Carissa's Exploits and Fabulous Adventures

Japan Round Two

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One tends to forget the repetition of history. Today I was reminded that it all just happens over and over again....

Historical Version:
"So, how did the trend for pointed-toe shoes start?
Manolo who? Long before they ever made an appearance on the TV show "Sex and the City," pointed shoes were favored by Polish nobles, who introduced the fashion to England on a diplomatic visit in the 1300s.
The shoes, dubbed "crackowes" or "poulaines" -- after Kraków, Poland -- were so long that a chain running from the toe to the knee was often required to keep them from dragging.
In 1363 the English attempted to rein in the look by law, assigning shoe spans to social classes. Commoners could sport footwear with toes of up to six inches, while those in the royal ranks were allowed a full two feet in length." (Full article at:

Modern Version:
ATLANTA (AP) - Baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs would be illegal under a proposed amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws.
The amendment, sponsored by city councilman C.T. Martin, states that sagging pants are an "epidemic" that is becoming a "major concern" around the country.
"Little children see it and want to adopt it, thinking it's the in thing," Martin said Wednesday. "I don't want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go. I want them to think about their future."
The proposed ordinance would also bar women from showing the strap of a thong beneath their pants. They would also be prohibited from wearing jogging bras in public or show a bra strap, said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
The proposed ordinance states that "the indecent exposure of his or her undergarments" would be unlawful in a public place. It would go in the same portion of the city code that outlaws sex in public and the exposure or fondling of genitals.
(Available at:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Chairman of the Committee I was watching today suddenly asked "What happened to the crack and all the other drugs? Are all the crack users just out there flim-flamming around?"

Although the quote caused laughter, he was asking a serious question. Meth has become the focal point and popular drug to be against this year. Everyone is involved in preventing meth use and helping people who are already addicted. While it is always good to have a cause, it is sad when other causes suffer due to the popularity of the season. Are fewer people using heroine and crack just because we ignore it? Did Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" finally begin to work? Our First Lady Dawn Gibbons has made Meth her cause this year, if she tells people to say no perhaps that will solve the problem.

I suppose the same thing is happening with the one-shot appropriations as well this session. Several legislators don't want to give money to non-profits. Perhaps that is more fair, but the more money one non-profit gets the less money the others receive. An unfortunate reality we face when dealing with budgets.
I wish I was there with you, drinking beer in a quiet piazza watching the dust settle and the people pass. I can almost feel the sun on my face and hear the click of shoes on the cobblestones if I try really hard. (sigh) Instead I am in Carson City hoping that the legislators will finish soon so I can leave as well.

Two weeks passage of time will find me drinking apple wine in Europe once again, soaking in centuries of culture and relaxing. Did I mention the apple wine?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lipstick on a Pig

Deadlines in the Legislature last week and this week. Lots of bills are dieing and lots of hearts are being broken. Don't you love the government.

We have been lucky thus far, although I would like to think that luck had nothing to do with it and it was just hard work. (Most of the hard work done by other people). Several bills that we didn't like have died, and several bills that we like are still alive, although barely. Life is busy but not too bad in Legislature Land.

Now for the amusing part. The Governor has said "No New Taxes" and he appears to be serious about it, unlike others in the past. This has scared all of the Democrats into submission. I'm not sure why, but plenty of Republicans aren't falling into line. What we have is an upsidedown reality. Democrats are voting against bills that would raise taxes while Republicans are voting for increased fees and taxes. Rather boggles the mind.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Unintended Consequences.

This blog is going to have to change drastically. No longer am I being blown around the world by the trade winds. My wanderings have slowed for now. I seem to have taken root and am attempting to grow (which can be a challenge anywhere, but especially in the desert).

What should this blog become though? Do I have a concsious choice or will it evolve in its own way, moderately shaped by me, but in control of its own destiny. I suppose that is to be seen.

For now I thought it would be interesting to put some of my observations of the political system. I am deeply immersed in it as a lobbyist in the Nevada State Legislature. Anyone who knows me is aware of my love for government. My first job in high school was not the typical waitress position, instead I was campaign staff for a state campaign. I loved my government class in high school, I was drawn to DC by the allure of being closer to the seat of power in our country. Despite all I thought I knew, I am constantly discovering more. And rather than being discouraged by this exposure I have actually been inspired. Yes money talks and legislators listen to lobbyists and don't always follow what their constituents want. But I don't think that is the rule. From what little I have seen, the legislators are genuinely trying to make our state a better place. They want to do the right thing. I can see how difficult it is though because any decision that is made will have positive effects for one group but negative effects for another group. If you give money to education that is less money available to fix the roads. If money is given to hire more staff that is money that isn't going to help people with disabilities. They have a monumental task juggling all of those demands, and I don't envy them. But I do respect them.

Of course it is a bit concerning that the favorite phrase this session seems to be "Unintended Consequences." Good name for a band though.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I've registered for the MS Walk at Lake Tahoe on Saturday May 19 because I want to do something for the people who have been diagnosed - and because I want to do everything to prevent more people from learning what it means to live with this disease. Today, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, and with a diagnosis occurring most frequently between the ages of 20 and 50, many individuals face a lifetime filled with unpredictability.

Having multiple sclerosis means that you may not be able to walk when you wake up. Or that you may suddenly have impaired vision. Or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason. The symptoms of MS are different, and devastating, for everyone - the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.

I have started a team for the walk named Filibustering Philanthropists. If you are going to be here (the Reno/Tahoe area) on May 19th I would love to have you join our team (only 3 short miles!). Please go here to sign up: Filibustering Philanthropists

If you can't make it to walk with us but still want to give some money to help with MS research you can go here. The money raised during the walk will not only support research for a cure tomorrow, but also to provide programs which address the needs of people living with MS today. Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

I finally (finally) got around to updating this blog. It took awhile I know. I added a lot of pictures but some of them won't appear on this page. You have to go into the archives to see them. Most of the pictures are August 2006- October 2006 so just select those archives on the right (I have faith that you are all smart enough to figure that out).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I turned in the forms for the fiancé visa today. It was so complicated (35 pages of complicated). I’m glad that I am finished though, now I just have to wait (5-9 months of waiting, I’m going to be an expert soon).

My mother bought me a book called “Immigration Made Easy.” I think it must be a joke, because there is nothing easy about the immigration process. I’m worried that I made a mistake and it will take longer because of my carelessness. This blog might just transition from a blog about traveling to a blog about the immigration process. Not quite as interesting though.

I am supposed to be teaching a class on beginning Japanese in February for the Community Education Classes. Unfortunately, no one has signed up for my class. If anyone in Reno is interested in learning Japanese…..

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Last night Ruan took me out to dinner at a beautiful restaurant called Cynthia’s. After dinner we got in the car and started driving, but he wouldn’t tell me where we were going! Finally we pulled off the road onto a small dirt road and bumped along for a few minutes before pulling into a place called the Sundowner’s Lodge. We went into our room which was beautiful (the Big Five Room because of the decorations) and Ruan asked me to marry him! I said yes of course! He had champagne waiting on ice (along with flowers and chocolates and candles). It was beautiful and romantic and I am very, very happy.

Ruan is going to move to Reno with me as soon as we get his visa situation figured out. Obviously I am disappointed that we won’t be together for a little while, but I am also very excited about starting our new life together.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ruan and I went camping and had a run-in with an ostrich. I'm not sure what his problem was, but the ostrich would chase me around the tent and was stalking us all night. I had to chase him off with a kitchen towel (fairly effective for ostrich removal).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ruan and I spent the last 3 days at Manyane Resort near the Pilanesburg National Reserve. It is a pretty resort with thatched bungalows, 2 swimming pools, a restaurant and a semi-tame ostrich that wanders around. There are some wild baboons that like to cause mischief; we heard them a few times.

The amazing thing about Manyane is how close it is to the park gates (maybe 2 minute drive). We drove around the inside of the park for 3 days and saw so many amazing animals! Rhinos, Zebras, Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Wildebeest, Kudu, impala and many, many more! It was fun to just drive around in your own car and stop when you want and turn when you want. I was surprised how close we were able to get to the animals (in the car, you aren’t allowed to get out of the car). The only animals we didn’t get to see were Lions, Leopards, Water Buffalo and Hyenas. I was a bit disappointed by not seeing Lions, but there is always next time.

Today we went to Sun City (a famous casino area). I’m not terribly excited by gambling, but we did go to the City of the Waves, a fun water park. We had a good time swimming and going on water-slides.

After we drove back from Sun City I met Ruan’s parents and brother and sister-in-law. I was terribly nervous but ended up getting along very well with them. Ruan’s mother had cooked an amazing meal Boerakorse (I’m sure I’m spelling that wrong). There was all sorts of traditional Boer food and I was stuffed by the time we finished.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I am in Pretoria visiting Ruan. I love it down here. Everything is so relaxed and easy going. The flight down here was 33 hours (evilness) but it is worth it. We have spent most of our time swimming in the pool, talking, reading books and soaking up the sun. After the election I was so stressed that I really needed this de-tox time.

Ruan has taken me around Pretoria a bit to show me where he went to school and his old houses. Pretoria is a nice city, but big enough that it is hard to get a feel for it. It’s not overwhelming like some cities (Johannesburg possibly).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

When I got to Customs in Chicago the agent asked about my traveling. After I told him he simply said, “Welcome Home.” It’s hard to believe after so long. I’m home.

To summarize this trip is no small task. Was it amazing? Of course. Was it life-changing. Maybe not, but the words enlightening, inspiring, educational, and exciting spring to mind. So what have I learned?
- That I know very little about it but am fascinated by world history. I loved learning the history of the places we stopped and I want to learn more.
- That Ruan and I are more similar that I previously thought. We bonded a lot on this trip.
- I love traveling by trains!
- I don’t need to see every place listed in the guidebooks, but I like to spend time in one place (more than 2 or 3 days). Russia I understood, but Prague and Munich were too rushed.

I am sad this trip is over. It means I actually have to grow up and leave behind Japan. I have to face the inevitable culture shock of moving home. I won’t wake up every few days in a new city with new things to see, new foods to taste and a new history to learn. This was a once in a lifetime trip though and I’m so happy I did it. I am proud of myself for being brave and tireless and I have a million beautiful memories.

My favorite memory is the moon rising over Lake Ogyi in Mongolia. The sky was still light although the sun was gone. Ruan and I watched as the moon rose out of the lake and the stars appeared. I fell asleep with a huge smile on my face in the middle of the most remote place on earth.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In London met up with Richard (a friend of Ruan’s from Japan). We went to have drinks at the Queen Mary, a boat on the Thames, just down from the Savoy and next to the Waterloo Bridge. It was a gloriously beautiful day, I could see Big Ben down the river, watch the red buses cross the bridge, I was having great conversation and tasty beer. It was hard to believe I was actually in London!