Week in Review – December 19, 2015

Hard to believe the year is almost over. The new year is coming very soon. This week, I talked a lot about the future and a little of the past. I focused quite a bit about this blog this week. What did you miss? Take a look!

This week’s posts

First up, I looked at some old technology in Does Anyone Still Use a… Well, do you? Read and share what you still use.

This week, I talked a lot about what I’ll be doing in the future, so I did a four part Mission Statement. This is the first part, discussion reviews I’ll be doing: Mission Statement – Books, Movies, and TV.

The Mission Statement continued in the next post, Mission Statement – Science. There, I talked about Quick Facts and other science-related posts I’ll be doing.

In the third part, Mission Statement – Writing, I focused on the future of my writing. This is probably the most important part of my blog. Not only about my writing, but I also talked about worldbuilding, something I have a passion for.

A brief break in the mission statement, on my way home one night this week, I saw another foreigner. What we did was a bit awkward. Find out what in Foreigners Behaving Strangely in Japan.

In the conclusion to my Mission Statement, I talked about what drives me, as well as a few other things that go on behind the scenes and elsewhere. Check that out in Mission Statement – Passions and Beliefs.

Next up, I had a question for all the readers out there. I need a bit of help. I still need help. In fact, I have only received one question. This is for Authors Answer. Please go to What Would You Like to Ask Authors? and ask your question. We will answer it in a future Authors Answer.

This is becoming a regular weekly thing now. More Instagram photos and another vote for you. If you haven’t done so yet, please go to Choose My Best Instagram Photos – Round 1, Group 26 and vote for your favourites.

I have a question I’d like more input on. What Happens at a Writer’s Group? Please go to that post and let me know if you’re a member of a writer’s group.

Coinciding with the new Star Wars movie, this week’s Authors Answer asks about hated characters, characters who are definitely on the dark side. Share your opinions with us at Authors Answer 59 – Characters of the Dark Side.

And of course, a post that’s more related to Star Wars, I asked a simple question: Dark or Light? So, which is it? Which are you?

And finally, a look at the past. It’s only 101 days until we move to Canada, and I have a lot of thoughts about my time in Japan. Find out what I was surprised about in 101 Days to Canada – A Retrospective on Japan.

Reading

I’m making steady progress on the two books I’m reading, though not as fast as I’d like. The Dragon Reborn is up to 74% finished now, while Keepers of Water is at 20%. Hoping to finish the former before the end of the month.

Languages

I made very little progress in any language, though I did a couple quick bursts in French. No changes in level on Duolingo, though.

Canada

We’ve been working on preparing to send some things to Canada. Surprisingly, I can fit a lot of books in a relatively small box. It’s lighter than I expected. I don’t think I’ll be able to send them all to Canada, but I can get a good portion of them there. I wonder how many of my Japanese textbooks I can send. I’ll see.

And that’s all for this week. Next week is interesting because of Christmas. Authors Answer will be on Christmas Day. I should have an interesting post about Christmas, too. I may be making a video. And I really need to get my Japan videos up.

So, how was your week? Do anything exciting?

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101 Days to Canada – A Retrospective on Japan

It still doesn’t seem real. I’m here, in my apartment in Japan, and Canada seems so far away. It’s not just distance, but time, as well. When I first came to Japan, I had no idea my time here would be nearly eleven years. I’d intended on two. A lot of things happened, both expected and surprising. I’d like to look back on a few of those events.

Grocery shopping

This is one of the first things I did. I’m used to it now, but there are a few differences that surprised me. One is that salt is with the oil and soy sauce, not the spices. Took me a long time to find it. Also, packaging is a bit too much here. Large trays for a single piece of fish or meat. Individually wrapped cookies. And so many kinds of soy sauce, I had no idea what to buy.

Summer

I was expecting hot and humid, but I’d never experienced it for four straight months before. I remember walking home one night around one in the morning, and it was still hot and humid. But you know what? I love Japan’s summer now.

Earthquakes

I’d always expected to feel earthquakes, and now I feel slightly desensitised to them. However, the big earthquake on March 11, 2011 is something I’ll never forget. You can read about my experience here (written just two days after the earthquake, and the entire experience was very fresh in my mind) and here (this second one was from this year and includes videos).

Trains

I knew that the train system in Japan was amazing, but I was expecting it to be difficult to use. On the contrary, it was quite easy. The only difficulty I had was with the Tokyo subway system, where nothing was in English. There’s English now, though. But I love Japan’s train system so much, it’s one of the things I’m going to miss terribly. I wish Canada would build a convenient and efficient system like this. Much easier than flying and driving all the time.

Suicide

I knew about people jumping in front of trains before I came here. I just never thought I’d witness it.  And I did.  Right in front of me. It was just a couple days after I climbed Mt. Fuji in August 2005. Everything was in slow motion as it happened. You can read about that experience here. I still remember the entire thing very clearly.

Mt. Fuji

One of my highlights, and I did it early. The weather was perfect, and the view was amazing. They say you should only do it once. Well, I want to do it again! And the next time, have a better camera.

Teaching children

Before starting my English teaching job, I’d never really had any experience with children, other than having been one. But I was an unusual child, wanting to study, wanting to have my nose in a science book or encyclopedia. My first lesson was nerve-wracking. Now, I have no problems with kids.

Mayonnaise

I don’t like mayonnaise. Unfortunately, it’s everywhere in Japan. If I want a sandwich, I have to make it myself, or else I’ll get a huge glob of mayonnaise in my mouth. Ugh. I even wanted beef stew one day from Family Mart, and guess what I saw. Mayonnaise on top. What the hell?

Cold apartments

It’s damn cold inside in winter! No central heating, poor insulation, and a single air conditioner in one room. I used that air conditioner a lot when I was single. My apartment was tiny then.

Tiny apartments

My first two apartments were so small. My mom visited me after I’d been in Japan for a year, and she laughed the first time she saw my apartment. That was my first apartment, the one without internet. Nice view, though.

Ignoring the law

Japan is a safe country with law-abiding citizens. That is in most ways, they are. There are two cases where I see people constantly breaking the law. The first is smoking laws. I’ve seen people smoking in no-smoking areas, next to no-smoking signs, and even on train platforms and inside stations. The second is driving laws. People run red lights all the time, don’t signal, and don’t yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. I’ve been nearly hit by cars on six or seven occasions.

There’s a lot more I could say here. I think I could write a book about it. Maybe I will one day.

Did anything surprise you? If you’ve been to another country, is there something that surprised you? Share your experiences in the comments below.