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Stupid Blender.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

            I bought all the needed supplies to start making smoothies for breakfast. I bought bananas and froze them, some coffee for flavor and punch, I made ice cubes, I bought soy milk and even the coffee flavored kind, and I have my protein powder to add in. So I prepare all that the night before and then wake up ready to make a coffee flavored breakfast power punch. Then the stupid blender won’t work. The part that spins and actually blends stuff is stiff and barely spins. When I put it on the machine it goes slowly and I can hear the motor starting to burn out. AWESOME. By awesome, I mean NOT awesome. So now I need to buy a new blender if I plan to do the smoothie angle. I know why this happened, because I bought a $14 blender in the US two years ago. This time maybe I will spend $20 and hope it lasts until next summer.

            Monday I went to NISPO to work out. I walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes at a fast pace and then just felt like poo. Actual poo. I worked out a little after that, but nothing really worthwhile. Especially because some motard took up three stations for 30 minutes. Japanese people are “so” concerned with the group, but they act like selfish individuals just as much. So then I just helped two foreign friends sign up because there is a lot of kanji on the application. After that I did laundry at the Laundry-Depot since it takes about an hour for the clothes to be washed thoroughly and then….here’s the best part….dried completely (with a Bounce sheet). I can wash them at home with my vertical washer and then hang them to dry in my humid apartment and maybe a week later they will be dry with those stupid wrinkles. OR I can pay about $10 and have them done right in less than an hour. While they were drying I went to eat dinner at the sushi place on a conveyor belt. I’ll go back to work out on Wednesday this week since I go back to Ose JHS that day and I will be right by the gym. Starting next week I will go to Ose (and then the gym) on Thursdays. I used to go to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays anyway, so this works out well.

            One of my goals this Fall is to write, and submit for publication, a science fiction short story. Since I had one class on Monday, and none today, I started writing one yesterday and got pretty far along. I can’t post it here since no one would buy it after first publication, but I will post the link if it gets published. Another goal is to get to 100 kilos (220 pounds) and send $2500 toward my fat pointless loan.

            Remember how I complain that every time I get a bit of extra money, I have some car issue that cost exactly that amount? Well it has happened again. I got $300 from the US stimulus package (since we have so much extra money sitting around) and I was going to use it for a few different things. Then I found out my brakes need to be replaced and that will cost…you can see this coming a mile away…$300. I couldn’t imagine if I ever won the lottery. I would get in a 10 car pileup that would cost exactly what I won.

Rocking Smoothies.
Thursday, September 4, 2008

            I went to Ose yesterday and finished up my self introductions. There is some downtime at thathow to stay in shape with an office chair school, but I enjoy it because I read or catch up on other things. When there is no computer for me to be absorbed into, I manage to get a lot of stuff done. I wrote in some notebooks that I exchange with the younger kids and graded a girl’s journal as well as read some chapters from my Jeffery Deaver book. It was nice and I am still enjoying the school, even though I heard they don’t allow foreigners go to the drinking parties. I can live with that. Photo: The P.E. teacher sits on an exercise ball in the teacher's room rather than a chair.

            After going to Ose I went to K’s Denki (electronics shop) and bought a new blender. I splurged and paid $70 for a nicer one with a higher wattage that said it specialized in crushing ice and making smoothies. When I woke up this morning I made an awesome smoothie with soy milk, coffee, chocolate protein powder, ice, and two frozen bananas. I made a bit much so I will cut back last time. I started to get worried when I made it because the blender just stopped, but I think it was because something got jammed. I moved things around and it started up again. Then it made the perfect blended ice smoothie. I might start blending all sorts of things and try to make the perfect drink.

            After I worked out (after I bought the magic blender) I had dinner and then checked on the place for a party I am planning tomorrow. It was supposed to be a Koriyama meet-n-greet with about 20 people, but as I expected no one actually paid any attention to me. I even wrote that it was ok to invite people as long as they were in or around Koriyama since we can’t invite the whole prefecture. Sure enough people started inviting anyone who was anywhere in Fukushima. Luckily not everyone can make it so it won’t be that bad. I don’t know why people have a problem with committing to an RSVP. I did get a few of my favorite replies though. “A party Friday, hmmm, I don’t know what I am doing yet.” I hate that because basically it means “Oh YOU are throwing a party, well I might come, but I don’t want to commit in case something better comes along.” I find it rude and annoying. Do you have plans? Yes, then you can’t make it. No, then do you want to attend or not? No, then you won’t be there. Yes, then you will. It’s so simple, but people make it difficult. It should be ok, though I fully expect some problems with people showing up for a bit and not wanting to pay or something.

            People really become idiot asses in groups I’ve found. Even people you think are your friends. The ones you aren’t close to will publicly complain about something. The people who say they are your friends will come up and whisper something to you like “hey I know I ate and drank, but since we are friends is it ok if I don’t pay.” Everyone does it, it just depends on how they do it. As much as I love planning parties where people get together like this, sometimes I hate it when people act like idiots, which seems to be most often.

       Tangent: The BoE can be so funny sometimes. I truly think they don’t file any information about us. They have asked me for things that I have given them several times before. They just asked me for a copy of my passport to verify that I have a 3-year extension on my visa even though A) we had to get this done back in July or we would be considered illegal and go to jail, and B) they know this since they double/triple/quadruple checked it back in July, and C) they already have a copy of the page from my visa with the 3-year extension. I don’t mind giving them a copy again, but all this could be avoided if they just kept some files on us. We already had to fill out some paperwork about our car and who we live with because some morons just left their car when they left in July and some new people brought their boyfriend/girlfriend when they came here. That seems a bit clingy to me, but to each his own.

         Today I had one class that was ok. I have trouble with time planning in relation to what the kids already know. I had them do an activity I thought would take 5 minutes, but it took 20 and nearly ruined the class. Later I found a memo on my desk telling us how to use the toilets, I think.

        After school I went by 7-11 since it is the last Thursday that I will be able to go there. ARGH. They were nearly empty since they are no longer restocking. It's a little odd seeing 7-11 with semi empty shelves. I guess I will eat better, but I lose the 24 hour place to buy snacks and more importantly, the ATM. The nearest is in Koriyama.

As Expected.
Saturday, September 6, 2008

            The Friday night welcome party went exactly as expected. 40 people said they would be there at some point in the night and 22 people showed up. Our bill was $560 which came out to be $27 a person, which wasn't really bad. The all you can drink part was $12, which is equal to about 2.5 beers. After that everyone split up with some going to the monthly PULL DJ party and others going to karaoke. I booked a room that held 40, but told them between 20 and 30 would show up. Planning parties and group things like that teaches you a lot about dealing with people.

            I stayed the night in Koriyama so I could drink and then on Saturday (today) I did some basic shopping. One thing I bought (even though it is plural) is a new pair of underwear. I have special needs underwear, stop laughing, in the sense that they have to be boxer briefs that go down my leg a bit. Otherwise my legs rub together and start hurting. So I found some exercise pants at Sports Authority for $30, which is a little pricey, but they rock and look like they will last forever. I'll go back and buy more when I get paid next. Then I just drove back thinking about how nice it would be to live in Koriyama rather than 45 minutes away in the literal middle of nowhere.

Boredom & Town Exercise.
Sunday, September 7, 2008

            I have nothing major to do today so I am going to go back into town and workout. I'm going to start changing my routine so I can hopefully see more results. By more I mean any. I can see only a little bit of change in my arms and calves sometime, but not much. I want to be ripped or at least in decent shape and not embarrassed about taking my shirt off. Even though walking around the pool (as in being IN the pool) would be great exercise, I would have to take off my shirt and I would look stupid. Or at least I would think I do and that's really all that matters.

          After I work out I am going to eat ramen at this great place with Yuya. He is the husband of Paula, whom I met in Sapporo in 2005 and then later told her about the NT position in Koriyama. She was an NT for 2 years, but quit this year to teach at a university in town. Yuya works for a major home builder as an inspector of sorts. Anyway, it's been a while since I saw him last so we are going to get together and have ramen since Paula is back in the US for a month or so.

Small town festival in Japan         I woke up at 6am to the sound of some gun shots. But it wasn't a gun as much as it was a special firework thingy they do on festival days. Today is the town exercise day where each area gets together to compete. I'm sure I could compete with the Miyo town group, but I don't like competing competitively if that even made sense. The bad part is, as I am typing this at 1pm, I just heard the end of lunch time gun shot fireworks. One second later it started pouring like a typhoon. I mean it is coming down in buckets so I'm sure they will cancel it if it doesn't stop. In the photo to the right, there was a game where they had to run down a bit, blow up a balloon and then pop it between two people. Each time, from a distance, it looked like two people dry humping or 'gettin busy'.

          It's strange how loud music or talking loud would be rude, but shooting fireworks off at 6am, having election vans drive around blaring "vote for me" and stuff, and then the three time a day town chime are all ok. Those things can be heard for miles, but if I were to have my TV up too loud so the neighbors could hear me, that would be inconsiderate and rude. Japan doesn't have to make sense and rarely does.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

            I wrote about 5 pages of journal updates using MS Word at school and then when I got home the file wouldn’t open. When I got back to school today the file wouldn’t open here either. ARGH. I lost all that stuff. I mean in one sense people have far more things to worry about in life, but still it was a lot of time and it’s really about the sheer stupidity of the file being corrupt magically. BAG OF POO.

            Last night I studied Japanese with a teacher at school and then planned to go to the gym. When I got home and started getting ready I just couldn’t get motivated. I was ready to go, but I just didn’t feel like it. I even made myself go as far as the car with my gym clothes, but when I realized I forgot my headphones and had to go back inside, I just lost all motivation. I ended up going to the grocery store and buying some dumb food and eating it and then going to bed early. Part of the reason I felt bad, even though it shouldn’t have made me feel like that, was that I drank some coffee and had some green tea to get me ready for the gym. In the end it made me feel sluggish and just not in a workout mood. I thought it would make to hyper so I could burn off the energy at the gym. I felt great the other day when I had some coffee and a banana. 

            I had a great class today with the 8th graders. First I had them do an activity based on something they recently learned in regular English class which is “I have to _____”. I gave each student an activity and had them memorize it. Then I gave them a list with spaces that said “___has to _____”. They had to go around and ask everyone “what do you have to do?” and then write their answer. Many started showing each other the slips so I took them and made them actually remember it. After that we watched a video about a challenge course where people have to run through this course and they never make it. I’m going to ask the students things like “what is he going to do?” and have them answer with things like “he is going to fall” and so on.

            Oh the flip side, I had a so-so class with the seniors after the good class with the 8th graders. I gave them this word puzzle thing that wasn’t too hard, but ended up being impossible for them. Not because it was too hard, but because they can’t do anything that is a variable. I try to get them to think independently and creatively, but it’s about as easy as painting the word NO on a wall and yelling at it until it changes to YES. They stared at me blankly until I ended up giving them all the answers. They understood it when I gave them the answers, but not before. ARGH. It’s like running in waist deep water sometimes.

Eternal Suffering.
Friday, September 12, 2008

            I went to Ose yesterday and it was ok as usual. I had one class in particular where I stood around much of the time while the teacher said words for the students to repeat. That’s common in Japan so I don’t fret much. Then the students had this interesting activity where they learned about falling in a pool or river fully clothed. It was strange seeing them in their regulars clothes, much less soaking wet, but I suppose it was good to at least have the training so you don’t panic if it ever happens. I imagine jeans would be heavy when soaked.

            Then after Ose I went to NISPO, the fitness gym, and really pounded my chest and triceps. I was really weak afterwards and after I took a shower I got hungry in a way I have never before. This time it was actually like my body needed food right then, whereas before I am usually just hungry until I over eat. I had to go to the nearest 7-11 because I felt so bad. I was shaking until I got some food. Then I overate twice and went home.

            Today I got to school around 8am so I could hang out with the kids a bit. When I say the kids I mean the elementary school kids since the JHS kids don’t “hang out” and have a rigid schedule of things to do all morning. One thing that I noticed about the elementary 1st graders was that it would be a tortuous eternal hell to be reincarnated as any animal they have in the classroom as a pet. This time there was some little tiny lizard and one girl immediately pulled it out of the cage and started showing it to everyone. All the kids were pushing around her trying to touch it or pet it. The poor thing was being thrown around and pulled on. I remembered they did this with other animals as well. That should be the punishment for the truly evil criminals in the world, being reincarnated as a pet in a first grade classroom.

            I realized why that last long journal entry was corrupted. I corrupted it with my spewing hatred. There were a few things that really bugged me, like the guy at the gym who took up three stations for about an hour, and I really ranted hard about it all. I corrupted it with my hatred and the universe prevented me from posting it.


Japanese clothes dryer


Line of Sight.
Saturday, September 13, 2008

            Why does bird poo or anything that hits your windshield fall directly into your line of sight? Statistically it should hit at some other places occasionally, but more times than not it's directly in your way. Then your eyes keep focusing off the road and on the poo which smeared when you used the wipers.


Nearly an Issue.
Monday, September 15, 2008

            Today was a holiday so I went into town to work out some and then have Indian food with Matt. After that we went to the computer store and I bought a video card and some new speakers, both for my computer. When I got back and installed the video card it was nearly a big problem. The computer wouldn't boot at all. I tried a million things and called a buddy that is good at this stuff. Then I reset all sorts of settings and checked one last thing. The CPU status showed it was nearing the 85°C shutdown temperature. Hmmm, why would it suddenly be doing that? It's not like I have a light shoved into the computer so I could....I am a moron. So I cut off the light and let it all cool down for a bit and it worked. I'm still not 100% sold that it's making a huge difference, but maybe it is.

            Then I installed the new speakers which were only $20. They come with two speakers, a bass sub-woofer, and most importantly a handy little extension so I can easily control the volume and plug in my headphones. I have that right by my arm. I also have a drawing tablet that I'm still getting used to. Now everything seems to be running a little smoother and possibly faster. I'll have to do something that requires rendering or video editing to really see a difference.


Fading Smiles.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

            About 20 minutes before I left for school this morning I heard an ambulance pull into my town and stop. I thought it was going back to it’s base which is in my town, but a different direction, but when I actually left for school it was pulling out of the smile mart. About 10 people were gathered in front including the man that owns SM, but I didn’t see the woman. It could have been the father of the woman or a neighbor. I don’t want to ask who it was, because I always ask the wrong person. I think my mother has done that as well. I seem to remember her hearing that someone died so she called her friend who knows everything and it was her friend’s son or something. So I’ll just wait until someone tells me since someone always tells me stuff.

            First period I had a class with the 6th graders. They are still my favorite class in the whole school mainly because the teacher likes English and really teaches them a lot. Other classes have varied levels, but this class is almost completely on the same level with only a few stragglers. One girl is actually faster at arranging the alphabet than I am and that’s with me going full on as fast as I can. Anyway, for this class I always prepare some print out for them to do and we never get around to it. The second I don’t prepare one will be the time he says “now over to Ryan” and I will be up the creek.

            I went out to lunch with a friend named Matt on Monday. His name is just Matt, not “Matt on Monday”. We had Indian food and chatted about various things. We both like Science Fiction and have read some similar authors and we are both interested in writing some science fiction. Anyway, he said something that I found to be true. He said that spending coin money doesn’t really feel like spending money at all. I noticed that today when I was counting my money. Now that the stupid 7-11 is closed the nearest ATM is in Koriyama. I thought about going into town since I only have $10 on me, then I found another ten in change in my change purse (adult manly version), but even then it didn’t really feel like $10.

            Other than that I bought some software and characters to start making comic book characters. I’m not really into comics, but I’m going to use it in class for reading comprehension since that’s just boring the regular way. I’ll post something here when I’m done. Maybe I’ll make an online comic about how fun it is to teach English in Japan. That could be amusing.

            I was sitting in the teacher’s room (since I had only one class today) and saw some kids come in. They made a joke to some teacher and then left. I watched as they left and it was interesting to see how long their smiles took to fade away. Sometimes when you are walking down the street and you see someone you might smile and then the smile fades away, because otherwise you are smiling for no reason and people think you are a wacko. Then I started watching other people’s smiles fade way. It was interesting in a depressing way.

            The Home-Ec teacher is here today and it’s a cooking day so the 2nd years (8th graders) made something for lunch. Then they brought in lunches for all the teachers. Finally a student came in looking at me. YAY! What is it? He comes over and says “Ryan sensei…..where is Tanaka sensei?” Then he walks back out as my smile started to fade. No one brought me a lunch and that was kind of sad. It reminded me of the time when they were passing out bonuses and the last envelope was for me. The principal made a huge scene in front of all the teachers (in a surprised and excited way) that I too was getting a bonus. Teachers cheered and clapped and he handed it to me. I knew they all wanted to see how much it was so I opened it and….it was my water bill. The other really awesome thing like that is how I have noticed recently on several people’s Facebook page there will be photos of weekend trips people took to the lake by my house. Usually on days when I was sitting at home alone doing nothing. That feels awesome, but not as cool as how some of them physically drove past my apartment to get to a restaurant for lunch. I’m glad no one called or asked if I wanted to hang out, it would have disturbed my busy day of sitting.

            During 5th and 6th periods there were student council speeches and elections. I couldn’t bear to watch them so I stayed in the teacher’s room working on some projects. Basically anything other than 15 speeches about how one student is going to do an identical job better than another student. Each candidate must have a guarantor and a cheering representative. The guarantor is the highest ranking student the candidate can convince, with the current council president being the best. The cheering person just says some good words about the candidate. I noticed one 1st year (7th grader) only had one person backing him. Many students don’t like him and think he is an ass, which he is a bit, but I think that’s only because so many people labeled him as that and he just assumed the role. I think he could be nice and wants to fit in, but his quirks make him stand out in Japan, which is bad. The student he has as his guarantor AND cheerer is the 8th grader WHO NEVER SPEAKS. Awesome. In one sense I think, get the hint dude. But in another sense I think, wow you won’t quit that’s cool. I think he’ll get only one vote since the non-speaking student won’t even vote.

Trying too Hard.
Friday, September 19, 2008

            Yesterday I went to Ose JHS and had two normal classes. Then 6th period the elementary school kids from two local schools came and observed a class and then participated in an English class. It was with the hyper teacher Mr. Endo. He’s great and the kids love him since he brings such high energy to the class and you can tell he genuinely cares about the students. Anyway, the class was great and the kids had fun. I joked around with many of them and when the whole thing was over I gave them a stamp with my face on it. I mean I actually stamped their paper with it, not like a postage stamp.

            Everything was going great, then as I was finished and leaving I saw two girls doing something so I stamped their hands. One girl laughed and the other did the usual reaction of slightly cringing and acting upset. So then I was chatting with a teacher and then I went back to the teacher’s room to kill another hour. When I passed the water fountain I saw the two girls washing off their stamps. Oh well, fair enough. The first girl was smiling and said “sorry”, but it was ok. The other girl, the one that cringed, was whimpering and then I noticed she was crying and vigorously scrubbing the stamp off. Wow, I felt really bad and said I was sorry.

            Perhaps I was trying too hard to be funny. I say that because someone recently said that about me and it stung a bit. I don’t really try to be funny, I just have that Chandler type personality that comes across as always trying. I guess in situations like this I can understand it. If I would have left it alone at stamping their papers it would have been fine, but I was trying too hard apparently and went too far.

            Other than that I found out two teachers were married to people I knew (and the marriages surprised me) and then the only teacher at that school that I thought was attractive, and probably single, is getting married. The P.E. teacher is married to our VP from last year. I thought he was about 60 and she was about 30 so when she said husband she said “otto” which I thought was short for “otosan” which means father. So I said “oh he’s your father” and she laughed and said “No, my husband.” I seriously thought he was in his late 50’s to 60’s and she was in her 30’s, which could be the case, but they also seem vastly different. Maybe I only know him at school where Japanese people are stoic and serious.

            Facebook.com is an amazing thing. I have reconnected with people from high school. The sad thing is I invented that about 7 years ago when I first came to Japan. I made a web board like that where people could log in, write a profile, and stay in touch. But mine was only for band members of the Georgia Southern Marching Band and didn’t go anywhere. Plus I didn’t have any tipping pointers, as Malcolm Gladwell would say. No one to tip the balance into popular mainstream acceptance and that’s something I certainly can’t do on my own.

            After reading the book “The Tipping Point”, by Malcolm Gladwell, I’ve realized I am not one to tip people. The book talks about how certain people, even without trying, can change the world. There are some people who tell you about a new restaurant and you think “eh…maybe…whatever” and there are others who tell you in the same way and you think “wow, if SHE said the place is good I gotta go try it NOW”. I have noticed when I plan various events people just aren’t compelled to come. Yet, when other people plan the same events there is no shortage of participants. I’ve tried to organize cookouts by the lake for a few weeks now and no one seems interested, yet when Stephanie planned them last year people came out of the woodwork. She had something about her that made people interested, whereas I don’t. I’ve suggested a number of trips on various occasions to various places and they rarely spark interest or only a few people attend. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s causing me to become more introverted.

            On a different note, I did something funny today. A teacher was leaving to go to a distant town (by airplane) for some kind of national sports competition. I didn’t fully grasp what or where. When he left some teachers were saying “good luck” or “be careful” or the usual things. I had a sudden burst of energy and accidentally acted out a thought rather than merely think it. I suddenly stood up and started clapping. Then other teachers saw me and started clapping as well. It actually fit the moment in a funny way, but I really didn’t mean to do it. The teacher felt really good though.

            Later I did two amazingly accidental things. I was in the gym tossing a basketball around since I was bored. Then occasionally I would get surges of energy and hurl it at the far goal which was a gym-width away. I would rarely even hit the backboard and never made it. Then it was the morning break time and some kids came in. I goofed off with them for a few minutes and then it was time to go. On a whim I hurled the ball across the gym again and it whooshed the net. The kids who saw it were amazed and assumed I did it on purpose. They handed me another ball and told me to do it again. I knew there was a 1 in 78 trillion chance of making it again so I said I didn’t have time. I threw the ball in the direction of a kid by the rack of balls. Instead of going toward him, it bounced and landed on the rack perfectly in place. The kids were even more amazed at that and quickly told everyone about my athletic prowess. Now other kids are going to want to see amazing feats of agility, but their smiles will quickly fade when they realize I am a phony.

10 Yen Short.
Monday, September 22, 2008

            I had a busy weekend. Friday night was the welcome party for the new Koriyama ALTs. Before that I went into town and bought too much stuff since it was payday. I actually overspent and now I can’t afford to fix my car until next payday. I bought a lot of stuff I needed and some I didn’t. I got some underwear, t-shirts, socks, stuff for the computer, lunch, Starbucks coffee, and so much more I can’t even remember. Then I mailed a package to the US which was $47 because I had to mail it nearly overnight express to get there close to the time of a birthday party. I was 10 yen short and had to break a bigger bill. It would have been so much cheaper had a mailed it earlier, but I never did.

            The party was fun even though I didn’t drink. I just didn’t feel like it for some reason. It was $45. I was once again 10 yen short from having exact change so I had to break a bigger bill. During the party Ben had some of the older AETs do “Furee Yells”. That’s how Japanese people cheer each other. I yelled for Angela which was good because she has a 3 syllable name and part of the yell involves saying the recipients name over three beats. Some guy that works for the BoE actually slept through us yelling. Then we turned and did the yell for him while he slept. You have to be hardcore tired to sleep through that.

            After the party there was a second party at Becky’s place and I stayed there about an hour. That was fun too and I wish I had drank a little and stayed over somewhere, but I didn’t. I talked to Sarah about our upcoming gyoza party. About 10 people are coming to her apartment in October and we are going to make gyoza (Chinese dumplings). They are super cheap to make even when you buy all the sauces and other one time ingredients. 10 people will only pay about $5 each and that will include a mango smoothie afterwards.

            On Saturday I stayed home and cleaned like someone who has never cleaned before. No, that’s not right. I cleaned like there’s no tomorrow. Wait, you wouldn’t clean if there was no tomorrow. I cleaned like a crazy man who loves to clean. That was sad, but whatever. I moved things around and dusted and mopped and scrubbed and threw some old things away and put others in new places. I’m not done, but it’s getting there. Then on Sunday I bought some hanger hooks from the $1 store (technically 100 yen store) and managed to get rid of one of my hanging closet bars in the kitchen. It’s like a moveable closet rack. I bought some things to go into the wall and then hang the clothes on that. A picture would be easier to explain here. I also bought a bunch of other little things at the 100 yen store.

            We have $1 stores in the US, but from what I remember you can only buy things that seem to cost around $1. At the 100 yen store in Japan I bought cufflinks and a tie clip that don’t look like that came from there. I have worn ties from there as well as socks and underwear. OH, that’s some big news. They had underwear in the style I wear and my size so I bought some and I am wearing them now. They are actually better than the $20 pair of some name brand I bought at Don Quixote (we have a discount store named that). I have bought so much stuff at the 100 yen store that really shouldn’t have been there, it was worth so much more. The most aggravating thing is when I buy something somewhere else that I am SURE would not be there and then find out it IS there and it is actually only 100 yen. Of course, for some reason at the 100 yen store I was 10 yen short again and had to break a bigger bill.

            For dinner on Sunday I went to Milky Way with Matt and Henry. It’s a family steak house with a great salad bar at which I always overeat. This time was no different and I felt bad for the drive home. I went to the gym and got in the pool for the first time. I bought a bathing suit on Friday and a swimming cap as well. I worked out my back and biceps and then wanted a bit more cardio, but the treadmill gets so boring. Once I found how to actually get to the pool I walked the length of it for 30 minutes. I would walk forward while trying to fan myself backwards for resistance. I thought it was stupid and not working since I wasn’t sweating (in the pool) and then I noticed I was out of breath and my heart was pounding. I’m going to try to keep doing that for a while even though dealing with the wet bathing suit wasn’t too much fun afterwards. Hopefully I will be able to do about 30 min to an hour of swim-walking from now on. I might buy some goggles so I can grab a float thing and kick paddle down and back. I’m also going to try to eat no major carb things after 4pm everyday, though I will allow one free day a week.

            Recently I have found that because I have so much I want to do I don’t actually get started doing much. I have a list of about 10 things I really want to get done soon, but something always gets in the way either actually or just in my head. I have about 3 computer projects I am working on and I even found a way to work on them at school, but I just can’t get started. Last week I started working on one and actually finished which is what would happen if I actually started my new projects. I wish I could stop time and get these things done.

A couch for sale at a furniture store. The sign says "Do Not Sit on the Couch", which makes perfect sense because who wants to try a couch before paying $200.

The most awesome guitar ever.

By "awesome" I mean ridiculous.

During a recent Saturday festival, they set up the local shrine right by my apartment.

When I buy garbage bags, I make sure they are toughness and strongly.

It only sticks just.

The hair is firmly obtained.

The tower with the town chime that rings LOUDLY at 6am, 11:30am, and 6pm everyday because Japanese people must all be disturbed at the same time as a group..

These "costumes" were in the children's section of a discount store.


Wasted Holiday.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

            I had the day off for some random “Autumn Holiday” and I had so much planned, but I didn’t get much of anything done. I did go into town to workout, but that was it really. I really wanted to knock several things off the list, but I just couldn’t get started.

School Trip – 10th Time for me.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

            I went with the 7th graders on their tour of the town. First we went to the art museum, which was about the 10th time I have been there. Once on my own, twice with various newcomers who were interested in art, once with another friend from out of town, and the rest on various school trips. Only one time was it really interesting and that was when they had this Pixar display that spun around and a strobe light made it look like the models were alive. Other than that it’s just the permanent exhibition they have which was interesting the first time and then it was just art from people I had never heard of. The only thing I still enjoy seeing is the human figure made of randomly welded metal things.

            There were a few parts that were interesting this time, but most of it was excruciatingly Japanese. The interesting part was when we went behind the scenes of the museum and saw parts the public never sees. It wasn’t amazingly interesting, but still I had some interest. The Japanese part was when we went into a room and the guide more or less forced the kids to ask questions. I think he had 15 minutes to kill and used the kids to do so. First they asked what certain machines did and that was cool. One was a special printing press, another an oven, then there was a common drill press, then a bookshelf..wait a bookshelf? Yes. A bookshelf. Then where did a certain door lead, then “what’s that”….oh it’s a box. Wow. Am I snoring outloud? Finally, and I had to take a picture of this, after about 5 minutes silence and the guide saying “anymore questions”, a kid asked what was the balcony. “Oh that’s for storage” and they all looked at that for about a minute.

            Then we ate lunch outside. It was a box lunch which is usually ok, but this time it was just two plain rice balls and some potato salad. Whatever. After lunch we boarded the bus and went to the Big-I which is the world’s tallest planetarium. We went into the science activity room and made balloon helicopters. Wow that sounds so cool. Balloon helicopters? Nope, no that fun. It was a balloon attached to a straw mechanism that spun and lifted the copter in the air. Hypothetically I should say. It really just slowed the fall of the balloon contraption. All the kids, as well as myself, thought it would be so cool as we built it, but as it turned out everyone felt it was a silly dud. It’s like they read how to make it from a book and never actually tested it since anyone who tested it would see it was kind of stupid.

            Finally we played around in the space activity area where you can do little experiments. One is where you ride in a space ship that moves around as you move a control stick. It’s like that NASA simulator. Our “pilot” was a kid that is a wanna be class clown and his piloting was annoying bad. At no point were we anywhere close to the course. He wasn’t being stupid, he just couldn’t think critically and make snap decisions like flying a spaceship. Anyway, other kids jumped on the moon jump simulator and some other things that were ok. Well they were interesting the first 3 times I went there, but now….

Some Views from Above

Looking down on the shinkansen tracks at Koriyama Station. A view into the town at ekimae. The taxi and bus area.
Round One, a gaming place near Koriyama Station. Castle "Love" Hotel near the station. Not the best Koriyama has to offer. Theaters 6, 7, and 8 of Koriyama Cinema, actually called Teatoru which makes no sense.


Two Classes.
Thursday, September 25, 2008

            I drove to Ose JHS as usual on Thursdays and had 2 classes. I came to Japan to sit in various teacher’s rooms and that’s exactly what I do. I am very pleased with my job. The two classes were fun, but the other sitting time was boring. Well I did spend one period grading two girls’ journals and some other student’s Eiken practice tests. Then another class preparing a game for my two classes since the teacher said “oh can you prepare something for next period?” You get used to that in Japan so it was no big deal. Then I went to work out and came home.

            Oh, I did do one really cool thing. I went into the gym and was talking with the basketball team. One kid told me to shoot for the next near me, but I said “No, I will shoot for that one over there” and I hurled it as hard as I could. It went in, but didn’t swoosh. The kids were absolutely amazed, as I was I since I thought I used all my lucky shots last Friday when I made that one in the gym at Konan. The difference here was I acted cocky about it and it seemed like I meant to do that. If you act cocky like that before you try something amazing and don’t make it, no one cares. But if you do make it you look like you meant to and it really adds to the effect.

Bigger, Fatter, Not Gooder.
Friday, September 26, 2008

            I had my monthly blood test today and the results were less than stellar. I’m not sure why they dropped off like they did, but they weren’t good at all. I really need to crunch down this month and see if I can get them better and actually lose some weight. I gained about 3 kilos (6-7 pounds) (maybe that’s a “stone” in British English). I’ve actually been working out more intensely recently and eating a bigger breakfast and a smaller dinner, but as usual I gain weight rather than lose it.

            Today I have no classes at Konan, but I have some things to do. I bought a portable HD and put some files on it so I can work at school. Hopefully I can get something done. Hmmm, I’ve been sleeping on the floor in true Japanese style and I just hate it. I just hate being on the floor all the time. When I wake up at night to go to the bathroom it’s so hard getting up off the floor. Plus if a snake or rat came in the apartment it would be right there at head level. My fridge is usually on the floor as well and I hate that too. I actually put it up on the TV stand so it’s more at an adult level. There’s a bed at Muji I will probably buy even though the BoE provided me with one when I moved in. The one they provided was a tad small and the one I want, which is only $200, is longer and wider. I’ve bumped it up on the list of things to buy and should get it next month.

No Lunch.
Monday, September 29, 2008

            Friday I had the doctor’s appointment which ran late so when I was finished I ate ramen on the way back. I was in no rush to sit here all day with no classes, but didn’t want to take vacation time to do nothing elsewhere. So when I got to school it was about lunch time and they were preparing the lunches. I moved my name to “No Lunch” and a teacher moved it back. I heard them counting and saying names so I said “no lunch for me”. The teachers preparing the lunches, including the lunch lady, laughed in amazement and asked me if I was sure. I said I already ate and I wasn’t hungry. She said she will prepare the lunch and put it off to the side for me to eat later. I told her I was stuffed and wouldn’t be eating anything until dinner. The teachers were totally confused by this. I just can’t understand why someone can’t say “ok, he already ate, one less lunch to prepare” and then just drop the issue.

            Today I saw my name still in the NL area so I moved it back. When I started to get my lunch I saw someone had moved it back to NL so I quickly moved it back (again) to the “yes I am eating today” area. When I sat down I knew they had prepared one less tray and that came out when someone noticed one teacher hadn’t come yet. They recounted and now it was suddenly 9 instead of 8. They quickly scurried to make one more lunch and then someone realized two other teachers hadn’t come yet so there was a big fiasco about lunches. It seems that the people preparing the lunches just looked at the sign, which must be correct so there was no need to question it, and made the lunches based on that. ARGH.

            Saturday and Sunday I mainly stayed in and did the usual nothing. Saturday I went into town to work out and do some shopping, but I forgot to go by the 100 yen store so I went back to town just for that on Sunday. I actually didn’t fully mean to. I was thinking about it then got distracted. Suddenly I found myself driving halfway there so I continued. I did a few errands while I was out since I guess I just wanted to get out of the house. I bought some 100 yen dehumidifiers since there is a slight mold/mildew problem in some areas around the shower. I put one in the closet last week and it filled up with water almost overnight. I also put a deodorizer in there since it had that grandmother old person smell.

            I did do one thing really productive on Sunday evening. I made some English comics for the kids so they could read English in a fun way. I bought the characters from cartoonsolutions.com where they artist had worked for several big name animation companies at one point.




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