Daily Journal of an Assistant Language Teacher / Automatic Language Tape Recorder (ALT) in the JET Programme living and learning in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. More information on the JET Programme here and here.
Sunday June 1st
I've got this thing I call Ryan Syndrome. It's where I believe things are constantly being put in my way to prevent me from succeeding. Obstacles or blockades or whatever. I had documented them at one time, and then I stopped thinking about them in case they were all mental. Well it's still there and I am really getting tired of it. Here's today's example:
I went to Japanese class in Horai with Izumi and Corrinn. Corrinn is heading back to Canada for good in two weeks and it was her last class. We practiced reading and my speed is improving. After class Izumi drove us home. Before we left I checked out her trunk. I don't mean I looked at her butt, I mean her actual trunk on her car. It's her dad's car so it's big and spacious. On the way home I asked her if we can run by my old apartment and throw the big LAST dresser in her car and then we can cruise it over to my new place and I can toss it in the big trash pile and be done with it all. She said ok. It was 12:30 and she said her dad needed the car by 1, but we should have plenty of time.
Just then her phone rang. You're smart, you can see where this is going. If someone would have offered a bet on this call as to who it was and what it was about I would have bet my entire life savings and any other money I could scrap up. The call was exactly from who and about what, that I had thought. It was her father saying he needed the car 15 minutes earlier. 15 MINUTES EARLIER.
We get to my place at 12:35 and she said we don't have time to take it, but she will put it in the trunk and hold it until later. Well it's too big to fit all the way in the trunk and I wasn't about to ask her to do that anyway. So I said I'll just get out and figure something out. She and Corrinn kept saying wait is everything ok, and I felt really bad because I knew they felt bad, but there was nothing we could do. He needed the car 15 minutes early, all of a #@%$-ing sudden and there was no point in getting her in trouble for my problems. I am not in the least mad at her, I mad at the fact that this pattern always seems to happen.
Maybe I am looking for it to happen or expecting it, maybe it's all mental. Either way it still happens and I can document them and can never explain it. One time in college it was ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. ABSURD. I had a date with this girl and she kept joking I would back out and not call her. I promised I wouldn't. So about 15 minutes before the date, I go to my car to pick her up and the car won't start. Hasn't happened before, the lights weren't left on, I just drove it hours before during the day. Has gas and everything checks out. I try everything for about 10 minutes and go over everything in case I left something out or suddenly forgot how to start a car. Then I realize I am about to be late so I run in to call her. The phone doesn't work. None of them do. So I run outside and check the neighbors houses. No one is home. Then I try my phone and the car again. Now I am late for the date. Then I run over to a convenience store that has a phone out front, but I forget the number and have to run back. Our phone still doesn't work. I get the number and run back. Now some back woods toothless hick is talking to some tramp on the phone about what he would do if he won the lottery with the ticket he just bought. He had that real casual lean so I knew he'd be a while. I run in to ask if I can use their phone for a second, but of course the public can't. I run back and try our phone again, still nothing. Then I run down the street to the Huddle House and ask, but I know the answer. Their Southern Courtesy ends when you try to make a call. By now it's 30-40 minutes into the date and I realize I was beaten so I walk home slowly.
Can you guess what happens next? I try the phone which works fine. I call her number and her roommate said she just left with a friend and I was an ass. Guess what else worked? BOOYA. My car cranked right up. I must have remembered how to crank it suddenly. So what happened? Why did everything stop for no reason? There must be a logical explanation for it, but there isn't. If it happened once, then I'd laugh it off, but when things continually happen you start to recognize a pattern. Things like this always happen to me. They are little things that make things all the more difficult for me. Like last night my digital camera magically stopped for about 20 minutes during group picture time at Meg's party, but as soon as the crowd dispersed, it came back on. WHY WHY WHY. If there must be a reason then what is it? Maybe I'll start documenting that as well as the number of steps it takes to get around and what types of material that teacher has that same pattern on.
On a different note, Meg's party was pretty cool. She decided to go to the public bath at 5:30 before the 7:00 party. Yea, this fell under my "Bad Idea" category from the start and it turned out exactly as I expected. I get to the party at 6:45 expecting to help them set up, and of course no one is there. So Dave, Kevin, and I start setting up things ourselves. She had a seating chart, in which she told no one about, so we had to guess. Finally people show up and wonder where she is. No one knew. She gets there about 15 minutes late. Which would have been ok, if she was going to make an entrance, but she was just late, which kind of ticked me off because I was trying to set everything up.
I guess it really ticked me off because I had a few different roommates that would do stuff, unnecessary stuff, at the last minute before parties and conveniently not help me set up. One roommate had to drive an hour to Savannah to get a book, which was also sold at local bookstores, because his girlfriend wanted to go to this specific store. Here's a new word, NO. Others had different things like that. It's not just about parties, many people had stupid things to do before club meetings or fraternity meetings. Just go to the Onsen LATER or after it or around lunch.
Then we went to the second party at her place where she had spent tons on alcohol and cheeses and snack foods. I stayed for an hour or so and then caught a taxi with Corrinn and two of Meg's ex-students. There were tons of pretty teachers there and I go no phone numbers. I was in a organizing mood. I really enjoy taking care of things behind the scenes and making the outward appearance run smoothly. Sometimes it works out bad for me, especially if I am in charge of collecting money, like last night. 32+ people paying. There will be discrepancies. There were. Life goes on.
Wednesday June 4th 2003
Just got back from the conference in Tokyo. It was alright. At first we were all aggravated since they made us check in and sit through a few hours of opening remarks about how professional we should be and other stuff, but wouldn't give us our room key until after it all. I guess they wouldn't trust us to come back down to the seminar, but it really just made a hassle for the people who came straight in and didn't dress up for the trip. I had to change in a bathroom. In there I realized I cannot pack a suitcase to save my life. I don't mean I pack it wrong or inefficiently, I mean I forget crucial things like a change of socks, different shoes, more than one pair of dress pants, and of course I grab the deodorant with none left. So I wasn't happy the whole trip. On top of not having the right clothes, I didn't have any money since we planned on taking the bus for 4600 yen but it was sold out and had to take the shink for 8100 yen. the local train is excessively painful and should be avoided at all costs. It takes 5-7 hours and requires about five transfers.
BJ and I get to the station around 2pm and I found out the buses are full. While doing this there are little Jr High kids selling homemade crafts for nearly nothing. One loud girl convinces us to buy something which opens the flood gates and then we have to buy other stuff. How can you say no to their cute little faces when you just bought something from the person next to them. Then they would scream in unison when they made a sale. I bought so much silly stuff like mirrors and little bags that nothing will fit in.
Somehow we made it down there. As soon as we get off the train and exit Shinjuku station we see this guy sitting on the ground playing guitar. I mean he was wailing (guitar talk for playing fast). He had a recording of drums and bass running through his amplifier and I watched him for a good 20 minutes. I was really impressed. BTW, more people pass through Shinjuku station everyday than live in New Zealand.
We decided to stay in a capsule hotel again. Second time for me and I still love them. I am a tad tall but if I turn diagonally I can sleep, and sleep I did. We got in at 6 and decided to nap for a few minutes and then get dinner. We wake up at 10:30 refreshed and hit the town. We seem to go to this Irish Pub called Hub. I don't know why. We get a few pints of Guinness, again I don't know why. Then as we leave I see the same Turkish Falafel guy right outside and I am compelled to get another one. Oh it's good after drinking Guinness all night. Then we head back and manage to sleep another 9 hours until 9:30 when they turn everything off and kick you out. We get dressed and plan of getting to the hotel early to get ready and get a shower before the conference. As you already know, that didn't work out as planned, curses.....
The first night we were dead set on Mexican food and we were told there was a good one in Harajuku. We ride the train and follow the map and finally find it. It was downstairs, and when I say that I mean downstairs. They told us it was in the basement, but failed to mention we would go down about 5 flights of stairs to the sub sub-cellar. But when got down there it was worth it. The place looked authentic, or possibly more than authentic. I would hate to be the construction crew that built that going up and down those stairs would kill me.
I sat through all the required workshops, some were helpful some not so much, but I figured I could gain something from listening to them. Plus they put a lot of effort in and I might as well. One guy talked about drama in the classroom and I liked it, he was majorly high energy and I am sure the students ate that up. Today there were workshops on what to do after JET and where to go for your complaints. Then we had a Q&A session. A group that has something to do with JET is called CLAIR, Counsel of Local Authorities and International Relations. People directed a number of questions at them about different things and all their answers were this:
That is indeed a very good question. Clair is here to address each question like this to help make your life easier. Clair's policy regarding this is that you should first try discussing the matter with your local institution [which of course they would have already] and then try meeting with your prefectural advisor [the next thing that would have done.
Basically everything was diverted back to the local contracting organization. I was going to ask why I had had no classes in three weeks, but I already knew their answer. Then I applied for a database administrator for a group called AJET which is a liaison between CLAIR and JETs. I can do it and it would be fun. It involves collecting information about all the JETs and organizing it into a database. I did the mailing list for a band in Atlanta and I have decent experience with databases and Excel spreadsheets. I need to email them a thank you letter when I upload this in a few hours.
I took a buttload of pictures. A buttload means several. I'll start organizing them momentarily and I'll try to upload them along with "said" journal and the other files. I also joined the habitat for humanity Special Interest Group. That would really kick @$$. Traveling to Nepal and helping to build a house. Man I couldn't imagine how cool that would be. HfH would be cool in America, but in some other country. Couldn't imagine. Well technically I can imagine, but I am sure it's much different from what I am imagining.
I have discovered too many CCLemons cause canker sores. I guess the Vitamin C from 70 lemons includes the citrus from that many as well. A teacher at Adachi says lemons and oranges don't cause them. I asked if she ever gets them and she said no, so then how do you really know? She don't be knowing, but I do. 31 years of eating and drinking things and then getting cankers pretty much supersedes one Home-Ec teachers opinion.
Here are the pictures of Meg's party and the Tokyo Renewer's conference. I think there are more, but these summarize the basic premise of them. I think I am not going to Higashi tomorrow. I've had no classes there for 3 weeks or so, so I'll doubt they will miss me. I'll try to type more tomorrow and finish cleaning all the moved in stuff. I think BJ wants to have a matrix party Saturday since that's when it comes out here.
I've just made a decision. IF I get the database administrator thing, I will keep the phone and the internet connection. IF not, I will axe them and save nearly 8,000 to 9,000 yen a month. I might get the wireless thing later since we tried it in Shinjuku and it was fast, it said 128k, but it was as fast as my old computer on 12 Mbps Yahoo Broadband, so it would work el fineo (Spanish). I forgot to mention it in here but at the Mexican restaurant there was a guy who was serenading us. He reminded me of Tim Curry / Gordon from Sesame Street. He played one song and BJ actually understood it since he speaks Spanish and lived in Mexico or Central America for some time. HA, I just looked up a link for a picture of Gordon and his real name is Roscoe Orman, what a cool name. Sadly he's done a lot of real acting and theater work, but we all know him as Gordon from Sesame Street.
Thursday June 5th
I woke up around 9am since I am not going to school today. I sent Hiraki sensei a message on the phone last night saying I wasn't coming in today. I need a relax day, I couldn't relax at the conference, or last weekend, since I was moving, and the week before was stressful from moving as well. Plus I can't bear to get there at 8:30 again and have them say "Oh we are not ready for you today" for the 3rd week in a row. I've only been here 10 months, how ready do you need to be. I actually heard at the conference I am supposed to go to each class at least once a week, so if the no classes thing keeps up I might get that documentation in Japanese and show them. I don't mind a day off occasionally, but 3 weeks off? They are still teaching the classes, I don't mind going in there and just reading from a book, or looking at the students work. So I am at a loss here.
On a side note, BJ made us eat breakfast at a bakery in Tokyo one morning. It was pretty good in the end, but I don't eat bakery foods usually. The bag had some wicked funny Engrish on it, I kept it just for that. Here we go:
Scandinavian Natural Roman
Hokuo-Best Bread Message
Our little friend Tomte use magical secret power for delicious bread that. Well enjoy in the next morning. Children of Northern Europe tell us secret that just baken bread. Yes....Tomte's secret. Hokuo as. Bread country Sapporo is very similar with Tomte's land.
Notice all the periods in the wrong place. I typed it verbatim. I tried to take a picture, but I was unable. It's too small writing to come out legible.
I've got to start cleaning and arranging and rearranging all day. I've got too much stuff for this little place, which is good, I need to do some spring cleaning. I should have before I moved but I was swamped with other things, one of which preparing to go back to the US. My flight round trip was 66,000 yen and I have found flights RT to New York for 30,000 yen, which is about like $250 US. Round trip to New York. That is insane. I could have flown Air Tran or Delta down from NY to Atlanta for less than $100 and saved money. Or I could have checked out NY since I have never been there. People always ask and I say, nope haven't been there, I am an idiot.
They have a deal here where you and 3 of your friends can fly for $100 anywhere in Japan a week before and a week after your birthday. So I might plan a trip to tropical Okinawa around Thanksgiving this year. I can fly from Sendai I hope which is mega-close to my place so it would be dirt cheap. I'd have to find 4 friends to go with me or three friends. It's either 4 extra tickets or 4 total tickets. It would be less than half price to fly to Okinawa I think and it's oh so pretty down there. I could retire there. Same with Key West, I love the tropical beach area. I love always being warm. We met some people from Hokkaido the island that has Sapporo on it? They said there was 8 feet of snow at one point and they couldn't go to work it was so thick. That would be cool, and also it would suck. I don't like cold weather so much and that much snow would most likely come with cold weather. But this year I have my knee high Wal-Mart water proof rain boots so I don't care about snow or rain. Bring it on. Woo Hoo.
Wow. I sorted most everything, but there are some things that don't really fit. I've got some stuff I can't get rid of, but also don't have the room to use. Like a twin burner gas stove and a table and two chairs. I packed up about 12 books to donate to the International Center. They have a library of about 3-400 various books that they freely loan out to people. I borrowed a few and decided to give back to the community. Really I just want to get rid of the books and don't want to throw them away. The give back thing sounded better though. I am watching that video on how they built Hong Kong's airport again. It's so cool I can watch it over and over. I am going to get my parents to start recording more History Channel and Learning Channel, I love these shows.
I rode over to the old apartment and the dresser was still outside where I left it Sunday. I tore it apart with a hammer and it came apart rather easy. It was mainly made of that thin wood-paper stuff that usually falls apart anyway. I put some of the smaller pieces in two bags and put some of the longer stuff behind a storage building. It's real secluded, and my story will be I plan to go back and get it when I have a vehicle. Maybe I will forget. I am still ticked at certain people for saying they would help move, but then not helping. Also saying they would be there to help translate, but then not being there. If certain people would have actually helped me move then I wouldn't have had this problem. So with that in mind I don't feel bad about hiding it and not getting it out.
Then I dropped the bags off on the curb where you put big trash to be taken away. Luckily there were already a few bags of other crap out there and even more lucky, no one saw me. That is where they go, but not until Monday I think. Again, I don't care. Then I rode home (new home) and witnessed two stupid people on the way. The first was a lady who stopped in the middle of her lane (two lane road) and got out of the car to go in a restaurant. Then she casually got back in the car with her food and drove away. The restaurant has a parking lot that she drove past. It wasn't full. Cars were honking and she was going about her own sweet time. Then later I was at a crosswalk and the light was red, so I waited. I'll run it (on my bike or foot) if there are no cars or students around. This road was under a bridge and was one way, with another one way crossing it. So this woman walks past me and looks at the red do not walk light and looks at the oncoming cars and crosses. Not a real big deal, the cars had just started to move and she could easily make it, but nope, that's not where she was going. Then she turns and starts walking down the center of the road. Her back to oncoming traffic. What is the point in this? Why are you doing this? YOU ARE STUPID.
I've developed a plan to eliminate these people from endangering us. The general public should have paint guns, like the sporty type. When you witness a stupid person doing something stupid you shoot them or their car. Then you both appear in a stupid court and explain the issue. If you are found stupid 3 times you can't drive or go outside for 30 days. If it happens again then its 60 days and finally you are locked up somewhere. But you can't just go around shooting random people, if they are found not-stupid then the shooter gets a mark, then the same rules apply. It's ok to do stupid things, hiding part of that dresser (or bureau as BJ calls it) behind the shed might be a stupid act, but in general I don't stop in the middle (she didn't even pull over any) of the road.
I guess I will watch a video tape again or study more kanji. The guy I roomed with in Tokyo was also from Fukushima city has a Masters in Chinese. Wow that's intense. The best part of it is it now makes it simple for him to understand Kanji since it is Chinese just brought over to Japan. He found an old Chinese or Japanese novel in Tokyo, actually it was 10 books which all make up one big novel. He said it was never translated and he is going to start doing so. He expects it to take about 3-5 years. I was inspired by that, devote that much of your life to something which may result in nothing but an old Japanese translated novel. I wasn't inspired enough to do something like it myself, but still it was impressive. He's a cool guy. Churchman is his name, and I call him Churchy. He hates that, probably me too.
BJ just sent an email out about his Matrix party. He wants everyone to dress up for the party. About the only time I do that is Halloween and even then I don't like going out in public unless it's really funny or stupid. Once I went as one of the village people with 5-6 other guys. We all showed up individually and then dropped in a CD and started singing and dancing to a premeditated routine. Another year Steve, Joe and I were the Ghostbusters. That was probably the best costume to date. The party was at our house, we told everyone we didn't have time to dress up, but right when the party was kicking, we had someone put in the GB CD and we burst around the corner all dressed up. Hey Steve or Joe, if you are reading this and have a picture of that scan it and email it to me so I can post it here. The other memorable time was when I dressed up as Jackie-O and Tom Pardue dressed up as JFK, post frame 313 if you know what I mean. I had blood all over me and he had a bullet hole. Distasteful, maybe, hit of the party, oh yea. Although one guy dressed as Miss GSU (an actually looked pretty good). A few other costumes were cool, but many were about 10 minutes of thinking put into them.
It would be easy enough to go as an agent or something to this Matrix party, but I really don't feel like wearing a suit and glasses to a movie. I commend BJ for trying to bring people together and be creative, I just don't feel like dressing up. Though it would blow everyone's mind in the theater if 10 foreigners barged in dressed as agents especially if we were identical and chasing someone dressed as Neo. Too late to plan that, which would go smoother if drinking were involved. So I'll go if I can afford it, which I am not sure at this point.
I cleaned more, I actually sorted through my junk drawer and packed a box to ship back via sea-mail and tossed a bunch of silly stuff away. That felt really good. Then I watched 2 episodes of Little House on the Prairie and on the same DVD (that Larry made) is The Cosby Show and then the show with Erkel, can't remember the title now. Meg just called and we chatted for about 20 minutes. She has more listening tests coming up and needs me to help her record some. I do the male voice obviously. This time she wants to make it funny or silly or something since it will be her last time at making listening tests. Last night little mosquitoes were biting me as I went to sleep. I revived my cure for that. The little buggers can't bite what that can't land on. I took my remote control fan and pointed it at me and turned it on full blast. Like a wind tunnel. I slept good after that. I haven't turned on my A/C yet and I hope I can go a while without it. My electricity bill should be dirt cheap this month. I need to start mapping out the bills and how much cheaper they are. Even if they are the same for some freak reason, it will still be cheaper. There's no physical way they can be the same with one room, no washer, and being as conservative as possible. Bed time.
Friday June 6th
I just returned from a short day at Adachi, although I got home at the same time as usual because I stayed and chatted with the cool English club. Today I showed them an English newspaper from Atlanta. Then we played the Treasure Hunt game, then I gave them candy and told them to write something in a journal for me next week. I told them I won't grade grammar, just comment on what they write about. It's really healthy to write a journal daily or weekly and just write whatever you are thinking not worrying about whether or not someone is reading it. For instance, I don't actively check the statistics on this site to see how many people are reading the journal, but I know a few hundred do on average. Sometimes I get several emails and sometimes I notice the bandwidth spikes up, but I write the same as if it were only on my computer. It's really what keeps me sane here. You should try it. I think Blogger.com and Xanga.com offer online journals, but mine is just done in FrontPage and then uploaded to my website at www.rcthost.com where you get a ton of space and bandwidth for less than $50 a year, not a month, but a year. Then I bought the clever domain name from www.godaddy.com which was only about $8.95 per year, as opposed to $35 like Network Solutions charges.
So I gave them an assignment to write about anything, I want to see how creative they get. In one class, oh man I just remembered the funny story of the day, it's bad though. In one class they had to write comparative sentences like Jim is taller than Sam, and later, Soccer is the most interesting sport to me. So one kid wrote Jim's neck is heavier than Sam's, and, Tom's arm is longer than Jim's. For the sports thing all the students wrote volleyball or soccer, but this kid, who volunteered, wrote miniature golf is more fun than reading to me. He was really clever. Then I wrote "Kanno kun is the most creative student in this class". He looked it up and was quite happy.
So the funny story, and I didn't even see this coming, but when it hit I couldn't explain to high school boys and GIRLS why it was awkwardly funny. I taught three classes today, all the same, and all about comparisons and adjectives and superlatives. There were three characters in the book each one taller or heavier than another. They each had one ball in their hand. So in the second class they are writing these sentences on the board. They are all like "Jim is heavier than Sam, but Tom is taller than Jim" or "Jim has a larger ball than Sam". You can see where this is going right? One student wrote "Jim and Sam are both bigger than Tom". Then "Jim's arms are bigger than Tom's", and finally the kicker "Sam and Tom's balls are bigger than Jim's". I didn't get it until he read it out loud, then I started laughing, but was not about to explain why. I just said it reminded me of something. One girl wrote a poem which was humorous, but not as funny as the previous thing. It was like "Tom has the smallest ball of them all", had they been at the same time I could have said the poem was funnier than it was.
The Home-Economics teacher gave me a ride home. On the way I witnessed another member of the "I am Stupid" club. We were driving down a street and there was a parking lot beside a building. On our side the parking lot was open and we could see in. On the other side the building was blocking view. We saw a woman get in her car and simply back up, right out into the street. The H-E teacher was honking like crazy, I was laughing. It further promotes my belief that Japanese people rarely look where they are going. I have had numerous people walk around a corner up out of stairs or out of a door right in front of me, without even glancing. Anyway, she backed out and we were stopped, but another car almost hit her. I actually wish they would have hit, but no one injured of course, just so she would have to explain why she was so stupid.
On a side note, hopefully I'll have a surprise to announce in about 5 weeks. Hopefully, everything will be finalized by then. If so then I'll announce it, if not then I'll just remain quiet and hope you forgot about this statement. If it works out, which it should, then I think it will be pretty cool. I need to write another sentence to justify making this its own paragraph. That one should do. As should that and this one.
For lunch, the H-E teacher had prepared some of the parsley biscuits we commonly eat in the US, though I've never had a parsley biscuit, it was pretty good. I think for the typical American breakfast we are going to have scrambled eggs (with cream cheese if she gets her way), parsley biscuits, and fruit. Never had that, but somehow she's determined it's typical. I poured honey all over the biscuits which really made it yummy, but almost too sweet.
It's already Friday and it doesn't feel right since I took off yesterday that felt like a Saturday and having the week off and being in Tokyo for the conference felt like a weekend as well. Although we had conferences and meetings and seminars and such, it still wasn't the 8-4 grind like normal. BJ wants to do something tonight. Maybe swap music or something on the computer. All legal and no copyright violations I am sure. Then tomorrow is the Matrix thing. I might have to skip out on dinner and just do the movie since 1200 yen plus 2000+ yen might be out of my budget for various reasons. I think the phone company took out more money today since they were sick of not getting any money in the past for some reason. Still can't figure out why they didn't get it before, I checked the bankbook and there was money on the day they took it out. I keep saying if they would deduct it on the 22nd or 23rd it would slide out as if it were a greased pig, since I get paid on the 21st. We I asked if the date of extraction could be changed, the teacher to whom I asked sarcastically stated that was the silliest thing I'd ever heard. I thought something sillier might be the Florida Election scandal, but she felt this was sillier.
I am listening to an old CD of a live performance of an Atlanta band. They use a didgeridoo with a ton of reverb and delay so it sounds pretty cool. I'd upload it, but you know...Maybe I can upload it to my friend James' site and put a link here like I did before. I have no internet connection at home right now so I might have to wait. BJ just called and said let's meet around 6pm and grab a bite. Then he will go over and buy the tickets for the Matrix tomorrow. I think when we are walking to the theater tomorrow I am going to say "I can't believe Morpheus is a traitor and kills Trinity" because there is a scene where it appears she might die in the future and Neo gets all sad for like half the movie. As you know if you've seen it. So maybe that joke will be funny, maybe not. Most likely not.
Well that settles the internet issue. YahooBB just called and asked my new address and phone number and then said YahooBB won't work at my new address so I cancelled on the phone with them. I guess it's best in the long run, it will save me money but if I get that National JET position I'll need internet. I'll have to figure something out, but at least for now it's a non issue. It's really odd that they haven't run any lines down this way since there are tons of apartments around me. Seriously, I'd say at least 10,000 people live right around me. There are about 10-20 ten story tall big apartment buildings all around me. Maybe I moved into the projects, who knows. It is right on the tracks. There is actually an apartment, that is much closer to the tracks. It's gotta be loud as heck in it. I mean you could spit on the train from the balcony. It would be cool to visit and watch some trains go by, but I wouldn't want to live that close. So I am going to change and pack this up and head over to BJ's for the exchange.
Saturday June 7th 2003
I just woke up around 9:50 and rode to the theater to get 23 tickets for the Matrix tonight. There were a few hundred people in line, luckily everyone was buying tickets for the Japanese show and then the English show, but I was buying for the English so it wasn't a big issue. We are spread out along three rows. So last night we exchanged various things. BJ bought a DVD of Dungeons and Dragons (the cartoon not the nerd game or movie) and the entire series of The Tick, another classic Saturday morning cartoon. I copied those along with several other things, which shall not be mentioned.
MAN I keep forgetting, every time I sit down to write this I get side tracked. Imagine that, me sidetracked. Anyway in Tokyo everyone went out one night, but I was broke so I stayed in. I feel asleep around 6 and woke up at 10 then I walked around Shinjuku (a busy area in Tokyo). While I was casually walking I see two big bodyguards and two overly dressed females. People are trying to get pictures, but they couldn't. It was Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz. I had no camera, but you could barely recognize them anyway, they were all covered up. I think they were in town promoting the new Charlie's Angels movie. I heard Lucy Liu was also in town just not hanging with them. That would have been cool to have a drink with them somewhere.
Back to reality. I borrowed a vocabulary book from Japanese with about 6,000 Japanese words and I am going to start writing them on note cards and studying them. Preferably things that would be useful, and then stupid things. There is a list of about 50 types of birds, I'll probably learn them at some time.
I know it's only been a week or two, but I already really like the apartment. It's smaller, which I actually prefer, and it's much more convenient to everything. I am only 4-5 minutes from the better side of the station. I always felt like I had to go so far out of the way to get to my apartment. It just seemed so distant and remote, now I feel right near everything. I can get to a number of cheap restaurants or stores in minutes, rather than 15 minutes and then having to under the station. There are some quirks that keep it from being perfect, like the train at night, but that's really only annoying when the windows are open. It's also something I can get used to. I've already started to ignore it. There are only a few trains, I think freight trains, that still catch my attention. Mainly because they sound like they are heading straight for my apartment. I'll take pictures and maybe video soon and try to post them here. I can put the pictures up, but they really don't show much.
So alotta people are coming tonight, about 24 I think. Most are dressing up in some way. I am not, just because the easiest thing to do would be Agent Smith and I think everyone will come as an agent. I would want to go as Morpheus or Neo or anyone else really. Unless about 10 of us planned in advance and dressed identically. Maybe I can work that out for Halloween or something, since the 3rd one comes out in November. We'll see. Of course I'll keep you informed. Maybe I'll have internet access by then.
The Matrix party was pretty cool. We ate at this really cool place that I had been to before with Emi. A bunch of out of town people showed up and we really bonded, it was groovy. Then we all strolled over to the theater. Only a few people really dressed up, but most everyone wore black of some sorts. One guy we didn't know in the theater dressed just like an agent. We had a girl dress as Nayobi (spelling) and the wide of that French guy, Persephone or something. Everyone else just showed up. It was a pleasant evening overall and I am glad I went although I told BJ I would pay him for the tickets later since I can't afford them now. Do I borrow money and enjoy my time here or not and stay home and study for free? I found a place where I can get ADSL for less than 5,000 yen a month total, whereas before I was paying 4,300 plus 4,500 a month. So I might pursue that and see how much it would be, if it's even available in my area of 10,000 people.
Sunday June 8th 2003
Woke up at noon for some reason. I guess I am learning to sleep through the trains and crossing bell. Since then I've watched a few Dungeons and Dragons cartoons and The Tick cartoons just like it's a Saturday morning and I am 10. I've also played some Spider Solitaire on the computer and written more note cards from BJ's vocabulary book. I'll take it school tomorrow since I have no classes on Monday and write more. Two more weeks till payday, but I don't know why I care, the money will be gone the day I get it. I'll be equally as broke the day after payday as I am now. I am shooting for July paycheck to be the one where I have disposable income and then maybe September or October as the month where I start double paying my credit card loans. If I think I'll be able to pay off some or most of the loans then I'll try to stay a third year to enjoy it, although most people use the third year to send money back and save, but for me it will be to travel and actually enjoy life. Things like cruise to Tokyo for the weekend or Sendai for the day.
I can't blame anyone else since all the debts are my own. Two were worthwhile, the rest weren't. If I wasn't always broke in college then I wouldn't applied for loans in grad school and I'd be much better off. Then if I hadn't applied for credit cards after that I'd be really well off. The two that were worthwhile are one to study in Tokyo in '98 and one for computer certification. Although I didn't get it because my schedule at work changed to the night shift, it would have been a worthwhile investment in myself. One thing that really would have helped would be if I didn't have to pay rent here. I really wish they would change that and make it fair. All people should either pay or not, it shouldn't be so different. It's barely a program as much as a bunch of different schools hiring people. There's no overseeing body that actually does anything.
I just got back from Meg's for a small Movie Night. We watched some Star Trek on Satellite TV and then part of a Richard Gere movie about him being a gynecologist, but it was just stupid. Then we watched Monkey bones with Brendan Frasier and it was stupid funny. Then we watched the end of What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Michelle came over and fixed chili which I ate way too much of, but it was all I had eaten all day. I am going to take my computer to school tomorrow since it has Wireless LAN capabilities built in. I am going to see if it will detect the LAN at school. If not there is a card I can plug in. I tried on my old one, but they said only WinXP which I now have. So maybe there will be an update tomorrow. Hopefully. Perhaps on the way home I will check into NTT ADSL which I really don't want to, but Dave said it was only 5,000 a month total including the phone line which is cheap. If I can't connect I'll at least burn this to a CD (huge waste of space) and then upload it from the other computers. No classes on Monday, but I have tons of stuff to do.
Monday June 9th, 2003
Good news and bad news. I brought the computer to school and it immediately detected the network and it says it's connected and it is sending and receiving data packets. As before though, it won't actually connect to a website or a printer. Which leads me to believe it's something with the computer and not the internet connection. It's showing an IP address and other info that would only be seen if it were connecting to something, plus it shows it has received data from the network. But then again I am not certain I can actually connect to the internet through the schools network so it might all be in vain.
The more I think about it and the more I look at the wireless hub, it's just a connection to the network, which means I should be able to connect to the internet if I can connect to the network. Hypothetically that would save me about 8,000 yen if I were to rent/buy a wireless network card. I don't feel like asking the computer guy about it now. I am really almost certain there's some connection I am missing that's keeping me from connecting since it wouldn't work with my old connection and my other old slow ancient Win98 machine connected fine. This would be blazing if it connected, which it hasn't. Argh. Of course it's all in English so if I get a Japanese place or person to look at it they might not be able to. Argh again.
For lunch I am going to use the money I hid in my desk last month. I had a few spare dollars and I knew there would be a time in the future when I needed some money, so I put it there and tried to forget about it. It's five bucks so I can get something small. Maybe I'll get some carrots or something from the cheap veggie place across the street. Raw carrots, I am so crazy.
Remember the teacher that always wears the same pattern? She had a jacket with it on today then she took it off. Later I noticed her collar has a hint of it as well. This is beyond unreal. Every single day she is wearing all or part of the same pattern. I've got to get some pictures. I might not post them until she leaves or I leave, but I know you don't believe me when I say every single day it's the exact same pattern. I guess I'll do some note cards now. Later I am going to the bank to get my bankbook updated and then I will create a spreadsheet (again) that tracks my expenses. This way I can see where my money is going and what I can do about it. Although there's really not much more I can do. I've re-written the book on being anally thrifty.
I could actually write a book about living in Japan on nothing. Travel secrets and what not. There are ways to cheat the train system, but I really shouldn't. Although I should have on the way back from Tokyo, that would have saved some money. Or at least taken the bus, that would have helped as well. I might go to Tokyo sometime and document how cheaply I can be. Next time I go I want to see the sumo practice. I've heard it's really cool to watch since it's non-stop action. At tournaments it's less than %25 action and the rest is showy moves and waiting, but at practices all they do is fight.
Hiraki just came over and apologized for a long email she sent to my phone. She was afraid she had offended me. She hadn't, at least not by the length of the email. She explained something about the old landlord was going to come and take the crap out of the apartment for me, but I told her I already did. I explained my email to her had asked when someone would come and could she check if the landlord was planning this. She had written back that no one was coming to get the stuff and I should take care of it, so I did. I moved it all out alone more or less. She didn't understand this, but I explained no one was there to help so I had no choice. I had to make it clear a few times that there is nothing in the apartment or in the storage unit for them to pick up, I took it all out. I failed to mention I stuffed some things behind a secluded wall. If I ever get a chance to get back there with a car then I will pick up what's remaining, if not I really don't care.
On the way home tonight I am going to stop by the phone company and ask about ADSL. If it is cheap I might get it, if not, then I might axe my phone line since I am paying 4,000 yen a month and never use it. Then I have volleyball later tonight. I am going to get some good exercise. Hiraki sensei just came back and gave me a schedule for June, which is great since most ALTs are in the dark. If you read my friend Dave's journal www.jetanuki.com then you know what I mean. He is constantly showing up to find the students gone or the school locked or whatever. I am glad that they tell me in advance, even if I have to sit here and do nothing. It would be great if I could get the internet to work, then I wouldn't mind coming in. I could surf all day long and redo this or other sites. I can get so much done with internet access. English Club time.
Why do bathroom stall doors open inward? Really, what's the logic behind that? I don't get it. There's already not much room in there, but then the door has to open inward? Honestly if someone knows please tell me, I am thoroughly confused. Especially when you have luggage or a backpack. ARGH. Hulk no like. I want to find the person responsible for this and put them in a room with the ATMs closing at 9pm guy, and the "let's charge key money" guy and put them in a room with a hungry badger and then kick the badger. Oh I should also smear raw meat all over the people. When they ask why I will reply with "Same reason why ATMs close at 9, bathroom doors open inward, and people are charged key money, because it's stupid".
School is out early for some reason today. It's 2:30 now and it's been about 30-45 minutes since the students cleaned the teachers room and then left. I walked around and chatted with some students. The English club started a new project which was pretty cool. They had me write a page in a notebook about anything and then they will pass it around and take turns writing anything they want in it. I won't grade their grammar, just make comments on what they write about. I might include a help sheet with common errors, but I don't want to mark up their papers with red marks. Next week I need to think of a new game. I think I might try Mad Libs or a rip-off of Scattergories. I gotta do something quick, fast, and fun. Plus it needs to have some bit of English learning in it as well.Tuesday June 10th 2003 I just finished tutoring Hiromi for her upcoming TOEIC test (test of English international communication). When we took breaks she helped me with the most popular readings for each kanji. I marked a few hundred I think, it will help me recognize kanji much fast I hope. Even though they are read different ways for different things. Kanji really sucks, and I bet it will be ousted from the Japanese language in about ten years. They already have reduced the number required a few times. First from like 4,000 to 2,500 and most recently to 1,946. Keep in mind that's actually 1,946 x 2 since there are at least two readings and sometimes more. Argh. Hulk no like kanji.
Oh man, I've hyped again. As I mentioned the other day I went by the phone company about ADSL and the woman said she would call me back. So she called today and scared me for a minute. She said "we searched and search to try to find an ADSL line for your apartment and I have the answer today. I have to tell you the answer is yes you can have it". Whooo. I figured all that build up was a big NO, but she said it was all good. Then it got even better. She said which company do you want? I said the cheapest and she said that would be $8 a month plus $4 for the modem rental. Wow, that 's mega-cheap. Then I asked when could it be turned on. She said the could convert the line next week on Monday and she would send me the modem on that day as well. So I said can I use ADSL on Monday? And again she scared me with her incorrect reaction, she replied "oh no you can't use it on Monday", so I replied when can I use it roughly. She said "how about Tuesday". Yea what happened to that six weeks crap that YahooBB told me? I mean what takes six weeks to do really? This will be less than a week.
I've got to find something big to upload and download with 8Mbps ADSL now. I could have gone for 12 but really what is the difference? So maybe Monday or Tuesday all that will be hooked up and I'll have internet access at home. On a slight tangent, I've been feeling strangely lethargic recently. I think I am going to go down by the river later and do some sprints, which will involve me running for about 20 feet and collapsing. I'll take my cell phone in case I have a heart attack. Seriously.
Cool cool cool. I am about to have fast internet AND a fast computer. Woo hoo. Before I had fast internet and a slow computer, but now I'll have both. Another slight tangent: I have this strange habit of typing certain words too fast and incorrectly. The most common mistake is "ahve". For some reason it rolls off my fingers much faster than "have". I constantly type this wrong unless I am actively thinking about it. One day I am going to accidentally hit "add" in the spell check and then I won't catch all these errors. Spell check really makes me look good. I've got good spelling, don't get me wrong, but I type so fast and there are so many bad habits like "have/ahve" that I would look pitiful if I didn't have it. For those times when I didn't have Word or Front Page, and had to use Notepad, I am sure you could see many errors that I missed. Oops.
I am going to take a break and do some major cleaning since I just stuffed a bunch of things in the closet. It's really annoying me and I need to clean it out pretty soon, so I'll return shortly. It will be instantly for you.
I still haven't gone, but I did do some massive cleaning and closet organizing. Everything is sorted and a ton of useless stuff was tossed. Now I have to organize the other corner and soon get the couch and I'll be set. I had an email earlier today from the maker of this laptop and they suggested a network driver update to help cure my internet issue. I just installed it and will take my laptop to school tomorrow to see if it works but I doubt it will, because the driver update was for the plug in type network and I am having issues with both that and the wireless, so I think it is something else. But we'll see. I hope I can get it to work when I get ADSL.
I just got back from doing sprints, down by the river. Every time I say that it reminds me of the old Chris Farley SNL skit where he was a motivational speaker who "lives in a van down by the river". Anyway the sprints went well. I only ran back and forth about 4 times, but I really got my heart racing. I've been feeling really odd recently and I figured some good exercise would do me good. I think it did. The last time I did a hardcore all out sprint and it felt great. I'll work up to longer or more sprints. Of course I rode my bike down there, but I really didn't want to have to walk back. Of course I took the elevator back up tot eh 4th floor, but again, the sprints really kicked my butt.
Before that I watched Bruce Almighty. Jim Carey really cracks me up. My dad can't stand him, but then again he likes Bob Hope. I don't even crack a smile when I watch Bob Hope. It's like "So there was this man walking down the rode and I said 'is that some Butch Wax' and he says to me 'no it's a picture of president Nixon' " and there's my dad rolling on the floor nearly crying, and I don't even get it. Generation gaps I suppose, big one apparently. I am going to do more rearranging/cleaning.
Wednesday June 18th
I just had a MAJOR "Office Space" moment. If you have seen the movie you will understand it. Hiraki came over and told me how to fill out all these forms and there are cover sheets and certain forms must be filled out twice. Then she said "If you could go ahead and do that". I started laughing and she thought I was laughing at her, but it was so funny. The triplicate forms are getting annoying, since they are all in Japanese, but it's good experience. I guess.
The good part is I asked her about what I should do when I get a ride with a teacher from a school, but I have already filled out the reimbursement form for the train. She said they don't care, just take the money. Woo hoo. I might push for a ride every time now. Payday in two days.
Man what a good week so far. I just got my computer working with the wireless internet at school. Oh this is so great. I felt so detached not being able to connect except from school, and then only from the teacher's computers. I'm typing this on my computer and it's connected to the semi-fast network. Oh what a relief. I'd better not count my eggs before they hatch though. Let's see if I can save this file via Frontpage.
Thursday June 19
I woke up late this morning for some stupid reason. Actually I set my phone's alarm to go off at 7 so I could get up and come in early to play on the web. So I wake up at 6am and roll back over for an hour. Then I wake up again at 2 minutes before the hour and just lie there. My alarm doesn't go off so I go over and look at it closely, it says 7:59. I couldn't see the clock on the wall without my glasses. So why didn't it go off? No idea. It was set and just decided not to go off. On a side note I made it to school on time somehow and I do feel quite refreshed.
I'm actually a little scared at how well things are going this week. I'm afraid I'm on some high peak and what goes up....So I am both happy and nervous at the same time. Let's see, what more good things have happened? More cool things with the AJET database administrator role. I worked on some Excel functions and scripting. Of course I got internet access at school, that really let's me be productive. On a slight side note, I just mistyped "let's". I wrote elt's by accident. The strange thing is spellchecker didn't go off. What the heck is elt's? Well for one thing it's the way that one Japanese teacher told me that "else" should be pronounced.
Back to the good things, the AJET Chair (chairperson not community chair) said there might be a spare AJET fax machine floating around so I wouldn't need to buy one. Sweet. Then she told me more info on the Tokyo Orientations coming up. I think I will be teaching a class after all. One on being ultra thrifty and maybe another one on teaching at commercial schools. Eh, maybe not the commercial schools, the more I think about it I'm not really excited over it. But the being thrifty one, oh yea. I'm all over that. BOOYA. BOO-YA.
Enough of that. I need to start making a list, and checking it twice, of all the different ways to be really thrifty around here. I'll do that later today. I'll do print outs and displays and whatever else. Oh they also said I would be "needed" at the Kobe conference next year. Never been to Kobe, what better way to go that via someone else's money. It will be for work of course, but I'll still be able to say I went to Kobe. That rhymed. (Kobe is pronounced Ko-bay not Ko-Bee).
Last night I went to Meg's place and we watched a movie and I screwed up her satellite. I was trying to hook the VCR into the picture at her request, but ended up canceling everything. Then I ate some kick butt cookies and two chocolate chip muffins and some beef jerky. That was my free dinner. One more day till payday. So hyped. But I'm not gonna splurge on payday, the only thing I'll buy is maybe a USB mouse since this touchpad is killing me.
A cute English teacher trainee is giving a class today and I am going to sit in and observe. She is terrified I'm sure and I wish I could just hug her and tell her it would be alright. I know she is sweating bullets at the thought of teaching a class and having 5 veteran English teachers critiquing her. I think I am going to say something positive regardless of how she does. I know the other teachers are going to point out things even if they are trivial, they always do. So I will say great job and point out some good points. Since blind "good jobs" are meaningless, I will cite specific jobs that were good to show I was watching.
I've never been a YES-Man. I worked with a band in Atlanta for a while and I would tell them flat out: - Great show. - What the heck was that all about? - Started out great but then you played that one slow song. - Please never end with that song again. - Sounded really tight tonight. - - I think they really appreciated it. When all you say is great job, it's like the boy who cried wolf. Soon the townspeople won't come anymore if I say great job.
One bad thing this week. The vending machine in front of my place is sold out of CCLemon. I am full blown addicted to it. At least it's semi healthy. It has the Vitamin C of 70 Lemons. I'm going to miss it when I leave. Maybe I'll stay forever.
Why do pimples hurt like the devil? I was just scratching my back and I scratched across one and whamo, it was like I was shot in the back. Maybe a horse kicked me. Pain shot everywhere. One tiny little spot where too much crud has gathered, and it rocks my world. Wow.
I just sat through her class. It was alright actually, but she was nervous. Who wouldn't be with the Principal and all the English teachers staring at her. Plus she's quiet and timid anyway, but overall she did great. I have tons of good comments and a few basic suggestions. the comments greatly out weigh the suggestions. Before that I went to lunch at the local super market. I bought some green vegetable juice. On the way out I saw yet another stupid person. This time a woman was in line and had to step out of line to get something. She left her cart in line to save her place. I could see her across the way. She took about 5 minutes to get her stuff and then started chatting with someone. Then she came back and two people had stepped in front of her empty cart. She made some comment and they commented back, I assume it was "well no one was here?". If you step out of line and chat with your pal, don't get mad if people bump in front of you.
ARGHHHHH!!!! I just got suckered into doing the Team Teaching presentation at the Fukushima Orientation. I hated this part last year. A 2nd year student and a teacher got up in front of everyone and demonstrated how to team teach. It was painful to me because they were acting like we were students and telling us to repeat after them and such. She did a great job, but I felt it was awkward and irrelevant since my situation would be completely different from hers. So I am going to do it this year. I was corned by the Principal and Hiraki sensei so I gave in, reluctantly. I told them I am going to change it a little and offer more advice than just pretending like they are students. They said only 30 minutes, so I can handle that. Argh.
So tonight I guess I will do more sprints, those seemed to go over well. maybe this time I will go from a certain place to another certain place and maybe I will time it as well. Hopefully I can keep this up for a while, but when it gets super hot I foresee a hiatus in my plan.
I had sushi at the dollar sushi place and then bought a few piddly things at the dollar store. After that I went down by the river and ran a little more. I really need to do that regularly. BJ read that doing sprints a few times a week is best for losing weight and getting in shape. So I can handle them a few times a week I think. I have got to do laundry tonight. I've been too broke to do it, but I found a little money and I must do it tonight. I am running out of underwear and socks. Man it was hot today. If it's this hot already we are in for a hot summer. I prefer heat over cold, but not when I have to dress up in slacks and a nice shirt. At least everyone is hot and we are all sweating like a stuck pig (that's a southern phrase).
I need to start planning out what I will do for all the presentations I have to give now. Once I get a copy of the database I'll have tons of stuff to do especially around Tokyo Orientation time. I think I should have ADSL working next week, which will be super great. I need to buy a USB mouse soon. Man am I babbling or what? I turned on the A/C for the first time here, and it got cold. I mean I had to cut it off shortly there after because it was so cold, which rocks, since the other place never really got too cold.
So the pattern lady was wearing more of the pattern again. Thanks to those of you who sent emails or posted to the guestbook about the name of the pattern. Which I seemed to have forgotten temporarily, something like Burberry I think. Well spelled checker liked that word so maybe that's it. We are less than 12 hours away from when I get paid, oh I can't wait. Although I immediately have to dish out over 3/4 for debts. I think I will take some pictures of the area soon for you to see. Maybe tomorrow after school or Saturday.
More good news, I should be able to reveal my surprise sooner than expected, maybe as soon as a week. I think it's pretty cool and hopefully you will too. So I'll wait and won't mention that again until it happens. I'll give you a hint, it starts with the letter "L".
Man this laundry thing might be really convenient. It was only $1 to do a big wash load and then another $1 to dry for 40 minutes, although it didn't really dry them in the 40 minutes. People were waiting so I didn't run the dryer again. But if I do two loads of washing and use the dryers a week that's roughly $4, times for weeks is only $16, so I'm hoping my water bill goes way down. It's been running around $50 every two months at the old place. For some reason using pocket change for laundry seems so much cheaper than paying the water company. I think I still owe them some money, I'll go check Monday when I have money.
Friday June 20th
I've discovered yet another SCAM related to the apartment. They sent me the water bill today which I have to pay with rent. It was 3,454 jpy which is let's say $34.54 USD. Hmmm, that's strange. At my old apartment I was spending about $20 a month and I had a washing machine and a big bath which I would fill up about once a month. But here, I take one quick shower a day and no other water usage and the bill is higher? I bet I know why. When I moved in I made an offer that was $20 a month cheaper than they were asking, because they had this ridiculous elevator fee which I didn't really think was fair. There are about 100 apartments in the building. Assuming they all have the elevator fee, that's $2000 a month for an elevator fee. Plus it's a piece of crap. SCAM SCAM SCAM. So I guess they gave me $20 off the rent and are adding it back on with the water bill. I'm going to take baths at the public bath and not use any water here for one month and see what the bill is. If it is anything over $5 then I will complain.
Then they send me this form showing what I owe and everything is normal except one figure is $100 more than it should be. So I'm not going to pay when it's due tomorrow. I am going to take it to school and have someone look over it. I should have known it would be a scam, everything in Japan is a monopoly and there are no anti-monopoly laws so they charge whatever they want. NTT charges $700 to hook up a phone. That involves flipping a switch. Bonk. It's on. $700 please. Landlords charge up to six months rent in advance as "Thank You" money for renting an apartment. How about you THANK ME for renting the apartment. McDonald's should charge triple for Cheeseburgers and call it thank you money also. "I thank you for allowing me to purchase your fine cheese product". CRAP.
I just got back from Karen and Darwin's where we had game night and then talked about all sorts of JET related things. It was fun, we ended up staying until about 1:30 just talking. I told them about the high water bill and they suggested it could be prorated throughout the whole building, since that's common in big apartments. Well if that's the case then that's fine I can pay around $32 for prorated water, but if it is individual then it's flat out a scam. We'll see. We talked a lot about new JETs coming and how some schools haven't contacted their people and it's getting really late. Then we went on about horror or "that's just stupid" stories. We all had some good ones. Japanese people are really not flexible and do as you're told for the most part, so people like us who come from a :anything goes" type of society have trouble with the nonsensical rigidity of the Japanese society occasionally.
Tomorrow we are planning to go down to Aizu and visit Jeff and Kris. I think they are having a party so we are going to visit. Jeff and I are going to work on the Newcomer's Guide for the new JETs. It should be easy and fun. Then I guess we will have a party, but I won't drink any/much since I can't afford to drink much and I've decided it's just not smart to drink a lot. Especially since I might be doing the "Older JETs" seminar in Tokyo. Argh.
Just got back from the e-Palette which is the internet cafe. I checked hotmail and a few other things and then chatted with some friends on AOL Instant Messenger. I apologize to James, Cydney, and Radhi for cutting out like that but I closed the wrong window and then it rebooted and I just didn't feel like logging back in to explain I was leaving. Then I ended up leaving a floppy disk there with data on it, and that was the entire reason I went. Tomorrow I think I will go back to Yamada Denki and return this USB mouse which is not working and maybe get that used color printer they have for like $30. Maybe not though. I'm supposed to see our school's chorus concert, but I have no idea when I can go because I haven't sleep in almost a day. I'm just wide awake. I don't think I've had any caffeine so I don't know why I am wide awake. Not even remotely sleepy, but if I get no sleep then I will be lousy at the party tomorrow (heck tonight). I wanted to go to the thrift store today and check out some things. It's called Hard Off. They just don't understand that's stupid and on the verge of something dirty in English. Or maybe they do.
Saturday June 21st
Back tracking a sec, Radhi had a good idea online. Maybe I misunderstood her, but she suggested I write about my life before JET, like what led me to give up the corporate life and move 6,800 miles away to Japan. That's interesting. There is much to say about my life before JET, and as we all know I enjoy typing. So perhaps I will add that section and write about some of the experiences before JET. I think there are enough things of interest to fill up a section.
I'm about to go pay rent and the last of the keySCAMmoney to the landlord. It will be painful, but I keep remembering this is the last time, so next month I should have a little more money, although I'll still have some loans to pay back to various people I should be better off. I think the August or September payday will be the profit bearing one.
So I rode all the way out to SATY and Hard Off the thrift store and found some really cool things. I took my camera to take a picture of Hard Off since the name is so ridiculous you can't possibly believe it is real. But I forgot to take the memory stick so I couldn't take pictures. But I bought an ultra cheap USB mouse since the one last nice was the infrared type and didn't work. They gave me the mouse in a bag and I took a picture of the bag to show you the name of the store.
There now you believe me. The other place is called Book Off, yet they don't sell books. I found a few things there I really want, none of which I can afford now. One was a video camera for $50 that seems to work, another was a nice long couch for $100 that I can stretch out on, and then later I might get some stereo equipment since it was less than $25 for nice stuff. Oh they had a fax machine for $20 also. I need to get ready for the trip to Aizu, such as bathe and then pack. I never seem to pack correctly for trips. Ever, but this is only over night so my chances of missing something are much smaller.
Sunday June 22nd 2003
Last night in Aizu (eye zoo) was pretty fun. We got really lost on the way down because Jeff's directions, no kidding, were like "go down 49 until you see a 7-11 turn left, then go until the road turns left and you see a 7-11 turn right". We ended up in another town. He had to come get us. Finally we get there and cook out our meat and veggies. Then we sit around and chat with his friends from Tokyo. They were a few couples and a few others. they were all really cool. Then we play Poker for a while, but it started getting really stupid for me. Each time the dealer would rotate, which is fine. But the dealer would also get to make to rules. The rules were like two chances to change the cards, the first time only 2 cards, the second only 1 card, one eyed jacks are wild. Then the next person would try to outdo that and it was getting really insane. Plus we were playing for money. Which I didn't have much of.
Finally we get to sleep at like 4 am as the sun is rising, and sleep until 8am when Meg gets up to make Eggs Benedict, which by the way, were incredible. I have got to learn how to make them like that. Then Jeff and I talk about this packet of info I have to send out to all the new JETs coming in August. At some point there is an awkward moment between Meg and Kris concerning a camera and some money owed. Later we leave and head to the discount shop Hard Off again. I understand the name now. There are two stores always together, Book Off and Hard Off. Book Off sells some books and soft things. Hard Off sells furniture and heavy things that might be hard or heavy. Off means discounted. So it's a stretch, but I understand it more or less. Less.
Meg gets a ton of cool dishes and laquerware. I find some great deals on things I can't afford. So I get nothing. Finally we leave and we are bogged down. We already had tons of stuff in the car to take down to Aizu like futons to sleep on and my computer and luggage, but now we had like 10 big bags of plates and dishes. We manage to get them all in and then head on our way.
I was hoping to get home around noon but since Meg is leaving soon she wanted to sightsee, which ended up being cool. We went by this big crater from a volcano. It's famous in Fukushima city and I see pictures everywhere, so I've wanted to go for a while. I'll put the pictures here. This was really cool although it was a lot of hiking. After we spent a few hours here we headed home. On the way I realized it was 4 and we had only eaten breakfast so we decided to stop at KFC. We ended up devouring too much and were too full for a while after that. They dropped me off and I slept for an hour before I had to go out with Emi.
I really didn't feel like going out but it's always like a month in between times when I can see her so I had to go. We ate at Freshness Burger and then came back to my place. I had just rearranged so it was quite messy, but I wanted to show her where I lived and I gave her a little English lesson. She explained some things to me in Japanese. Then she left because she had a headache. She's a News Anchor on the public TV channel here, so I think people recognize her around town. She's tiny though, like up to my chest, we look odd together. But she's cute.
Monday June 23rd, 2003
Had my physical exam today, and it was an interesting test of my Japanese. There was a part where I had to say which direction a small arrow was pointing. So I had to remember how to say up, down, left and right. It was a little fast so I kept getting confused, I'm sure she wrote down I was blind and guessing. then they poked me in the arm with a needle, made me pee in a cup, and then I took a listening test. I think I did pretty good on it, I barely heard to faint sounds and clicked the button. There were about 5 other tests I didn't have to take, such as chest x-rays and a glaucoma test, which is good, because I hate that test where they blow air in your eyes.
After that I worked on this new AJET thing and a New Comer's guide for the new JETs in Fukushima. I was busy all day and time flew by. At lunchtime I met with the English club and read their journal. Then we played one round of a water down version of scattergories. It was tough, and I even tried to use real basic words, but most people didn't do well. Some people were really creative though. I still can't tell if they really liked it or not. I gave them each a notebook so they can write more in the journal. Their grammar is not so great, and I don't comment on it, I just make notes about what they wrote about. One girl wrote about her cat that died, others wrote about the school festival in September. they are so cute.
I think I am not going to do sprints tonight. I want to walk to the store and buy the ingredients of Eggs Benedict. They were really great when Meg made them. Ha, I just typed "maked". I'm losing my English. I got my new ADSL modem today, but I have to do a few more things I think. I can't wait. It will be so great to have a fast modem and fast computer. I hope I can sell the other computer in August to help pay for this one.
I can't decide if I should get a computer desk or keep using this table. I guess I should keep the table since I already have it and I'd have to store it somewhere if I had a computer desk. I wish I could get that couch sooner, but I doubt it. I don't think I even have anywhere to put it now that I rearranged. Shucks.
Tuesday June 24th
Quite an average day really. Went to Hobara, had two classes, which sadly is more on average than I have at my base school. Nothing of interest happened. Oh well except my secret crush said she will be leaving Monday since some dumb teacher is coming back after having a baby. She's probably not dumb, but she's married and not nearly as cute as my crush, who is looking so much cuter each day. But she speaks zero English and that might be awkward, as it was with Sachiyo months ago. But oh I would endure the awkwardness. So I have her email and we will email and maybe she can hang out at some party with my friends. I hope she gets another job soon and maybe somewhere I can see her. So sad.
After school I paid rent and the last of my keySCAMmoney. So I should be paid up on that and only owe around $380 + the prorated water. If I can keep utilities down then I should really start saving money. I keep saying that and I really hope it happens. I'm going to shoot for August paycheck as the one where I am in the black and owe no money. Excluding paying back this computer and things like that. Then in September I hope to start sending back double. That's the plan Stan.
I just fixed, or tried to fix, Eggs Benedict the way Meg made them in Aizu. I think I put in too much lemon juice, because it was rich. It was an overload of flavors, first the lemon hits you then the butter hits you. All in all it was quite good and I think I can make it again with a little fine tuning. I need to learn a few more things now, like kimchee and some easy & quick Japanese dishes. I wish there was a Japanese cooking class in English. I think I might get more eggs tomorrow since they were only 98 yen for 6 and I'll try my hand at omelets. I made pretty good ones in college, but I used a blender and I had this special pan for cooking them. It had a hinge on it and you just dump it over and they are perfect, or close to perfect. I think I can make good ones here. Next overnight party we have I'll wake up early and cook omelets for everyone. Omelets and toast and sausage and milk, nice. No milk for me though.
Well I have ADSL hooked up and the computer sees there is a line and activity, but won't connect. I think I need a username and password from the company, so I will wait a few days before I call. Maybe I'll get a Japanese person over here to read the instructions and see what I am missing. Or I can call Brad who is an expert at this and speaks better Japanese than me and knows how to get it all going. Either way I am days away from having active ADSL at home. 8 Mbps no less. I can't wait.
Tomorrow is a holiday at school for some reason. Hiraki said I don't have to take a vacation day, but all the other teachers do. She is really stubborn sometimes and yet other times goes out of her way to really help me. I'm glad she's my supervisor for the most part, although some other JETs sometimes talk about how their supervisor let's them take days or weeks off when there are no classes.
I have said it before and I will say it again, I have a full blown addiction to CC Lemon. I can't stop drinking them. I probably spend 10-15 bucks a week on them. That's where my money goes, geez. Of course there is a machine just outside my apartment building that sells it. I'm desperately trying not to go get one now. At least they are semi-healthy. During the child care class two weeks ago I mentioned I had an addiction to CC Lemon, so the teacher told me how to say that. It's chuu ryoku, but I wrote chuu roku which sounds similar but means middle six. Which of course is nothing. So the students all laughed and I kept saying chuu roku and they thought it was funny. I guess it was a little funny. Going to get a CC Lemon, be right back.
Wednesday June 25th
Well it looks like I don't need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. I have the day off and I could sleep as late as I wanted. So I wake up at 7:30 naturally and can't get back to sleep. Of course nothing opens until 10 so I am just playing solitaire and typing in this. I plan to go to the e-cafe later and upload this as well as take care of some other pressing computer business. I want to go to the dollar store first and buy a few blank CDRs and then stop by the grocery store on the way back and get omelet ingredients. Then I can cook me-self an omelet and then head out to the e-cafe. That should kill about two hours. I can do sprints, down by the river later as well. Kind of weird having a day off when none of your friends do. There's just not much to do. It would be totally different if I had internet access at home, I can spend hours on the internet.
It's like dog time really. I look up and it will be noon and then I look up 15 minutes later and it's 5pm. Amazing, where does the time go. For every minute I think passes, actually 7 minutes pass, or more. Speaking of "or more", I hate when advertisements say "You can earn UP TO $1000, OR MORE". Which is it? Is that the maximum or can you go higher? Then there is standing "online" for a movie. You are standing INline, but you are reading this ONline. they are different. The other one is "I could care less". Phrase is "I couldN'T care less" which means there is no room below what I care about. My caring is at the bottom. If you say you could care less, that means you care, but could care less.
Just returned from the e-cafe as you might have noticed. I uploaded the first part of this update and made some updates to another site. I can't wait to have internet at home again, it feels so disconnected without it. Before I left I did make my world famous omelet and it was rather tasty. I cooked it over low heat and let the eggs turn nice and solid and then made a quick flip and it was perfect. The only downside is I used ham that came in a 3 inch circle, and it was a little tough so it was hard to cut it once the omelet was finished. If I can cut the meat up next time it will be perfect. I'll have to buy the goods next time there is a party where we all crash at someone's house for the night. I just finished eating the rest of the cheddar cheese. Probably not the best thing in the world to eat straight but it was so "real" tasting in a world of imitations. Yummy. I washed it down with a CC Lemon.
Meg wanted me to go to her school today since I was off, but it's just a little too rainy right now. It flips between a slow drizzle and a heavy drizzle. I'd have to carry an umbrella while riding a bike since her school is a tad too far to walk. I have walked past it before, but it was on a clear night with no rain. I've got tons of stuff to do anyway. For one I am working on a newcomer's guide for Fukushima JETs called Don't Panic. Since I am the Newsletter Editor for FuJET I got tasked with it. No worries really, just a lot to do. I would have liked to seen her English Club though. I'll have to do that before I leave.
I knew I'd forget something at the e-cafe. I forgot to check if a payment had made it to Visa. It's all part of my big announcement I hope to make within the next two weeks. I can do it tomorrow, but I was hoping to check today and if it had been made and cleared, I wanted to tell a certain someone to charge a certain something. Oh well, one more day will only make things more in my favor. I just read in my toilet trivia book that Fred Astaire received a letter from the first audition he went to at MGM that said "Can't act, going bald, can dance - a little". Man who ever wrote that had to feel like a moron for a while. Same as the Dissertation committee who failed the founder of FedEx on his paper "The feasibility of Overnight Delivery". Sucks to be you.
I think I have no classes tomorrow or Friday. If so it will go down in my Usage spreadsheet. I've been making note of how many times I am used at each school. So far Higashi, my base school, has a %19 usage rate, where the two commercial traveling schools have at least %100. One school even went over since they put me in 4 classes and 3 classes is my basis for %100. If I decide to renew, I will show these stats and create some charts and say I'll renew if you can do better than this. It's really sad I think putting me in either no classes or 1 a day.
Friday June 27
I don't know why I can't remember it's the rainy season here. Every morning I leave and look at the sky and say wow what a pretty day, I don't need an umbrella. Then after lunch it starts raining. Some days it will stop, but many time it doesn't and I have to ride home in a drizzle. I have a few umbrellas here, and some from the dollar store, but I always forget. Last night I forgot as well, as did I forget tonight and I had to walk home in the rain.
Tonight we had a surprise party for BJ since his birthday is in August, specifically August 7th, and no one would be here, and or there would be new people so he couldn't celebrate with his buddies. Plus I think he is going to China now so this way at least he gets a little celebration. This was all Meg's planning, she's good like that. Unfortunately, typical BJ, he was late for his own surprise party. An HOUR late. He was very close to ruining the whole thing, because we all got to the restaurant at 8:30 and he didn't show up until after 10, so we ate quickly and opened presents and then everyone left. I guess that will teach you to get a watch and set it fast. For some reason we all collectively got him $1 picture frames. I think because he always give those as gifts. But then other people got him a few real things as well. I got him a few books, and put $50 of the $65 I owed him in the pages. So he flips through this book and sees the money. Some people bought him a blender, which he had wanted. As he was opening it he got excited and I said, don't get excited, it's the only box we had. Then there was a blender and he was more confused.
I had invited Emi, a girl I've mentioned before who seemed to show some interest in me. Talk about mixed signals all night, geez. First she emails and asks if she can come and I say yes I am happy. Then she gets there and meets everyone, so logically as we are all sitting down I say hey sit here, by me. She does and beside us is a girl of another couple. So it's me, Emi, space, the girl of the couple. So then Dave comes in and tries to sit in the space, being the guy in the couple, and Emi slides over and says no sit here (between us). It's not like Emi knew the girl, they had just met and she was leaving for Sweden the next day. So I thought that was a little odd.
During the night things seem to go great, we are a little flirty and sharing food and it's fun. Then the couple leaves and she immediately moves over two spaces. OK, odd again I guess. Later I get bored and she seems to so I suggest we leave here and go get a drink, my treat. She gets all excited. She's smiling and saying Oh Really, that sounds fun. So I'm getting happy again. Then she asks if everyone will go and I say no just us. Her demeanor immediately changes and she says she was awake at 4 this morning and is really tired. I don't quite catch this right off and keep prodding, but eventually understand she isn't going. So then I keep suggesting she head home since she is so tired and she asks when am I leaving and if I am leaving soon she can just wait. At this time I wanted to walk around the restaurant and meet new people. So I keep suggesting she go, finally I just get up and announce she is leaving and I am walking her to the door. I walk her out and at the door she says thank you and I say can I get a hug, just a nice friendly goodbye hug and she says NO. I say really with my arms in full hug position and she says NO. Not mean just matter of factly, yet while smiling. So I say ok see ya, and she says "please call me next time you have a party, I had fun". Yea, you are at the top of my list. I have no idea what is up with that, other than she seems to have no interest in me.
After that Meg goes next door to the 6 cute girls in the other room who all seem to be boyfriend-less nursing students who are learning English. That's like a big target for me. When she is in there we hear chanting and laughing and fun. So I stroll in there and sit down at her request and the party seems to go down hill. One girl is flirty and a few are trying to speak broken English. It was fun, but then they paid and I could see they were about to leave, so I said we should all leave too. Then I walked home in the rain.
At one point there was this cute little kid maybe age 3 in there with her drinking father. She was sitting in a booth and Meg tried to go over and get a high five from her (called High Touch here). She actually shook her head NO at Meg's hand request. Then she told me the girl was a High touch Snob, so I went over to work my magic. I stuck it out and the kid smiled and slapped my hand, a few times even. Then I chatted with the guys for a minute and went off to the bathroom. On the walk back the little girl saw me and climbed over her dad to the edge of the table and stuck her hand out as I walked by. Meg saw this and was furious. I was in fact the reigning High Touch Champion. Plus it was ultra-adorable.
Saturday June 28th
BJ, Meg, Michelle and a few others are (or had planned) to take a day trip somewhere today, but I couldn't go. Can you guess why? Of course money, I said I had tons of stuff to do with AJET, which is true, but I would have loved to have taken a day trip somewhere new and unplanned. But the Universal Energy has chosen for me to live like a poor man for a while and not enjoy all of life's bounty. I must accept that before I can move on. So I will stay in, on this rainy dreary day and work on the computer for a while and maybe watch a movie. Maybe I will go to the e-cafe tomorrow since ADSL is not quite up yet although someone called Friday twice and asked when I wanted it working and I said TODAY and they said how about next Friday, so I said well as soon as possible. Then they called back and said it was done today. But I still don't have a username and password so I will wait a bit longer and maybe call that English speaker Monday and ask what the deal is. I think I delayed the matter by requesting the cheapest carrier. In the long run that will be fine, but I really need internet at home now for the AJET stuff. I have to go all the way across town to download things for them and send emails. Argh. Hulk no like.
I might try to see how little I can spend on food this week. Like Monday to Friday since Saturday and Sunday there is the International Festival in Koriyama and then the Beach party in Iwaki. I don't think there are many expenses involved since I get reimbursed for everything and I think I can get a ride back in someone's car from Iwaki, so it should all balance out. My only expense would be any food or alcohol I have in Iwaki, but I can keep that to a minimum. I'm hoping the International Festival is as cool as the others, but from looking at the agenda it seems more like a class than a festival. We'll see.
Well I managed to stay in bed and type on this until 1 pm, so now just a few more hours to kill until I can back to sleep. Sad times, wishing time would fly until I had money to enjoy things. I just wish I had enough not to have to eat dollar store food a few days a month and could travel and explore Japan. Perhaps my time will come. Sorry to bring you down. The rain and other things have me down today.
** Hallelujah **
I have High Speed Cheap ADSL at home.
Oh it feels so good. I typed on this until 1pm, then I ran some statistics on the AJET database until 3. Finally I had to get something to eat so I walked to the $1 store to buy some food, toenail clippers, and some hard plastic paper holders. I get them all and walk back. When I arrive in my lobby I check the mailbox and there is a letter from NTT and it's thick. I open it and HALLELUJAH it is the Plala ADSL info. For the record, Plala is an odd name for anything in Japanese since they don't have the letter "L" nor can they even pronounce it. So I go through the steps quickly and it doesn't work, the password is wrong. Argh. Hulk no like. I can visualize myself wrecking the NTT office while they correct the password. Then I read everything (all in Japanese) and realize I was typing in the wrong thing. So I type in the right thing and "Boing" up comes Google.com rather fast. I surfed around and everything comes up fast. Yee Haw.
Unfortunately now I have tons of stuff to do online, but the good news it I can stay in and not inflict anymore expenses on myself. I have a ton of things to do, but I have a ton of free time and a severe lack of money so fast internet should allow me to stay in and get it done. I'm hyped again and I was all depressed this morning. No real reason why, I guess a series of things didn't go in my favor last night and I took them too seriously. Such is life. I might do a major upgrade on the site soon, really organize things and fix all broken links. I need to retake some pictures for the New Jet section. OK, off to the land of being online.
So I get ADSL working and I start updating site, surfing the web, downloading files, checking all my mail, working on the AJET site, and then I look up and boom it's 11:30 pm. Where did the time go? I was just typing for a few minutes and somehow 8 hours passed. Wow.
I forgot one of the downsides of having a nice computer and ADSL at home, I am addicted to it and can't stop using it. Each time I try to quit I check my mail one last time and then get distracted and surf for something new. Then I remember I was logging off and go through the whole process again. Now it's 2am here and I am really going to log off, after I check email one last time. I have to get up at 9 and go to that Japanese class in Horai since the teacher bought me a workbook and I need to pay her. Argh.
[Might have deleted June.htm by accident. There might have been more entries, waiting on a backup restore]