Saturday, February 09, 2008

Saturday February 9, 5:09 p.m.

Well, the Dentist was her usual barrel of laughs. She'll be heading off to Hokkaido for a little R&R next week, so I won't be seeing her til March. I'll be heading up to the wilds of Nagano Prefecture to see The Cat and her kittens on the 23rd. Meanwhile, today, the bossman is taking a very rare Saturday off to indulge in an onsen in Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture. Kusatsu is pretty famous for its hot springs so I could imagine that they're doing volume business this holiday weekend.

As for me, I'll be off for the next couple of days. I'll be meeting up with BC for dinner tomorrow before the two of us catch The Carolinan in Nakano for a concert of her friend. She plays the niko, that Chinese string instrument. Most likely, I'll take BC to Saboten, the tonkatsu chain restaurant in the underground Odakyu Mall by JR Shinjuku. Then, on Monday night, I'm meeting up with The Burger Tour gang for our latest conquest across from Komazawa Park.

Still have yet to see the snow come on down. Perhaps if we are lucky, it'll be one of the examples of the weather forecasters getting it wrong like they did up til a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Saturday February 9, 2:53 p.m.

Another possible snowy evening in store for us today. I'm at Speedy's where it's just BC and me before The Dentist shows up in about 20 minutes. I typed out the translation for Cozy and sent it over to him...hopefully, it passes muster. I got a bit of money riding on it.

I saw The OL for the first time in nearly a year at Nihombashi. We had our first reunion lesson at an old-style but trendy little coffeehouse called Ueshima in the Coredo mall. She was awfully rusty after a year of nearly no English communication whatsoever; basically she'll need a full review of just about all the basics that had been covered a couple of years ago. However, she started to warm up by the end of the session. She's gotten a straighter perm compared to her frizzy do back then. Her sister and my former student, The UL, said hello back to me although there was no sign that she wanted to resume her classes. The OL will be trying to crunch in as many classes with me as she can during her 6-week Spring vacation for her nighttime university education.
The OL is one of the more compassionate folks I know. She raised my fee by 500 yen due to the gradual inflation that's been permeating life here in the last couple of months. A package of Sapporo Ichiban went from 68 yen to 100 yen...nearly a 50% jump! And we're looking at a price hike in milk and other things from March. Plus, I've got my taxes and rent renewal to look forward to. I wonder what the suicide rate is gonna be like next month.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Friday February 8, 10:30 a.m.

Another sunny & cold one here in The Big Sushi. But it looks like the weekend may be snow-filled; man, this has been an unusual winter. The weather forecasters have been talking about the pattern that's been happening this past week: a snowfall every 3 days. So, we may be looking at midweek snow next week.

Well, a bit of a surprise in timing if not inevitability...Mitt has quit, and right at the conference that would love him. Meanwhile, the guy who's seen with equal parts of suspicion and derision, John McCain is now the presumptive nominee for the Republican party. (I think the audience was looking downright consumptive.) Give a nice round of tepidness and catcalls for the possible future President of the United States.
Pretty ironic that a guy who is loaded with cash and has the looks of a middle-aged superhero lost out to a stubby, garrulous fellow who looks more like Dr. Evil. McCain has got his work cut out for him. Arch-conservative Ann Coulter threatened to vote for Hillary Clinton if he got the that's pretty harsh.

Over here, the big news was that tainted gyoza scare. Yoichi Masuzoe, the beleaguered Minister of Labour and Welfare (he's become the John McClane of the government) has gone on record saying that this could've been a deliberate attack.
As I said, it was the news. But last night, the top story on all of the news shows was the arrest of that former sumo stablemaster and 4 of his underlings for beating a wayward apprentice to death for not being sumo enough. Tokitsukaze had already been ousted from the world that he'd known for decades last year...supposedly the first and only person on record to ever have that humiliation. And now, he's become a jailbird. Just goes to show that the vaunted Spartan education ethos here has limits.

I got started on that rush job translation assignment that Cozy had given me. Yep, not all that easy. A lot of new kanji that I haven't been able to decipher quite yet, even with the help of three dictionaries (E-J, J-E and kanji). And so I'll be hitting the translation dictionaries online for further help. I'll probably be investing in a Business Japanese lexicon tomorrow at either Maruzen or Kinokuniya between classes. And there is always the act of just asking BC at the school tomorrow.
Still devoting more than 2 hours to the task was pretty interesting. If I start internalizing this newfound knowledge of business Japanese, there could be another source of income right there.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thursday February 7, 3:20 p.m.

Making this entry at the Kinko's in Shinjuku...just across from Krispy Kreme #1. Yep, still the usual snake-like lineup...about an hour's wait according to the signboard. The reason I'm here paying 210 yen/10 minutes instead of doing all this at Speedy's is that I've had a rush translation order from Cozy and the document couldn't be opened at the faltering computers back at the school. Luckily, I was able to pull it off here. And so, I've got a few hours of translation to do after dinner tonight.

Last night, after that arduousness with The Diver, I did have that model lesson student. He was a businessman with a fairly good grasp of the English language, friendly and conversational. In other words, he'll either not sign up or stay only for a little while. A telling sign is that he told Speedy after the lesson that he would wait a month before a final decision. I don't think I taught a bad lesson, but I think that upper-intermediate level men here just wouldn't find much with me. However, he did appreciate my tip on how to avoid jet lag...and he's got a 27-hour trip to Sao Paulo in the next few weeks.
Of course, Speedy went into one of his "Woe-is-me" stories after that one. Of course, I know that the school has yet to enter the black after 3 years of operation but sometimes I'm just reminded of the situation one too many times.

The Yogist has definitely shaped up (no pun intended) as one of my favourite students. Always willing to try hard and perky to boot, she's starting to rival 001 in that department. She's also been fretting a bit about her upcoming participation in the Tokyo Marathon on the 16th. I don't doubt that it will be a tough one for her since she's doing this for the first time, but out of all of us at the school, with the obvious exception of the marathon veteran 002, she's probably the best-conditioned to make it to the finish line.
She also reminded me that there will yet be another subway line completed for opening in June. This one will be extending from Shibuya through Shinjuku to Ikebukuro, a straight-line arrow punching through the three major hubs of Tokyo. I can only imagine that commuters will be descending into the depths to reach this's a wonder that the bedrock underneath doesn't look like a giant ant's nest.

Well, since I'm in the area, I might as well check out HMV across the bridge in Times Square. May pick up a magazine.
Thursday February 6, 12:55 p.m.

Only 5 minutes before The Yogist comes in, so I'll have to make it a short one.

Unlike yesterday, it's pretty sunny if cold. Hopefully, this'll hold up for another couple of days.

001 was her usual laff-riot. Didn't even touch the textbook. However, it was quite the opposite of The Diver's lesson....she's one of those really underconfident, mutter-under-her-breath types who can really drag things down. I was very patient with her, though...remembering that The New Yorker was also very much like this in the early days. The New Yorker still isn't fluent but at least she's with the program now.

Skippy's got the next Burger Tour all set for the holiday Monday...yep, it's National Foundation Day, not that many people would care except for the ultra-right wingers. This time, we'll be off in the western reaches of Komazawa.

Anyways, time to go.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wednesday February 6, 4:18 p.m.

Well, I would've just loved to be at home this morning as a relatively new spectator in the gladiator sport known as Super Tuesday. From what I've seen on the CNN website, it looks like that Democratic battle will continue on long into March and has already become rather legendary. As for the Republican nomination, McCain will probably get the nod...if not this month, then in the Spring. At least, I've got two days' worth of highlights to catch.

Instead, I had my somewhat laconic class with The Nurse and then I headed on out to see The New Yorker. It was snowing pretty steadily when I got to Ichigaya this afternoon, although all of the fluffy flakes melted on impact. Kinda wonder if it's gonna continue to do that into the evening. We see some accumulation then.

Two down, three to go. The lesson with 001 will be breezy, I predict. As for The Diver, I hope things settle down with this nervous Nellie; and of course, there will always be some tension with a model lesson student.
Wednesday February 6, 9:36 a.m.

Well, it's Super Tuesday Stateside. Huckabee has taken W. Virginia, while Obama has got Georgia in his back pocket. But there are still a few hours left.

Over here, it's Busy Wednesday for me. On my slate today: The Nurse, The New Yorker, 001, The Diver and a model lesson student in the final slot at the school. It's also starting out as a snowy Hump Day...this is rather unprecedented. I don't think I've ever heard in my near decade-and-a-half in the Kanto of 4 separate days of snowfall. Mind you, the snow outside is of the convenient variety...nice n' dry and very meltable.

The juku crew was fine as usual. Only Chip showed up...Dale is apparently home with the flu. Mild Jr. came over followed by his parents. Mr. Mild celebrated the big 60 last weekend...a rather auspicious birthday in Japanese culture which is known as kanreki. I'm not sure of the history behind it but it involves a lot of wearing of the colour red. And Mr. Mild now officially joins his wife in contented retirement...and daily playing of his new Wii Console.
The Siberian showed up for his sporadic chit-chat. Last night's topics involved his phobia of butterflies and the concept of marbling...yep, we do get rather esoteric. And Jolly once again dotakyaned to Friday night.

The OL further detailed our reunion for Saturday morning. Most likely the cafe of choice will be in Nihombashi...will be convenient for me when I head up to Speedy's for The Dentist.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tuesday February 5, 4:16 p.m.

Since I didn't have The Beehive today, I could sleep in a bit before heading on out. I paid the last of the City Tax premiums for FY 2007 and the 2nd-last premium for National Health Insurance. So, I'm feeling rather financially light. Still, managed to enjoy a full Subway tuna sub before heading out to the Ichikawa Tax Office to pick up the deductions form. Yep, I've already started doing the calculations for the return.

I saw 002 for the first time this year. Looks like she had a pretty bittersweet New Year...certainly not a happy one. Her grandmother passed away right on January 1, not exactly the greatest day to have a loved one leave this mortal coil....kinda like having a relative die on Xmas Day. She asked me about possibly having that postponed dinner this weekend, but unfortunately, I've got that concert with The Carolinan and BC on Sunday, followed by the next Burger Tour with Skippy and friends.

The OL contacted me about her next set of classes. Looks like I'll have to be squeezing her in here and there since my schedule has been filling up in the last week or so. So far, The Nurse is still rarin' to come early on Wednesday...a pity, since I'd wanted to catch all the hoopla surrounding Super Tuesday on CNN. It'll be truly a Hump Day tomorrow since I've got her, The New Yorker and then 001, The Diver and yet another model lesson.

Gotta give a shout out to a sci-fi fellow....Barry Morse passed away on Groundhog Day at the ripe old age of 89. Not only was he a transplanted Brit and household name in Canada, but was a genre guy as the intrepid Lt. Gerard in the original "The Fugitive" and congenial Professor Victor Bergmann in "Space: 1999".

Well, gotta prep for Chip N' Dale and the rest of the juku crew.
Monday February 4, 7:22 p.m.

Looks like I'm in the middle of some employee-employer pains. I taught The Full-Timer just now, and apparently she's come to the end of her tether concerning her eccentric manager. She and her mother will be heading to Guam this Thursday for some R&R...hopefully, she'll be able to vent somewhat. And a few hours ago, The Admin informed me that BC and Speedy haven't been getting on too well...clash of personalities. Speedy is a bit anal at times but BC is also a bit hypersensitive. And The Admin has been planning to head back home to work there in early Spring. Could be an interesting February...

I sent off a missive over to my old friend in Nagano, The Cat, asking if I could come and visit her family later on this month. Can't believe it's been a decade since I ended up cooped up in my apartment for nearly 3 weeks with a busted ankle while watching the 1998 Games in that prefecture. I still have a banner that my friend had given me after it had fallen down from one of the poles in the Olympic Village.

The big news still surrounds that poisoned frozen gyoza that has affected hundreds of Japanese nationwide. It's still too early to state how the dumplings got that way, but already the tabloids are screaming conspiracy theories of a bio-terrorist attack. It's been amazing how quickly the Chinese government have tried to stem the tide...just as amazing as how much an Olympic torch can act as an incentive.

Anyone who thinks that Tommy Lee Jones is devoid of a sense of humour can probably check out the latest in his series of canned coffee commercials for BOSS Coffee. For the past couple of years, he's portrayed this mute alien...just Tommy Lee costume or makeup (try to persuade that guy to put on any funny prosthetics) observing everyday Japanese behaviour. This time, he's the lighting guy for an Akihabara aidoru who ends up as a customer in a Maid Cafe. You can probably catch it on YouTube.

Anyways, back to work. Gotta lot of it now.
Monday February 5, 5:38 p.m.

Man, had a couple of downpours over the past two days. One was purely meterological. Some 5 weeks late, but we finally got that Hallmark-level Christmas Winter Wonderland yesterday. The Kanto got dumped on with about 3-5 cm of the white stuff. Not exactly anything to shiver about in Toronto (especially when my hometown got assaulted with 20 cm the other day), but basically we can compare Toronto and Tokyo in terms of scale. The panic button gets pressed here at 1/10th the level of snow as it does in Toronto. I was lucky in that I had the day off on Sunday; just managed to go and come back from the supermarket with supplies...only needed to be careful with my steps on some of the more slippery sections of the pavement. This morning, most of the sidewalks were scraped off and the thaw has gotten rid of most of the stuff aside from some small piles, and those will be gone by tomorrow.

The other downpour was professional. Just in the last few hours, I've found out that 002 and my old student, The OL, are back online. And Cozy has sent me my first translation assignment. So, it's not really a downpour but still, the three came in in pretty short order.

It's been the regular Monday lineup so far with The Class Act and SIL. SIL has enjoyed the Elvis calendar that she'd gotten from The Matron via Hawaii. She was wondering how The Matron had found out about her hobby...I just whistled a lot. And I've got The Full-Timer in about 10 minutes. Both The Diver and Mr. TOEIC have cancelled their lessons for tonight, but I still have Medicine Man in the last slot tonight.

Man, that Super Bowl must've been something special. I read the upset victory by the Giants on CNN just now. I bet a lot of folks must've lost theirs a few hours ago.