Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sunday July 3, 7:14 a.m.

The computer's cranky again. I got bluescreened last night and I'm getting all sorts of error messages right now. But I've managed to just sidestep them so that I can still get this message out.

It was an early night (leading to this early morning) last night; I just hit the futon at 10:30 and listened to Quincy Jones' "The Dude", one of the very few albums that I can listen to over and over again. Just some great old school R & B. "Ai no Corrida" will always be one of my favourite songs, period (although the lyrics are just as beyond as any 80s Hall & Oates tune).

As expected, Japan's "contribution" to Live 8 was comparatively paltry. No media coverage, at least live anyways. At first, I was gonna express some shame for this nation but then my inner voice gave me a swift kick in the shins. Who am I to lecture since I haven't done anything for world hunger? And again for the same reasons that I gave in my last entry, I couldn't expect the young folks to get all that excited about Live 8. Still, it made me cringe when I saw some of the comments from them. One fellow just said, "If it weren't for Bjork (one of the few foreign performers at the Tokyo site), I wouldn't have been that thrilled to go." Interest in saving Africa, indeed. Plus, it's a bit of a fact that over here, one has to give friends a month's notice before any event takes place. Organizers for Live 8 Tokyo had less than that being the last group to get their act together. There was also a report that at least many of the attendees did wear white armbands in support of African aid, although the snarky side in me wondered if the folks just thought it was a cute little accessory/conversation piece for the guys at work on Monday.

Well, time to make breakfast and then head on out for the kids.
Saturday July 2, 8:41 p.m.

I got as much cleaned up as I could and managed to lose a kilo in sweat at the same time. Then I got the fixings for dinner. I went ahead and tried to make those Nagoya Chicken Wings that the OC had told me last weekend. I'm gonna have to remember not to fry too much at the same time; I'd forgotten throwing in a whole bunch of wings at the same time lowers the temperature too much. However, I did get them made up. The taste isn't as good as hers but then again she's had lots of experience to fine-tune the wings. The meat was cooked but still rather juicy inside so I'm kinda wondering if that explains some of the rumbling in my tummy right now.

Still doing my taping chores for the parents. This time, it'll be three hours worth of traveling shows from TV Tokyo...the channel that seems to specialize in those and golf programming. Plus, I've gotta prepped for my rare Sunday lessons with the kiddies.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Saturday July 2, 11:08 a.m.

Oh, you mean there is a Live 8 concert today? Who'da thought?! There's been virtually bupkiss in terms of news about this so-called internationally known megameeting of musical minds. I read about it on Canada's Sympatico webpage...good lord, even Barrie, Ontario in is on this?! Of course, there was extensive coverage on CNN. But I check The Japan Times...nada. I just saw some some stuff on the latest trance dance sites in Tokyo. Well, to be absolutely fair, I did see a nugget some days ago buried somewhere in The Times about perhaps Dreams Come True helping out on the Japan side of things...and Tokyo's contribution will just be a stone's throw away from me in the Makuhari Messe convention centre. There was also some stuff on but basically the media coverage here is absolutely miniscule. It's just a cultural...and perhaps even political...thing. Japan has never had a long tradition to charity aid although with the recent start of two annual telethons during the summer, it's trying. I think the political thing may be from the cozy relationship between the media and government. The journalists' clubs basically have to tow the party line on fear of retaliation....which may be why there's been very little in the papers and on TV. The whole goal of Live 8 is to pressure the G-8 countries to do more to wipe out extreme poverty. Koizumi's administration, being one of the G-8, would probably not want any additional mud slung at it.

I thought I'd gotten another quick response from Paddy about my immigration stuff but instead it was just a letter from the OL apologizing for the sudden cancellation last night. I told her I understood the situation and in fact, I feel somewhat responsible for the current state of affairs since I was the person who had first decided to move The OL to Fridays trying to accomodate Speedy with his plans for me.

I actually watched an episode of "Wonderfalls" on a tape from one of my Toronto buddies. Actually, it was pretty engaging and refreshing after the usual variety stuff I catch here on Japanese TV. It's just too bad that the series got canned pretty quickly. But then again, networks can get pretty mercurial. "Malcolm in the Middle", a show that has long worn out its welcome with me, is still on the air but "Wonderfalls" got its can kicked. It's rather too bad, too, since William Sadler (the villain from "Die Hard 2" and a few "Deep Space Nine" eps) was actually on as a somewhat dotty-looking dad...too bad he wasn't in this ep I saw. But then again, the Fox Network doesn't seem to have a great record when it comes to filming series up in The Great White North. "Class of '96" (not sure if too many remember that one) was filmed up at U of T but also got cancelled in short order.

Had my first 10-hour dosage of sleep for the first time in months. A nice combination of no kids today and another cancellation of JJ has helped me out there. Still, I gotta learn to kick back a bit more. Living in the usual Tokyo maelstrom of deadlines and work pressures all these years have gotten me wired up to make sure I have breakfast made by 12 noon (I've yet to make it) lest it be called a very strange lunch. I'll be keeping things here at home today and do some major cleaning of the apartment before I head on out for grocery shopping. I'll try and make those delectable Nagoya chicken wings The OC whipped up for me last week in Karuizawa.
Friday July 1, 10:21 p.m.

That restaurant up the road was not all that full but then again, it is located off the main roads so most of the customers would probably be neighbours anyways. However, I wasn't complaining. I ordered the deep-fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu) with a layer of grated radish on top. Unlike the usual tonkatsu dishes, I didn't get any heavy sauce to pour on it. Instead, it was just a soy sauce mixture that I got. Good if a bit salty.

I managed to tape that 3-hour enka special for the parents. Hopefully, I'll get the next package of tapes off to them next week.
Friday July 1, 7:48 p.m.

Well, another Canada Day in Japan...which basically means nothing special outside the fact that my home country is now 138 years old. All I got from The Teacher and SR when I'd mentioned the fact to them was a polite "".

Usually at this time, I would be teaching The OL right now but when I made one of my frequent checks of my phone messages, I received two from her stating that she wouldn't be able to make it tonight due to work. Luckily, I got the messages just as I was about to head on down to our usual meeting place. So I was actually able to get home after all and start taping a semi-annual enka special for my parents. It's the usual hijnks of aging Japanese balladeers singing and making cute on stage; but it's opened a bit in the last few years. Today's lineup even includes a couple of former Morning Musume members doing a cover of an old Pink Lady hit.

Well, I haven't eaten since lunch. So I'll see if I can get into the Japanese-style family restaurant just a block away. If not, I'll have to head on out to the convenience store.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Thursday June 30, 7:09 p.m.

Woke up to a major downpour this morning. I think that rain pretty much topped up the Tokyo reservoir to a solid 100%. Figures that I would be heading for Immigration. It was a rather circuituous route...and longer than usual, thanks to the rain. It's amazing how precipitation can screw up the train lines in this country. Looking at the Yamanote Line monitors, there was a whole rash of delays or stoppages on a number of lines.

I arrived at Tokyo Immigration about 75 minutes later. I must admit that it didn't look too chaotic inside. It had the atmosphere of an airport lounge. I only needed to talk very quickly to someone at the information counter. She gave the checklist of what I need to bring if I'm gonna have any chance of becoming a permanent resident. Quite a tall order....I'm wondering if Paddy's optimism is misplaced. Anyways...

I got back onto the bus. The rain had stopped but it was still pretty gloomy and humid. I took another combination of subway and train up to Otemachi Station where I walked up to my destination of the Wolfgang Puck Express. Being past noon, there were a lot of lineups branching from the various restaurants. WP was no different; however, I lucked out in that I was a solo compared to the small groupings of waiting company folks. The waitress took me to one of the bar positions. I was also lucky that I got to sit in front of a large SONY plasma screen to watch, if not hear, the ABC Evening News. The interior was suitably trendy in reflection of the man and his fame in Hollywood. But it was the food I came for, so I ordered The Classic Puck Burger. It came with fries and a Diet Coke. I wasn't disappointed...the burger was very fact, I had to be careful not to squirt anything or anybody with some scalding meat juice when I bit down. Now, this was definitely a burger to be reckoned with. And I can compare it favourably to the best burger I've ever had back in Toronto's Blueberry Hill. Well done indeed, Wolfgang! Mind you, the price was probably the most expensive amongst the restaurants in the immediate area but the food was worth it. Some 15 minutes after getting there, the crowds had cleared out so I think I know when to arrive.

Then, it was up to the Tea Room to see The New Yorker for her first lesson since getting back from her trip. No miracles here...her English was still nearly non-existent. Still, we plugged away at improving the basics of her Simple Present. Not too bad but we were both worn out by the end. I got a nice souvenir from her in the form of a Yoda. I wonder what I'll get from her sister.

Yup, I'm tired. I've bought the fixings to make some spicy Korean miso pork but it's gonna tax me some more. Still, I've made this dish a couple of times. It's a surefire winner and perhaps it'll bring up my stamina and appetite. Perhaps I'm lucky that I won't see The Teacher until 11:30 tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Wednesday June 29, 11:04 p.m.

Decided to make this entry into a double review. First off, that book I got last week called "Cruising The Anime City" is quite the bible for those newbies who are fascinated by this shadow world of bespectacled, fashioned-challenged geeks and anime-costumed exhibitionists. For the veterans, the book won't mean much since they probably already know much more than what this book offers. However, the newbies will get a lot of information and maps on the big stores in the otaku Mecca of Akihabara, and even a nice touch of what it's like to go to the largest anime/manga convention on the planet. Some of the homemade comics written and drawn by the fans kinda scares me a bit: explicit homosexual affiars between two Ultramen, and some rather chaste romance between Gimli and Legolas from Lord of the the author mentions, Tolkien must be spinning in his grave. A couple of the interviews were also very interesting for different reasons. There was the one with Jan Kurotaki, a Japanese returnee who also happens to be the most famous cos-play artist in Japan, and then there's one with a plastic model collector who strikes me as being just one level below a sociopathic thug. The interview intimates that his years as a shakedown artist in Shibuya and as a jailbird are behind him but after reading the Japanese Holden Caulfield threw a can at his mother during the interview, I kinda wonder if he should still be kept under observation.

The second thing under review is "Star Wars: Clone Wars". I watched the rest of the 70-minute compilation. And it all does work out very well. Even some of the lesser Jedi like Kit Fisto and a couple of female Knights (or should they be called Ladies?) get their day in the sun. But the guy to see is Mace "The Man" Windu. He sure puts the "Shaft" into hand-to-hand Jedi combat. The one good thing about animating these three years between Episodes 2 and 3 is that the Jedi Knights can be seen doing stuff that would confound even the most experienced stunt coordinators and effects guys for the live-action bits. Windu is the one who benefits the most from The Cartoon Network treatment. I'll be looking forward to Volume 2.

Speaking of the coming of the final(?) Star Wars, I found a "Only In Japan" ad in a magazine during my usual browsing at the convenience store. There was a curious Darth Vader looking at a cellphone that a couple of uniformed high school girls were showing him.

And to all, I bid a good night.
Wednesday June 29, 10:19 p.m.

Looks like the next stage of my body's conversion to summertime is nigh. I'm gonna have to bring in the electric fan into my room once more if I'm not gonna end up waking up in my own sweat overnight. Movie Buddy seems to be going through the same thing according to his blog.

Also, another sign that summer is here. I paid my first premium of the Citizen's Tax for this year. It shouldn't be too long before I get the premium schedule for National Health Insurance. Ick!

However, I got some good news at the gym. I finally broke the 92-kg. barrier for the first time in my 9-month history as a member. I still have the doughnut around my belly but hey, the scale don't lie! So from my corpulent self of Xmas, I've dropped 4 kg or 8 lbs. Not too bad at all.

I had my first lunch at the family restaurant a few floors down from the gym for the first time in a few weeks. I still got the smile from the waitress. Today's lunch was a filet of chicken in garlic butter sauce with rice on the side. Yup, I like celebrating dropping weight by ingesting calories. I was a bit disappointed in the chicken, though, since I was expecting something a bit more crispy-skinned. Instead the skin was rather flabby; it was kinda cannibalistic in a way. However, the sauce was very delectable.

I took the subway downtown to the business district of Otemachi and did a very long walk until I reached The Otemachi Building (Egad...the imagination that went into the naming process!) and walked up to the local Kinkos. I managed to print out the rest of those immigration documents. I won't be filling them out just yet. I'm heading down to Shinagawa to talk with someone at the Info Centre. I'm rather wondering if the lineups for that place will be the same as the legendarily long queues to get the visas. Ah,'ll be an adventure.

After I got that piece of business done, I went down a couple of floors back to subway level on a bit of a culinary trek (yes, I know that I had just eaten lunch). OA once told me that that Krispy Kreme clone called The Doughnut Plant had one of its two branches in the sub-basement. After a bit of searching, I found the place. And yes, in a bit of a marketing ploy, I saw a tall cart filled with gigantic (certainly compared to the fare at Mister Donuts) donuts. Well, that was enough for me...I ordered some sort of fancy-schmancy named chocolate version with an iced coffee. The interior of the small shop was kinda made out like a trendy little cafe. The donut was quite reminded me of some of the stuff I had back at home: chewy and yeasty inside with the very sweet chocolate coating on the outside. Yup, she passes muster. It'll be a repeater. I'll have to bring some folks along though.

And to add some extra incentive to come over to the Otemachi Bldg., right across from The Doughnut Plant, there was the Wolfgang Puck Express eatery. I saw some interesting lunch specials including hamburgers. Not exactly super cheap at 1300 yen for a burger and fries but I am talking about the chef to the stars. Maybe if I get out in time from Shinagawa tomorrow, I may make a quick run to Otemachi before I see The New Yorker at 3.

I took the Marunouchi Line to Speedy's, only to fall asleep and overshoot by one station. Luckily, I had lots of time before my usual lesson with 001. I spent the extra time that used to be taken up by The Hawaiian's lesson concocting some model lesson plans. BTW, I got some e-mail from the girl herself. She seems to be settling into her new life in Perth nicely. She loves the homestay family but thinks the school leaves a lot to be desired. She said my lessons were superior to those at the school. Good golly...I wonder how bad the education over there is, then. I never felt that I had to really pull out the heavy artillery for The Hawaiian since she was was pretty happy with anything that was put out in front of her.

The lesson with 001 was also pretty languid. We spent most of the time sidetracking from her homework questions. We only had 15 minutes to go into the new chapter. Luckily, Speedy is pretty long as the customer is conversing in English, it's a hit. I kinda analogize it to the landing that any pilot can walk away from as a good landing. The two of us even gabbed on her first experience watching a Star Wars watching Episode 1....oooohh, not a good start. I had to explain about how Episode 4 actually preceded Episode 1 and that "A New Hope" was actually the one to see first.

Speedy was telling me that things are slowly starting to come together in terms of attracting new students. They've been getting more call-ins and perhaps those model lesson plans may get some usage. My Wednesdays may be getting even busier; certainly, Speedy hopes so. Needless to say, his big venture is still in a very early shaky phase. His wife has been taking on an extra job to make ends meet and the two haven't really seen much of each other lately. I hope that the business finally picks up steam for their marriage's sake. I remember during my days on the JET programme, one of my homestay family's friends started his dream of opening his own izakaya only to see it collapse a year later. A further cost was a separation from his wife and family due to the stress. I hope Speedy doesn't suffer a similar fate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tuesday June 28, 11:35 p.m.

It was one of those Bizarro World type of nights at the juku. I actually had a progressive lesson with The Siberian, a man who usually wouldn't say 10 words when one would do. He was outgoing and jovial. Meanwhile, I was off-kilter with the others. The New Kid continued to act like a high school boy would after baseball practice, before dinner and on a hot summer day. The Beauty Pair wasn't too bad but it looks like Kei will always be chronically weak in syntax. And the balancing act continues between The Milds and the Poppy.

Looks like that potential day off from The Beehive was a false one. I'm back there next Tuesday. And I've got a bit of a re-scheduling for The Teacher this Friday; nothing major...just a half-hour later start.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tuesday June 28, 1:34 p.m.

Up until a half-hour ago, I was a wet, not damp, sponge. I think it's fair to say that my dress shirt is done for the day. I may be breaking records today by having my first-ever 3-shower day....may not be a good example to follow since I got The Barmaiden's message that she had to line up for water in her area due to shortages. My city is nestled very snugly positioned next to Tokyo, an area which has seemed to escape rationing for the past several years. I'd heard from The Matron yesterday that the Tokyo reservoir was at 98% capacity, a phenomenal amount saved of the wet stuff. Well, the summer is still early yet.

I actually got my first payment from Speedy today. seems a bit inflated considering on what we agreed as my salary...not that I'm complaining, mind you.

The Beehive had just one missing member but it was still quite good. We spoke at one point about turning points in our lives. A couple of them were rather deeply emotional so I tried to steer things away before we all ended up running for our handkerchiefs. There's a good chance that I may have a rare respite next Tuesday. I may actually be able to get an extra gym day in.

As was the case yesterday, today will be rather stuffed with classes but things slow down considerably tomorrow and Thursday. I only have 001 on Wednesday and then The New Yorker the day after.
Tuesday June 28, 7:33 a.m.

Getting some laundry done right now since it would seem that this week will be the final hurrah for this year's Rainy Season. Ironic, since The Class Act had wondered aloud yesterday about where the rain had gone. The rains should be coming back later tonight but with the current sun and high temps (it's already past 30 C), the clothes should be dry by the time I get back from Tsudanuma.

Paddy got back to me pretty quickly after I'd given him my update. He wasn't nonplussed at all and thought that the idea of going to the info centre was a good one.

There's been quite a bit of madness the literal sense of the word. A kid murdered his parents last week, there was an old woman who had her neck slit in Paddy's hometown, and we were re-visited by the case of that mentally deranged old woman who'd been terrorizing her neighbourhood for 3 years with her sonic assaults via her voice and boombox. Good lord...the folks took that for 3 years?! In the US, she would've ended up a murder victim herself within a week. Still, there's a bit of pathos with the woman. Apparently, she snapped after the death of one of her loved ones.

I took a look at the first segment of "Star Wars: Clone Wars". Yup, it makes for a good bridge between Episodes 2 and 3. It's nice of the folks to keep the dialogue to a minimum. What dialogue there is still comes off as wooden as my coffee table but at least it seems to fit better in an animated context (all due respect to The Incredibles and William Shatner).

I'd been wondering for some days about this supermodel named Jenny Shimizu who was dating Angelina Jolie. I finally came across her picture on the Net. Uhhh....yup, not someone I'd like to cross...definitely someone I'd call "Sir!"

Well, gotta get some further household chores done before I take off for The Beehive.
Monday June 27, 11:21 p.m.

Another scorcher in the Big Sushi. My collar was already stained with sweat by the time I got up to the Class Act. My apartment has once again resumed its role as oven; well, at least I can say that it's actually a relief to go outside in the relatively cooler outside. However, once I get the air conditioning on, everything settles in nicely.

The Chef didn't provide lunch today so I Wendy'd it. However, I did get to Tower a few minutes and several sweat drops away. I finally plunked down my money and got that DVD of The Cartoon Network's Star Wars: Clone Wars for the grand total of 3,179 yen. Seeing Mace Windu in action against those thousands of droid troopers was the thing that did it for me. Mind you, the animators have made him run like one of the gang from Fat Albert. Not sure how cool that is.

Had another grand ol' time with SIL. We just extrapolated from the text...the best approach with her. We somehow ended up talking about Tom Jones and the odd trend of these women throwing their panties at him. I'm not sure, but is this really a good thing for the Welshman? I mean, let's imagine where these things came from. Does Tom have someone on his staff in charge of knicker picking? Does the "lucky" guy have to categorize these things ("clean..clean...clean...uh-oh, looks like some girl got a little too excited there..)? I did manage to bowl the woman over with my rendition of "What's New, Pussycat?"

The class with The Company started off with a bit of financial housekeeping. The Prez had me come over and reprint on all of the income receipts that I had given him. I was always writing the company name in Roman letters since the name is English. However, I had to write them in katakana and also add the kanji for "Inc." Had to write over no less than 22 of the stubs. I dutifully fulfilled his wishes since he IS the boss but also because I know he has a rather volcanic temper. However, it was kind of him to explain that this wasn't a mercurial decision on his part but one demanded by the beancounters.

Afterwards, I went off to the nearby family restaurant to await The Poppy. It must've been my delivery but the waitress automatically pegged me as a foreigner and asked "Smoking or Non-smoking?" I only had to wait a few minutes before The Poppy showed up. It was a rather pleasant chat with the young lady. The two hours mostly consisted of small talk although the actual look at the translations didn't reveal much in the way of any problems. I did inform her that she needed work on her Present Perfect. All in all, it felt like an uncle/niece type of dinner; I'm sure it'll provide me with some good practice in the future.

The Force's powers of prediction were with me tonight. I kinda figured that Paddy would be contacting me right now about my immigration. Sure enough, there was his message with the usual terse question about how my papers were doing. I'm sure he won't be too happy with me but dang, I've never been too fond of having to deal with computer problems. Well, I told him the truth...that's the best I can do.

Speaking of which...the Star Wars fans did come out in force (ha-ha) on Saturday night to the Yurakucho Mullion to catch the first preview of Episode 3. They were all decked out in their Jedi/Sith regalia. It reminded me when I had caught Episode 1 all those years ago in Shinjuku. GC has already seen it; he has basically given the same review on it that a lot of others have: great wrap-up to the saga, too bad about the acting and writing.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sunday June 26, 8:14 p.m.

Came back from Karuizawa less than 2 hours ago. Yep, the summer has truly arrived. Scorching today throughout the Kanto.

Well, yesterday, I met my newest student for the first time at the Kiba Starbucks. He's The Manager, a colleague of MK's. He's a pretty nice guy...just a couple of years older than me but with not a lot of English under his belt. After doing the initial level check, I found out that he would probably benefit from the Business English approach, so we gradually built up his sentences and vocab against a background of a pick-up at an airport. I think he was quite happy with what he had learned. But I'll have to find some sort of Business English text for him by the 7th. MK was her usual diligent self; she really is coming along.

I took off for the mountains of Karuizawa at about 6 after spending an hour at Maruzen. I bought a book for my friend's daughter...just approaching 1 so nothing too wordy, and I also got a book on head massage for my noggin. I was lucky that I had followed the OC's advice and gotten that reserved ticket. It cost me 6000 yen but I did get a nice empty row to myself in a non-smoking car. No smelly old men (it's bad enough that I don't smell like a bed of roses in this heat), no crying brats and no smoke.

When I got to the station, it was already dark and a bit cooler but I wouldn't say it was cool up in the mountains. The OC was there at the ticket gate with her baby daughter. She told me even Karuizawa, that refuge from the Tokyo heat for thousands of travelers, was feeling the temps. She drove me to her place where I spent a relaxing evening talking of old times, watching TV and noshing on a menu identical to the one that we'd had when Paddy and I had gone up to her apartment several months ago. It was some special sushi wrapped in large leaves; the topping inside consisted of a large sliver of baked salmon, flaked tuna, soya sauce butter clams and some pickles. Very delicious...I went through 4 of them. But the OC also made up her famous Nagoya Chicken Wings. Amazingly simple to make considering how delectable they were. Just cornstarch the wings and deep fry. Then coat them in the same sweet sauce used to coat grilled eel slices, and just add pepper. It was something you just couldn't stop at 1 or 100.

The OC's hubby came home around 10. His job demands long hours so he was pretty bushed. But he still hung around for a couple of hours to talk with me as well until he called it a night. I didn't bother bringing any pyjamas up there since I stopped wearing them once the heat was on. No particular problems of modesty.

In the morning, I just had the remaining leaf sushi for breakfast before the OC's hubby took off for work. An hour later, the OC, her kid and I went on our tour of Karuizawa. We parked at a lot for a small Catholic church where a service was being held. Despite the relative earliness of the hour, there were already a few walking tours of some senior citizens taking place. The area we drove through reminded me of Banff or even neighbourhood Stouffville just north of Toronto. There were a lot of trees, cottages and quaint shops all lining the streets. We took a walk for half an hour. Along the way, we saw roving bands of Japanese macaque monkeys trying to be frightened off by local government officials firing off firecrackers. I felt rather sorry for the the macaques since they were there first before the humans invaded their property (forgive me if I sound like one of those radical animal rights protesters). However, they weren't all that convinced by the sound of the explosions and took their sweet time ambling off.

We made it to a quaint main street which reminded me of a miniature Omotesando. I could see the trendiness there which included the KFC. We had a light lunch at a bagel shop. The OC had the Classic bagel of cream cheese and smoked salmon. I had something called the Juicy Hamburger...all you bagel purists can kindly move onto the next paragraph; this will not be pretty. Basically, the cooks stuffed in a meatball into the bagel. The "juicy" part was just the excess of mustard and ketchup. I noticed that there were a lot of dogs of various breeds being proudly walked out by their owners. In fact, I saw a banner advertising a contest for the best looking dog in Karuizawa.

After another a bit of a walk, we made it back to the car and this time, we drove to her husband's place of work, some resort hotel where he was the wedding videographer. Unfortunately, we couldn't find him but we did see a couple of wedding processions going on. I kinda wondered what would possess these folks to hold weddings in such torrid weather. Perhaps the weather would be a suitable tonic for some torrid action on the honeymoon.

We went across the street where we cooled our heels for a bit over iced tea and some cake. The restaurant wisely opened both doors so that a nice breeze could flow through without needing air conditioning to freeze us. Then it was back to the apartment for an hour or so for some play with the kid before we made our last stop at a soba shop for a bit of early dinner. I had already bought my return ticket to Tokyo. Again, it was a reserved seat. The ride home was a bit more crowded since I was joining the bunch going back to the big city from the mountains. But again, nothing too bad.

There was nothing too much to report from the e-mail front. I actually got a response back from The Jazz Expert some weeks after I'd sent out an SOS of sorts concerning Jazz Buddy, and a week after I'd gotten word from JB herself. Apparently, she didn't know as much as I and Skippy did about JB'S situation.

I also got word on the phone from the Ballerina. Just a courtesy call from London so I sent back a reply. Well, now that the vacation is over, I've got to finish off that last part of the translation for the Matron's daughter and then plan for the rest of the lessons before getting some ironing done. Man, so much to do.