Maya Lin and the Wise Old Man

Juniata College (my alma mater) in Huntingdon, PA has a unique environmental art installation called the Peace Chapel. Maya Lin is famous for designing the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, but this piece, far off the beaten path, is fairly low key. A college alumni-philanthropist commissioned the work and had it placed in the Baker-Henry […]

Eating Cake with Chopsticks

There is a major faux pas in Japan about leaving your chopsticks stabbed upright in a bowl of rice. If you’ve read any guidebook on local etiquette, you’ll know that this is a pretty serious offense. Basically, it relates to the visual similarity this chopstick posture has to incense sticks commonly seen during Buddhist funeral […]

Lake Utonai Bird Sanctuary

Several times this past week I ventured outside my normal Sapporo city birding hot-spots and headed south by southeast to one of the better Ramsar wetlands maintained by the Wild Bird Society of Japan. For my fellow non-car possessing Hokkaido-ites, here’s a walk through of my trip(s) to the Lake Utonai Sanctuary: After a 5:00 […]

Unemployed Japan > Employed Japan?

Caveat… Obviously if you are unemployed and left destitute by your situation then you may not agree with title of this post. But if you find yourself with the opportunity (a working spouse whose given you leeway to decompress), quit that abyssal dead-end job and don’t look back. That is where I currently stand and […]

Snowblower Dreams

Each year the snow piles up. Many hours are spent each week pushing snow around the in-laws’ 6 car open air parking lot (9,000 Yen per car/month – inquire in comments); a task that is boring, cold, and ultimately unrewarding. It will all just pile up again, without warning, without regard for your life. There […]

American Expat Cricket Enthusiast

In 2007 I broke by leg while slipping on black ice outside a boarding cottage I was responsible for at The Church Farm School in Exton, Pennsylvania. I was laid up for months with a compound fracture to my right tibia/fibia, crutching around my parents’ home, on medical leave from my duties, and with a […]

Ulysses, Round Three

There is nothing like forcing yourself through the ultra-realist-modernist hell that is James Joyce’s Ulysses. For the last several months my “To Read” list has been mired in quicksand while this behemoth of a tome, with its micro-font, thin pages, and countless footnotes/ endnotes / addendum notes – plugs a hole in my brain. I […]

Summertime Be Gone!

Ah yes. The cool Hokkaido summers. Where temperatures stay pleasant and mild. No need for air conditioning. No humidity. These lies still get pushed upon us. Those lies gave us an Olympic Marathon and the ridiculousness of the Run-Walk. (Come on. This is a sport?) These lies kill quite a few elderly people up here. […]