Canada: Top Ten Things To Love and Hate

Last week, in honor of Canada Day, I decided to whip off a list of The Top Ten Reasons We Here in The Great White North Should Be Both Proud and Ashamed of Being Canadian.

However, I soon realized that it wasn't something that could simply be whipped off in a few minutes, so I decided to take a few more days to think about it and here, finally, is my official list of the top ten things I love and hate about this country:

A True Canadian Celebration

This past Saturday night we threw a big party here at our place to celebrate my 41st birthday and man was it ever a blast! I mean, if you can have a big bash for your 40th, why not for your 41st, right? At least that's the way I see it. Luckily, it was a beautiful, sunny, warm day, and starting from 5 PM our backyard slowly filled up with about 90 guests, the last of whom didn't leave until after 2 AM. A bit earlier than the 5 AM finish we had announced beforehand, but a damn good 9 hours nonetheless. This was a party that had just about everything. Well, almost... if only Johnny hadn't let me down so badly.

Oh What A Night: Todd Snider Live (and John Rogers Fully Exposed)

They said it couldn't be done, they said there was just no way we could ever top last year's Todd Snider show down in Bellingham, they said that after a show - and a night - THAT good there was simply no point in even trying, but "they" obviously don't know Todd Snider... or my friend Johnny "The Flash-er" Rogers.

Doing Lines With The White Stripes and The New Magnificent Seven

For many people doing a few lines before a show is a must, but it's never been my thing. A little herb and a few beers perhaps, but, you know, I've just never got into doing lines. But this past Sunday all that changed, though definitely not through any desire on my part. I was just sorta pushed into it against my will.

The Modern Times of Bob Dylan Rave (A.K.A. The Modern Times of Johnny and The Mighty Bob Rave)

Ok, so about 34 hours ago I wrote you about my great anticipation and excitement concerning the imminent release of Bob Dylan's new CD "Modern Times" and I sent along that 5-out-of-5-stars review/rave from Rolling Stone Magazine. Well, yesterday I picked up the CD while out running around for the day. Unbelievably, it wasn't until later that evening that I got home and finally was able to listen to the bloody thing. I sat down for my first two listens together with a couple of nice cold Pilsner Urquells (the original Pilsner from the city of Pilsen in the Czech Republic). The perfect combination: A brand new Bob CD and a couple of cold beers... and my son, Kaishan, dancing all around the room to the sound of the new music.


Here's some BIG NEWS: Our 4-year trip has reached its end and we're now back in Japan staying with Son's mom here in Kofu, not that far from Mt. Fuji, which we can see from here. We're having a good time visiting not only with Son's family, but also with all of our friends. On December 9th we fly back to Canada - to Toronto - just in time for my mom's 60th birthday bash on December 15th. And then, after a few weeks of visiting with her, her husband David and my sister Liz over X'mas and New Years, we'll be heading out west to B.C. No date for that yet and no idea exactly where we'll live in B.C., but that's all part of the Great New Adventure.

And now for the EVEN BIGGER NEWS:

India: Kerala #5: Ram, Stency, Lucinda and Little Baby Ramone

Ok, so after a 2-week break it's now time to return to the telling of our story of love: our love for Kerala, that is. Yes, our story of Rum, Rock 'n' Ram ('n' Soccer), Jew and Muslim Streets, Sewage River/Canal, Fort Kochi, loads of great music, Bill, The Thursday Night Party Club, A Bunch Of Guys Named Joe and more - all in the beauutiful, lush green, tropical Southern Indian state of Kerala. My first four Kerala letters only covered our first week in Kochi, so there's still a lot - a whole lot - more to tell.

Sri Lanka #2: Driving With Dr. Sus

One of the main differences between India and Sri Lanka, and one of the first things we noticed after arriving here, is how clean Sri Lanka is compared to India. Flying in from somewhere like Singapore, Japan, Canada or most other rich countries you wouldn't think so, but flying in from India (a filthy country with garbage - and cowshit - absolutely everywhere! Though, of course, not in "Delhi Canada") the difference was striking. The main difference is that they have street cleaners here, ironically, I read, imported from India since they can pay them less than locals would work for. Why the Indian government can't also hire some street cleaners (not just for the rich areas) or even put out some garbage cans is a mystery to me. But, if you put out garbage cans then you have to hire people to empty them. Better to just let the cows eat everything - plastic and all! Oh, and for anyone who's mistakenly thinking the Indian government is poor and, therefore, has no money for things like garbage cans or street cleaners, you really should know that India, like China, has a plan to send a mission to the moon in the next few years. Millions illiterate and not attending school; tens of thousands dying each year of treatable diseases; horrible poverty everywhere and they're spending billions of dollars to go to the bloody moon?! Priorities! But, hey, I'm supposed to be writing about Sri Lanka and I was just wanting to say that it's a relatively clean country - but I guess I got a bit carried away. A relatively clean country with some real priorities, that is: free, universal education and medical care. And A Man Named Bunny too!

Lhasa Tibet #3: Wrestling Freak

How to deal with a hung-over Chinese PSB cop asshole: Wrestle the prick!

The full story:

Our final visas were originally to expire yesterday, so last week on Thursday we booked our 2-day trip to the Nepali border in a Landcruiser. We were to leave early Saturday morning and arrive at the border Sunday, at least an hour before it closed at 6PM. We paid a deposit and signed a short contract with the organizer. We then prepared to leave by, amongst other things, having an amazing goodbye party together with our Tibetan university-student friends, one of their families and many neighbors - and with lots and lots of dumplings and cold beer.

Lhasa, Tibet #2: Taken Home: Uproariously Fun Parties, Tragically Sad Stories

We've had a lot of amazing experiences here in Tibet over the past few weeks, but the undeniable highlight has been hanging out and partying at the home of one of the friends we made at Tibet University during our first week here in Lhasa.

On our very first visit to the campus to play basketball we met these three young guys, all of whom are students at the university. In total, I think I ended up playing hoops with them and other students at least 6 or 7 different times. I even got The World Soccer Tour rolling again for a few hours one day. The basketball was definitely great fun, but the most amazing times were all had back at our friend Tenzin's place, eating, drinking, talking and partying with him and his mom, brother, friends and neighbors. And, man, what an incredible experience each of those visits turned out to be!

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