Thursday, July 5, 2007

meat, plastic and morality

Sojourner's Highlight: Time off from work allows for relevant contemplation and necessary relaxation. Entertain notions of paradigm shifts ahead of time; how flexible will you be?

Yay! I finished work yesterday, which means I have the next month off to prepare, play and to squander the meager savings I've amassed. And, so as to not feel unproductive, I wanted to get a good jump on actually DOING something in prep, instead of just writing about thinking about going about doing something about my trip.
To that end, I mailed in my Japan Visa application, and also posted my car for sale on craigslist. Sniff. I'm gonna miss my baby. (1996 Chevrolet Cavalier, ~$2500 if you're interested :)

I also browsed for cameras in a couple of shops. {Following paragraph deals entirely with camera confusion, just so you know} I love the feel and quality of SLR's, but I'm thinking a small compact digital might be better for travelling, as you can just slip it in your pocket wherever you may go. The Digital SLR, on the other hand, would require constant consideration and lugging around in a seperate bag. And if I'm doing something adventurous, say, going out to a club, or snowshoeing, or something, am I gonna want to take along a large, pricey, and fragile SLR? Quite possibly not. But when I hold one of those point and click digicams in my hands and look at the LCD screen I feel like i'm holding some expensive and extremely high-tech dirty diaper in my hand. It just feels like an insult to the beauty of photography, even if a testament to the age of technological revolution.
{Anywho, enough about cameras.}

I also [pat on back] went shopping for clothes. Now, I went to a thrift store, which may or may not be defining or representing myself in exactly the way I want. However, I do enjoy reducing unnecessary garbage, and lots of these clothes are perfectly good. Plus, I obviously saved a bunch of money, while still getting some pants and shoes that I think will be appropriate for work. Perhaps this is all too much info. Oh well.

What really stuck out about my day, though, was when I refused the plastic bag at the store. See, I don't take new plastic bags from stores, just like I don't use paper cups from coffee shops. As I was walking out the store, though, I remembered reading a book about how highly packaged all commodities - everything! - is in Japan. And I thought to myself, I'm not going to be able to save on packaging and wrapping and bags and whatnot in the J-spot. Here it's easy because of the chic cultural concern for it. Over there, the excessive wrapping is part of the aesthetic (or so I've read).

And that got me thinking once more about trying to be a vegetarian in Japan. Apparently it's possible, and you can always fall back on the 'it's part of my religion' line that they suggested at the JET seminar. But I'm not very good at saying No when people offer me food. And it's going to be really hard to be picky if people invite me out to dinner, and even more so if they invite me into their homes for dinner. Also, as one JET peer commented, a huge part of culture IS food, so cutting off a huge portion of the diet cuts out truly immersing yourself in the culture. But am I, as i suggested last posting, ready to lose myself in learning about this other culture? Because not eating meat is important to me at this point in life, and I would have to knowingly sacrifice my own values to eat meat in Japan.

Packaging, waste, and meat-eating are, of course, only a few of such concerns - the ones I've thought of so far - and perhaps even the least of those I shall encounter.

In other news, I finished the Hesse book I was reading, played a hockey game, and painted part of my fence. For brief periods at a time, NOT working is far better than working, and I highly recommend it to anybody who is considering it.

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