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. A real life Fukushima JET.

 

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Well let's see, the trip. Most of it is not really worth giving the play by play action since we just toured the hot spots of Japan, many of which I have already been to so I have pictures. There were a few places we went to that were new for me such as the Tobu World Village near Nikko which has 1/25 scale replicas of 10 World Heritage Sites around the world. That was really cool. Pictures will be delayed since I had to use a disposable camera. Why you ask?

For some reason, when I was holding the camera in my hand, I just dropped the camera. The memory card popped out and flew behind the train wheel. I told the conductor, but they have some policy that prohibits them from getting near the wheels when a train is in the station. So we went and I had to buy a camera. That was aggravating. What's worse is Renee, who had a super nice digital camera, took several pictures and accidentally erased them all later. The little village had some really cool things such as the World Trade Center and the Taj Mahal as well as the pyramids in Egypt. I will add the pictures when I get the pictures developed.

Other than that nothing was really eventful. Well apart from the fiasco at the World Expo in Aichi. Oh dear God, that was such an aggravating day mainly because of having to deal with Japanese logic.

First we spend about $10 just getting there from the station. Fine. Then we have to pay $50 for tickets. Ok whatever. Then they give me some little card that holds the key to all life on it. Well it was just an e-ticket, but I lost it and apparently it was irreplaceable. When I asked about it, it was the strangest thing in the world to the people. They had never heard of someone losing something and wanting it replaced. Ok fine no card, which means I can't make reservations to get into places I have to wait in the long lines. Ok, my fault I can live with it.

All we wanted to do was:

A) See the 25,000 year old Mammoth
B) See the Toyota Robots
C) See the unmanned buses.
D) Check out some of the country pavilions.

So we get to the Toyota Pavilion with the robots around noon. They are now accepting reservations for the 8pm show. WHAT THE &#*%? I can't even see it until 8? Mark that off the list. Then we go to the Mammoth building. We have to come back at 3 and get in line. Ok. Then we walk around and see some of the country pavilions. That was pretty cool since that's about as close to Saudi Arabia as I will ever get. I'll add those pictures shortly. Then we find the buses that are remote controlled and use magnets in the ground to guide them. They cost $2 to ride. Well that's stupid since they are part of the inner park transportation, but ok. They take us all the way across the park. Now we are at the far side and decide to ride the sky chair gondola things back. These are $6 a person. Seriously, this is like Six Flags charging money to ride the sky chairs across the park. $6 a person. Oh I forgot I am still in Japan, nothing has to make sense. Every time something like this happens I start singing the Black Eyed Peas song "Let's Get Retarded".

We get back and go to the severely overpriced World Food Park where I paid $20 for some curry that didn't come near filling me up. Now it's 2:05 so we start to head for the place since Japanese people LOVE to wait in line I knew it would start early. It had apparently started around noon since it was already 500 meters long and 4 people wide. We only walked a short distance until we were at the back of the line. Ok, fine, whatever. Let's wait. This better be good. We waited until 3 and at exactly 3 the line started moving quickly. It took us about 5-7 minutes to get to the front of the line where.....

They hand us some stupid #&@*%# ticket that says, guess what....What might it say? COME BACK AT 4 AND WAIT IN LINE AGAIN.

 

 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

 

No they were not. So we wasted more time and checked out other country pavilions, which in the end, was the only thing I can say I enjoyed about the day. Finally at 4 we came back and we formed another line. We waited in this line for about 15 minutes, until we were allowed to go into the Blue Pavilion and then guess what? We formed another line. This time we were inside a small room with about 500 people. The room was dark with some odd projections hitting hanging glass all over the place. We stood there, burning up for another 15 minutes. Why were we so hot? It was cold outside, we must have heat, make fire, fire make us warm, sloth love chunk. But everyone was already wearing their coats. So heavy coats + small room + 500 people + the heat on high = a room that was hot as ####. This was 15 minutes after everyone was completely in the room. Finally some little movie thing started explaining about the history of lasers.

Lasers? Were we in the wrong room? We just want to see the old Mammoth. We watched the movie thing for 10 minutes and then they let us into this room with the biggest movie screen I had ever seen. No kidding it was 50 meters wide which is about 150 feet. It was the usual height, but so wide. It was a special new HDTV projection and I will admit the images looked like they were actually right there. It was crystal clear. But it didn't have anything to do with the old elephant. It was a big Sony commercial, everything there was a big commercial in some way. Finally it's over and we can exit and see the Mammoth, but not until we......

Wait in another line. This one took about 30 minutes. We would move forward about 10 feet then stop for a few minutes. Over and over. Finally we get to the last part. As we approach the 25,000 year old Mammoth that still has some skin around his head, we find we are on a moving walkway. It zips us past the area in about 20-30 seconds. We stood in line for over 2 hours to see the Mammoth for less than 30 seconds. That is such typical Japan.

I can understand the reservation system, although they should have let people just see the Mammoth whenever, but for the life of me I cannot in any way shape or form understand why we stood in line for nearly an hour to get a ticket that said come back at 4. They could have handed them out while we were in line, or when people came up and asked about it, or in any of 100 other ways that would make perfect sense. But they told people to wait in line. Those people at the front were there since noon, just waiting. Standing 5 feet from the people with these tickets. What was the reason for that? Just give them the damn tickets. I was so furious at that moment. I wanted to just explode. So here are the pictures from the 2005 Aichi World Expo.

Later today I will go to school and meet the new teachers and clean the teachers room. After that I will come back home and watch more movies. I think Liz and I will get together and do something. I think she will buy me Indian food since she said she wanted to go and I said I would love to but I couldn't afford it. I will give them the books on India I picked up at the 2005 AWE since they are all in Japanese and do me no good. For the record the Saudi Arabia pavilion had books in several languages.

Why does steaming Broccoli smell so bad?

[later]

I read this online somewhere and it struck me as funny:

an email from god!

To: People of Earth
From: God
Date: 21/03/2005
Subject: Stop

knock it off, all of you

seriously, what the hell

-- God
 

So yea, got a laugh out of it. Well I went in today around 10:55 and they were still in a meeting. Finally around 11:10 they finished and we started cleaning the teacher's room. Apparently this year is the year of cute new teachers, because I saw about 2 guys and 5 or so cute teachers, one of which is the new English teacher. I've come to realize I have a weak spot for Japanese women in black, especially black slacks. Well that's out now.

I had one goal today as we moved the desks around. My desk sticks out past a bookshelf which means it juts out into the walkway a bit. Only about 6 inches, but still most people walk by and hit my desk. Just a little thing really. My goal was to move my desk so it wouldn't stick out. I spent over an hour manipulating things and moving things around to make sure it was even with the bookshelf. Finally we were done and it was even. Then the teacher beside me, Hiraki sensei who I really like, remembered she had another little desk extension type thing that went beside her desk. I convinced everyone to compensate by moving the desks the other way to fill the gap. I did this by pulling my desk way out into the walkway and saying "oh no, maybe too much". So all the teachers moved their desks down the other way, but the desk still wouldn't fit. Not until I moved my desk 8 inches into the walkway, as opposed to 6. Well there you go. The best laid plans of mice and men....

Do mice actually make plans? Where did that even come from? I mean I know it came from the book "Of Mice and Men" but when Steinbeck was writing it, why was the quote "best laid plans of mice...." used? I doubt mice make plans to find cheese and what not. Do mice even like cheese? I don't know if they do. One of those food connections is a myth, maybe rabbits and carrots or mice and cheese or something.

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

Well my Friday and Saturday plans were cancelled because Liz has a headache. But I have backup Saturday plans to go to a Gyoza party with some friends. I don't really have the money to go, but I will go to see my friends and maybe not eat much. We'll see.

Since my Saturday day plans were cancelled I stayed inside, on this beautiful day, and worked on some trip updates. So far I have Osaka and Kyoto. I am adding some pictures to my Himeji Castle page as we speak, or as I type rather (assuming you are reading this around 1pm on Saturday, Japan time). As usual, any picture I take, unless otherwise noted, is free to download and use for any purpose. There's no stupid copyright and dumb statement in all caps declaring all photos are my sole property. Man I am not a professional photographer. These took about 1 second to take and they aren't all that great. You need one for a presentation or clip art or anything, just take it. Let me know if you have time, but if not, I don't care. So many sites are just silly about that. One site from a guy in Japan even digitally watermarked his pictures. Man, what an arrogant ass.

I'm still working on the rest of the photos and will upload them as soon as I make more picture pages. DAMN. I did it again. Now I am singing that song. Bill Cosby's Picture Pages. Luckily I am listening to the Black Eyed Peas so the song-urge is not that bad, but my brain is fighting my ears to sing the Picture Pages song. Ok I will add some photos to the Asakusa page now since there are not many on that page for some reason. Here are some that don't fit in any category, so to speak:

Kabukicho, Tokyo

A nice shot of Shinjuku, Tokyo. The part on the right is the edge of Kabukicho the red light district.

A cool building base.

A cool clock in a Shinjuku building.

Engrish from Shinjuku Japan

It truly was an extraordinary bus stop. One I will never forget.

Moving floor escalator in Ueno Tokyo

Is it an escalator or a moving sidewalk?
Maybe it's an escalatidewalk, or a movalator.

Engrish typo on sign

ATTENTION: All Possengers, the red zone is for immediate loading or unloading only.

 

I also added some pictures to my page on the Imperial Palace. Then I added a page about Tou-Chou, the Tokyo Metropolitan Building. The photos there command a nice view. Speaking of that, we went somewhere that was tall, oh in Osaka at the information booth. I asked the lady what spots she recommended and she said:

"You should go to the Osaka Umeda Building. It really commands a nice view. Once you have finished commanding a nice view, then you will want to......". It was technically correct, just wrong and funny. It's like "that place has tasty treats you can enjoy, once you have finished enjoying the tasty treats....". Anyway, back to the photos. [moments later] I just checked and I think that's all the updates. I list them out in an easy to digest manner.

Osaka  ::  Kyoto  ::  2005 Aichi World Expo  ::  Himeji Castle  ::  Asakusa  ::  Bill Cosby's Picture Pages  ::  Tou-Chou  ::  Imperial Palace

Well that's about it for me I guess. I should really work on my resume in Japanese for the job I want in August. I've already written a statement of purpose, but I need to get it translated, and then I need to get my resume translated as well. First I am going to make a massive backup of this entire site.

[later]

Well I went to the Gyoza party and it worked out cheaper than I thought. An old friend Corrinn, who worked in Fukushima City 3 years ago was in town visiting and the party was for her as well as Emiko, who I think has a beautiful face. Overall she's beautiful, but her face in general is really pretty to me. When it was time to pay at the gyoza party I pulled out $20 and Corrinn said no she would pay for me. I didn't understand why, but she explained 2 years ago I helped her move after she helped me move. She promised us she would buy sushi for dinner, but some friends came over so she didn't. No big deal, but she said she felt bad about that for 2 years so she paid for my dinner. Wow, strange, but cool I can dig it.

So two strange things happened tonight/today. 2nd thing was after gyoza we went to Karaoke, and I took some photos. But at Karaoke, it was really hot in the small room so I sarcastically said "can they please turn the heat up it's not quite hot enough in here". Since there is no sarcasm in Japan, they actually turned the heat up. Finally it was explained and they turned the A/C on.

The 1st thing that happened was I was cleaning my apartment around mid-afternoon. Someone knocked on the door. I yelled, in Japanese, "just a minute". So they knocked again. Fair enough, they probably can't hear me. So I went to the door and yelled it again. They rang the bell again and knocked again. I opened the door just slightly and said it again, still in Japanese. As soon as I closed the door that was only slightly opened, they rang again. I opened the door again and said it louder and definitely clearly. I was in a shirt and underwear. Again, door closes bell rings. I open it more and said "just a minute just a minute just a minute" loud and clear and in his face. Guess what happened? Door closed bell rang. I opened it completely, in my semi-long t-shirt, and looked him in the eyes and said "JUST A MINUTE" in Japanese. You'll never guess what happened......

I totally flipped out. Completely 100% went insane. There was no cultural excuse for this. I was livid. I opened the door and just started making noises. I can't even write the noises because they aren't spell-able. It was a mixture of a mad pig and a rabid dog. I couldn't make a sentence I was so furious. Just stop ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door for 10 seconds so I can put some pants on. No, that's not what they are taught. You keep ringing and knocking until someone answers or until 10 minutes passes. I was just standing there making this angry pig noise and waving at him to leave. I couldn't think straight. Just leave you idiot, go away from here. I was so fed up with Japanese culture for a minute.

Then oddly, I shut the door, put on pants and went back to the door. I guess my brain just overloaded for a minute and then went back to normal. I'll upload some of the pictures tomorrow, I am tired and a bit tipsy now.

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

Well my plans for today fell through also. I had planned on working on a website, but I needed to download a program for it. So I went to download it, and it said it could be downloaded instantly, but they have to manually verify something so it won't actually be instantly. It will be more like "laterly or eventually". Argh. Well I managed to add photos of the gyoza night last night. Not sure what I will do today now. Liz still has some headache of sorts and I am still broke so I can't really leave town or the apartment actually. Last night worked out cheaper than it should have so I have a little bit left, but I was hoping to not spend that much at all. I really shouldn't have gone to Karaoke with them, but I love the social scene and there were new people there. I am doing fairly good though. Last week I spent less than $30 on food. So I still have a little left. I can make it through this week on less than $30 as well, but I will have to borrow money after that. Plus this weekend is half price pizza at Pizza Hut, but I can probably get Liz to pay.

I wrote a letter to the editor of the English daily newspaper. It was about how Japan tourism is low, but Japan is wasting a huge resource they already have in place. There are 6,000 JETs and at least that many private teachers at places like NOVA, Geos, Aeon, and so on. So there are at least 12,000 foreigners in Japan with friends and family who want to come visit and be toured around Japan. I just did this with a friend from Georgia. But I can't do it again for a long time. I spent over $1,800 and my friend even paid for a few things. I was as thrifty as possible, but there's just no cheap way to travel. If Japan Railways would let us use the rail pass then I would do it again, but not otherwise. So because travel is too high for us we can't invite all our friends over to travel around. They are losing tourist because of their own rigidity. If they could just be flexible on this one thing....

Monday, April 4th, 2005

Apparently there was a big earthquake today, but I sure didn't feel it. It was mentioned as hitting Fukushima on CNN.com http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/04/03/japan.quake/index.html but I sure don't remember it. Well I guess that depends on when it actually hit. I do recall an earthquake-like feeling sometime this weekend, but it was brief. It was so insignificant I don't even remember when, I just remember thinking "I wonder if that was a quake or just me losing my balance. Oh wait, I read the article and it said 2:57am local time. Maybe I woke up briefly and couldn't tell if it was real or part of a dream. That happens a lot.

I've been snoring recently and I don't know why. I mean I know I snore occasionally, but recently I've been snoring while I was semi-awake. I would be watching TV and start to relax and breathe deeper and I feel my nose switch over to snore mode. It's really strange.

Well it's finally getting a bit warmer. Not quite enough for me to sleep with the patio door open, which I really like. But enough for me to wear my Emory University jacket that my sister gave me. I like it for a few reasons. One it's a nice wind breaker that fits well and looks sharp. Two, it says Emory and implies I went there. When people ask if I "WENT" to Emory, I say a firm and truthful YES. If they leave it at that I drop it since that is a factual statement. If they pursue the matter I tell them I "WENT" to Emory to see my sister graduate with her 3 or 4 degrees. Technically I did "go" to Emory for that purpose. If they were to say "did you attend classes at Emory and graduate with a degree from Emory?", I would have to say either NO, or YES and then mumble "I'm lying" under my breath.

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

Had a shorter than usual day. I went in around 11 which was later than planned, but I do nothing this week so what's the point. Then around 1 a teacher told me they had a 2 hour meeting and needed to lock the teacher's room so I should leave. So I left. As soon as I got home Michelle called and asked if I had eaten lunch. I had, but I figured she was out on the town showing her mom around, who came to visit for her surgery, so I said ok. We went to the okonomiyaki place that joyfully anounces "pon papa pon" when people enter the restaurant. It's the alleged sound of a Tanuki hitting his stomach. A Tanuki is like a raccoon dog. A JET Tanuki is a Dave Hoffman, an old college buddy and ex-Fukushima JET now living married in Okinawa.

So we did that then headed to Yamaya which has a lot of foreign foods, which is good since it is a foreign food store. Then I came home and worked on a computer project I am currently working on. Then around 8 I felt really sleepy and cold so I got in bed just to heat up. I wake up, wide awake, at 10:30. Now it's just past midnight and I am not sleepy. I don't know where that came from or why I woke up so early. I thought it was around 5am when I rolled over since it was dark and I felt rested. Then I see my clock and it's 22:34. Well poo.

Well apparently I have nothing else to write now. That sounded like "right now". Which is true also, right now I have nothing else to write now. Wow I am hardcore babbling. I am listening to an old Metallica song and the lyrics go "all I hear is pain and laughter, laughing at my cries", but I thought they said "laughing at my thighs". Yea, I have reached a low point in babbling. I'm going to stop now.

Thursday, April 7th, 2005

Usual spring break week so far. Going in late and leaving early. All that stops tomorrow as school starts again and I need to be on time and leave at 4:30 as usual. Yesterday the new cute teacher gave me a fax from the devil school. She asked if I had any questions and I said no since they sent faxes all last year as well. Then she gave me a sheet to stamp that I need to do before I go to traveling schools. I've been over this before, it's the typical Japan over-paper work, but it was odd that she was doing it. As it turns out she is my new supervisor. Well that's cool. But also I am a bit sad, because when I leave I expect some problems, mainly with the school being really rigid about things and me simply not putting up with it. So I don't want to take that out on her, but we will see what happens.

So she talks to me for a minute and I get her cell phone email so I can let her know if there are problems such as me being sick or something. She asks what I want to do next year and I tell her about the Junior High School position I am applying for. Then she asks what I want to do during the summer break, since the new job doesn't force people to sit in a teacher's room staring at the wall. I tell her I am either going to take an intensive Japanese class or go to India. When she asks why I will go to India the fun starts. Here's the conversation, it was in English and Japanese:

Her: What will you do in the summer?
Me:
I want to go to India for a few weeks.
Her: Why?
Me:
Kenka shimasu.
Her: What? Why would you do that?
Me:
 I would like to go to India, what's wrong?
Her: You shouldn't do that. Kenka shimasu is not a good idea.
Me:
I know some Indians and they said I should visit.
Her: But you shouldn't kenka shimasu, that's a bad idea.
Me:
No, no my Indian friends will take me places and help me kenka.

Well it went on for another minute until I realized she was greatly over-reacting to my desire to sightsee. Then she asked me how to say Kenka Shimasu in English and I told her sightseeing. She laughed and said Kanko Shimasu. As you can see Kenka and Kanko are different words. One means to sightsee, the other means to fight. She thought I was going there to start random fights with Indians.

Later in the day I was working on my resume which needs to be all in Japanese. I am having a friend translate the statement of purpose to Japanese. So I wanted to work on the resume and do as much as I could. I was looking up words and using the kanji I found for headers like "profile. experience, education, skills" and what not. The first thing to note about Japanese resumes is they are usually handwritten. That way the employers can see your handwriting. Mine is crap so I am not doing that. The other thing is they have info like marital status, age, sex, nationality, and best of all.....blood type.

I'm ok with all of that. So I write it all out then I type it out and finally I am working on the translation. I do profile and experience and education. Then I look up "skill" and there are a few to choose. I write one down and have a teacher look over it. She starts giggling and I know something it up. Then she shows another teacher, since Japanese people do everything in groups, and the other teacher starts giggling. The second teacher makes a gesture like a body builder might with the arms and the chest. Hmm, that was odd. Then a male teacher joins in and laughs while putting his right hand on his hip and pointing his left arm in the air.

ALRIGHT, I GET IT, I SCREWED UP THE CHARACTER. What does it mean? It means I have superhuman powers. I wrote the kanji for superhuman powers. Well that might actually have been alright since teachers do need superhuman powers sometime. So I marked that off and put it to rest for a while. I need to finish working on that by the weekend I think. I would like to officially apply by the end of April I think.

Friday, April 7th 2005

Friday we had two ceremonies. The first was quick, just the 2nd and 3rd years being welcomed back. The second one was longer, like 2 hours. Only because ceremonies in Japan have to be stretched out as long as possible. First all the kids came in one by one bowing to the principal as they entered. Then there was bowing to various people. Then each student's name was called and each one yelled "HAI" and stood up. That got so boring I timed it. It took about 2.5 minutes per class so just over 20 minutes total. Then more long speeches, none of which I fully understood. Then finally they left, again one by one with bowing.

In between the ceremonies I worked on my superhuman resume a bit more. But I think I am going to stop doing it, I am taking two steps back for any progress I make. Here are some examples of kanji I wrote and then had checked, see if you can figure out the meanings:

Side of my face

Time of entering puberty

Shogun marriage to Imperial family

Ship's country of registration


I don't know how I got all these mixed up, but I should put down "ability to crack up the teacher's room without trying to". They are supposed to be profile, age, martial status, and home country respectively. My friend translated the Statement of Purpose already, so I just need the resume done. Eriko is coming over later so I will get her to help me a little. She can at least tell me what kanji don't belong on a resume. When she hits the floor laughing I will mark that one off the list.

After school on Friday I walked to the bus stop. On the way I talked to various nervous new students. I talked in Japanese so they wouldn't be as nervous. I was asking one kid various questions in Japanese and his mom was translating. Well I guess she was just repeating them maybe his ears were so delicate they could not hear the ghastly sounds of a foreigner. But I would say something, she would repeat it to him, he would answer to me, and she would repeat it to me. I just ignored her basically, but was nice about it.

Later that night Liz came over and we had pizza and watched some video tapes I had. We decided to climb Shinobu mountain the next day (Saturday) and to go by a fabric store for her to look at quilt material or something. It was about 10 and she was tired so I suggested she just crash on the couch, which she did.

Saturday, April 9th, 2005

Well this was an interesting day. We woke up and ate leftover pizza for brunch then we fixed by pansy bike's back tire and went off looking for the fabric store. Finally we found it and she took pictures of several quilt fabrics for some reason. I wasn't really paying attention at this point.

Then we headed to Shinobu mountain for the purpose of exploring / climbing it. There were only two things I really wanted to see and we managed to. First we rode around the road near the base. At some point we saw a cool Buddha statue on a rock, then a bit behind it another one, and another off in the distance.

** Click Here for the pictures and story about Shinobu Mountain. **
All the pictures made this page way too big to download.

Overall it was a fun day. She let me borrow some money (and paid for the pizza). We had Indian food that night and then she went home. I came back and worked on various projects, one I will announce soon. It's about learning Japanese. The other, also about that, is my 2nd book that I am still working on. I have plans for 2-3 more to come out soon, maybe this year. I have ideas for about 5 others, but they are still ideas.

Monday, April 11th, 2005

Woke up at usual time around 7:15. Checked email at 7:25am. Felt a large earthquake that shook everything for a solid minute. Took a shower and then went to school.

[later]

Today was the day the 2nd and 3rd year students tried to convince the new students to join their clubs. All the students were in the gym and the senpai (upperclass) would get on stage and do club skits or something stupid to get people to join. The volleyball club hit balls around, the badminton club hit petcocks around, the Judo club judo-ed on stage. The soccer club, who made it all the way to the national finals 3 years in a row, didn't make a presentation. The English club talked about me and our meetings. At least I heard all this and that's what usually happens. I stayed in the teacher's room working on something. I have seen it in the past and have moved on.

Later in the day all the classes came into the teacher's room for a tour by their homeroom teacher. They walked around and things were pointed out. They all looked at me and smiled. Some even said hello. they would make a big deal about it. I could see them giggling and then when they got to me they would say "hello" and break out laughing. Not really a big deal, but maybe it was to them.

When I got home, or well after I got home, I called the guy in charge of the Koriyama program and talked to him for a minute. He had some good things to say. He said they were really looking for someone to teach at this one small village school, the one I really wanted. I told him I had been interested until I was told they wanted a female teacher. He said that was because there were two apartments. One in the city of Koriyama, a 40 minute drive to the school, and one by the school which was in a female only teacher's building. He is going to check on that tomorrow and let me know. It's a middle school and an elementary school, which is what I wanted. Plus it's not in the big city, which means it's not big city kids (read punks). He and the girl there now said the school is great, which is what I want. I don't like punk kids, especially when there is no disciplinary consequence.

In the school system here, the teachers and administration can't do anything. Students know they can't get kicked out very easily and sometimes they flaunt that. It's aggravating often. What I hate the most is the group of kids in the class that want to learn, but are overshadowed by the loud punks.

So anyway, I'm really happy about that now. I think the interview will go well, well I hope it does. If it does there should be no problem. Well the only problem, which is not actually a problem, is I will be required to get a driver's license. Which will just be a hassle, but not a problem. It will actually be a lot easier on me, though I really didn't want to drive on Japan. But it will make getting around a whole lot easier. Then I will have to buy a car which is an expense I was hoping to avoid, but again, it will make life much easier.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

3:07am Mental note. The new coffee flavored soy milk at the grocery store tastes like actual coffee because it contains actual coffee and apparently actual caffeine as well. For future reference, drinking the entire container at 10pm, even though it's so yummy, is not the best idea.

 

[later]

I think I had the worst, at least rudest, bus driver in Japan. He would take off fast from a stop and there were several people standing, including me. Even worse, he would not look ahead more than 10 feet and slam on the brakes if traffic lights turned yellow. Even if we were right on top of them. With several people standing it was a rough ride. The real kicker, was he did things I didn't think the bus would do. For example a few times he started moving, while honking the horn and buzzing the door sound with the door still open and people running to the open moving door. I really didn't think buses could move with the back door open.

At one point we stopped and a woman gets on. Then the driver is trying to close the door but it won't for some reason. So he tries and tries and finally gets on the speaker and tells the people in the back to remove anything from near the door. Then he tries some more. Finally he gets up and walks back and tells a woman, to her face, to move an umbrella hanging in front of the sensor. She apologizes and picks it up. He turns and starts walking back to the front of the bus. She completely resets her complicated brain and finds herself holding an umbrella. Well this won't do, I need to hang it somewhere, how about here on this rail? BUZZER. The driver comes back and picks up the umbrella and carries it to the front.

Then I get to school. I took an earlier bus which is why I had not seen that old man driver before. I set up my computer and see I have a package of mail from my parents with a video tape of something, probably Alias or Arrested Development, my favorite show these days. The teacher's meeting comes and goes while I am flipping through a TV Guide about the life of Johnny Carson. Then a short homeroom, and finally first period. I leaned over and asked Hiraki sensei, the teacher next to me now and my old supervisor (old as in ex-) if she can help me when she has time. She says ok and then asks with what.

I said I needed help with my rirekisho (ree ray key show), which means resume or CV (British English). I was mixing Japanese and English, which is what caused the problem as usual. I should really pick one and stick to it for the duration of a sentence. She asked why I had an erection. As soon as I picked my jaw up from the floor I blushed a bit (which is rare) and said I don't...er I wasn't...with the wait.....it's gotta be your bull. I repeated it slower ri-re-ki-sho. She laughed and said I said it too fast and in Japanese and she thought it was English. She wondered why I wanted to have an eLection. When she pronounced the L sound it came out as an L. Whew, that sure woke me up this morning.

I had two classes and they were both fun. I did my entertaining intro and made them laugh as usual. That's a good feeling. Then I cut up while the Japanese teacher was doing some stuff. It was small things like bumping someone's arm while they are writing kanji. Then apologizing, but doing it again. Then I made jokes about how things sound in Japanese. It was a good time with high energy. I really have the maturity of a high school kid, maybe younger, which works great in most situations here.

After school we had the day when students choose their club activity. For English club we had about 8 people show up, which is a good number. One was even a boy, that was a first for me. He really wants to practice English and I think he will come by to talk to me on various occasions. That's fine and I hope he keeps it up all three years. I took their names and gave them my email and my cell phone info so they can send me messages or call me. We made plans for what all we would do for my last three months. We are going to get those annoying little thumbnail sized photos made. I mean an actual thumbnail. The nail on my thumb. We are also going to go to Karaoke sometime, though I should take a female friend chaperone for that as well. Maybe we can combine English clubs and meet somewhere. Other than that we will play some games and do some activities. It should be fun.

Then I stayed late and had Hiraki sensei translate more of my resume. She read over the first part and said it all sounded good and then translated the last few parts. This is a really big trust thing for me since most of it is in kanji. I'm the type of guy that would do something like writing "I enjoy riding zebras naked while having pecan pies flung at me by clowns wearing knickers". She may have written that, I just looked at it smiled. Maybe she is smiling now at home laughing, but she's nice and honest so I doubt it. It would be good payback though. When I first got here and we all got our fancy new mobile phones I would send messages to friends and right in the middle I would write something in kanji. The message would be like "Hey man do you still have that [kanji]". Of course they couldn't read it so most everyone would turn to a teacher and say "what is this?". It would be things like "please call me precious magic" or "you are ugly" or "my cell phone is better than you silly clown man". I managed to do that a few times until people started catching on. Good times.

Friday, April 15th, 2005

I felt bad today. My new nice cute supervisor went to a big effort of tracking down an Elementary school job application for me. But it is one that I have already decided against, because it is working for the state government in a JET situation like now. So all the things I hate about the job would still be there. I would have to sit and do nothing all day when students aren't there, same money, and same lack of vacation time, as well as same stinginess about time off. She went to a lot of effort and I really appreciated it, but I don't want to have anything to do with the baboon monkey drunk donkey clown circus any more.

The good news is she mentioned in passing something about her boyfriend. That seems like bad news, but she is really nice and cute and now that she has mentioned she is taken I won't think about that anymore. Well I will think about it, but it will stay in Ryan's World where anything can happen and I won't let it into reality world, which is much less fun. Plus I might still be dating Eriko. We get together about once a week sometimes two weeks and have dinner or a drink and that's about it. I could date two or three people at once probably.

So today I was supposed to have 3 classes, but somehow it will be only one. Yesterday somehow I had no classes. Either way I've already had more classes than I had during January, February, and March. Next week I have a full load of three per day, and they are with the 2nd year students so no intros. The 1st years are going to some 3 day retreat for intense studying. It didn't make much sense when explained, but we are still in Japan so it doesn't have to. I gave one intro today and the teacher almost ruined it. First she told me to do it all in English. That sounds logical, being an English class, but it is impossible. Half my intro has Japanese jokes and play on words. Some things I can't even say in English. But I watered the Japanese down and she was happy. Then she started doing it for me. She said "His name is Ryan, and his last name is..." I stopped her and said I will do it from there. I start my intro out with laughter by telling them my father is the president of McDonald's. They believe it for a minute since anyone with that name MUST be related to the company. They don't figure out if he was I wouldn't be here. Then I tell them I am joking and they erupt with laughter.

So now it's 11:00 am on Friday and I have no more classes. I have things to do on the computer which includes writing things and watching movies. I have some music to listen to and some crossword puzzles. I'm listening to Rage Against The Machine now, and I just heard the line "who controls the past now, controls the future, who controls present now, controls the past". I just realized that is a line from the Ministry of Truth and 1984. Cool.

Well tonight we are going to Shinobu mountain to look at the Cherry Blossoms. There is a night thing they do in the park during the blooming times where they shine lights up on the trees. It's rather festive and we usually go and sit and sip sake and chat as a group. Good times.

Tomorrow my school is having a big baseball game at 2. Maybe I wills top by and cheer. I have never actually seen the baseball team play or a baseball game in Japan for that matter. I need to see a real one in Tokyo as well as Sumo. The stupid Spring Sumo season starts the last day of Golden Week so I probably can't see it in the Spring either. I need to save up, buy good tickets in advance and keep the weekend clear. Maybe I can during the summer or fall basho (sumo event). I am hungry. I will return at a time later than this (though to you it will be instantaneous). Ha I spelled that right first try.

Saturday, April 16th, 2005

The cherry blossom event went very well. The weather was great, the flowers were just blooming, and most of all about 20 people came. One JET brought his family which includes several sons and daughters. The kids ran around and played while everyone else sat around sipping sake and eating spring time snacks. It lasted a few hours and everyone seemed to have a good time. I have pictures, but it was dark so they didn't come out enough for you to get anything from it. I took some shots of people so I could remember it. It was pretty fun.

So far today I have done nothing of interest. This is one of those days where I wish I had the Fast Forward button. I would go all the way to pay, even though as soon as I do get paid I will be broke again. This check I have to pay Liz back for the loan, save a large chunk for the airfare back to Atlanta in early June as well as some spending money there, then try to save a bit for my summer plans. I'm not sure I will be able to save anything for this summer, but hopefully if I start early.

Monday, April 18th, 2005

I had the oddest dream last night. It was odd, because it was so real. There was nothing really bizarre about it like I was flying or there were monsters. It was just about a party at my parent's house. I never had one there, but this dream party was a real kegger. I mean like 500 people all throughout the house. The only weird part was my grandmother was there. Both grandmother's have passed away, and this was my Mother's mother. She died in 2000 I think, and it was definitely around March, maybe early April, but definitely not this late. So I don't know why she was in it. She was sleeping and when the party was nearly over she got up and started putting on makeup. Then she was about to walk into the other room and I woke up. It was odd, because it was so real and when I woke up I thought it actually happened and I was remembering it.

I ate lunch at McDonald's today because I am still broke from the Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo, and Nikko trip and they are having some big special this week. I was sitting there looking out the window and I saw about 20 tour buses go by. Then 10 more. Then even more. Then some returning. I couldn't understand what all these buses were doing in Fukushima because we are not all that interesting. Then I remembered it's peak season for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. These people were getting bussed from the station and neighboring towns to a place called Hanami Yama. Then I saw a bus from Iwate which is two prefectures up. That's a long ride to see some blooming flowers, but this is Japan and you gotta do what you are told.

Sakura view from Fukushima Higashi High School

I just had lunch with the English club. There are a few 3rd years, a fewer 2nd years, and about two 1st years. I might be able to get more 1st years as I do more intro classes. So far I have only done three or so. This week, on Wednesday I think, the 1st years are going away on some study retreat. Maybe it's like a bonding experience. I asked a 3rd year at lunch and she said it's a new thing. We are supposed to have a meeting on Thursday, but I think only one or two people will show and we can't do anything really worthwhile with that few people. Last year it was only Shoko and Yukari who came every Thursday and it was just impossible to do anything with them. Any games or activities need at least 4 people really.

Man I didn't shave for some reason today and my beard is really rough looking. I need to shave tonight. Plus my moustache has some long hairs. I need to go over that with my trimmer as well. I've been making a list of things I need to buy while I am in the US for a week in June. So far I have some GAP/Old Navy/Kohls shirts and underwear/socks, some basic hygiene things, some vitamins and such, some waterproof rain boots that are more comfy than the big snow boots. There are a lot of other things, but they aren't as important. I also need to show my mom some of these things so she can help me refill when I run out. I found a place in Japan to buy much of them, an import place, but they sell things in cases and bulk quantities so it's hard to get a lot of things when the bill is going to be hundreds and when it arrives it will take up half my apartment.

I need to get down to Koriyama soon and visit the people in which I might be replacing if I get the job as well as meet the guy in charge of it. Maybe I will do that this weekend, if they are around. It's after payday so I can afford it. Plus a few of the people leaving need to sell their cars and I'd like to check them out as well as their apartments. I'll see when is good for them.

I've been looking at Bungalows in Thailand on the Isle of Samui (which oddly means cold weather in Japanese). I might be able to go there for about a week with a few people right after my contract ends here. I would go there and chill out for a week then return and sign the contract and move in to the apartment. Then immediately leave again and go to pleasantly cool Sapporo, Hokkaido again for a Japanese Language school. It is possible since I get paid just before leaving so I should have enough money to do both. Sadly if I can't afford both the Thai beach trip gets axed. It should cost about $500 RT to fly there, then $100 RT to fly to the island, then about $200 per person to stay in the place for a week. Hotels in Thailand are as cheap as $10 a night for a decent place. The Japanese language school would cost about $1,500 including food, transportation, the course, a place to stay, and spending money. I'll have to see my financial status after I return from Atlanta in June. That trip will cost me about $1,500 after flight, transportation to and from, and spending money there. Luckily I will be staying with my parents so I will get free food and bed, but buying clothes and general spending will need to come out of my own bank.

I just re-read this entry up to here and found dozens of stupid mistakes. Not typing mistakes, but things like "it was only Shoko and Yukari who coming every Thursday". There were many other cases of subject-verb disagreement. I find when I start learning Japanese intensely, I lose my English, as well as start making stupid Japanese mistakes. Many of which I have listed in the journal. Some I didn't list either because they were really REALLY stupid or they weren't interesting.

Well I have had two classes today. Then tomorrow I go to Matsukou and have two, and luckily I can leave after the second one which ends at 12:40. Liz goes to Adachi tomorrow so we will ride the train and then walk half way together, then Wonder Twin Powers Deactivate. That reference might be before your time. Sometimes she gets out of Adachi early (which is odd because I never did) so we might be able to walk back together. Tomorrow I should have more money. I've been spending my own money to mail some things for AJET and I just realized I should be reimbursed. So that money will help. I plan to put it towards something like the trip back to the US or to Siam or something.

Something a bit odd I noticed about Japanese schools (one of many things) is they do everything in the same classroom. All the students stay together for all the classes. they all take the same level math and same level history and same level science. I guess they do this because high school is voluntary and students have to test into them. So for the most part everyone at my school is about the same level. There aren't too many ultra smart kids and probably no slow kids. That's a good difference from the US. I went to school with a few geniuses, a few bottom feeding morons, and many average kids. The math I saw some kids doing on a Sophomore year level was pretty advanced. I had things like SIN and COS and Ө and others. The funny thing was everything was in English. Well maybe not English per se, but Western Roman letters like X/Y = SIN - Pi.

Here are some various Cherry Blossom photos. The bottom left would be good for a desktop image, and feel free to use it for that.

 

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

Nothing much to report today. Had 4 classes which were fun. I really prefer to be in the classroom even if there is nothing for me to do. In between classes I read this cool book about the American Funeral system and how it works and how much of a rip off it can be sometimes. Then I actually completed the crossword puzzle in the newspaper, with a little help from Wendy.

Other than that I mailed my resume to the Koriyama Board of Education, though I didn't include a photo since I'm just not used to that. So I will mail the photo tomorrow. I also might go to the doctor for some Hay Fever medicine. Friday I go to my new school. I found out a teacher I used to work with at Adachi will be there and I will teach with her a lot. That's a relief. But they want me there at 8am, maybe just the first day. Oh well. I will update again later.

Oh wait. I was doing a web search for flights to Savannah for my friends wedding and I found a few. Then I found a package deal including hotel and airfare. See if you think it's a good deal.

Flight & Hotel from Tokyo to Savannah

Man that hotel better come with some darn good service.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

There is something that always cracks me up about working here. Today the office called to the teacher's room and asked for Nikaido sensei (knee kai dough). I answered the phone, looked around the room, and then announced his name in case he was hiding. A teacher said he has the day off. I told the office lady he has the day off and she acted surprised which is common and we both moved on. Then as I sat down the 2nd of three phones in the teacher's room rang and someone else answered. Then he shortly announced "is Nikaido sensei here?". Still not here. So he said that into the phone and they moved on. About a minute later phone #3 rang and the whole process was repeated.

Seriously, what goes on in someone's head to do that? We didn't say "we can't find him" and it wasn't 3 different people calling the teacher's room over an hour or two. It was the same lady hearing, and allegedly understanding it, then hanging up the phone and redialing the other two. What is going on? I promise you, when my Japanese gets up to par I am going to say something like "did you just call one minute ago? We said he was on vacation today. Why are you calling back? Do you  think he magically appeared during the 30 seconds between calls?". The shear stupidity of it infuriates me. Maybe next time I will run to the separate phones and respond the same way. Or better yet just answer the phone "Nikaido sensei is not here", but I guarantee she would continue with her speech anyway.

I had one class and we spent some time discussing "A friend in need is a friend indeed". I tried to explain what it meant, but I didn't understand it. I thought the reference to friend was the same person meaning the needy friend is really a friend. Then I said maybe it should be "A friend who helps a friend in need is a friend indeed". It would make more sense for the helping friend to be considered the true friend. Then I emailed a friend (separate from above mentioned) and asked his opinion. His response was it's a little sarcastic or ironic. Someone who is suddenly needy then becomes a friend, doesn't he? That makes more sense, but it ruins the use of the proverb in the textbook. It was used as "when a friend comes to you in need then you should listen and really try to help them".

Well in a few minutes I should have English club, depending on how many people show up. I think first we are going to play a game called, ironically, JET. It was a fun drinking game in college. Obviously we won't drink. There is a circle of say 5-10 people. One person says a number, any number, like 4. The 4th person to the left then says another number, but it has to happen fast. When you are drinking it gets tough. I think it will help the girl's math and numbers and it's fast so that will be good. Plus they are competitive and this game is good for that. Then if we have time we might play a version of a game called Slam. It's actually a Japanese game called Karuta, dating back millions of years. I think Japanese Dinosaurs played it.

Speaking of Dinos, I saw a TV special about the T-Rex and they said that apparent the Rex was a scavenger. It is always portrayed as an aggressive attacker, whatever that word is, but with the small useless arms, it would be lousy at that. Think about chasing someone as fast as you can over bad terrain and then falling, you push yourself back up and continue. Now do it again and tape your arms to your body so only your wrists and hands can bend. It would take 30 minutes or more to get back up. Plus their legs and head were so much bigger than ours it would be really hard to get up. Which makes me wonder how they slept. Anyway the special was good and raised some interesting questions.

[later]

Well only one girl showed up. The usual die hard member, Yukari. I had two games lined up, but with one person we could only play the slam game, and then she just pointed at them. Her English is good, at least at reading. She, like most J-students, won't say something if they think they are going to make a mistake. I, on the other hand, will talk through mistakes and never know it. Though today I caught one early on.

After English club it was about 5pm so I walked home since the weather was really nice. On the way I passed the Indian food place and noticed they were open. I was a bit hungry and it was pay day so I went in. I ordered this mouth watering boneless chicken thing and a chopped veggie salad. I was talking to the nice Japanese lady (who is married to the Indian guy who owns it). She speaks semi-decent English, but always speaks to me in Japanese. She asked what I will do after August. I told her I am applying for a great job in Koriyama doing teaching, but not wasting time like the JET program. She asked if we all had the same situation and I said, oh no. Here was the conversation, it was all Japanese (and ok I had one beer):

ME: Some people pay no rent, I pay about $400 a month. One girl gets a free round trip ticket anywhere in the world with two weeks off every time she renews her contract. Some people get to stay home during the summer or travel, but not me, I have to go to school.

HER: What do you do at school during the summer?

ME: I go to the teacher's room all day.

HER: Do you study Japanese?

ME: Usually I just get fondled.

HER: Uhhhhh? By who?

ME: I guess the supervisor. Or maybe the vice principal.

HER: They shouldn't do that. Tell them they should stop.

ME: Oh I have, but it's just the rule.

Then she turns and tells the Indian guy (brother of the owner) about me, but she annunciates the fondle word and I say...

ME: No no, not fondle, sitting. Fondling could be fun.

We have a good laugh. The words are very similar. She really should have known from the context, but maybe I slurred due to the beer or something. There is only one small vowel difference in suwaru and sawaru. I use this line in my intro to new kids about making mistakes and it's not being a problem so I guess I was used to saying it. So I meant to say I have to sit all day. I thought she was saying "who makes you sit there all day". Her reaction was way too strong for me having to SIT at school all day so I sensed something was up. When she told the other guy she slowed down the Japanese since that was his 3rd language and I caught it. Good times.

Tomorrow I go to the West High School and I get to do my ultra polite intro to the teacher's room. After which they will ohhh and awww because a foreigner is able to speak Japanese. They will tell me I am fluent and be amazed if I can use chopsticks or if I have a Japanese mobile phone. Then I will do my self introduction to 4 classes of students, and I can only hope it's a good school. I can't stand two devil schools these last few months, though it would make me strong for whatever I encounter next. The only thing I am worried about is this school allegedly refused to have a Native English teacher like me for 15 years. I don't know if they caved in and want me or were forced to by the drunk donkey clown angry monkey circus known as Kenchou (prefectural BOE). I plan to ask someone point blank tomorrow. The first day is always the worst because the students constantly stare and point (thinking they are subtle). Once that is over then it should be ok. Now I will have 1,000 more students to wave at around the station. Argh.

Friday, April 22nd

The West High school was fine. I gave my short intro to the teachers all in Japanese, and they all said I was fluent as expected. Which I am not. Then I had four classes. The kids are well behaved for the most part, much better than the devil school. I gave my intro and they laughed since it's an entertaining intro. Mostly Japanese, with some English. I want then to understand it more than struggle to hear my English. My last class was 5th period so I suggestively asked if I could leave since I had no classes. They him-hawed around and then said it was probably ok. I am just too tired of all the wasteful sitting around.

Then I came home and have been working on various things for a while. Liz and I are about to go get Gyoza. Then later I might go play pool with some folks at the station. No big plans tomorrow. There's some Karaoke thing FuJET is doing at the station and I plan to go, but other than that nothing much this weekend. Next Friday starts our big May Golden Week holidays, and I am doing nothing since I have so many expenses coming up during the summer. I need to save money and things are way over priced during Golden Week. It's insane.

Monday, April 25th

Japan, the country of group mentality. I am watching an English teacher consult with the head of the first year students about advice for a lesson plan she is working on. The English teacher is older and more experienced than the head teacher, who is a math teacher anyway. But in Japan one is supposed to consult with everyone on anything. It makes people feel appreciated. The thing I hate about it is sometimes these people, who really know nothing about whatever they are 'reviewing', will sometimes suggest changes be made. When our local CIR (coordinator of international relations) was planning the Fukushima JET Orientation, she had to have all the seminars approved by everyone in her department. People who had nothing to do with what she was doing, had to carefully examine each detail and each page to make sure.....well to make sure of something.

Tangent: What does Coordinator mean? Doesn't it mean Co + Ordinator? Who ordinates something? It seems like a coordinator would be a group of two people who share in the duties of ordinating. I've never understood that word.

Back to the subject partially. When I did the recording of the entrance test for new high school students a month or so ago, the script was so carefully scrutinized it was insane. I mean each individual word was checked and compared to possible alternatives and weighted with a ratio of ok-ness to not-ok-ness. Seriously. I suggested something be changed and they all cringed at the thought of more work. Plus everyone has to agree with every word. The funny part it, it was still wrong. It just wasn't natural English since many Japanese teachers of English feel their English is perfect and don't need a foreigner. In one case, I suppose they are right. When the schools do nothing but prepare students for college entrance tests, then their English is fine. The tests aren't natural, or correct, English so the teachers can teach their own version of English, also known as Engrish.

Usually when foreigners teach English, at least in situations where they control the lesson plan, actual English is taught. I would like to collect more of these tests to see what types of things are taught. I could never imagine giving a test in a foreign language, on a national level, and not having a native speaker (or 20) read over it. If I taught Japanese in a US SHS of course I wouldn't have a Japanese person check each one, but if I wrote (with a group of 50 others) an entrance test for all colleges in the US, I would at least have a Japanese person check the Japanese part. It's almost funny. I really want to take the TOEIC test that is given here in Japan. I would do it for a few reasons:

A) To see what the test is like, since I usually tutor people interested in taking it.
B) To see how good my English is in the Japanese sense.
C) To freak out Japanese people taking the test by acting worried before the test.

I've wanted to offer a free weekly class for the TOEIC test, but I have never had time or a place to do it. Maybe if I get that job in Koriyama I might be able to do something on a weekend or something. But one thing I must do starting soon is take it easy. I totally overloaded myself in the Fall. I was working on the AJET Tatami Timeshare (a list of all JETs in Japan so we can stay with others when traveling), I was working on the AJET database and sending out updates, I was running FuJET with one other person, I was planning a trip to Thailand for the orphanage with 12 people, I was planning a trip to Sapporo with 30 people, and much much more, all for the low price of $19.95.

I really want to take up a weekly hobby if I get the new job. I want to do calligraphy definitely, and maybe yoga if I can find a place. Bonsai would be great, but the trees are expensive and take years to grow. I really need some Japanese-culture related hobbies. Of course I will be studying Japanese like a madman, but I need other stuff as well.

[later]

During lunch I ate with the English club. About 10 girls came and one was new. I was talking to all of them to make sure it was fun for everyone. Then I asked the new girl which class she was in and she said the 2nd class. There are 8 and called #-kumi, which means group. So she said 2-kumi. 2 in Japanese is Ni, pronounced knee. So I pointed at all three one by one and said ni kumi, ni kumi, ni kumi. Or so I intended. Apparently for the last girl I said Ni-kumU. Which means "to hate". So I said "2nd class, 2nd class, I hate them". Their eyes lit up and the 3rd year girl who lived in Canada explained what I said and what I mean. Good times.

I am making notes of these and will include them in the upcoming book I am writing.

 

Wednesday, April 27th

Yatta!! (That means I did it). I unclogged my bathroom drain. There is an overflow valve that pours into the tub and for the longest time the sink would fill up and mainly drain into the tub rather than the drain itself. There are two vents so I couldn't plunge it by myself. Once I had Liz get in the tub and hold a bag over the vent, but when I plunged it just got her clothes wet. So I bought some packing tape and taped the spill vent like it had never been taped before. Then I taped the other in-sink overflow as well and began plunging like a madman. After a minute of violent plunging it became easier. Yatta.

Here is another prime example of Japanese logic. I went to the big grocery store tonight to get something for dinner. I was going to cook something to save money. It was closed. I checked my clock to see if I was later than I thought because they close at 9pm. Yes grocery stores close at 9pm, along with ATMs. But it was 15 til 8. So I looked around and found that the big main grocery store in town closes every Wednesday. All day. Just closed. Because it's Wednesday.

Yesterday I went to the devil school. One class is really fun there. It's an OC class that has only 9 students and they want to learn and actually speak decently. the other class was an annoying 3rd year class. The teacher played some Aerosmith song and they had to write down certain blanked out lyrics. The kids were actually quiet for most of this. Then when they had the answers and it was time to listen and check the answers, they started getting loud. They kept getting loud and although we only had 20 minutes left, it was annoying as usual.

Then one kid looked out the window and saw something. I wasn't sure what it was but they all got quiet. I saw something in the air and it looked like snow, but it was far too warm for snow. Then everyone got silent and just stared.

It was the dead leaves from the cherry blossom trees falling to the ground. Apparently there is one day each year when they fall. All the kids got quiet and just stared. the teacher later told me that seeing the leaves fall was supposed to be one of the most serene sights in Japan. It was nice, and it was pretty, but it was really just white leaves falling to the ground. It did look a little like snow and it was peaceful, but it was really just white leaves falling to the ground. Later in the teacher's room, that's all the teachers were talking about. It was a little strange. It was nice to watch, but it wasn't as nice as the loud devil punks just being quiet for a minute. But hey I will take what I can get.

Tomorrow is a school trip. Each grade goes somewhere different. Two years ago I went to Sendai with the 1st years. This time I am going to Kitakata with the 3rd years (who were the 1st years then). We are going to have some famous Kitakata ramen, some of the best in Japan supposedly. I have never been there so it will be a new thing for me. I will take pictures and post them here accordingly.

Well it appears I have a Cervical Radiculopathy, which I thought had something to do with a Cervix, which I am pretty sure I don't have, being that it's a part of the Uterus. But it seems to be a pinching of vertebrae in my neck which causes weakness in my left arm. Interesting. It's nothing major and I'm just taking some muscle meds and some Vitamin B12 for it. When I felt a numb weakness in my left arm I thought surely it was heart attack time, but nope. More later.