Eating habits between cultures

Although I have spent most of my 13 years outside Canada since finishing high school I am beginning to feel more of a stranger in this strange land. Unlike Canada I find that in Japan and China that food is taken very seriously. People really know what to eat and they take the time to prepare their meal in order to stay healthy. In Canada eating is more something that needs to be done and takes time therefore is trouble; therefore, people have the tendency to not want to spend a lot of time with food because they seem to be more preoccupied with their work. When people eat in Canada it is more of a formal setting. I have noticed just myself ? one person wanting to eat - walking into a restaurant I am asked to wait to be seated and a menu is handed to me. In Canada it seems to be a more wait for your food. In Japan or China, this is true in some places but most places I am not directed to a seat I am not handed a menu. What is the point of these formalities? I think about what is there to eat in Canada or let me ask the question. What is there to eat in Canada? I find that there is a very limited variety of food in Canada. I notice from the availability of food in the grocery stores that people either do not have much to eat or they eat the same stuff day after day. Walking through the market in Japan there are many more varieties of vegetables, fruits, meat and fish and even more in China! Although Japanese and Chinese tend to work so much they still eat far better than the average Canadian and are much better shape.

It would be interesting to do a worldwide survey just to see the number of vegetables, fruits, meat and fish people can name. Perhaps even more interesting would be which ones can they name. I am sure Canadians and Americans in general could not name very many. I would not blame climate but rather a primarily Anglo-Saxon culture. A future project for me.


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Immature Vocabulary - A lack of eduacation or social upbringing?

I was recently reading a book on Japanese socio-linguistics and I found it interesting that the reason a lot of the younger generation of Japanese lack a more mature vocabulary or should I say lack a more enriched vocabulary is because of the influence TV and comic books have on society. I am not saying that TV and comic books are no good for society but rather the way in which information is portrayed. They try to portray information in a way that is so simplistic and uses such simple vocabulary. Simple vocabulary is of course not always a bad thing it is just that it often gets overused and the consumers of the TV and comic books get habitually used to it and eventually never get a chance to enrich their vocabularies.
I just traveled across Canada to Nova Scotia to visit old friends for the first time in 18 years. It's been a good visit but it was also an interesting eye opener. I have lived outside Canada since finishing high school over 13 years ago and this last trip was really the first time I realized how true peoples vocabularies are so shallow. Not just Eastern Canada but Western Canada as well. Typically it is the people who live in the smaller rural communities who are the worst in this situation rather than principally the Japanese youth. I found it quite disgusting on how people speak using words like "fuck" for nearly every second word. This is precisely what the Japanese professor I was reading about was saying about Japanese youth. It seems to be a lack of an enriched vocabulary that  people use these words.
Thinking about this and I thought of these factors to compare both Japan and Canada. both countries call themselves highly developed industrialized nations boasting highly educated societies. In Japan the rate at which people finish high school and university is very high as compared to Canada the rate of high school completion is quite low especially in rural communities and even lower for university completion even in urban cities. In Japan there are TV game shows, animation, and other programmes which simplify real life situations even the news and of course comic books. In Canada I am not quite sure if Canadians have similar types of TV programming as I have not lived in Canada but I am sure that it is not to the degree of Japanese TV. I am not even aware of the abundance of comic books in Canada. However, I do know that youth do spend and increasing number of hours at the TV in both cultures, which is merely an aural introduction of language and does not truly enrich vocabularies. Another factor prevalent in both cultures is the high degree of video gaming, which in my opinion is truly a non-enriching source of vocabulary.
Among my travels to Eastern and Western Canada I have noticed the lack of printed books. I have also noticed this in Japan as well. I just cannot imagine myself setting foot in a house with no books, I would feel lonely. It is true too few families invest the time in sitting to a good book. The Japanese professor of the book I was reading goes beyond this to saying that there is a lack of social involvement within families today. By this I mean for older generations there was more social conversation around the diner table now people rarely have the time to sit down to eat and talk. It is at these little social gatherings where families would share stories and children's' vocabularies would be enriched.
What are  we coming to? I am not so sure if formal education in public/private school systems is to blame. I think as the Japanese professor says it is more of a problem at the family and community levels of society. Too few options for people to develop a healthy enriched vocabulary. I have not mentioned one key factor in rural communities I have noticed in Nova Scotia but is prevalent in other rural communities is the lack of travel beyond their own little boundaries and a sense of being too proud of oneself . This pride is almost too ridiculous as if they are the ultimate center of the universe The Chinese have a word that represents humbleness and modesty it is keqi. It is impolite to be arrogant and brag about oneself or one's inner circle.


I just came across this new traffic promotion website. Seems to be in beta and looks like a part of Blogmad. Well if this is true then it must be excellent. This is not one of those pay per click ads so don't be afraid to click and sign up to see for yourself. I'll be sure to post back if I see any significant increases to my traffic although I seem to be getting more traffic just from the plain diversity of posts I write about. Good luck and happy blogging!

North Korea

With all the lastest on North Korea I thought I might as well add my two cents in too for what it's worth. Well North Korea has built and sucessfully tested their first nuclear weapon. Good for them. So what? Ofcourse the idea of another nuclear war is scary but what is more scary is the American government. I don't think North Korea wants to start a war but if a war is started it probably will be on Bush's initiative. The American government is the world's worst enemy not North Korea nor the Taliban. Look what happened on September 11, when the American government terrorized the people of New York with the bombing of the world trade center. Surely you cannot believe that President Kim or the Taliban want to wage war on the world - they are just protecting themselves. My message to North Korea is America  has grown to become increasingly dangerous they are a nation that feeds on war and it is in the best interest of all the countries concerned to arm themselves in order to protect their interests in the case of attack by the American government. In other words, self defence is ok, we all know the American government was the first to shoot during 9/11.
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Teaching in China

The more I think about the university that is trying to recruit me the more I am beginning to like them while working for private schools in Taiwan or any other place in China just makes me sicker by the day. At this moment the university is planning on getting me my working visa BEFORE I enter the country. That is the way to do business, that is what I call being organized - non of this get a tourist visa and get in the country first nonsense. My advice to anyone who really wants to teach professionally is find a job in a PUBLIC school not private. Private schools will just waste your time. In fact I have to say that a teacher once told me this - stay away from private schools now I can proudly say thank you and wish everyone else do the same and enjoy their time teaching to the fullest.
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Private teaching

As far as teaching English in Japan/Taiwan/China is concerned I think my best advice is to stay away from private corporations. Shane English School, GEOS, NOVA, etc etc. in my opinion they are not doing much in terms of children's education. If you need the money please consider part-time teaching and avoid thier long term contracts. If at all possible get a public school teaching position.

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Potters Without Borders

Potters Without Borders (PWB) is a newly formed Canadian NGO, which is involved in the research and development of ceramic water filters for use in developing countries.

The ceramic water filter provides a low-cost way of producing safe drinking water from contaminated sources such as open wells, ponds, canals, streams or even flood water. The filter has proven 99% effective in eliminating microbiological contaminants.

The filter is flower-pot shaped and made of porous clay designed to allow water to flow through a rate of 1.5 to 2.6 liters an hour, sufficient for the drinking water needs of a family of four. The clay filter is coated with colloidal silver solution, a proven anti-bacterial agent. The silver is not transferred to the water as it passes through the filter and has no effect on filter users. The clay filter element is set in a clay or plastic receiving vessel, which protects the filter element from damage and stores the purified water. The filter element is washed regularly using a soft cloth or brush to unclog the clay pores and maintain an acceptable flow rate. Eventually, progressive clogging will cause a permanent reduction in filter flow rate, so the clay unit must be replaced after one or two years (depending on the quality of the input water). The filter can be produced by local potters. The purifier was originally developed in Guatemala in 1981 and has been promoted extensively since 1998 by Potters for Peace, an NGO active in Nicaragua.


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