Wednesday, July 27, 2005

damn you Murakami

So I'm enjoying Hard Boiled Wonderland so much that I stayed up way too late reading last night. As a result, when my alarm clock went off at 6 AM today, I hit the snooze button and rolled over in bed. Or rather, I should say I *THOUGHT* I hit the snooze button. At 7 AM, the phone rang. I instantly sat up in bed, my heart nearly stopping, thinking, "Oh shit." By the time Mom made it downstairs to wake me up, I was half dressed and practically stepping out the door. I finished my make up in the car at the one red light on the way to work, and when I ran in the door, Doug (the owner/manager) and Lora (staff member) were shocked to see me so quickly, despite the fact that I was almost an hour late.

I've never, ever been late to work before. Ever! I felt like such a doofus the entire day, and I've vowed to myself that I will be 10 minutes early for every single shift for the rest of the summer, no matter what time of day I'm scheduled to work.

When I got home from work (about 5 minutes ago), I noticed that my computer was off and my alarm clock was flashing... I wonder if there's a chance the power outage was after I hit snooze this morning? I seem to remember the clock being on time when the phone rang, but it could have been my watch that I checked.. I guess I'll never know, so I'll just hold Murakami responsible.

Monday, July 25, 2005

finally

I've been working non-stop and can barely remember the last time I had a good night's sleep, but I wanted to post a quick update. Mom met with the realtor today and I think she's finally going to sell the house and move into something smaller. For those of you just tuning into the chaotic side of my life that is my mother, she's living in a 4-bedroom house, by herself. The house is so big, that it drains what little money she has, and because it costs so much, she works herself ragged trying to keep up with the house-related costs. Therefore, selling=good thing. We'll have more info on Wednesday when Rosalee (the realtor) gets back to us, but for now, keep your fingers crossed!

In other news, Dad & I picked the carpets for his basement, and the paint colour. Finally. Maybe his renovations will actually be finished before we leave for Japan.. then again, what are the chances.

Off to bed, I'm finally starting Hard Boiled Wonderland tonight.

Friday, July 22, 2005

a pre-pre-departure update

For those of you who know, and those that don't, I received my acceptance package from Chiba University in the mail this past week. Although unplanned, Dad booked our tickets at the same time, and with less than 2 months to go before I leave for Japan, everything that I need to do before I leave has suddenly hit me like a brick wall. I don't even know where to start.

My current to-do list...

  • fill out acceptance package & fax into the university
  • set up appointment & apply for Visa at the consulate
  • start up a serious daily Japanese-review session
  • write up a living will & assign power of attorney to someone for next year
  • update my friends & family addresses before I go
  • plan out a 2 week vacation schedule for Dad & I when we get to Japan
  • start a packing list in case I need to do any shopping before I go

I'm sure this list will be added to continually for the next 2 months, but it seems like a good starting point. I'll bring my Chiba forms with me tonight & hopefully Yuko-san can help me fill them out at work. I understand about 90% of the questions, but there are a few that I'm a little confused with... like my faculty adviser. Do they mean my UofA faculty adviser? or the teacher that I was assigned to at Chiba?? Hopefully we'll be able to figure it out, otherwise I'll just have to include info about both to be safe.

In other news, today is Becca's 25th birthday.. [Happy Birthday!] I won't be able to make it to the party since I'm working, but maybe I'll swing by afterwards to see if she's still up & about.

Mom's thinking about selling the house again.. She seems to go through this thought process a few times a year, but something about it feels different this time around. It might just be because I'm living here with her and taking a stronger interest in the situation, but maybe she'll finally go through with it? Financially, it's definitely the best option. Even space wise, downsizing would mean getting rid of a lot of junk she's collected over the last 20 years. Not to mention less space means less cleaning, less $ for electricity and water, and moving means we'd get to redecorate! The realtor is coming over on Monday to start talking things through with her and I'll know how serious she is about everything after that. If she's willing to sell the place, I want to try and get everything over with by the end of the summer. I wonder if it's possible to sell a house & move into a new place in less than 2 months?

By the way, some of you may have noticed a couple of blogs from the past have been erased. I'm sending out a group email later this week reminding everyone about my blog. My parents have been bugging me for the address, and I know there are some friends out there who don't have it. I'm so bad at answering email that blogging is still the best way to keep in touch with me, especially when I'm in Japan, and I'm trying to get all the practice I can before D-Day. [September 21st!!] As I'm mentioning in the email, feel free to pass on my blog address to anyone that's interested (although God knows why they would be), but don't forget to warn them that I rarely have anything interesting to say.

As a side note, Kristine, I wish I had the flair for writing that you do, but I swear my room is in worse condition than yours, and I haven't been home sick for days and days as an excuse. Why is it that no matter how hard I try, I can't keep my space clean and organized?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Long Distance Rates from Canada to Japan

So this is what I've come up with so far.. does anybody know of any companies I should check out?

Service Provider

Telus
monthly: $1.95 + $4.95
per minute to Japan: 9¢
per minute within Canada: 7¢

Primus
monthly:
per minute to Japan: 10¢
per minute within Canada: 15¢

Sprint
monthly: $1.00
per minute to Japan: 8¢
per minute within Canada: 5¢

Yak (10-10-925 + 1 + area code + telephone number)
monthly:
per minute to Japan: 18¢
per minute within Canada: 15¢

Just Dial (www.justdial.ca)
monthly:
per minute to Japan: 5.9¢
per minute within Canada: 3.9¢

Sears Connect
monthly: $3.99
per minute to Japan: 8¢ or 58¢ (cell phones)
per minute within Canada: 10¢

Saturday, July 16, 2005

happy harry potter day

It's here, hurrah - all the waiting is finally over, and I'm stuck going to work for 8 hours!

oh, the irony!!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

yee-haw

As another year of the Calgary Stampede approaches its finale, I can't help but wonder how a summer without cowboy hats would compare. It's only a matter of time until I find myself deep in the concrete jungle of Tokyo during the humid month of July, and I'll see first hand what lies ahead, but until then.. well... maybe I should start with a description of what I'm not going to miss?

Thursday, July 7th - Sneak-a-Peak is kind of like a dress rehearsal for the event. Entrance into the park grounds is half price (6$), and while all the people working at the food stalls look energized and ready for what lies ahead, you know it's only a matter of time before they're tired, cranky, and ready to swear off Stampede for life. The food they serve ranges from the expected (hot dogs, mini donuts, anything BBQed) to the new and unusual (pickles on a stick). Beverages seem to be sold by the gallon (2.75$ for a soda), and the beer gardens are jam-packed already. The midway consists of amusement park style rides & games, most of which seem like a copy of the one before. My plan was to spend the night riding the rollercoasters to my heart's content, but at 6$ a ride, Stephen & I went to the casino instead. The stampede grounds also include all the old west/cowboy type stuff... the rodeo, chuckwagon races, 'indian village', etc. but those aren't really my thing. Generally, the decor throughout the park aims to carry the old west motif from one side to the other, but there are a few places where you can escape it. I missed my chance to walk through the exhibition halls, where independant vendors sell everything you've ever seen on infomercials, but I hear the displays were grander than ever. The Coca-Cola stage features a different headlining group each night. Guests such as Stabilo, K-OS, and David Usher (boooo) are mixed in with the Country folk (Terri Clark, for example), each performing live free concerts for the mixed crowds that gather in front of the stage. Generally speaking, the concerts on the Coca-Cola more than make up for the 12$ entrance fee.

Anyways, Stampede time in the city doesn't change from year to year, but usually grows to include more of what it specializes in each year. It's been 2 years since I've been, and everything I was expecting was here, and more. For starters, Calgarians suddenly remember that they live in Alberta, and don cowboy hats, boots, and clothing. It's as though people think that for one week out of the year, there is no such thing as fashion don'ts, but they are WRONG!! Every restaurant/business/elevator in the city switches over to one of the country music stations (Yes, we have more than one here in Calgary), and employees can exchange their staff uniforms for jeans & any western-style tops. Free pancake breakfasts pop-up in parking lots around the city, each offering various types of sausage and pancake breakfasts. People line up for hours for a free hot cake, suddenly forgetting the makings of a healthy breakfast.

I wish I could say that the madness ends there, but as if to add to the eccentricities of the city folk, the local newspapers feature Stampede stories on the front page in place of REAL news. "Why would anyone in Calgary be interested in world events when there's a new cowboy competing in the rodeo?" I suppose their point of view must be. FOOLS, I tell you. Fools. And as if it isn't bad enough that I can't escape the Stampede & all of its influence in the news, on tv, running my errands and driving through the city, at work it's almost worse than anywhere else. I would have through a little 2nd cup in the suburbs far away from the noise and glitter of the Stampede would have been safe, but no, every SINGLE customer wants to chat about the event. So, have you been down to the grounds yet? How about that chuckwagon race last night? Can you believe the cost of the rollercoaster? I bought [insert useless kitchen appliance here] at the grounds this year. BAH!