November Update

Today marks the end of November. The weather is finally turning cold here in the south of Japan, the trees have lost their leaves, and the schools have broken out the kerosene heaters because there’s no such thing as central heating here. There’s not really a lot I feel like I need to talk about…

Some Ideas Are Better Than Others

Let’s face it. There are good ideas and there are bad ideas. A free press means we get to hear both types. And reporters that are paid to comment on various facets of our culture are incentivized to put their ideas out there, regardless of whether they are actually worth the ink (or pixels) used…

Concert Gifts

Today’s column is a bit late because I’m still dealing with the fallout from the US election this past week. I made the determination before it even happened that, regardless of the outcome, I was going to take a couple of weeks’ vacation from social media (read: Facebook) after the election regardless of who won….

Annual Concert

This past Saturday was the annual concert for Kochi Friday Wind Ensemble (KFWE). Just in case you missed all my other posts about it, I play trombone for KFWE. They’ve really become my family here in Kochi and it will be difficult to leave them after the end of the year. If I can find…

Kanji Tests

Japan seems to love standardized tests. There’s a test for virtually anything you want to do. The most common of these is what’s known as Nippon Kanji Nouryoku Kentei, Kanji Kentei or just Kanken for short. It tests a student’s knowledge of kanji (the characters borrowed from Chinese) in virtually every way possible. The tests…

Luxury

My trip to Himeji was a bit of a last minute affair. As such, I was hard pressed to find a hotel in Himeji, or even Osaka, for under $100/night. Part of this is because it was a weekend. Hotels in Japan are always jam packed on Saturday night. It was also a holiday weekend,…

Veils, Devotion, and Society 

I was at Mass in Osaka and I noticed several women wearing veils (or mantillas). With the Catholic population on Shikoku as a whole being practically nonexistent, it’s something that we almost never see. As a result, it really caught my attention. In the US, it’s a somewhat more common practice. Still not anywhere near…

Driving with Elliott 

This episode of Driving with Elliott is going to be a bit different. In fact, I seriously contemplated going with a different name because it doesn’t exactly fit the formula for the series. In the end, however, I decided it was close enough to warrant inclusion. The point of the Driving series, after all, is…

Computer Issues

I have two computers that I use on a regular basis. My desktop is a Windows machine that I typically use for watching TV and playing video games. My laptop is a MacBook Air, and I take it with me everywhere. I has a few games on it, but mostly it gets used as a…

Inevitability

Decisions that have a profound and major impact on your life are never easy. If they were, they wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful. The long lasting implications and emotions tied to them are what make them carry weight and cause them to be difficult. Knowing that these decisions can drastically effect our futures causes us…

The Letter T

September in Japan in marked by two activities which occur almost without fail. The first, which is actually under control, is the taikusai or sports festival. If you’re familiar with Japan at all, you’ll recognize that if it’s under human control, the Japanese will not waver from tradition and will slavishly adhere to that tradition,…

In Memoriam

This normally isn’t a video blog, but I’m going to break format this week. I felt like video captured the emotion I wanted to convey much better than words. I didn’t do any editing or scripting of this video – this was the first, and only, take I recorded. Given that this past weekend was…