Category Archives: Life

What are you doing December 21st?

Friday, December 21st, 2012.  Winter solstice.  I have the day off.  What am I doing?  I’m not sure yet, but I’ll definitely be continuing to live in this continuing world of ours.  This is the only time I’ll say this: No, the world isn’t ending.  The Mayans did not predict the end of the world.

Now, winter is approaching.  It already feels like winter here.  The Japan Meteorology Association has predicted that this winter will be colder than last winter.  Last winter was the coldest in several years.  But this winter will be colder?  I’m not looking forward to that.  It’s no secret that I dislike winter.  I may be from Canada, but I don’t like the cold.  The Tokyo area has a mild winter, but with the lack of central heating and decent insulation, it’s always cold inside.

I have some things to look forward to, though.  New Year’s Day will be interesting.  I’ll be spending it at my wife’s family’s home, where we’ll have an amazing meal, delicious sake, and most likely go bowling.  My daughter’s first birthday is next month, too.  It’ll be an exciting time to see her change from a baby to a toddler.  With the week off that I have around New Year’s, I also plan to do a lot of work on this blog, as well as write as much as I can.

So, what are you planning to do after the non-end of the world?

My dream writing studio

For a long time, I’ve wanted my own room dedicated to books and writing.  Call it a writing studio, a library, an office, whatever you like to call it.  Some guys have a man cave.  I want my writing cave.

Well, it’s not a cave, it’s a standard room, has a door and a window, as well as 4 walls, a carpeted floor, and a ceiling.  I’m not much of a decorator, but I have my wishes for how I want it to look.  And maybe my dream writing studio is pretty standard looking.

I’d like two of the walls to be lined by big bookshelves.  They should be nearly to the ceiling, with some space at the top for various things I may collect.  I’d like them to be a rich reddish colour, maybe mahogany, cherry, or walnut.  They will hold my library, all of the books that I own.  I’ll arrange them by genre and author, allowing me to easily locate a book.

The walls will be painted a darker colour.  Bright colours are nice.  I like bright colours, but I want my cave to have a warm feeling, and a rich, dark colour would be ideal.  Like a red wine colour.  That would warm me up.

Furniture would be pretty standard.  A desk for my computer, of course.  I’d likely have a couple of laptops, a bigger desktop replacement, as well as a smaller netbook sized PC for writing away from home.  While the above description sounds traditional, I want a modern desk with a sleek design.  I wouldn’t just be using the computer for writing, but I do like other things, such as games, Youtube, Internet, and I can’t forget blogging.

I have a love for maps, so one of my walls will have several maps.  They’ll include a world map, a map of Canada, and a map of Japan.  Additional maps may include those of the worlds I’m creating in my writing.

I’d also like a nice, comfortable sofa to lounge on while I read.  Not a leather or vinyl sofa, but a simple cloth sofa that I won’t stick to on a hot summer day or leap in the air from shock on a cold winter day.

Some other various items may include astronomy related pictures or globes, plastic models of planes or ships (I’m interested in making these), and family photos.

What’s your idea of your own personal dream room?

I am a Geek

There’s a Venn Diagram that’s been going around on the Internet for quite some time now, so I’m sure you’ve all seen it:

Intelligence, social ineptitude, and obsession are the prerequisites for a nerd.  Until university, I was a nerd.  I did very well in school, I was quite shy, and I was a big Star Trek fan.  Now, I’m not socially inept, as I teach for a living, and have had a decent social life.  That leaves me with geek.  I am a geek!  And I’m proud of it!

Nerds and geeks are very important people in the world, especially in the fields of science and engineering.  Many of the electronics and devices that you use everyday were developed by intelligent people who were most likely obsessed with the very things that they worked on.  You know Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001?  Not only was he a science fiction author, but he was also the inventor of the communications satellite.  Not bad!

I mentioned that I was obsessed with Star Trek.  I still am, though not as much as I used to be.  I’ve branched out a bit.  However, I do have a goal of owning every episode and movie on DVD or Blu-ray, as well as wanting to read many of the novels.  But that’s not my only obsession.  I’m also obsessed about fantasy novels.  It’s my favourite genre at the moment.  I also love science fiction, which was my first literary love.  I’m even writing science fiction.

Back in my childhood, I was obsessed with knowledge in general.  I enjoyed reading encyclopedias, and I couldn’t get enough of dinosaurs and astronomy.  Soon after, my obsession with Star Trek started.  Around the mid-80s, I played around with BASIC programming on my Apple IIe computer, which resulted in my obsession with computers.  I breezed through my computer classes in junior high school and high school, as I’d already known all about the topics we studied.  For a while, I was very interested in cars, and much to the surprise of my classmates in high school, I even took an automotives class.  The auto class was basically a kind of applied science, or engineering.  It really shouldn’t be surprising that I was interested in it.

But these days, my obsessions include more than just the classic geeky things.  I also really enjoy nature, history, and architecture.  I like to take pictures of buildings, old and new.  Living in Japan makes this easy for me, as Japan has some amazing modern buildings, as well as a huge number of historical sites.  I love walking long distance, though I haven’t had a chance to do much of that recently.  I walked 35 km in one day two years ago.  I discovered Instagram last year, and have taken more than 500 pictures with it.

On the more brainy side of things, I love maps and geography.  I can picture them in my mind quite easily, and I usually know exactly where I am and how to get somewhere.  I also love statistics.  I’m always watching how many views my blogs get, where the people live, which pages are popular, and so on.  I read all about sports stats, especially for hockey and sumo.  How’s that for an odd pairing?  Population of countries and cities is  a very interesting topic for me, as well.  I’ve used both geography and statistics to develop the world I’m basing my writing on.  Obsessions can be very useful!

I’m very happy to be a geek.  Life is more interesting this way.  There’s something interesting everywhere I look.

Just a little edit:

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Where do you read?

Some people like to read in bed. Some like to read in a comfortable chair in their living room. Some like their balcony. And some read on the toilet. Where do you like to read?

I prefer reading in bed before going to sleep, but that’s impossible right now. I have no light by the bed and my daughter sleeps between my wife and I, so no chance to read there. I read on the train. If I have a seat, I’ll read a book. If I’m standing, I’ll read an eBook on my iPhone. I’ll also read during my lunch break at work.

I hope that I can read in bed again in the future, but also in my own room where I can keep my books and computer. Maybe someday.

Arranging a personal schedule

Life with a baby can make it difficult to find time for everything.  Thankfully, my daughter is sleeping right now, so I can type this.  My wife is starting a new part time job, which will leave me to take care of the baby in the mornings before I go to work, as well as weekend evenings after I get home from work.  With luck, she’ll be sleeping or sitting quietly while I try do some things.

My other two blogs more or less have a weekly schedule for updates.  Jay Dee in Japan has a weekly iPhone photo series.  Foreign Dad in Japan is constantly being updated with baby development news and information.  This blog has the writing challenge.  I haven’t been doing very well with it because I get sidetracked with the baby or I’m too tired at night to work on it.  Well, I’m going to start writing more for this blog starting now.

What I’m going to do is go to bed earlier so I can wake up earlier.  This should give me more time in the morning, as the baby often sleeps in the morning, but not so much in the late evening.  I will also try to get 30-60 minutes of reading in every night.  I’ve been reading so slowly lately because I’ve been so disorganised.  Hopefully, this will improve.  It better improve, because many of the upcoming books I have to read are quite long.  Well, I better get to work on it!


For those of you who know me, and know my other blogs, you will have seen this.  But if you are only following this blog, I’d like you to read something.  Please go here (the anniversary) and here (my full experience) to read about the Great Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  I got to experience it firsthand.

On another note, I haven’t updated recently, as I’ve been quite busy.  I have a book review to write and post soon.

Random things you may not know about me

Who am I?  What makes me the person I am?  Those who know me well probably know most of these.  Those who know me from school, might not know most of these things.  My acquaintances probably know very little of this.  So, what should I tell you?

Let’s start with sports.  I used to play hockey when I was in elementary school.  It’s always been my favourite sport.  But I was never known to be an offensive threat.  I played right wing, but I’d never scored a single goal.  Why?  I hated attention.  I never liked being in the spotlight, so I didn’t try hard.  Now, I wish I could’ve changed all that.  These days, my athletic focus is on long distance walking and hiking.  I’ve walked 35 km uninterrupted in 8 1/2 hours.  That was for fun.

As the title of this blog states, I read encyclopedias for fun.  But did you know that I rarely read fiction when I was younger?  I was far more interested in science, history and geography.  I didn’t start liking fiction until I was in high school.

Those who know me know that I did very well in school.  But they may not know that I didn’t like English class.  The reason?  I hated analysing novels and poetry, describing any hidden meaning that, according to some teachers, has only one correct answer.  English wasn’t my worst class.  That was social studies.  I liked history, but I didn’t like writing essays on history.

I rarely had math homework.  I almost always finished it before class ended.

I used to be a Kabuki Kab driver/tour guide in Victoria.  It was only for a couple of months until I tore my quad muscle.  I never had surgery.  Glad I didn’t, because my knee is close to 100% normal.  Someone I know with the same iinjury had surgery and her knee was never the same.

I was bullied in junior high school.  Physically in grade 7, emotionally and psychologically in grade 8.  I faked being sick just to get out of going to school in grade 8 sometimes.  Sorry for lying about that, mom.

I was a big Star Trek fan.  I went to a few conventions.  I still enjoy Star Trek a lot.  I’ve met Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis and James Doohan.

I loved dinosaurs as a kid.  Not for the same reasons other kids liked dinosaurs, though.  I liked them for biological and evolutionary reasons.  I loved science (still do, of course).  I almost went into palaeontology in university.  One of my favourite books is a very detailed and scientific book about dinosaurs that I bought at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta.  I bought it when I was in junior high school.  It was an amazing book.  When I was away at university, my mom gave away all my childhood books that I didn’t need anymore.  I think she gave that book away, too.  I still want it back.

I love Marmite.

I hate tomatoes, tomato sauce, pizza sauce and meat sauce.  However, I like ketchup, barbecue sauce, A1 sauce and HP sauce.

I hate brussels sprouts.

I hate bell peppers, but I like jalapeno peppers and have been known to eat anything with habanero pepper seasoning.

I used to hate broccoli, but now I like it, as long as it isn’t boiled and mushy.  It needs to retain some crunchiness.

I hate western spinach, but like Japanese spinach.

I love wasabi.

I did a research paper for my radio astronomy class in university on the radio emissions of Jupiter.

I love being on the top of mountains, big hills and tall buildings.

I don’t believe in any religion, but I like Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Japan, mainly for aesthetic reasons, but I also find them peaceful and relaxing.

I may not believe in religions, but I find them interesting culturally (and no, you can’t convert me).

I have a prejudice against Rottweilers.  One killed my dog.

I used to do surveys in a call centre.  Hated that job, but I was good at it.  My coworkers and bosses made it bearable.  Good group of people.  It was far more enjoyable, though somewhat tedious, being a team leader there.

I did data entry with a company contracted by the British Columbia government to input vital statistics records into a database.  I entered my uncle’s birth record.

I have eaten octopus sashimi and disliked it.  I have eaten basashi (raw horse meat) and didn’t dislike it.

One of my goals is to visit all 47 prefectures of Japan.  I have a long way to go.  I also have a goal to visit all 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada.  That’s much easier to achieve, even though it’s a much larger country.

I enjoy The Sims 2, Simcity 4, Civilization IV and Star Trek Online.

My grade 1 teacher was my aunt, until she retired halfway through the year.  I strongly disliked her replacement, who couldn’t even pronounce the word “film.”  It’s not “fillum!” Even as a 6 year old, it irritated me.

My grade 3 teacher accused me of trying to cheat on a test.  I was merely looking at the floor while thinking.

In grade 4, an optometrist said I needed glasses.  We got them, I never used them.  We got a second opinion, and that optometrist said we were lied to.  I haven’t needed glasses at all in my life.

In grade 7, I was told by my social studies teacher that I had a photographic memory.  I’m very good at geography.  I can picture fairly accurate maps in my mind.  This ability has also helped me with physics, spelling, chemistry and biology.  Spelling?  Yes, I picture the words in my mind when I want to spell them.

I’ve witnessed a suicide.  A man jumped in front of a train almost directly in front of me in August 2005.  I remember every detail of that moment.

I have a sarcastic sense of humour, but have also been known to use terribly corny puns.

The person I most respect is my maternal grandfather.

I’m a native English speaker, studied French for 8 years (and have forgotten most) and am currently studying Japanese (speaking still beginner, but understanding is low intermediate level).  I want to become conversational in Japanese, study French again, then move on to Spanish, German and possibly Italian, Norwegian, Chinese and Korean.

I love shrimp, but I can’t stand it if the head is still attached.

My favourite alcohol is sake, though I only drink it about 3 or 4 times a year.

My first computer was an Apple II/e in 1984.  I programmed when I was 7 years old.

The search for extrasolar planets excites me.

My favourite Star Trek characters are Data and Spock (maybe because of my love of science), but my favourite Star Trek actor is George Takei.  I follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Well, I think that’s about enough for now.  Any comments or questions?  If you want to know anything else, please ask in the comments.  I may answer if it isn’t too personal.