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
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
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.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I went to Ose yesterday and finished up my self introductions. There
is some downtime at that
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
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
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.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
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
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.
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.
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.
Line of Sight.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
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.
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
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
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
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.
awesome guitar ever.
By "awesome" I
During a recent
Saturday festival, they set up the local shrine right by my
When I buy garbage bags, I make sure they are toughness and
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
These "costumes" were in
the children's section of a discount store.
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
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….
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
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.
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
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
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.
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