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Ha ha, no not that.
Monday, December 1, 2008

            Wow itís already December. Iím planning to go back to the US for the break to see the folks and stock up on American adult sized products. Itís going to be costly, but Iím trying to fly directly there via Delta. It such a hassle to do a layover on such a long flight.

            Anyway, this week I am one of two ďshuubanĒ teachers. It means in charge of various things for the week. Shuu means week and ban means number and somehow ďin charge ofĒ. Oh it also means turn as in ďmy turnĒ so maybe itís ďmy weekly turnĒ. Anyway, I went ahead and checked all the doors and windows on the 2nd and 3rd floor and the other teacher will do the 1st floor. I also have to write some nonsense in a stupid log book. Itís actual nonsense. Itís things like ďthe weather was nice todayĒ just to fill up space. So I checked the doors and windows and then told the other teacher, or at least I meant to tell the other teacher. I actually said something terrible, but luckily only he heard me. I meant to say ďtoe G ma-D she mah she tahĒ which means to close the windows and doors, but instead I said ďtoe sah sue she mah she tahĒ which means ďI took perverted picturesĒ. When he looked at me with wide eyes I replayed it in my head and corrected myself. I learned it last week when I translated a memo about some teaching getting arrested for doing it in another city. That was awesome. By awesome, I mean not awesome.

Gone with the Wind.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

            I bought a $5 DVD of GWTW. Itís in English with Japanese or English subtitles. I realized I had never seen it, plus I wanted to know how to say it in Japanese. Anyway, I canít stop singing the theme song in my head. I guess thatís good for the person that wrote it since itís been 69 years and the song is still catchy. Itís really fitting and nostalgic which is why itís easy to remember. Anyway, one odd thing I didnít know about GWTW is that itís like 900 hours long. I have been watching it at night when I go to bed and so far Iíve watched a bit for three nights. I keep watching and it doesnít end, it just keeps going and going like the Energizer bunny. Surely it will end tonight.

            Today I had a class with the 5th graders. I did Ďdirectionsí which is always a fun class. Iíve had a few boring ones with them so this one was needed. I taught them the basic 5 go straight, go back, turn left, turn right, and stop. First they had a printout activity and then we made the room into a maze and had them give directions to their partners. It was pretty good overall.


            WOW. I just had a great class with my 8th graders. Normally they are a bit lazy in any class especially the foreign-English-teacher-who-canít-give-gradeís class, but today it was nearly all English the whole class. I put them into groups of 3 with one as the A person, the second as the B player, and the third as the Japanese police. Person A would ask Person B ďis there a soccer ball on the table?Ē If the answer was yes they moved on, if they said no then Person A got a point. The police person would listen for any Japanese and give him/herself a point. The police people were getting really strict which made the players say everything in English. Then they rotated jobs and did it again. It was amazing and I am going to work it into all my classes somehow.

Joys of Country Life.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008

            The garage guy that sold me the Pajero Jr. called me on Monday about a remote engine starter I asked about the previous week. My battery is dying on my phone so I told him I would stop by Tuesday sometime. I did around 5 and we talked about the engine starter. Itís a nicer version than I had before in that it has something called ďanswer backĒ. That basically means the remote lets me know when the car actually starts. I love the engine starter and itís the greatest invention known to man.

            Anyway, when I asked him about it I had said I could pay around $200 for it, but then I bought the pricey camera so my budget got incredibly smaller. When I talked to him Tuesday I told him I did want it, but I couldnít pay until after the 20th which is payday (well itís the 21st, but thatís a Saturday). So he said ďehÖdonít worry about it, you can pay next year when you get backĒ. I replied with the usual and expected, ďoh I could ask you to do thatĒ and he said ďoh no problem, itís cold in Konan and we need theseĒ. Thatís one of the beauties of living in a small town. Heís even going to come to the school and pick up the car and then bring it back. I guess itís because I teach his kids (who are both awesome) and because Iím clearly not a flight risk.

Auto Start.
Friday, December 5, 2008

            As I type this (though not as you are reading it) an remote engine starter is being installed in my car. Iíll be able to start the car with the heater on and have it completely warmed up before I leave the house. The remote engine starter, as well as the electric blanket and knee high plastic shoes, are some of the greatest inventions ever made.

            I remembered that I havenít sat through a teacherís meeting in a while. I remembered that when I had to sit through one. It was the same as all the others in that we were given dozens of memos and then they were read to us. One woman who had a sore throat had to read a memo to us and I could tell it was a strain. Why are they read to us? Why canít they just point out the highlights and have us read it later. This happened at the gym when I was helping Lydia sign up. The nice girl behind the counter started reading the whole rule book to us and we were both starving and were trying to get out so we could go eat. She started reading the bit about parking and I said we could skip it since Lydia wouldnít be driving. She said ok and then continued to read it to us. Itís like one of those toy wind up cars hitting a wall. It just keeps moving forward no matter what happens.


Customer Service...ARGH.
Sunday, December 6, 2008

            Today started out great, but then went downhill.  I woke up and went into town and did some errands. I went to Starbucks and had a venti frappucino since I have to start eating right for my health check on Friday. While there I met an attractive Japanese girl that lived in the US for a while and speaks great English. Then I did some other things and finally met Megan (and baby Zinnia) for a late lunch.  We went to Indian and I had some butter chicken marsala and two dishes of cheese nan.

             So at this point I am still feeling good. Then I went to do laundry and after that forced myself to go to the gym. Then on the way home I decided to go by UNIQLO and get some more underwear and some socks. So I picked out some stuff and took it to the counter and charged it. But my card was declined twice. So I called the emergency number on the card and was told, by a recording, to call another number. So I called that number and found I had maxed out the card, even though I hadn't (more on that in a second).  So then I called the new number and went through 30 menus to hear "your financial institution has pathetically lame business hours, please call back on every 5th Thursday from 10:20 to 10:23". Seriously, this isn't a major emergency, but if I had a real emergency and needed to call them and couldn't because they have no overnight customer service, man that would really suck.

            So then I drive back to Konan and I realized I hadn't had dinner and I had planned to fill up my tank with gas using my credit card. But everything closes in Konan at 7 so I started getting really mad about living out here. I like the town and the the apartment, but it's just so far and isolated. I think I am going to apply for a Japanese credit card soon. I want to apply for an American one, but I would have to give my Japanese address and that might be a problem.

Leveling Off.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008

            It was a bumpy weekend, but it has started to level off. I forgot to mention why my credit card was locked and seemed like I had maxed it out when in fact I had not. I overpaid my credit limit and then called them so they would release the overpayment as credit. I needed to buy a plane ticket to the US and I have a low credit limit. Thatís for my own protection since I tended to overspend. So they released the money and I bought the ticket and there was still about $300 left over. Apparently when they released it there is some weird lock on it until they do something to allow me to use it as usual. Since I bought the ticket Friday night their time and they work pathetically lame hours the card was locked all weekend. I checked it again Monday night, which would have been Monday morning for them, and it was back to normal.

            Before this happened I figured I would buy something with my US ATM card so I went to use it and it was declined twice. First it said it was rejected, then it said it was invalid. So I sent a message to the bank (that has unheard of service 24 hours a day) and they said I have to call and talk to them. Also I should tell them in advance before going overseas. I guess I should have told them 7 years ago, even though I have used the card dozens of times since then. So I am going to call later today when itís late there so I donít have to wait on hold for an hour. Though to temporarily solve that problem I transferred some money to another bank that doesnít have these issues.

            Iíve been eating well this week and plan to exercise everyday. I have gained weight recently, but at least my blood should be better than last year. Although I donít see how it couldnít be since the doctor said I should have been dead or at least have diabetes with those blood levels. Thereís no way I can get to a reasonable weight since they judge people by Japanese standards. There was a girl a few years ago who was perfectly normal in western standards and actually on the verge of a bit thin, but she was classified as obese. When we saw that we laughed and stopped worrying about that silly test. That is Friday so I will probably take vacation time afterwards rather than rushing back for no classes. I might even try to go out to Bandai-Atami (bahn die ah tah me) for my other monthly blood test, as long as I donít eat anything at the first test. I think I will pass on the barium drink this year.


            Ok, I got the ATM card taken care of. I called them and got right through and explained the situation. They said it was because I tried to take out more than my daily limit, although this was back in November. I tried once and it was declined, then I went somewhere else and used it for slightly less (and under my daily limit) and that went through. Then it gets cancelled which makes no sense. So I answered some questions and they said it was restored. Well thatís fair enough I guess, but I still plan to get another credit card either Japanese or American.

Friday, December 12, 2008

            I had my health check today. That's one of the perks of having this job, the board of education pays for us to have a yearly health check. I mean it's not some simple check up, they check our eyes, ears, heart (EKG), chest x-ray, blood test, vision, urine, poo, optional barium test, and much much more. I really love it even though some of the younger people whine about it. Anyway, apart from me being heavier than last year the rest seemed to go well. I'm sure the blood test will come back much better than last year. The other good news is I can now overeat when I go back to the US in a week.

               My goal for 2009 is to get to 90 kg. I think this will be more possible than before for several reasons. One of which is that I will be moving to Koriyama city and that will make me busier than now. I tend to eat when I am bored. Also I will get a bike and ride around locally while only driving to Konan or other distant schools. There will be more opportunities to eat out and drink, but I think that will be ok. Plus I will be living about 100 feet from a big park where I can run or walk in the mornings. I do that some now around the rice fields, but they aren't as nice as a park.


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