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New Beginnings.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

            I slept on a futon on the floor last night with only a blanket and my computer and a few small things for cleaning. Then this morning around 7:15 I started loading everything and cleaning one last time. Of course I forgot a few things like an open window or some nightlights after I mop the floor, but it worked out ok. Actually the whole plan seemed to work out almost exactly as I planned. I made about 12 trips with my little Pajero and Chloe made one trip that was equal to about two of mine. Then yesterday I rented a big van as shown in the March 31st update. Now I am almost completely (98%) out of the teacherís house and I canít wait to start living again.

            I canít believe I can walk to so much stuff in Koriyama. There are dozens of restaurants and convenience stores and so many other things around the new place. Itís such a relief and a new beginning. I plan to start eating right and exercising at the park and riding a bike and basically getting my act together. The combination of planning English Camp, moving, 3rd term, and Konanís cold snowy winter means I didnít exercise at all during Feb or March. I am the fattest I have ever been. I wanted to go to the gym tonight, but I will be having a pre-birthday dinner with Kathy and some of her cohorts.

            Today the new teachers came and we welcomed them with open arms. There are only a few this year since we lose one teacher each year as the numbers go down. Thatís actually good for the teacherís room in that we have less desks (tongue twister) and more walking room. Plus they moved one of the computers around so it is where a desk was last year and not blocking the path.

            Thereís a new male teacher in the elementary school and he has the class that has the wild boy. The boy that throws the wildest tantrums I have ever seen in Japan. He should really be kicked out and sent to another school, but you canít do that in Japan. Honestly I wonder what you would have to do to get kicked out. I seriously think it would be some crime that got you sent to jail since anything less wouldnít matter. If parents want their child to be in school that child will be in school even if he or she is a trouble maker or a special needs student. Some parents donít want to be singled out as having a special needs child so they ignore that fact and send their child to the regular school. I have had some students that didnít speak at all or wandered the halls in a daze and clearly needed to be somewhere else.

            Today is all meetings and boring stuff. Actually all this week is the same, but I have tomorrow and Friday off. I will be unpacking and moving things around. Iíll actually have power and water (though I technically already have water). Gas should come on Thursday at 10:30 when the gas man comes by. Iím hoping my water heater is electric so I can use it tonight and take a shower. Iíve got so much to buy for the place since it didnít come with lights or curtains or some other things. Some are necessities some are just me making the place nice. Iím going to buy a lot from the 2nd hand store and some from a discount home store. I bought and hung some 70s green curtains since they were the cheapest. They look alright in a retro way, but I might replace them after a while. I need some rugs as well for the other rooms.

            I canít decide if I will get a bed or sleep on the floor. I am leaning toward a bed since I donít sleep well on the floor. I wouldnít mind sleeping on the floor if it werenít on the floor. If it were raised a bit so I didnít have to flop around when trying to get up. The closet space is unreal. I have two full sized ones and one half sized closet. They have a shelf waist high and then one about head high and they are so nice. Iíve been shoving everything in them to get it out of the way, but this week I will start going through it all to see if I can put things in other places.

Monday, April 06, 2009

            I feel so detached from the school now. I think itís because I no longer have my NT classes and only assist with the JTE. I really feel like I am being pushed out or pushed to the point that I quit. Rather than quit I wouldnít mind teaching only elementary school since thatís fun and JHS gets boring. Thereís grammar and reading comprehension, but in ES itís games and basic English.

            Today was the welcome ceremony for the new ES first graders and the new JHS 7th graders. I didnít attend one ceremony, instead I took pictures of the new students coming into the school. Mostly it was of the new 7th graders wearing their school uniforms. The new ES 1st graders seem cute so I will talk to them later.

            Some of the kids ignore me which I hate. Itís rude and discriminating I think. They would never ignore a regular Japanese teacher, but I donít count. I told one kid who is now a 4th grader that they will have English every week and she frowned. I said ďoh I thought you liked EnglishĒ and she said ďyes, I love itĒ. Well then why would she frownÖ.but arenít Japanese people are so polite. After the entrance ceremony they took group photos. I didnít even hang around for this since I didnít want a redo of last year. They lined up all the students, parents, and anyone absolutely anyone related to the grade, except for me. I was attached to that grade last year, but they went down the list and read the names and made sure those people were there. I was looking at the same list waiting for my name and when it came to my name, which was last, the person stopped before saying it and said ďwell thatís everyone isnít it. Everyone related to the grade? Everyone, yes it is everyone.Ē I was standing there alone and it was really obvious and somewhat embarrassing since some kids were looking at me wondering why I wasnít in the photo. Yea, not going through that again.

            Two confusing things have happened recently. First, I wrote a long update and saved it on Saturday morning sometime. Now itís magically gone. I will check my computer when I get home, but Iím sure I saved it to this portable drive. Second I set my alarm clock last night and it didnít go off this morning. Iím sure I set it since I adjusted the time back to 6:15am, but it simply didnít go off. Luckily I have sleep apnea and I canít sleep late so I woke up around 6:20 and checked the clock.

            A Japanese friend is planning the yearly camping trip for Golden Week. I was planning to buy a new tent, but I am no longer spending money on stuff like that. I am going to take $2-300 on payday that I would normally spend on nonsense and put it in savings since I am tired of being broke all the time. I am hardcore dead broke now. Iíve wiped out my savings and I am most likely going to have to borrow money to get through the next two weeks. I have always been broke as far back as I can remember except in college with I took a school loan and lived like a king for a year. Now I am paying it back slowly and itís killing me. I wish I could go back in time and beat my own ass. I didnít need the money and it was stupid. Itís amazing how I start a paragraph with a topic and veer away from it completely.

            Not having internet at home is killing me. Itís not that I am addicted to it, which I would say I am a little, but itís more so because most of my hobbies are related to the internet and I enjoy the instantaneous connectedness I get from the internet. I know itís making me stupid in a way, but I enjoy looking up things right away and getting answers. I enjoy sending emails when I want to and not having to go 10 minutes to the internet cafť. Itís supposed to be turned on Friday or Thursday so I can wait a few more days.

            Iíve been unusually sad recently. Itís a combination of several small things that have built up into a mass of melancholy on the verge of gloom and depression. I would say the big factors are no money so I have to stay inside mostly, losing my NT classes, general feeling of being pushed out at school, and some other things not worth mentioning. Iím just sad and canít remember what makes me happy. Iím going to try exercising everyday and see if that helps.

            Iím going to try to make the most of losing my NT classes. Iím going to try to see the silver lining and the bright side of the situation. It could be a blessing in disguise since I was having trouble with some lesson plans for my classes and it would be ok to have only 30 minutes per class to plan something as well as a teacher in the room to shut them up. Thatís IF thatís how it works. The way it was explained to me (at the party while drinking beer) was that the JTE will be teaching 4 classes a week, I will have NO classes of my own in the JHS, but I could assist in the planning of the 4th class. Iím not sure what that really means so I will have to wait and see. In the taxi on the ride home from the party I managed to get pulled into the car with the principal, lead teacher, and JHS 7th grade homeroom teacher. The principal, whom I know from the BoE asked a few times why I was down and I just said I was tired. I didnít want to burden them with my demoted worries.

            Itís 12:45 and we are doing this stupid thing where we canít start eating until some specific time. I think the principal will come in and say good job or something, but we are all just sitting and staring at our boxed lunches until some point. Itís imperative people start and stop things at the same time. Thereís even a chime that goes off at 6am, noon, and 6pm to tell people when to wake up and then eat. There is no personal choice here, we are one. All your base are belong to us.

            We were waiting on a group photo of all the teachers. It was absolutely absurd too. I brought my fancy Nikon camera with remote control, but for some reason it was better to use a school camera which was 3mp and had a stupid timer. It took about 5 minutes to set it up which seemed like 30 minutes. Then the teacher had to keep running back to set the timer and adjust it. It was just dumb and I was in a bad mood and didnít smile. I really hope I feel better soon and that this change doesnít end up being a demotion or the beginning of the end. Iím going to see how it goes and I might talk to the BoE in the fall if it doesnít get better. I would try to get moved to an ES teacher rather than being an NT. Basically they donít need an NT here and this is their way of telling me.

            I just received a copy of the base schedule for the year and it has my NT classes on it. So I am trying to find the English teacher to see what the deal is (to see what is the deal). He is either going to say ďoh thatís the old one and it doesnít count. You have no classes and nothing to doĒ or perhaps he or I grossly misunderstood something and the schedule is normal. I donít think itís too old since it has both of us teaching the 4th grade, so we will see.


            Nope, itís actually WORSE than I thought before. WOW. #$%&-ing WOW. I was actually trying to make the most of the situation and look at the bright side of things, but no this is a total kick in the balls. He has 4 classes a week, 3 are solely his and I am NOT supposed to go to them. I am not supposed to go to the 3 of the 4 English classes per week. The 4th class, which was my NT class, is the only class I am supposed to go to per week for each grade. I was thinking that they would be like my supervised NT classes which would be insulting enough, but now they are regular English classes and they are the only ones I can go to. Well I guess I am now paid to pursue my own interests and plan a 4th grade class once a week and plan an ES 1-3 class once a month. I was actually in a great mood for the 15 minutes that I misunderstood the schedule. Now Iím in an even worse mood than before.

            I wonder if this is a back fire from my original plan. When I requested I only come to Konan twice a week the goal was to have 3 NT classes, 3 classes with the 4-5-6th graders, and occasionally a class with the 1-3 graders. All that in two days would make me really busy which is what I wanted / want. But that isnít the goal in Japan. Efficiency is irrelevant. Now I have NO classes alone. I guess itís because I am a bad teacher. I mean even with the low numbers if I were a great / good teacher they would have kept my classes somehow, so apparently I am no good. Well thatís good to know.

Better, a bit.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009

            I planned to go walking/jogging in the park, but it got too dark since I did a few things after getting home. I really didnít want to go to the gym, but I have to if I plan to lose weight. I am the fattest I have ever been. While there I saw Matt who cheered me up since heís a genuinely nice guy, plus the endorphins helped as well. I also ran into the ďsilverbackĒ as I call him. This big muscular guy who is really nice and all the other guys somewhat cower when he is around. He was squatting with 250 KILOGRAMS on the bar. A Kilo is 2.2 pounds so yea thatís a lot of weight.

            I asked him if he would mind making a weekly weight training schedule which I knew he wouldnít mind. He seemed to be excited about it and said he will have it Wednesday. Iím going to try to go Mon-Wed-Fri and do cardio in the park on Tues and Thurs. My dinner last night was almost perfect, but I found two cookies that either needed to be eaten or thrown out and why waste food. Tonight I am going to Angelaís party and will have only a Caesar salad partially because itís big and tasty and partially because otherwise I would have a big pizza. I should be able to walk in the park before the celebration of life.

            When I got home I found a pizza flyer in my door. Itís been so long since I ordered a pizza to my place for dinner. I expect to do it once or twice since large pizzas are not large, but they cost about $30 sometimes as much as $40 for ONE. When I was home for December, my family (3 people) ate plenty with leftovers for $25. Japan can be so absurd sometimes. Some things are really cheap and affordable, other things like pizzas and tires can be absurdly too expensive. That made me happy for a bit to think about how I am now close enough to everything to order delivery food.

            What then got me down again was thinking about my NT situation mainly because the only logical (Japanese logic) answer I can come up with is the JTE (Japanese teacher of English) hijacked my classes and HE told me I couldnít come to his. There is NO reason why a native English speaker shouldnít go to his English classes. Itís one thing to say I donít have to come, but to say DONíT come, that makes no sense. Except when I remember the Japanese can be terribly arrogant when it comes to pride and specifically teaching English. Itís arrogance on an epic scale the likes of which I can barely comprehend. I have had people correct my native English. Teachers that canít speak English properly, who donít have a doctorate in linguistics, who never lived abroadÖ.they correct my pronunciation. Hey I have an idea go in that room and practice the difference between L and R and then some TH work and then call me. One in particular I remember was when a teacher told me to pronounce ďelseĒ as ďLL-T-sĒ whereas I foolishly say ďL-ssssĒ. Thereís no hard T in that word. That is just wrong, but she made a point of correcting me in front of several other teachers merely to show how well she could speak English. I could never imagine correcting a Japanese personís pronunciation. I would get laughed at Iím sure.

            So why would the principal and VP say ďhe shouldnít go to your classes except on this one day. The day that used to be HIS class, which is now your class, that is the only day he should goĒ. It would make more sense for them to want me in the classroom all the time. It would only be HIM that would want to teach alone and no have any interruptions. Thatís the only rational reason I can find for this plan. He doesnít like my little tid bits of info, even though I time them to fit in his breaks and ask if I can say something. This truly doesnít make a shred of sense.

            But adding to that is the fact that students are now moving the previously moved English room to the 3rd floor library. We just moved all the books and shelves out of the library into the hallway and I have no idea what they are going to do with them. Honestly, the only thing that makes any sense here is my theory of how you think of what is logical, rational, and makes the most sense and then you think of the opposite. Sadly thatís about how 90% of things work in Japan.

            Itís really strange to me how things were really getting better and I was looking forward to the future. Then suddenly without warning things took a massive nosedive around April 1st. It is partially due to the culture here. Japanese people are non-confrontational and deal with this by doing several things. One of which is not causing a confrontation until the last possible minute. I think thatís what was done here since there is no way this was a sudden change. They have been planning it for a while and didnít want to mention it until the last minute, which is what they did. Another tactic is to not mention something at all and hope the target figures it out which is what happened with the senior school trip a few years ago. He kept saying ďwe donít know if you can go or not yetĒ and then he would turn around and meet with the travel agent who most assuredly asked him how many seats should be booked on the flight. Well did you include one for me or not? That would be confrontational to say ďno you cannot goĒ. It would be easier (though it seems deceptive to me) to just not say anything and hope the target (me) figures it out, which I did.

            Iím honestly not entirely mad that they dropped my classes, I know that NTs are injected into the school and when the student numbers are low it becomes a problem. Iím more mad at A) how they did the typical Japanese not tell you til the last minute bit and B) how they could have had several opportunities to tell me if there were problems with my NT classes. That could have been done in a variety of ways. I would have agreed with them if they had told me there were some problems or if I had to clear my lessons through the JTE or VP or something. But instead we were just driving along normally and then BAM there are no wheels on the car and only I am surprised. Everyone else seems to know. Though I am curious why the schedule still shows my NT classes rather than showing them as regular English classes. Iím considering asking the VP why I was demoted at some point.

            Sorry if all this is whiny, but I really write this thing for me. It lets me air out my thoughts and slow down my thinking so I can formulate reasons as to why things happen. Itís also a documentation of my life. Iíll try to get back to normal soon, but this soul crushing turn of events pretty much dominates everything now.


            Nothing is going right for me these days. I donít know what I did to have karma turn on me like this. I had 4 spare tires from my old Legacy car which was my first in Japan and two before this one. I got rid of it on a whim since I misunderstood something about taxes. All in all it was a costly mistake. Anyway, I took the tires to the local mechanic shop thinking they could use them being mechanics and all. I went in and explained the situation and said ďif you want them I will give them to you, I donít need them at all.Ē The owner said they had no need for them either. I tried to say ďif you donít want them I am simply going to throw them awayĒ meaning if you have even the slightest need for them or could possibly sell them or trade them for something, please take them. But instead, I think I said ďwell then throw them away, just throw them awayĒ. He took the tires and I thought he would use them or something, but he barked at some underling to come over and take them. I watched them toss the tires in a garbage bin. I think I offended him by saying you throw them away. I was trying to be niceÖ

Looking Better, but...
Wednesday, April 08, 2009

            I went to a lovely dinner party last night with Angela and 9 other people since it was her birthday. It was at Italian Dining which is about a 5 minute walk from my new place. I planned on having only a salad, but I was ravished and had a salad and a small pizza. Talking with everyone made me feel better since I draw energy from others. Thatís mainly what made me sad all the time in Konan was that there was no one to talk to and I felt like I was intruding when I invited myself into otherís lives in Koriyama.

            Iím at school now trying to find the vice principal alone so I can ask why I was demoted or basically have no classes. I still canít figure out why my NT classes canít be at least supervised. That way if it was about him not having enough classes to justify his salary he could count them as his and I would assist, but they simply dropped mine altogether and said that I could attend HIS classes as an assistant, but only one class a week. The class that was my time slot. That simply makes zero sense whatsoever. It would be much different if they dropped my classes and said I could go to all of his as an assistant, but telling me to NOT go to his other 3 per grade seriously makes zero sense.

            Iím going to play it semi-Japanese and follow the food chain up until I get a decent answer. Iíll go to the BoE if I have to, but that might get someone in trouble and Iíd rather not do that. If it stays like this I might even suggest I come to Konan once a week or 5-6 times a month, like twice every other week and once during the others. Sitting in the teacherís room will be rough until August when I change to twice a week, but when you teach English in Japan what you really do is appear to teach English and waste as much time as possible.

            The good news of the day is I should be getting internet at home tomorrow. They havenít called to say it wasnít going to happen so I am expecting it when I get home from Ohse tomorrow. I expect to sit there since itís a bit early for full classes, but maybe they have a few. For us a big thing is the ES connected is like an oil tanker. It takes a while to get it up and going. The first years have to be trained in everything and donít even eat in the lunch room for a while.

            Tonight I should be getting my custom workout schedule from the Silverback at the gym. I asked him if he would mind making me a plan like his and he said he would be happy to. To make a plan be happy he would. I meant to go jogging last night but some workman came over to fix the sliding doors in my apartment and got there late and stayed until 6:15 and Angelaís party was at 6:30. I got there on time, but everyone else was late as expected. Actually Angela and I were waiting about 10 minutes and people eventually strolled in.

Finally Got The Answer.
Friday, April 10, 2009

            I was fuming all week about my demotion and was ignoring everyone. I clarified a few times about my job and each time the situation seemed worse to me. Finally today I decided to ask the VP point blank why I was demoted. I had the whole speech worked out in my head and just waited for him to be alone. Then I decided to clarify it one more time with the JTE who until recently was a good friend.

            This time he explained it slightly different and I asked probative questions so I could fully grasp it. I had misunderstood the situation and, although it still has a mild suckage value, itís not as bad as I thought. The Japanese Ministry of Education required several subjects to add classes and English had no choice but to takeover my classes. I will still go to those and partially plan them or solely plan them occasionally. The other three classes per week are planned by the JTE, but he DOES want me to go to them. Last time he wasnít clear about that and I got mad and stopped listening. He and I will both plan the 5-6th grades and I will do the 1-4 grades alone, though he will stop by the 4th grade occasionally to explain tough things in Japanese.

            So this is still a mild demotion since I no longer have autonomy over my classes, but honestly they were starting to get disorganized and basically suck. Itís far better than I thought and I have renewed my energy toward the school and classes, but it is slightly depressing in some ways. I can stop pouting and start planning.

            Tonight there is a party in town and I plan to go and drink. My diet allows one 24 hour period of free eating. If you constantly reduce your diet to the bare minimum your body adjusts the metabolic rate. Whereas if you eat whatever you want one day and then go back to the strict diet, you actually start to lose weight. As long as you donít eat 10,000 calories on the free day and then never work it back off.

            Yesterday I went to Ohse and they have a great plan for the year for me. Every week I will go to both classes of the 3rd years (seniors) and then both classes of either the 1st or 2nd years. So thatís 4 classes every week which is great. Unlike yesterday which was no classes. Time just stopped in the afternoon. Once I did some stuff and thought ďoh man itís gotta be around 4 by now, that stuff took over an hourĒ, but when I looked at the clock it was 2:55. Just then a friend Matt emailed my phone and said ďitís not even 4 yetĒ. He too was in the same boat as I (were we actually in boats). The 3rd years will have elective classes every week and I will team teach with the young Ito sensei. We already made a rough plan for next week and it sounds fun. We donít use the textbook since it is mainly a communication class.

            Iím in a much better mood now although still broke until payday.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

            I went to Kaiseizan park on Saturday to look at the Sakura cherry blossoms. It's a huge thing in Japan and the park was packed all weekend. There are booths set up around the temple and the park is full of people sitting under the trees drinking sake. Matt organized a birthday group, but ended up merging with Ben's bigger group. Ben has been here for 15+ years and was actually born in Japan and raised here and in the Phillipines. This was his 15th or so hanami and he said thousands of people had sat on his hanami tatami mats. Hana means flower and mi is part of the word miru which means to see or look.


          Today I had Indian food with Matt for lunch and then we went by Hard Off and he bought a desk and I took his old one. He was tired of sitting on the floor to use his computer and I was tired of sitting in a chair. Hard Off, what a great name. It actually means hard things like desks, snowboards, guitars that are marked off or discounted. Still it was a good laugh when I first saw it. The other store is book off, which you can figure out and makes more sense even though I always want to start running when I hear the name.

Planned Fire Drill.
Monday, April 13, 2009

            We had a planned fire drill which was absurd. I understand that it has to be planned and the teachers should know so itís not a huge interruption, but itís so planned that itís nearly scripted. Itís on the schedule and all the kids know so at the end of first period they all took their outside shoes to the door in preparation. You have to change shoes when you go outside even if it is an emergency. Then when it was time to start an announcement was made, ďwe are now about to have a fire drill, please make your final preparations.Ē Then the drill went off and people walked out to a designated area as a group. Then some firemen spoke about various things and other teachers talked about general safety. The last thing they did was stand up to leave, but they didnít stand up correctly the first two times so they had to sit back down in the dirt and do it again a 3rd time. How someone stands up is the absolute last thing I would care about during an emergency drill.

            As much as I never want a real fire to occur I am curious as to what they would do. I asked one teacher why it was so scripted and he said ďwell if we didnít tell them in advance they might panic and become confusedĒ. So basically when there is a real fire, if we donít know in advance then everyone will panic and become confused? Itís so weird sometimes being in a culture where everything is planned and scripted and nothing is left to free will.

            I just had a class with the 3rd graders in the elementary school. Last year they were a bit loud and active in class, but they got a new male teacher that I heard was strict. Nope, no strict at all. That was a truly annoyingly loud class. They literally talked right through all my explanations. I had to say ďbe quietĒ dozens of times. They were completely ignoring me and it was really a headache. Since there are no consequences in Japan thereís not much I can do. I thought about making more stickers and passing them out to the quiet kids, but in Japan you have to give everyone in the group the same amount regardless of how they behave.

Butt Fixation.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

            Japanese people are fixated with the butt, more specifically the butt hole. It is perfectly acceptable to stick your fingers in someone elseís butt. Granted that is a guy thing itís still annoying (since I am a guy). Kids come up constantly and poke me in the butt sometimes painfully hard. When I say stop or no or donít or anything they just laugh, because A) there are no consequences in Japan and B) fingers in butts are perfectly acceptable. Teachers see it and say nothing (sometimes they laugh). I even see it on TV on game shows and other things, though that is not as common.             I thought it was only kids, but I have seen teens and adults do it in certain situations.

            What I find more annoying and painful is when they hit me in the front. I have seriously considered wearing an athletic cup, but I fear someone would hit it and feel it and then it would be a game. Iíd love to have one with spikes or something that would mildly hurt them so either A) the kids would put 2 and 2 together and stop doing it or B) I would get in trouble and say ďit hurts, I want it to stop, please tell them to stop doing itĒ since whenever I tell a teacher he/she just laughs (because that stuff is perfectly ok here).

            I saw 2 really stupid near-accidents recently. They were both because Japanese people CANNOT wait when driving (not even for a few seconds) and because people pass on turns, in tunnels, and over hills. The first one was when I left yesterday and was behind a school bus. Itís actually a regular bus packed with kids. We stopped by the post office in front of a bridge. I waited for the bus to start going again since it would only be a few seconds (and because I am capable of waiting). The car behind me slowed and then started inching in that way that was like ďoh my GOD we are stopped, OH GOD WHY, why are we stopped, OH DEAR GOD, I am a shark and if I stop moving I will die, OH GODĒ. Then he passed me and the bus. He got about half way around the bus when a car came over the bridge and he had to back up and get out of the way.

            Then today on the way to school we were zipping along in a group of 4 cars and a bigger truck behind me. We were already moving fairly fast, but the truck had somewhere to be. The approaching curve was not relevant. He passed all 4 fairly-fast moving cars, but near the 1st one a car came around the corner. The truck ran off the road a bit and the car slammed on the brakes. As we drove by I saw both parties bowing to each other.



Both drivers were apologizing to each other.



A) Why was the right of way driver not screaming and yelling?
B) Why was he apologizing to the idiot passing driver?



            One reason is logic is reversed here. I constantly use my theory of ďthink of how a situation should run smoothly and logically with no problems. Now think of the opposite of that.Ē That is exactly how things go here most of the time. Sometimes I disagree with something, but understand why itís done that way. Most of the time, some situation will make not only zero sense, but actually less than zero. I mean you could easily think of a dozens ways that would work better than doing it that way.

            One example is parking. Japanese people do what they are told and they are told to back into every space (if they go to driving school which most do). Iíd say 90% of the time this is fine and works better when leaving, but occasionally backing in takes longer before and after and is really stupid. One example is the parking lot at the gym. Space #1 points directly out, but people constantly pull in and wiggle around in the narrow tight lot to back into this space and then wiggle around to back out. When I see that spot is open I back into the whole parking lot and pull straight into the spot and then when I leave, I back up a little and pull right out. My way takes 10 seconds, the better Japanese way takes a few minutes. Space #2 would be easiest to back into the whole lot and straight into that, but people still pull into the lot and work their way around until they back into the space and then pull straight out. There is ZERO reason to back into space #1.



Japanese drivers always back into spots

Here is the perfect example. The lot is one way going clockwise (if you were looking down on it).
This car drove around from the right, stopped, backed into the spot and is now facing the wrong way.
Look at the arrow to the left on the ground, the car has to turn itself all the way around to get out.
Had it just pulled straight in, it could back up a little and zoom right out.
(This is city hall not the gym).


            This week I have 5 classes at Konan and 4 at Ohse. I almost have more in one day than 4 days at Konan. I still like this school, but it will be nice to drive all the way out here only twice a week starting in August. People would be fired in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, etc. if they had employees and told them ďthereís nothing to do this week so come in and sit and do nothing.Ē Itís not even that I want to be home, I actually want to be working. Either here or at some other school or anywhere, but most everyone who teaches English in Japan has this problem too. We are here for appearance more than actual usage.


Anything but class.
Friday, April 17, 2009

            Yet another thing annoying about the school system in Japan is how apparently anything can get in the way of classes. It seems as though actually teaching in the classroom is at the bottom of the priority list. At Ohse our classes were interrupted because they had mini health checks. I asked why they didnít just have a self study period and do them all then, but I was told THAT would be disruptive. How is half the class leaving mid-lesson not disruptive? Today at Konan they are having IQ tests and that is interrupting classes as well. Students can miss class for a sports event, but itís horrible to miss a sporting event for anything academic.

Getting Dissed Gets Annoying.
Monday, April 20, 2009

            Saturday I had nothing to do so I went to the station and had McDonaldís for lunch and then Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappucino for a snack afterwards. While at McDís I ran into a guy that I barely knew, but he remembered me. His name is Kyle and he was the 2nd JET to come to Koriyama, back in 1988. WOW man thatís 20 years ago. He still lives here working in Tokyo and commuting everyday, ouch. We chatted a bit and he invited me to a party after he had some workshop to attend in the afternoon. He called around 6 that night and said they would be meeting at a place in town at 7. I went along and had a great time. The bar has some pricey, but tasty dark Belgium beer. Kyle is older than me, but remembered a lot of things from my childhood. I was mentioning some quiz I took on Facebook about childhood cartoons.

            After drinks a few of us went to a 2nd party for James ďFidgetĒ Berry. He went to a restaurant andJapanese Karaoke Box then we joined up for the after-party karaoke. My preferred Karaoke group is about 4-5 people of similar age and culture. We had several varying ages, different styles, and some Japanese people. It was still fun, but the songs varied greatly, some people were left out often, and the vibe went up and down. I remember when I first got here and would go out with a group and we would play several anthem style songs where everyone was singing along full volume. Both ways of Karaoke are full since itís a social event, but I prefer when the vibe stays high. We also didnít get the drink set since some people werenít drinking so the 2 beers I had were a bit pricey.

            After that I walked home which was about 2 kilometers. I realized itís not as far as I thought it would be and I should walk more. I think I am going to start walking completely around the outside of the park since that would be longer than walking around the inside. Iím getting a bike tomorrow since I plan to bike everywhere and not drive except for school stuff. Biking around should help me get in shape a bit more than driving everywhere. Other people bike and donít drive so why canít I?

            If there is a task that needs to be done and there happens to be a person in the group that can do that task perfectly and flawlessly, he/she may or may not be assigned to do it and possibly not even consulted. One example is we have a prefecture-wide famous soccer coach teaching volleyball because the soccer team was taught by someone else. The other person would sit by the goal and have a smoke and tell the kids to run around kicking the ball. We lost every game last yearÖ.Whereas the volleyball team won most of theirs and went to the regional championship. Another example is I can draw things on the computer very well using a variety of programs and yet the teacher who sits beside me is creating something using Microsoft PAINT. Which really sucks for most everything much less drawing a logo, but this is HIS job, not mine. So he will do it and not ask anyone for help.

            Thatís not even what I was talking about in the title of this part. I teach a class with the 3rd graders in the elementary school every week apparently. Last year it was about 10 times a year (on paper) and I went 5-7 times. The teacher seemed a bit more strict than this new one. I just went to the class 3rd period and it drove me crazy. I mentioned this last week and it was even worse this week. The kids just talk to each other until I scream shut up. Some kids just get up and walk around the classroom while I am explaining. I hate how there is no consequence for anything in Japan. Do what you want, thereís no punishment.

            The funny thing is they would be quiet for something that was not English related. If the principal were talking about something, oh youíd better believe they would sit quietly or someone would tell them to shut up. THAT is rude, but talking during a foreignerís class or walking around or being disruptive in any way, thatís ok. Heís not Japanese, heís lower than us. Man it is really hard living here sometimes. I still enjoy it 51% of the time, but itís constantly testing. I couldnít imagine having a foreign teacher in the US who was brought over to teach Japanese and allowing kids to talk constantly during his/her class. I guess some people are more equal than others here in Japan.

Sunday there was a city wide tennis match so I went to see Ohse and Konan play.
I had to pee, but here is the bathroom directly behind the girls. You can easily see in
since there are no doors. No way was I going to pee in front of all my girl students.

Perhaps, it was for the better.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

            I covered for a teacher who is on the school trip today. I had two classes actually, but the first one was with the 2nd years which is what I want to rant about. The JHS 2nd years are nice and decent kids, but they donít take me or my classes seriously. I didnít fully realize that until today. Last year we did some educational activities and sometimes watched movies in class for listening practice (or so I thought). So today when I walked into the class they saw me and everyone started saying things like ďOh itís Ryan, what movie will we watch, yea no work, we can play.Ē I mean there were so many kids saying that stuff that I realized they see me as the fun teacher in a ďwe donít have to do anythingĒ way. I told them no more movies this year and they couldnít believe it. Then they started say ďasobenaiĒ which means ďwe canít playĒ. Perhaps it was better that I lost my classes since they didnít respect me as a teacher.

Narrow Japanese Roads            I feel like itís Monday since I had yesterday off. We had a monthly meeting at this hotel that the city bought and changed into yet another government building. Itís a nice building and directly beside city hall, but it seems odd when we keep hearing things like ďthe city canít do ____ because there is no moneyÖ..we might have to do some lay offs because there is no moneyĒ. So the meeting was good overall because we get together and talk about general things for an hour or so, people make announcements and then we break into groups and talk about specific things for JHS and ES. I sat with the ES group and got some good ideas for upcoming classes. After that some of us went to lunch at the Indian place and then I hung around with Matt, Kelly, and Marc at Viva Home (home goods place). I finally made it home around 9 or so since I did laundry, took stuff to the dry cleaners, ran some errands and then picked up Matt for dinner at the station. There was an earthquake while we were in a tall building, which was fun. Photo: Narrow roads in Japan. I barely fit through some of them.

            This week I have 4 classes over 3 days at Konan and 4 classes on one day at Ohse. Hmmm. I did tell the BoE about my wish for when I change schools in August. Iíll be getting two new ones and they had told me I would be at Konan 3 days a week, Ohse 1 day, and two other schools on the 2 other days. Most likely it would have been one school twice a week for three weeks and then the other school twice a week for one week. Konan just doesnít need me here 3-4 days a week. Even if I taught every single class at the school, that would be 9 classes total which could be 4 one day and 5 the other on a two day cycle.

            The classes at Ohse are going to be two intro classes with the new first years and then some kind of class with the 2nd years. I think itís some kind of category game. Thereís a category behind a student and the others in the group have to give hints so the student says the name of the category. If the category is ďColorsĒ students would name colors until the student said ďcolorsĒ. It literally takes no preparation and requires several components. Students have to think of what the category means and then things in that category and the say them, then the ďitĒ person has to listen to the words, think of what they are and what kind of category they are in. It usually takes the whole class and everyone enjoys it. Photo: My space is to the right but I can't get there since people park anywhere. You know if I had a party and people blocked spaces, the BoE would be getting a call. But it's ok if others do it. I simply parked behind them so they had to knock on my door and say "could you move your car so I can get out YOU are blocking ME".


Butt Bruise.
Monday, April 27, 2009

            Friday night I bought a bike from Sports Authority. I opted for one that was about $200. Thatís a bit more than I wanted to pay, but anything cheaper ends up being a pathetic granny bike. I wanted something nice with gears that looked decent. The brand I chose was HUMMER, not because of the name, but because it was the best looking bike for $200. Then I bought a lock which was $10, a seat cushion which was $10, and then I had to register the bike with the police which was another $5. It took an hour to buy the bike do to all the paperwork. Japan LOVES paperwork and there is never a shortage of it.

            Having it take an hour made me late for Sarahís Horror Movie Night. She cooked a scrumpious lasagna dinner and then we chatted for an hour. There were about 7 people there and showed our favorite YouTube videos. Dan showed a great one called Cleveland which was a funny spoof tourism video. It was two guys singing things like ďCome down and look at our two buildings, this train take jobs out of Cleveland, here is where there used to be industry, this is West 67th streetÖ.a great place to see if youíre a douche bagĒ. It was well done and funny. Then there was the dreaded Dog Police video (ARGH) and some other ones.

            Then we went to Danís mini-theater and watched Descent which was a decent low budget horror flick. Some parts were well done and had genuine scary moments while other parts were just standard ďoh fight scenes are always good, letís drag this one outĒ. Great idea, no one has ever done that before. The very ending was odd too, but overall it was decent and I enjoyed the whole evening. After that I road home with Lydia and realized that if you donít ride a bike for about 4 years you develop a nasty butt bruise. I guess I need to ride a little each day to wear it in.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

            Last night I went home and then to Jintei which is a scump-dilly-icious place. They serve this chicken dish wrapped around cheese. The chicken is wrapped not the whole dish. I shouldnít have gone since I need to save money, but I wanted to go and have a beer after my class yesterday. I had one class today with the ES 2nd graders. They are much better than the 3rd graders. Todayís lesson was ok at first, but then I tried to play a game that was above them. I had to quit it halfway through and change to something else. Overall the class was ok and it was just a review anyway.

            Last night when I got to the place I thought I was the first so I waited since they used to open at 5:30 and I got there at 5:15. Then some guy pulled up and walked straight in and sat down where I wanted to sit. I was furious at him for a while and then realized I was the moron who just sat down and didnít even try the door. There was no closed sign so I should have tried to open it. After that I was mad at myself, but it all worked out. I like the bar seat because there is only room for 2 people. When he seats me at a table and some group of 4 come in they glare at the single alone moron taking up a 4 person table. I end up eating too fast and not enjoying it. This time I ate slowly and there were two other tables open until I was finished eating.

            After that I went back and played more World of Warcraft. I had nothing else to do and didnít need to plan for today (or so I thought) and I needed to get my character up a few levels. I am at level 64 out of 80. You get to 20 really quick then it slows down. Iím barely advancing now and itís getting repetitive sometimes. When I get to 80 the game will change drastically for me. I might even run around killing the lower level enemies just to be a jerk. I get randomly killed often by the enemy so I might return the favor.

            I think I am going camping next week from Sunday to Tuesday or something. I havenít heard anything from the girl organizing it so I donít know. Itís that usual place I go most every Golden Week since I have moved to Koriyama. Well this is my 4th year and it will be my 3rd time I think.

            I read online that the White House allowed a jet to fly low in New York and specifically told certain people not to inform the governor and residents. That has got to be the flat out dumbest thing I have ever heard. Itís on the verge of a conspiracy. I mean why on earth would you A) DO THAT, B) not tell absolutely everyone in the city and C) pick NY to fly a low plane. Seriously, I canít even imagine a dumber combination of stupidity than that. Itís almost as if they wanted to test peopleís reactions to a plane. I seriously canít even think of an analogy to relate that to. It is sheer ignorance and suspicious.





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