Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Yes, I Can Use Chopsticks!

Some linkage for you from Ryan McDonald's blog. Ryan sounds so much like me, it's scary. I know I already posted the cherry-picking story (one of my favorites, btw), but I was browsing around and found some other adventures in Japan I would like the share. I was tempted to just copy and paste the entire text here, but that felt like stealing to me.

Again, you have to scroll down to the date to read it.

Wednesday, February 18th
Thinking outside the box in Japan.

Thursday, August 26, 2004
Thinking outside the box in Japan, part II.

Saturday July 3rd 2004
How many people are in this conversation?

On the same page, Thursday July 8th
Don't try to out-crazy me.

Friday September 3rd, 2004
First thing on the page. Getting a ride in Japan. (giggle)

The reason I'm pointing these out is the same things are happening to me, and I don't think it's a coincidence.

Here's an abbreviated transcript of an actual conversation I had.

BoE: Can you contact Sarah?
Me: Sure, why?
BoE: The water bill needs to be paid for June and July.
Me: Oh, Sarah left the money for the utilities, so I can pay it.
BoE: Yes, but you weren't here in June. She should pay.
Me: I understand, but she already left me the money. I will pay the bill.
BoE: I see, but it's Sarah's bill.
Me: I know, but she gave me the money to pay it....
BoE: You shouldn't have to pay it.
Me: (Bangs head into wall)
BoE: So, if you could contact Sarah...
(repeat for 15 minutes)

...later, at the Hall of Justice...

O: Do you know when Sarah will be back from Guatemala?
Me: No, why?
O: The Board of Education wants to know.
Me: Is this about the water bill? I'll pay the water bill.
O: It's ¥5,000
Me: I can pay it.
O: No, you shouldn't pay it.
Me: Really, it's not a problem.
O: I think maybe the Board of Education will pay it.
Me: I have the money...
O: No...


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Because Life Is Always Totally Fair

So, I get this link in an e-mail from my mom the other day.

For those who don't want to follow it, I will 'splain.


No, is too much, lemme sum up:

~10 acre, 6 bedroom, 6.5 bath estate.
Special Features:
  • Barn/Stable - Detached
  • Basement - Finished
  • Central Air
  • Cul-de-Sac Location
  • Fireplace
  • Forced Air
  • Garage - Attached
  • Gas Heat
  • Hardwood Floors
  • Residential with Acreage
  • Satellite Dish
  • Sauna
  • Sprinkler System
  • INDOOR Swimming Pool
Of course, this all takes place AFTER I move halfway around the world. But, that's fine. I'm not bitter at ALL. I'm fine in my house in Japan.

...My Name Is Inigo Montoya...

Quite often, I'll be walking down the hall, and have this conversation. This conversation rarely deviates from this pattern, and takes place probably five times a day (no exaggeration).

Group of girls: Hello.
Me: Hello.
Group of girls: (giggle, hurry away).

But, the thing is...Japanese doesn't have as many unique sounds as English. So, 'Hello' becomes more like 'Hallo', as in Halloween.

For my introductory lesson to first graders, they would come up, introduce themselves, and ask me a questions.

Every single one of them started like this:

"Hallo, my name is..."

It's hard not to giggle.

Maybe The Cup Is Just Too Big?

Are you a positive person or a negative person? I'm talking about the coffee cup half full/half empty debate. I've had a lot of coffee this morning, afterwhich I brushed my teeth before class (there's a sink in the teacher's room specifically for brushing your teeth).

A negative person would say: "I've consumed so much coffee, it is nearly impossible to put toothpaste on the brush, my hands are shaking so much."

I prefer to think: "I've consumed so much coffee, when I brush my teeth it's like having an electric toothbrush."

I'm positive that way. :)

Japanese Coffee Revisited

So, I previously complained about the bitterness of Japanese Kohi (Coffee). Well, here's an update: I made my own this morning, and it's fantastic! I think my officemates might have been playing a joke on me before.


Also, I put in a small google ad at the bottom of my sidebar. Supposedly, it will display relevant ads based on my posts. I'm incredibly curious what ads my rants on driving in Japan will match up with. :)

All Work and No Play

So, it's now quarter after 6, and I'm still at the office.

I figured, as long as the bike shop was closed, I'm no longer in a hurry. So, I changed my template again, and took off all the quotes on the sidebar, and turned them into a single random quote. Now I can add more without feeling guilty for turning the small sidebar into practically a page unto itself.

I really should go home now...let's see if that happens.

Nope. Now it's about 7pm, and people are starting to come BACK to the office! It's crazy. Anyway, I'm going to tear myself away from editing my template, and really go home. Right now...

Mysteriously Hidden Notes

So, somehow in my style settings for my site, I've removed the setting that colors links that don't link anywhere. See, to leave my notes, I was including an anchor tag with no HREF, like so: <a title="Hello, World">*Note</a>, which becomes *Note.

Except, on my blog, there's no hint that anything is there. In Blogger's preview, I can see that text in a different color. It looks like a link without the underline.

So, I came up with the alternate way you see now. Isn't learning fun?

It's now more than an hour since work officially ended, and the bike shop has closed. :(


Monday, September 27, 2004

Serious Bloggage Reduction


It is very likely that I will be blogging a LOT less in the very near future.

Let me tell you about my day.

First, let me express my joy in teaching. The more cynical among you will immediately assume I'm speaking sarcastically, but actually, I do enjoy teaching very much. I didn't think I would; I could barely remember the times in the past when I had taught (I was, in fact, a classroom assistant for nearly a year).

Oh, what had I forgotten?

Teaching is a joy. Seeing comprehension dawn on a frustrated student's face is wondrous; seeing frustration form on a student's face is likewise painful.

Of course, let us not fail to mention the cruel pleasure of calling on a student who is being disruptive. I don't really care if students would rather read or sleep or do homework or whatever in class (if they're sleeping, maybe they're bored and I need to be more interesting, or maybe they have problems at home, or whatever; I don't know their situation), as long as they aren't disturbing the students around them.

But...beware. If you talk to your friend in class, you're next to be called on (and your friend is next after you). If you get out of your seat, you're next. If you are disruptive in any way, you're next.

I think my perverse pleasure in calling on students in that way is actually in how quickly they learn what my rule is. Often, by the end of the class that day, I will run out of people to call on (everyone remains silent, facing forward, sitting perfectly in their chairs). And that too is pleasurable, so it's two-fold.

Anyway, so in one of my first classes today, one kid is playing with a box-cutter. A box cutter like the ones purportedly used in the 9/11 attacks. (I should post my 9/11 rant in another post, but I'll probably let it slide). Anyway, this is Japan, so the possibility of a box-cutter being used as a weapon is remote (Well....), but for me it was distracting. Slide the blade out, slide the blade back in.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah, yes. So, it was near the end of class, and I think most of the students had figured out what I was doing, but there was one girl who was clearly talking to another student (behind her, so she also had to turn around to speak to them). Of course I called on her.

She gave a perfect answer, right away. Actually, a word-perfect answer. The exact answer I had in my Teacher's Edition textbook.


I walk over to her desk, and she has another textbook open. With the answers in it. I look at the JTE, who said "It's a guidebook." A guidebook that has ALL the answers in it, to every question in the textbook.

I'm trying not to judge.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah, in the next class, we taught the first-graders how to use the phrase "How Many" by playing a game^H^H^H^H^H doing an activity.
  1. Give all the students 5 small pieces of paper.
  2. Two students get together and Janken.
  3. The loser hides 0..5 pieces of paper in their hands.
  4. The loser asks "How many pieces do I have?"
  5. The winner guesses. If they're correct, they win a piece of paper and move on. If not, they just move on.
May sound boring, but it's fun enough for first-graders, and they learn "How Many", so it serves its purpose.

We also introduced new words today, including the word "Often" which brought up an interesting point.

Do you pronounce the 't'?

I pronounce it ôften, with the 't' sound, but here, they usually pronounce it ôfen, without the 't' sound. How can I explain that both are correct? English is a fun language, and since I've become an English teacher, I'm noticing more and more fun things about it.

Another example from class today:
Q: Is Carlo's host family busy?
A: Yes, they are. -or- Yes, it is.

Grammatically, the second answer is correct, but the majority of English speakers will interpret the question as: Are the member's of Carlo's host family busy? This makes the first answer correct.

The first one is the answer from the book.

Anyway, what was I talking about? (Damn lack of filter means lack of focus)

Ah, yes, why I will be posting less in the near future.

My third class for today. Let me tell you how it went.

It was for third-graders learning "How To". The JTE had a bag of Japanese items (bowl, grill, large chopstick, small cup, etc) that I didn't know the names of, or how to use. They were hidden in a bag, and I would describe them to the students, who would guess what I was talking about. Of course, I would describe them completely wrong.

"It's a small, white, ceramic cup (true), maybe for use as a watering dish for hamsters (nope)."

Then, we'd pull the item out of the bag and show it to the students, who would then tell me the Japanese name of the item.

Except, of course, we're talking about middle-school students. So, they didn't tell me the ACTUAL Japanese name of the item. Would you? Seriously?

No, they would say the name of another student, and I would dutifully repeat it, nodding wisely. Ah, yes, it's a Wataru. Everyone would laugh.

Actually, this worked great; the students stayed awake and had fun. However, it has instilled in me a determination to study Japanese more. After all, in two weeks and two days, I will be 29. And I started studying Japanese when I was 25. And I have forgotten everything I used to know.

So, instead of blogging at work, I'm going to study Japanese. And instead of blogging at home, I'm going to study Japanese. My goal is to be able to have a basic Japanese conversation, and my timetable is: One month. It's too late to have my goal be my birthday, so the new end-date is October 31st (or as we say in Japan, October 31th). Halloween.

I'll try and keep my blog updated with my progress, so leave comments (I'll probably work harder knowing I have an audience). And, since work actually ended thirty minutes ago, and I'm the only teacher left in the building, I should go home now. :)

Adventures in Japan

I love Japan. I really, really do. I think every American should get a job over here at least once in their lives. Not a career, but an adventure in Japan for a year or so.

That being said, the Japanese mentality *IS* different than the American mentality. I know I said before that they were both the same, but there are some differences.

I was reading this story on another blog (Wednesday June 23rd, 2004, you have to scroll down to it), and I see some of the same mentality at my school. It really seems to be universal for all of Japan.

A lot of the time I catch myself thinking "Is this real? Is this really happening?"

Yes, it is.

It's too bad most of my friends have never been to Japan and can't truly understand. :(

Addicted to Bash


I'm starting to believe that has been placed on the Internet by the Satan Himself.

I'm completely addicted. I can't stop reading it. I'll go to it every day and read the Latest ones, and then at least a page of random ones. I can hardly concentrate on work, and everyone in my office surely wonders about the Strange Foreigner giggling at his desk.

That being said, here's some of my current favorite quotes:

Our Father, who 0wnz heaven
I am spartacus
that's a bad ass song
whats up?

Sigh. Back to work.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Too Much Blogging

So, now that I don't have my filter, I'm going to have to start limiting how many new posts I make per day. Today, for example, I left all of my notes to post at home, and while I was here at work, I thought of 12 more items. I'm going to try to limit myself to no more than four posts a day. I'd hate to have to reinstall that filter...

So, since this is my fourth post today, let's make it count, and talk more about driving in Japan.

Of course, I haven't been everywhere in Japan, so I don't really know how the drivers are as a whole, so I will only mention the drivers here in Fukui (motto: "Worst Drivers on Planet Earth").

For example, yesterday, I was driving the speed limit (40km/h), and people were lining up behind me. Then they started passing me by pulling into on-coming traffic. I was going SO SLOW (the speed limit) that they would rather RISK THEIR LIVES than wait for me. I was actually causing more danger by going the actual speed limit than I would by speeding.

So, I sped up to 45. Then to 50. Then to 60. Understand, this whole time, they are STILL PASSING ME.

And not slowly either. I'd estimate they were going at least 20km/h faster than me, which means that they were likely going 80km/h (or more, they had to slow down when they caught up to me).

So, 80 in a 40, or twice the posted speed limit. For those not used to metric, 40km/h is about 25mph, so they were doing 50 in a 25.


Also, what reminded me of this was an incident on the way to work this morning. See, Japanese drivers are all, apparently, late for something important. This is why they tend to speed so much, and why they don't necessarily wait for the light to turn green to go. They'll wait for the cross-light to turn red, and then go.

It is the same during road construction. In places where one lane is closed, road crews set up lights at each end, with a timer. Stop for 30 seconds, then green light. The lights are timed so that after a green light turns red, they're both red for 10 seconds (so that cars already on their way can get through).

Now, as I'm driving, I see that the light up ahead is flashing green (meaning 'yellow', or about to turn red), but I was close enough that when I started past the road construction, the light was still green. I wasn't worried, because the light on the other side would stay red for 10 seconds.

Unfortunately for me, the Japanese drivers know this 10 second rule too, and they interpret it to mean "If there's less than 10 seconds on the timer, it's time to go", so what do I see? A line of cars headed my way, against the light.

You have no idea how much effort it is taking for me to refrain from either shouting or typing curses right now as I recall this incident.

Of course, who should have to back up? ME of course! Since there was only one of ME and ALL of them (the whole line decided to go against the light; in Japan, everyone works together as a team).

I was already frustrated enough due to the car behind me. I'm not saying he was tailgating, because I'm not sure if that is the correct term, but I couldn't have reported him anyway as I could not see his front license plate because he was too close. If he were any closer, though, I could have seen his BACK license plate.

So, bad day for driving this morning.

Anyway, clock on the wall says it's time to go to the BoE, so ttfn.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Don't Post while Under the Influence of SleepDep

To clear up some confusion, I wasn't Japan-Bashing with my previous post. I was just giving my opinion. You have to keep in mind that I'm a Jerk.

I still stand by my statement that Japanese are, on average, arrogant; just like Americans.

I was speaking from frustration (I flew halfway around the world to find out that everyone here is the same as everyone back home?), sleep deprivation (much like today, and by 'today' I mean 'everyday'), and without a filter.

I had my filter removed (the filter between your brain and the rest of your body that prevents you from saying what you think). I figured it was preventing me from posting to my blog. See, I write things down on scraps of paper, and tell myself that I'm going to write it up and put it on my blog. The problem is that I put so much effort into making everything I write better (part of my superiority complex) that I never got anything actually posted, or I wait so long to write it up that the actual details escape me. What is the point of keeping a blog journal if you don't actually do any journaling? Kind of defeats the purpose. If I could remember things long enough to write them up later, I wouldn't need to keep a journal in the first place.

So, I went to the doctor and had them take out my filter. I have it in a jar if I ever remember to take a picture of it.

So, now I can post every day without worrying what people think, and I get more thruput on my blog (which is good for me; less thoughts bouncing around my head to deal with), but the actual quality of the posts has declined considerably. But, without a filter, I don't care. :)

The Joys of Aging

So, tomorrow will be the two-week anniversary of my Sports-Day Sunburn, and my arms are still peeling. I remember that when I was a kid, I would get horrendous sunburns on my back and neck etc, and after a few days it would peel off and I would be fine. I don't recall it ever taking so frelling long.

Of course, it's also not peeling the same way as before. Then, it was like a snake shedding its skin, big chunks of burnt human-rinds sloughing off of me. Now, it's like my arms need Head and Shoulders.

Frankly, it's beginning to frustrate the heck out of me. I can't wear short-sleeved shirts (because the students comment on my arms when I do), and since it's still Summer here (well, I guess not technically after yesterday), that's a problem.


Why I'm Stupid

So, I stayed up too late last night, and as a result, I was dead tired this morning. So tired that I didn't pack up my laptop and bring it to school with me. The problem is, my actual work for school was in that bag. Also, my laptop. So, I have a three hour gap today with no work to do and nothing to do it with. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Fun with Math

Just for the record, for those that think being a JET is high pay for little work (it's sort of the opposite, actually).

Here's my actual pay for July: 69,230 yen (a yen is roughly equal to a cent).
Not bad, considering I wasn't working in Japan for the whole month.

Here's what they took out:
13,846 Tax
13,940 Mandatory Health Insurance
23,086 Mandatory Pension
50,872 Total
Now, the tax is theoretically refundable (haven't got that one sorted out yet, but I've only been trying for three months). The Mandatory payments are the full payments for every month, even though I was only working in Japan for the last six days of July. I thought that was tough at first, but then I heard that Japanese citizens have to make the Mandatory pension payments whether or not they are actually employed, so it's not like the US Social Security system.

So, my total, take home for 6 days work was: 18,358, which is about $30 a day, or (assuming an 8 hour day [ha!]) less than $4 an hour.

Also, bear in mind that, according to the brochure from the international office of my prefecture (which wants to present the most positive image it can), it only costs slightly more than $100 a day to live in Fukui!

Wasn't that fun?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Pictures and stuff

So, as you can see, I've restored the pictures on this site. What do you think; should I leave them up? Personally, I like the face from the British Museum in the background, but I can see how some people might find it annoying. Should I leave it alone, remove it, or at least darken it? Leave a comment and let me know.

Also, I'm working on an alternate css for people who prefer, for example, black text on a white background. Those of you who have e-mailed me to complain, e-mail me again if I forget to fix it. The links should appear somewhere on the sidebar sometime this week. Sorry, I can't be less specific then that.

Finally, (also on the sidebar) I've put up an XML feed. There was actually already an ATOM feed at (most blogger blogs have one there), but RSS format was specifically requested, so I found a converter and there you go. Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about...don't worry. It's not important.

The Internet Movie Database

Speaking of the IMDB (why I started all this on a day when I actually have work to do...), they have a policy now that bugs the heck out of me. I say 'now' instead of, for example, 'they have a new policy' because it has been in effect for a while, but it still bugs me.

It has to do with their 'Goofs' section. Here's an example:

Goofs for
"Mad About You" (1992)

Continuity: As with any long-running show there are many inconsistencies between series. Characters' life histories, their birthdays and ages are reported differently from time to time as the writers invent new stuff for them that wasn't thought of when the series began.
To me, this is akin to going to the special extras on the DVD to see: "There exist some goofs" and then not listing them. Some times are worse than others. Check out this one:

Goofs for
Core, The (2003)

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: Since almost all of the "science" in the movie is entirely erroneous, we are prepared to accept that the movie's universe *must* have entirely different rules - it's the only possible explanation. It's just for fun.
I read this one as: "There are SO many things wrong with this movie that we can't possibly list them all; not only that, but since we don't want to even have to check all the many many possible submissions, our policy is to not list any. So, don't bother sending them in; we aren't listening."

Also, the lack of information on their "movie connections" is quite frustrating.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones references Metropolis (1927)? How? It spoofs RoboCop (1987)? Where?

Why not simply require that movie connection submissions include at least a one line explanation? How hard would that be?

I love the IMDB, and it is free (thank god), I use it all the time, and tvtome and movietome are nowhere near complete enough to compete with it. But it wouldn't be much harder to make it much better.


Lisa Kudrow

I was originally going to title this post "Boring People" but that might refer to people who are boring, or it might refer to the act of actually causing people to be bored. By the time that entire thought had gone through my mind, I had forgotten what it was that I was supposed to be doing, so I titled it Lisa Kudrow instead.

Speaking of boring people, do you hate them or what? When I was in America, it was difficult for me to refrain from saying "Stop speaking. Right now."

Sometimes, I failed. Most people don't, though. Why is that?

I think people suffer thru boring conversations because they are too polite to point out to the bore that they are, in fact, being boring. I think this is a mistake on the part of those suffering.

I had a revelation today: boring people probably know that they are boring. How do I know this? Well, I know that I am boring, I just don't care.

For two years I lived in a little green cabin in the woods with very limited contact with other humans. For a long while afterward, I spoke very little to people, and very rarely about myself.

But...there is a pleasure in talking about yourself. Look at blogging for example. Most bloggers don't care if anyone reads it in the same way that most bores don't care if the listeners are suffering. The joy is in telling the story.

Also, since our experiences are limited to, well, our experiences, it is difficult to tell any story about events you witnessed without mentioning yourself. And that is the mark of a bore, constant references to oneself.

Often, I feel the urge (or need) to contribute to the conversation, but all I can think of is some remotely tangential relation to some experience of my own. I know consciously that mentioning might possibly derail the conversation (as people habitually think of their next comment while 'listening' to the current one, but if I change the topic, they're screwed). But, hey, it's MY turn to speak.

I remember this one episode of Mad About You, the first episode with Lisa Kudrow (and thus we've come full circle), back when she was a brunette, before she was a ditzy waitress. In her (I think) first appearance, she was Paul's date. Here's the part I remember.

Paul: I make movies.
Lisa: That's so weird, because I work at a bank.

One of the great advantages of living in a non-English speaking country is that I don't really have to suffer bores, and yet I still get to bore people. After all, I have a blog.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Speaking of which...

What is the deal with Japanese coffee? It's like they don't understand the concept here. They seem to be under the impression that coffee is SUPPOSED to be bitter! They have a coffee you can buy from a vending machine, advertised as EXTRA BITTER! I'm not making this up; I should take a picture of it the next time I see one.

Bitterness is what happens when coffee gets too oxidized (boiling it, burning the beans, leaving it out overnight, etc). It's not something to strive for.

They have a type of coffee here insultingly referred to as American Coffee. There's nothing American about it; it's just regular (bitter) Japanese coffee that's watered down. The idea is that American's can't handle coffee that's too strong.

Apparently, all those Japanese Tourists I saw in Seattle decided not to share their findings with the friends back home. It must be some colossal conspiracy. "Shh, shh, everyone! Listen! When we get back to Japan, let's pretend we don't know Americans are all addicted to espresso, and keep pretending that they can't handle strong coffee. It'll be funny!"

Anyway, not to get sidetracked again, but what is the deal with Japanese thinking that they're better than everyone at everything? Kaori picked out a bag of chips the other day that she described as "very hot". Actually, they were mildly hot, emphasis on mildly. I can only infer that the Japanese don't share our traditions of chili cook-offs with chili so spicy hot that it paralyzes your vocal cords (possibly so that you can't ask for seconds, thereby saving your life).

The's I feel completely at home here.

Sigh. Back to work again.

Why I lack Culture Shock.

There is a lull at work right now (the first appearance of that fabled 'free-time'), and since my list of blog topics is at home, I'll have to come up with something new. So, I decided to investigate the reason why I have yet to feel any Culture Shock. In fact, it often feels like I'm still in America.

I've figured it out: it is because I'm hard of hearing. That's right, being hard of hearing is the cure for Culture Shock.

"But wait," you may protest, "aren't you forgetting all of the obvious differences around you, that scream out that you're not in Kansas anymore?"

To that I say, what differences? The main difference would have to be the language, right? Well, body language is pretty similar over here, and since I haven't been able to hear very well for years, I'm accustomed to not understanding the words people say. But I can pretty much tell what someone means from their body language.

To anyone who thinks that the large number of, say, Asian people, vs the small number of, for example, anyone else would be the biggest difference. Such a person is drastically over-estimating my ability to actual distinguish differences between ethnicities (my African American History teacher would be upset to hear that. "I'm proud to be black," he would say. "I'm sorry, I'm color-blind." "That's an insult!" "No, it's a lack of cones in my eyes."). Actually, one of the many high schools I attended was in San Jose California, and I swear that the dominant nationality at that high school was Japanese. And, I basically came to Japan directly after graduating from EWU, which has a large Asian (especially Japanese) population, due to the AUAP partnership. So, it's pretty much like America, with less Americans. And that doesn't seem like a bad thing to me right now. :)

As for the food, well, it's not as big of an adjustment as I thought. Squid, for example, is basically the same taste and texture as McDonald's "chicken" McNuggets. Seriously. So, except for the fact that many foods come with seaweed, or green tea, or both, it's quite similar.

Speaking of food, to go off on a tangent for a moment, the odd things are missing here. There's no Ranch dressing. In America, where we have literally HALF an aisle dedicated to all the different types of Ranch dressing, to come here, where there is NONE (all of the other dressings seem to be present and accounted for)...that's the closest I've come to culture shock. I saw a recipe for ranch dressing the other day. Hooray! I thought. Directions: Start with a package of Ranch dressing mix... :( Actually, there's a tasty dressing I use here made from mixing mayo with soy sauce (similar to 1000 island, mixing mayo with ketchup). It's not bad, and I always have mayo and soy sauce. Of course, the mayo is different here (closer to miracle whip). Where was I?

Ah, yes, killing time at work, so I can go home and take a nap, or play KoTOR. Or, actually, now that I've remembered it, go to the Board of Education because it's Friday, and I'm not done working. Sigh.

Anyway, lack of culture shock. You know what else I haven't experienced? What about that wonderful immersion into a foreign language giving me the ability to chat with the locals? Hasn't kicked in yet, perhaps for the same reason I lack culture shock (hard of hearing), but also because you don't need to be able to speak Japanese at all here. I rarely have trouble being understood at the supermarket or whatever. You can totally get by in Japan with just English and a smile. :)

Anyway, I'll have to try to remember to post something here when I've had more than 3 hours of sleep followed by a full work day, as at the moment I'm having difficulty thinking about anything besides coffee. Mmmmm....coffeeeeee.....

Saturday, September 11, 2004


"Someone help me. I'm still alive only I'm very badly burned. Hello out there. Anyone. Can someone call an ambulance, I'm in quite a lot of pain."

So, yesterday was Sports Day at Higashi. I am fair-skinned, there was a lot of the math. Long story short: I am extremely sunburned today, so there will likely be a delay for new posts as I recover.

That is all.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Nishi School Festival

Akamatsu sensei tells me that some students want to ask me a question. I say, sure. My spidey sense should have been tingling.

The students are going to sing "Top of the World." They want me to evaluate their performance. I say, sure.


Ah, more information. The students want me to come up on stage. 'To better hear them?' I wonder.


Ah, more information. The students want me to sing with them. O_o I inform them that, regrettably, I cannot sing. They seem to understand.


It's time. A student comes down and escorts me to the stage. "Where shall I stand?" "In the center."

But, then I would be in front of the singers. In the center of the stage.


the head student comes up and in one deft motion gives me the lyrics and snatches away my excuses. Sigh. Apparently, they want me to LEAD them in the song.


The awful truth about singing in Japan:
It really doesn't matter if you can't sing. I really can't sin, but neither could the head student, and he'd been practicing.

The head student announced that if everyone did well (according to, apparently, my judgment), they would get a prize of candy. Well, now. That pretty much solves my question of what to say; now I have to say they did well or I'm the bad-guy.

Anyway, I sang, and was complimented afterward. Which, if you've ever had the misfortune to hear me sing, boggles the mind.

Other highlights so far:
A love drama staring two boys (one in a skirt).

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Copied and Pasted

Well, I copied and pasted the old posts from American JET in Japan, so expect some weird time and space displacement around here, which I have no immediate intention to correct. It's going to happen again when I get around to posting my notes up till now.

Also, sadly, all comments were lost. Therefore, in order to be a responsible citizen, it is YOUR duty (yes, I'm talking to YOU) to replace the lost comments with new ones.

*Notice the apostrophe. I brought my laptop to school. :) My laptop, by the way, has developed cracks in the hinges. Sigh. If I was set up properly, I could post pictures of the cracks, so you could see.

Once I get internet at home....soon....soon....

Monday, September 06, 2004

The timezones, they are a-changin'

Just updated the timezone setting on blogger, and now the times for some of the posts are messed up. Live with it.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Fine, one more.

OK, so I figured, as long as I am at work but not working, and messing around on the blog, I will go check out what is new at

Just a warning: Do not try to read while you are at work. It is a bad idea.

I think my co-workers thing I am crazy. "What is he giggling about?" they no-doubt wonder. Anyway...

What a world, what a world...

So, it is now SEPTEMBER, and I am in Japan (and I have been here for a month and a half) and I STILL DO NOT HAVE INTERNET AT HOME. I want to update my blog, and have actually been keeping notes on my adventures here, but as I cannot consider blogging a work-related activity (not to mention the difficulty of Japanese keyboards, note the lack of apostrophes in this post), I am confining myself to this single post to say: