Thursday, September 02, 2010
I had one small slip in the 100 days 50 pounds mega diet. Not
entirely a slip, but I ate too much at an Okinawan restaurant. The
good news is the food was good and not fast food so I bitter citrus
drink popular in the region. It was Keikos birthday which is why I
went in the first place.
Other than that I am still moving things around in the
apartment. My PC crashed somewhat completely. Ive been getting
BSODs for a while, but last time I cranked it up it locked up, then
locked on reboot, and again on the second reboot so I turned it off.
Im going to have my neighbor rebuild it and make it like the 6
million dollar man, much better than it is now. We are talking about
a new motherboard, quad core cpu, massive cpu cooler, 4gigs of RAM
with 2 slots left open for another 4 next payday, new power, and the
fattest video card known to man. That way I can do some serious
video editing and even play some cpu intensive games such as
Stracraft 2, but not Warcraft. Im going to try hard to not get back
involved in that again. It was fun, but also like a black hole.
I didnt wake up early enough to run today. For some
reason I was ultra-tired last night and passed out at about 10 and
then woke up to the 6am alarm. Had my sleep apnea awakened me at
5:30 again I would have run, but I guess I needed the rest. Im
still in unpacking mode even though most things are in place. I
still want to rearrange a few things, but I am really close to
having a layout that I like. Actually I am going to do some laying
out now using MS Excel.
I was just researching the size of tatami mats because I
needed to know the size of my apartment to do the layout. I found
this bit of trivia about tatami on Wikipedia. In homes, the mats must not be
laid in a grid pattern, and in any layout there is never a point
where the corners of four mats touch. I didnt know this and yet it doesnt surprise me in the slightest.
Changing the layout seems odd, but also totally normal in Japan.
Most tatami rooms dont have furniture like foreign apartments so it
would be much easier. Sometimes when I visit my friends apartments
I get jealous at how little stuff they have, but Ive already
narrowed mine down to about the minimum amount. I keep forgetting
that I teach 9 grades and do all three jobs that the BoE offers.
Everyone else is either an ALT, an NT, OR an elementary school
teacher. I am all three which makes my job tough. I have to have
materials for all 9 grades whereas everyone else has stuff for
either 6 or 3 grades. Plus most other teachers teach one lesson
several times a day or a week, whereas I have 15 or so unique
classes a week. Luckily today I have 3 classes that I had to prepare
nothing for. For which nothing had to be prepared. Its reading
comprehension so I will either go and do nothing or function as an
ALT (automatic language tape-player).
Today after 5th period I will go back to the
hospital about my severe diarrhea. LOL, bet that made you wince. No
seriously, I have a rash on my foot and funky toenail fungus. The
toenail bit is getting better, but the rash isnt changing much. I
blame that on the weak medicine I get here in Japan. When I have a
cold I try desperately to get rid of it myself using NyQuil or other
foreign things because the J-medicine will take a week to get
I need to start thinking about what I will do for winter
vacation. I could go back to Thailand, which is always nice. While
there I could either go back to BaanDada.org or hit the beach or go
back to Cambodia and get some updated Angkor Wat photos. I wouldnt
mind visiting Vietnam at some point or China, but I am thinking
about going to Hong Kong in November to see a friend. If I went to
Thailand and did the orphanage trip I could lead a group to the home
which I have done many times. I like doing that because it expands
the circle of people who know about the home and maybe it will get
big enough that the right rich person will want to donate some mad
bank. Im only doing what I can.
Friday, September 03, 2010
I set my alarm to go off at 5:30am this morning, which it did, then
I got up and started to get ready to go jogging. I sat down and said
I will listen to the first minute of this song which will get me up
and going and in the mood to run. Then I looked at the clock again
and it was 7am, which was time to leave. ARGH. Computer Time. WHY?
Since its not hot I might be able to go jogging some after work,
but morning is so much better in general.
Other news of interest: All the JHSs in Koriyama got new
computers and new printers. We have smoking nice laptops now with
2gigs of RAM, unlike the 512 before with 1.5Mhz processors. They are
all Intel core i3 2.27Mhz which is more than we need, but should
last several years. The previous one lasted about 8 years. The new
printers are great as well. The B&W Laser Printer is cool, but the
old one rarely messed up so no big deal. However, the color laser
printer rocks and spits out nice quality things fast. I just printed
some stuff for the lesson next period in color then laminated it.
The only thing I dont like about these new laptops is the track
pad. Sometimes when I am typing my thumb hits the pad which makes
the cursor jump to another location where I keep typing and dont
realize what happened. Then I have to stop and retype it. Ive tried
to turn off the pad, but it wont work. We also all upgraded to Win7
which is nice.
Tonight is a big techno party down town, although I
think tonight is actually Reggae, which Im not a huge fan of. Of
which I am not a huge fan. The guy that organizes it literally lives
next to me so Im going to go and help him. Ill have to chug some
coffee since it starts at 11pm and goes until 6am or so. Doubt I
will make it the whole time.
Man today has been Make fun of Ryan day. Thats usual
for Japanese kids since there is no discipline here and they can
more or less do whatever they want, but today has been especially
bad for some reason. Even kids that I was semi friends with were
doing and saying things. Most are making fun of my belly which I
guess is a good thing since it pisses me off and makes me want to
lose weight even more, but in the end it still makes me feel bad. I
can take a lot of abuse since I have been here almost 9 years, but
for some reason it was really adding up today. Then I was hanging
out with an elementary 3rd grade girl who is really and
her friends started saying uhhh hes your boyfriend, you love him
so of course she had to say gross, no way, oh no which I know she
had to say, but still it was hurtful. I just walked away went to the
gym to be alone.
Really Enjoy the Job, but
Monday, September 06, 2010
I really do enjoy the job, but I am getting fed up with the amount
of wasted time and wasted resources involved. I cant even count how
many times I have been sitting in a teachers room and had some
teacher walk by and say Im going to class, but we dont need you
so you can sit here. Why would you have an English class in which I
wasnt needed? Apart from tests I cannot think of one logical
reason. I can think of several illogical reasons which are the
actual reasons why, but none make sense and all are wasteful.
I am leaning heavily toward leaving after this year. I
really enjoy being in the classroom and working, but I am getting to
the point that I can no longer tolerate all the wasted time. Id say
I am near the 90% marker now and really cant imagine what would
keep me here another year. If for some reason I did stay it would
involve me changing job roles so I was only at elementary schools. I
am tired of being an NT (Native Teacher or Not Teacher depending on
who you ask).
Well this weekend was productive as far as the apartment
complex goes. We had a late brunch on Saturday and then cleaned out
the storage room at the building. Its about 10x10 or so with racks
to hold things, but people have just dumped things over the years
and left it there so it was bad. Then this morning we took out about
10 bags of burnable trash and still have 10-20 left for other days.
We also have some plastic and cardboard for Tuesday and then
non-burnable things for Wednesday. Then more burnable for Thursday
and probably some for next week. After that we should be able to
actually store some of our own things in there.
On Friday there was a big Reggae party downtown that I
helped with and that threw off my entire diet and weekend schedule.
I didnt realize helping with set up- included helping with take
down at 5am. Oh the coffees I drank that night. Then we had a big
breakfast and finally I got home around 6:30. I need to remember to
stop drinking earlier or not drink at all while dieting. Didnt have
a big hangover though since I drank so much water at the end of the
night. The next one is Halloween which is going to be epic and I
might be doing some video projections, if I can get them done in
time and make them cool enough.
I ate lunch with the 1st years in JHS today
(7th graders). I spent the whole 20 minutes sitting at a
table with 5 kids while they ate and laughed at me for various
stupid and not funny reasons. Man, that will never get old. How
awesome is it to be constantly laughed at by kids for no reason. The
final part, which is typical Japan (in that it makes no sense) was
something I did that caused the whole group to literally hit the
floor laughing. Was it:
told a joke.
spilled soup on my crotch.
turned my tray around to eat the salad.
Remember this is Japan and you have to consider what would be
logical and then think of the opposite. A-C would all be laugh
worthy especially at that age. D makes no sense in any way shape or
form, but thats what it was. The tray had two bowls and a plate.
Rather than try to rearrange things, I spun the tray around to eat
the salad on the far side. This was the funniest thing in the world
and they couldn't stop laughing. I actually think the reason they
laughed is that they all do everything the exact same which and
spinning the tray around was different. They had no way to express
that emotion of seeing me spin it around and so they laughed,
because honestly Bob Hope talking about accounting practices would
be funnier than me spinning my tray around. I didnt even do it fast
or funny, I just turned it around. Its getting to the point that
Im not as concerned about renewing or not renewing as much as
simply making through the year.
They just canceled all outdoor after school activities because there
was a report of thunder in a nearby town. Its not rainy or stormy
or even overcast yet, but another town heard thunder and therefore
it must be dangerous here.
Big Slips, but
Thursday, September 09, 2010
I am supposedly still on the 100 days 50 pounds diet, but I havent
fully recovered from the past weekend. I overate and drank some beer
and generally slipped off the diet. So far this week I have been
continuing to eat poorly and so on. Although, I think I am about to
start a major weight loss program with another guy around the same
weight. We are going to see who can lose the most weight by December
something. Regardless of how we do, this will be great for our
health and health inspection check thing around January or December.
Not sure when it is actually.
In about 2 weeks some of us are going to see Sumo again
and then hit the Tokyo Costco and stock up on adult sized American
products. So many things are just too small in Japan or even
impossible to get, but Costco has it all. It even has a snack bar
with $2 drinks that are refillable. Thats either non-existent or $7
for a drink bar in Japan. I plan to buy a lot of stuff and mail it
back to my apartment for cheap.
I am at Ohse (Oh say) JHS today and have 4 classes,
which is great for this school, but I also have 2 open periods and I
am just sitting here doing nothing. Well thats not true. I am
playing Crush The Castle online and trying to be subtle about it,
but I know teachers can see me. I am at the point that I dont even
care. Japan has made it clear that wasting my time is perfectly ok,
so I have no problem playing this while waiting for my other
September 10, 2010
entry has nothing to do with the title, but I felt like using a word
that was fun to say. There’s not much to write about since I have
one class today and I’m bored. I won’t whine about that since you
get the gist and can fill in the whining yourself. Tonight I am going
to drive up to Fukushima city so a friend can see his girlfriend who
is in the hospital up there. After that we are going to get some
dinner and then drive back. I’m hoping for gyoza since it’s been
a long time. I’m also hoping to have a “Let’s Make Gyoza Party”
soon since it’s fun, cheap, and easy to make. Gyoza shops must make
a killing because I can make them cheap and that’s just buying all
the ingredients each time. If you bought them in bulk and made some
things on your own, you could make them for 5 yen or less and they
sell for about 50 yen each. I have no plans to open a gyoza shop at
I am ready to leave this job. Or at least this school. It’s a great
school, but it simply doesn’t need an NT anymore. It needs someone
to visit about 6 times a month and that’s it, definitely not twice
a week. I would consider staying another year possibly if I could
change jobs entirely, but I doubt any will open. Plus I don’t
really want to start at a new school knowing it’s only going to be
a year. I am a firm believer in 2 year minimums. I’m sitting across
from the regular English teacher watching him grade the students’
English journals. I’ve tried to get students to write them for
years, but they never do. They always say “oh I forgot”, but when
the teacher tells them to do the journals I can see stacks of
notebooks with entire pages written.
NT job is a good idea, but not used as it should be. I basically have
a class to myself to do whatever I want, but I can give no grades.
This means students know they don’t have to do anything if they
don’t want to and they don’t even have to listen in my class. The
way it should be run, if fluency were the goal, is to have the
students who make above a 90 in the regular class move into my class.
Or have my classes be electives so I don’t have to deal with the
kids that don’t want to be there or, even better, have never spoken
at school. Instead I am supposed to deal with the lower level
students, but I have no resources to use. I actually suggested this
once and was told we cannot separate the students, unless they choose
to be separated themselves and even then it can only be for students
who would like some lower level review. Students would never choose
to be in an advanced class since it would pull them out of a group
and make them look arrogant. Why bother exceeding when you can fit
right in with everyone else.
job is a great idea, but ineffectively implemented. This was almost
an awesome job. It is/was awesome in many ways. I have been paid to
pursue my own interests and experiment in my classes with no
criticism from teachers. But at the same time, some feedback would be
nice at times. We were never given any guidance as to what the role
of the NT should be which is both great and liberating and at the
same time a bit vague and scary. It’s scary in the sense that I am
taking up a period of their education time each week. Am I wasting it
and damaging these kids forever or am I helping them?
something that’s amusingly annoying. At Ohse I asked when they were
going to start taking applications for the next National English Exam
called Eiken (ei is part of eigo meaning English and ken is part of shiken meaning test).
The teacher said they were going to skip this term’s test because
it “interfered” with the ultra-important school festival. There
are three days this test can be given, but the school festival (where
students run around on stage acting like children) is far more
important than any academic activity. That really sums up English
education in Japan. I guaran-#$%&-tee you that if the test were a
kanji test or anything Japanese related, the entire event would have
been changed. I guess that’s fair. This is Japan. They can choose
to not speak English, but they shouldn’t have foreign teachers over
here if they are going to waste our time. So in conclusion, yea I am
almost definitely leaving next year. Time to move on.
September 14, 2010
was good last Friday. I drove Brad up there to see his girlfriend and
then we went to the famous gyoza place in Fukushima city called
Manpuku. Mahn poo coo. Man meaning full and puku being stomach. Maybe
you’ve heard “seppuku” which is the ritual suicide samurais did
when defeated, well this is the puku part of it. We ate a lot, but I
was still hungry so Brad told me about this American style burger
joint near the place and we walked there. The burgers were good and
came with a set course so it was a good deal, but halfway through I
realized I shouldn’t eat it all. I ate it all.
parts for my computer came in and I started the build, but there was
a problem with the power unit so I had to exchange that. They didn’t
have the one I wanted in the store so I have to go back tonight and
get it. Hopefully by the weekend by speed demon box will be
functional. Also this weekend I plan to go see the tennis team play
at a nearby school on Saturday and then also the volleyball team on
Sunday. I think the students are surprised when we (foreign teachers)
show up to events like this during our own time. I also think it
helps me in class since the kids from those teams view me a little
Thursday, September 16, 2010
compute build has hit a wall since the computer won’t boot.
Technically it will, but not with the smokin’ fast GTX 470 video
card. That will let me do hardcore video work with minimal slowdowns
as well as play all sorts of games or watch HD video. Something about
it won’t let the computer boot though, but there is a chance that a
bios update will do it. It will be nice to have a machine that
doesn’t shut down constantly like my last one did.
I’m going to do some small special FX for a friend of mine. We
filled him goofing off in the parking lot over the weekend and now
I’m going to shoot lasers from his hands and have him do a Hancock
style super jump. Once my computer gets going I plan to really start
doing at least two little projects a week. To get good at the program
I am using I have to use it almost everyday.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
feel like my life is on hold. There are a few things I have to do or
am waiting on and I am waiting for other people to do something
related to the issue. So I can’t get anything done in some areas
and I just feel like I am on hold.
a different note, I might have a date tonight. I was supposed to go
out with this girl on Sunday (since Monday was a holiday), but she
had to work late. By ‘work’ I mean she couldn’t leave her job
until her boss left, but in Japan they call that working. Even if you
finish all your work at quitting time, you can’t really leave until
your boss leaves. It’s a big game they play and it’s doubly
annoying when it affects me. I’m not exactly sure that it’s a
date, although it was her idea to have a drink so maybe it is.
September 24, 2010
had a good time on the date Wednesday. She showed up this time and
was super apologetic about missing it before. She has two jobs and at
the second one she sometimes has last minute drop in clients. Sunday
was just such a time, but Wednesday was fun and she made it clear she
was on a date. Not clear as in “this is a date”, but she said she
had a good time several times and wanted to meet again. Another thing
was when we got to the place they tried to put us in a more open
booth, but she requested a more private booth. She speaks great
English and studied at Texas A&M. That seems odd to me since most
people go to California or New York or just not agriculture schools
other news, I got my PC up and running. Somehow I had two bad power
supplies. The manager at the shop thinks I am doing something wrong
or whatever, but I had them test both units and they confirmed they
were bad. The new one is the same wattage, but a different maker. Now
it has a smokin’ graphics card and 4 gigs of RAM, but my goal is to
get it up to 16 gigs to make my video work go that much smoother.
I’ll upgrade the RAM month by month on payday. 16 gigs will be
yet other news, I am going to Tokyo this weekend to see sumo. It’s
my second time, but we have slightly better seats and I will take my
DSLR (with better zoom) and a video camera. I’m taking the bus down
on Saturday and then either staying in a capsule hotel that night or
coming back that night. I haven’t decided.
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