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Ok I guess.
Saturday, November 1, 2008

     I got a call from the garage at 7:30am and missed it so then around 10:30am I went out there rather than call him back. He wasn't there so I talked to his wife and she showed me my new car. It's pretty cool I guess. It's not the Legnum I wanted, but it is more economical and better suited for the area. Once I tint the windows and add a few things it will be better. Here is a photo of a similar vehicle I found:


          That actually looks nearly identical to the point I would think it is a photo of my car except for the fact there is some tinting on the back window and mine has none. It's the not the smaller (cheaper) Pajero Mini that I thought, this is a Pajero Junior which is a white plate with more power. Nearly double the power I think, but also double the emission test cost, gas tank size, and 5 times the weight tax. I can't lie down in the back, but that has only come up a few times in 3+ years so no big deal I guess. It has a nice radio so I hope the speakers are nice as well. When I turn my radio up slightly now the speakers crackle so much so that I often wear headphones while driving.

          I can't drive it until sometime next week because there's some form that takes a week to get. It really takes 10 minutes to fill out and stamp, but if people did things that fast and efficiently they would get more work and no one wants that. No one except for me. I actually requested more work recently from the BoE. There will only be 3 classes in the JHS next April so at best, if I were to have every possible class in a week there would be about 15, but realistically I will have 3 NT classes, 2-3 classes as an AET, and then 2-6 classes in the elementary school per MONTH. I go to Ohse once a week which is great because they use me (though not my activities sometimes...), but I would prefer to have another school once or twice a week. I really don't like having 2 days with no classes and then 2-3 weekend days of more nothing.

          Back to the car. I think I get it next week sometime. Monday is a holiday and Tuesday I go into town for an elementary school seminar and maybe I will have time to ask if the 10 minute form was finished or not. If not I will say that I have a car, but I am waiting on that form and it's really inconvenient since I am renting the loaner. Then maybe the guy in charge of foreign teachers will ask the other guy if he could possibly hurry.

           Tonight there is a Halloween party, but I don't think I am going. I realized it would cost a bit more than I have budgeted for the weekend and I would end up being the old guy in the corner who doesn't know anyone. Then I would have to find a place to stay and pay to get to and from said place. Plus tomorrow there is a chance I might go to Utsunomiya for the gyoza festival. I'm not sure of the details, but I know it will be about $20 each way by local train and take 2 hours. ARGH.

Maybe I was wrong, not likely, but maybe.
Monday, November 3, 2008

            I went to the local gas station to get some kerosene for the heater. To get there I had to drive past the garage that has my new car. I took my camera to get some photos in case the car was out on the lot and they were closed. Not only were they open, but there were about 30 cars in the old 7-11 lot across the street...including mine. I pulled into the garage lot to see what was going on and the owner came over to me. I asked what was going on and he said something about them having a sale since there was a little festival about 50 feet down the road. I saw my car had a SOLD sign on it so I figured it was good business to have some cars marked sold on the lot. I secretly wished someone would come in and offer him an outrageous amount for it and then I could get the Legnum. Oh I have an annoying story about that in a minute. But first...

           I asked him how much it would cost and he said he didn't know. That struck me as odd, but then I figured he had to add in the loaner fee and maybe the junk fee as well. So maybe that's ok and he had been busy since it came in so again maybe no big deal. Then I told him I ordered the parking space form a week ago and I should pick it up tomorrow at which time I will bring it here and get the car. He said once I bring it to him, he has to fill out another form and submit that to the police and then a week later they would tell him if I actually have the space or not.

            So maybe I was wrong about the process. IF the reason the BoE guy said it would take a week is because HE would fill it out right away and then HE was going to submit it to the police and all that would take about a week, then I will admit to being harsh. That makes far more Japanese sense (not actual common sense) than I had thought. BUT, there is a chance that the system is twice as absurdly inefficient as I thought. In that case I have no remorse about saying how ridiculously bureaucratic the Japanese system is. If it takes the guy one week to fill it out and then the police another week to say "well this form says there is a space so then we agree", then wow that takes the cake. I will know more whenever I get it.

          On a lighter note, here are some photos of my future vehicle:

The one at the top of the page has a tire cover, but otherwise nearly identical.
I'd like to get a grill guard maybe and tint the windows.

Having a full size spare is cool, even though I have to buy 5 tires for the car.

It's got a cassette player. I haven't had a cassette in years.

The old 7-11 and the cars for sale.

Who Cares.
November 5, 2008

            First let me say I donít care who you voted for or who you think is the best or worst. I truly care more about the mating habits of praying mantis that what you think Obama/McCain will do if elected. I find it funny how people think everyone else is stupid and uninformed and it is their duty to tell people how to vote. Would you change your mind if I said ďyour candidate is an idiotĒ, no you would think I am the idiot for saying that. As I think you are for saying it to me.

            I had two classes today with the 5th and 6th graders, well one each totaling two. For the 5th graders I did a massive review since many things have slipped through the cracks and they might not know something they should have learned the previous year. Iíll take the blame, even though there are other reasons why they werenít taught various things. I didnít even prepare one thing for the class with the 6th graders because when I do the teacher invariably does something else. Heís a good teacher and his class is really advanced so I never complain, but it has caused me to not plan anything for it even when he tells me to. Iím glad I didnít because he ended up having them use the computer to play some computer games I made.

            Yesterday I went to an elementary school observed lesson. It was really helpful and Iím glad I was allowed to go. There were some parts of the class I didnít like and wonít use, but I would say I can use 80% of what she did. She had a new idea on scoring, the alphabet, phonics, months, and a few other things. Thereís another one on the 18th and that should be equally as informative.

            I went to the BoE and asked if they had the car form ready for me and they said not yet. Apparently it is a difficult form that requires several intense mathematical calculations and trigonometric proofs as well as calculating things along the space-time continuum. I have to see what happens when I get the form. Will it take another week or will it be finished when I get it? Pessimist me is banking on it taking two weeks. I would be unbelievably surprised if Japan was suddenly efficient with paperwork.

            Around the school last week there were parent-teacher conferences. I really wondered what goes on in a few of the sessions. For most kids it would be like ďwell your kid is on track for a good high school. He/she is doing fine and scores above average on the tests and does all the work.Ē But then there are going to be a few that are like ďyour child ranks at the very bottom of the class, well actually the bottom of the school. This is no change from all the previous terms. He/she never turns in work, never participates, never writes anything on the tests, and will not be able to go to any high school except for one that takes anyone.Ē There are some kids at the school that do absolutely nothing at all and still pass. They graduate right beside the student that busted ass all year to get the best grades. They get the same diploma.

Just Wait for ONE SECOND.
November 7, 2008

            Iíve mentioned this before, but it never ceases to amaze me. In Asia itís rude to make someone else wait, even for a second. Literally one second. For me I donít like to wait, but I know itís a part of life. Quite often, I might even say always, when a car is turning the car behind it will do whatever it takes to pass and not have to stop. Most always when a car or something is stopped in the road, cars coming behind it will just go into the other lane regardless of oncoming traffic. The reason I am writing about this is I was in the parking lot of Xebio (zay B-Oh) last night. I went to Ohse and then realized I forgot my gym clothes so I went to go eat and then goof off at the sports store for a while. When I finished I went to my car and had hoped to sit in it for a minute or two, but some car followed me and pulled in front to wait. Then another one tried to pass it, then another one tried to get around it. There was this big jam because no one would wait for 10 seconds while I pulled out.

            I had 2 good classes today. They were with the 1st and 2nd years of JHS. They were real classes with a goal and an activity. I found a flaw in both activities, but the timing was right and the kids were actually speaking and learning some grammar point. In one I used the video I made for Ohse two weeks ago or last week. The kids liked it and I want to make more.

            I went to Ohse yesterday and had planned two activities. One was for the 2nd years and it was a ďWhatís wrongĒ grid where each kid had a problem and time it started and then everyone had to ask everyone else whatís wrong and when did it start. Then I made another complicated activity for the seniors and when I got there I found out I wasnít teaching them. He told me I was last week so I spent a long time making a few different activities until I had one that was decent. Then we didnít use it at all. Such is life.

            I sent a letter to the BoE asking for more work since I have so little these days. My plan is to come to Konan 2-3 days a week, Ohse once, and then another school or schools 1-2 times a week. He seemed keen to it especially since I will be driving myself and they will not be reimbursing me.

            The absurd car form came in today so I drove out to the garage and gave it to the guy. Actually I gave it to his father, the owner, but itís all the same. I wanted to ask about how much the car is since I donít know yet, but I did tell him it would be ideal if it was under $2,000 or around it. Itís a nice car and Iím worried that itís going to be more than I can afford. I wouldnít even know how to tell him I couldnít afford it, even with the loan, since he put in so much work getting it. I still want the long white Legnum though, even it itís not the best car for where I live.

            Last Friday I went to a cute Halloween party with the cute 2nd graders. There was a li sync show with the kid that gets too hyper and causes problems. He did some cool death gothic lip sync stuff that was odd, but I could respect it. Then there was some magic stuff by various kids and of course some kids in the audience would announce ďI know how she did it, thereís a blah blah in the containerĒ and it would ruin the trick. Finally they did something I thought was cool, but ended up awful. Some kids drew some pictures and the teacher gave them away. She held them up and said who wants it. People went crazy and the artist was beaming. Then some kid got up there and no one wanted his stuff and it was awkward and stupid. Itís the same way we assigned students for the elective class last year when no one got in my line. I was just standing there with no one and people were looking and laughing.

Not Yet.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

            I went to the car place yesterday around 3 and filled out a billion forms. I wrote my full address in kanji more than 20 times to the point I am now a master of doing it. Each time had to be perfect and if I had made a mistake I would have had to redo the whole form. Furthermore, no one could write them for me since they were official loan applications. I should hear something soon, but I think it will be no problem since I work for the BoE and have been here 7 years.

            The funniest thing was all the nonsensical paperwork I had to do. We donít sign forms (which would be logical and secure) instead we use a name stamp like you might have had as a child. But we canít just stamp things, we have to have an official document that proves that stamp is official. Thinking Japanesely I can somewhat understand this. However yesterday I had to have a form that proves the form that proves the stamp is officialÖ.is official. Then I had to have a form that proves I have a salary and one that proves I am allowed to be in Japan legally. They all had to be official documents. At one point the garage owner said ďI think a copy will doĒ and I said ďno way, I have been through these things so much they always want originalsĒ. So when he asked the bank guy if a copy would do and got shot down I smiled. If you are every buying anything like a car in Japan copy all your official cards like the foreignerís card and driverís license (front and back). Then get multiple originals of as many forms as you can possibly imagine. Luckily for me the car shop was across the street from the town hall.

            Sunday night I had a great meeting with the woman that runs the International Salon (center) in city hall. She helped me with some Japanese questions I have been having and really answered them. This is why I hate being taught Japanese IN Japanese, because I miss things like this. She explained the differences in a few verbs that are similar and now I totally understand. It was very helpful and I hope to meet with her often.

            So I should get the car this Friday. I heard the car guy semi-subtly ask the bank guy what are the chances and he said it should be no problem for the previously mentioned reasons. So if the loan goes through then the car guy will drive it to Fukushima city on Friday and then give it to me Friday afternoon. Then I can drive it to the BoE bowling night on Friday. I might be going back to Ohse on Friday after school to practice interviews for the national English test and then I would go straight to the bowling thing.

            The funny thing about the car is that I will be paying more than twice what he paid for it. Granted I know there would be a mark up of sorts, but the increase is due to fees and paperwork and fees related to the paperwork more so than any profit he would make. Thereís the auction fee, delivery fee, tax until May, yearly emission (Ďshakení rip off), mandatory insurance, transfer fee, and several others I havenít translated yet. Thatís one reason why I really wanted to buy something from that friend in Fukushima city. He gives people a flat fee and doesnít add in all these things. I know these are all necessary, but thereís no auction or delivery fees with him and those together are $500. My favorite fee so far is the $400 ďService FeeĒ, because really what is that? Thereís a $200 fee to register for an inspection. Hmmm, well I guess the car place that sold me the crappy rusted frame actually isnít going to do anything. So I no longer have anything nice to say about them. POO on them.


            Later that night he called me and told me I was rejected because I wasnít Japanese. I could have a co-signer, but the co-signer had to own land and make X amount per year and I said forget it. Iím not going to ask someone all this info because the bank is skeptical of foreigners. He asked if I could come in tomorrow so I said I will be there around 9:30 to talk about it.

Almost there.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008

            I had one class with the 2nd years (8th graders) and it was so-so. I gave them a word game like scrabble. There were Japanese instructions, but they still didnít get it. They would write words anywhere and I told them sometimes this created words that arenít English. Finally they semi-understood it and it worked semi-ok. I need to make a curriculum for them and stick to it. They are expecting movies every week and other teachers are thinking my classes are crap if I only show movies.

            So after the class I went to the car place and he said the first loan was rejected because they wanted me to either be Japanese or have a guarantor. You might think this is merely a co-signer, but itís more than that. The person has to be like a senator and make a lot of money and own land and hadnít moved within X years. It was too much to ask anyone so I said forget it. Then he said he went ahead and applied to some place called OriCo and we were waiting for the call. Then, just like a fiction movie, the call came in and I was accepted. They said they will happily loan me money for less than two years. They said they came to this decision because I have been here nearly 7 years and work for the BoE and am not really an immediate flight risk. Plus if I were to leave I couldnít take the car, which they would then own and could sell. Hey is this some sense of logic in Japan? They must be a foreign company. Anyway, the loan should go through this week and thereís still a possibility of getting the car by Friday before the BoE Bowling Night. Iíve regained some of my faith in the system.

Friday, November 14, 2008

            I stayed until 6 last night at Ohse JHS helping some students practice for the big interview part of the national English test this Sunday. Everyone was impressed and surprised since I usually leave at 4:15 and all the AETs before me had to leave then as well since they took taxis. I leave at 4:15 because I have nothing else to do there and I usually go straight to the gym after school. I think the practice session was helpful and hopefully it will give the students that little bit of confidence to pass the test.

            Today I am going back around 3:30 to help students practice a bit more for the interview. Hopefully around 3 I will be getting a call from the car place saying my new ride is ready for me to ride it. Iím excited since itís nice to get a new car (new as in new to me not brand new) and the big-little Kei car I am driving now isnít very big or powerful. It takes a lot to get up hills and it just feels bulky. So either I get the call and the car around 3 or I get it tomorrow, but everything seems to be coming together.

            After the interview I am going to Koriyama to participate in the bowling night sponsored by the BoE. By sponsored I really mean organized since we all have to pay for our own ways. Afterwards, I tried to plan a party somewhere, but I donít know if that will work out. More updates as they happen.


          Well I heard nothing at 3 so I went to Ohse JHS to help the students with one last prep session for the big interview Sunday. Then I checked my phone to see what time it was and saw there was a message from the car place. I had planned to do interview practices until about 4:30 and then do laundry and then go straight to the bowling night, but when I called him he said he had the car and I could pick it up. So at 4:30 I drove back out there and got it. After all the paperwork and details I left at 5:30 to make the 45 minute drive through thick traffic to get to the bowling place at 6pm. I made it and learned a few things about the new car, one of which being it has a mean passing gear.

         It drives great and I feel like I am in a Jeep. I am up off the road a bit and I can feel the power. The speakers are my only complaint, but those can be changed. The only thing I worry about with them is the door cover is one big piece so it would all have to come off to change them. The other thing is I prefer tinted windows, but that's something I might actually be able to do myself. I found a kit with all the parts and enough tint for a few windows so I might try that myself later. Today I am going back into town to take part in my weekend ritual one last time before the big diet crunch before my next blood test.

Oh I see.
Sunday, November 16, 2008

            I looked at the purchase order again and realized why the $1,500 car sold for $3,500. I also paid for the huge every-two-year $1,500 emissions and overall inspection. Which means the next time I have to pay for that is November 13, 2010. I don't know that I will be here, but either way that's plenty of time to save up for it. That would also explain why it seems so clean and drives so well.

             This week will be short. Tuesday I have an all day elementary school observation visit, then Thursday I go to Ohse in the morning and then I come back to Konan in the afternoon for an observed class, one of which I will semi-participate in. I know that I will be in it as a show piece. The teacher always more or less runs the class and I'm off to the side. I don't complain since the kids are advanced in English.

I canít...
Monday, November 17, 2008

            I havenít gone to the gym in the past 3-4 weeks. I have tried to go a few times and just canít. I actually made it inside one time and worked out for 30 minutes and then had to leave. It was like my entire being was screaming ďget out of here nowĒ. The other times I get half way there and then decide I feel bad and go eat somewhere instead. Sunday I actually made it to the parking lot and just sat in the car for 30 minutes. That included a little nap, but still I could not force myself to go in. From January until 3-4 weeks ago I loved going. I loved the burn of working out. But now the thought of the locker room and changing and doing the treadmill and working out and showering, just drives me crazy. Itís frustrating, because now more than ever I need to get in shape. I have my yearly physical coming up and last year was a disaster.

            It was all my fault for eating poorly so this year I want it to be much better. It has to be somewhat better since I am on medicine, but I want it to be 180įbetter. My next monthly blood test is on my birthday so maybe that will be a little gift for me if the results are ok. I think I can get good results if I donít eat something bad for a few days ahead of the test and exercise at home (or at the gym ideally) before the test. This past test I had Starbucks coffee on Sunday and then the test on Tuesday. I think some was still in my system.

            You would think living in one of the most technologically advanced countries would be really easy, at least technologically. But itís quite often not. Iím trying to fax something to another city within Fukushima prefecture and I canít seem to do it. I asked the office lady and she said I canít. I took that to mean I was not allowed to or the phone is not set up to fax long distance (even though I know it is). Another example is the ATM network, or lack there of. I can only use ATMs from my bank or the parent company of my bank and sometimes I can use 7-11 ATMs. When I travel I have to put money in my post office account since they have a better network than the bank system. Plus the ATMs frequently close at absurd hours. Forget Sundays or holidays and then after 8-9 during the week. As advanced as they are, they just donít get the purpose of ATMs.

           When you live in Japan you have to get used to being stared at, but occasionally itís just annoying. Japanese people arenít remotely subtle about it and usually point and stare. Itís usually like I am a semi-famous celebrity who had some embarrassing sex scandal recently. People stare and then look away while occasionally glancing back over. Sometimes itís like I am Tom Cruise or some 12 foot green alien. They get wide eyed and donít even slightly hide it. We just had a tour group come through the teacherís room and all of them were staring at me and openly saying ďwow, look at the foreigner, itís an actual foreignerĒ and then the vice principal said ďyes we have a foreign native teacherĒ, but they were just pointing and gawking. Yesterday I drove around looking at auto part places and at one some Japanese equivalent of trailer trash pointed and stared and told her kid ďwow he is huge, he looks like a sumo wrestlerĒ while she was pointing in my face and staring like I was a 12 foot green alien. I ignore it most of the time, but sometimes itís just like ďcome on idiot get over itĒ.

Some Random Photos from my Camera

Koriyama Shien Center

The "Shien Center" where we have monthly meetings. We call it the Snow White Building
or sometimes the Snow White Planetarium. The next picture was taken when I turned around.

No idea why this is here.

Japanese school lunch - kyuushoku

My school lunch from Ohse. Always good and always not enough.
Look at the soup bowl. That's what they consider full. It's tasty though.

Japanese snow wall

They've raised the snow wall. The wind blows the snow across the field and you can't see
the road sometimes. The pancaked things at the bottom will rise up and form a wall later.

Thatís Crap.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

            There is one, and only one, distinct advantage to being too tall and too big in Japan. I went to Aeon Town (a shopping mall of sorts) on Saturday partially to show my new car around town and partially to shop. I found some $100 New Balance running shoes marked down to $25 which was awesome since they were exactly my size. Usually I buy 27 or 28 since thatís about as big as shoes get here, but to have some actual cheap 30cm shoes was a dream. I am using them as indoor shoes at my main school and taking my previous indoor shoes to Ohse to be my shoes there. I really donít like wearing sandals during the winter or when I want to exercise or run around.

            Tuesday I went to an open class for elementary school English. It was interesting, but not as helpful as others I have gone to. I always pick up new ideas and I picked up several this time too. One funny thing was that some of us rode with our supervisor from the BoE and accidentally taught him some new words. He mimics us and has a good grasp of English. He has learned many things by copying what we say. One funny thing he knows and uses appropriately (though it in itself is inappropriate) is ďJesus ChristĒ. He said it yesterday when water got on his coat and has said it other times. Something we accidentally taught him was ďthatís crapĒ. Someone handed me an electronic dictionary and it powered off so I said ďthatís crapĒ and he understood it and the situation. I said it two other times and he started using it.

            Today during the lunch announcements I heard possibly the most absurd thing ever in Japan. First off thereís never any ďprivate self timeĒ. At every possible opportunity someone will be giving others information. I truly think itís part of the culture to be bombarded constantly with input. So there are always announcements during lunch about anything and everything even if itís this day in history, reading the lunch menu (of the lunches sitting directly in front of people), or making other general claims of obvious things. Well today I happen to hear them do a mask count. Japanese people come to work/school even if they are sick. They believe this small white surgeonís mask will block all germs and not infect others. They never get it when half the school is out with the flu. So todayís mask count was about how many students in each class were wearing masks. It both made me laugh and didnít surprise me at the same time.

One Strange Day.
Thursday, November 20, 2008

            It started when I woke up and noticed the window was a bit brighter than normal. That means one thing in the winterÖ..snow. ARGH. Itís mid November why is there snow. Out the window it seemed to be an inch or so which is no problem really. So I get ready and leave around 7:45am to head to Ohse. When I get to the car I see that it was a bit more than an inch. My new snow tires are sitting in the apartment lobby since why would I need to have them installed until mid to late November. BAG OF POO. Man I need to have them attached before it snows again. I did get to try out the beast in 4WD though. There is a noticeable difference in how it drives in 2wd vs. 4wd.

            So that was one thing. Then I get to Ohse and see I have class 4th period. Hmmm, thatís wasteful as usual, but I guess if the other teachers donít have class thenÖhey where are you going? One of the teachers had an English class so I asked if I could go. I would rather stand in a class doing nothing than sit in the teacherís room doing nothing. So I went and acted like a tape player, which was fine, and then came back for two periods of sitting. Then in the 4th period class we did a preposition game that I made and it was a success.

            Then I eat lunch fast and drive frantically back to Konan because I was going to take part in the first observed class. I get there to find I am no longer participating because the teacher changed the plan completely at the last minute. The other irritating thing about that class was I spent 5 hours helping a teacher make some stuff for his class and then at the last minute he changed everything and didnít use me or my stuff. I really stayed late three times making some stuff solely for his class. Iím not mad that he didnít use it, Iím mad that he didnít use it and told me by way of Japanese culture. I always invite Japanese people to things and they agree. Oh yea that sounds so fun. I will positively absolutely be there. Then at the absolute last minute they back out for some asinine reason.

He asked me for some help last week and I made something for him. Then I thought about how I could add something to it to make it cooler. I asked him and he had the chance to do the Japanese way of saying no, which is to do something other than immediately say yes. Usually it involves a tilting of the head and gasping of air and eventually makes it to ďhmmm that might be a bit difficultĒ. Thatís the vague Japanese way of saying NO. But he responded with ďyes that would be great, do you mindĒ which actually means YES in Japanese. So I made a few more things and he liked them. Then he asked if I could add a few more things and I did and finally I finished Wednesday night after having spent about 5 hours on his stuff. I didnít mind in the least, anything to make Konan look good and English teaching fun.

It was all the same last night, but then today he changed it all. I rushed back because he was going to ask me things in class and I was going to respond, but none of that happened. He only used about 10% of what I prepared and even then he changed it drastically. Actually it goes back farther than that. In mid October he asked which class I wanted to teach so I said the 1st years. Then I started planning a deep intense action packed lesson. At some point two or three weeks ago I asked when my class would be and he said ďoh actually you arenít teaching that dayĒ which translates to ďanother teacher wanted your choice and since you are lower than the Marianaís Trench you lostĒ. I said ok since that meant a heck of a lot less work for me, but it still annoyed me.

Then we get to the 6th period class in which I supposedly had an active part. However, I knew that I wouldnít do much because it was with the teacher who takes an active role in my English class. By active role I mean he runs it and I assist. For these observed classes youíd think I would do more, but no I do less than normal. I did a cheesy warm up and intro then he ran through some vocabulary stuff and had the students repeat afterÖ..him. I just stood in the corner watching as I did last year for his class.

Teaching elementary school in Japan

Then there was a meeting where everyone praised the wonderful teachers for their wonderful job. When we were arranging the seats I moved a desk for the guy from the BoE and then three for the two English teachers and myself. When I appeared to be not looking, one of the teachers moved my desk so it was clear I was separate from them. He also swapped the desks so mine was an obvious small childís desk (we were in the 6th grade class room). Then we went around the room and teachers talked about things they liked about the class and made various comments. Two or three asked why I wasnít used in the JHS English class and why I wasnít used more in the elementary class. Vague roundabout answers were given. I was just nodding and laughing when others laughed. Then I acted like I was writing notes at what people said, but I was really doodling and drawing pictures. I wrote bubble letters of the words ďWanĒ, ďpoopĒ, ďZZĒ, and for some reason ďZŁmeĒ with the umlats (spelling). I have no idea what that means or where it came from. It's probably some horrible racial slur or something. Then I practiced the Japanese alphabet and acted interested.

After the class I walked out and didnít bother to re-arrange the room. I went to the teacherís room and sat through the meeting where we clapped for the teachers that had an observed class. We clapped like they saved some children from a burning building. Then the principal talked about how great it was and then how there is a party tomorrow to celebrate how awesome we were. How amazing we as a group were. I used to love these things, but not anymore. Iím not going to the party to have three people talk to me and then sit in the corner and be ignored because no one wants to endure my crap Japanese. No, Iíll sit at home tomorrow and bask in the non-existent rays of my significance.

Suits and sneakers in Japan

I still find it odd wearing a suit and running shoes and yet that's perfectly acceptable.

Ha ha.
Friday, November 21, 2008

            I had more or less forgotten about yesterday when the English teacher told me a high school teacher wrote (in his evaluation of the day) that the English on the wall in the English room, that I wrote, was ok but could be better. One example in particular was ďHow do you say ___?Ē He suggested it would sound better as ďWhat do you say _____ ?Ē When the English teacher told me that I thought for a minute, smiled, and said ďoh okĒ. He actually agreed with me and said ďyea I did the same thing. You are a native English speaker and you wrote that, but he is only a high school teacher, so why should he think it sounds better another way.Ē When I taught high school I constantly had teachers correcting my English. I would get mad occasionally and then I realized how stupid it was and just went with a smile and ďoh okĒ. If they pushed further I would say ďno actually itís completely wrong, but I didnít want to argueĒ. The arrogance is overwhelming at times, amusing at others.


I Don't Buy It.
Sunday, November 23, 2008

            Friday was payday, but I didn't go into town to send money back. I have no pressing rush to get money back so I'll do it tomorrow or Tuesday. I went to Koriyama on Saturday to run some errands, hopefully go to the gym, and then go to a sushi party organized by Keiko. One of the errands was to buy a new iPod even though I can't fully afford it. I could afford it now since it's payday, but later in the month I might have problems. When I got there I realized I didn't need it, I didn't even want it. I have an iPod. Granted it's a Nano and only 8gigs, but it's functional and I just swap things out when I want new music. Then I decided to buy some other things from another store, but backed out again and realized I didn't need them. I think I am going to use the money to get another remote engine starter. That was a life saver last winter and I want it again. No, I NEED it again. I might even upgrade to the one that verifies your car is started and the nice model even shows the temperature of the inside of the car. I still need to see about getting the windows tinted and I'll be really happy. I might get those cheesy curtains for that though.

            Then I went to Keiko's sushi party and it was fun. I got there a bit early so I helped set up some. I cut some seaweed sheets into smaller bits. We hand made sushi for a while. She put so much effort into the party and it was a huge success. There were about 8 Japanese people there, some  I have seen before others were new to me. We naturally split into English and Japanese groups. Some of the Japanese made comments like "oh no I didn't know this was an English party" so they chatted in Japanese the whole time and we at the other table poke English. There were some Koriyama ALTs there such as Kathy and Angela, then Angela's husband who I had just met that day. Also making an appearance was Barbara, who lives in Koriyama while her husband works for some company. They are both Danish from Denmark. I should become better friends with her so I can visit Denmark sometime and get all the tips. Finally, making a grand entrance, came the Dave-Megan-Zinnia trio. Zinnia is 9 months old and just starting to walk around. I think she occasionally recognizes me as uncle Ryan, though she still cries when I try to hold her. I can make her laugh a little sometimes.

Friday, November 28, 2008

            Letís see, this week I turned 37 which was uneventful. Wednesday I went back and talked to the older lady who speaks English and we chatted a bit. It was good this time because her husband was in the basement the whole time. Heís super nice, but he speaks no English so itís always more Japanese than English when he is there and itís exhausting. Then Thursday I went to Ohse for 2 fun classes and after that Megan and Dave had a Thanksgiving gathering at their apartment. It was great food and good times. I thought we were never going to actually get to eat because each person had to take their own photo of everyone in a few different poses.

            Iím not complaining per se, itís just a pet peeve of mine. With digital cameras, it literally takes a fraction of a second to duplicate the image and email it to someone, and yet whenever there are several people with cameras they each have to take their own photo. This time really wasnít so bad, I was just hungry and the food looked (and smelled) good. The worst was when I came to Japan in í98 and studied Japanese. There was a group of 45 foreigners and 45 Japanese people. When we did big events with everyone and had some finale group photo there were literally about 90 cameras. I have a photo of a security guard in the middle of a street with about 30 cameras around him. It was a little sad.

            One funny thing about Wednesday that I just remembered was that there was a teacher meeting during 3rd period in the principalís office. Any teacher that was not teaching then went into the meeting, minus me. A minute later, a salesperson came into the teacherís room and announced who he was and why he was there. Talk about lousy timing. Then another one came in, finally a 3rd one came in. They could only give their little speech to the librarian and then they had to leave and drive all the way back.

            I canít decide what to do with some birthday money I received. I was going to use it toward an iPod, but I had the same problem I had on payday. I just donít crave it like I thought I would, maybe because I have one now. Itís just a Nano so itís smaller, but it works. Then I thought about getting the nice DSLR camera I want, but it too seems unnecessary. I think I am going to get a cheaper version of the nice camera. It will be nice having a DSLR.

            Tonight I have a year end NT party with Konstantine, Julia, John, and a guy from the BoE. Iím going to stay in town so I can drink. Iím looking forward to it since I havenít been out in a while. Then tomorrow there is another Thanksgiving party at a Koriyama JETís house in town. That starts at 4 so Iíll only have a few hours to kill in the morning and early afternoon.

Going to Pop.
Saturday, November 29, 2008

            The party Thursday was quite filling. The NT party last night was a blast. Our supervisor from the BoE came and drank with us and he is even more of a hoot when he drinks. I hope he come can to another one in the winter some time. After that me and two other NTs went to a 2nd and 3rd party and it was good, but expensive. We went back to the rock bar with a live band and then to Monkís, the jazz bar. Both places were good, but expensive. I donít know why I went back to Monkís since it had a $12 cover on top of the $5 drinks. There was a band and 3 people there as usual, I donít know how he stays in business.

            In the morning I woke up in the hotel and had the huge breakfast buffet then I walked around town and looked around. I went to Aeon Town which is a shopping center and looked at the Nikon D40 DSLR. I swore if it was one yen over $450 I would not buy it. It was $499 and I bought it. Itís only 6MP, but MP is just a myth to get people to keep upgrading cameras. The real power is in the lens. If I can zoom way in and take the photo at the high resolution Iíll get a better shot than using a 10MP camera. Plus DSLRs use filters and have better imaging.




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