Saturday, February 18, 2006

Another nice weekend shaping up

I guess I could make a quick comment about the Valentine's Day tradition here in Japan, since it is quite different then what we're used to. In North-America, Valentine's Day is sort of considered to be a day for couples to rekindle their love for each other with a series of non-spontaneous, obvious and practically scripted acts of romance. In the last sentence, I may have somewhat let my feelings about the holiday slip... Not that there's anything wrong with romance and flowers and candles and such, but I think those things should be shared all year 'round, and not necessarily amplified on February 14th. Anyway... here in Japan, Valentine's is even more commercialized than it is back home in that it was imported to Japan in the late 1950s by a confectionery company. They did add one interesting twist though... on Valentine's day, it's the WOMEN in Japan who must give chocolates to the men. And not just their significant other, but coworkers, friends, relatives, etc. Of course not so many people take it that seriously any more, but I did in fact receive chocolate this week from a student and a coworker. After over 20 years of one-sided choco-giving, the candy industry struck another blow to the wallets of the nation in 1980 by creating White Day on March 14th, a day when the men reciprocate and give chocolate to women. The reason it was called White Day was that white chocolates or marshmallow type candies should be given.

For the record, other than a quick email wishing each other Happy Valentine's Day and also Happy Anniversary (4 months on the 14th) my significant other and I did not partake in either the Japanese or North American style holiday... we had after all just spent a fabulous weekend together travelling to Yokohama and Kamakura... how can a box of chocolates compare?

On another note, I'm pleased to see the progress that the Canadian Olympic delegation is making at the Games in Torino. As things currently stand, we have 11 medals, 1 ahead of the US and just 2 off from leading Norway... not too shabby considering that in the 2002 Games we ended up with just 17 medals in TOTAL. It amazes me that a country such as Norway is at the head of the medal count, seeing as it's population is less than 5 million people... it is ahead of Russia, the US and Germany who each outnumber them at least tenfold. Just goes to show you I guess, it's not all numbers and money when it comes to the Olympics, it helps if your country stays damn cold for a good segment of the year... Go Canada Go!

And yet another detour here, there were some HUGE pileups in the Ottawa area yesterday after a flash freeze turned spring-like weather into deadly gale-force winds and cold. In one accident East of Ottawa near Embrun, at least 4 people were killed when over 30 vehicles (including tractor-trailers) plowed into each other. Similar crashes occured in the West-End of Ottawa and in the Montreal area. Drive safe folks, stay off the road when the temperature dives down like that. I am reminded of the day I bought my skis shortly before Christmas 2004. I heard the warning about the flash freeze coming and headed home as quick as I could. If memory serves correctly, the weather went from around -10 degrees, rose to over 15 degrees overnight and through the day and then plunged down to -20 or colder within an hour around 6PM... it was scary with all the water on the streets turning to ice. Anyways, I hope everyone back home is OK.

Also, a quick shout out to my injured compadres who won't be able to enjoy skiing for a bit. I'm not mentioning the one because he would be ashamed to have me recount his accident... but it's nothing serious.... the other is my cousin Matt who broke his leg snowboarding in the Quebec city area. Just goes to show you, boarders should stay out of the glades... Gambatte boys, get better soon!

On that note, I take my leave. I need to get to bed shortly and rest up for my 6AM wake up and departure for ALTS Bandai tomorrow with Sayaka-sensei, Keizo and Mayu! Should be a blast, calling for sunshine turning to clouds and a high of 3 degrees... lovely!

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