Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday November 22, 5:21 p.m.

Done my 4. The Businesswoman and I had a pleasant down-to-earth conversation, compared to my stand-up comedy act with The Bostonian and The Smile earlier in the day. So, now I'm off for the next couple of days. But I do have the cable guy to finish off the change to my new way of viewing TV.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Saturday November 22, 3:52 p.m.

Just finished with The Smile. Always good to have someone who'll laugh at every one of your gags. And yet, we can actually make progress in the text. She'll be back bright and early on Thursday 8:15...which means that the 27th will be the Mother of All Hump Days again with 6 classes ending with Mr. Pronunciation's at 8 p.m. I asked her whether she'd be interested in coming out to the bonenkai on the 6th, but she and her colleagues are involved in a half-marathon on the 7 out in Chiba. And I wouldn't think she would really want to run while filled with beer and nabe from the night before....could lead to some nastiness on the path.
Saturday November 22, 2:19 p.m.

I hadn't seen the Bostonian in just about 5 months. She came in rather half-giddy and half-frazzled. Apparently, she was decompressing in front of me after nearly a half-year of hard, harrowing work. At one point, I thought she was going to break out the waterworks. Her English suffered a bit from the layoff but she was always kinda inaccurate. But the good news is that she's renewing her contract with us, and she leapt at the chance to come to the bonenkai in a couple of weeks.

Mr. Pronunciation was fine as well. He's a lot more level of temperament.

I wonder if The Smile will be just as zany as The Bostonian. She's kinda similar to her in personality.
Saturday November 22, 9:52 p.m.

Back at Speedy's this morning to teach another, I am looking forward to that vacation, although not the flight itself. I'm hoping by the time I reach 50, I won't have to pull these morning stints.

Got The Bostonian, Mr. Pronunciation, The Smile and finally The Businesswoman. It'll just be the new staffer and myself today. Looks like she's working out pretty well, somewhat more talkative than The Lab Rat. Speedy is getting a well-deserved day off and heading out to the hot springs with his wife...he's been groaning about how much she's been on his back lately about not doing more things together.

Got the call from The Bohemian late last night. We've decided to meet in Shibuya on the holiday Monday for a drink and dinner. Once again, he's between a sign of the economic times, his last company decided not to renew his contract so he's hitting the bricks although I think it won't be until next year when he finds one. In his brief 5-month stint, though, he certainly made more money than I do in an entire year.
Friday November 21, 6:48 p.m.

Not exactly a crash n' burn but my first official lesson with Swank wasn't exactly a hit. I figured that it would be a bit of a challenge for both of us, but it was indeed pretty hard to stuff in all of the aspects of an Eiken 1 test in 2 hours. And since it was also the first time that had ever taught someone trying to go for an Eiken 1, there was a bit of disorganization in the way. Plus it never helps when the student is pretty tired from a day of interpreting in court and the teacher is pretty keyed up about trying to do a good job and not totally succeeding. And I wasn't too happy that I had to re-schedule The New Yorker for the second time in a row for Swank, even if Swank is a decent sort. My private students are also my priority, too.

Luckily, it was good that I had dinner at The Restauranteur's spaghetti house. Now, there's one grateful lady. It was just me and a family in the place so things were relaxed in there. She used her learned English with me very proudly. However, she informed me about her worries concerning the juku boss' medical situation. Apparently, the boss had told her the night before...surprisingly...about the cancer, and was quite aghast at how lustfully the boss was downing her sauteed chicken. Well, when I got back to the juku, the boss laughingly told me that she'd thought she would be called into surgery tomorrow so she treated the dinner as The Last Supper. Actually, the boss told me that she would be going into hospital sometime in early December.

The boss also told me that I've got another model student coming in on Tuesday evening, again between Suzanne and The Milds. He's some university dude who has been in Toronto and plainly told her that he doesn't really need grammar. He also asked about group lessons but there is no way that I would put a guy who doesn't need grammar with those two since they still need grammar. I've got a feeling that this guy is gonna be a write-off.

Anyways, I've got another 2 hours before The Ace comes in.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Friday November 21, 12:16 p.m.

Finished the hour and change with the model student. Seems like a lock. She was a sweet-natured type...very easy to talk to and cooperative. Cheerfully underconfident. In any case, we're keeping our fingers crossed. Now, the next on the gauntlet is Swank. If I can get through that, I should be OK for the rest of the day with the juku classes.
Friday November 21, 10:36 a.m.

Well, the model student has come in. She made the usual mock pouty faces of a person who's not too confident about her ability. I just gave her the placement test...not quite sure yet how low she is.

Caught that Britney Spears video "Womanizer" on MTV the other night. Uh....yep, she's back...all in oil and a smile. And to think, a year ago a lot of us were giving out pre-death obituaries on her. Still, not sure what she's like mentally.

Five more minutes on the test...
Friday November 21, 9:47 a.m.

It seems like the entire country is bombing down the road toward Winter a lot faster than usual. Much of the country has seen its first snow this week, and even Tokyo apparently got a bit of a dusting of the white stuff the other night, according to those who were up late enough. I don't think I've seen it get quite this cold (relatively speaking, of course...I think Tokyo is balmy compared to the ol' hometown) in my years here. It's certainly not helping a lot of folks' metabolisms in The Big Sushi...Ray has just come in sniffling away, and I'm still not out of the woods yet.

Looks like it'll be a bit of a reunion for tomorrow's classes. Except for the new kid, Mr. Pronunciation, the other three students are all ladies whom I haven't seen in a while. The Bostonian is first up for the first time since late July...wonder what she's been up to. Then, The Smile is in after a month's absence. And the very last person is The Businesswoman who's pretty sporadic in the first place.

There'll be a sad milestone encountered next week for those train otaku. The original set of Bullet Trains, the "Zero" series, is finally being put out to pasture at the end of the month. Those are the snub-nosed high-speed Shinkansen that debuted all the way back in 1964...the ones that I'd used to ride occasionally. Nowadays, the profile of the newer generations has been getting increasingly streamlined to the extent that they can probably skewer rather than mow someone down.

As for the psycho killer who offed a former Vice Minister and his wife the other day, the police have been getting various clues. They think that the killer was right-handed and wore sneakers which probably narrows the choices down to just 50 million people. The media has been doing its open profiling by talking to various authors and behavioural analysts.
Friday November 21, 8:48 a.m.

It was a nice quick end to my day. The Singer had dotakyan'ed so I was out of Speedy's by 4:30 and back home by just before 6. And so I was able to enjoy a rare evening at home eating dinner, watching TV and reading the latest contribution from the Peanuts ethos. In other words, I vegged. I did calls from both Speedy and the juku boss...the former for a Mr. TOEIC double class next Saturday and the latter for a model lesson next Tuesday with a kid who's been to Toronto.

The Big Lug had just come back from Guam with some souvenirs for me in the form of a SPAM single slice and a can of Campbell's Clam Chowder...don't laugh, over here, such things can be as good as gold. Looks like he and a friend will be coming to the bonenkai a couple of weeks from now.

As for Miss Sedona, she told that yesterday was the 1st anniversary since the death of the beloved family dog. She even showed me a few pictures of the pooch as a pup and as a full-grown dog...looked like a mix of a huskie and something. She'd found her tossed in a garbage can as a junior high school student back when she was 13. The dog then lived a good life up to the ripe ol' age of 17...that would be 119 in human years. I was afraid that she was gonna break out in the waterworks but she was able to hold it in.

I've just two lessons here today, but the first one is a model lesson with a possible Nervous Nellie (kinda like how The Diver was when she first started) and then it's the double with someone from the other end of the spectrum, Swank, the student going for her Eiken 1. They'll have me working out today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thursday November 20, 9:53 a.m.

Well, isn't that a kick in the pants? Just found out The Singer has cancelled her lesson for today. So I get an even earlier end to my day. Not a bad thing considering that I will have a third early morning in a row.
Thursday November 20, 8:05 a.m.

Back in the salt mines again. It'll definitely feel like Hump Day although I have the night off. I've got a traffic jam of five lessons in my headlights: Grandmas Dynamite and FON, Miss Sedona, The Big Lug and finally The Singer. Plus, I still gotta get the prep work done for Swank's double lesson. Speedy informed me last night that she actually wanted a triple lesson tomorrow; well, I put a quick stop to that. I'm out of here by 3:30 tomorrow for the juku.

I felt rather badly for The Diver and The Fashion Designer last night since I was coughing up furballs during their lessons. Unfortunately, what I had to do (speak) clashed with what I should have done (rest my voice). This morning, at the bleary-eyed hour of 6, I gargled with salt water, drank down some medicine, sucked on a lozenge and then drank down the Ripobitan D (vitamin drink) to give myself a fighting chance.

Got the word from MB that Sunday night was a go for DVD night...the last of the year. I was hoping that I could get that Richard Donner cut of "Superman 2" but most likely, it's sold out for the year.
Wednesday November 19, 7:26 p.m.

Showed The Trekkie, our young impressionable staffer here, the new trailer for J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" via YouTube. For whatever reason, the sound was very muted even though the volume control was way up. However, that was more than enough for the lass. She was slack-jawed throughout, and finally slowly screamed out "Ka-kooooo-iiiii!" (C--O--O--L!). Speedy came out several minutes later after his lesson to goodnaturedly admonish me for unleashing the trailer on her during her shift; her squeals easily penetrated into the classroom like Type X phasers through butter. The Trekkie breathlessly jotted down the YouTube address for the video and aimed to tell her mother, the original Trekkie of the family. I informed her that the movie would be hitting these shores on May 30 2009, some 3 weeks after its American debut. She's got the date jotted down, and said that it would make a fine present after her Bar exam.

Well, earlier in the day, I took the bus down to NHK Centre in Shibuya to see if I could find something for my niece and her cousin. There was the Studio Friend souvenir shop in the basement, and after a bit of looking, I purchased a couple of DVDs of singing and bopping happy people singing kids' songs. I also ended up having lunch in their commissary. It was the prototypical hambaagu with demiglasse sauce set. Not bad although the sauce was a bit too fruity.

I walked down into the heart of Shibuya and over to Tokyu Hands to see if I could find a belated wedding present for The Entrepreneur and his bride. Of course, for a guy on a very fixed income, I don't think names like Noritake or Hermes will be on my list. But I found a couple of cute rice bowl-and-miso soup-bowl combinations which fit into the shape of happy mushrooms (remember, this is Japan). So, my little trek paid off in some dividends.

Mr. Pronunciation had called in earlier in the day to say that his lesson may most likely be a wash tonight due to work. And it's already 40 minutes into his scheduled time and no sign of him, so I assume that he will not be coming out tonight. So, it's just The Diver and then The Fashion Designer. I've already started work on Swank's big double lesson on Friday. Not as difficult as I thought it would be but it's always good to be on top of things as soon as possible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wednesday November 19, 9:42 a.m.

I've been reading the various comments on the Star Trek forums about this new trailer; initially, I'd read that the non-fans were far more enthused than the die-hard Trekkies. I guess then that those reports must've just been looking at my blog. So far, it seems that the other Trekkies have been jumping higher than mugatos on cordrazine about this trailer for the MTV generation. Meanwhile, some of the milder, casual observers of Trek have been far more damning....that would sound normal.

Speaking of which, our Trekkie is coming in tonight to staff the desk. Would be interesting to check what she thinks but Speedy gave me a half-joking warning not to stimulate her too much; it's distracting her from her work. I'm rather surprised that this young lady is already qualified to be a full-time lawyer and she's even going towards judge. I kinda wonder if she got her inspiration from Samuel T. Cogley.
Wednesday November 19, 8:09 a.m.

I had the rather natsukashii feeling of being rather bloated early this morning when I woke up. The night before I'd decided to polish off that guilt tempura (sounds like a concept for a Japanese Charlie Brown) that the juku boss had whipped up for me. Nope, not the wisest move gastrointestinally speaking but I didn't think the stuff would really last that much longer, so I took the sacrifice. However, even after the weekly McBreakfast, I'm still OK. It was a decade ago or so when I would nightly buy a conbini bento after my shift at the late, unlamented NOVA and chow down before heading off to dreamless land. After a number of years of that, I finally decided not to go through the process of feeling semi-digested chyme inflating in my stomach anymore.

I guess the payback time had to come. I'm talking about the sudden lightning-fast attacks on the houses of a couple of former Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry (I use the full name for a reason which will soon become evident) bureaucrats yesterday. The year before, the newspapers and other media were consumed by the news of the systematic disappearance of millions of citizens' pension benefits into a red tape black hole over literally decades of incompetence and neglect. Obviously, the various people at the helm have been blamed for the epic kerfuffle. And so, yesterday, a former Vice Minister and his wife were found dead after having been stabbed several times in their house, and the wife of another former Vice Minister was also stabbed by a fellow disguised as a delivery man, although she's still alive. The fact that a disguise was used may indicate that this wasn't a sudden decision of pique. And it's also interesting that these were Vice Ministers who were attacked and not the Ministers. It's pretty much open knowledge here that it is the Vice Ministers who are the day-to-day managers of their realms whilst the titular heads are just figureheads. In any case, the folks working at the Ministry of HL&W are walking to their office a little more warily, although I think it probably should be the retired second-in-commands who are worried. I guess that word "vice" minister has quite a few meanings now.

More domestically, MB sent me a message for the first time in nearly a month about getting together for another DVD night in his neck of the woods. Unfortunately, I've got the cable guy coming in this Sunday so I sent him word asking him if he could have me over on Sunday night. Not sure how that'll fly even if Monday is a holiday.

Just by chance, I came across that "Jump the Shark" episode in Suzanne's favourite show "The O.C." last night while I was chowing down on the juku boss' tempura. I mean the finale of Season 3 where Marissa heads off to that pool party or Christmukkah festival in the sky. Apparently, Season 4 is basically a throwaway year of retribution and tribute to the broken doll that was Marissa. Well, I have something for an opener for next week's chat with Suzanne.

I've got a fairly busy day today with five on the pipe. I've got The Nurse and Miss Honolulu in quick succession in the morning. Then, I've got a break for a few hours before Mr. Pronunication The Diver and The Fashion Designer take hold of my evening. I gotta get some more Xmas shopping done in Shibuya (specifically NHK studios for some kiddie DVDs for my niece and her cousin). At the same time, I've gotta get started on that prep for Swank's first official lesson on Friday. Never a dull moment.

I asked Speedy if he knew any dependable teachers to take care of Mrs. Travel's woes in her other class' search for a good teacher. The bossman pretty much echoed my cynical feelings that good trustworthy teachers are few and far between.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tuesday November 18, 4:51 p.m.

Well, got my jollies off the Net today since I was busy with the translation yesterday and will be busy with planning for Swank's inaugural double lesson on Friday. Basically, it consisted of seeing some old 80s videos. I also caught the video clip for Ego-Wrappin's latest tune, "Go Action". Well, it is original.

Here at the juku. The boss handed me some vegetable and shrimp tempura. I gather that it's an apology of sorts for the screw-up on Friday concerning The Artist. Very kind of I do feel kinda bad for snapping at her, although she had said she never noticed. Not sure when I'm gonna eat it since I gotta hit bed as soon as I get home....even if Jolly doesn't show up. Basically, the boss said that I could pretty much head home as soon as I'm finished with The Milds...she figures that Jolly hasn't called or made any attempt to reassure us about his intentions, so why should I stay for him? Hmmm....she's got a point.

Watched the "Star Trek" trailer through official channels. Apparently, the non-fans are going "Heyyyyy.....!" most positively, while the Trekkies like me are going "Uhhhhhhh....hmmm.."
We Trekkies are a most demanding bunch.

Anyways, gotta prep...
Tuesday November 18, 1:12 p.m.

Still pretty warm here despite the warnings about it cooling down in a hurry....another demerit for the weathermen. No Beehive today and 002 is a sad wistful memory so had time to get some household stuff done like send a couple of things to the cleaners. I also managed to drain almost all of the homemade miso soup I concocted on Sunday; feeling pretty bloated right now but I can still walk.

Happily, no telephone calls from either Speedy or the juku boss about schedule changes, although for the latter, the return or non-return of Jolly will always be a factor. The juku computer, by the way, is just about useless. Can't even highlight anything without the threat of a complete crash. And accessing e-mail is now impossible.

We've got a new staffer at Speedy's. Marcie replaces the nearly mute Lab Tech for Saturdays and maybe even some of the weekdays. The Lab Tech has gotten saddled with tons of stuff at her day job and the fact is that she was only meant to be here til Xmas anyways, so I think she's gone like the wind. As for the new kid, she's also kinda quiet but somewhat more talkative than The Tech. As for the school bonenkai, so far we've got Mr. TOEIC, Miss Honolulu and probably the grandmothers aboard. The venue itself only holds 26, so with them and we staff, it won't take much to fill things up.

Got word from Cozy...looks like the translation is OK so far although he says that he needs to look at it some more.
Monday November 17, 9:11 p.m.

Have to congratulate TC...he got his Permanent Residency in this country. He said that it wasn't nearly as long as he thought...and he's not descended from Japanese. Maybe things are getting a little easier.

Looks like "Quantum of Solace" got tons more money than "Casino Royale" last weekend. I bet MB, the biggest 007 fan in this land, is just chomping at the bit to see that one. Too bad it ain't coming to these shores until January.

Almost forgot that Jolly is supposedly coming back to the juku tomorrow night, but even the boss, ever the cheerful one, has her doubts about him now. I would be happy just to let him go, if only for the reason that I can get home early tomorrow night so that I can get my rest since I have to leave home at 6:30 a.m. for the next three days. Speedy asked me if I were available Thursday night after The Singer's lesson to teach Mr. TOEIC. I really like the guy but I gave a flat-out NO to the bossman. If I have to leave the apartment 3 bleary-eyed mornings in a row, I gotta have early night off falls quite nicely into that category. It'll be somewhat busy after Tuesday. I even have Mr. Pronunciation in 001's slot on Wednesday since 001 herself will still be away.

The Class Act and I were going over next year...forgot what the reason was...when we came across the fact that next September may actually contain a 2nd Golden Week. For whatever reason, both Respect-for-the-Aged Day and the Autumnal Equinox are lined up in the same week along with another mysterious holiday. And then, I read about some MP trying to have a bill passed which would have November 12, 2009 as a one-off national holiday celebrating the current Emperor's 20th anniversary since he ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne and the 50th anniversary of his wedding to Empress Michiko. Got no problem with that. I would also like a bill passed inserting two more national holidays into June and August, the only 2 months that have no holidays.
Monday November 17, 8:27 p.m.

Unseasonably warm today at 18 C. However, cold reality comes in literally tomorrow as the temps plummet to 5 C as a low. I can imagine that a lot of cold sufferers will be coming out of the woodwork over the next couple of days.

The weekend was pleasant. Didn't have to worry about speaking English for a full 2 days. Got that frame for my ol' pal Obama; he's now looking handsomely from behind the glass. And I got started on my Xmas shopping via Takashimaya in Nihombashi yesterday. The Xmas season was in full swing there. Heard "Christmas Time is Here" playing over the speakers on the greeting cards floor. Got a couple of calendars for The Dancer in London and The Doctor in the annual New Year's cards for the folks over here.

Today was about as close to a regular Monday as I've had in the past month. I had The Class Act for the only time this month followed by SIL and then The Full-Timer. And I've got Medicine Man to wrap up tonight. Happily, I've got nothing until tomorrow night at the juku. So, some more errands such as taking down the satellite dish...not sure if I can considering that metal plate is just about all rust.

Cozy had a bit of bad timing by sending a translation request on a weekend that I wasn't at Speedy's, but I apologized and got it done in about a couple of hours. It's off for perusal by him; hopefully, it's OK although there were a couple of spots I'm not totally certain about.

I caught a bootleg version of the trailer for "Star Trek" other words, some guy with a pretty hi-res camera caught it from a movie screen. I noticed that the silence was deafening in that theatre during the unfurling. I couldn't blame them....I was kinda going "Huh?" myself. During the first 30 seconds, I thought I was watching some sort of commercial for a new RVR before the kid yells that he's James T. Kirk.

Going through the latest of the Peanuts series....1969-1970. Some interesting strips I'd never seen before....Peppermint Patty looking distinctly un-Peppermint Patty-like in a skating outfit with Snoopy as her partner. However, the next book to come out states that Rerun Van Pelt is coming our way along with Marcie...I think this is where Peanuts starts jumping the shark.

Anyways, time to get ready for Medicine Man. I've also gotta get stuff done for the new juku student, The Artist...a nervous one who makes The Restauranteur and The Diver seem positively cocky by comparison.