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Camping.
Tuesday, May 5th 2009

         I haven't written much recently. I just finished something in April so you might want to catch up with that. This month I've basically done the same as usual, but now I live in the city which is great. I have the bike and I ride some and walk some and try to eat better, but living in the city adds so much convenience that it's hard to stick to it. Let's see in a nut shell, I was supposed to get $120 from the Japanese government as a stimulus bonus, but there was some problem and it didn't come. I later figured out it was from my foreigner card. There is a HUGE RED DATE that says renew by 2011, so I assumed that's when I should renew my alien status, but it was actually when the card itself expires. So I was here illegally for 8 or 9 months. Though apparently not too illegally. I got it all straightened out and they said they would mail it right away, but....

         Other than that it is Golden Week this week so I have M-W off and then Ohse Thursday and Konan sitting doing nothing Friday. Saturday is our sports festival so Friday will be nothing but preparing for it over and over. It is crucial that the students follow the script perfectly otherwise the earth will actually stop spinning.

         Monday night until this morning I went camping with a few other people back to our favorite place, Lakeland Hibarako. I'll add some photos below of the trip.

Lakeland Hibarako

Beautiful views from our camper.

Said camper.

Japanese BBQ

We ate like kings.

We had an odd fire building technique.

Look deep into the fire.

Someone commented that if you are just sitting around staring at each other not talking,
it would be awkward. But if there is a fire, then it is ok. Ours was mesmerizing.

Salvadore Dali museum in Fukushima prefecture Japan

There is a Salvadore Dali museum with actual paintings from him. It's not in Tokyo or
another big city, but really in the middle of no where. It's quite strange, but interesting.

Japanese people even back their paddle boats into spaces

This doesn't look as amazing as it really was. Japanese people not only back into EVERY
parking space as listed in the April update, but they also back their boats into the shore.

When Matt and I pulled out of the camp ground we drove down a bumpy dirt road for a few
minutes, then I hit the road and we started driving fast. As I sped up we heard a clank sound and
assumed I hit something like a stick or something in the road. When I got to the 7-11 we saw this.
Apparently it was on the tire and then bounced over to the window like this. Amazing.

 

Mucus Festival.
Friday, May 08, 2009

            In my nose, thatís where the party is. I always have a stuffy nose, but recently it has been much worse. I have to start tracking down what foods cause my mucus flow Niagara style. Itís either clogged or running straight out, OR my personal favorite, BOTH. How can a nose be clogged and running at the same time?

            I went camping this week which was fun. We plan to go back in June sometime for a weekend. I was in charge of the fire and it was a good one. We had to feed 10 people and it stayed hot the entire time. We cooked a ton of meat including meat strips, chicken, and ribs. There was plenty of other food as well such as omelets made by Angela and vegetables out the whazoo or wazoo or wazhoo. Spell check likes none of those. We had a camper that was nice, but a tad more pricey than I was hoping for . Since we only sleep in it Iíd be fine with the tent only option. Plus I donít like sleeping in situations where I could potentially disturb other people. I took an allergy pill which knocked me out for the whole night so there were no problems. Otherwise I might have snored, walked around, or started naked sleep wrestling with someone.

            Today I have 2 classes, one I plan and the other I assisted with. I really have nothing good to say about the 5th and 6th grade textbooks. They are very academic and really stupid. We practiced saying hello from all around the world today, which was cool, until we spent 3 minutes talking about Japan. They can say Konnichiwa, why would we talk about that. There is so much Japanese language and culture in this book and most of the instruction is wrong. It tells them to write their name Last Name First Name, which is fine IN JAPAN, but not when dealing with foreigners. Itís one more thing we have to un-teach down the road. Photo: I don't even know what this was.

            Iíve had a few experiences with Japanese people and forming lines. Thereís something to this, but I canít figure it out. In one sense they will form a line at the drop of a hat and wait in it for hours for the smallest thing like a donut or some ramen somewhere. So I want to think they like lines and respect the ďlineĒ. But then there are equally as many times when they break in line and disrespect the ďlineĒ, so I canít really figure out what the deal is. The most recent ones were at the hospital, then pulling into a parking space, then at the sushi place. The funniest one (to me) was at the hospital.

            When I have my blood drawn (by Picasso) they open the sign up desk promptly at 8:00:00. I put the seconds in there to show exactly how precise they are. I try to get to the desk early to get a low number so I will be one of the first ones and then I can go eat. The earlier I am the quicker they can see me. So the lady stands there staring at us from about 7:58 to exactly 8:00:00. Itís a federal crime to open the desk one second before the proper time. She would be beheaded I think. So then a line is supposed to form, but it never does. This past time three people went up to the desk and they all stuck their papers out, but the one on the right stuck his paper out the farthest so the line semi-formed to the left. I go and stand 4th in line meaning I should be #4 which is great since they take people in groups of 5. Some old lady walks up and actually says out loud ďI donít want to wait in this lineĒ and cuts around in front of the #1 person who is now finishing. The #2 lady looks at her funny, but Japanese people are too polite and non-confrontational to do anything (for a while). So the cut-lady somewhat forces her slip to the clerk and is next.

            Now hereís the best part. She then turns around and tells her friend/sister/daughter/some other old lady, again out loud, ďhey just come up here and cut in line, you donít have to waitĒ. The other lady does so and the #2 lady, now #3, gets agitated, but still doesnít say anything. Then the new #2 lady hands in her slip and, you wonít believe this, calls her friend/sister/daughter/some other old lady. That lady comes up and the #3 lady politely says ďwe are standing in line hereĒ, but the first lady says something like ďbah humbug, bugger offĒ. So now the agitated lady is #4 and the other lady (that was the 2nd to be called). Then #4 lady now starts to stand very close to the #3 lady and sticks her hand out and submits it next. Then the #5 lady (not previously mentioned) turns in her ticket and takes the #5 blood spot. So now I am next and as I turn it in some man blindsides me by cutting right in front of me. I was shocked and laughed a bit at the audacity of it all. Then I am finally next and some lady sticks her hand around my left from the #6 or #7 position (I am confused myself) and I glare at her and say ďreally? Are you serious?Ē a bit too loud and pushed her card away. It was a bit rude, but thereís only so much you can take.

[Topic Change]

            The kids at Ohse are vastly different from those at Konan. I donít really know why since both schools are considered country schools. A recent example is how Konan kids constantly say ďI canít speak English. I donít know. I canít do it.Ē They never speak English unless I prompt them and even then it requires some convincing. Whereas the Ohse kids constantly practice what they have learned in the halls. On Thursday I was walking around the school after the last class and the kids were starting their club activities. Some boys tracked me down and asked if a note was correct. One student was leaving and couldnít practice with the baseball team. Since the coach is the English teacher he wrote the note in English. It says ďI'll go home because I am sick.Ē That would never happen in a million years at Konan and that makes me sad. I think most of the Ohse kids go to private cram schools weekly.

Didnít Run.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

            I managed to get out of running on the fat teacher team. Thatís almost exactly what it is actually called. The correct name is Metabolic, which means something else in English, but in Japanese meh-ta-bo-ri-ku means 'fat'. For the past few years weíve had a metabolic team run in the sports day relay. I hate it for several reasons:

A) I donít compete athletically
B) I hate sprinting for 50 meters
C) I hate running in front of people
D) Itís just insulting to be on a team called 'Fat People'.
     e) if they called it something catchy like 'thickness' I might do it.

            That would last about 30 seconds in any English speaking country. ďHey Mary, you are on the fatty team. You and the other chubbers get to look stupid in front of the whole school. So anyone that didnít already disrespect you will now totally disrespect you since you will look like a fat idiot on the track.Ē I put on a knee brace and limped around and made sure people knew I had an injury.

            Overall the sports day was fun, but thatís only because I took 900 photos with my new DSLR. I experimented with Depth of Field and continuous shots and the telephoto lens. I took some great photos and merely skimmed the surface the cameraís abilities. Iíd like to go out taking photos around town one day when I have more free time. I did get burned since I forgot a hat and sunscreen. It had been rainy all week before so I just assumed it would be cloudy or cancelled, but it was actually a perfectly sunny day. Sunny, but not too hot (unless you participated).

            Other big news is that my $120 Japanese government stimulus payment actually came. Iíll probably take off early today so I can take it to city hall and get the money today. I bought a bike this pay period assuming I would be getting the check earlier. I have nearly run out of money since it came so late. I had planned to save it, but of course every time I say I am going to save some money I get some required payment for something. This time it is my car tax which I hate. I hate it because they tax everything car related in Japan. The highways are toll roads, they force everyone to get snow tires which are $200 EACH, there is a $1,500 emissions test every two years, and gas is about $6 a gallon. Then there is another car tax (this one) that is $340. ARGH. I want to go back to a K-car with a yellow plate and much cheaper fees.

            I moved my computer back from the living room floor to the spare room desk. I really liked a friendís set up when he had it on a floor desk (you are sitting on the floor and the desk is about knee level) and I wanted to copy it. I got a desk for the floor and tried it for over a month, but in the end I just hate being on the floor. I hate being down there and having to wiggle around to get up. I hate restaurants that have floor seating except for those with the holes for your feet. I canít sit on the floor for extended periods of time, really anything more than a few minutes.

            Other big news which might not happen. I was planning on getting a laptop and having a friend bring it over, but it may not happen. I tried to get one last week, but I have to pay by wire transfer ($50 fee) and then shipping to Japan is another $150 so that adds $200 to the price as it is. Then I tried to buy it and ship it to her address in the US, but pay by ďBill Me LaterĒ where I can pay in installments, but since I am in a foreign country that must be fraud. There is no other reason for it other than fraud. So now I have to wire money back on payday and as soon as it arrives send some to my credit card and then as soon as that clears order it and ship it to her next day which adds another $50 to the price. Sheís leaving the morning of the 28th and I get paid on the 21st so you can see it might be tight.

            I feel like it wonít happen since I have that $340 car tax. Iím debating getting a cheap projector for games and to use as a TV since that way the TV tax guy couldnít get me. If I donít actually have a TV I wouldnít have to pay. All I do is watch movies or English TV shows from the web so I donít want to pay $15 for yet another pointless tax. I can get the projector for about $430 from in Japan and pay no shipping or other stupid charges. If I buy a computer in Japan it has to have Windows Vista Ultimate (the most expensive OS) so I can change it to English. It still costs less to buy one from the US and ship it over than it does to buy one here with Vista Ultimate. Though I have been secretly thinking about getting a Mac.

Paperwork and More Mucus.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

            I took off 2 hours early yesterday because A) I had no classes and was tired of sitting around finding things to do, and B) my $120 Japanese stimulus check came in. I shouldnít say ďcheckĒ since that implies I could take it to the bank and have cashed. There are no checks here, but in their place there is a ton of paperwork. To get my money I had to go to city hall and turn in a piece of paper with my name stamp and show my ID card. I took a number and was sent up stairs to the room. I was guided to someone in the ďinformationĒ department. That person filled out 2 forms and gave me one to go another table. The other person filled out 2 more forms and gave me one and kept the other. Then we waited as someone took the forms to the back room and then came back with the money and another form. She filled out the other form and gave it to me. I didnít care since they were filling out the forms and in the end I would get $120 to blow on what ever I wanted. I chose to spend it on food for the next week.

            I did buy a few things though, but most went on my credit card. I bought an arm thing to hold my monitor up for my computer. I had been using some books to get it up to eye level and that was just dangerous. Then I bought a plastic bin/crate/container thing to put some winter clothes in since my place is getting too full somehow. Finally I bought a cheap clothes rack to hang more stuff since my portable closet doesnít really hold foreign clothes well (being that they are wide and long). Then for some reason I applied for a Japanese credit card online. They are actually different than US ones. There is the option of using like a US visa where you charge something and pay it off little by little, but usually the way they work is different. When you buy something you can pay 1 time or over several months. The reason I applied was
A) to have some emergency money available such as for a car,
B) because I want to buy a laptop and pay it over several months, and
C) because my US card kinda sucks sometimes. Itís a credit union card which means low interest and no stupid gimmicks, but they are open during bank hours. There is no way to contact the credit card place for an emergency during off hours. Anyway, I donít expect to get the card, but I did apply at the same place where I have a car loan that I have paid regularly and on time.

            Today I am back at Konan and have no classes that I need to plan. There were two that I could go to as an ALT or AET, but they were reading comprehension and I wasnít needed. My English reading skills are poor so why would I go. Hopefully after August when I get two more schools I will be busy. Itís so funny that I actually want more work.

            So I still have this runny nose thing going on. I went to a pharmacy last night and explained that I donít have any other flu/cold like symptoms, but my nose just constantly runs. Iím either blowing my nose 10-15 times an hour or snorting it back which is a very pleasant sound. She gave me something that should thicken my issueÖ.and so far itís ok. I am blowing my nose less, but still a few times an hour.

Blaaa.
Friday, May 15, 2009

            I have just felt blaaa this week. The medicine for the mucus festival in my sinuses has worked about 90%. I still snort sometimes and blow my nose, but itís not the constant stream that it was. Iíd like to get to a specialist sometime since itís a year round thing for me and I have good insurance, but that will have to wait until I have a little more money to spend on things. My utilities have been really high for some reason lately. The gas bill was $100 for a month and a half, but that might be because I left the on-demand water heater on all the time. Supposedly it only runs when water is flowing, but that seems a bit much for springtime use.

            Today I had one class, but it was with the 4th graders and it went great. Itís a mixture of a few things that always makes it go smoothly with them. First, they are good kids and have a good teacher. Second, there are no big troublemakers that stand out like in a few of the other grades. Also the things we are learning are easy to teach and allow several games. I just taught them how to count to 60 (and then actually 100) and then they learned how to tell time. Today was about sports, but I reviewed the numbers and time a bit. Next class will be about sports again and soon I will start with English letters and the alphabet.

            Tomorrow there is a tennis match at Ohse with Konan, Ohse, and the 4th JHS. I will be torn between Ohse and Konan and will have to cheer for both equally. The other school is just a bonus since I know a few of the girls on the tennis team from English camp. It starts at 9 so I might go there for a bit and then get lunch somewhere.

            I feel like I havenít fully moved in yet. Thatís because I havenít bought enough stuff to fill the place and Iím not even using one room. I donít really want to buy too much since I donít know how much longer I will be here, but at the same time it looks barren and half full. I also have too much stuff, even though there is plenty of room to store it. I need to just toss a bunch of the crap away. Iím a pack rat though and hate throwing things away.

Going To SNAP.
Monday, May 18, 2009

            I had a class with the elementary 3rd graders today. I hadnít planned on it, but it was on a different schedule that I didnít know about. It was the worst class I have ever had in Japan and not because of poor planning. I was physically yelling at the top of my lungs for them to be quiet and sit down. About 50% of the kids were just walking around or talking or completely ignoring me. It was an absolute free for all. The other half of the kids were sitting quietly for the most part, but sometimes they would be the recipient of being talked to or even respond to the talkers. It was absolute hell and I nearly yelled at them once and another time I nearly walked out. Seriously it was that bad. The only way I think I can partially control them is by making some cool stickers and then giving them out only if they are semi-quiet. I know they wonít be so I will have to be firm about not giving in. They arenít used to have consequences for their actions. I even asked the English teacher to go with me to the next class.

            I have been toying with the idea of seceding from the lunch plan here at school. Iíve found it to be appallingly plain and quite often just bad. It's about $3.60 which is good, but I think I could eat better on my own. The saddest part is that my school has a much better lunch than most of the schools in Japan, because we are too far out in the country for the city lunch place to deliver. Itís really just not enough food plus itís rather plain and watered down half the time. Today was natto which really made me madder than I was during the above-mentioned class. It smells like sweaty socks that were worn while wading through a vinegar and feces pond and then put in a sealed plastic bag for 3 weeks. Seriously it smells that bad and I usually gag from merely being near it. Apart from that we had rice and some bland soup that was watered down and some leftover style mixture of potatoes and other things. I think I am going to see how many crap lunches I have through July and decide then. Photo: A typical school lunch from another non-natto day.

Japanese walkway considered inside the school.

This is considered inside at Ohse and I can wear my inside shoes to the gym.

The secretary puts scraps down on the floor to make sure the kids actually sweep the whole room.

Matt and I went for a bike ride one day and passed a driving school. I've always
wanted to go there and drive a bus, but some guy was driving a construction tractor.
Woo Hoo !!

Japanese people park anywhere they want

What? No spaces? I don't want to park in the back.

After preparing for the sports day, we were told to 'pick up grass'.

I voted no on that one.

The wonderful view from Barbara and Henrik's apartment downtown.

Japanese bento box lunch

My lunch on sports day. The brown things are just filled with rice.

Overall it was a let down, but rather typical of Bento lunches.

 

Learn to park jackass

Parking is a bit of an issue in our lot. My space is to the right and I couldn't get to it.

Impatient Japanese people passing on a curve

Passing on a curve.

AWESOME.

soft metal dumbell

Soft metal?

Kappa sushi bullet train delivery kaiten sushi

When you order a plate, it comes out on a little bullet train.

Our English room was moved to the 3rd floor library.

This is the old room. It was moved so this room could be used for kids.

By kids I guess they mean trash.

 

 

 

Old people rule.

Walk where you want as slow as you want.

Shut It DOWN.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

            Yea I shut it down. Two things I put a stop to (I think). First this little first grade brat, whose brother is also a brat in the 2nd grade, always punches me in the ding dong and the butt. He punches hard and he is the perfect height to just punch straight and hit me there. I canít really do anything since there are no consequences in Japan, but this time he did it in front of his teacher. I made a big scene about how it hurt and started saying ďstop, quitĒ in Japanese. As usual he just laughed and did it more. Then his teacher grabbed him and made him stop and apologize to me. Rather than blow it off like I do with others I pushed it and said ďstop doing that from now on, stop it.Ē He was about to cry and I didnít care. Thatís painful and kids shouldnít do it. BOOM, I shut that down.

            The second thing was regarding that uber-annoying class the other day. I told the English teacher how bad it was and he said the art teacher had also complained about the class. I guess he told the art teacher how I felt since she took it upon herself to fuss at the class during a recent art class. Several of the kids apologized to me about it and I hope it changes. BOOM, probably also shut it down. Weíll see on that front.

Need to Shut It DOWN.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

            I had a class with the elementary 2nd graders today, alone, and they were a bit bratty. It really annoys me how little respect kids have for me. Most of it stems from there being NO consequences. The only thing I could do is threaten to write some names down, which made them quiet for a bit. The annoying thing is the few boys that yell dirty stuff when we are practicing new words. I would show a flashcard of a carrot and most kids would yell ďcarrotĒ, but a few would yell ďunchiĒ (poo) or ďshinkoĒ (something related to masturbation). That was to be expected somewhat since the boys in question are generally foul natured, but then when I was doing some flashcards again to repeat it some girls yelled ďthis is boringĒ. Seriously, you want to see something NOT boring? How about if I storm out of the room and go get the vice principal and then tell your teacherÖwell thatís really NOT Japanese, but it would have shut them up. They are a little better when the teacher is there.

Comical.
Friday, May 22, 2009

            Itís actually comical how rude the 3rd graders are. They are well beyond anything I can possibly explain. Itís truly as if I were invisible and were talking like a mouse during their play time after they drank sugar drinks all morning. They were completely ignoring me and the teacher had no voice so he couldnít yell. It was actually funny this time and I didnít get mad. They were simply not listening to me in any way shape or form. I walked around and tried to tell people things individually, but even then they kept talking to each other as if I were not there. They didnít even look at me and then ignore me, I simply wasnít in the room. Then about 5 kids started crying and some other kids started nagging the criers. Iím going to have to take another teacher next time to show exactly how bad it is. Photo: The English room was moved so the room could be made into a meeting room that is used once every 2 months.

            I got paid yesterday and I am already broke. I had planned to save about $300, but as usual whenever I say I am going to save a certain amount in comes a bill for that exact amount. This time it was the yearly car tax of $320, so that plus my $300 car loan payment plus my stupidly high bills (for some reason) have caused me to pay about $1,000 right off that bat. Thatís before sending money back (not likely) and before food money. I plan to eat at a nice place tonight and then tomorrow and that will be it for the month.

            One fine thing about being broke is that I have been using my juicer more and juicing 5 carrots, 1 celery stalk, and one bunch of spinach. Itís a pretty intense burst of vitamins and is semi-tasty. I put some Tabasco in it last night and that was a bit much, but I will eventually find a good flavor. As it is now itís not terrible, but just not tasty. I only spend about $5 on each drink, but itís actually a dayís worth of vegetables. If I have only that for dinner it helps me lose weight and is cheap.

[Later]

            Absolute CLASSIC example of the big thing I dislike about Japanese culture. The 5-6th graders came back from their 2 night school trip. The tour bus pulls in at 2:55pm sharp and they start to unload and get their stuff. They are all lining up for the closing ceremony which is absolutely required in all Japanese situations. Then two regular 3:00 buses pull in at 2:58. The 1st - 4th grade kids board the regular buses, but the closing ceremony hasnít started. The bus driver said he had to leave promptly at 3:00. A teacher asked one driver if he could wait for 1 minute so the kids could board. He said he would wait one minute, but it was most unheard of and he would be behind schedule. The teacher told the ceremony leader it was ok to continue. They continue with the pointlessly drawn out ceremony.

            The driver honks the horn and closes the door. The teacher runs over and says ďsorry, I will have them board now.Ē He opens the door and the teacher turns to the ceremony leader and says itís ok to continue. They continue the ceremony. The driver honks, closes the door, and pulls away. Now at this point they could still salvage it and chase the bus while itís turning around. He would stop and let them board, but they would then miss the mandatory closing ceremony. So what do they do? They hurry along with the closing ceremony and completely miss the bus. Now these kids, who are dead tired and filthy and just want to get home, have to wait another hour for the next bus.

            This is exactly what I donít like about the culture. They are trapped by the process. They were physically unable to say ďwe usually have a closing ceremony, but if we do it now we will miss the bus, so letís skip it and go home.Ē That would require critical thinking and the ability to choose what's best. Nope, itís simply what you do in Japan just like breathing and eating. If you told someone to not breathe he might say ok, but then he would breathe, because itís what you do. There is no option. People breathe and eat and have ceremonies. They cannot do otherwise. To do otherwise would be death.

Up Hill Ride.
Sunday, May 24, 2009

            I almost made it all weekend with my plan of using the car only to get to and from school. I rode my bike most everywhere I needed to go on the weekend except Sunday evening when I bought a foldable bed for $30. I actually fit on it, itís foldable to fit in a closet or corner, and it was cheap so I got it. Other than that I rode most everywhere and it feels good. It also saves gas hardcore since I get decent mileage if I only drive to and from school. The city driving drains my tank.

Always Open?            On Sunday I rode to the station on said bike and had McDonaldís breakfast and then Starbucks coffee. It was much cheaper than usual since parking always gets me for $5 or so, but I realized something after having the coffee. I donít want to ride my bike back and even worseÖ.it was all downhill the way here. I go over it and geared the bike down so I could pedal like a madman the whole time, but make it up the hills. It was brutal, but I think I burnt off all the calories I took in.

            Iíve been juicing some meals and steaming others which are both really healthy. Obviously juicing is better since I can juice 4 carrots, a bunch of spinach, and some celery which is like a vegetable mega-shot. The carrot juice cleans the liver and pancreas which I desperately need and I always feel better after drinking a lot. If you drink carrot juice you might turn a little orange. Itís not a myth, but it also has nothing to do with the color of the carrot. Itís because your liver and pancreas are spitting out toxins that go into your blood and then you sweat them out. Once it stops your liver is clean and functioning well.

NOT Shut Down.
Monday, May 25, 2009

            Yea, nothing was shut down. The kid still ganks me in the jibblies and the loud class is even louder. The loud class is funny though and I no longer get mad. I talk a little and when they get loud I just stop talking. Itís funny because they arenít acknowledging me and ignoring me, itís as if they simply donít see or hear me. I can be talking directly to someone and he/she simply doesnít respond. Iím going to make some Ryan Stickers soon and give them 3-5 chances to get them per class. Rather than being mad at the kids and the consequence-less culture, I am going to try to use to make lessons that are captivating and interesting.

[later]

            Perhaps that class will be shut down. I again told the English teacher about the class, but this time I said ďwe didnít do anything in class, they ignored me and played the entire time.Ē He then told the art teacher who told me they do the same thing in her class. She suggested she, I, the 3rd grade teacher, and the principal sit down and have a chat sometime soon. That sounds dandy with me.

            Thereís this other kid that I mentioned above who was yelling ďmasturbationĒ or something related to that in one class. Anyway, he always pokes me in the butt and I have told him 1,000 times to stop. Of course he laughs and knows thereís nothing I can do. Well this last time when he did it I was in a foul mood and said ďI will go tell your teacher now.Ē He looked at me skeptically and then started to smile as if he knew I was bluffing. Then I started asking his name, which he wouldnít tell me, so I asked other people. When someone told me his name he turned pale white. While I was typing this I went and told his teacher and she said she will put a stop to it. I donít mind playing around with the kids and joking, but for me there is a limit. Itís not even about being poked in the ass, itís about him laughing with I say stop, but taking other people seriously. I'm really getting fed up with certain behavior and I'm going to stop being Japanese about it and stop it.

Japanese JHS school lunch, kyuushoku

Today's school lunch. Rice, some bland soup, a tuna and seaweed salad,
and dried minnows that are crunchy and smell like fishing bait.

Almost Caught Up.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

            Moving apartments somehow cost me about $1,000 in various ways. Actually it didnít cost all that much, but certain expenses came at certain times and that made me shift money around and miss some payments. Then there were some deposits and other expenses that ran the bill up. So now I am almost caught up with all the bills. I need to pay $80 to the gym and then have them hibernate my account for a few months. When they do that they only charge me $10 a month as opposed to $80, but I canít go. Iím thinking about quitting since I donít go that much anymore now that itís warm and I really canít afford it at the moment. Plus they donít buy anything new so when 2-3 people are in the weight room there is nothing I can do because all the weights are being used. Iím going to stop going for a few months and see how it goes. I donít want to cancel since I might go back in the winter months.

            Today I had my oil changed and winter tires removed. They all laughed when I went in to do that since it is nearly summer and a bit late for the times. I just couldnít afford it earlier and then I forgot on the weekends. Plus I needed to take it to this local place since he found the car for me and Japan is all about relationships more so than efficiency or saving money. I could have gone elsewhere, but itís best to go to this guy in Konan. Plus heís good and honest so I know he wonít rip me off. Todayís bill was $85 which is what I expected. He told me in November I would need to replace the timing belt for around $400. Awesome timing since I will be saving for my Thailand trip then.

            I have been juicing more lately to get healthy. The usual recipe is 3-5 carrots, a bunch of spinach (1 bunch not a lot of), and some celery. That always leaves some material leftover that no longer has juice in it. I've wanted to use that stuff for something, but I have never had a need. Well this time when I bought the supplies I also bought some meat. Just a little bit of ground chicken. Then when I finished juicing the stuff I mixed the leftovers with the chicken meat and cooked it. I figured it would taste nasty, but at least I could say I tried. Nope, it was great. It was really actually tasty. They tasted like a hamburger with lettuce already built in. I added lemon juice to one, bbq sauce to one, tabasco to one, and the other was plain. They were all great and it was nearly free since the carrots and stuff were paid for with juicing in mind. I only spent $1 on the meat. WOW.

Hopeful
Friday, May 29, 2009

            There was a meeting at Konan about the wild class. All the elementary teachers met and said they each have the same problem. There is one student that walks around doing whatever he wants (and he often wants to do nasty things) and many of the other students completely ignore the teachers and just chat away. For the record itís not a bad class as a whole and I think they would do fine without the one boy. They seem him doing whatever he wants and that there are no consequences. They constantly trip to take one more step over the line, but are never punished for it so they keep going and going. Anyway, the meeting was a success I hear and from now on all the classes will have the main teacher as well as visits from the vice principal. Hopefully this will reduce the problem. Without wanting to sound pessimistic, Iím not going to hold my breath.

[later]

            Nope, the class today was the worst one yet. I did take pictures to show other teachers in case they didnít believe me. First there was the ďignore the teacherĒ and they ran around doing whatever. Then I passed out the game and they started to cut out the squares, but that got boring so we moved into ďpenis timeĒ where one kid shows his penis to other students as well as shoves things down his pants and then sticks them in other peopleís faces. Finally there was ďthe butt gameĒ where he shoved his butt in several kidsí faces. I yelled a few times, but really youíd get a faster result if you wrote ďstopĒ on the wall and try to yell at it until it changed to ďgoĒ. So I stopped yelling and just talked normally. Some kids could see me being frustrated and I could tell they felt bad for me, but there was nothing either of us could do.

            Then I had the exact opposite experience with another grade. The 4th graders are the best class I have ever had. They listen and do what I say and donít talk and actively participate. They make teaching fun and cancel out the other class. Today we reviewed numbers from 1-60 and practiced ďsportsĒ one last time. They are experts in everything we do since we have class every week and they pay attention. I am back to feeling good after that class. I was partially numb/exhausted after the other one.

            Todayís lunch went into the ďblahĒ category again. There was about half a small salad, blah soup, and of course rice. It wasnít nearly enough and had no real flavor. One day this week we had some amazing, though too buttery, fish. I mean my mouth was watering. Of course that too was grossly too little as well, but still bonus points for taste. A funny thing that happened as we started eating was that one teacher gasped and we all got quiet. Oh no is there a roach or bug or a finger? Nope, the soup was where the rice should be and the rice was where the soup should be. Oh dear GOD. I could honestly not care any less about that. Seriously, I care more about how oven vents are made than I do about that. I mean thereís one thing to have a preferred way of fixing the lunches, but to gasp as if something were horribly wrong. Itís like the Twilight Zone sometimes here.

            Iím helping three students with the skit contest. The deadline is always way too early and we end up panicking at the last minute. So far they have written a decent script, but I have been steering them quite a bit. When I donít, they take it in a really strange and not funny direction. Itís about a talking penguin at the zoo and today they were trying to add in a part where the zookeeper wants the tourist to come watch a penguin show, but the tourist is too busy. I kept trying to politely say that was not funny and actually not even interesting. Finally I convinced them there was no time for these things and then I said ďok Iíll write out an ending and put it in your shoe box to read over the weekendĒ. So I might be writing the ending.

 

2005-2007

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