Saturday, October 08, 2005
Unbelievable...18,000 wiped out in Pakistan due to that earthquake. I'm not saying that we shouldn't continue grieving for all those who lost their lives due to Katrina but geez, compare those deaths in the Gulf area to what's happened in South Asia.
Well, it's the middle of another long weekend. Got Sports Day tomorrow although I'll be doing anything but that. In fact, I might engorge myself on spaghetti just like that first victim in "Seven". Pretty rainy out there so I'm not sure how much in the way of outdoor athletics will get done.
My friend, the Doctor, has sent Part 2 of his tourist questions for his friend who'll be heading to the Big Sushi next month. I kinda feel like a hotel concierge but I'm happy to help him out. Kinda amazed myself by how much info I had on the places to see and things to do here. I saw a few quotes by that friend and the disclaimer by the good Doctor that she can be a bit pushy, so I quickly demurred any chance of meeting her. Not all that patient with pushy anymore.
Came across some nonsense on Japanese variety TV. Now, that previous statement may seem rather redundant but I can actually say that this little piece topped itself. Some tarento tested out the theory of Japa-Eigo in which suffering local language underachievers do not need to study or fret anymore in the Wild West. They just have to use carefully phrased Japanese sentences which sound like English expresions to get their message across. For "legitimacy", there was a professor from Nagoya on hand although I do hope he really wanted to take the piss out of himself. The theory was tested in some sort of English pub (I think it was either Dubliners or the pub that The Barmaiden had worked at). To the show's and the pub staff's credit, stillborn Japa-Eigo did a nice crash n' burn when the celebs tried it out on the foreign waitress and waiter. It was back to the multiple repetition and hand gestures.
JJ's confidence is as fragile as a house of cards during a quake. That smiley face of hers quickly fell 10 stories when she couldn't handle some fluency work via some STEP Interview tests. It didn't help that she had passed that same level of test a few years ago. I just reminded her that if she isn't practicing her English regularly (living in a non-English-speaking nation can do that to one...even the teachers) then it's rather obvious that she won't be hitting those heights anymore. Luckily, some work on relatively easy grammar and my failsafe Taiwan photos and my souvenir of tea worked some facelift wonders.
It's been another quiet Saturday night which I will never beef about. Managed to cook up some stuff for dinner. Will have to take it easy on the spending tomorrow since I don't have that much money and the ATM's will be closed all Sunday for my bank due to some needed computer work. UFJ is gonna be merging with Tokyo-Mitsubishi come New Year's so the techs are gonna be busy this weekend doing some rewiring. Well, I'm not planning to go anywhere outside of my neighbourhood and I think I can keep my food bill low for a little over 24 hours at least.
During my time in Taiwan, there was an incident in Wakayama Prefecture which involved some nutcase in a minivan shooting a BB gun at other cars on the highway. I was really hoping that the police would get their man. And happily they did. It was some sociopathic bike ganger. Hope he swings.
That quake in Kashmir claimed two Japanese lives...a very sad tragedy. The two were a man and his little son. His wife is injured. And the worst thing is that the family was just about to pack up and go home after their assignment with JICA.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Was cursing myself for almost having forgotten to put out the burnable garbage before 8 a.m. So at 8:11, I was throwing something decent on and almost punched a wall getting the two big bags downstairs. Needn't have worried, the piles were still there waiting to be picked up.
The weather's still been sputtering summer off and on. Today, we're supposed to be going up to 29 degrees C after a few days of cooler temps. Pretty overcast and slightly damp out there. Got a call from the relations thanking me for sending over the pineapple cake, and then a few hours later got a call from Mom for the first time in over a month. It had to be a short talk since I was just on the way out to the hairstylist for my bimonthly appointment. It was just me there. One guy took care of the shampoo while the main one took care of the cut. The shampoo guy definitely has a bad case of halitosis induced by coffee and cigarettes; I had to engage my cyclical breathing to combat that. Basically the chat was on Taiwan. I'll have to remember to do something interesting before I head out to the stylist so that we can keep on a good stream of patter during the cutting session.
Still got a couple of hours before I head on out to see MK. Got her souvenir ready to go. I'll have to make the final look at her lesson plan and then make another check of the documents before I head on out to Immigration later next week.
Just watching the 20th-anniversary of Music Station. I think my generation gap is showing. I remember one of the first shows from that program. Any resemblances to American Bandstand can start right from the host, Tamori, who hasn't aged a whit in the last two decades..just like Dick Clark. The gap also shows whenever the cameras pans to the current pop stars while old clips of 80s stars pop up...I think the look on their faces resembles that of an especially lazy cow. But I think I have the same reaction when it comes to some of those ol' 60s numbers.
I met The Teacher for the first time in a couple of weeks. We did a trade-off of sorts. I gave her the bag of jasmine tea while she loaned me her DVD copy of "Ai no Corrida" or as it's known in English, In The Realm of the Senses. Despite the very racy reputation it enjoys, The Teacher wasn't too enthralled by it. But then again, I think her past had been rather notorious as well.
After having my monthly visit to McDonalds, I just went straight over to the Tea Room. Didn't want to take the chance of hitting Maruzen and finding something that I would be very tempted to buy. The Tea Room manager greeted me with a "long time, no see" and I had my usual table where I teach SR. A couple of hours later, she showed up telling me about all the troubles since her airline company officially declared Chapter 11 last month. And then I told her about my trip to Taiwan. I had figured that we wouldn't be looking at any texts so I brought none.
Ended up going for garlicky ramen again since I was getting a bit hungry. Along with the groceries, I figured I spent less than 2000 yen on food today which is about as expensive as it has been all week. Thanks to all the free lunches, I've managed to keep those expenses ridiculously small.
Looks like The Madame and I have patched things up on our little spat over e-mail. I've given her the opportunity to contact me once she's over her cold for any other outings. The Doctor contacted me all the way from Washington to find out stuff about traveling through Tokyo for his buddy who'll be heading over here next month.
My Hotmail has been driving me nuts for the past few days since for some reason it freezes whenever I press the "send" button. The first few times, I bailed out by pushing the Ctrl-Alt-Del combo and then I find out that if I just leave it be for several seconds, the bloody thing finally gets the job done. Well, I guess I'll have to rely on Gmail for the next little while.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
The United States is certainly becoming a soap opera this season. New Orleans is just coming back from a horrific hurricane, Anderson Cooper is wearing a suit again....and now New York declares a possible attack on the subways. Certainly not to make light of the situations, but I'm starting to get the distinct impression that the lone superpower is becoming an action movie in itself.
Met The Manager and MK tonight. The Manager was his usual industrious self during the lesson and his fiancee was her usual cheerfully underconfident self. They both got a kick out of getting the souvenirs of the blossoming jasmine tea.
Feeling pretty tired. I think I'll just relax as much as I can tonight and leave any planning til tomorrow. I've got The Teacher and SR so there's not really all that much needed to plan for.
I got pretty ruthless with the garbage today. Threw out a ton of papers and video tapes. Looks less scruffy now but there's more work needed to be done.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Well, Speedy's plug for his school got on the air this morning on a variety show. Speedy himself wasn't on it but the teacher responsible for all the cooking English classes took care of the duties. His flambe trick should have the girls calling in right now.
I'll be taking off for Kiba again to see the two lovebirds, The Manager and MK, for their regular lessons. Yup, I've got their souvenirs as well...a couple of bags of tea.
The Quarterback has sent out the official invitation for PH's annual Thanksgiving fest. The Q has always made a good major domo. They mentioned me as the guy saying grace (ironic considering that in my best mood, I'm a devout agnostic); they may be disappointed.
Had that lunch with The Matron and her family at a pretty nice little French place. They were all somewhat taken aback that it was the first time for me to ever dine on Gallic fare. And I certainly wasn't disappointed. I tucked into some lamb that was out of this world and had access to a ton of desserts sliced by the amiable chef himself. Although her husband footed the bill, I found out that the prices aren't all that bad for French; even the highest dinner bill I could handle if it were a very special occasion.
The Matron was even kind enough to drive me over to Speedy's since it's so close to her home. Over there, I got quite a shock when I found out that the guy was a victim of an assault by some hopped-up nutcase over the weekend. Well, he got a sliced head for his troubles but the hospital stitched up him up and although he's wearing a stocking cap to cover the problem area, he's back to his cheery self. And the psycho is firmly in custody. If I know Japanese prisons, the bastard's probably lost all feeling permanently in his legs for sitting seiza style in his tiny cell.
Had my final lesson with 002 today since she'll be headed off to Canada for her month-long homestay. She did very well. And 001 was happy as usual. Her trip to Peru was also quite successful although the long trip to and from Lima sucked. I ended up staying a lot longer than usual at the school since I was pulled in to teach a model lesson for a prospective student. I got her laughing which is always a good sign. Speedy said that there's a good chance that she'll sign.
Well, I'm no longer sure about my friendship with The Madame after that little misunderstanding . I wonder if I'm really cut out to have any meaningful relationship with women near my age after seeing my ex, Jazz Buddy and possibly The Madame fall by the wayside. Still, I apologized in my last missive to her. That's frankly the best I can do now.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
I have to admit that since coming back from Taiwan, I may be suffering from some post-holiday depression. It doesn't help that there is only one month left on my current visa and frankly my future is still very uncertain. I've started sending resumes to the various companies...something that has left a bitter taste in my mouth. But if it indeed comes to pass that I'll have to hitch up with one of the big-leaguers again, the most bitter taste will be yet to come when I have to tell the majority of my private students that I'll have to dump them. At least with The Company, I'll be leaving them by choice.
I guess that things have come back to normal Stateside. CNN has finally gone off of hurricane alert after one straight month of coverage in New Orleans and Mississippi. Heck, even Anderson Cooper is back in his suit and behind his old desk. Kinda looked weird. Apparently, all that bayou crusading on his part has paid off in dividends. He may be signing a huge book deal without him having put a single word onto paper. Nice work if you can get it.
The Stick put down in her blog that she had her first battle with an English teacher as a staffer. Welcome to the wonderful world of the English teaching business in Japan, Stick! You won't get a better view of the often mercurial group of folks that inhabit this linguistic enclave...or ghetto, if you will.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Yup, as expected...The Beehive was a buzz for most of the 1 hour and 20 minutes with talk about my trip to Taiwan. The souvenirs and the photos certainly helped out in that regard. Then, it was off to Ms. Perth's apartment for that wine party. We certainly drained a lot of it. We started off with that red that The Lady had given me back in the late summer and after a brief respite with some oolong tea, we went to the Hungarian port that Ms. Travel had gotten during her trip through Budapest. Tongues were loosened once more but not as wildly as they were some months ago.
After seeing Ms. Perth's remodeled condo (couldn't believe her building is 25 years old) and then coming back to my own walk-in closet, I sometimes wonder if I did pick the right career.
Well, after a bit I have to head on out to the juku and continue to play Santa Claus with the masses there.
It's back to the Fall again. It rained a bit overnight so the temperatures dropped by a bit. I was conscious enough to close my bedroom window. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to close the one in the living room so things were a bit damp around that area when I woke up. But no matter...the room needed to be aired out.
Well, today's session with The Beehive will nominally be at the classroom. We'll only be there for an hour before heading over to one of the ladies' houses for wine party. If it was anything like the last mass drinking, the conversation should be quite lively. I also got a request for a lesson from JJ for this Saturday. At this point, I'm grateful for any income I can scrape up. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that any trip back home for Xmas has been scuppered.
I also got letters from two people whom I haven't heard from in some time. One was from SR. As I'd thought, the turmoil concerning her now-bankrupt firm has been keeping her busy. On a happier note, I received word from The Hawaiian. It looks like she's put up stakes for a long term, if not permanent, stay in Perth. She said that it's likely that she'll be staying for all of next year. Good for her!
Gotta get those souvenirs all ready for the Bees.
I forgot to mention that I've been reading one of Movie Buddy's loaners, a little book called "Flashman". Nope, it's not about a superhero despite our mutual predilection for that genre of movie. It's about a 19th-century antihero (emphasis on the anti) by the name of Harry Flashman, an unrepentant cad, coward and conniver extraordinaire. In fact, the author only needed to add murderer to make him a sociopath on the level of Jack The Ripper or Hannibal Lecter. Flashman makes Holden Caulfield, the lead character from "Catcher in the Rye", seem like Casper the Friendly Ghost. And in fact, I've been enjoying ol' Flash better than the overrated J.D. Salinger novel.
It certainly didn't start out that way. It took me quite a few pages to get used to and then even grudgingly like England's answer to Loki. Flashman's repellent nature exploded straight from Page 1 and he certainly got my ire up when he gleefully described how he beat a woman even though the latter humiliated the former. To be honest, I think readers may find that as the story goes along, a certain admiration and even envy might creep in. The man has no morals to straitjacket him from his goals whether they be sex, power or escape. In fact, at a number of points in the story, he goes out of the way to state his hatred for the hypocrisy in morals. And for a guy like me who's had a rather nasty day, perhaps there is even some wish fulfillment in seeing some larceny done to a bunch of goody-goodys. At the very least, the book has provided me with some amusement other than my crosswords. I haven't really guffawed out loud like MB has on the train but then again I'm not much for guffawing in public. Still, I have to compliment the old guy for a good book.
It's been a rather frustrating Monday for a variety of reasons. That woman from my mother's hometown city hall called up again stating that my fax of my birth certificate was still not adequate despite the fact that she'd told Paddy that was all I needed to do. I'm a pretty patient man but I just had to let out a sigh of exasperation which she must've heard since then she quickly got down to town about finding out my mother's birthdate before finally relenting to send those documents. She then asked if I would ever be contacting her again for any other information. I took the little shot and thanked her but mentally wished her to Hell.
Then, I sent out the first package of my Taiwan souvenirs to my brother. I just happened to get the postmaster (some things never change in this country...he's a man) who'd never handled me before so he gave me a bit of the 3rd-degree about what was in my package. How the hell do you say "placemats" or "instant shark's-fin soup" in Japanese. His question got me so off-guard that I'd made an initial mistake about how I wanted to send the package and forgotten to sign the little sticker about the contents. Next, I had to pay my usual hefty National Health Insurance premium.
I met up with The Class Act. Well, it was really just The Matron. The Lady decided that she needed to see the dentist ASAP so she just made a quick pop of her head and then took off. In all probability, I won't see her until Halloween due to the national holiday next week (yes, we've got one of those again) and then she and SIL go off for a week in London. So my income, such as it is right now, will get even lower. Basically, The Matron spoke about the big meeting between her husband and myself on Wednesday. I briefly spoke with him on her cellphone to get our schedules down pat. He sounds just like his vocally boisterous son. I gave out the souvenirs to The Class Act and SIL. The Lady got the disc of Pu'arh tea since she's not into sweets while I gave The Matron the box of pineapple cake. SIL got the package of oolong tea.
After today's "class" at The Company, I'm ready to call it quits there. After almost two years of trying to get something into them and out of them, they still can't handle a lesson with any sort of fluency. We even spent the last hour just talking in Japanese about how the country is due for a major disaster or terrorist attack. I know that when I end up doing something like that, the end is near for a lesson. I'll have to make up some sort of letter for The Prez. It'll mean a good loss of income but even I've got limits when it comes to taking money under false pretenses. Well, I hope they like the pineapple cake.
And after a wonderful trip in Taiwan, it looks like The Madame and I are having a bit of an e-mail argument over some philosophy. I can only hope that tomorrow is a better day.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
I was kinda wondering why I was sweating like a bridegroom and needed to put on the AC last night. Well, I just found out on NHK that it had reached 32 C yesterday. Good golly...it pays not to take anything for granted in terms of weather in this country. At least it's gonna be more reasonable today.
The Bali explosions have caused some stir here since there were Japanese victims. I had always heard about Bali being a favourite destination for the natives here. And it could easily have become a destination for The Madame and me...not anymore. I'd frankly be afraid of going to Southeast Asia now.
Well, it's back to regular classes now, aside from the fact that I'll be on active souvenir-giving duty for the next few weeks.
Met up with my former student at Tokyo International Forum at about 6 tonight. It was already dark when I got to the whale skeleton masquerading as one of the biggest architectural feats in the Big Sushi. The meeting was to help her out on some possible interview questions she might face in the future. However, it basically turned into a dinner. We went to one of the restaurants underneath the complex. It was an upscale izakaya whose food was pretty darn good. We both ordered a course of sushi and sashimi. My student was rather amused by my choice of Cassis Milk as the night's drink.
Although it didn't turn out to be a class, I had a very nice time conversing with her about old times at the old school, and she ended up paying for my dinner. And the time translated into another job opportunity, albeit probably temporary. We will have a real lesson (I think) in a few weeks' time.
Got so much to do in the next hour before bedtime such as planning my lessons for tomorrow.