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Friday, October 02, 2009

            Money is getting tight this month. Luckily I expected it and semi planned for it, but then a few things happened that were unexpected and slightly changed that plan. I had the welcome party for the BoE and then I went to the 2nd party against my better judgment, then I got screwed on the bill since someone didnít pay, then I went out to out a few more times than expected, and several other things. Between now and payday I have minimal expenses and can stick with eating light, but there is one thing I was hoping to do that might be difficult. On Oct 19th I go to my super small elementary school (28 kids total) and wanted to buy some pumpkins and have them carve them for a good Halloween experience as well as a presentation for their school festival the next day. Unfortunately that day is two days before payday and there has historically never been a time in my history of living in Japan where I had any extra money two days before payday. SoÖ.hmmmÖ.I might have to borrow money since this will be a tighter month than usual, or try to bump it to another day. Weíll see what happens, but my 6th graders loved it last year at Konan.

            This week has been crazy busy, but most of that was my own doing. Monday was the welcome party, Tuesday I had to plan for Wednesdayís classes at Tadano (since they always give me a full load of 4 classes), Wednesday I spent hours filming another 3 minute video for class (literally I was up until 2am then back up at 6am to finish it), Thursday night was casual and I spent some time cleaning the apartment and tonight will be slow. I have a tendency to not do things for a while and then get into a frenzy and knock out ten things at once. I still hadnít fully put all the camping stuff away from last week and had been tripping over it. I cleaned that up and then went crazy moving stuff around and ended up getting a lot done. Then, in the virtual world, I canceled several monthly things that were being billed to my CC that I either were not using or were too expensive and I just didnít need. I also took some stuff to the recycling shop recently and took the money earned from that (not much) and used it to buy a color printer. Yet, my apartment is still cluttered and I donít fully know why.

            Although I could guess as to why, I suppose. I have a tendency to buy things I need/want. I really enjoy buying stuff and then finding a place for it even though I later want to throw it out. Iím good for the economy, but bad for the environment. Iím on the verge of buying a projector now to project my computer screen(s) on the wall. Partially it's a luxury item that will be like having a 200 inch TV, but also itís somewhat needed since I do video editing and my screen for that is just tiny. Itís more on the luxury side, I know, but not entirely. My next big purchase will be either an HD digital video camera (I think they are still called camcorders, but that sounds so 80ís and clunky), and then an $800 program for making motion graphics and special effects. Only the projector would be something that would take up space in the apartment really, but I suppose I would mount it somewhere and leave it more or less like that.

            Actually, when I say on the verge I literally mean I might do it tonight. Iíve been thinking about it for a while and found one that is a value, but not super awesome HD mega-pricey. Iíve been looking at it and reading reviews and searching for better deals, but I have found a good deal at Amazon.jp and they even had same day shipping for an extra $5. What? I was thinking same day shipping would add $100 or so, but nope, Japan is strange like that sometimes. So I may or may not do that tonight. One bad thing is that I would be using an American credit card which means the awesome exchange rate would not be so awesome. Itís only awesome when I send money back to the US, not when I buy stuff in Yen and charge it to my US card.

Did It.
Saturday, October 03, 2009

            I did order it. Amazingly, up to the point of ordering it I had to have it. Once I clicked buy I thought "eh...I could have waited", but it will be nice. It should come in tomorrow. This morning I went to the station as usual and had McDonald's and then Starbucks. I am trying to stop going, but it's a ritual that gets me out of the house and moving around some. I did ride my bike which was nice, but I'm unable to not go entirely yet. While there I bought a 15 foot USB cable to put my printer in the other room and then some yellow gel keyboard cleaner. It did clean it some, but not as much as I had hoped. I've heard you can scrub the keyboard with soap and water and then just let it dry for a few days and it works fine, but that scares me. Here are some before and after shots. Although they aren't great, it did clean much of the funk off. Nope, never mind. They were too close and blurry.

Odd Week.
Thursday, October 08, 2009

            Thus far it has been somewhat odd. Monday I went to Ohse and had 2 classes and then took the afternoon off since they had some boring 2 hour lecture about traffic safety. I came home and played with my new toy, the projector. It's smaller than I thought and requires a longer throw distance than my room allows, but overall it's great. I have it set up so that I watch all my shows and movies on it and the screen is about six feet diagonal. I think I can get it bigger if I use mirrors. I've said that in the bedroom before....no wait...no I haven't. Oh here's an odd thing about the projector. I first bought a white sheet for a screen, but the wrinkles were too obvious. Then I bought a thicker table cloth thing made out of plastic, but that seemed to wrinkle as well. So then I went looking for a big piece of white paper and managed to find some huge piece for 70 cents. So here's the weird part. I measured down from the ceiling and hung it to make sure it was level and then thumb tacked it up. Ok it is up and squared and ready. So then I moved the (off) projector from a smaller table to a 3 level bookshelf and then turned it on. When it came on it was perfectly lined up with the paper screen. Perfectly balanced on each side and top to bottom. Wow, that was strange, but maybe not as much as I built the story up.

            Ok, so then Tuesday I go to Konan and had a class with the devil class though the one penis-showing kid wasn't there. Then I had a class with another elementary class a bit younger than the devil class. Before it started I was in the classroom talking to some kids. One ADHD boy, whom I really like, came up and started whining/talking about something. He grabbed on to my leg and wouldn't let go. Then another boy who is slightly bratty came up and kept saying "Ryan, Ryan, Ryan, Ryan" and also grabbed my leg. I was trying to get them off my legs and start class. I peeled them off a few times and said "ok stop, it's time for class", but as usual they ignored me. I said it louder a few times and peeled them off again and again with no luck. This went on about 6 times each time with me getting more and more serious. The ADHD-like kid was pulling me so I was almost falling over and with him grabbing both legs I was about to fall over.

           Finally I pushed the bratty kid off and said "seriously, STOP, really, I'm not kidding". I said it in plain, but stern Japanese. Since there is no punishment in Japan and you don't have to listen to what people say, he ignored me and grabbed me again and nearly pulled me over. I pushed him away in a way I thought was too rough. He kind of slid across the floor a bit and I felt bad. The plan was to get him to stop so I could get the other kid to then stop as well. Then bratty ran back over and grabbed me and started poking me in the ass. Japanese boys love the ass for some reason. Then I just snapped and hurled him about 10 feet away, which would have caused no problem since he would have thought I was playing, but I was so mad I yelled "YAMERO" (ya may row) which means "absolutely stop now". It's like yelling without yelling. I yelled it louder than I meant to since the whole class got silent and looked at me. The bratty kid stared and then walked over to his desk and the ADHD-like kid did as well, though he did wander around some. Then the teacher made them both apologize and I said "when I say stop, please stop". They said ok, but that won't last. I felt bad about it all, but I utterly loathe how kids can do anything they want and there is never any punishment.

             Then Wednesday I went to Tadano Elementary for 1 class and then to the extension school of it with 10 students for 2 classes and lunch. I love the extension, or bunko as it's called, since it is small and the kids are great. With 10 kids, 2 teachers, and a lunch/office lady it's really like a big family gathering. Next year is going to be only about 6 kids since the five 4th graders will go to the main school and only one new 1st grader will come in.

           I taught fruits to the 1-2 graders, but that's tough since there are 2 of each totaling 4. You would think that makes it easier, but there is only one other person to talk to in your grade so none of my usual activities work. I usually have them wander around asking other students something related to the lesson, but I can't do that so I improvise. Then in the 3-4 grade class of 6 kids (one 3rd grader) we did body parts which leads me to an annoying point about teaching English.

              I love my schools and all the teachers and all the kids, but I wish I could make my own teaching plan for the year. There is a suggested plan set forth by the BoE, but changing it would require teachers to use critical thinking which they rarely do. So basically that is the plan by which I must teach. The plan is ok, but sometimes kids are past a lesson that should be next. When there are teachers that don't speak English they shouldn't be making my plan. As was the case this time. The plan was to teach body parts so I took the plan and activities for "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" and just for kicks I also took part two which is "eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose" and an activity someone made called Monster Maker where I tell them how many eyes, ears, mouths, and noses and they draw and alien or monster. So I taught the first "fruits" class and it went great. Then we had lunch which was delicious curry rice. I really HATE how I get the exact same amount of food as a 1st grader. I don't know where that would make sense. Then we have a break and play in the gym and then do cleaning. Finally after cleaning I ask the 3rd student if she knows how to said "head" in English. She goes through the whole song of head, shoulders, knees, and toes ending with nose. I realize my next lesson is going to be stupid since they already know it all. I tried to stretch it out as much as possible, but ended up just having them do Monster Maker a few times.

            The point is, if I could have made my own schedule I would have known what was coming up in the future and asked them in advance if they knew it. Then I could accommodate them and change the class as needed. I would also put some things closer to the beginning of the year so I could cover them over and over little by little during each lesson. I'm going to start taking some backup lessons in case this happens again.

            Then after school on Wednesday from about 5 to 1am I was making a video about the "if" clause called "if you had 1 million dollars, what would you do?" It was a news cast and I interviewed myself 5 times. I'm getting better each time with the videos, but they still look cheesy. So it's finished and I wake up to a typhoon and fight my way to school. It took me an hour to go 25 minutes because people just turned stupid when they were driving. One person was turning across traffic on a small road with no outlets for a while and that caused people to be backed up for about 20 cars. Finally there was an opening, but he/she didn't take it and people were honking. Then someone just stopped in the road to check a map. This is perfectly ok in Japan if you put on your hazard lights. In this case it cased a big traffic jam since people couldn't get around. Then there were just hundreds of extra cars on the road. Finally I get to Ohse about 1 minute before 1st period. I tell the English teacher I made the video and it took me all night, but I don't have a plan for the 3rd year students. He said it was no problem since there were no students due to the typhoon. So....I'm supposed to sit here for 8 hours with no computer doing nothing? Uh....no thank you. I took vacation time and came home. The annoying thing was all the teachers had to fight the wind and rain just to go and sit for 8 hours doing nothing. Just filling out papers and planning lessons that were already planned. It's crucial for people to always be at work, regardless of whether or not there is anything to do.


Friday, October 09, 2009

            I had a good class with the 4th graders today. They are a bit advanced so I taught them a 5th grade lesson. Since I wonít be teaching them next year it wonít matter for me, they can just learn it again. Plus it was ďsubjectsĒ which means they can think about it often when they see their daily schedule. I told them about next weekís lesson and the teacher told/reminded me it was cut. Oh well, I guess thatís fine since itís the day of the school festival. Then when I got back to the teacherís room the 3rd grade teacher said next Tuesdayís class with the 3rd graders would be cut since they had to practice for the skit to perform at the festival. What he didnít say, but is always the case, is that English can be cut for any reason since it would be horrible to cut any other subject. English is expendable and I should be honored I am allowed to spread my plague to the kids at all.

            So that means basically I have no classes next week. At least itís only a 4 day week and I only come here twice. I can live with 2 days of no classes since April to July was usually 3-4 days of no classes. Friday will be fine since there will be festival stuff going on all day, but Tuesday will just suck. Hmmm, Monday is a holiday and Tuesday I have no classesÖ.

            This weekend is a 3 day holiday with Monday being health day, whatever that means. I guess my way of celebrating health day will be by doing a 3 day juice fast. Iíve done one before and felt great during and after it. As I start into it thereís a bit of gastrointestinal confusion and accompanying hunger pains or pangs as some people say. Once your body figures out there is no food coming down the pipe it starts to work on other projects and hobbies such as cleaning itself and repairing things that need work. Plus itís cheap since you only spend $10-15 on veggies for a day as opposed to $20-30 eating out and more if you go drinking. Doing one over a three day weekend will be nice too. I plan to stay in most of the time and work on some computer things that I have been delaying.

            On November 6th I will be taking the bullet train north for 2 hours to see my student perform in the Almost-All Japan speech contest. I thought it was a regional finals, but this is as far as they are taking it so itís like the finals, but not fully country wide. Itís on the 7th, a Saturday, but I will go up the night before and get a hotel room and relax. Thereís not enough time to really explore Morioka, but maybe I can do something after the contest. Then when I come back to school on Monday I will have that national public open house where 2-300 teachers from around Japan come to our little school to see classes and of course everyone wants to see the foreign teacherís class.

Feel So Separated.
Friday, October 16, 2009

            Today is the Konan school festival and I feel so detached. Last year I felt similar, but the years before I felt like much more of a part of the school. I guess thatís because we usually have an English video to present during the Friday presentation part, but not this year. Thatís too bad since I bought a new computer this summer and have been getting better at making little videos. Everyone is dressed in matching shirts that say ďKonan 5thĒ, but not me. Thatís partially my own fault, but also because there were no sizes that fit me. Then everyone wrote little messages and they stuck that paper on big animal paw looking prints and stuck those on the ceiling to look like something walked down to the gym. Then there are posters for the festival with a misspelling, but no one asked my advice about it.  The misspelling is small, but I hate it. They spelled "sho" as "syo", because the Japanese who know all think the way you spell "sho" in Roman letters is "syo" even though I have told them a million times it's "siyo". Furthermore, I thought the festival was named Grody because of the clever design.

            Thatís the thing with Japan, they are always polite to you, but they still punish people when needed. The way they do that is by simply politely excluding someone from a group. Maybe itís a group of people working on a project. Maybe itís an entire village. I have felt excluded for a year or more now. Itís not just me and not everywhere and everyone, just this school. I have nearly no classes here, no more NT classes (which is my main job), and I have barely no connection to the school at all anymore. No one ever asks me to do anything helpful which I would be more than happy to do and have volunteered several times to make it clear that I am willing. Instead, they ask people who are less capable to do things I could easily and happily do. Iíve offered to create an English newspaper, then to layout their handwritten Japanese newspaper, then to do some bulletin boards, to ride the buses and make sure the kids get off at the right place, and so much more. But the answer is always ďthanks, butÖĒ.

            They asked me to go to a party on Sunday, but I declined. I donít have the money and I am tired of just sitting there alone laughing when others laugh to imply I am part of the group. I think I am not even going to come to the festival on Sunday since I might stop by Ohseís festival to see how that goes. I also have to pick up some pumpkins from a nearby town so the 5-6th graders can carve pumpkins. The big thing is I just donít feel a part of the school anymore and donít want to go to the party. Iíd go to a party for any of my other schools.

            Right now they are in the gym doing a whole-class jump rope thing. 30+ kids are jumping at the same time using some long rope. They only get about 15-20 jumps before something messes up. Itís interesting and very Japanese in that itís a group thing. I walked by and took some photos, but then I came back to the teacherís room to type this and generally just not be there now. Thereís a whole day of stuff planned and I just donít want to be here. Thatís really sad, I know, but I just donít feel like Iím a part of school.

            Yesterday I was at Ohse JHS and had 4 good classes. Iíve been making videos for certain grammar points and the kids seem interested and enjoy them. I enjoy making them and have gotten better at the process. During a break I was trying to make memory mnemonics for the month names. I made some for the days of the week and they are effective. Now I can go into a classroom and say the mnemonic and the kids remember the day of the week. Sunday is a sun and the number 3 which is ďsanĒ. Monday is Superman, Spiderman, and Anpanman since their names end with a Mohn sound in Japanese. Tuesday is a mouseís voice which is like chu chu. So anyway, Iím trying to make them for the months which is hard. Actually I made all of them minus a few. One trouble maker is September. It would be easier if September was the 7th month since se- sounds like seven. I looked up some things that start with the se- sound in Japanese. I found ďfaithful wifeĒ, yea canít use that one. Then there is ďseppukuĒ or ritual suicide, that could almost work, but I donít want to be in a 4th grade class saying things like ďin September we do ritual suicide, visualize that and remember itĒ. Iím going to use 7 Poohs since thatís the only thing remotely close to the sound.

            After doing that I had lunch which still annoys me. Everyone must get the same amount of food and if there is some left over it canít be given out to someone else, it has to be discarded. ARGH. SO WASTEFUL. And I am always so hungry after eating the same amount as an elementary FIRST GRADER. Yesterdayís lunch was actually tasty, but just not enough. I even got a little extra from one nice teacher, but he didnít make a big deal about it. There was some left over and I wanted seconds, but that would be ME, an individual, saying I want to separate myself from the group and get more than the others. ARGH.

            Today after lunch I walked around while the kids cleaned. I did my usual shenanigans of balancing brooms while they clean since cleaning is all for show and so boring. It takes me 10 minutes to clean my area and then I have to wander around for another 10 while kids act like they are cleaning, but they are really just pushing the brooms around.

            Last night a teacher called me and talked about the big public class I have in November. He was writing the Japanese version of my English teaching plan. He had all sorts of ideas and questions about it and I have learned the only proper way to respond to these situations. I said ďyes, wow, thatís a great ideaĒ to everything he suggested. This is the Japanese way of doing things. Saying something directly is too direct, the Japanese prefer (and are proud of) never getting to a point. He wanted some things in the plan so the way to do this is have me make a plan and then suggest some things that might be good. It took me a long time to figure out how they do it, but now I know and now I just wait for this and let them change it as needed. Some ideas were good, others were really touchy-feely ďhow do you feel about this part-it doesnít matter if you donít actually learn anythingĒ. I said put them all in and then thanked him profusely.

            In Japanese class the teacher made a big point of stressing how the Japanese are not direct and never get to a point. She was proud of this and softly bashing our direct American style of getting to a point. In English I might say ďdo you like apples?Ē and a logical, normal, and proper response would be ďyes, I doĒ. But in Japanese that is WAY too direct. First you drop the subject in the question so itís ďare apples liked?Ē Then the answer would never single out the person and never get to a point, ďwell there are many people that do in fact like apples. There may be some that donít like apples as much as those that do. Which group would I be considered a member of? Well whoís to say that I fit in only one. In many cases I would be standing near, but not solely in, the group that somewhat has a preference toward enjoying things that are red and possibly apple-likeĒ. GOD. WHAT? JUST SAY YES. THREE LETTERS. But that would be too direct. Itís ridiculous and itís one reason why I will never be fluent in Japanese.

            They just finished the basketball tournament where each class played against itself and then other classes. Then they came into the teacherís room and told all the teachers the big teacher versus winning class match was next. I grabbed my phone, put it to my ear, and walked out to the patio acting like I was on the phone. I donít play sports competitively nor with people watching. Iím not athletic, itís not fun, and I donít do it. Come on itís funÖ.some people enjoy walking around naked with other people, letís do thatÖcome on itís fun. Not for me. I managed to wander around the school not being seen nor heard. Two years ago they semi tricked me into playing and caught me off guard. I had to put on a stupidly too tight jersey and run around looking stupider than usual. I managed to stay in bad positions, like behind another player, so no one could throw me the ball. Then I quickly and subtly swapped jerseys with some other teacher waiting to play. They went on to win and I managed to sneak out of the room.

            Man I am just Mr. Depressing this week arenít I? I think itís the season or changing of the seasons. I always feel like this in fall and winter. I actually donít feel like this when I go to my other schools since they use me and seem to appreciate me. At all of my other schools I have 4 classes a day. At Konan I have 2-4 classes a week and that was the case back in April-July when I only came here and Ohse. They use me at the other schools and I feel appreciated so I put out a bigger effort.

            Oh I just heard something weird, possibly bad. The English teacher here has to go to the JET conference in November. The one where Fukushima JETs and their respective JTEs go for a 2 day conference. Thereís no reason for him to go since Iím not going and not a JET. He has no idea why heís going and it shows me as being at Ohse Thursday and Konan Friday. The only reason we thought of was that I will have to go as well and we will have to do some speech about me being an NT and how we use multimedia in the classroom. Whatever. If I have to go then we will talk about PowerPoint and making little videos and show some or something.

Japan Engrish


Broke is the keyÖ
Friday, October 23, 2009

            I had my bi-monthly (or semi-monthly) blood test this morning and was sure it would be awful since I somewhat forgot last night and had Indian food. Ironically it wasnít as bad as I thought and some things were noticeably better than usual. Iíve also been broke recently and had to eat really cheap stuff like ramen noodles so I figured that would jack everything way up. My cholesterol and one liver function were normal and the other liver stuff was barely above the line. The blood fat was bad since I had Starbucks on Wednesday morning and Indian last night.

            I had Starbucks Wednesday morning since I was waiting for the bank to open so I could send money back as soon as possible. Last month I forgot and then there was a 3 day holiday and then I forgot again and didnít send it for more than a week which caused several bills to be really late. That caused some problems and I needed to make sure the money got back asap. Unfortunately I couldnít send the money back at 8am, even though the ATM was open then. Why couldnít I? Because in general the Japanese banking system is stupid and you canít wire money back until 8:30. You also canít access your money in other parts of the country since bank ďnetworksĒ are limited to your area. Itís just stupid and I am so tired of the silliness. I use the ATMs at the 7-11s because they are 24 hours and donít close at 5 on Sundays like the others.

            When I got to Tadano Elem on Wednesday the teacher told me the 6th graders werenít there that day since more than half the kids were out with the flu. They just canceled all the classes for the whole grade which makes sense really. They also had to cancel the school festival this Saturday since there were too many kids absent to rehearse. They will postpone it until the 7th of Nov, but I will be in Morioka watching a student compete in the national finals. So anyway, I had 4th period free and they were kind enough to let me zip out to the ATM for a minute to send the money back. There was an AET meeting that day where I would usually send money back, but I donít think Iím going to go to those anymore. However, thatís a whole can of worms I donít want to open now.

            I had a wonderful plan for my big public open house class on Nov 9th, but it got changed again. This time by the BoE themselves and to be honest, I donít like it. Their changes were to make it more difficult for the kids, but the class is with the elementary 2nd grade and the kids donít have a big capacity to remember a lot. Iím teaching how are you and the BoE wants me to add more greetings and more answers. Iím probably going to say ok, and then just not add them at all or not as many as they want.

Slow, wasteful day.
Thursday, October 29, 2009

            I was at Ohse today and had 2 classes all day, even though the other English teachers went to 2 other classes as well. For some reason they didn't need me in the room and preferred I just sit in the teacher's room which is so painfully boring. I ended up searching the internet for paper model layouts of bizarre shapes such as truncated tetrahedrons and then printing them and cutting/folding until I had paper models of cubes, triangles, and 14 sided things all over my desk. Then I walked around the school wasting time until 4:15 came along. I love that school when I have 4 classes, 2-3 in the morning and 1-2 in the afternoon. Especially 6th period because that lets out at 3:20 and then it's less than an hour to leave. Sometimes I stay there until 5-6 when we are practicing for the standardized English test interview.

           Another thing I did to waste time was read about an upcoming International day at a school. I both love these things and don't love them. If the teachers would say " you AETs are far more knowledgeable at these things, please plan everything yourself" then I would love them. The kids are always great and that makes it fun. But that's never how it works and this time is no exception. The teachers gave us a plan for how to internationalize the kids in the Japanese way. Some of it is ok, but for the most part it's like running in knee deep water. First we talk about our countries in separate rooms for 10 minutes (ok so far) and then the kids have a 5 minute break in between each room (the rooms that are next to each other). So why not a 14 minute presentation and the kids talk less than a minute to walk between the 2? There is always, ALWAYS, an absurd amount of break time between activities. Then we break into groups of 4 AETs and teach the class some English topic. We were given "shopping" which is ok and I have done it many times before, but to complicate things the teachers gave us exactly what the kids will be shopping for and are preparing the money. What if we happen to have a perfect plan already made? Too bad, we need to use the teacher's ideas as well. The ideas that we won't really see until that day. Finally we get to the best part. In the afternoon we are supposed to teach the kids regular subjects in Japanese. Some people are teaching math, others science, others home ec, and we are teaching music. Honestly, how is teaching math to the kids in Japanese an internationalization activity? This is absurd and typical of what happens when the teachers make the plan themselves.

           There's a thing in Japan where when a group is deciding something everyone's opinion MUST be taken into account and used in someway. It doesn't matter how absurd that person's idea is or even if it is related or not, it has to be used. That's why you'll often see some absurdly ridiculous mascots for companies and conferences. "Let's make it tall....ok.....and red.....and black.....and have a pointy head....ok.....and maybe it can look like a big red penis.......ok...with green legs" and then you have some absurd mascot that looks like a sex toy.

Japanese groups must take in every opinion and use them all


           The general plan is usually to let the school that is having the international day make the plan and present it to the people who must then do it. That's the Japanese way. You must be internationalized in the Japanese way. For another example of this go to http://www.yesicanusechopsticks.com/thesequel/journal-march2.htm and read the "Whap, right in the kisser" and "I feel a stroke coming on" entries.

           What it all boils down to is when foreigners are put in positions where they are treated like play toys that Japanese people get to poke and prod and ask absurd questions. I could never in a million years imagine having an international day in the US at a school and giving the visitors a plan. "He please teach us these things about your culture in this way, otherwise we will become confused." I would say "YOU know YOUR culture so please teach us about it in YOUR own way." The way they want to do it truly makes no sense whatsoever to me.

Stupid Throat.
Saturday, October 31, 2009

            It's Halloween and I had a great costume planned, but I can't go to the party tonight because I have a sore throat. Technically I could go, but it would be a miserable night. So I guess I am going to stay home and do nothing which is actually NOT what I want. There was a time when I hated going to school and lived for the weekends, but that's when I was a Fukushima JET and had no classes, whereas now I like seeing the kids and hate the boring weekends when I do nothing. Plus last night was the first night of Thai Yoga, but that's when my throat was at it's worst. I didn't even go to school yesterday, but I actually really wanted to.

          So instead of going to the party I stayed home and rearranged yet again. I'm getting closer to finality. This time I moved the projector into the closet and it's now shooting diagonally across the room projecting to the 72" screen. That's 6 feet across diagonally. Man that is big and yet I want it bigger. I think I can do it with mirrors.

          Apart from the projector, which was about $400, I am about to start saving some money. I just cut over $200 a month from my bills both here and in the US. I could cut some more, but I don't want to yet. I canceled my gym membership ($80ish) that I haven't been going to. Partially because I have been busy and partially because they didn't have enough equipment. Then I canceled the monthly newspaper which was $30. Then in the US I canceled three monthly (non-porn) things I was subscribed to. They were computer things or Japanese language sites. For one example I was using Lynda.com which is a great site for learning computer stuff, but I need to save money for now so I had to cut it. This paycheck I sent back some extra and paid down my credit cards a little. I plan to do that for 2 more months and get them to zero. Then pay ahead on my computer loan. The car loan stops in November. So ideally after January I should be able to send back most of my check to pay down my big grad school loan. I can't even imagine not sending back half my paycheck every month, but maybe I will be there within a year.

          Another expense I need to cut is my stupid mobile phone. For some reason I am on some plan where I pay about $80 a month and rarely use it. I send messages daily, but not $80 worth. Granted $20 of that is for me to pay down the phone itself which apparently cast $400 to be paid over 2 years. I'm going to try to pay it off in December so I would only owe $60. Then I'm either going to try to change plans so I pay around $40 a month (like I have for 5 years) or cancel my service with Docomo. That name means both anywhere and nowhere in Japanese. Once the car loan and computer loan end I will have an extra $550 to send to paying down the big grad school loan, that plus the same I send back now. If I get my CC's paid down by December I can use all the money I send back to pay down the big loan. I think I might send in half a payment at the beginning of the month and then if I am ok toward the end I can send in the rest. I also have to save for my stupid sha-ken payment in November for my car.

I added some FaceBook photos. I think anyone can view them.



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