Friday, May 9, 2008

Experience Delayed

So I realized it's been far too long since I posted, and reading a friend's blog which mentioned a blog game seemed like an easy answer to me.

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence on the page.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

So, the nearest book to me is "The Japanese Experience." It's my lunchtime reading at the office. Here goes:

Another was to reduce the temporal power of buddhism, which had grown immensely during the years of turbulence. Tendai Enryakuji, for example, had the temerity to oppose Nobunaga's attack on Asakura in Echizen. In September 1571, he turned his army against it.

The Japanese Experience is an interesting book - if a bit of a slow read. It's a fairly in depth look at pre-Meiji era Japan, with a small epilogue dedicated to the Sino-Japanese and 2nd World Wars. It's something that I've had kicking around for a while, and had never had the time to read. Not that I have a lot of time now, but over the odd lunch break I can pick my way through it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Big Chill meets East...

Hello again. I'm making a second post, which I suspect is a good sign. I've been thinking about what I want to write about on this blog, and I decided that I should write about a number of things. Those of you who know me know that my family and I recently moved to Ottawa. We're enjoying the city immensely, despite being in the depths of winter. Or perhaps it’s because the kids are experiencing their first real winter.

We certainly didn’t get much of that in Windsor. It’s been a big change, but the kids seem to have adapted well. Anna, on the other hand…

One of the challenges that I have found living in Ontario, one that certainly isn’t unique to Ottawa, is the inability to find good sake. It was abysmal in Windsor, and has only improved slightly since our move here. For those of you who aren’t in Ontario, all alcohol, with the exception of beer, is sold through a provincial store (called the LCBO – Liquor Control Board of Ontario). Needless to say, having a single distributor in the province means that the selection is not particularly good, and getting my hands on a reasonable bottle of sake has been challenging.

Generally, sake is broken into 2 categories, with subdivisions within each category addressing the quality of the sake (or specifically, as I understand it, the amount of milling the rice goes through prior to the brewing process). Of the two main categories of sakes – those made by adding alcohol, and those made without the added alcohol, I prefer those without added alcohol. I’m currently trying to get the LCBO to import one in particular: Juyondai – Junmai Ginjo.

I have yet to try this particular sake, but it's been recommended as a top pick by a number of people to me. The kura , or distillery is in the Yamagata prefecture, and is well known for it's sake throughout Japan. However, the Juyondai brand name has only been used in the last few years. Juyondai indicates that this is the 14th generation that the kura has been in operation, and so only came into use when the 14th president took over. As I understand it, this sake tends to be a little more fruity, with a bit more body than some of the other popular Japanese picks, so I'm definitely curious to try it out. I’ve only really just started my hunt for this sake. A couple of e-mails that have bounced back, and I’m planning on stopping into a store this afternoon that I’m hoping can help out. I’ve been told that LCBO will specially import items for customers, but that the catch is you have to bring in a case, rather than a bottle. However, as I understand it, what defines a case is rather loose, and could be 2 bottles, rather than a dozen, or even 6. I'm planning on hitting the Rideau and King Edward LCBO, so I'll let you know if I was successful or not. While I'm there, I can also pick up a couple of bottles of Hakatsuru junmai ginjo. That should tide me over until I find the other.

So until I find it, and until my next post, kampai, and good health.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Onigiri and Nose Stickers...

So - I've finally gotten around to trying my hand at a blog. I'm not sure yet how this will work, since I'm notoriously bad about being consistent in my personal life, but figured that it was about time I gave it a shot. I'm writing this up while I wait for the rice-cooker to ding. I've been wanting to make onigiri (oh-nee-gee-ree) at work for a while, but haven't had the time in the morning, nor the forethought in the evening to cook the rice. I finally remembered to set everything up tonight, and now just have to make them. If you haven't had onigiri, you're missing out. It's a pretty simple dish, and is easy to make. The trick, my wife tells me, is using freshly steamed rice (i.e. not the rice in the zip-lock bag that I'd been trying to use). They're easy to take to work, and to eat at a desk.

So, now I'm on to the nose stickers. For those that know me, you know I have two kids - 1 daughter, Mia who is 4, and my son, Ethan who's 18 months. My daughter, who is the more...strongwilled of the two, provided us with our first trip to the emergency room not too long ago. My daughter has found a deep love of all things stickers. If it has a sticky backing on it, she's going to find it, and put it on something. The walls, her brother, your arm. I think there are still The Little Mermaid stickers on the floor at our old house. In any case, my wife turned her head just in time to see Mia sniff a gold-foil sticker up her nose one quiet afternoon. For the life of me, I can't figure out why she did this, since it wasn't a scented sticker, but, there you have it.

Mia, coming to the realization of what she'd just done, and I suspect upon seeing the look of utter horror on her mother's face, immediately screamed and launched into hysterics. [side note - I now have three onigiri for lunch tomorrow, as well as burnt hands...] Anna called me at work and let me know what our cherubic child had just done, and to find out what I thought we should do. When I got home that evening, we determined that neither of us could see anything. We spoke to a nurse, who told us that, since she didn't seem to have any trouble breathing, that we should leave well enough alone. Likely, she had simply sniffed it back down her throat, and was processing it along with the yakisoba she'd had for lunch that day. We didn't really think much of it after hearing those comforting words.

Until...Anna had to stop by a clinic by the house for some booster shots, I think. By chance, the physician on at the clinic was an ENT (Ear Nose Throat), and so Anna mentioned the sticker incident. The doctor was kind enough to have a look, and after Mia was subdued, screaming, he figured out that the sticker was indeed in her Nasal cavity, and would have to come out. But he couldn't do it at the clinic. To make a long story short, two nurses and Anna held Mia down while the doctor went fishing with a pair of forceps. After all of this, I spoke to her on the phone from a meeting, and asked her: "So you're not going to put stickers in your nose again, right?" to which I got a resounding "Meh."

I was torn by her response. Part of me was horrified to think that we'd likely be making a series of trips to the hospital for her. The other part was...I guess proud that she'd had this clearly unpleasant experience, but that it was not going to slow her down for a second.

Long story short - encourage curiosity, be thankful for resilience.