Saturday, April 30, 2005

At approximately 10 pm tonight we are headed for Shikoku, the fourth largest island in Japan. At approximately 8 pm I set about producing and sculpting my "vacation beard" I find that I really enjoy myself more when I've got that badass je ne sais quoi about me. Little children run in fear, old ladies give up their hard earned subway seats and damn, I look good. So good in fact that Jennifer refuses to kiss me or even look at me, because If she did, she would be overcome with a-ni-mal luuuust. That's right, it's going to be a good week.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Japan does not use daylight saving time. We are stuck with early mornings and early evenings in the summer. At the solstice the sun peeks its head over the mountains at around 4:15 AM, just like it's supposed to and goes down around 7, maybe 7:15. This is not to say that the Japanese haven't heard of the concept of glorious summer evenings, in fact they tried it after World War II, the thing is, it just didn't work for them. Can you guess why? They had to abandon DST when they discovered that workers were doing too much voluntary overtime. People used to going to work after the sun set had to stay at the office an extra hour or two every day just to satisfy their consciences. They just didn't feel like they were working hard enough when they could still see daylight on their way home.

If that isn't screwed up, I don't know what is.

The country is reconsidering the notion starting in 2007 they'll do it on a 2 year test basis, but there are some doubts, the salarymen may just suffer like their fathers did. I say suck it up and take a vacation.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Ok, here comes what has become my weekly post. Whereas last week I had a lot to bitch about due to my super-busy schedule, this past week has been a delight with fewer classes and a lot less stress. I guess now that I'm older and wiser life is looking better for me.

I saw some interesting stuff on a bike ride last Friday. You gardeners out there know that when you are trying to prevent birds from landing and eating the things out of your garden that you may resort to various kinds of scarecrows to keep them out. One type is a stuffed or plastic thing shaped like a dead crow, hanging upside-down from a tree. Well, I saw a similar device employed in a farmer's vegetable patch though this one would have to be called a "scare-monkey" because it was a monkey doll with dead looking eyes suspended from it's hind leg. If that doesn't work, then the monkeys are either too dumb to realize that the doll is supposed to be a monkey, or they're too smart that realize that the doll is just a scare-monkey and that they really don't care anyway.

What would the farmers do if they knew that children had been snacking on their veggies? I can only imagine.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

So, sunday was my birthday right? Well I had a pretty good day of rock climbing out with my closest Japanese friends, well, since I really don't have any close Japanese friends, it was just my Japanese rock climbing companions. I spent much of the day scrambling up and down some vertical-ish sections of rock and then falling down in a somewhat controlled manner off of them. It was good. Since Jennifer gave up rock climbing for lent, and then just decided to swear it off for good, she stayed home and cooked me a delicious dinner of kebabs and also a bitchin chocolate souffle. Lara and Shane were over and my parents sealed the deal by calling me at the appropriate time, before midnight. All in all a good day and as you can see by the pictures, a fun time was had by me.
The wine was not with out its ill effects however. This scene taken shortly after the contents of the box were halved. Primarily by yours truly.
It was a good birthday, as you may have guessed by this picture of the gift that keeps on giving, Vin de Box. From the estates of the Chapeau De Box in the upper Lorry Valley region of French. Please enjoy the soft taste and nice color of our Vin de Box.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Wow, now that I'm a minority, I can really relate with some of the stuff I just read on the website. Only, this time, I'm the black people!!

I really enjoy the way that I speak for all Americans when I'm the king of my own little classroom. I let people know just how much Americans love George Bush, Guns and Jesus. I'm being honest and true to myself in the spirit of international goodwill and understanding. I think I should start a new website about it, whaddaya think?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Well, I knew that this guy had some super human powers when I was riding with him in the Twin Cities. I worked at Grand Performance Bicycles the summer after I graduated Mac and also the following summer. Adam was a sponsored racer for the Saint Paul Bicycle Racing Club sponsored by Grand Performance. He later joined the Jelly Belly Aramark squad where he seemed to have limitless energy and stamina. Hmmmmmm, I have a little more insight into why now. Better racing through chemistry has always been MY motto after all.

Monday, April 11, 2005

This is a birthday shout out to my man in Asia, Alf Hickey. It's his birthday today and I think that we should all give him a pat on the back for sticking to his "cultural immersion" program for so long. The good lord knows that I'm ready to go home soon. I really can't say for sure regarding China but in Japan it takes a special kind of person to stay long term. That kind of person is not me, not necessarily.

My life is good, mostly, but I'm just ready to be something more than a conversational English teacher. Thank god for the first good wage in my life, but I could go with a little more job satisfaction now and then.

IN other news, I watched Sin City last night, downloaded surreptitiously from secret sources on the internet. I have to say that though the movie was visually interesting and quite stimulating, I didn't really love it. As you might expect, the characters were two dimensional figures, as if peeled off of the page and pasted directly onto the screen. If you like Quentin Terantino or comic books or Dick Tracey, then you've got a good chance of liking this film, but if you want more than eye candy, look elsewhere.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Snowing on Monday, now were up to the upper teens, Celsius that is. I guess that works out to about 75 or so in the degrees F (for flippin idiotic, really boiling at 212? what the hell). Anyway, the weathers up and so is my ire along with the new list of classes for the new school year. The Japanese school calendar starts around April 1st or so and continues on until August when the students get a 3 week summer vacation and then again until Dember/January when they get a New Years break of about 3 weeks. Then they're right back in their freezing classrooms with the kerosene stoves until mid-March when they finish up their school year with some finals and then it's back to the grind again April 1st. Sounds like hell doesn't it? Well, it may very well be.

We have just begun the new set of classes for the new academic year and consequently I am really hating life. I used to consider myself a flexible guy, a kind of "go with the flow" chill person. What I have discovered is that I'm not. I'm really a tense nit-picky workaphobic. I like to have my plans all laid out for the week so that I can get my recreation time all scheduled in there. Right now, things aren't working out that way. In fact, i have little idea of what my weeks will be like in the future, because I don't even know which of my classes will be cancelled. I teach about 15-20 regularly scheduled classes each week and then on top of that I often teach one on one lessons that are somewhat randomly scheduled each week. Right now i have taught about half of the classes I was scheduled because no students actually showed up to them. It's not my responsibility to drum up new students, just to teach them, which is nice, but it's just annoying to have to show up for work when no students ever materialize.

To put the icing on what has been a stressful week, I had to sit through an entrance ceremony for the girls highschool where I teach weekly. Aside from the fact that I got a bento lunch out of the deal, it was a total unpleasant waste of time. I was paid to sit and stand and show my presence, show what a good cog I can be in this dysfunctional machine that is Japanese education. That sucked. Luckily, after the boring waste of a pleasant morning I received the climbing shoes that I'd ordered a week ago. I ordered two pairs of shoes so as to be able to choose the best fitting pair and then to return the other. This would have been fine but for the fact that the assholes at Customs opened my box and charged me 5000 yen in duties. How awesome is that? The pair of shoes that I am going to keep cost $140, the shipping to get the two pairs over to me was $35 the shipping for the remaining pair back home for the refund will be about $15 and the duty fee, which I'm going to see if I can get reduced, is $45. Let's see, that adds up to, $235 which is like a plane ticket to Korea. What the hell, it's just money right? I think that I may wish to shoot someone soon. Fortunately, it's really difficult to get guns here. Now swords are another matter.

Monday, April 04, 2005

A week has gone by and now it's July... Wait, no it's not it's still fricking cold and in fact it snowed on sunday night. How about that for a fine spring day. The cold is getting to be a little annoying especially considering that it's been here since November. There's still skiing available in the hills but it's honestly not that enticing when the thought of bike riding and rock climbing pops into my head. I just don't really care to ski in April, at least not if it requires an hour to get anywhere.

What a whiner I am.

The new school year is starting here and I'm now busy sitting in classes set up for new students whose existence has not actually been verified. As I work for a consumer school, the general idea at the beginning of the year is to have a lot of classes and times available to the students and then to cancel them as the term goes on and no one shows up. My schedule will become a bit more free in a month or so.