Bebe Taian: February 2013

February 26, 2013

Nationalism Will Never End... But We Can Fight It!

Nationalism, in any country, will never end. People are too inclusive, too tribal by very nature. It really doesn't surprise me in the least (disgust me, yes, but not surprise me) to see people here spouting off about how they're a REAL AMERICAN while everyone else should go back to their countries (after spotting another completely American person of a different skin colour someplace). And I'm sad to say, that's human culture, not American culture. It happens everywhere... even in Japan. I am happy that this guy has the guts to fight the power on this one, and to leave his video and his lessons up. Clearly, they are lessons everyone needs to be taught. I don't think that racism and discrimination will ever fade out of existence, but I do think that we CAN reduce it's effects by starting with educating children.

Ookini arigatousan dosu, Dezaki-sensei! <3

Reposted from the Japan Times, 2/23/13.

American teacher’s spin on Japan’s racism riles Net nationalists

by Max Fisher - The Washington Post 
Miki Dezaki, who first arrived in Japan on a teacher exchange program in 2007, wanted to learn about the nation that his parents had once called home.

He taught English, explored the country and affectionately chronicled his cross-cultural adventures on social media, most recently on YouTube, where he gained a small following for videos like “Hitchhiking Okinawa” and the truly cringe-worthy “What Americans think of Japan.” One of them, on the experience of being gay in Japan, attracted 75,000 views and dozens of thoughtful comments.

Dezaki didn’t think the reaction to his latest video was going to be any different, but he was wrong. “If I should have anticipated something, I should have anticipated the Net ‘uyoku’ (rightwingers),” he said, referring to the informal army of young, hyper-nationalist Japanese Web users who tend to descend on any article — or person — they perceive as critical of Japan.

But before the Net uyoku put Dezaki in their cross hairs, sending him death threats and hounding his employers, previous employers and even the local politicians who oversee his employers, there was just a teacher and his students.

February 22, 2013

Combating Burnout

I mentioned before that I was going to the Dragon Fest on New Year's, but I ended up working a new job until about 1am the night before, so... I was in no condition to be up at 7am to get on the road to Orlando. -_- I spent most of the day sleeping, I think. The new job is physically intense, and I'm not strong enough to do everything I need to do yet. I suspect that will come with time. On top of that, the death of a friend and the hospitalization of another, and the subsequent stuff that needs to be done because of it, has taken precedence over anything else. After all this, I'm just... I log in to write, and then go blank. For an hour or so. Burnout again. Ugggh. WHY CAN'T I WORK ENDLESSLY? I just want to be a cross between Data and Spock. Endless working capabilities with none of the emotional/psychological mess. Perfection!

For this reason, I'd like to talk for a minute about "burnout": what it is, how it happens, and maybe suggest something you could do to combat it.

February 15, 2013

Patchwork Progress

Almost done with the first patchwork bag, mostly intended as a catchall for smaller items in a larger purse. My sewing machine is intended for quilting, not for zippers or thick fabrics, so much of this is done by hand.

This is part of my year-long attempt to use up materials that I already own and pick up new techniques and knowledge along the way. I chose some fabric pieces in geometric patterns so that when I quilted them, I could follow along the lines and practice sashiko techniques (albeit, not true sashiko form, which involves different thread types and forming patterns with the threads themselves). Still, it was an exercise in how to approach the lines more efficiently and evenly.

I think my next attempts will involve seeing how much binding tape I have left, and perhaps making placemats for a table I don’t yet own…

February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Today, women give the men they love chocolate- not the other way around! Then, the men will reciprocate on March 14th, White Day.

Okay, I didn't give my husband chocolate today... but I did buy groceries. That counts, right? ... right?

My friend in Japan went by a bakery last night (middle of the day in Japan). Mini chocolate bread loaves with powdered sugar hearts stencilled on them! Kawaii sou ne!

February 7, 2013

Secret Projects + Upcoming Events

Coming up in the next few months, I have a secret project. ^_^ I was contacted last week for some stuff related to kimono, and Friday was a blast! So now I'm recruiting some help and making some decisions... I hope you'll be excited with the end result. Those of you who follow my Tumblr blog already have heard a little bit about it. But it won't be official until it's really "official" to me.

This weekend, I get to go to DragonFest, a New Year's parade in Orlando! <3 It's going to be so fun! I really wanted to wear the outfit I wore to my interview on Friday there, but it seems I might be allergic to whatever the juban was washed in last... my entire body was itchy and red the entire day, even hours after I took it off. No fun at all! I may wear the second juban in that outfit as the only juban, with a false collar for a third 'layer'. Or I may pick an entirely different outfit to send off the Year of the Dragon!

I sat down last night and did most of my seasonal calendar of nijuushi sekki and zassetsu. It's refreshing to get back into blogging after such a tumultuous period! I'm getting my priorities aligned again. If I have time, I might come up with an outfit purely for the Year of the Snake!

February 6, 2013

New Makeup To Try

For my birthday today, I bought a new makeup product to try. Technically, it isn't makeup. It's skincare. But whatever- it's stuff for beauty and whatnot, and it's all makeup to me!

I've had crow's feet and lines in my face since I was a preteen. No, I'm not kidding. The fine lines showed up back then! The forehead lines and the lines by my mouth have gotten more noticeable lately, too. There's lots and lots of sun in FL- in fact, the UV index chart only goes up to 11+ (defined as "Extreme UV exposure")... and we regularly rank at 10 or higher here. Sunscreens can't keep up with it. The EPA even states to reapply sunscreen liberally every 2 hours (more often, really, since they tend to break down with sweat, moisture- hello, humidity!, and other factors), avoid the sun between 10AM-4PM, and wear 100% UV-blocking sunglasses... which I need to get another pair of. Sunglasses that actually block UV tend to be ugly on me, especially the kind that block light from my eyes, but considering all the damage I already have from years of not wearing sunscreen, I'll take it. I'm terrified of turning into the women I see who are now in their 50s and their bodies are destroyed from sun exposure. Skin cancer is not on my list of wants.

In photos I can hide a lot of it, thanks to clever techniques like exposure and light levels. Certain angles and makeup cover up imperfections, too. I don't care for being photographed without foundation because of how red and splotchy-looking my skin really is, and I try to avoid pink eye makeup now that I never sleep, making my eyes look even more tired. Gold makeup and good foundation goes a looong way!

To combat some of this, I've upped my vitamin intake, which is a necessity anyways. I go through nutrients too quickly to try to try to eat them properly; I definitely need help there. Gummy vitamins to the rescue! But I also splurged on a retinoid product with an SPF. I know it can't take away the lines I already have. I'm not expecting it to. I just don't want to have more!

I've talked about my problem skin already. And thank to hormones, I already have the skin of a woman in her mid-late 30s. I'm just not dry-skinned like older women apparently are! My facial skin is oily; the rest of my skin is dry. I don't need a whole lot of moisturiser in my products. So I wasn't sure what to get, outside of a strong retinol-based product with an SPF that was less than $20.

I picked out Garnier Ultra Lift 2-in-1 Wrinkle Reducer. It's one day in, and I haven't broken out yet from this. I also don't feel greasy like I do with most products. I've found that if I layer my sunscreen on over top of the retinoid, it doesn't make my skin feel awful either. Products like this can take up to a month of daily use to show any results, so maybe by my sister's birthday I'll look a little better!

February 5, 2013

Sashiko Stitching

I’ve had it in my head that this year, I really AM going to learn embroidery! Starting with the easiest kind: sashiko. Sashiko means “little stabs”, and is a type of embroidery/quilting made by running stitches. The sashiko needles are properly thin, long, and fairly flexible, as stitches are made all in one line, piled on the needle, and the thread is pulled through once.

I bought a book on the subject, and I’ve bookmarked a few free blogs on how to do sashiko properly. So far, I need lots of practice. I have piles of scraps only a few inches big. I intend to patchwork them together and practice different techniques on the various patches.

If anyone is interested, I bought The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook, and I follow Susan Briscoe’s blog. I also have Studio Aika’s tutorials pegged on my ‘headlines’ on Mozilla. I don’t have much time lately between three jobs and helping take care of my sister, my friends’ affairs (two have severe illnesses, one had a recent death in the family), and ‘home stuff’ like the daily chores and cat mom-ing, but I’m doing my best to get in some “sit down and sew” time.

Along with my goal of learning embroidery and sashiko, I have another goal: to use up the fabrics and craft supplies that I have. Hopefully, this approach will resolve both by the end of the year. I want all of this stuff gone! And to gain new skills! Yep, this is how it has to be. Soon I hope to have photos of a small bag I’m making for my MIL’s birthday!