Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

My first Halloween back in Canada, and Yoshiko's first real one! A grand ol' time was had by all, pumpkin carving was great fun of course, and here was the result of our hard work:

Yoshiko's


Mine


My brother Sebastien's


And my mom's

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's been a long time coming...

What's been a long time coming? Well this blog post for one.... but allow me to step back up on to my Japanese soap box for a moment and say that it's about time the Nova behemoth comes crashing down.

For those of you who may not know, Nova is\was the largest eikaiwa (English Conversation School) in Japan. They've been taking major hits for years now, not been profitable in a loooooong time, and now their shady business practices have come back to haunt them. Over the summer, the government stopped them from signing up any students to long term contracts and that was really the beginning of the end. The lack of cash flow from new contracts, which Nova depended on to keep running, caused them to start delaying rent and salary payments for their staff and just in the past few weeks forced Nova to shut down altogether and seek bankruptcy protection.

For me, this truly is like the story of the evil kid down the road finally getting what was coming to him. My own experience with Nova was quite brief. Being one of the largest schools, I applied to them just as I did Aeon. My Aeon interview was scheduled one week earlier than the one for Nova and after speaking with my co-interviewees and really liking what I heard about Aeon, I immediately cancelled my Nova interview. Tales of Nova standing for "No Vacation", of managers at the schools not speaking English, of the company basically stealing rent-money from you and just a general feeling of yuckiness from the company as a whole were rampant amongst the experienced folks I had the luck of meeting.

Once in Japan, I got the student's side of things. People had known for years that Nova was a crap school, but with their flashy advertising and cute little bunny mascot, people kept signing up in droves. No more. Now, Aeon has its problems, like any company. But it was explained to us early on that Nova was structured around getting students in the door and locking them in to long term contracts, Aeon was structured around keeping our students happy. That's a major difference and I'm glad our side won out in the end.

I'm now sure that all of the schools in Japan are going absolutely bonkers with overflow students from the thousands of Nova schools which are no longer operating. This really sucks for the staff of the schools of course, but they knew full well who they were working for....

In other news, Fall has passed through and it seems like Winter is just about set to lock us in! Ottawa received its first snowfall this weekend, though I didn't witness it myself. Pretty much right on schedule too, though I was hoping for a bit of a reprieve. Yoshiko's family came and left rather quickly, but it was nice to spend some time with them. They were quite happy to see how Yoshiko was doing and what our lifestyle here was like. The anniversary party at Les Fougeres was a big hit, and a lot of fun.

On the baby front, things are progressing nicely. We're now into week 33, and have an ultrasound next week just to check things out. Really going to have to get into baby mode to get ready for the little one... have to re-arrange furniture and stuff. Yoshiko is doing fantastically well and I am quite proud of her. This past weekend, we treated ourselves to a night at the Carmichael Inn and Spa, complete with massage and aromatherapy bath. It was nice to unwind and spend some "us" time after the whirlwind of activity the last little while has been.

And in photography news, there hasn't been much to report lately... I've been kind of blah and am considering trading in the S3 for a G9..... maybe..... for the baby and all... lol Nonetheless, here are some shots from the last little while.

Cottage on Meech lake in Gatineau Park.


Colourful point on Meech Lake, Gatineau Park


St-Stephen's in Chelsea


Docked float planes on the Gatineau river, taken from the H.C.W. Steam train


Gatineau river, from the H.C.W. Steam train


Conductor on the 909 engine



After arriving in Wakefield, the locomotive makes its way onto a pivoting platform....


And is then manually turned by only 4 people!


Being perfectly balanced, the force needed to get it moving isn't so much. I believe this is one of the last manual turntables in use in Canada.


Old 909, 100 years old this year.


Spotted these lovely pumpkins by the side of the General store.


And of course, the famous Wakefield Covered Bridge seen over the Gatineau.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

They're heeeeeeeere

Just a few short hours ago, Yoshiko and I made the drive out to the airport and picked up her parents and brother, who are down for our little one-year-anniversary get-together tomorrow afternoon. Quite pleased that they made it here alright, this was their first time travelling without the help of a guide! Otsukaresama!


We've got them all tucked in to their hotel and will be picking them up in the morning for a home-cooked breakfast here. The weather for tomorrow, while quite cool, looks good! No rain, which was a worry at some points in the week. More to come later on the shindig and this week's activities.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The return of hockey... Go Sens Go!

Last night marked my return to this lovely building, for the first time in 3 years or so... With the NHL season starting up again this week, I was lucky enough to score tickets to last night's game!


This was to be Yoshiko's first introduction to hockey here in Canada and it turned out to be a good game! Ottawa beat the New York Rangers 2 nothing, improving their record to 3 wins, no losses so far this year. Fantastic! Lots of hitting, pretty rough game, and we even got to see a fight just below us. The seats graciously given to us were great, in the first row of the 200 level, and came with a parking pass!


We had a great view of the net for both Ottawa goals, with the visiting team's net at our end of the rink for 2 out of the 3 periods. It was great fun!


In other news, we are now just one week away from the arrival of Yoshiko's family and our little anniversary bash down at Les Fougeres next Sunday. Looking forward to seeing my in-laws again, and we've got a nice ride booked on the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train to see the lovely fall colours which are coming along nicely.

And on that note, I'd better get dressed, got some stuff to do today before the stores close for tomorrow's holiday. Happy Turkey Day!