Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday May 9, 9:47 p.m.

Finished up with Miss Disney and The Ace. She said that she went to TDL at least once a week. I asked her if she would ever consider working there and she gave a most adamant NO. I'm not surprised since Mild Jr. who is now working there has said that working there has rather spoiled the illusion. It was good timing that The Ace has returned to half-hour lessons since we only needed to wrap up things with one chapter. Since he's a tennis player, I asked him about the re-birth of Kimiko Date's career. He said that he was amazed at how she almost pulled off a championship considering her age and how long she'd been away from the game.

Well, I'm off for the weekend since everything has to be in readiness for the arrival of Mom. Not exactly gonna be easy though with all of the cleanup involved.

Looks like another couple of superdelegates have jumped ship from Clinton over to Obama. One of the guys is named Payne, and I'm sure Hillary is feeling his name right now. I think the end is nigh now. Heck, even this week's TIME has pretty much blurted it out in big white letters.
Friday May 9, 7:01 p.m.

Back at the juku. Apparently, all of the boss' students are off on shuugaku ryokou or the annual school trips to Kyoto. It's another one of those rites that all third-year junior high school students go through. Here in the Kanto, the kids and teachers all hop on Bullets and head over to Kyoto or Nara...or if their schools are really doing financially well, they may even hop across the ocean to Hong Kong. If the kids are from the Kansai, well, they probably head over here to The Big Sushi or head off to Hokkaido. Of course, the kids are more sussed than a 3-Coke (that's cola) head trip, since it's their first big trip without their family and, more importantly, with their friends. I remember when I participated with one trip back on the JET Programme almost 2 decades ago. We were walking through Kyoto, all the kids were in their uniforms and some guy handed out tissues with ads for sex clubs. Even back then, kids could learn pretty quickly. They also gotta kick out of seeing a bunch of abekku on the concrete bank on the other side of a river. Abekku is the katakana-ization of the French word avec meaning "with". However, over here abekku refers to a couple making out. I assumed that the teachers didn't mention any of this in their after-action report to the PTA.

Unfortunate segue, but speaking of kids and sex clubs, the police busted some place in Tokyo called The Peach Club, a kyabakura or cabaret club, for employing 14-year-old girls as the hostesses. The manager feigned innocence about their age. Uh huh... In any case, the employees were apparently raking in thousands of dollars per month....somewhat better than the usual McDonalds part-timer.

Just have Miss Disney and then The Ace...back to his half-hour format since he managed to catch up in terms of his lessons.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Friday May 9, 3:54 p.m.

Had another slight jolt this morning. But the epicenter was so close to home that it just felt like a seismic kick and an especially loud slam of a door. No wits were damaged. When I was teaching The Yogist and The Carolinan yesterday, they were pretty ho-hum about the M6.8. Heck, The New Yorker was basically near ground zero and her sister told me that she'd suffered no hiccups. But I did get some concerned e-mail from a few of the other guys back home.

Started Phase 1...more like Phase .5...of Operation Cleanup for Ma this morning. Managed to clean the kitchen mats and hose down the floor before giving the new vacuum its first assignment in the bedroom. The big job starts tomorrow morning. Not exactly spic and span yet but at least a lot of detritus from my living room is now in the garbage where it will be picked up the next day.

Caught the latest trailers for both "The Dark Knight" and "Ironman". Dang, I can hardly wait to see those two flicks.

I've been continuing to read through Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink". There was the chapter concerning the error of electing Warren G. Harding as the US President in 1921. Basically, it was the adage of "You can't judge a book by its cover". Gladwell labeled him as the worst president in American history....that label changed hands a week ago. But the intriguing part was where the author cited the national mistake of falling for Harding's tall, dark and handsome look....and I started thinking of a current presidential candidate. As much as I like Barack Obama, there is a part of me inside which wonders how much of him is substance and how much is actually just oratorial style. Still, barring any major miracles, he's headed for the Democratic nomination.

We've been having a spate of very sad murders in the last several days. Last week, a girl who had just started high school was slain in Aichi Prefecture through strangulation and her knapsack's contents were strewn everywhere except for one item which is now curiously missing. And then yesterday morning, another girl was found murdered and buried in a deserted area near Kyoto. A misogynistic pedophobe?

Then there is the truly ridiculous. A deluxe restaurant chain which last year had been cited as one of the corporate entities found guilty of serving food that had gone past its "best-by" date got nailed again for serving uneaten leftovers to its patrons. The head of the chain, an old woman dressed in a kimono rather whined at the media for using such a harsh word as "leftovers". This was the same woman who openly and literally put words into her imbecile son's (the former president) mouth during the last apologetic press conference.

Speedy contacted me this morning. Looks like I've got another student on next week's schedule. It's The Dentist, a lady whom I haven't seen in a few months. The bossman also told me that although BC has decided to not come to work, she has decided to make the visit to a doctor today. Not sure if my message to her had anything to do with it but as long as she's going, I'm happy enough. SIL also cancelled her next lesson so I've got a bit of a respite in what will still be a loaded Monday.

I was watching NHK news last night and saw that Okinawa has been trying to put back the 2,000-yen bill back into circulation in commemoration of the last time that the G8 Summit was in Japan in 2000...this year, it's at the other end of the nation...up in Hokkaido. I've seen my share of the bill thanks to The Beehive's habit of paying me with them.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Thursday May 8, 12:50 p.m.

Just sent BC an e-mail of concern and a bit of a chewout for continuing to stay sick and not seek any medical help. This was triggered when the bossman lamented (as he is wont to do from time to time) about how the office is going to run when he goes off on his long business trip. He has asked me to come in as much as possible...which frankly isn't going to be possible, especially with Mom in town. Therefore, the letter. Sobbing and caterwauling about being sick while there have been ample opportunities to get to a doctor doesn't get much sympathy from me.
Thursday May 8, 12:28 p.m.

Ahhhh....BC...she was Guilt personified for the brief time she was in the office. She was also Death warmed over...still ailing from that mystery disease and feeling darn bad about letting people down and having to cancel her class with me tonight. She's started to get into one of her sobbing jags again before Speedy gave her the day off. But she refuses to go to the doctor since she hates can check my last entry about the possible reasons, and I could understand since I have the same reluctance as well. So, it's just the boss and me again.
Thursday May 8, 11:35 a.m.

Well, rock me Amadeus! I thought my long day at work would end quietly but the entire Kanto got a roller coaster ride, courtesy of a Shindo 3 after 11:30 last night and then the biggie, a Shindo 5- (M6.8), at 1:45 a.m. And here I thought that they usually decrease in intensity. No supreme worries...a picture fell off a wall along with some CDs and the remaining contents of my air freshener got dumped onto the tatami, and of course, NHK was on the ball although this supposedly new-fangled early warning detection system failed once again. Not sure if this is the beginning of another seismic cluster headache.

I've been reading Malcolm Gladwell's 2nd book, "Blink", which is a diverting read on what is basically the art of sizing people and situations up and making snap decisions well. I'm pretty sure it isn't the first and last of this type of theorizing. And though it is engrossing, I know that one chapter wouldn't least for this country. Gladwell talks about the probability of dissatisfied patients suing their doctors being dependent on their bedside manner; the relationship is an inverse one in America. And in one of the most litigious nations on the planet, I could see that theory having legs there. Over here, though, lawsuits are rare against the doctors...good bedside manner or not. For one thing, the average case takes far longer and more money than the average fellow can afford thereby discouraging a lot of people from taking on the bad guys, and doctors' ivory towers are still pretty massive (though, those towers have gotten some significant cracks recently). Plus, the MDs got that sensei label, a tag that still (deservedly or not) carries a lot of weight. So, even if the doctor is one of those arrogant sons (or daughters) of bitches with a lordly manner, the patients will usually accept them. Heck, even getting a second opinion is a major, major decision.

BC has yet to show up so Speedy has been off his feet answering phones. I just hope that she's well enough for the lesson tonight.
Wednesday May 7, 10:42 p.m.

Ahhhh....and another Hump Day comes to an end. It was the usual...001 was lots of fun, The Diver had her usual grammatical angst (she can find so much turmoil in things that others just glide through) and Medicine Man and I had a very nice slide through the half-chapter. However, next Monday is gonna be a wringer. I've got 7 lessons that night. Will make a good pile of money but at the possible expense of my sanity. Hopefully, Medicine Man will have a good bedside manner since he'll also be coming in as cleanup that night.

001 told me that she's started watching "Heroes" via one of the commercial channels, NTV. She's lucky that she won't need to shuck out the 20,000 yen to buy the 1st-season DVD set. She had quite a few questions about Hiro and the gang; plus, she expressed some shock at some of the gruesome nature of some of the deaths, and she's only seen Episode 2. I warned her that there was quite a bit more to come, especially when Sylar finally makes himself known.

Gonna have to talk with BC tomorrow during her lesson since it'll just be the two of us in about a couple of weeks when the bossman takes off for his business trip.

Anyways, I'll be taking off soon with a good book in hand...Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink".

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wednesday May 7, 2:10 p.m.

Currently in the holding pattern between The Nurse and 001. I'm slightly worried about BC, as is Speedy. She's been ill and I was wondering during her last washroom break if she were heaving. I asked her and she says she's surviving. Not exactly the best of segues, but the bossman is asking me indirectly about McD's for lunch....and I had my McBreakfast. Well, I've done an all-Golden Arches Day once before; once more unto the breech.

The bossman also informed me that Mr. TOEIC wants to come back to the fold since he's been transferred to a section which will require English. Unfortunately, my nights have gotten quite packed since his last lesson all the way back in January. On the same note, The Manhattanite is finding the same pattern.

I see, as expected, Barack Obama has gotten North Carolina as the latest of his Primary trophies, but Indiana is still too close to call. Another nailbiter under way...and I'm sure the CNN folks are just frothing at the mouth. But frankly, even if the junior senator from Illinois gets this state, Hillary will not roll over and die.

I've been looking over the Wiki entries for the new (and supposedly) improved "Battlestar Galactica". It has been running here for its first time in Japan on Super Drama TV for the past few months. Not sure how it's been faring but generally Western sci-fi shows don't really hit a chord with the public here...plenty of the domestic fare to keep the otakus busy. As for me, I've seen the pilot and the final episode of the 1st season; I always seem to follow that pattern with these shows...I have done the same with "Heroes". Anyways, from what I've read on Wiki, I don't think I'll be all that enthused to catch up with the intervening eps or the next few seasons. This re-imagined series just seems too grim...almost like the Mirror Universe version of the original series, though I don't particularly look upon Lorne Greene's "Galactica" with any particular nostalgia either. If I were writing the series finale, I would probably end it like "Blake's Seven" from the UK....everyone dies trying to grab their own agenda only a few light-years from Earth with the guys at SETI none the wiser.

Speaking of TV imports, "Ugly Betty" has also made its way onto the satellite channel. We've had the original Columbian version on repeats here for some years now. I hear that Lindsay Lohan is slated to be a mean girl on the 2nd season back Stateside. Good casting.
Wednesday May 7, 12:05 p.m.

Things are back to normal in The Big Sushi. When I got onto the subway, there was the plethora of suits and pantsuits with a smattering of school uniforms. And the McDonalds near Speedy's was filled a bit more with the customers; I guess there were a lot of corporate types who had to catch up on paperwork there.

Just finished up with The Nurse. She's been having some problems with adverbs. For her Golden Week, she took a workshop in making sandals at Japan's mecca for DIY, Tokyu Hands. Now, I've got several hours to kill before 001 comes in later tonight. It'll be a filled evening, though. After 001 comes The Diver and then Medicine Man.

Last night, The Milds came in. Mrs. Mild looked like she was going through a bout of pinkeye. She just said that it was fatigue. Meanwhile, Mr. Mild informed me that he had enjoyed his trial lesson of yoga in Kudanshita but will probably be joining a yoga program within Urayasu since it is far the neighbourhood of 500 yen for 8 weeks. Let me say that again, 500 yen for 8 weeks. Man, that teacher must be really doing it as a labour of love. I gave the couple a heads-up about a model lesson student who'll be sitting in on their class since he requested a group lesson. Not sure how that's gonna go...their last addition happened to be The Ace whom Mrs Mild found intimidating. Not surprisingly, both Milds are feeling a little trepidatious about this next potential classmate.

The Chinese President has indeed gotten a "welcoming committee" of pro-Tibetan protestors following him. They even trailed him to a French restaurant where he and his host, PM Fukuda were dining at last night. I think he met the Emperor either this morning or last night.

Facebook is indeed the site to meet up with old friends. In the past couple of days, thanks to California Girl, I've been hooked up with a couple of fellow teachers from the ol' school, Slowhand and The Lawyer. The Lawyer even sent regards from The Captain.

Well, gotta be prepping for the rest of the day.
Tuesday May 6, 7:28 p.m.

Finished off with Jolly and Suzanne. Jolly was definitely more like his name; not only did he arrive at a more decent time, he has also just come off some R&R in Kyushu where he partook in the area's various hot springs and had some of their delicacies. He even visited Miyazaki Prefecture currently ruled by one of the most recognizable and popular governors in recent history, former comedian Hideo Higashikokubaru. Jolly had the famous chicken there and even tried the (overpriced) mango for the grand price of 2,500 yen (that's $25 CDN per fruit). Mind you, the mango was indeed super juicy and sweet so I guess for a vacation, the price wasn't too painful.

Suzanne's trek for her upcoming homestay in Australia is perhaps hitting a snag. Her homestay father, a friend of her relative, has said that things could get a bit dicey since his wife is just going through the first trimester of pregnancy...which means morning sickness. So, he suggested having her stay in a separate apartment alone, which would probably negate any meaning of homestay. She has yet to tell her folks about the situation for obvious reasons; heck, if I were her father I would be bristling to tell my relative off for screwing up the timing so badly. Hopefully, things will resolve themselves.

Obviously, I'm typing this at this time since Mild Jr. pulled out, probably due to work. So it'll just be his parents.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Tuesday May 6, 3:21 p.m.

Well, Spring has already started making some major noises about morphing into Summer. One sign of this is that when I put out my wet laundry out on the line, it went bone dry in about a couple of hours instead of the usual daylong wait. It certainly felt very stuffy here in the juku when I came in a half-hour ago. Yup, it may still be officially Golden Week for another several hours but I'm working today. Actually, I'd almost forgotten that it was a national holiday today except that there was not all that much traffic on the streets (although I'm sure on the highways, JR tracks and at the airports, it's been another U-turn nightmare) and there was hardly a necktie or briefcase to be seen.

Strangely enough, Jolly will be the first in the batting order. He'll be coming here right at 5 since it is a holiday after all. It may be an interesting lesson since the two of us will actually be lucid. Then, it'll be Suzanne, perhaps Mild Jr. and then The Milds to wrap up. The early start helps me since I'll be teaching The Nurse early as usual tomorrow.

Even though the media has said that this has been a somewhat truncated Golden Week, I've been fine with the three whole days off. The new microwave has been working out well. I noticed that for such an inexpensive model, it seems to have a lot more capability than my old one; then I realized that my old one was truly an ancient one since it was produced in 1991. A lot of functions have been added since then. I've yet to turn on the new vacuum full throttle since I'm waiting for the big clean on Friday and Saturday before Mom comes to town.

I've basically been coccooning at home for the long weekend. But I did give "The Bourne Ultimatum" another look-see on DVD, with and without commentary. It's definitely one of the best thrillers I've seen although what keeps it from being classic is that the final car crash in New York is a bit too similar to the one in Moscow in "The Bourne Supremacy".

And I listened to the Best of M-Flo on CD. Y'know, listening to Verbal, Taku and their harem just reflects how the Japanese can adopt various cultural trends such as in music and twist them to make them their own. I think Namie Amuro said it best in one of her titles, "The Queen of Hip-Pop". M-Flo's oeuvre takes on the hip-hop/R&B/rap trappings but I couldn't really see the boys (dare) opening up for any of the hardcore equivalents in the US. J-Hip-Pop seems to be the happy-go-luckiest take on black music when compared to the much more aggressive versions Stateside. I mean, I could invite Verbal to my family's place for dinner.

Well, the Chinese President, Hu Jintao, has arrived for 5 days of goodwill posturing in Japan. A lot to do for him and Prime Minister Fukuda. Still, it's a major achievement since nothing like this could've been envisioned while Junichiro Koizumi was still in power. At the same time, I'm not gonna expect the Governor of Tokyo, rabid Sinophobe Shintaro Ishihara to come within five metres of Hu. And I'm sure the ultra-right wing will be giving him a welcome of a different sort via their black trucks.