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Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Dog and Cat Haiku


picture of dog and fan

Do you enjoy the "dog days" of summer? Dogs have been on our minds for reasons other than the dog days of summer. We dog-sat for our daughter Nora while she visited our daughter Megan and her family in Detroit last week. Becka and I have been "cat people" for so long that we'd forgotten how much more work dogs are than cats. And puppies (like Nora's Kingston) require lots of attention and have boundless energy!

Since the new school year is on the verge of beginning, I decided to post something a tad more literary than usual. I'm far from being an expert on the Japanese poetry called haiku. I'm sure the haiku I'm posting today (not my own composition) is probably not the finest ever written, but at least the number of syllables per line follows the standard formula of 5-7-5.

Here's some dog haiku for your amusement:

Dog Haiku

I love my master;
Thus I perfume myself with
This long-rotten squirrel.

I lie belly-up
In the sunshine, happier than
You ever will be.

I sound the alarm!
Paperboy — come to kill all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I sound the alarm!
Mailman Fiend — come to kill all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I sound the alarm!
Garbage man — come to kill all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I sound the alarm!
Neighbor's cat — come to kill all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I hate my choke chain —
Look, world, they strangle me! Ack!
Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack!!

Dig under fence — why?
Because it's there. Because it's
There. Because it's there.

You may call them fleas,
But they are far more — I call
Them a vocation.

My human is home!
I am so ecstatic I
Have made a puddle

How do I love thee?
The ways are numberless as
My hairs on the rug.

Look in my eyes and
Deny it. No human could
Love you as much.

I am your best friend,
Now, always, and especially
When you are eating.

My wife commented recently that I hadn't posted any cat humor lately. So to balance out the dog haiku, here's some cat haiku.

Cat Haiku

Grace personified,
I leap into the window.
I meant to do that.

Small brave carnivores
Kill pine cones and mosquitoes
Fear vacuum cleaner.

You never feed me.
Perhaps I'll sleep on your face.
That will sure show you.

The rule for today:
Touch my tail, I shred your hand.
New rule tomorrow.

Blur of motion, then —
Silence, me, a paper bag.
What is so funny?

You're always typing.
Well, let's see you ignore my
Sitting on your hands.

My small cardboard box.
You cannot see me if I
Can just hide my head.

Terrible battle.
I fought for hours. Come and see!
What's a "term paper"?

I want to be close
To you. Can I fit my head
Inside your armpit?

Wanna go outside.
Oh no! Help! I got outside!
Let me back inside!

Oh no! The Big One
has been trapped by newspaper!
Cat to the rescue!

Humans are so strange.
Mine lies still in bed, then screams.
Claws are not that sharp.

Cats meow out of angst
"Thumbs! If only we had thumbs!
We could break so much!"

The Big Ones snore now.
Every room is dark and cold.
Time for "Cup Hockey."

Several people have asked about what the symbols =^..^= =^..^= at the beginning of my signature line in each blog post stand for. It's our two cats — Adelaide and Clementine — each pictured by whiskers, ear, two eyes, ear, and whiskers.

This evening I downloaded a piano CD from mincymedia.com called A Place of Quiet Rest. Dave Mincy is offering all 11 tracks of the CD for free at least till the end of this week. I'm listening to it on my iPod, even as I type, and its quiet beauty is ministering to my heart.

Do you enjoy the dog days of summer? Any thoughts on the superiority of dogs or cats? 🙂

quotation...

"We're all going to be sifted, and Satan would love to discourage us." - Dr. Chris Barney

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

A dog will come when you call, but a cat will take a message and never get back to you.


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Financial Crisis Hits Japan


picture of a Japanese bank

Who wants to be the bearer of yet more bad news with all the financial gloom and doom already out there? But something has come to my attention that I feel duty bound to share with my readers. (Here at ivman, we're known for tackling the hard things as well as doing the fun things.) I've just read that uncertainty has now hit the Japanese banking sector. Read on, if you can take it....

In this past 7 days the following has happened in the Japanese banking world:

Origami Bank has folded.

Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches.

Sumo Bank has gone belly up.

Yesterday, it was announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while today shares in Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose-dived.

Samurai Bank is soldiering on, following sharp cutbacks.

Ninja Bank is reported to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black.

500 staff at Karate Bank got the chop, and analysts report that there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank where it is feared that customers may get a raw deal!

divider

All right, so I'm an incorrigible punster. Some would say, don't laugh at him - it only incorriges him. But it does do the heart good to chuckle when times are unsettling. Here in America things are so bad that they've printed a new dollar bill:

picture of the new dollar bill

But all joking aside, these financial woes are indeed worldwide and serious, particularly right before the elections here in the USA. There are so many huge issues out there at this time, but this one seems to be front and center, as it should be. As good as it is to be able to laugh a little, it's definitely no fun at all to watch the stock market roller coaster, knowing that what little we have towards retirement is being affected by what's going on in the market. That said, we know that God's promises to care for His children are not dependent on or at the whim of this world's economics.

What are some of you doing at this time in reaction to the financial situation? Do you have any words of wisdom to share?

quotation...

"I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread." Psalm 37:25

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Q: What is the difference between a banker and a pigeon?
A: A pigeon can still afford to put a deposit on a Ferrari.


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Oddments


That's an odd title, isn't it? Why oddments? Oddments is a word that means remnants, leftovers, odds and ends, hodgepodge, etc. You get the idea. So... why oddments? What I'm posting today is little bits of stuff, none of which would make a real blog post, but they're things just too good not to share! Mainly it's stuff that I've received or found that has something to do with previous posts on my blog. I'll put a link to the various posts that the oddments are related to. And some of it is simply interesting little oddments I'd like to share, not related to much of anything. Emphasis, I guess, on odd....

A while back I had a post called 10,000 words - 10 really crazy pictures, each worth 1,000 words. I have since learned that one of the pictures actually could/should have been part of a later blog post dangerous hike and freebies. Here's the picture...

outhouse on the Mt. Huashan hike

Here's another outhouse that could have been part of the post nice bathroom humor

double decker outhouse

That's something we could all keep in mind as we go into the elections this fall!

Here's a picture that could have been part of the post sign language The picture is of a martial arts school.

martial arts school signs

I ran across a neat picture that I think could make a great header picture for my blog (if it weren't the wrong size and proportion, let alone all the potential copyright issues). Just think, instead of having an ancient gargoyle looking over the skyline of Paris, I could have Ratatouille looking at it from a different angle....

Ratatouille looking over Paris

My wife found a great recipe online for the ratatouille that Ratatouille made in that animated film. We love this dish and have declared it her recipe find of 2008! If you'd like to try it out, you can find it at http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/07/rat-a-too-ee-for-you-ee

I tried something new in the garden this year - Thai Red-Seeded Long Beans. They're like the green beans we've eaten in China and like the ones in many Chinese buffets here in the USA. The name "long beans" is not an exaggeration! Here's a picture of me measuring several against a yardstick. I don't know if you can make it out in the picture, but the longer of the two beans measures 30 inches - 6 inches longer than they're supposed to be! Just a couple of beans is enough for a meal for the two of us!

30 inch long beans

Recently I've found a couple of neat "toys" online. Anyone who reads my blog finds out pretty quickly that I am a word person. I love puns and other forms of wordplay. Well, here are several visual forms of wordplay. In both them them you can tweak the font and colors to your liking.

The first one is called Wordle. You can create your own "wordle" in several ways - either by pasting in "a bunch of text" (as they say) or by entering a URL. I chose the second, entering the URL of my most recent blog post last Thursday. Here's the wordle of that post...

wordle of my post called English must be difficult

Another word toy I ran across is a text animator called textanim. Here's my little creation from that site...

animated text of ivman's blague

Several weeks ago I had a post called t-shirt slogans. Someone sent me a great video clip on how to fold a t-shirt in seconds. It's in Japanese (I think), but if you watch it a few times, you should be able to do it too. My wife has mastered the technique and says, "This has revolutionized my recreational laundry!" Click in the square below to start the video.

Now I think you'll agree that my calling this blog post "oddments" (with a heavy emphasis on odd) was appropriate. I'm looking forward to some really odd comments now. 😀

quotation...

"Most problems in our lives go back to a false idea of who God is." - Dr. Chris Barney

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

If you tell a joke in the forest, but nobody laughs, was it a joke?


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De Agony of De Feet


We've just completed the third quarter of the first year of the Wellness Challenge at the university. If I continue to do as I have been doing, I should end the year in the gold category. This summer on week days, I have no problem at all getting at least 10,000 steps a day with my work at IT Help Desk. One day last month I got over 19,000 steps in the course of my work. The total of my steps for the past nine months is a little over 3,250,000 steps! I should hit 4 million by the end of the first year of the challenge. Sensible walking shoes are a must!

A few weeks ago I got an interesting and at least mildly disturbing e-mail with pictures of some current and past shoe fashion rages in Japan.

Think your shoes are uncomfortable? Look at the latest (out)rage in shoes in Japan....

Japanese red high heels

Japanese black shoes

Japanese black shoes

Japanese black high heels

Japanese red boots

Japanese black sparkly shoes

Japanese black horse shoes

Feel better now about your shoes? How would you like sensible walking shoes like those?

Uncomfortable shoes seem to be a tradition in the Orient. Look at the kinds of shoes that were worn back in the day of the Chinese women who practiced foot binding....

hard to walk

Advanced age does not seem to be the only reason for her difficulty in walking.

hard to walk

This woman was apparently one of those who practiced foot binding.

coming unwrapped

Like many people, you may think your feet are ugly. You might not any longer after you see the next few pictures! Here's the woman's unwrapped foot from one angle....

unwrapped

Here's the foot from another angle....

what it looks like

Here's a close up...

YIKES!

Unbelievable, huh!?

Still think your feet are ugly? Here are a few more pictures that may convince you otherwise....

The heels of time (Time wounds all heels?)...

the heels of time

Time for a pedicure?

maybe a pedicure would be in order

Feel better now about your feet? Ugly feet aren't found only in Asia, huh?

divider

house wren update...

It appears that the eggs have now hatched. They're at that oxymoronic stage - pretty ugly! Here's a picture I took this evening....

the baby house wrens

Want to have beautiful feet? Read on to find out how....

quotation...

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Romans 10:15

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

If your nose runs and your feet smell, maybe you're built umop-apisdn.


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Kudzu


With the advent of spring my thoughts turn toward this year's garden. It will be nice to have everything greened up again, including the kudzu especially - since it won't go away, it might as well be green! (In the winter, kudzu is a really ugly grayish brown that covers huge areas.)

I was reminded of kudzu last week when my wife Becka and I visited the Upcountry History Museum. There is one room that hosts traveling displays for about three months each. The current display had some cloth woven from kudzu fiber. At the end of this post are several links about kudzu for anyone who'd like to learn more and who would even like to try some kudzu recipes! I can hardly think of anything I might enjoy less at the moment!

The picture to the right shows how pretty the grape-scented kudzu blossoms can be. Below is something I've had in my files for quite some time about our beloved kudzu.

Kudzu (CUD-tsoo) n. an Asian vine (Pueraria lobata) of the legume family that is used for forage and erosion control and is often a serious weed in the southeastern United States.

Here are several pictures of kudzu covering almost everything in its path...

Gardening Tips from Down South
How to Grow Kudzu

All you beginning gardeners out there might want to consider growing kudzu as a fine way to launch out into the great adventure of gardening in the South. Kudzu, for those of you not already familiar with it, is a hardy perennial that can be grown quite well by the beginner who observes these few simple rules:

Choosing a Plot
Kudzu can be grown almost anywhere, so site selection is not the problem it is with some other finicky plants like strawberries. Although kudzu will grow quite well on cement, for best results you should select an area having at least some dirt. To avoid possible lawsuits, it is advisable to plant well away from your neighbor's house, unless, of course, you don't get along well with your neighbor anyway.

Preparing the Soil
Go out and stomp on the soil for a while just to get its attention and to prepare it for kudzu.

Deciding When to Plant
Kudzu should always be planted at night. If kudzu is planted during daylight hours, angry neighbors might see you and begin throwing rocks at you.

Selecting the Proper Fertilizer
The best fertilizer I have discovered for kudzu is 40-weight non-detergent motor oil. Kudzu actually doesn't need anything to help it grow, but the motor oil helps to prevent scraping the underside of the tender leaves when the kudzu starts its rapid growth. It also cuts down on the friction and lessens the danger of fire when the kudzu really starts to move. Change oil once every thousand feet or every two weeks whichever comes first.

Mulching the Plants
Contrary to what the Extension Service may say, kudzu can profit from a good mulch. I have found that a heavy mulch for the young plants produces a hardier crop. For best results, as soon as the young shoots begin to appear, cover kudzu with concrete blocks. Although this causes a temporary setback, your kudzu will accept this mulch as a challenge and will reward you with redoubled determination in the long run.

Organic or Chemical Gardening
Kudzu is ideal for either the organic gardener or for those who prefer to use chemicals to ward off garden pests. Kudzu is oblivious to both chemicals and pests. Therefore, you can grow organically and let the pests get out of the way of the kudzu as best they can, or you can spray any commercial poison directly on your crop. Your decision depends on how much you enjoy killing bugs. The kudzu will not mind either way.

Crop Rotation
Many gardeners are understandably concerned that growing the same crop year after year will deplete the soil. If you desire to change from kudzu to some other plant next year, now is the time to begin preparations. Right now, before the growing season has reached its peak, you should list your house and lot with a reputable real estate agent and begin making plans to move elsewhere. Your chances of selling will be better now than they will be later in the year, when it may be difficult for a prospective buyer to realize that underneath those lush green vines stands an adorable three-bedroom house.

History
Kudzu was introduced beginning in 1935 to the early 1950s to prevent erosion. It was also brought to the South in an attempt to provide improved fodder for cattle. It worked ALL TOO WELL. Cattle do love kudzu but not nearly as much as kudzu loves the South. The South provides nearly ideal climate and growing conditions for this rapid growing and hardy perennial (calling kudzu "hardy" is like calling nuclear weapons "explosive"). In 1953 kudzu was recognized as a pest weed by the United States Department of Agriculture and was removed from its list of permissible cover plants.

People have been known to leave home on vacation down here only to return a week later to find cars and other LARGE objects buried under lush greenery. Kudzu climbs telephone poles and crosses wires. Its eradication is a major expense to utility companies. The city of Atlanta has used bulldozers to dig up the tubers in vacant lots. It's resistant to most "safe" chemicals although the herbicide 2, 4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) has some effect if used frequently enough. It's sometimes call "yard-a-night" down here because that's how fast it seems to grow. The only question seems to be whether the "yard" referred to is that of "3 feet" or that of "front and back." Rumor has it that some of the roads in the more rural areas don't get enough traffic and will be covered by kudzu after a long holiday weekend.

Kudzu is a very pretty vine in early spring and summer. Its broad leaves and flowers are quite attractive until you start to realize that the dead stick, that it's sunning itself on, used to be a huge pine tree. In the winter, the first hard frost turns kudzu into tons of ugly brown leaves and thick vines. It becomes a real eyesore and possibly a potential fire hazard, although who's ever heard of an actual kudzu fire? (see the comments to this post - they have happened!) The plant re-grows new vines from the ground up every year, so you can see its growth rate must be phenomenal.

I understand that the Japanese make a highly regarded form of tofu from kudzu tubers. It is supposed to be prized for its nutty flavor (soy tofu is rather bland). The Japanese cannot produce enough to meet their own demand and think we're nutty for trying to eliminate it. I haven't been able to confirm this use for kudzu, but, if true, they may well be right. We've got plenty of hungry people and LOTS of kudzu!

The existence of kudzu in a neighborhood has been known to adversely affect property values. The threat of planting kudzu in someone's yard is generally considered an extreme case of "fightin' words," potentially followed by "justifiable homicide." Regardless, you can still obtain kudzu seeds from several major seed companies who list it as a "hardy ornamental perennial." If understatement were a crime, they'd be on death row!

Learn more about kudzu on these sites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudzu

This page may not be accessible through some internet filters since it's on someone's personal page....
http://home.att.net/~ejlinton/kudzu.html

Here in South Carolina we're seeing signs of spring - crocuses, hyacinths, and daffodils are beginning to bloom. We're only a few weeks away from the annual Bible Conference on campus, followed by the annual Living Gallery. Some of you had wished you could attend in the past. I hope that many will be able to attend this year.

quotation...

"Missions should not be a spectator sport."- Dr. Tim Keesee

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

What do you do when you see an endangered animal that eats only endangered plants?


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