Friday, October 1st, 2004

I woke up in a panic at 5am. Actually I just woke up and then saw some clothes on the couch. Somehow, in my drunk-like awakening state, the clothes looked like two old decaying bodies on the couch.  Then I threw a book at them and they actually turned to look at me. It was just clothes, but my brain saw something else since I had no glasses on and it was a bit dark. Then as I got over that, I saw a girl standing beside my bed. She was really just my 3 foot tall fan, but I had a belt draped over it and that made the illusion. It was quite disturbing.

I've been a bit sick recently, but not with anything in particular, just down and tired. I think I will go to the doctor next week. I'll try to make more updates. I always hated when Dave the Jetanuki wouldn't make updates for weeks at a time. Nothing major for now though.

Sunday, October 3rd


I'm watching Shaun of the Dead. It's a humorous British remake of Dawn of the Dead. But there is one thing that really makes me mad about XXX of the Dead movies, old and new.


It's really not that hard to remember. They say it, they test it, it happens. But when it's someone's friend, oh no, now it must be different. No not my friend (in a high girly voice). YES YOUR FRIEND MOTARD.

It happened in the new Hollywood release of Dawn of the Dead. Some guy was bitten and no one would acknowledge he would become a zombie, although that's a basic rule of zombies. You get bit, you die and become a zombie. Same with Shaun of the Dead. His mother and friend are bitten and he refuses to believe they will become zombies.

The other really stupid thing was some dude was standing with his back to a window that zombies (people that have already been bitten) were scratching at. WHY WHY WHY would you stand with your back to a window? That is the cheapest and saddest plot trick I have ever seen. It's aggravates the %#*& out of me and I want to scream at the movie. Not "get out of the way", but "WHY are you standing with your back to a zombie window?". It's so illogical.

Other than that, today I went to Adachi, my old school that I really like, because they had a school festival. I saw the teacher I had a crush on, but who went one year without telling me she was engaged. Then told me she was married two weeks after her name changed. So I have given up on her. It was nice to see the kids again, but also I was mad since I felt like I should still be at that school. I have a really non-Japanese letter I am sending to the people that "oversee" high school ALTs. A Japanese letter would be something like this:

I hope this letter finds you well. There is one small little insignificant issue I would like to bring up at some point. Please read this only when you have some free time.

If at all possible, and if this is any inconvenience whatsoever I will stab myself three hundred times, but if at all possible in the future, I was wondering, more like a distant thought that really doesn't have to happen, but maybe possibly in some way shape or form if at all possible, maybe you could possibly consider something.

Then I would continue to talk in circles and never really get to the point.

It seems like I am being really sarcastic, but that's how Japanese is. You talk in circles and never get to your point. Whereas in the US, we get right to the point. Here is something I wrote for our local prefectural newsletter. It's not the letter to the place, but it has the same tone.

Baboon Monkey Clown Circus

By Ryan McDonald


            When I was a first year JET I remember a few 3rd year JETs making the statement g2 years is not enough, but 3 years is too muchh. At the time I thought this was a lazy and selfish statement. I was having a blast. How could 3 years of this be bad? I truly couldnft understand why there would be such a big difference in staying 2 years versus 3 years.

             Now I understand. At the time I made my decision to stay a third year, I was in the gcomfortable zoneh of being a JET. The first 6 months is the discovery time where everything is new. During this time you donft mind people asking stupid questions or saying stupid things like:

 Can you use chopsticks? Can you eat Natto? Do you like sushi? Oh, you are fluent in Japanese (after saying Konnichiwa). How long are you? Can you read Japanese?

         Toward the end of your first year you start to move into the comfortable zone.  During this time, these questions donft bother you, but you are amused at them. You have made friends and know how things work in Japan and at your schools. When February rolls around and it is time to renew, since you are still in the comfort zone, you can only think how easy the 3rd year will be. You imagine all the traveling you can do, all the money you can save, and all the Japanese you will learn. What you fail to think about is the fact you are now entering the girritated zoneh.

 The official beginning of the irritated zone starts when you are told you once again have to spend all summer in the teacherfs room doing nothing. If you suggest you get the summer off since there are no students and therefore nothing for you to do, you are seen as lazy. Wefre not lazy, we just donft want to sit around doing nothing.

 For SHS ALTs, there is the chance we will get moved around to new schools. YAY!! New schools! I get to do my stupid self intro to teachers and students while being asked the terribly creative questions listed above. It makes sense to get moved around in April, but there is no reason to move us in the middle of the school year. It disrupts class and causes us to have to completely start over. We now have to learn more studentsf names, figure out how the schools work, and try to build new relationships with everyone. Itfs counterproductive and inefficient.

 The best part is half the time the Baboon Monkey Clown Circus known as the Kenchou BOE (not the Nicola/Sandy/Hojo-san part) doesnft tell us we are going to move. We may have made plans with teachers, promised English clubs wefd play certain games,  and in general just not had time to close things out with teachers and students.

 Since I have been here I have gone to one school as a base school, and two traveling schools. One traveling school has always remained the same and I was very comfortable there. I knew the students and teachers and fit right in. I had a good English club, I knew most of the students, and I even taught a cooking class with the Home Ec teacher. My other school changed often, but most recently it was the night school. I really loved this school and put out a lot of effort to make the overly shy students come out of their shells. I learned all their names (there were only 150 total), and I gave many of them my email address so they could practice their English. When I left for summer break, I told them we would have fun when I return in the fall. I didnft even get a chance to say good bye to them. This truly upsets and I am writing a Ryan-Letter to the Monkey Circus Baboon Farm which will be translated into non-polite Japanese.

 Therefs a belief that if you had an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of time, they would eventually type all the worldfs great masterpieces just by randomly hitting keys. I truly believe if you had just one monkey and just one typewriter and just one hour, that monkey could make better ALT-School choices than this idiot donkey party. Heck the monkey could even be drunk and using one hand to fling his own feces around the room. Our school placements in the Kenpoku area donft make any sense.

 So far about 3 different ALTs have gone to the blind school on a semi permanent basis. COME ON. These are the blind students, itfs not like they get used to us right away. I had two wonderful visits to the Special Ed school, and now a completely different ALT goes there every week. I no longer go to the night school, the ALT who does, has to pass about 4 other SHS ALTs to get there, whereas I lived right around the corner from it.

What good comes out of constantly moving us around? All we do is our self intro for the first 6 weeks, and eventually get into teaching English. Itfs like we are just puppets that different schools get to play with and poke for a while. Therefs no rhyme or reason to our placements. I have some experience working with disabled children Special Ed situations so I was pleased to go to both the Hospital School and the Special Ed school. Then I was pulled out without notice. I guess some other school won the right to play with the Ryan puppet for a while.

 The result, at least for me, is I no longer care. I go to school and do my intro then sit in the teacherfs room and read or surf the internet. I show up late and leave early. I donft bother to learn the studentfs names or the teacherfs names (except the cute ones and my supervisor), I donft bring omiyage anymore, and donft even ask about vacation time. I donft like being like this, but I am tired of being treated like a childfs toy.

 I was a really good ALT at one point that was before I realized my status of Cultural Ambassador / Foreign Pin Cushion / Gimmick of the Week. CLAIRfs official role for us is gInternationalization through Englishh, so we are not respected as English teachers. Thatfs fair to an extent because I had no English teaching experience before coming, but the brain dead parents-are-siblings dropped-as-a-child fiasco known as the Kenchou BOE doesnft even treat us like adults. I am highly considering changing my keitai email address to .


I'll post the actual letter at some point after I mail it. I am so mad at them. I really enjoyed my life and my schools. Now I have no energy and no motivation. I wouldn't mind just leaving and going somewhere else. I have had ZERO classes at my base school since July. ZE-FRICKIN-RO.

Can you imagine bringing a Japanese person over to the US to assist with classes then saying "I'm sorry, we are too busy to prepare a class with you today, why don't you just sit here and read a book". People would be fired, because we live in a country with common sense. Granted we might not always stick to it, but at least we are capable of it occasionally. What a ridiculous joke. I would love to plan a meeting with Japanese English Teachers, the baboons from Kenchou, and who ever else and tell them to be somewhere at 8am on a Monday. Then come in around noon and tell them the meeting doesn't start until Wednesday, but it is crucial that they sit there DOING NOTHING until then. When they ask to leave I can say "ha ha ha, you Japanese are so lazy". But that's what they make us do. Just sit around doing nothing. Here is a chart of how much they have used me since April of this year which is when the new school year starts:

So as we can see, Chuo (my favorite school - the night school) and Kawamata collectively used me very well. I always had or have a full load, the day goes by really quick, and I always feel like a part of the team. Adachi and Matsuko always use me more than 3 classes per day as well. I always felt good about going to Adachi, and although I don't like Matsuko they do use me.

But that first school, my base school, the school I have to sit at when I don't go to the other schools, used me 20% since April.

20 @#&*-ing Percent.

Can you believe it? Oh but wait, it gets better. Look at the chart of my base school since summer vacation:

What a massively disasterously WRONG decision it was to renew. Since July I have been used %8 of the time. That even takes into account the off days and test times. NINETY TWO PERCENT of the time I am at school, and when there are classes going on, I am just sitting there doing nothing. I am reading, playing computer solitaire, surfing the limited restricted internet, flipping through flashcards, watching DVDs on my computer, walking around the track, walking to the store or post office, or just sleeping. That's what I am paid to do.

It really sounds like fun to those of you sitting in your offices and overloaded with work, but believe me, it is not fun. It's like a minimum security prison. Seriously, I'm going to research what happens at a MSP and make a comparison right now.

Wednesday, October 13th

Have you ever noticed how we say WENS Day, but it's written WED-NES day? Strange.

Today I went to school and much to my surprise had two classes. My supervisor said the 2nd year teachers were too busy to plan a class with me, which is a load of crap since it takes 3 minutes, so he put me in some classes with the first years. It was fun, they are good kids.  There were only 3 classes and then we all walked across town to see the play 12 Angry Men. It was all in Japanese, but I managed to learn Yuzai and Muzai, which means guilty and innocent (perhaps not in that order). Before that I took an hour long nap at school since I don;t really feel much better these days.

Sunday I went to Tokyo to see my old college friend Daisuke and hopefully to get away from it all. It helped a little, but I'm still not sleeping great. My doctor said "you need to lose your weight". So I need to stop eating so much, but I did stop drinking for the most part. I had some wine on Saturday at a friend's house. It was pretty fun, we tried to play poker and then another card game, but we ended up chatting the whole time. I had to leave at some point because everyone was smoking and that kills me.

You can't actually be allergic to smoking since you can only be allergic to proteins, but I am highly reactive. My nose closes, my throat hurts, my eyes water and itch. It's ok in big ventilated rooms, but there were 5 people smoking in a small closed apartment. I wanted to stay and chat, but I couldn't breathe. Such is life.

Tomorrow I have 3 classes I think, then Friday I go to the low level school in Nihonmatsu again. The good thing about the school is I can get there late if I have no first period class and I can leave as soon as my classes are over. This week I have a 3rd and 4th period so I can leave right after lunch. That's the only reason I enjoy going to that school. That and one student speaks better English than any teacher I've come across. I don't know why she goes to such a low level school.

Well I just took one of my prescribed sleeping pills. Actually I took it about 30 minutes ago. I'm waiting on laundry to finish and/or for the pill to kick in. It somewhat helps me sleep better, but I still took a nap today. Once at school, and another during the play. Heck it was all in Japanese and my brain was tired of struggling. Plus it was old samurai Japanese so I couldn't follow anything. Luckily I knew the story. When the play was over I pointed at several students and yelled MUZAI or YUZAI. They freaked out then realized I was a moron.

I'm getting light headed now, in a good way from the pill. I'm going to get my clothes from the piece of crap dryer that takes 2 hours to dry one sock, and then go to sleep. Speaking of laundry, you know what I love, and I mean I really do love this: When you put your clothes in the washer and put in the money and the soap and then leave and come back 30 minutes later only to realize you didn't clothes the lid. For some safety reason the washer won't spin with the lid open so now you have to wait another 20 minutes for it to finish the cycle. Man I love that.

The other thing I love, and woo this is better, is when you are doing dishes and you have the water boiling hot. Of course you are wearing your gloves. Then Mr. Fork falls into Mr. Drain and you reach over to get it, but oops, you reach too far and fill up your glove with scalding hot water. Man I love that. Good Times.

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

I had three classes today, which is more than I've had since August. I really felt like crap in the classes, but since I keep asking for MORE classes (well not MORE, just some), I felt I had to get through them. Tomorrow I go to the lower level school in a neighboring town. At least I can get there late and leave right after lunch. Next week I go to the Hospital School, which I am really happy about. It's always so much fun there. I need to find something to take since there are only about 10 kids. Maybe I will take pictures since they are so cute. They always jump up and down when they see me coming down the hall. They are genuinely excited to see me. Man that's a great feeling. I wish I could bottle it and sip on it every so often. It really cheers me up to go there.

But today, at my alleged upper level college prep school, I had a dialogue where I had to read 5 professions and the students repeated after me. See if you can guess which one was the troublemaker:



College Student

Bus Driver



Come on. Of all the professions in the world, some jackass at the textbook company thought it would be a big joke on the ALTs to have to say PIANIST in class. They were right, it was a big joke. Every time I said it, I heard people say penis...he he penis...ha ha....penis. Which then prompted them to say the P-word counterpart since the boys are amazed with that word. Can you imagine saying these words out loud in a foreign language class in your high school? My Spanish teachers would back slap us out of the room and all the way to next Tuesday.

Not in Japan. Not only did the teacher not say anything to the students that he clearly heard, he also repeated the word and giggled. Unreal.

Today was one of those days where I really just didn't want to be here. Actually I felt so crappy I didn't want to be anywhere. If people were able to go into a voluntary cryogenic state I would have done so today. The only thing I am looking forward to is this Saturday when Jasmin (a friend and FuJET Minister of Fun) has planned a beer factory tour and beer garden dinner. Unfortunately I won't be drinking, but the food is always good and plentiful.

That's a word I rarely use, plentiful. It's sounds so Thanksgiving like. Plentiful. The Indians (who weren't actually Indian) came and the feast was plentiful.

The other thing I am looking forward to is the Fukushima City Halloween party. I co-planned it with Ayako (ah yah coe), a nice girl I know from another nice girl. The 2nd nice girl, named Emiko (M E Coe) is getting married in April, and I have a faint memory of agreeing to go to her wedding. I think I was asleep when she called. So anyway, the Halloween party is in two weeks or really a week and a few days. I will be Dracula, only because I found a cheap cape in Guam. That's almost a tongue twister. Cheap cape. The cheapskate had a cheap cape.

Other than that I am not really looking forward to anything other than Thailand/Cambodia, but that will be pretty expensive. The Cambodia part will be, the Thailand part is cheap. Plus FuJET will be paying for a bit of the Thailand part since we are going for the sole purpose of volunteering at an orphanage. More on that later.

Well I ended up writing more than I had planned. I wanted to make a note of the stupid textbook and the kids saying penis and the other word. I guess I will try to rest and watch more episodes of The Family Guy on DVD even though I really don't relax when I watch it because the main character is such an idiot. Maybe I will watch Star Wars II which is also on DVD. I borrowed these from Liz. Ok, over and out for now.

Wednesday, October 20th 2004

It's been raining cats and dogs here, as well as most all of Japan right now. There's a big hurricane near the bottom island and since the country is not all that big, we all get the effects of it. Here's a map to prove it, in case you don't believe it's raining here.

The bright red and orange parts at the bottom are the core of the hurricane. The purple parts, which seem to cover most all of Japan, are the torrential rain parts. Fukushima is one of the purple parts, just pick one, and that's us. We are getting a good flow of heavy rain.  It could be worse, and now I've just jinxed it, we could have horrible winds as well. Hopefully it will go away by Saturday which is when our Day at the Horse Track and Halloween Party is planned. I've never been to a horse race in the US or Japan, so this should be fun.

Something I've noticed in Japan, we rarely have thunderstorms. I remember one time I had one while at the night school and students were actually curled up in the corner crying. It was really strange, then again these students are the ones that have emotional problems. I've talked to many people who say that there are just never any thunder and lightning storms here so people don't know much about them. I can recall about three times, including tonight, when I've heard thunder in Japan.

On a different note, and I should have mentioned this a few weeks ago, my sister had a healthy baby girl. I can't remember the birth date exactly, I don't really pay attention to details like that, but I think it was around September 20ish. Her name (the baby) is Skylar Marie.  The middle name is from my grandmother. The original middle name was a mixture of my mother's name and the father's mother's name, Kaylin. Which I liked, but two cool names might be too much. Skylar Kaylin. Her original first name was Gillian, which is nice, but I like Skylar better. Quite a pretty name I'd say, although my brother in law (the father) calls her SMJ or Smudge, which my sister does not like.

Nor does she like the baby being called Sky, but that she will have to get over. Nicknames are names of affection, regular names are legal and official. Her husband's name is Charles, but everyone calls him Charlie. My mom refers to me as Ry. My great-grandmother nicknamed me poochy. My sister tried to get me by saying she would call me Poochy (or Poochie - both of which set off the spell checker) from now on, but I don't care. People are going to call her Sky all her life, and to be honest it's a cool nickname. I might even tell her to call me Uncle Poochy, it has an affectionate ring to it.

I've been thinking about getting a nice juicer for a while. I already have one, but it's really cheap and it's the centrifugal kind which I have read is not as effective as the slower grinding kinds. The specific one I am looking at is the Omega 8005.

It's the best picture I could find. Basically the type I have spins a blade and I shove the food onto it and then the spinning blade shears off parts and spits the juice into a cup. This nice machine slowly grinds the food and keeps more nutrients and pulp. The pulp is fibrous and can be eaten as well. I know juicing works because the one I have now is great, but not very efficient and rather loud. This one is a bit pricey, but produces more juice and saves more nutrients. It should help me lose weight. Here is a page with more information:

I've been drinking store bought carrot juice and it too makes a small difference, but not nearly the difference that fresh juice makes. When I get it I plan to attack my liver and possibly go on a juice fast. I've done it before with store bought juice, and that was pretty good, but fresh juice is much better. The one thing I have found is never drink carrot juice after drinking alcohol or taking medication. The carrot juice goes and tries to cleanse the liver. Alcohol obviously doesn't do any favors to the liver and all medicines are absorbed in the liver. So when something is trying to cleanse an organ and something else is trying to kick it's butt, there's going to be a nasty fight. Take my advice, don't mix carrot juice with anything else. Drink it an hour or more apart from medicine and a few hours from alcohol. The sickest I've ever been was when I drank carrot juice after some sake two years ago. Ouch.

Friday October 22nd

I had one of those strange magical moments related to that bar I've mentioned before. The bar is called As Soon As, and many times when I think of someone or wish something related to something (that's not vague) it comes true at that bar. Several times I've seen a girl around town and really wanted to meet her and then she appears at the bar. It's happened enough that I've noticed it.

This time I was planning on having the 2nd party after the Fukushima JET Halloween party tomorrow at this bar As Soon As, partially because it's a cool mellow bar, and partially because it's about 25 feet from the first party. I took a vacation day today since I realized I will have so much to do and no time. One of the things was to go to ASA and tell the guy I will be sending several (maybe 50) people to his bar Saturday night around 1am (why didn't I say Sunday morning around 1am?). So I was worried about having to walk all the way to the bar at some point tonight when it opens and tell him. As I was walking to the station to run another errand, I started thinking about the magic part of the bar and I decided to use it. I kept thinking, and actually sub-vocalizing, that I wanted to run into him around town. Then minutes later, he appears from around the corner, in a part of town I have never seen him before. I nearly wet my pants. I immediately started thinking about some young millionaire nudist Swedish Massage therapist who speaks fluent Japanese, loves to travel the world and has a massive crush on me.

Yea, so that didn't work, but isn't that strange? True it could be classified as coincidence, but when there are several coincidences all related to the bar it starts to form a pattern.

Then I went to a clothing store to find some blank pants for my vampire outfit. I could only find ones that cost over $100 and I really didn't want to pay that much. As I was leaving I saw the discount rack for extra large clothes. Luckily, for once, in Japan I am too big. So the clothes in the Big and Tall shop that didn't sell and were on the rack, were those for the too big, i.e. ME. As my friend Ramon says, I am fat smeared slab of pig lard. He really didn't say that, well he did, but only after confusing my statement of me being a fat greasy slab of hog meat. Anyway, I found one pair of pants in my size, 105 cm, and they were black. Amazing. Then I saw a table with $10 shirts, nice dress shirts, so I bought a few. I spent about $80 total and really upgraded my wardrobe. Man that word didn't look right. I kept trying to type warobe, but spell check was underlining it. I guess it's right.

The worst part about getting the cheap clothes was when I went to try them on. First I did remember to take my shoes off in the dressing room. That's a strange Japanese thing, but since I had to take them off anyway it was no big deal. I go in and put on the new pants. Then, I revert back to my childhood. Well not even that far. I am 32 years old and whenever I try on clothes with my mother (not in the changing room) she ALWAYS makes me step out and show her. Even when she offered to buy me some clothes before I left for Japan (when I was 30). So I put them on and as a reflexive habit I step outside and start looking around. The lady comes over and says something in Japanese and I remember my mommy isn't here and go back inside. I'm sure she thought I was just an idiot since there were no mirrors outside, or maybe she has a son and does the same with him. Trying on clothes with your mother has no boundary.

Then I bought an adapter to go from my iPod to the sound system tomorrow since I will be DJ-ing. People might think I want to be a DJ, but the truth is it keeps me off the dance floor. Plus I like playing music, but really it keeps people from dragging me on the dance floor. People insist dancing is fun, but I really don't like it. My analogy is some people like being nudist, but others don't. So they should understand some people like dancing and others don't. Not only am I not good at it, I just don't enjoy it. I do like watching people who also aren't any good at dancing, but couldn't find an excuse to not dance. It's humorous watching people flop around like they are semi-paralyzed from the waist up. Once I imitated something I learned from watching Leave it to Beaver. Wally was teaching the Beaver how to dance and he explained the way to dance was act like you are taking groceries from the table and putting them in the cabinet. It actually looks semi-ok.

So I bought the adapter and came back and listened to all the music I will play tomorrow to get familiar with it. Most of it is popular music and some hip hop, neither of which I listen to so I had to borrow some and listen to it in advance to have a faint knowledge of what it is. Last time people asked for requests and I had nothing. This time I will have at least half their requests. I even have Johnny Cash Ring of Fire for one guy who got drunk and really wanted to hear it at the party during the summer Orientation party. I don't know why I capitalized orientation, nor do I know why I explained that and didn't just backspace over it.

One of my favorite "Family Guy" episodes is where the dog Brian and the baby Stewie are coming back from somewhere and they jump in a truck with a bunch of Mexicans. The dog, who can talk and is named Brian, tries to ask a guy something in Spanish. It goes something like this:

Brian: pardona me, mi llamo es Brian. Donde esta Austin?
Guy: Actually you didn't need the "es" just mi llamo Brian.
Brian: Oh, thank God you speak English.
Guy: Actually no, just that little speech, and this part explaining it.
Brian: You're kidding right?
Guy: Que?

It's a classic. I have no idea what made me thing of that. Maybe how I should have backspaced over it rather than explaining it. But then that wouldn't have lead to this wonderful tangent. I like tangents. My sister makes fun of my tangents, but when I make my first million off tangents who will be laughing then?

HA !!!

Wednesday, Oct 27th

The Fukushima JET Halloween party was pretty good. Nearly 100 people came and most wore costumes. Before that we went to the horse track. That was an experience. I'll write more soon. I'm still sick for one simple reason.

Japanese medicine is crap.

I'm not being figurative, it's actual crap. They gather crap from a field and sell it as medicine. There is one simple way to determine whether or not a certain medicine is legally allowed into Japan.

Is it Crap? No? Then it's not allowed.

Is it effective? Yes. Then it's not allowed.

Will it work fast? Yes. Then it's not allowed.

Pick any medicine that is is fast and effective and you can pretty much bet it's not allowed here. I accidentally brought some Claritin for my allergies in the Spring. It was truly accidental and I didn't know until later that it's not allowed. Why is it not allowed? Because it actually works, and works fast.

My cold/cough/sneezing/runny nose would be gone in a heartbeat if I were back in the US because I could take DayQuil or NyQuil and that would work fast and effective. The bottles say you are not supposed to take it for X amount of time, but I would just take a few swallows all day and felt pretty good. Then I would drink NyQuil at night and sleep like a baby. But not in Japan. They don't allow it because it was deemed too effective by the Ministry of Babboonery and Nonsense. I get these pills that seemingly don't do anything. I honestly think I have gotten worse since I started taking them.

My doctor is a nice man who speaks decent English. He was giving me the pills and asked if I had anything for a fever reducer. I told him I had some medicine I brought from the US that works fast. He said it was probably illegal so I shouldn't advertise that. It's called Aleve. I'm the big druggie taking Aleve headache medicine.

I always think the word "medicine" is spelled with another E. I think it should be spelled Medicene. That actually looks better to me, but spellcheck, my faithful friend, has underlined it. Oh well, such is life.

Here's another conversation I had at school recently. It's these things that keep me going:

Me: I need to take these days off.
Teacher: Will you use sick time or vacation time?
Me: Can I actually use sick time for days off next month?
Teacher: No.
Me: Then I guess I will use vacation time.
Teacher: I will write the forms for vacation time and have you write your name.
Me: You could write my name for me if I am not here.
Teacher: I don't think that would be right.
Me: Then can I write my name now since I will be at other schools for the next few days?
Teacher: Before I write the form? You want to write your name? This is very strange.

He turns and tells this to another teacher who also thinks it's very strange.

Teacher: Ok, I guess you can do this, but I won't tell the Vice Principal you wrote your name first.
Me: Wow, thanks. I'll keep it a big secret. (I have no idea why)

Teacher: The Vice Principal said you can't take these days off.
Me: Well I already bought the tickets and I will be leaving on this day, so I won't be here.
Teacher: You should ask us if it's ok in the future.
Me: I didn't think it would be a big deal since I don't actually do anything, I just sit here all day playing solitaire.
Teacher: Well you won't be able to take vacation time.
Me: Well what will happen if I am not here? Will I be paid less or will nothing happen?
Teacher: If you don't show up for work one day you will be charged one day of vacation time.
Me: That's what I want. So you are saying I should not show up rather than ask for vacation time?
Teacher: You should be here.
Me: But it's during finals week so I will just be sitting here.
Teacher: I see. If you don't show up you will be charged a vacation day.
Me: Well I won't show up from this day until this day.
Teacher: Then you will be using your vacation days on these days.
Me: Yes that is what I want to do, use my vacation days.
Teacher: I'm sorry the vice principal said you should be here.
Me: And if I am not here I will get vacation time off?
Teacher: Right. So you will be here correct?
Me: You are simply not making the connection are you?
Teacher: Connect what? Connect for?

At this time I start giggling because he said Connect 4 and I was thinking about the old game I played called Connect Four. Then he said it again and I kept laughing, plus I have a cough so I started gagging when I was laughing because the laugh turned into a cough and then I thought I was going to hurl. I got up to get a drink and when I returned he wasn't there so I don't know what happened. All I do know is I have sat in the teacher's room far more than I have been in class so I have no problem missing classes especially because I won't be in any classes on the days I want off.

Friday, October 29th

I had a short day at my least favorite traveling school. The only three things tolerable about it are, in order:

I get to leave as soon as classes are over, and can get there late if I don't have a first period class.
My supervisor is cute.
There is a girl who loves English and almost sounds natural at times.

Other than those listed in the above like manner, I'm not too fond of the school. All the students will go on to become plumbers, electricians, utility workers, and any other job that will NEVER involve any English. Most of the 3rd years already have jobs lined up so they have absolutely ZERO, to be exact I should say absolute KELVIN, interest in English. They just talk full volume in class. The JET program should be glad I am not mentally deranged or I might just bitch-slap some of these kids. It's unreal. Today one of the jokers in a previous class was hanging outside the class I was in. When the teacher waved him away, the student shot him a bird. That really sounds stupid when you write, shot him a bird. It sounds like the boy actually shot a bird for the teacher.

Anyway, could you imagine A) doing that to another student insight of a teacher, or B) doing it TO a teacher? Unreal. The teacher just laughed and pointed so I would see it. I actually want to teach in the US now so I can tell students to shut up and leave the room. You can't do that here.

Before the class the teacher came over and asked what I wanted to do. I told him I would think about it. So the teacher stood there and stared at me. He had his hand on his chin and it looked like he was thinking. So I clarified I would think about it later. He said ok. But did not move. So we stared at each other for at least a minute which actually felt like 30 minutes. So then I started reading a newspaper and trying to do a crossword puzzle. They are always too tough for me and I have to cheat by looking up some clue on the internet. The point is he just stood there for way too long. It was eerie.

The one thing I am really REALLY getting sick of about Japan is constantly being the 12 foot green alien. If you were walking down the street and saw a 12FGA, you would stop and stare with your mouth open and you'd point and your eyes would be wide open. That's what happens here so much. I don't entirely mind people looking at me since I can convert that into me being a celebrity. By convert I mean that's how I interpret it in Ryan's Dream Land. I see myself giving autographs and what not. But when I get the 12FGA stares it just gets really old. In Thailand you don't get stared at like that. Partially because there are so many foreigners (just like Japan), and partially because Thai people are just brought up differently.

In the 80's and 90's there were hundreds of books analyzing the wonderful Japanese Managerial Style. The honest truth is there is nothing special about the managerial style, the bulk of the "magic" comes from the fact that Japanese people are brought up to never ever think for themselves. They are taught to do what they are told and never even think of questioning it. This becomes interesting when American managers wonder what their Japanese counterparts do to make their employees work 12 hour 6-day work weeks. They work that much because that's what they are told to do.

I have a few friends in Tokyo who are Japanese and work for various companies. They are always working. They work 6 or 7 days a week for 12 hours or more a day. I went to visit one guy and he got home at 11pm and returned to work the next day at 6am. That was a Saturday. I asked him why and he just said that's what they told him to do. I asked if he was all that busy and he said not really he was working on something for another department and he felt like it wasn't really critical.

In Japan it is seen as "efficient" if you are physically at work a lot. It doesn't matter what you are doing just as long as you are there. My teachers actually laugh when I suggest I not be at school doing absolutely nothing during summer and winter vacation. They simply can't imagine not being there. The teachers will stay later than the vice principal every day. It's such a silly game and I am so tired of playing it. My friend in Tokyo admitted it was a game. He said people who stay later than the boss are the ones who get promoted more often, but it seems like the boss was once one of these game-playing-employees, so he should know it's a big game. Ahh, no one can think for their self so they never make the connection.

On the way back from the school I was able to get a 1 O'clock train. At the station while I was waiting for the train, there was some strange guy filming this flower display. Notice I didn't say taking pictures of it, he was filming it for about 10 minutes. Dear God man, what are you filming. It's not moving. Then when I was looking semi-away I noticed he was filming me a bit. When I glanced over he stopped filming me and jerked back over to the flowers. Then when I looked away, I saw him filming the 12 foot green alien again. I wanted to pick my nose or something, but then I didn't want to acknowledge he was actually filming me. I barely saw the camera move out of my peripheral vision. That's a fun word, peripheral. It's fun to say.

So then after camera-guy moved on, I heard two people behind me speaking some language I didn't recognize. First I thought it was Chinese, then I thought maybe Korean. Then I thought maybe Thai or Vietnamese. But I know a few basic words in all these languages and I can at least recognize parts and figure out what it was. This seemed like very different. Finally I turned around and saw they were completely deaf and doing sign language. I later saw they were actually Korean which explained why I understood nothing. They weren't even actually speaking just making sounds associated with words and doing sign language. Man I can't imagine sign language in Korean or Japanese, but I know people who can do it.

Tomorrow I am going to the special school. I don't know the correct term for it. All the students are mentally handicapped. They are having their school festival so I can go and see all the kids I miss and talk to the cute teacher. Who I asked out and she said yes, but I think she simply thinks it's us going to a movie. In Japan guys, at least foreign guys, have to take things really slow. Like the first few dates she will bring a friend, and then maybe after the 10th date you can kiss her. Geez. Anyway, the school festival should be fun. I can't wait to see some of the kids. They are putting on some form of a show, which should be interesting to say the least. More on that later. I'll take pictures.

Can you imagine taking a foreign language class from someone who can't actually communicate in that language? The vast of the teachers I work with as a Fukushima JET cannot have a basic conversation in English. I do have a number of teachers who are nearly fluent, but most of them can't write or speak without making severe grammar or spelling mistakes. It's quite curious to me. The same with speech contests. If we had a Japanese language contest for Americans learning Japanese (in America) who would you expect to see as the judges? I would expect the majority of the judges to be, oh I don't know......maybe.....Japanese? Not in Japan. For English contests they have two Japanese people, who can speak average English, and then the token foreigner. It should be two or completely foreigners I think. But that's not the Japanese way. Then the Japanese would not be able to flap their we-are-superior-even-though-we-might-not-be wings.

It's 5 something now and I am about to go to the night school dressed as a vampire. If I had the guts I would wear the costume on the bus all the way there, but I'm going to change there. I will go into the 2nd year students class room and give them candy. That's the class I miss the most. I just liked the kids in there, except the loud girls in the back of the room. Unfortunately the girls recruited a quiet girl by allowing her to hang out with the cool kids. It makes me and the teachers there sad. She was a nice girl, now she's just loud. The other girls are hopeless, but she had potential. So I had better go get ready for that now.