Sunday, March 9, 2014

Documentary Initial Feelings: CHEMERICAL

Initial Response to Documentary
Redefining Clean for a New Generation


    This documentary looks at the influx of chemicals into developed nations in what most definitely was just a blink of an eye in the context of global history. Most specifically, those chemicals related to home and personal hygeine products. I have positive feelings about this documentary because while its aim is to open people's eyes to how dangerous and pervasive modern chemicals are, it is one of those documentaries which at the same time energizes the viewer with simple steps they can take in their own lives. It is for a similar reason I very much enjoyed the documentary film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. 

    I think the film would be great for an introductory chemistry class in high schools, or environmental chemistry and practical chemistry courses, but really it should be required viewing for anyone who lives in the developed world. Even if you aren't going to apply these principles in your life right away, it at least encourages thought. The information in the film will not be new to veterans of environmental research. 

  The film is free or available as a low cost rental from many websites so it is worth a look. I've already shunned most manufactured cleaning products from my life, and it helped to have access to stores which sell alternative items, but how great is it that the film provides recipes and the developers of the documentary have even published a book with recipes (although one can easily find recipes online if committed to a google search and some play-time in the kitchen.) 

   To study the topics present in this film in further depth I would recommend reading:
    The Hundred Year Lie- Randall Fitzgerald
     Plastic: A Toxic Love Story- by Susan Freinkel
    Our Stolen Future- by Theo Colborn 
    Silent Spring- by Rachel Carson
    The Autoimmune Epidemic- Donna Jackson Nakazawa    

   Though I find the books less energizing toward practical action, they are more comprehensive in nature in exploring chemicals in every aspect of our lives and more in depth of how they are found in the body and in the home: not just in cleaning and personal care products but they are now medicine, food, clothing, furniture. When you think about the massive scale of these changes and the brevity of the time frame they have occured in, you can't help but wish for a solemn but still energizing film to help us begin to go back to basics and clean up our dirty act. The Earth can never be clean while it is dirtied with these non-biodegradable and fundamentally toxic substances. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Setsubun is coming...

It really isn't even that big a holiday, but maybe it is, because when I went to my favorite park this statue of an ONI had been erected and many signs advertising the bean throwing festival to banish the evil spirits.

Seems like just yesterday I was posting a photo of the Setsubun sweet.

Who is that big guy standing there.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Winter Holiday

Winter Holiday 2013-2014

First Max and I went to Korea. This was Christmas dinner. We had a big seafood lunch where they boiled everything alive (including octopus, mussels, sea snails, scallops, and more) in front of us. Then went to Max's grandma's house. Then we went to his aunts house and had a big steak dinner, the next day we finally went back to his parents house and had a fried and grilled chicken dinner date with gelato dessert. Little did I know I had some sort of brewing gut virus which left me spewing the next day. I don't think it was anything I ate but maybe it could have been. It was short lived, only a few hours, but I spent the last 3 days of the trip in bed. It started at the shopping center which was the biggest most crowded most incovenient place it could have started at. I made the most nobel effort to keep a street food lunch of spicy rice cakes and a corndog and sundae down, but when I could hold it no longer we got of one bus stop early and I exploded into a bag I found in a restroom, which we then stuffed into a trash can. 

Here's a picture (of the seafood stew)
 You cannot appreciate the sheer size of this from the photo. Let's just say this could serve 4-5 people or more. Probably more. There were three pots of it at the party. That's a whole chicken in the pot. But I assume very healthy.

And my chicken dinner: 

We stopped by the sea and ate some dried and slightly fermented fish

It tastes like butter.

We had a fancy tea time. That's a cute little tea bag! 

We went back to Japan, feeling sick I had to wake up at 5:00 to get to the airport, but we got back and my friend Lindsay came to visit! It was great! I struggled to go to the shrine food fair where I got a chocolate covered banana like every year in Japan. And saw so many people of my city. Surprisingly I didn't see any students, but I did see one out shopping with his dad for snacks on New Years Eve. 

Choco Banana Action
(and Choco Pineapple) 

And then, the obligatory character Castella! 

Thanks for coming Lindsay.

My camera battery was dead so I was only able to get the highlights :D

From Heike Monogatari

(From Heike Monogatari)

When did my heart learn such ways,
of late I think so longingly of
palace companions I once knew

The past, too, has vanished like a dream
My days by this brushwood door 
cannot be long in number

Kureimon-in was bathed in tears, 
overwhelmed by memories of the past and thoughts of the future

Pretty much sums up how I've been feeling these days... 


These are poems I wrote in my journal that I read when I was in college.

But I didn't forget them.

Why should my heart
remain stained
by blossoms,
when I thought 
I had tossed all that away? 

Trailing in the Wind
Fuji's Smoke
fades into the sky
destination unknown
just like my own thoughts

They are Japanese poems. I don't have the translations and I didn't even write the author's name down, so for asian studies scholars out there, let me know if you know who it was.

Feeling very much like this today... things abandoned, things I must abandon, things which can't be changed. Which just makes me think of AAA Wisdom poem. Even though I'm not addicted to anything. Except maybe tonkatsu, chocolate, and darjeeling tea. And kimchi.

That is all. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

At my Favorite Sushi

Bicycle in perfect fall lighting. 
My favorite sushi restaurant.
My students laughed at me because it was expensive, because double nigiri and sushi plates are not a dollar a plate. Actually, compared to American prices its cheap. And, when I go there I spent about 10 dollars. When I went to the cheap place, I spent the same amount because the fish to rice ratio was terrible. Also, they do not have my favorites at the cheap restaurants.

Anyway, I patted my belly and told my students that everything I own is cheap, and well, at least my belly and my body is expensive. This gave them all a good laugh and they sent me messages following up asking me if I ate my fill. They are cute. Those were adults, by the way. 

Perfect Fall Days

Perfect Fall Days are Here! 

After a typhoon. There still is a blue sky underneath all that smog.

These pictures are already outdated, the rice plants are starting to yellow a bit. 

A nostalgic view. This used to be the view on my way home from work. But since we moved far away, this is no longer the road "home". 

Welcome fall in Japan! Goodbye sticky sweaty days.