Posted in From Kentucky

How You Can Support Muslims and Refugees in Kentucky

Needless to say, I disagree with both the Muslim travel ban and the executive ordered refusal of refugees into the United States. As such, I want to endeavor to help those who are in need of aid.

Luckily, there has been a stay on the executive order that allows legal Muslim citizens to return to the U.S., but what about when they return to a country that has seemingly targeted them as enemies? Refugees who will feel isolated and cut off from home? There are things we Americans, and specifically Kentuckians, can do to help them.

Contacting Politicians

Having our voices heard is a vital part of our democracy. Governor Matt Bevin needs to hear the stories and know that people care enough to call. If you disagree with the ban and the turning away of refugees, call him at (502) 564-2611. If you have Twitter, his handle is @GovMattBevin. He also has a Facebook page to which you can send messages. You can also send mail to:

700 Capitol Avenue
Suite 100
Frankfort, KY 40601

If you’re not a citizen of Kentucky, you can go to Refugee Council USA to find contact information for your state governor and legislators. They have a sample script for phone calls that you can use:

Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [City, State], and I support refugee resettlement in the U.S. I am strongly opposed to President Trump’s decision to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, pause the refugee resettlement program, and reduce the number of refugees we welcome. This discriminatory announcement is morally reprehensible, runs counter to who we are as a nation, and does not reflect the welcome for refugees I see in my community every day. I urge you to do everything in your power to see this announcement reversed.”

As well advice for tweeting out to Presdient Trump and your state representative.

Tweet @realDonaldTrump, @POTUS, and @ your Senators/Representatives: “.@[HANDLE], my community stands w/ ALL refugees! Support refugee resettlement & reject discrimination! #RefugeesWelcome”

One of the best ways to make your voice heard is by sending the White House a message via Facebook message at Facebook.com/WhiteHouse or submit an electronic message at whitehouse.gov/contact.

Help Refugees in Your Area

There are four refugee resettlement agencies in Kentucky. In the Louisville and Lexington area, we have Kentucky Refugee Ministries Inc.  KRM seeks put employers to make employment services. Over 200+ Kentucky employers hire refugees, and they help refugees support their families in their new lives. There is also a call for volunteers, perhaps by “tutoring kids after school, practicing English with adults, or helping someone find their first job in the U.S.” However, do be aware that there is an application process, so please be patient with the organizations if they don’t return your queries to help right away.

Two really interesting ideas from the site are writing welcome cards to refugees and showing support through multi-lingual signs. Since the order bars refugees from arriving for 120 days, you can write cards or letters “for those families who are already here and for those who will arrive after the suspension is lifted. On the cards, you can write welcome in different languages. Get the kids involved by drawing pictures and adding stickers. Drop them off at KRM or deliver them to [KRM] offices so staff can get them into the hands of refugee families.” It’s a nice little gesture that might not change the world, but it could mean the world to one family.

KRM suggests putting up “a sign of welcome in multiple languages outside your home or business showing your support for your neighbors to see.” The link above is for the PDF versions of the various multilingual signs. After all, America has no official language, no official religion, and we shouldn’t be banning anyone based on religion or creed.

On there you can also sign the Kentucky-wide petition calling to keep Kentucky welcoming. The petition is organized as part of KRM’s coalition organizing a statewide event, the fourth annual Refugee and Immigrant Day at the Capitol on February 16th at the capitol Frankfort.

In the Bowling Green and Owensboro area, we have the International Center of Kentucky. They provide many of the same services as KRM, including helping refugees find employment, legal aides, translation services, and so on. You can apply to be an individual volunteer, but there is the option to do group volunteer activities as well.

The International Center has a Mentor system, wherein you can apply to help a specific refugee family get back on their feet. The application process is a little more rigorous than the volunteer one, so please be aware of that. However, if you live in these areas and wish to help, fill out the application in the link above. If you have any questions about the mentor program, you can call or visit one of the offices below.

Bowling Green Office
806 Kenton Street,
Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101
P: (270) 781-8336
F: (270) 781-8136

Owensboro Office:
2818 New Hartford Road, Entrance N
Owensboro, Kentucky 42303
P: (270) 683-3423
F: (270) 683-3425

For those looking for refugee aid centers and resettlement organizations, here is the list of refugee resettlement agencies by state. Please, find the one close to you and offer your support to help keep services for refugees to continue rebuilding their lives.

Give Donations

In Kentucky, there are various ways you can give. KRM has a donation page that requests for both donation items and funds. The donation items are helpful in refugees starting a new life, and the funds will be helping KRM to assist refugees in the state. The Int. Center of KY also have an easy donation page where you send support them via PayPal.

If you want a site that’s multi-lingual, then head over to the Refugee Center Online. It has up to date information on the ban and what refugees can do now to protect their status. You can also donate to the Refugee Center here.

For these organizations, every little bit helps. Please consider giving to help those who really need it right now.

If you can’t do everything, do what you can. Take some time on Saturday to help someone learn English. If you can’t volunteer, send some blankets or preserved food. Give just $5 to one of these organizations. Take a moment to lambaste a governor or a president on your lunch break. Or just put up a sign that you’re in solidarity with the freedoms America was founded upon, and tell the world you stand on the right side of history. Past, present, and future.

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Posted in cultural differences, flashback friday

Flashback Friday: Christmas LIES!!!

Before we go any further, I feel the need to explain that Christmas isn’t as near and dear to me as Halloween. That being said it’s definitely the second favorite, and for reasons that are quite beyond me, I always get irrational when people who aren’t from America try to tell me how Christmas in America “actually is.”

LISTEN HERE, I am American, I am a Kentuckian, so don’t try to spread these LIES on my watch you KENTUCKY FRIED LUNATICS!


MERRY KENTUCKY FRIED CHRISTMAS LIES!!! AND OTHER CULTURAL CHRISTMAS DIFFERENCES

Once upon a time, I’m innocently gallivanting through the Aeon Mall in Narita with my good friend, Ai. We’re checking out different stores, and I’m squealing like a ten year old at every little cute thing in the huge shopping area. Basically, I was squealing at everything. Japan is full of cuteness, that makes me happy.

Anyway, just as we’re swinging through the last bit of mall, I catch sight of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in a food court. I remembered that I promised someone I would look at the price of their Christmas bundle of grease, so I walked over there with Ai to find it.

You see, in Japan people can’t get turkey. Turkey is hard to find, and if you find the bird it is really expensive. Instead of turkey, Kentucky Fried Chicken is used as a replacement.

Most foreigners find this tradition a little baffling, since Christmas usually also implies all the food is cooked by a grandmother or mother. Why would you want to eat fast food for Christmas? Honestly, it’s just a cultural thing. Why do Americans blow stuff up to celebrate the birth of America? Because we’re Americans and that’s what we do.

Anyway, I found a sign that looks like this:

KFC Christmas LIES.png
Yes, I do kind of want it. 

I picked up a pamphlet and began to walk away.

But then, I discovered an atrocity.

There,  sitting on the table with all its disgusting merriness, was a Christmas plate. Did the plate say, “Merry Christmas!” No. No it didn’t. It said:

“Kentucky Christmas.”

Ai got to experience one of my rants that day. It’s been a long time since I just let one off out of blue, and I might have scared some poor Japanese people in my near vicinity.

I believe I said something along the lines of, “We don’t eat KFC for Christmas! For the thousandth time, we eat ham and turkey! HAM AND TURKEY! Not fried up  grease attached to dead poultry!”

Ai was laughing pretty hard, and she wished she had recorded it all to put up on YouTube. I’m really glad she didn’t. I do not want to be an overnight YouTube star.I do not want to go down in internet history as “The Kentucky Fried Lunatic.”


Hahaha, let’s all laugh together at past me who thinks she’ll never be on YouTube. Joke’s on you, past me!


The thing is I wouldn’t care so much if not for the unfortunate problem that some Japanese people do believe that folks in Kentucky eat KFC all the time and must eat it at Christmas (for the plates tell them so). It makes me want to beat the marketing people senseless.

I’m resigned to the fact that people will forever and always associate my state with a gross fast food chain. However, Christmas is a sacred time of family, presents, and real food. For someone to dare tarnish the reputation of my beloved commercial holiday memories throws me into an irrational fury.

As Christmas draws near, the number of people asking me questions pertaining to my Kentucky heritage and my version of Christmas has increased. There’s the common question of, “Do you eat KFC on Christmas?” I respond, “No. No I don’t. Most of the people I know eat ham and turkey.” With a hundred side items and desserts, but I never get to that part.

People usually then respond, “Oh, really?” (I’ve come to recognize this phrase as something thrown at Japanese in English class, and I know this information because I’ve been wincing every time my students have to use it in class.) I usually respond with a small sigh and say, “Yes, really. And we have fruit cake.”

“What’s a fruit cake?”

A gross concoction  that looks like food. I’ve had very few good experiences with fruit cake. However, my mom just gave me a recipe for chocolate rum fruit cake. I’m kind of excited about that one, but I’m not ever excited about the prospect of fruit cake otherwise.


Funny thing, I made two batches of that chocolate rum cake (after, of course, taste testing one batch for science purposes). I gave those to my two main junior high schools, and surprisingly they loved those cakes! I was so terribly pleased with myself.

You’ll be horrified to know that fruit cake is sold in grocery stores over here more and more. Pretty soon, the annual tradition of passing around a fruit cake until it ends up in someone’s garbage will soon be a thing in Japan, too.


Japan has a decidedly better improvement. It’s called a Christmas Cake, and it looks delicious.

christmas-cake
Yum, yum!

I want to get one, but they’re apparently in really high demand. I don’t know if I will, but I’m going to try!


As I recall, I bought one at my local liquor store. Apparently, that’s where all the single people went to celebrate Christmas, so they had mini-Christmas cakes there for the lonely types. It was freaking delicious, too, like super packed with strawberries.


The other questions pertain to what I do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I told my friends and JTEs about how Christmas Eve is usually reserved for getting together with family and friends. I have a family tradition with my Dad’s side of the family that involves invading my grandmother’s house so we can eat good food and open up presents together. Most families reserve the present opening until Christmas Day, and I open my presents from my mother and her side of the family on that day.

A couple of people have asked me if I’m going to spend Christmas with a boyfriend, to which I responded two different ways:

“Where’s this imaginary Japanese man that’s fallen madly in love with me and why haven’t I met him?”

and

“Why would I celebrate Christmas with a boyfriend?”

Apparently, Christmas time is couples’ time in Japan. Boyfriends apparently do romantic things for their sweethearts, like buy them a present or take them out somewhere nice. If they want to be really beloved by their girl, they will take her to Disney Land or Disney Sea (depending upon the age. Disney Sea has drinking.). I won’t lie, if I had a boyfriend, I would totally beg him to take me there. Do you know how cute that place is? Ridiculous I tell you!

Christmas at Disney Sea.png
Come on, you totally just went, “Awww!” 

I explained that it’s really a big family time of the year, so I would not celebrate with a boyfriend on Christmas. I would celebrate on Christmas Eve with him before my Dad’s family time, but I don’t think I could’ve done it on Christmas. Dedicating the whole day to a boyfriend would get me disowned.

I’ve also discovered that Japanese parents have it tougher than American parents when it comes to sneaking the presents. American parents just have to sneak into the living room and put the presents under the tree and fill up the stockings. Japanese parents have to put presents beside their children’s beds at night. I couldn’t do it. I would wake up my child instantly due to some klutzy error.


Japanese parents, though, don’t generally buy a lot of presents for their kids. It’s usually only one or two kind of nice toys and that’s it. See, kids generally get these money envelopes on New Years Day, so pretty soon after Christmas they’ll have more presents. So it’s not like they’re going in the room with like a whole Santa bag, mainly just one or two boxes, which does make a bit easier.

Still, ninja skills, man.


Apparently, Santa Claus is pretty much the same jolly man in red. I’ve been asked if Colonel Sanders in Kentucky dresses up for Christmas, and I had to really think about it. I couldn’t remember our KFC even having a Colonel Sanders statue. I said I think so, but I honestly don’t remember. I know for a fact that Colonel Sanders does dress up as Santa Claus in Japan. It actually looks pretty neat.

Colonel Sanders Santa.png
No thanks, Colonel Santa. 

Right now, I’m trying to avoid KFC, lest I fly off the handle again and cause an international incident. I’m sure I’ll eventually eat there (I do love the biscuits), but until the holidays are over it’s best to just stay clear.

I will say that some cultural things about Christmas are the same. It’s about being with the people you love and showing you care. Regardless of where the presents go or the thrice damned chicken, both Americans and Japanese jump through hoops to get those special gifts for their beloved people. Just as in America, parents have got it tough, and in the name of love for their children they will do anything to get that stupidly popular (insert item here).

Christmas cheer is everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. The Christmas music started earlier than America because there’s no Thanksgiving to hold it back, and oddly enough it’s mostly the same American choices for music. For example, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” plays all the time. I kind of like it, but I’ll be sick of it by the end of December.

There are Christmas trees, too. They’re a little smaller than the average American tree, but that’s to be expected since most Japanese homes are smaller than the average American home. I’m considering getting either a small tree or a poinsettia. I was surprised to find the poinsettias over here, but they’re apparently just as popular here as in America.

Alas, I will not be celebrating Christmas in Japan, however. I will be going back to Kentucky for Christmas, which means no KFC for me! Yay! Instead, I’ll be chowing down on ham and fudge and pie and burritos and tacos (because Mexican food is only found in all of two cities, and I live in neither of them) and more pie and cheeseburgers and…Well, you get the idea.

I’ll be back in Japan for New Years, so until then TTYL and Merry Christmas!

P.S. Here’s a link to Badger Girl and a recipe for fruit cake so you can make it for the unsuspecting person of your choosing:

http://learntocookbadgergirl.com/?p=1761


Alright, so I’ll be restarting flashback Friday, but I think I’m going to do it every other Friday instead of every week like I was doing before. See you all in two weeks then!

Posted in From Kentucky

Kentucky Laws on Abortion: Worse Than Ever for Women

I remember sitting in the pews of a Baptist church as a pastor condemned abortions, because “baby killers don’t deserve heaven.” In true hypocritical fashion, I knew the adults refused to let most of their precious children learn learn about sex ed. But abortions? They dedicated a full hour, because it’s easier to condemn than understand, easier to villianize than to empathize.

The sermons have made their way into Kentucky General Assembly, where a 20 week abortion ban was just approved. I’m not claiming surprise, as the Republicans have been biting at the bit for years to get this legislation passed. Bevin and his followers want to paint the picture of loose women who want to kill babies, that they’re just trying to “save lives and do God’s work.”

This is a false narrative, because if Bevin wanted to save lives then he wouldn’t be repealing Medicaid, he wouldn’t be putting people in more dire straits with Right to Work. He’s essentially stripped away the possibility of getting- already low bar- healthcare and taking money from women’s pockets.

Kentucky has been consistory ranked low on healthcare in general, with women’s healthcare even lower. Right now the state is ranked at 44 (it was 47), with Louisiana being the worst at 50. Kentucky ranks at 47 for Women’s Life Expectancy at Birth, with a 45 for socio-economic and wellbeing, but a 35 for overall care. In other words, basic healthcare is livable, but having a child is dangerous. After having a child, a woman’s economic hardships will be a harsh reality.

Did you know that it on average costs over $300,000 to raise a child in America? Republicans will tell you that you can’t put a cost on a life, but that’s easy to say if one’s world isn’t based primarily in agriculture and coal mining. Kentucky farmers and miners don’t even reach to $20,000 annual these days for household income.

And now let’s get into the pre-birth costs. Prenatal vitamins with health insurance are covered, but without it you’re looking at a $2,000 expense. Then, add in about $450 dollars for bottles, maternity clothes, etc. In addition, add in cost of taking days off from work or having to quit work altogether. With no standard maternity in America, women will have to either use vacation days or just not get paid (or lose their jobs because a boss expects her to be a full time mom now).

“What to Expect” gives great advice for mommies to be, and prepares women for the sticker shock of having a child. With insurance, a baby can cost between $5,000-10,000 for birth alone. But then:

While maternity expenses for insured moms might seem high, the numbers are far higher if you have no insurance at all. The Truven Report put the uninsured cost of having a baby at anywhere from $30,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth to $50,000 for a C-section. And those prices have increased dramatically in the last four years. According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, the cost of having a baby increased 50 percent between 2004 and 2010, and they’ve likely increased since then.

Maternity costs can also vary from state to state by 50 percent and even more within some states, according to the Truven report. A 2014 study by the University of California, San Francisco found that hospital charges for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery ranged from $3,296 to $37,227, depending on the hospital. For a C-section, costs ranged from $8,312 to nearly $71,000.

Legislators don’t want this narrative. They want to pretend that all moms have magical karma that will prevent them from coming into economic hardships. The fact is though, it’s getting to the point where debt and motherhood are intertwined together as a moral must, that a woman must be expected to carry and birth and raise without mentioning that she can’t afford to even feed herself, how can she afford a child?

How can she afford even an ultrasound? Under the new law, a woman must receive one before she can move forward with the abortion procedure. “The bill requires a physician or qualified technician to perform the ultrasound and position the screen so the woman may view the images.” Already the ACLU has deemed the move reprehensible enough to sue, but in addition to that,  “The medical staff will be required to describe what the images show, including the size of the fetus and any organs or appendages visible.”

Ultrasounds are expensive, and ultimately unnecessary for abortions in the first trimester. However, Kentucky legislators want women to “make the best medical choices possible,” by shaming them into seeing a fetus most women in Kentucky can’t truly afford to bring into the world. There are conflicting articles that report the ultrasound might be an intra-vaginal ultrasound, which is not only highly unnecessary, but also more expensive that the average over the belly ultrasound. Also, an intra-vaginal ultrasound is an invasive procedure, one that even one woman said felt akin to being raped.

So let’s put money aside and wade into darker waters. Rape, sexual assault, and incest are not exclusions to the new 20 week abortion limit. Kentucky ranks 41 in rape crimes, with over 997 reports. One would imagine that women after being raped would be given information about abortion procedures after a rape, but they’re not (bold added by me):

Every hospital with emergency room services shall have a physician or sexual assault nurse available to examine victims of sexual offenses reported to a law enforcement agency. Such examinations must include emergency room treatment, evidence gathering services, tests, and information about services for treatment of venereal disease, pregnancy, and other medical or psychiatric problems. The pregnancy counseling provided to victims of reported sexual offenses may not include abortion counseling or referral. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 216B.400 (Enacted 1974; Last Amended 2006).

Women who have been raped may be given the Plan B pill, but that’s not guaranteed. In the event a teen is raped by her father, well, she will have even worse problems:

Written informed consent with 24-hour waiting period of mother; of one parent or guardian if mother under 18 and unemancipated, except when medical emergency or by judicial proceedings for court to waive parental consent; doctor must notify spouse if possible prior to abortion, if not possible, within 30 days of abortion [notification of spouse has been held unconstitutional by the attorney general. OAG 82-97.]

Let’s paint this picture then: A young girl is raped by her father/brother/uncle, so she goes to the emergency room. When she does, they test her, patch her up, perhaps get her in contact with counseling and police. They don’t mention where to go for an abortion. She discovers she’s pregnant, but her father/brother/uncle won’t give her consent to get the procedure.

Without consent, she would need to find a judge who will believe her, within 20 weeks. The judges will all have waitlists and backlogs. She needs to find a place to get one, unaware that Kentucky only has two abortion clinics in the entire state. Someone has to drive her to Louisville, to EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which has a waitlist and a back log. Not to mention the money, to the tune of over $650 (not including the drugs and consultation fee). How to get that as a teen with no money?

On top of all this, she must go through an intra-vaginal ultrasound, reliving the trauma of her rape, while a doctor tells her what the fetus looks like, and shows her the image. Basically, at this point, it’s state required torture and trauma. These narratives aren’t what get heard at the $70,000 tax payer cost emergency sessions. No, these narratives are called “rare,” blatantly ignoring that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted before reaching 25, some statisticians calling that number hopeful.

Bevin has made it very clear in the fine print of his 20 week abortion limit that he thinks men should have the right to a final say. In here, its stated that a man can sue if a woman gets an abortion without his notice. In other words, a rapist can sue his rape victim over an abortion. A victim of rape can be attacked again, and have her life ruined, and it’s perfectly legal.

Women deserve better, we deserve to be treated as equal citizens, with full control over what happens to our bodies. Treating a fetus with more respect and love than for the women that hold them isn’t godly, it’s tyrannical. Taking away Medicaid, forcing women to pay out of pocket for every single step of a pregnancy isn’t pro-life, its pro-birth. Forcing women to accept a baby from rape and incest is asking her to go through hell, and pay money for the experience for the rest of her life. Giving men a revenge clause for women taking control of their lives and their bodies is beyond shameful, it’s disgusting.

Pro-choice doesn’t mean anti-birth; it means seeing the world as it is, seeing the cruel realities women live with. We need better protections for women to get all the medical treatment they need, and that includes abortions, that includes Medicaid and affordable healthcare, that includes being able to have full access to information at hospitals. We need to start preaching for women instead of against them.

Posted in From Kentucky, Japan News

Oh Dear Sweet Jesus, Japan Reported the Ark

For all of you people who live in a very well grounded reality, or are otherwise Christians that don’t have beef with science, Creationism sounds like madness…because it is. I was going to try and sound nice about it, but no, nope. Creationists are deliberately in denial, they hold on tightly to the Bible (that was never, ever in any point in history supposed to be taken literally) and call it absolute FACT.

And to my horrified surprise, the Japan Times didn’t decide to remind the world that for whatever reason Ken Ham (yeah that guy who did a debate with Bill Nye) and his cult decided to spend over $100 million on an Ark.

modern day golden calf.jpg
Behold! A modern day Golden Calf! 

That eyesore is embarrassing, as in absolutely astoundingly humiliating. It wasn’t enough that Ken and his cronies got that stupid Creationist Museum put up, now they’re getting a tax sales break (UGH) to the tune of $18 million. The only religious thing this inspires me to do is pray for a flood to come wipe it out. It’s foundation is blatant ignorance, it’s structure held up with arrogance of superiority, and it’s message is nothing about God but everything about the folly of Man.

What really twists me up about all of this nonsense is that people will definitely go to there. I had two Germans who told me they’d been to Kentucky and went to the Creationist Museum. They recalled the “hilarious” tour guide and the “morons” who believed that Adam and Eve co-existed with dinosaurs. I tried to tell them not all Kentuckians believe in Creationism, but apparently more than enough to get an Ark built with all Christian staff.

Kentucky already has a joke of a reputation that’s stereotyped in movies. I remember wincing when I watched Kingsman: The Secret Service at the maniacal, hateful church goers depicted in Kentucky (obviously a Westboro parody, but they’re based in Kansas). This reputation is only getting worse as time goes on. Apparently, separation of church and state isn’t as separated as it should be in Kentucky, but then again we’ve got Kim Davis winning on the marriage certificate thing with the awful Governor Bevin making sure bigotry continues against the LGBTQA+ community. Bevin is also determined to cut as much funding for education as he possibly can, but note that an elective Bible course was approved by the state.

For all of this, I’m proud to have been born and raised in Kentucky. The people who aren’t creationists, who don’t want to make huge and useless Biblical theme parks for “tourism,” are generally amazing. Also, there are plenty of other, better reasons to visit Kentucky than to go see that monstrosity.

Kentucky has the best horses in all of America, and you can’t tell me otherwise, don’t even try. The Kentucky Derby is still a joy to watch every year. The Appalachian Mountains are gorgeous, and definitely worth hiking and camping up in the summer time. Mammoth Cave is one of my all time favorite tours ever, as it shows and explains just exactly how long it took to make (no, not 6,000 years Creationists, try over 100,000 to a million depending on how far down you go). It’s very educational about the structure of the earth, and will make you smarter for going there, not dumber.

Basically, there are so many other places to go, and I beg of you Japan and other people of the internet, don’t give any more money to Ken Ham or his cult. Don’t visit this thing, don’t let them win. Please and thank you!

 

Posted in From Kentucky

Lexington House is More Than Meets the Eye

My friend and poet Bianca Spriggs shared this neat house listing from Lexington, Kentucky. The house on the outside might seem like your every day usual suburban home, if a little more roomy and with a nice yard. Usually, homes like this one have a couple of normal bedrooms, a spacey kitchen with perhaps a breakfast bar, and a tastefully decorated living room.

Idle Hour House

But the inside is shockingly different from what you’d think.

Living Room

It’s like if Santa were a millionaire, this is what his house would look like. It’s jaw dropping, for both amazing and terrifying reasons. Amazing as in, “Holy moley, that is something to see! It’s so different!” And then terrifying as in, “How do people actually live in this place and not get headaches?”

Breakfast bar

The kitchen continues this pattern of white and Santa red with gold for highlights here and there. Hey, there is in fact a breakfast bar! How about that? Well, at least when company comes over to stare at the place in amazement, there’s more than enough seating space to eat.

Kitchen

It’s admirable how white the kitchen is. Somebody in this household must have been magic, because the fact that nothing looks stained, burnt, or used at all. It’s like prestigious museum quality preservation here.

Bedroom

Assuming this is the master bedroom, this is where the owners of the house slept. With wallpaper that must reflected the sun into every corner of the room and no dark curtains, you can bet they were probably up from the crack of dawn and onwards. Once again, vanity seems completely untouched. Maybe rich ghosts lived here?

Bedroom 2

And then we come to the possible guest bedroom, which for some reason changes to a toned down all gold set up. Definitely a huge shift from the red and white, but why? Is it perhaps an acknowledgement that some people aren’t Christmas folk and would want to sleep somewhere a little less bright? We may never know the answers to these questions.

The property is being sold at $310,000. If you’re interested in it, and who wouldn’t be, go here to contact Terra Long. Make her an offer, sit down in your new home, and then email me about how it feels.


*Photo Credit: Lexington Bluegrass Association of Realtors

 

Posted in From Kentucky

Viral Videos from Kentucky!

Today Kentucky has been getting some interesting news. First, this video of a woman re-enacting what happened when a tornado passed over her in Mayfield, Kentucky. Seriously, I’m sorry about the situation and for all the damage done in the area, but this woman is fantastic. She says basically what I would say, but I’d be dropping a few more F-bombs into the mix (Sorry, Mom!)

And then! In animal shenanigans, we have goats that led a town on a merry chase in Covington, Kentcuky. People ended up running after these little guys for over 24 hours trying to get them all rounded up.

Sometimes my home state is just the best!

Posted in Uncategorized

On Moving Across the Globe

Many years of traveling have taught me that getting your entire life packed into a suitcase is near impossible, but you can come close. The stress of moving will be tough sometimes, but don’t freak out. If you take the time to do the research you’ll be ready for what comes ahead. You just got to know how to pack, what to pack, and what you should send to yourself later.

When it comes to packing, don’t skimp on suitcases. You’re going to want something sturdy to hold your stuff inside, you’ll want it to be deep and full of extension pockets. A flimsy hold hand-me-down pack won’t work for a big move, trust me on this one. Go ahead and bite the bullet and buy something that will survive being tossed around by airport personnel. Also pro-tip on clothing packing, don’t fold your clothes; roll them up. Not only will you save space but you reduce wrinkles dramatically with the roll technique.

rolling clothes
livelongandtravel.com

You’re probably worried that you’re going to forget something, or perhaps there just won’t be enough room for all your stuff. The key here is to keep your priorities straight:bring what you need and not what you want. Clothes, shoes, and medicines are always get put in first. Gifts for whoever will be your future co-workers are great ideas if you’re moving to Japan. After that, you can put in small things like jewelry, books, magazines, pictures, etc.

If you can digitize all of your media before moving, that’s a fantastic way to save space. Pictures, movies, documents, put it all on a backup drive or USB’s. Lugging around pictures on picture frames can be a great strain, and same for books. Go ahead and get an ebook app or a Kindle to save weight and space.

Before you finish packing and get moving, I highly recommend you talk to people who have lived where you’re going to live. The internet is a wonderful place full of forums and chat rooms, take advantage of them on travel sites and ask about what are the number one products or clothes you should definitely bring to your new country.

If you’re coming into Japan on JET or Interac or whatever, most likely you’ve got a predecessor whose position you’ll be taking over. These can give you the down low on how much you should save before going over, what the atmosphere is like for foreign people, weather conditions, and so much more.

I took over from a girl I’ll call L. She filled out a JET Handbook for me to read over before I arrived as well as talked to me via email and Facebook. If you have a first person account of what’s available specifically in your area then you can better prepare for the coming trials ahead. L warned me way in advance about shoe sizes in Japan and that finding my shoe size would be a headache and a half. She also told me about getting an International Driver’s Permit (I.D.P.) would be necessary to get a car, and driving was a necessity in the countryside where she lived. Thanks to her, I was able to get one before I left and rented a car while I lived in Ibaraki. She was correct 100%.

My two item recommendations for if you’re coming to Japan are 1) deodorant and 2) bras. The deodorant applies to both men and women. Unlike in the U.S.A., most deodorants are spray cans. If you manage to find a deodorant that’s a roll-on type it’s usually not that strong. If you want that 24 hour protection, buy yourself some American stuff and take it with you. Bras are for the ladies, especially if you’re anything over a C cup. Most Japanese women are A or B, so most bras are tiny. I only went bra shopping once in Japan, and it was awful. The sizes are way too small for busty ladies around the chest and the cups aren’t designed well for support.

If you can get someone reliable who can ship you boxes after you move to another country then you’re pretty much set. I’m one of those who relies more on family members, but I highly suggest that the trust goes with someone responsible. If you think a close friend is better to rely on, trust your gut and go with that person instead. Needless to say, my mother sent me a box of shoes, Lucky Charms, and Reeses a month after I settled in my new apartment. Ya know, all the essentials.

A friend of mine was really smart and packed up his gaming PC to get shipped by his brother once he got a Japanese address. Since he wasn’t on a program, he was getting his apartment by himself, so he needed to wait until he got a place to send things. He left his brother with a box, instructions for what to do, and money for shipping. If you can do something like that with bulky items that might be better than trying to stuff them into a suitcase.

But make sure you double check the country’s list of banned items and medicines before you ask people to send you things. Banned items are simple, basically the same as any other country. No explosives, flammables, guns, etc. However, the latter part can be quite tricky. Some people have been arrested for bringing over the counter medicine from America into Japan and their own prescription medication.

Up to one month’s supply of allowable prescription medicine (by Japanese law) can be brought into Japan. Travelers should bring a copy of their doctor’s prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug. Travelers who must carry more than one month’s supply (except prohibited drugs and controlled drugs), or are carrying syringes (pumps) or a CPAP machine, are required to obtain a so-called “Yakkan Shoumei”, or an import certificate in advance, and show the “Yakkan Shoumei” certificate with your prescription medicines at the Customs.

For more information about bringing medicines into Japan and how to obtain a “Yakkan Shoumei” Certificate, please visit the website of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare where you can also find an application form.

Japan is zero tolerance on drugs. Fun Fact: The Rolling Stones, former Beatles band member Paul McCartney, and Paris Hilton  were  denied entrance to Japan because of prior drug charges from their motherlands (Tofugu). If you are caught with drugs without a Yakken Shoumei certificate, you could face jail time and/or deportation. Do you research and make sure you’ve got all the right documents before bringing or sending medicine into a different country.

Becoming an ex-pat can be a thrilling and life changing challenge, and it’s definitely worth all the effort. The final step to this process is of course the fact that you’re going to get to unpack everything in your new home. I do the procrastinator style unpacking, wherein I sort of live out of my suitcases for about a week until I eventually get around to putting everything in its proper place. I remember sliding open the closet door and just feeling so amazed that I was actually living in a Japanese apartment. Those moments will be the ones that will make all the headaches, frustrations, and preparation worthwhile.


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