Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday February 14, 5:19 p.m.

Finished up with The Businesswoman about 20 minutes ago. Good student but I'm wondering now that she's almost finished with her current spate of lessons whether she'll re-sign. I don't think I'm exactly coasting with her but there seems to be a bit of a lull.

I finally read MB's response to my refusal of the position. Actually, he was short and gracious about it, but I still feel badly about turning down the offer although I made it clear that I wouldn't teach kids for a million bucks (just an exaggeration).

Just looking forward to going home now and getting some relaxation in. It'll be another busy Saturday next week and I've got The New Yorker tomorrow afternoon. The weather was actually fine today although I never got a chance to walk around in it. I didn't have to hang up the wash inside. I can only hope that it'll stay that way tomorrow since I do want to test out the camera on Akiba.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Saturday February 14, 3:37 p.m.

Well, I've been making a good killing today. The Bostonian and The PA got me some chocolates, the former getting me some cookies made up to resemble tiny hamburgers (she knows me all too well) and even Bay brought some dango for Speedy and myself, although the bossman has yet to show up which is atypical of him. Kinda wonder if The Businesswoman may continue the tradition.
Saturday February 14, 11:43 a.m.

I'm laying even odds that Mr. Pronounciation is gonna cancel today. I'm not wishing for it at all since I think he needs the practice but with his job as a CPA and being the tax season and all, I've got a strange feeling he's gonna call and make the dotakyan.

Well, finished off "The Starbucks Experience". And also some of the reviews of it on the Net; they and I kinda refer to the near-religious calling that the "partners" seem to be imbued with. Being as cynical as I am, I tried to find some anti-Starbucks sites to get a palate-cleanser, but strangely enough, my computer won't let me due to fear of virus attacks. Hmmm....conspiracy, I wonder.
Saturday February 14, 11:27 a.m.

One of those days that I would rather just stay under the covers. Nope, I'm not sick and the weather has improved markedly over the mini-typhoon of last night, but not feeling particularly loving or even amiable. I've got a pretty busy day considering the fairly easy week: The Bostonian is in the house, along with The PA, Mr. Pronounciation and The Businesswoman to wrap up. Not sure if I'm gonna have any time to continue with the latest Cozy translation since my first three classes are back-to-back-to-back and then I've got an hour for lunch before the final lesson. However, I'll see what I can do in the last half-hour.

Paddy's foray into Facebook has gotten him some old friends. He's even made contact with GC.
Friday February 13, 10:07 p.m.

It was just Mr. Mild doing his make-up class. Apparently, Mrs. Mild has caught a case of dizziness for some reason. Still, she wasn't dizzy enough to become the sixth woman to give me chocolates. She got me some Whiskey Bonbons...I bet Mr. Mild was pretty jealous. The Ace and The Restauranteur were fine, but the latter student has some sparks of orneriness in her...but it's the usual case of me just humouring her. Looks like I learned a bit from that "Starbucks Experience" book.

The winds are still blowing out there but the juku boss was kind enough to call up Urayasu Station to check up on the subway status. They're still working in fine order thankfully although it would've been interesting to walk the extra 20 minutes out in the gale.

In the shadow of that miracle plane landing by Sully in New York Harbour over the Holidays comes a very cold shot of reality in the same state. A small plane just crashed into a Buffalo neighbourhood killing all aboard and one person on the ground. Irony is looking pretty cruel.

Anyways, gonna make my way home now. Have a pretty full slate tomorrow at Speedy's.
Friday February 13, 6:20 p.m.

Well, it may not be too bad of a bad luck day....knock on wood...but it is windy. Apparently, the Haru Ichiban has made an early appearance. Translated as the "Spring's No. 1", it's similar to the Chinook Winds in Canada and perhaps the Scirocco. Waiting for the bus near Speedy's, the winds were gale-force since that area is often buffeted by high winds to begin with.

It also seems to be a day of chocolate-reaping. I got a couple of more boxes of the sweet stuff from Miss Prissy and the juku boss. Prissy and her hubby had just come back from a trip to Jeju Island near Korea, and she brought back some chocolate-covered nuts. I donated that box over to the rest of the Speedy gang since I'm gonna end up very diabetic. Then I got a small box from the boss just now. She'd just had another session at the hospital and was griping a bit about how long she had to hang around the place (6 hours)...welcome to the club. I don't think a tirp to the hospital really means a drop-in session anymore. Better bring that "War & Peace". She's also gotten pretty manic about visiting Niagara Falls in the near future. Apparently, she got turned onto some sights on the telly recently She especially wants to stay at the hotel overlooking the Falls; looked it up, it's the Marriott.

Ended up having dinner at the family restaurant by Urayasu Station. Looks like they included a new pasta and dessert buffet, but I decided to go for the burger & fried oyster set. Maybe next time. Also, the Pepper Lunch in my neighbourhood has gotten a face-lift of sorts. Pepper Lunch is a franchise of sizzling hamburg steaks on hotplates which leave you with the fresh smell of braziers when you leave. Before the renovation began, the place had a vending machine where customers bought their meal tickets and just handed them to the pimple-faced kitchen staff. The new version looks a bit spiffier with an additional picture window and it looks like the place is going for a more conventional fast food counter look.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday February 13, 9:43 a.m.

I just heard from Speedy that The Singer had come back from her homestay in the States. It sounds like she had a good time there. And perhaps there may be future lessons. I'm just worried that she picked up too much of either a Noo Yawk or Valley Girl accent.

And on a totally different topic, I heard that the Wachowski Brothers are considering doing a "Superman" reboot. Now, if they hadn't been the guys behind the last two "Matrix" movies and "Speed Racer", I would've been pretty giddy. But as it is...
Friday February 13, 8:35 a.m.

Was entertaining The Patent Attorney as I usually do whenever I come in early. Just spoke on Vancouver since the Olympics will be held there in exactly one year. He was also intrigued on the concept of Daylight Savings Time. I'm surprised that the Japanese government has never really thought about adopting that would mean more drinking time in the beer gardens. I also told him that any chance of getting accommodations in Vancouver during the Games was pretty close to zero at this point, unless he had some really generous friends or relatives in the city.

As I said, The Carolinan and I went to the new Excelsior's across the street from its erstwhile sister shop. It was pretty crowded even at 5 p.m. but then again, a lot of the working wretched often hit the cafes as one of their refuges. We had to go into the smoking section, but it seemed like that section was far better ventilated than the Tully's in Ichigaya or even the old Excelsior's. The Carolinan had seen "Mamma Mia" with Meryl Streep yesterday. She is an ABBA fan but didn't really like Meryl's take on her character. I wouldn't go anywhere near that movie. I like ABBA, just don't like bad ABBA karaoke in a movie that costs 1,800 yen.

Like the previous time with the Carolinan, I ended up having dinner by myself at Foo Foo nearby. It was kinda coincidental that while I'm reading "The Starbucks Experience", the guys at Foo Foo gave me a small survey about their new dinner set and gave me some free toppings (I chose spinach) for my tan tan men.

So here I am. Just have three lessons today. I've got Miss Prissy in less than 2 hours, and then it'll just be the regular juku crowd with The Ace and The Restauranteur later tonight. However, I've also got that make-up lesson with The Milds before those other two. Swank is off again today so I figure that I'll be busy starting on the latest translation from Cozy and then working on some further handouts for The Restauranteur. I did get a response from MB for that message I sent him yesterday; just not interested in reading it right enough angst as it is.
Friday February 13, 8:06 a.m.

Ah, yes...the inevitable Friday the 13th. Wonder when that computer virus or terrorist attack will occur.

I took a look inside Shinjuku's new erection known as The Cocoon yesterday after taking a photo of it. Actually, it was just the two basements since they housed the newest branch of Book First. Not surprisingly for a structure that has an art school, the bookstore looked appropriately artsy. President Obama's voice was booming in one was his inaugural address, I believe. Certain English-language-learning journals have been touting his diction as the one to emulate. I could think of far worse candidates to copy.

However, I gather that for the young prez, Friday the 13th has come a few hours early. Just read that yet another Cabinet candidate has pulled out of the running, and it was his Republican choice for Commerce. As a bit of a twist, he didn't pull out because he cheated on his taxes but because he couldn't stand the stimulus bill. Well, I guess Press Secretary Gibbs will spin it by saying that at least his boss tried to extend his hand across the aisle.

Before I met The Carolinan, I crossed the street to the nearest electronics shop and checked out the washing machines up on the 6th floor. My 15-year-old washing machine on my balcony has been gushing out water from its bottom which rather indicates a change is in order. I was rather surprised to realize that the cheapest machine is only 5,000 yen more expensive than my digital camera. Well, let's see how much I make this month. I wouldn't be so eager to get a new washing machine if only that little leakage incident a few weeks ago hadn't occurred.

I met The Carolinan in front of the now-closed Excelsior Coffee branch. That old place was covered in white netting...kinda analogizes a chrysalis. She'd obviously been shopping for stuff with three large bags. One was actually for me...the Valentine's Day season has begun, although I think Grandma Enka's gift of Earl Grey Tea last week officially started things off. The Sisters of State gave me some nama choco (I really have to find out what the exact translation for that is) and some chocolate-covered Satsuma potatoes...yep, I also wonder how that one will taste. In front of the West Gate of JR Shinjuku, the Godiva kiosk was mobbed by women buying boxes of chocolate.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thursday February 12, 2:46 p.m.

Had was pretty pensive by myself in the kitchen. That was because I'd just sent off that letter of rejection of MB's offer for employment at his school. It basically took me the better part of an hour to concoct it since I pretty much bared my reasons for not being comfortable with kids. I didn't get too much into the psychological aspects of it but I did give him my history of teaching them and it's not a period of great success or happiness. In any case, I hope he gets my drift now; it could go either way, I suppose. He could take it gracefully or he could think I'm a self-absorbed sob story. But what I wrote was the truth, take it or leave it.

Speaking about the trials and tribulations of kids, on my half-kilometre walk from the Tozai Line to the Oedo Line, I came across a young mother putting her baby cart with kid on board on the down escalator. She was getting kinda cross with her child for getting a bit too rambunctious on the cart. I did a slow burn and came a bit close to giving her a piece of my mind about not being allowed to go on the escalator with a baby cart as per the sign, so who was she to chew out her kid. I held my tongue though and she went one way and I went the other. But in retrospect, I think I was glad I didn't say anything to her. I don't think any good would've come out of it aside from a screaming match between me and her with panicked subway officials to follow. And after giving some more thought to it, perhaps the mother really didn't have a choice since the staircase beside the escalators was in the midst of handling rush hour traffic. And in this burg, the slower amongst us aren't given too much of a break. I tried to imagine the harried lady taking down the cart with kid on board on a crowded staircase practically flowing with commuters, and then thought that she probably didn't need me scolding her.

I'll probably take off in the next half-hour and walk off lunch as I walk over to Shinjuku. I'll take a pic of The Cocoon, the newest building dotting the Shinjuku skyline. It's supposed to look like a cocoon (memories of Mothra come up), but with a couple of rather strange orb-like buildings or structures at the bottom, folks can be forgiven if they started giggling at a certain phallic resemblance.
Thursday February 12, 1:23 p.m.

Just had Miss Sedona, one of only two students I have today. I'm not sure if that cup of Tim Hortons I had for breakfast may have put my personality in overdrive, but I got the impression from her that I was going a little faster than usual. Ah, well.

Found out that Paddy is now a part of the Facebook family. I dutifully and happily invited him in. A bit surprised...never took him as particularly the social networking type.

Anyways, just gotta do some deskwork then I'm outta here to take some pics with the new camera before meeting up with The Carolinan.
Thursday February 12, 11:17 a.m.

It was a nice and rare Wednesday night off last night. Just spent it cooking up dinner and watching the last of the "Futurama" episodes. Groening and company really went out with a bang with some pretty fun's hard to believe that it's been basically 7 years since the series got canned (although I am aware that the specials have been popping up, including one just a couple of nights ago, I believe). Whereas "Family Guy" is raunchy and raucous fun set to a big band soundtrack, "Futurama" could almost qualify as a sweet dramedy.

Saw a slightly different version of the new "Star Trek" trailer on YouTube yesterday. It was almost identical but then I caught that scene of Nero the Romulan, which had been at the end of the original trailer, in the middle which got me wondering if there was something being cooked up at the end. And I was surprised to see old Leonard Nimoy giving the familiar split-fingered Vulcan salute and the old greetings of "Live long and prosper". Former Speedy assistant-current attorney-future judge The Trekkie would've teared awfully bad seeing that.

I got a quick reply back from The Satyr about what was basically a token courtesy inquiry about the position that MB has been bashing me over the head about. He said that he had a pretty good time at the school. I basically gave him the reply that I will give MB probably today or tomorrow that I won't be taking the position. MB will be sorely disappointed, I know, although he's been given ample signals from me. I hate disappointing friends...obvious thing to say, I know...but in this case, I know that it has to be the right thing to do.

Got word from The Carolinan that we can meet an hour earlier than usual for her lesson since she'll be having the afternoon off today. So, I can get that extra hour of rest before coming in tomorrow early.

I've been reading that book on the Starbucks Experience. Yep, I can see where they're getting at about customer satisfaction and all that, and I've been grateful whenever I've used the local branches as a teaching environment and simple coffee quaffing grounds. But sometimes I just can't help getting the feeling that there's something a bit creepily cultish about the literature. Ach, the cynic I am.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wednesday February 11, 3:05 p.m.

Well, obviously, I never made it to Akihabara. It's been looking gloomy all day...kinda ironic considering that it's allegedly Japan's birthday today (being over 2,000...the collective memory just isn't what it used to be). And Akihabara gets skittish about cloudy weather so in all likelihood, hokoten isn't in session. So, I'm back at the I-cafe.

Nice and lazy today. Just woke up at a late hour, had my Canuck breakfast, and completed Phase 2 of going over the year's earnings and expenditures, along with a few more "Futurama" eps. "Futurama" actually includes a bit more drama and pathos than either "Family Guy" or "The Simpsons" in my estimation, pretty surprising for a show that includes a sociopathic robot and a Yiddish crustacean doctor.

MB doesn't give up, does he? I've pretty much shut the door on that so-called offer of employment at his school. But he's sent me an e-mail stating that I could get a reimbursed train pass from the school. I mean, the offer is actually quite good but just replace the kids with adults; then I would jump at it and say goodbye to Speedy.
Tuesday February 10, 9:35 p.m.

Well, the first mini-week is done. The Traveler came in; I wasn't too hard on her since she was coming back from an emergency hospital stay...wasn't going to inquire, so I just did Numbers with her to get some of that confidence back into her. Then, The Milds came in a half-hour later. Any lingering discomfort from last week was absolutely gone. Had a good time with the couple...even went 10 minutes past time for a chat. The nice, pleasant night her got me to thinking that even if I didn't have the problems toward children that I do now, it would be very difficult for me to leave this setup along with The Beehive and some of the privates. I feel badly for MB since it is obvious that he's rather desperate to find a good teacher with staying power. But frankly, unless the Mother of All Typhoons suddenly came along and destroyed everyone in Chiba Prefecture, there is pretty much no way I'll able to accommodate him.

Time to go home and decompress a bit. Gonna pick up some bacon, eggs and butter for a good ol' Sunday Canadian breakfast tomorrow on National Foundation Day. Then, I'll head on out to Akihabara with the new camera and see if I can take me some pics of potential hokoten hilarity.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tuesday February 10, 4:38 p.m.

Well, made the trek all the way to the other end of the metropolis and did the visit to MB's school...his dog-and-pony show about the position that could await me there if I decided to take him up on his offer. But this isn'T really an offer since noone there has made it. It's a big private school with a lot of pluses to the position: guaranteed work and salary, days off that are paid, and very reasonable finish times. The only thing in the way....they're KIDS! I'm from the W.C Fields area....don't work with animals or kids. After the grand tour (sophisitcated computer setup...I was impressed with that), MB and I had another powwow and again I gave my reasons for probably not accepting the job. I could have the cushiest job in the world but if I'm not happy with the clientele...and I've gone through more than ample experience with kids to tell me that I'm just not gonna gel with them. I observed two of MB's junior high classes...I was given a brief intro and then he and his Japanese teacher of English got to work. All very efficient and amiable, but there was absolutely no spark which got me thinking "Hey, maybe I can do this!" It was just a plain observation. Still, I said that I would think about and even consult with The Satyr, the guy departing from this cushy position to an even better one before making the final decision, although in all honesty, I'm eady to say NO quite easily.

Made it back to the juku in plenty of time. The juku boss told me that The Traveler will be here for her lesson at 7. Should be interesting to hear what had happened to her but I'm not gonna probe. The interesting part will be with the Milds after that small exchange between the boss and Mr.Mild last week about the extra class.
Monday February 9, 9:47 p.m.

Well, my break is lasting longer than usual since Medicine Man is running late. At least, he was kind enough to keep the finish time to 10:30 p.m. Gotta rush on home to get some sleep to get back out again to MB's school. Just twiddling my thumbs, so to speak, via the Net and Wiki. Just read up on "Futurama".

Well, he's here now.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Monday February 9, 4:38 p.m.

The weekend was thankfully without incident. I had a good time with Tully & The Coffeemaker on Saturday...kinda too bad that I won't be seeing them again until the end of March since Tully will be off on his graduation holiday through Europe for the next month. However, The Coffeemaker said that she could be asking me to teach her solo but include some former schoolmates of hers from the ol' school who may want to get in on the action. I jokingly warned young Tully about perusing certain display windows in Amsterdam, but I don't think he got the joke. Ah, youth...

I did get that Exilim digital camera at Akiba Yodobashi after the lesson. It was the cheapest one there at 13,000 yen. I didn't even bother with the Japanese or the haggling. I just got the nearest staffer and rattled off my native language at him so that I could keep the advantage in any sort of communication. It certainly got his brain in overdrive to dig up that English vocabulary. I charged the lithium ion battery last night and put the thing on. I was going to give it a test run tomorrow at MB's school but MB warned me that that wouldn't be too kosher considering it's a girls' school and since this country is well-known for its plentiful population of hentai. So, I'll probably make the first clicks on the national holiday Akiba itself. If I'm lucky, maybe the hokoten will be on.

Finally caught my first full program of Japanese TV in 2009 later that night. It was the "I.Q. Supplement" program on Fuji-TV. Only expended a couple of brain cells on that one. However, it did have a segment in which one of those B-class tarento tried to entertain visiting Hollywoodite Brad Pitt. Sure to be shown on a YouTube near you.

Also had my first haircut of the year on Sunday morning. They've got a new woman working there who gave me the shampoo and scalp massage. Yeah, she good...she pass. The manager cut my hair as usual. He spoke to me about the current figure skating competition in Vancouver. Looks like Mao Asada isn't doing too well. I'm sure the media has been wailing about what's wrong with her now.

I went further into that final season DVD of "Futurama". Caught the one where most of the Classic Trek crew guest-starred. It was one for the Trekkies, and Leonard Nimoy actually joked around (he was pretty stiff-lipped on his "Simpsons" appearance several years earlier). Did catch the jibe at James Doohan as well as the commentary's remarks when the show invited him to join the old crew. The "NO WAY!" answer was no surprise considering Doohan's prior complaints about Shatner, but I also thought Doohan was pretty much out of the picture anyways because of his battle with either Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

Started the annual tax return by summarizing the past year's earnings and expenditures. I'll probably be finished the accounting by this weekend, and then I can start filling out the return itself next week.

As I said before, I spoke with MB last night about heading over to his school tomorrow morning. I had told him that there's a 95% probability that I won't take the officially unoffered job of teaching there in place of the departing Satyr, and frankly having to make the trek from Chiba to pretty much Kanagawa Prefecture is not my idea of fun. But he did pull out the "personal favour" clause on me so I'm honour-bound to go to a place that I'm resolved not to go to. Since I didn't want to languish too much on that topic, I quickly finished things off with some James Bond talk. He did catch "Quantum of Solace" a second time and may even go for a third time. So it is obvious that he hasn't given the naysayers too much attention.

Also spoke with Mom after MB. The entire clan was supposed to go over to Mrs. Tulip's swanky condo to pick up a hinasama doll since she offered to give it to my niece. It'll be my brother's family's first time to meet one of my students. Oh, and apparently, the family cat has been pooping in the corner of the bathroom. Maybe Alzheimer's is falling on him.

Since The Class Act was off today, I re-scheduled The Admin for their slot since Wednesday is National Foundation Day...the holiday that noone remembers or cares, except for the fact that it is a holiday. I took some time to do some location scouting in the Shinjuku area for a new cafe for The Carolinan and myself since the nearby Excelsior's closed up shop nearly 2 weeks ago. There are a couple of Starbucks nearby and even another Excelsior's just a few dozen metres where the old one was. I've sent the news over to my student.

Had a good time with SIL since we got onto one of our favourite Floored her when I told her that AOR isn't really a genre in North America. Here in Japan, AOR isn't only just thriving here, but Gilbert O'Sullivan and Bobby Caldwell are gods.

Back at Speedy's. The Full-Timer has cancelled her lesson due to nausea...job-induced, no doubt. So, I've got several hours to kill before Medicine Man comes in for the final slot of the day. No problems here...I've got quite a few things to do.

The juku boss called me up early Saturday to say that The Traveler actually called her up! Apparently (or should I say allegedly?), the lass was in hospital for some ailment and had no ability to make contact with us. Anyways, she should be in tomorrow night where I'll get some sort of sob story. We'll see...