Friday, October 01, 2004

Saturday October 2, 3:01 p.m.

Well, it's official. Ichiro pulled it off. He not only tied the record..he broke it with two hits. Good place to do it as well...back at Safeco Arena. So I guess Mt. St. Helens wasn't the only place to go nuts in Washington State today. It feels a bit weird to find out from the sterile environment of the Internet. I haven't heard any major cheering or seen any newspaper banners screaming the headline. However, I'm pretty sure that I'll get plenty of both tonight when I get home. Now, all of us here can sigh relief.
Saturday October 2, 2:49 p.m.

I'm back on the road again as I'm typing this from the local Kinkos. So far, I haven't heard the results from the baseball game concerning Ichiro's odyssey but I am hopeful.

Had The Teacher yesterday for her lesson where she gleefully told me that she got me that Speedo trunks for my birthday. I was grateful for them but I also related that one important rule to her: Fat people shouldn't wear Speedos in public. Did make my unprecedented third trip over to the gym last night. It didn't seem too different from my morning bouts there but I guess the evenings must be really crowded. Right now, my upper body is aching somewhat so I'll take that as a good sign. However, the mother of those kids I teach on Saturdays gave me a box of chocolates from her trip to the sumo tournament (who'da thunk that sumo players give out chocolate?) so I now have four packages of the sweet stuff. Good golly, of all the O'Henryesque endings.

Those guys are still working off my balcony. Nice salt of the earth types but I hope that they're finished by today. There's nothing more unsettling than folks chatting up a storm just arm's-distance away from your window.

I'll probably just veg out tonight and just have a salad and chicken for dinner tonight while I attempt to lose some more weight. With my luck, I'll probably just balloon this weekend.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Thursday September 30, 9:41 p.m.

Well, my last entry here from home for the next little while. I'll be a bit more sporadic over the next couple of weeks as I write from Kinkos before my new provider gets me hooked up. I've sent out the word to everyone about my status so hopefully everything is OK on that front.

The only aftereffects of that typhoon were just some gustiness. Otherwise, it was pretty sunny. And though, it was 31 degrees, we didn't suffer any major humidity. It was nice and dry and the winds certainly helped things stay that way. I had another workout at the gym today. I even added to my program by lifting a couple of barbells. My arms and shoulders are feeling the burn right now.

Then, it was off to see I, ROBOT at the nearby theatre. The movie's gotten somewhat mixed reviews. But I'm one who enjoyed it. Sure, the movie only takes a cell's-depth of the original Asimov story, namely the The Three Laws of Robotics but what's on the screen works out pretty well as a medium-sized blockbuster It certainly comes off better than its stylistic clone, A.I. Will Smith plays a more dour version of his Agent Jay character but can't resist one little scene of full comedy. Also, the movie plays a bit as a film noir and certainly, I couldn't complain about the effects and some of those crazy camera tricks at the end. All in all, I'd give it a 8. Glad to hear that COLLATERAL will be headed our way by this time next month.

I hear that the government types in Ontario have slapped on a requirement to freeze all fish for a minimum 7 days before the sushi chefs can get their hands on them. The Entrepreneur and The Engineer sent me some news on it. The sushi chefs over in Toronto are up in arms over this law. Freezing certainly doesn't help the quality of the fish...especially not over a week. Over here, I don't think many fish get frozen and those that do, don't stay that way for long. One reason for it has already been cited, the other is proximity. The fish only needs refrigeration for the most part before it hits the boards for slicing and serving since Japan is such a small country.

However, in defense of the government, something that I rarely do, shipping fish from the ocean to a Tokyo sushi shop is rather different from shipping fish from the same ocean to a Toronto sushi shop. A lot more territory to traverse, and since there has been so much pestilence hitting my hometown in recent years, I guess the government had to come up with this hamfisted counterattack. But in a decade in this country, I've yet to hear of a single incident of food poisoning from a sushi bar anywhere in Japan. Before any of you state that there is a coverup, I'll say that if an incident of food poisoning ever occurred in a sushi shop, the media would probably pre-empt even Ichiro to find out where the offending restaurant is. The Japanese take their art of sushi THAT seriously.

Speaking of No. 51, Ichiro is truly a showman as well as a sportsman of the highest calibre. He got another hit today off the Oakland A's. He could've gotten all three to tie the mark but he's gonna keep us all in suspense, maybe even down to the final game against the Texas Rangers to get it.

Well, my usual classes with The Teacher and SR before I make my third consecutive trip to the gym. I heard that the place is pretty empty on Friday nights since most of the crowd usually does stuff of a most unhealthy nature on that night. More's the power to me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Thursday September 30, 10:14 a.m.

Well, this is the last day with my old provider. It certainly feels like things are coming to an end with it. The connection seems to be taking a bit longer...just like in old age. I called up my new provider and found out that it'll take 1 to 2 weeks for things to clear so I'll be without home access for the first half of October. I hope I don't go through withdrawal during that time but maybe just like my new regimen of exercise, the separation of man and Internet may actually do me some good. However, there is always the friendly neighbourhood Kinkos to check for Internet.

Paddy, in a very timely move, sent me some e-mail asking how the new provider and my new regimen were doing. To answer both questions, I just replied "work in progress".

Typhoon 21 (or Meari, as it's called in the West), was pretty skittish here. Aside from a burst of squall overnight that I detected for just a few seconds before slipping off into Dreamland again, it didn't do all that much for us here in Chiba. However, there were sudden bursts of rainfall in the evening last night. But today, the clouds are starting to break apart and the sun is peeking out. Of course, on the flip side, the typhoon is dragging in some hot air so the temps will be taking us back to midsummer, if only for a couple of days.

I'm running a bit late so I'll head to the gym in the early afternoon instead of the morning and I'll probably catch I, ROBOT in the late afternoon.

Party Hearty's contacted us about the big Thanksgiving party at her place in the next couple of weeks. I may actually ask a couple of students to see if they would like to partake in the annual feast.
Wednesday September 29, 6:00 p.m.

Typhoon No. 21 will probably be the last one to scour through Japan this year but it's certainly making sure we won't forget it. It's going to ram right through the mainland. We've already had a slight taste here in Tokyo from one of the squall clouds ringing it. As usual, the southern parts are getting trashed right now.

I also had my third trip to the gym this morning. Worked out a bit longer than before thanks to an extended walk on the treadmill. And I was a bit heartened when I looked at the scale before working out. Since I had that pigout last weekend with ribs, karaoke food and all that meat at MB's, I thought I was back to square one again. However, I was actually weighing less than when I checked myself out on the first day.

Had my weekly class with The Hawaiian all the way west of Shinjuku today. She was my only customer since The Office Lady is too busy tonight. A bit of a pain having to go out all that way for just one hour of English teaching but The Hawaiian is an enthusiastic learner so I didn't mind at all.

Back home to see that NTT has left a message on my machine concerning my ADSL. Uck! I'm never all that thrilled about talking with authority in Japanese..probably, worst-case scenario, I have to pay the 72000 yen to officially get ownership of my phone line since I found out that it had been under the previous resident's name all these years. In which case I will be quite happy to relinquish my so-called dream of ADSL and go hat in hand back to my old provider and have my snail's-pace dial-up connection.

Well, the countdown for Ichiro's place in baseball history continues unabated. This morning, I heard that he only had 5 hits to go to reach Sisler's record of 257 hits. Then, on the way to work, I saw a sign on a newspaper kiosk trumpeting in bold yellow and black that the magic number was 4. Now, on the news, he only has 3 more to hit with 5 games left. It could be an interesting day tomorrow.

Aside from the call to the phone company, I hope to have a rather peaceful evening. I picked up something rather fascinating from the supermarket tonight...something that Homer Simpson (and I) would love. How about deep-fried potato and chicken skin on a skewer. I realize that I'm on a regimen but I just couldn't resist trying that out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Tuesday September 28, 11:07 p.m.

Finished my juku classes tonight. Had the boss for the last lesson. We managed to keep it to the target structure for most of the class unlike in previous lessons. But she then got off track again to talk about the possibility of moving shop to a house next year. It would be a big step for her and a good one, in fact. We then got into the subject about my situation past the end of next year since my visa cuts off then. At this point, I cannot say that I will be able to remain here without some company sponsoring me. She would like me to stay me on indefinitely. So I then suggested that if she could incorporate her new company and hire me on as a full-timer, perhaps I may be able to get that new visa. However, she got somewhat noncommittal about that. So, I still face that uncertain future.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Tuesday September 28, 2:51 p.m.

Thought I was going to the gym in a few minutes but I've decided to hold my regimen one day. I had my class with the Tsudanuma gang and then one of the students invited me for lunch. I declined their kind invitation last week so I felt that I shouldn't do so this time.

I don't regret my decision. This time, the restaurant was just down the main street from the bowling alley. It was a small French place and done up like a farmhouse from the Gallic countryside itself. It's actually the first time that I've been to a French restaurant, and this place certainly left me a good first impression in terms of both taste and price (well, that is, if I had to pay...once again, the students picked up the tab). The appetizer was a potato salad with chicken and bacon shaped into a nice disc with carrot shavings on top and drops of lemon sauce sprinkled around it. Very artsy...this is French. Of course, there was the basket of crusty bread.

Then, came the main course which, for me, was slices of tender rump roast in a garlic sauce and coated in ground pepper. There was also the distinct taste of butter. I was sopping up the sauce with the crusty bread. Marvelous stuff. And then dessert was a plate of assorteds including a pretty tart passion fruit mousse cake. The only down side to all this culinary heaven was that I'd just come down with a case of hay fever. So I was sniffling into my well-used Kleenex all throughout the meal.

So I'm back now. The reason I'm staying put for the next few hours instead of working out is that I still have to plan for tonight's classes at the juku. I'm sure Paddy wouldn't be too pleased to hear that but I gotta get ready. Besides, I'll be heading out to the gym for the next three days anyways.

After I got back home last night, I watched Star Wars: A New Hope on DVD while scoffing down a mess of Spam and rice (don't knock it til you try it). I had the commentary track activated so I got to hear George Lucas, a couple of his assistants and Carrie Fisher gab on their opus. I was a tad disappointed by the fact that they were all separately taped instead of having the whole crew together but then again, the separation meant that everyone could focus on the task at hand instead of just doing the happy talk together. It's also too bad that the other actors, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, couldn't come on board. Harrison, I'm not too surprised about since he's always been pretty reticent with the media but it would've been interesting to see how he and Carrie would've done the commentary together. As for Carrie, she was just about a cameo performer in the commentary; most of the talking came via Lucas and the effects guys. And boy, does 26 years after the fact make a difference...Carrie definitely developed a whisky-and-cigarette voice since 1977.

On the CD front, one of the discs that I bought during that binge last week was by a group called EGO-WRAPPIN'. They're an Osaka band which started out on the indie circuit before striking it rich with their jazz/rockabilly sound. Their latest release, MERRY MERRY, seems to be a departure from their usual stuff. It looks like the lead singer has decided to go off on a Bjork-influenced vocal trip with some definitely non-jazz melodies. I'm not sure if this will be their new incarnation, but I kinda hope that they return to their jazz roots next album.
Monday September 27, 8:51 p.m.

Feeling pretty beat right now. The rains came down on Tokyo today. However, much to my chagrin, the temps outside were cool enough that I needed the jacket but the subways were warm enough to make it feel like the summer we had just gotten rid of.

The Class Act was mostly a solo since the host lady had to take off for parts unknown. However, before she did, she related us that she almost became the victim of telephone fraud or as they say over here, "Ore ore sagi" ("It's me, it's me" scam). What happens is that a con artist phones up an unsuspecting person, usually a middle-aged person with maturing kids, after doing some research on the patsy. The artist then either takes on either one of two personae: 1) a police officer, insurance agent or some other authority figure who reports to the parent that his son/daughter has gotten into some trouble and that a fine or fee has to be paid into the so-called figure's bank account to help expedite matters, or 2) the child himself/herself who tries to convince the parent in a small or whispery voice that he/she is in a pot load of trouble and needs money right away. Of course, the parent gets hooked because of the immediate panic involved so that even if the voice and the circumstances sound a bit strange, the parent is too rattled to notice.

My student almost fell victim to it. I thought she was a pretty sharp lady but even she blanked out during the hour of conversation with the con artist since she was so panicky. However, she did have the final presence of mind to say that she would call him back as a precaution. Of course, that ended the scam when she had her real son call the number given by the scammer to find out that it didn't pick up (because it was probably a public phone). There was actually a "school" run by the Yakuza for teens who wanted to hone their craft in the lucrative business of fraud until the police finally caught wind of it and busted the place.

Came home to see that the travel agency sent the fax confirming that I've got a lock on the flight home so I gave word to my brother.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Sunday September 26, 11:28 p.m.

Kinda of a gray and intermittently drippy day. Despite my balcony being trussed up with scaffolding for those painters, I was able to get my laundry done. Just brought it most of it to dry inside the living room. Luckily, my decade-old washer can still wring most of the moisture out of the wash so the clothes don't end up overhumidifying the room. However, I've seen the insect population start to increase so I'm gonna have to defumigate the place before bedtime.

Instead of catching I, ROBOT today, I just headed over for a rubdown at the massage clinic. It was absolutely empty when I got there. When I asked the clinic director what was up, he answered the weather and perhaps some school sports days were keeping the customers away although I couldn't really see much going on during this weather. However, I'm not one to complain when I could get serviced immediately.

I came home and then caught the rest of the specials on the Star Wars DVD. Lucas mentioned that it was rather bittersweet when he finally wrapped that first trilogy since all his labours to create Star Wars also finally cost him his marriage. I also think watching the documentary was rather bittersweet since all the love and respect which has gone to this first trilogy really hasn't translated over to the current trilogy. Now when people talk of the next Star Wars movie, it's with a small sense of resignation to follow through as loyal but disappointed fans to catch the final Star Wars movie...for this trilogy anyways. I'm still fairly confident that either Lucas or his own Padawan Learner will make a try for the sequel trilogy.

Then, it was time to head over to downtown to meet up with Skippy and the others for those ribs at Tony Romas. The roll call had her, me, DTE, Arwen, Movie Buddy and her girlfriend, The Kid and The Golfer. The Ballerina sent her regrets but we did get a cameo in the form of Gabby via cellphone from San Francisco. I went literally whole hog and went for the large rack of ribs. I must admit that they were very tasty and meaty. Apparently since the restaurant is celebrating its 25th year in Japan this year, we all got a special ticket promising a free dish for our next visits, valid until next May. DTE was quite high on that thought to the point that she suggested going sometime in the very near future.

After dinner, we lost The Kid and Movie Buddy. But the rest of us traipsed along the main street over to Anna Millers. The waitresses were wearing their usual short skirts and loose socks but they didn't get any sort of reaction from me. I had my usual Dutch Apple Pie and bottomless coffee. Within half an hour, Arwen decided it was time to go. So I thought it was everyone's cue to call it a night. However, Skippy asked if everyone had to go. I decided that I could stay, but DTE and The Golfer went with Arwen. So it was just Skippy and myself for the next hour. It seems her career and family life are paralleling mine. She's currently encountering the same pains that I did several years ago when I accepted promotion at my then-school and found myself being dragged away from teaching and into the mundane and political life of being an administrator. So she's considering options.

Well in any case, we're thinking about the next outing. Perhaps it'll be when COLLATERAL comes out here or when DTE gets that craving for ribs again.