Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Sad Day in Ottawa

As many readers of this blog and followers of my video blog know, I have a strong connection to Ottawa, Canada. Although I did not grow up there, I lived there most recently before moving to Japan. I earned my Education degree from the University of Ottawa and really enjoyed my time in the city. I would really like to live there again someday. My wife also enjoyed living in Ottawa and likes it very much as well.

I suppose that is why I want to share some sad news.

Yesterday, one of Ottawa's finest fell in the line of duty. He was the first police officer killed in the line of duty in Ottawa since 1983. What seems like a random attack, Const. Eric Czapnik was ambushed and stabbed to death while writing in his notebook in his patrol car. The incident took place in the parking lot of Ottawa Civic Hospital. A suspect was apprehended while in the midst of the attack by four paramedics at the hospital.

You can read more here at CTV news.

Read more at CBC News.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back in Japan

After a wonderful vacation in Canada with my family and friends I am back in Japan. After more than 24 hours of traveling, my wife and I arrived in kobe. Although it was wonderful to be back in Canada, it is always great to get back to your home. I slept like a log last night, probably due to the fact that I was dead tired, but the fact that it was "my" bed also helped a lot I think.

I was somewhat anxious because we left our fish for 10 days. I bought a food block for them that is supposed to dissolve and slowly release food into the water, but upon arrival, it didn't seem to work well. On the bright side, my fish were alive and healthy.

Check out my latest video about my trip back home and the fact that ANA were kind enough to bump us up to business class.

While at my parents' house, I had the chance to drink some of the new Dan Akroyd wine. that's right, Dan Akroyd of SNL and Ghostbusters fame. He is a native of Ottawa, Canada and is now flogging his own line of wine. You can by them at the LCBO (Ontario liquor stores). It was actually pretty good. There will be a video about it soon!

This is what Christmas is all about. Well, I suppose this is part of it. This was the Christmas dinner that my wonderful parents prepared for my wife and I. I had two full plates like this. This is part of the reason I left Canada a few pounds greater than when i arrived. i suppose that is a sign of a proper Christmas vacation.

About 2 weeks ago I shot a video of myself doing a little Christmas shopping inside Nishinomiya Gardens in Nishinomiya, Japan. It's an upscale shopping mall located between Osaka and Kobe.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back to Japan

I suppose this is simply a little update.

I am on my way back to Japan now. After a wonderful 10 days in Canada, I have seen many wonderful family members and friends, NOT trained for the Tokyo Marathon, gained several pounds, eaten great food, drunk wonderful beer and have generally been very satisfied.

The weather in the Ottwaw area is horrible with freezing rain and dangerous roads. Playing on the side of caution, we came up here a day early and are spending 2 nights in a hotel. It was a wise move.

In a nutshell, our trip back to Canada for Christmas was wonderful, but it will also be great to get back to our apartment and life in Japan. It's also a lot warmer there and I have a LOT of running to do in the next few months!

There will be several "Canada" themed videos appearing on my You Tube channel in the next week or so.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ottawa at Christmas

Christmas vacation is going well in the Land of Snow. My wife and I were in Ottawa for a few days visiting friends and checking out some of our favorite sites. We hit the Byward Market, Parliament Hill and other places.

While on Parliament Hill my wife had a chance to see her favorite place, the stray cat colony. She loves it so much because of the large population of squirrels!

Another cute little critter relaxing on an Ottawa Winter day.

Of course, as touristy as it may be, I always love to hit Parliament Hill when I am in Ottawa. When I lived here I went to this place ore times than I can keep track of. For anyone who may not know what this building is, it is the main house of government in Canada is.

While in the Byward Market we saw lots of fresh Christmas wreaths and odecorations for sale. This time of year, the Market isn't bustling with a lot of activity. In the Summer and Fall the ouside is filled with vendors selling clothes and food. In the Winter, only a hardy few remain.

Just a few more days and it's back to Japan.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

From Kobe to Canada

After a painful, yet uneventful flight, we ended up in lovely and frigid Canada. We have been calling a small place outside of Ottawa (the Nation's Capital) our home away from home. It's been great so far!

I've been catching up on food I've missed, Tim Hortons and some great beer.

I've encountered one major dillema. I haven't been able to continue my Tokyo Marathon training as I had hoped. I tried running this mornin, but at -19c outside, I gave up in under 15 minutes. Hopefully it will warm up a little bit so I can try again tomorrow , but I'm not holding my breath.

Last night we tried some of Beau's Brewery"s "Lug Tread" which is a German style beer. I also had it with some amazing pizza from a shop in Cornwall called North End pizza! This is heaven!

Yesterday I had a chance to tour Beau's Brewery which is an awesome craft brewery located in a small town called Vankleek Hill. It's just outside of Ottawa. I picked up some beer, toured the facility and had a great time. There will be a You Tube video about it once I get back to Kobe.

On another subject, I'm more than a little pleased with the fact that my Christmas video on You Tube has been featured and is doing better than I could have ever expected! Thank you everyone who watched it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hatred Towards Teachers in Korea

I've been following this story for years. Although I had many wonderful years in South Korea, I have to admit, I had experienced some negative sentiments myself while I lived there.

This is an interesting story from CBC's "The Current".

From the The Current website on this show:

Korea English Teachers

Dann Gaymer has been living and teaching in South Korea for three years. And like other English teachers there, he's watching his back. That's because of what some view as a growing anti-foreigner sentiment in the country... a mood that foreign teachers say is being fueled by a group known as The Anti-English Spectrum.

On its website, in flyers, and through other activities... the teachers say The Anti-English Spectrum is spreading negative, hateful information about them and they believe the group's message is gaining traction.

Now local police are investigating an anonymous death threat sent to the Association of Teachers of English in South Korea. Dann Gaymer speaks on behalf of the group and he was in Daegu, a city in Southeastern part of the country.

Korea English Teachers

We requested an interview with the Anti-English Spectrum through the group's website... we did not hear back. We heard from Younggoog Park is Minister-Counsellor of Public Affairs at the Korea Embassy in Ottawa shared his thoughts about the group.

For Andrea Vandom, the activities of the Anti-English Spectrum and the changes in her visa requirements were unacceptable. So much so - that she left her teaching job in South Korea. She has also launched a constitutional challenge against the government's visa requirements on the grounds they are discriminatory. The HIV and drug tests that are mandatory for all foreign teachers, are not required by law for Korean teachers working in private schools. Andrea Vandom was in Irvine, California.

Korea English Teachers

Of the 20,000 foreigners teaching English in South Korea, an estimated 5 thousand are Canadian. Steve Snowball was one of them. He's a Canadian who used to teach English in South Korea. His extra-curricular activities in the country landed him in jail for six weeks. We heard from him.

Ben Wagner says stories of carousing is what gives many foreign English teachers in South Korea a bad image. But he also believes that anti-foreigner sentiment runs deeper than that. Ben Wagner has lived in South Korea for 15 years... he is a law professor at the Kyung Hee University Law School. He has raised his concerns over discrimination against foreigners with the country's National Human Rights Commission. He was in Seoul, South Korea.

I found out about this story from a great website; Brian in Jeollanam-do

Random Kobe Stuff

I was just posting some pictures to Facebook and came across some odd signs I've spotted in Sannomiya. For anyone who has ever lived or traveled to Asia, bizarre signs are nothing new, but they are still always fun for me. Seven years in Asia and I still feel like a big kid every time I see one! A few times in the past when I've made posts like this, a few people have complained, "After being here for a few years I don't care about that!" I suppose for those crusty folks, their inner child has been stepped on!

This just doesn't seem like a good name for a restaurant. IIt doesn't make me want to come in. when I think of fine dining, ketchup normally isn't involved.

Is this a CSI bar??? Not extremely bizarre, but caught my attention nonetheless.

I suppose this could mean many things. My mind was in the gutter when I looked at it .....giggle, giggle.

Again, this just seemed like an odd thing! Bring your baby here to have needles inserted.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Best Burger in Kobe

Here's the deal. I live in Japan and I really love Japanese food. Japanese food is simply wonderful, but as a Canadian, sometimes I crave the food I know best. I crave things I used to eat when I lived back in Canuckistan!

As a stereotypical male, I love eating flame broiled beef! Yep, I love steak and hamburgers. Sometimes I really just want to enjoy a nice juicy cheeseburger. These days, it's fairly easy to get a cheeseburger in a place like Japan, but the challenge is to find a good one!

McDonald's sucks, Wendy's will do in a pinch, but for a TRUE cheeseburger, I know a place.

If you need a meat fix for a great price, hit Polo Dog in Sannomiya, the main shopping area of Kobe. Polo Dog is a pub located on the second floor of a building behind Uniqlo, Seiden, etc. I believe it is mentioned in the Lonely Planet Japan.

Here you can see the outside of the pub and the signboards. What is really great about this pub is the price of food! Eating in Japan can be expensive as can drinking. The regular price for the cheeseburger platter is 600¥, which is about $7.00 Canadian. That is a really low price. Also, a pint of Kirin draft beer is only 500¥...that's VERY cheap in Japan.

Check this baby out! It is a thick beef paddy that is seasoned very well. It comes with fresh tomato and lettuce as well as potato wedges and onion rings. The burger is juicy and makes you want to come back again and again!

I've tried some other pubs and restaurants in the Kansai area and no burger holds a candle to this one in my opinion. Normally, an equivalent meal at a pub in Japan will set you back 1,200¥ (double Polo Dog's price) and only be half as good.

So, why does Polo Dog have the best cheeseburger in Kobe (if not Kansai):
1. It tastes great!
2. At 600¥, the price is amazing (that includes potato wedges and onion rings).
3. The drinks are cheap too!
4. the staff is SUPER friendly and nice.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas メリークリスマス: The Movie

After too many hours to count editing, sending emails, tweaking and changing, my big You Tube project for 2009 is finally completed. The Merry Christmas From Around the World video is now online. Please check it out and enjoy. Spread the word please! Tweet about it, Facebook it and tell your friends. I think it is a lot of fun and I hope you do too.

Now that this collaboration video is finished, I can concentrate on packing and doing some last minute Christmas shopping before my wife and I head out to Canada.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I ate deer today!

I suppose, normally, when I go out to eat in Japan I eat Japanese food. In a very simple way, that makes sense. Of course I really enjoy other types of food as well.

Today my wife suggested eating Italian food. Actually, it was slightly more than a suggestion. She had Italian on the brain and who was I to argue? My wife has great taste and had already planned our afternoon together.

we went to and area of Kobe called Motomachi. we ate at an Italian restaurant called Osteria Gaudente. It is located under the train tracks in Motomachi, just across from the Motomachi Station Police Box. It was an absolutely brilliant lunch. The restaurant had a very cozy and warm atmosphere. The decor felt very European and the waitress who served us was very attentive and efficient. The Italian chef was also attentive! Between cooking dishes, he mingled through the restaurant speaking Japanese to the clientele and even bused our table!

My wife at pasta with tomato and mozerella sauce. I had fussili with deer sauce! That's right. Venison as we say in Canada. It was pasta with a VERY delicious deer meat and tomato sauce.

Here is the really awesome salad that started the meal off. We both had the lunch set that only goes for 1000¥ (about $10). The best part of the salad, for me, was the crunchy pieces of renkon (the honeycombed shaped vegetable).

Here you can see the deer meat pasta. It was tender pieces of a deer from Hokkaido (Northern Japan) in a tomato sauce with freshly grated cheese. It was very delicious.

This is the outside of the restaurant. It is located in a narrow alley under the train tracks in Motomachi. it is directly across from the Motomachi Police Box. There is another brach of this restaurant in Umeda, in downtown Osaka.

A lot of birds

While walking downtown last night to do some filming at the Kobe Luminaire, I stopped because there were some noisy flocks of what I think were starlings. They seemed to be aimlessly flying around in circles between some apartment buildings. I'm not sure why they were doing it, but it looked fun!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Perv tries to squeeze a cop!

There are a lot of perverts in Japan and that is no secret. Bizarre sexual stories are commonplace in local newspapers. I thought this one was particularly interesting sicne I spend a lot of time in Akashi which is a small city located a few kilometers from Kobe.

This is a tale of a very stupid pervert!

60-yr-old man arrested for trying to molest policewoman in front of police station


A 60-year-old-man was arrested right in front of Akashi Police Station in Hyogo Prefecture on Wednesday night after he allegedly tried to fondle the breasts of a 47-year-old female police officer who was leaving her shift. The officer dodged Tamotsu Inaba’s wandering hands and dragged him into the police station, where he was charged with violating prefectural nuisance prevention laws.

Police quoted Inaba as saying that he “wanted to touch a woman.” The officer was dressed in street clothes at the time. Inaba told police he didn’t realize she was an officer or that he was in front of a police station. see original