-- Shusako Endo
10. 101 Sudoku Puzzles

Ten Moments I Remember (totally random ones I just happen to remember while thinking of moments):

1. LOTE, when I was being a brat because I was missing my then-boyfriend's birthday party, but it was a really meaningful "family bonding thing" for my parents.
2. Picking up a sand dollar on a beach in Florida with Kirtsen Bushzka and her family.
3. The time I may or may not have pushed Aaron off the chair when he broke his arm on the coffee table (I don't know if I really pushed him or not. I'm starting to think I really did push him).
4. In my college anatomy and physiology class we did a lab on the reproductive system. I happened to be looking at the plastic model of the male and I was looking at the penis and, not thinking, I said out loud, "Is this actual size?" Everyone in the class looked at me in shock. I tried to cover by saying, "The bladder. It's the size of my fist." The professor was trying (unsuccessfully) not to chuckle.
5. The night I drove my first car for the first time, I went into the Ice Cream Shoppe with a bunch of friends. An hour later when we came out, I saw that I left my headlights on.
6. In 8th grade I had to do some sort of group presentation and then present it to a 7th grade class. I was very enthusiastically explaining my section of the presentation, and Katie Goins told me to "perk down" in a very annoyed tone in front of my group and all the 7th graders.
7. Once in gym class sometime in elementary school while we lived in Brewton, AL, the gym teacher threatened to beat a kid with a wooden paddle because he thought the kid flipped him off. The kid (a fat black kid in a shirt too small for him) held up a balled-up fist and said, "No, I didn't, I was going like this!" I was terrified.
8. I watched a really scary and weird movie with Jenna Rhodes and her brother at her house while her parents were gone. I was traumatized for a long time of images of women in these weird hoop skirts without fabric bustling around this blind and deaf 20-year-old guy. There was also some sex, singing, and dancing, I think.
9. I remember walking to First Covenant Church when the weather was nice when we lived in Rockford, IL. I was probably six years old. I wore these cute, lacy dresses Mom made for me, and Aaron and Daniel and I always ran ahead and talked about how we named the trail the Red Rocket Trail or something like that.
10. I wanted to eat an orange creamsicle, but Mom said I couldn't take it over to the neighbor's house, because it was rude to eat an orange creamsicle in front of her if she didn't have one.

Ten Things I’m Never Without:

1. Gaijin card
2. bandaids
3. MD player
4. cell phone
5. some sort of lip balm
6. lotion
7. apartment keys
8. my two rings and my watch
9. underwear (I NEVER go commando)
10. hair clips of some kind

Ten Things I Love (other than people):

1. chips and salsa
2. a good cup of tea
3. hiking
4. fragrant flowers
5. laughing
6. remembering/interpreting my weird dreams
7. swimming in the ocean
8. beautiful scenery
9. cool song parts
10. karaoke
written by Ruthie @ 4:42 AM   1 comments
New Kit Kat
Two new Kit Kat flavors recently, both minis:Brown sugar. Ami found these in a nearby grocery store. I really enjoy them. Ami thinks they're too molasses-y.
Salt and caramel. It sounds sort of gross, but I really couldn't taste any salt-- just caramel goodness. These are a huge thumbs-up in my book.

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written by Ruthie @ 1:51 AM   2 comments
13.5.08
Addicted
71%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?


It's funny-- one of the questions in this quiz was "Will you blog about your addiction after you finish this quiz?" Of course I said yes.

written by Ruthie @ 11:36 PM   0 comments
11.5.08
Collections
Collections I've had in my life:
  • Bells of the United States (I don't think I even got ten before I gave up)
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Stickers off of household things (bottles of kitchen cleaner, CD wrappers, etc)
  • Stickers (other than from household things, like store bought stickers)
  • Photos of manhole covers
  • Interesting buttons and pins
  • Cute bandages
  • Origami paper
  • I once tried to find a penny from every year I have been alive.
Do you have any strange/cool collections you wish to tell me about? Please, share the love.
written by Ruthie @ 9:09 PM   3 comments
Retraction
My friend, Chi-chan, who told me that Kiyomizu Temple was a famous suicide spot has told me she was misinformed. Here is some information she wanted me to pass on to my readers about the temple: "Kiyomizu is famous for the magnificent height and the view from there. It's a very significant sight that, if you are ready to do something important or special, you can imagine that great view and you can challenge yourself to do something right. Kiyomizu temple's great view can give you that power and the thrill that you can almost jump in. So it's not for killing you. Those views encourage you to do something. Kiyomizu also is known for being built with no nails! It's only made of wood!"

Here's some more info straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

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written by Ruthie @ 12:44 AM   1 comments
10.5.08
Golden Week
Golden Week is a block of holidays in the first week of May. Often the holidays fall so that there is almost a week of vacation for students and some businesses. Lots of people travel during Golden Week, and students often come home from college for the first time during this break (since the school year starts in April). This year I went with Chi-chan to Kyoto.This is Kiyomizudera. I'm not sure what it's famous for, but it is probably the most famous tourist spot in Kyoto. Chi-chan told me one of its claims to fame is that lots of people used to commit suicide by jumping from the temple into the ravine below.

Another really famous site in Kyoto is the Golden Pavillion. I saw it with my mom when she came to visit, but since this was possibly Chi-chan's only time in her life to see Kyoto, it was a must-see on our list. The irises were blooming this time, and their deep purples were beautiful against the golden building.

At the entrance to Heian Shrine stands the largest torii gate I've ever seen.

One of the things Chi-chan really wanted to do was eat traditional-flavored sweets in Gion. So we did. And they were dang expensive. She really enjoyed her Green Tea Parfait, and I liked my Green Tea Parfait and Rice Cake Pudding thinger ok. Green tea is not my favorite ice cream flavor, but it was good with cake and whipped cream. Although, anything is good with cake and whipped cream.

While in Gion we saw maiko (apprentice geisha) walking home after entertaining somewhere. Everyone in the street stopped and watched in awe as they were quickly ushered in the gate of their home.

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written by Ruthie @ 2:24 AM   1 comments
9.5.08
Shinkansen
A view of Hiroshima from the Shinkansen.
video

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written by Ruthie @ 6:01 AM   4 comments
8.5.08
Senteisai Dance
This is the woman who looks like a geisha (but probably isn't) doing a dance in a street parade.
video

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written by Ruthie @ 7:15 AM   0 comments
7.5.08
Senteisai
On May 3rd a festival called "senteisai" was held in Shimonoseki. I'm not exactly sure what the festival commemorates. Here's what the city website says: "In the Middle Age, the last battle between the Genji clan and the Heike clan broke out in Dannoura on 24 March 1185 and Yoshitsune won the battle by using the tides. On the other hand, Emperor Antoku died with three sacred treasures and the Heike clan was ruined. The Joro-sanpai (worshipped by court ladies) of the Sentei-sai Festival, which takes place at the Akama Shrine, is famous throughout Japan and is conducted to commemorate the Emperor Antoku, who drowned himself in Dannoura."

It was the most crowded I've ever seen the city. People must have come from all over Yamaguchi to see the parade and the festivities downtown. The whole day centered around a dance held at the famous Akama Shrine. Before the dance, women dressed in bright kimono and elaborate makeup and hair paraded through the city.









There were pretty little girls (maybe as young as 4 or 5) on palanquins surrounded by attendants, then progressively older girls followed until finally we could see what all the fuss was about:
She's not a geisha. I don't think. But she is a dancer. Video to follow.

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written by Ruthie @ 8:04 AM   1 comments
1.5.08
Mascots
Japundit just posted a link to the most incredible website I've ever seen: Japanese Mascots.com! It's true that Japan has a fascination with giving everything some cute or hilariously strange mascot. It's not just sports teams that have mascots in Japan. Every prefecture has a mascot. Lots of police forces and fire departments have mascots. Airports, famous towers, food products, the Ministry of Justice, festivals, department stores, universities, newspapers-- you name it, it has a mascot.

Here's a link to a post about Yamaguchi prefecture's police force mascot.

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written by Ruthie @ 10:30 PM   1 comments
What?
Since I've been away from the US for almost 2 years now (excluding the two times I came home for visits), I feel like I'm missing out on little things, mostly pop culture and current events. When I browse people's blogs and Facebook and stuff like that, I frequently come upon little phrases or references I don't understand. Hopefully some of my readers can help me get back on track with the "hip lingo" before I get home.

Here's a list of a few things I don't get:
  • What does it mean to be "pwned"?
  • Why's "you are the cheese to my macaroni" so popular all of a sudden?
  • Who is Edward Cullen and why is he so great?
  • Why is the word "creeper" suddenly some kind of a joke?
  • Who is McDreamy?
  • What is the significance of being trout slapped?
I'll let you know when I think of more. Or, do you guys out there think I'm missing some new slang or current event that you could tell me about?
written by Ruthie @ 2:01 AM   4 comments
 
私について

Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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