Vernicious Knids

Random musings and snapshots about life, love, travel and everything in between...

Friday, March 31, 2006

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris

This is the first (of many!) pictures I took of Notre Dame in Paris this January...

It was early afternoon, I had checked into my hotel and I quickly grabbed my phrasebook and camera and hit the streets. It was a perfect wintry day, sunny with some blue sky and little wind. Paris was waiting...
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When the urge to chew strikes...

The friendly folk at Lotte have the answer...

...A chewing gum vending machine!

Lotte uses the slogan "your palate's sweetheart, Lotte" which was inspired by Von Goethe's

I took this picture on
Mt Takao last summer.
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Thursday, March 30, 2006


When I first moved to Japan it was a smokers' paradise. Cigarettes were ridiculously cheap and you could smoke anywhere and everywhere. The dangers of second-hand smoke were ignored and in fact Japan Tobacco funded studies to prove that there was no danger to health. Second-hand smoke is also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS). Japan Tobacco says "the claim that ETS is a cause of disease in non-smokers has not been convincingly demonstrated". However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated in Janaury 1993 that ETS is a known human carcinogen and is classified as an environmental toxin akin to asbestos and other hazardous substances.

I never used to see signs like this...

But recently this kind of sign is becoming more and more common. Chiyoda-ku blazed the way for non-smoking streets in Tokyo and most of the other Tokyo wards have followed suit. Interestingly, these bans were introduced to prevent singed suits and dirty streets rather than to protect citizens' health.

The sign above was snapped in one of Shinjuku's "Special Area for the Promotion of Beautification" - if you throw away a butt here, you'll be fined up to 20 000 yen! (That's about US$185 or AUD$235.)

BTW the Japanese government is a major stakeholder in Japan Tobacco...
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

C.H.R.Y.S.A.N.T.H.E.M.U.M - Chrysanthemum

So what movie did I shamelessly reference as my title?

Anne of Green Gables of course!

Below are the tulips and carnations we bought after our sushi dinner on Saturday night - we've had the chrysanthemum for about a month's lasting forever

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Monday, March 27, 2006


A few days ago everything looked barren and cold like this:

Notice the boy crossing his arms against the winter chill and the naked branches casting their bare shadows across the footpath...

when we walked home from dinner at
Choshimaru (our local sushi shop) on Saturday night I was overjoyed to see my first cherry blossoms of the season:

Ooohhh aren't they pretty...
Stay tuned for at least a
gazillion more pics in the very near future!
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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Our S.S. Minnow Adventure...

We cruised out to the edge of the Great Barrier Reef for a snorkelling adventure when we were in Cairns in December 2004 ( seems so long ago now!). On the way we were fortunate to watch this storm come in:

Although once it started to hit us...

We weren't feeling so fortunate!
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Friday, March 24, 2006

Siren Song from the Golden Arches...

After watching Supersize Me and reading Fast Food Nation I very rarely eat at McDonald's but every so often the golden arches lure me back in...

McDonald's in Japan regularly introduces new menu items - generally seasonally related - and their lastest treat, Ume Sauce McNuggets, just had to be sampled:

Ume is one of my favourite flavours - it's a variety of Asian plum or apricot (depending on who you talk to) that tastes like a salty, sour plum. It's usually combined with shiso AKA perilla AKA beefsteak plant which provides a refreshing flavour.

So my verdict? The nuggets were average, but the sauce was quite good - though not sour enough for my taste. I was amused by the "chick lit-tish" illustration on the McNugget container - I guess the target market is now
Bridget Sophie Kinsella Jones ?!

Apologies for the dodgy shot below - I had to do it hastily :p

Do you think sleeping heavily is allowed?!
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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Why is my blog called Vernicious Knids?

There are a number of reasons that I chose this particular moniker:
  • I've always loved Roald Dahl's books - both children and adult versions!
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a particular favourite - after all what's not to love...a lifetime supply of free chocolate?!
  • One of the things I loved about Dahl's books were the imaginary creatures with the extraordinary names - particularly the Vermicious Knids (what first attracted me was the fact that the "K" in Knids was not a silent one!)
  • I wanted to include a Japanese twist to my title since this is my current place of abode.

So how exactly did I add the Japanese flavour? Simple...I switched the "M" for "N".

For those of you who haven't suffered the torture of attempting to master - or at least understand - Nihongo, this presumably makes no sense whatsoever. So here comes the enormously riveting part of my post...

English has an alphabet with singular sound forms ("c" "h" "o" "c" "o" "l" "a" "t" "e" becomes "cho" "co" "late" or "chock" "late" if you're an Aussie!). The Japanese alphabet is comprised of compound sounds (e.g. "cho" "ko" "re" "e" "to" = chocolate) with some singular sounds ("a" "i" "u" "e" "o" "n" "m"). Stay with me now, I'm getting there... The Japanese singular "n" and "m" pronunciation are used interchangeably - with some extensive grammatical exceptions that I will not bore you with!

So there you have it, my blog name is not a typo - there was, in fact, a highly complex methodological approach to my choice!

(and here you all thought I just didn't know how to spell?!)

So what's the story behind your blog's name? If it includes a free language lesson I'll be mightily impressed :p

The Odd One Out...

Can you spot the real vending machine?

It's the 3rd one on the left!
I noticed this in Shinjuku recently - it was on the fencing surrounding a construction site. A very creative use of space, I thought.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

Declared by UNESCO in 1999, today is World Poetry Day - a day to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry.

We Are Going - Oodgeroo Noonuccal

They came in to the little town

A semi-naked band subdued and silent
All that remained of their tribe.
They came here to the place of their old bora ground
Where now the many white men hurry about like ants.
Notice of the estate agent reads: 'Rubbish May Be Tipped Here'.
Now it half covers the traces of the old bora ring.
'We are as strangers here now, but the white tribe are the strangers.
We belong here, we are of the old ways.
We are the corroboree and the bora ground,
We are the old ceremonies, the laws of the elders.
We are the wonder tales of Dream Time, the tribal legends told.
We are the past, the hunts and the laughing games, the wandering camp fires.
We are the lightening bolt over Gaphembah Hill
Quick and terrible,
And the Thunderer after him, that loud fellow.
We are the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon.
We are the shadow-ghosts creeping back as the camp fires burn low.
We are nature and the past, all the old ways
Gone now and scattered.
The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter.
The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.
The bora ring is gone.
The corroboree is gone.
And we are going.'

Since 1966 it's also been the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This was in response to the 69 people killed by the police at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid pass laws in Sharpeville , South Africa in 1960. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." Nelson Mandela.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Akiba girls...

We went to Akihabara AKA Akiba yesterday to buy a replacement for my defunct printer and I couldn't resist coming over all otaku (manga geek) and snapping some shots,

I'm not sure whether to comment on the rosebud eye or towering platforms?!

We had lunch in Doutor - "a concept of casual and stylish" coffee shop and spotted the following girl with her manager:

What is it with the white boots ?!
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Friday, March 17, 2006

Live every moment as though it was my last!

My hayfever is keeping me from my beauty sleep...but I discovered Cheezy Cheeky with this fantastic life giving mayfly post accompanied by the picture below:

So go ahead and visit Vodafone UK to give life to your very own mayfly and look for "Vern Knids" while you are there. Don't worry about the level of commitment required - this is strictly a 24 hour deal!
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Over the rainbow or under it?!

I hope you all manage to find your own pot of gold this year!
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

"Beaverkeys" may be the salvation of the airways...

I love Dilbert and the humour of his creator Scott Adams. The Dilbert Blog provides me with lots of laughs but I particularly enjoyed this recent entry about airport security screening.

Another one bites the dust?!

It looks like I've worn out my faithful Canon Pixus i50 printer. It stopped halfway through a print job and despite cajoling, thumping and desperate prayers it's stubbornly and infuriatingly not budging. I unistalled and reinstalled the driver several times. I tried different USB ports, I tried infrared transfer and then I tried unscrewing it to look inside. Nothing worked...looks like I'll soon be the proud owner of a Pixus i70, i80, or Pixma iP90 - I haven't yet decided. So I guess I'll be trekking to Geek City AKA Akihabara this weekend! On the upside; while searching for the CD driver I came across a much loved and long lost CD - Sonique - Hear My Cry. So while I mourn the passing of my beloved i50 I'll be dancing around the living room to "Sky" and preparing to bestow my love on a new baby!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

AKA Geoluhread

We made the trek out to Makuhari Costco on Sunday and it seems that we were irresistibly drawn to products with orange hues...

Obviously we smell spring aaachooo in the air?!
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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Never a dull moment?!

Our world is a weird and wonderful place full of interesting characters like the Subversive Knittas - led into battle by AKrylik - who graffiti neighbourhoods with knitted goods. They aim to knit carpets for footpaths (aka sidewalks / pavements), curtains for bridges and their ultimate plan for world domination? A tea cozy for Big Ben !!
"Your mission... should you choose to accept... it is to meet for dinner tonight. This message will self destruct in 20 seconds."
If the above is something you've ever fantasised about, then your dreams can now come true as you can send self-destruct emails or stealth texts to your loved ones - or not-so-loved-ones. Ethan Hunt eat your heart out!
And finally a sweet tale to read to the little ones to wish them pleasant dreams... "A Girl Called Madonna" brought to you by the gifted people at Popjustice.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Another Month Means Another Top 10 On My iPod Mini:

What I'm listening to this month:
  1. Shut Up - Black Eyed Peas
  2. The Nosebleed Section - Hilltop Hoods
  3. Doll Parts - Hole
  4. How Soon Is Now - The Smiths
  5. Life Is A Scream - Violent Femmes
  6. Growing On Me - The Darkness
  7. Juicebox - The Strokes
  8. You Could Have It So Much Better - Franz Ferdinand
  9. Forever Lost - The Magic Numbers
  10. Fear Of Sleep - The Strokes

Friday, March 10, 2006

Was there ever any doubt?!

You Will Be an Unconventional Bride!

You're probably the type of girl who never considered getting married - until you met *him*
You're not a big fan of white dresses, church weddings, or cheesy DJ's
That's okay - you'll do it your way... whether that means a Vegas wedding or guys as bridesmen
While you may not toss the bouquet (or have anyone to toss it to), it will still be the most romantic day of your life!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Should I be dead right now?!

Okay, I just sneezed 25 times in a ROW. I thought that this had to be some kind of Guinness World Record but they don't have any online records for sneezing. So I went googling and discovered that:

So basically, I am now sitting here typing with my eyes closed (physically impossible to keep your eyes open when you sneeze you know), fractured ribs, a couple of ruptured blood vessels and my heart has been stopped for 25 milliseconds.

When will this wretched kafunsho season end?! I hate those stupid cedar trees and I refuse to wear the ridiculous ShinkoQ Kafunsho Sugi Kafun Face Mask. Grrr.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"We've chosen the path to equality, don't let them turn us around."

Women account for 49.24% of our global population so I was appalled to read recently that of the 776 (758 people and 18 organisations) Nobel Prizes awarded only 33 recipients have been women - this is a measly 4.25%. So as today is International Women's Day I've posted the full list of female awardees:

List of Women Laureates:
1903, Marie Curie
1963, Maria Goeppert-Mayer

1911, Marie Curie
1935, Irène Joliot-Curie
1964, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin

Physiology or Medicine
1947, Gerty Cori
1977, Rosalyn Yalow
1983, Barbara McClintock
1986, Rita Levi-Montalcini
1988, Gertrude B. Elion
1995, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
2004, Linda B. Buck

1909, Selma Lagerlöf
1926, Grazia Deledda
1928, Sigrid Undset
1938, Pearl Buck
1945, Gabriela Mistral
1966, Nelly Sachs
1991, Nadine Gordimer
1993, Toni Morrison
1996, Wislawa Szymborska
2004, Elfriede Jelinek

1905, Bertha von Suttner
1931, Jane Addams
1946, Emily Greene Balch
1976, Betty Williams
1976, Mairead Corrigan
1979, Mother Teresa
1982, Alva Myrdal
1991, Aung San Suu Kyi
1992, Rigoberta Menchú Tum
1997, Jody Williams
2003, Shirin Ebadi
2004, Wangari Maathai

Let's hope that as the 21st century progresses this list gets longer and longer.

"Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade."
(First Black Woman in the U.S. to become a Federal Judge)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

And the Fashion Oscar Goes To...

...Reese Witherspoon in her vintage Christian Dior!
(I love this dress)

My Oscar predictions weren't too bad (3 out of 7 correct)!
Go Fug Yourself for some fugalicious pics
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Saturday, March 04, 2006

The only way to cool down...

This summer was so hot in Australia this year...

Even the koalas went swimming!

Look closely and you can see his little tongue...
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Friday, March 03, 2006

A Day For All The Girls...

Hinamatsuri (Dolls' Festival or Girls' Festival) is a day to pray for and celebrate the growth and happiness of girls. The Hina-ningyou (dolls) you see below are displayed by families that have daughters. These dolls are very elaborate and expensive - they are heirlooms, not toys - and must be looked after with a great deal of care.

The 2 dolls at the top are the Emperor and Empress
The next step down has 3 Court Ladies
The 3rd step has 5 Court Musicians
There are 2 Ministers on the 4th step
The 5th step has 3 Servants
The 2 lowest steps contain miniature tableware used to serve all these people

The dolls should be carefully packed away soon after the celebration of Hinamatsuri or it's believed that the daughter will not be able to
marry - she'll be left on the shelf!
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Shine a light on me...

Even the lamp posts are gorgeous in Paris
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