Thursday, February 15, 2007

Conversations with Eiji

Second in my series on random things that I talk about with my Japanese student. Just to give you a bit more background on Eiji, he's a 30-something ocean conservationist who is living in Halifax on an internship to develop ties between the Halifax-based International Ocean Institute and his ocean governance firm back home. He moved here last May, and prior to that, he lived in Sweden working for the ocean governance arm of the UN for 8 months. He also has a wife and two children living back in Japan. Crazy! He's super adventurous, and loves to drive race cars and ride motorcycles (he has both back home, and he maintains them himself, which he really misses. That's a picture of his sports car, a Nissan Skyline GTR, above), although he claims that he would never bungee jump or sky-dive because he's afraid of heights. He's super-knowledgeable about anything ocean, car, extreme sport, or environment related, and we have great conversations about all of the above. And as I help him learn how to express himself more clearly and fluently, he helps me to remember a bit of my basic Japanese. Having the common ground of having lived in Japan (for all of you who don't know this, I lived in Fukushima, Japan for four months in 2004) really helps us to be able to understand each other. Japanese culture is really different in a lot of ways, so I think I "get" Eiji better than most of the people that he works with. He's going home in March, and I'm going to miss him like crazy. But, he's leaving me all of the Japanese condiments and foods that his wife brought him over Christmas when he goes home, so I'll have more scope for my self-taught Japanese culinary lessons! So, here are our topics of conversation for today:

  • DIY
  • Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Rona, etc.
  • Contractors
  • Building codes
  • Scammers, con-men, and all around shady characters
  • Holmes on Homes, This Old House
  • Furniture building
  • Air tools
  • Air embolisms (Apparently, if you put the compressed air from a powerful air compressor used for air tools too close to your skin, the air stream has sufficient psi to pierce your skin and introduce air into your blood, which can cause a heart attack)
  • Mechanics/fixing cars
  • Overhaulin', American Chopper
  • Sports cars & motorcycles
  • Japanese car inspection standards (in Japan, you must have your car inspected for safety and emissions every two years, and the inspection costs about $10, 000. Eiji claims that he funds the inspections on his cars and motorcycle by repairing them himself. Apparently his wife disagrees. lol)
  • Popular Japanese cars in Canada
  • Gas prices
  • Danica Patrick, Jacques Villeneuve, the crushes that girls in high-school had on said Jacques Villeneuve (Yes, I'm talking to you, Marianne!) And did you know that one of the reasons that Danica Patrick has an advantage as a female race-car driver is because she weighs about 20kg less than many of her male competitors? Lighter = less frequent fill-ups and a more efficient engine. I didn't think of that!
I think I'll make Eiji a copy of An Inconvenient Truth and see what he has to say about it. That and Letters from Iwo Jima. I've already got him hooked on Heroes and Borat, so I'm always thinking of more movies I can lend him. It'll be interesting to get his opinion, as someone who actually is Japanese, on what Clint Eastwood did in Iwo Jima. I'll let you know what he says.