Friday, March 12, 2010

Saturday March 13, 3:15 p.m.

Usually during Hay Fever season, I'm the one who has to do all of the apologizing for letting my nose drip like a faucet in front of the students. Not something that enhances a teacher's image. However, on Thursday night, it was The Music Man who was mightily ailing. He was just doing anything in his power to keep from sneezing or dripping liquid all over the desk. I swear he was twisting his body in all sorts of yogic positions to somehow will his nose and eyes from precipitating. Felt mighty sorry for him, especially since I've been there. I think for that night, I should've changed his name to The Misery Man.

As for my seasonal health, I've managed to stave off the runny nose by taking medicine every morning. At least, Hay Fever sends a warning shot across my bow; every morning, I get that itchiness in my eyes and nose which tells me to swallow a few pills, lest I end up disgusting some student. Still, I'm gonna be throwing my money to the pharmaceuticals, and after paying my taxes and rental lease renewal fee, I don't think I can really continue paying my hard-earned yen for drugs.

Yesterday was my day away from Speedy's. I just had The Bass and The Bow outside. Between lessons, I succumbed to my desires and went for the latest and last chapter in McDonalds Japan's "Big America" burger campaign. I had the California Burger which debuted yesterday. Like the first three, the patty was bigger than usual. And it had a red wine sauce, which was probably supposed to evoke the Napa Valley. I had heard rumors that an avocado would be put in, but there was no soft green mush there. Pretty nice, I would put the California Burger in 2nd place behind the New York Burger.

I've pretty much finished giving away all of those White Day chocolates this week. The Bow was the last one with my contribution from Hokkaido's Rokkatei shop of freeze-dried strawberries covered in white chocolate. I still have one more person in the form of 001 since she suddenly cancelled her lesson a few days ago.

Just had only The Intellectual for the lone lesson here at Speedy's today. But I also had to check over a translation for Cozy and some other paperwork. I'll be heading home in about another half-hour since I gotta clean things up for the cable guy tomorrow. He's supposed to be checking my lines due to some maintenance work, although I think he's also gonna try to sell some new package.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday March 11, 5:44 p.m.
Yup, I hope whoever's reading this is neither a vegan nor on a meat-restricted diet. The consequences could be rather dire. These two photos are from the two yakiniku restauarants I went to back over the weekend. The one on the left is the far more expensive place in Futako-Tamagawa that I'd gone with The Jyuppies while the one on the right is the Takadanobaba eatery with the Korean staff. There were quite a few differences (as I'd mentioned in a previous blog entry) between the two places. The pictures show off one difference in terms of the meat. The Japanese shimofuri just about glistens its price while the Korean fatty pork looks like somewhat more heartier stick-to-the-ribs fare.
I'm halfway through my day now. I finished up with Miss Prissy, Grandma FON and Miss HGL. Just have another 40 minutes before The Carolinan arrives. I've got her chocolates to give her. Most likely, we'll be starting off with talk on her sister's takeoff for San Francisco next week.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thursday March 11, 8:25 a.m.

Been a while since I actually got to Speedy's early. One reason is that Grandma Dynamite hasn't been in anytime this year due to some family problems. And it's been a while since I'd had a Sausage McMuffin Set at the Golden Arches. But I've got a full slate today with Miss Prissy heading off the list, followed by Grandma FON and Miss HGL. Then in the evening, it's The Carolinan, Mr. TOEFL and The Music Man. I heard via the staff that Mr. TOEFL finally got that needed pass on his eponymous test. He should be in a good mood tonight.

I had The New Yorker for her last class before she heads off to San Francisco for her very first solo vacation next week. I'm somewhat worried about her since her English is still nowhere fluent. I'll have to see what The Carolinan thinks. If we're all fortunate, one of the Carolinan's old friends may just be able to come up from San Jose to help The New Yorker out.

Had a Monday night off. And yesterday was also a night off since 001 cancelled her lesson. It was nice to watch some mindless game shows on TV. And I also caught another episode of "Burn Notice". It's a fine show to watch...the usual hour-long adventure with a touch of DIY espionage thrown in.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Wednesday March 11, 1:17 p.m.

The up-and-down nature of our Winter this year in the Kanto continues to not disappoint. Sunny and 21 on Friday, sleeting and 3 last night. It was a bit of a trial getting home on slick sidewalks. However, things are better today at a torrid 13.

The White Day distribution continues unabated. I just gave Ray and the rest of the admin staff their chocolates, courtesy of The 100% Chocolate Cafe, and I gave similar things to most of the juku students last night. 001 cancelled tonight's lesson so I actually just have The New Yorker in Shinjuku in about 90 minutes. A free Monday and Wednesday night...there must be a blue moon out there. However, I'll be getting the lion's share of lessons tomorrow with 6 on tap.

The "big" news over the past several days has been that microscandal involving perhaps/perhaps not future Empress Aiko. Apparently, she's been skipping her elementary school classes since she was slightly traumatized about being bumped by some of the rowdy boys at Gakushuin School, the school for all of the elites. I couldn't believe it got BREAKING NEWS status on Friday afternoon. Words like ijime (bullying) were being bandied about in hushed tones from the media folks as if the concept could never be applied to the royals. Well, the young princess is back in classes, and it seems as if all is well again in The Imperial Palace. Must have been a very slow news day. I think it was all a big misunderstanding that got blown out of all proportion, most likely by the Imperial Household Agency. I rather feel more sorry for the boys who had supposedly bumped her than for Princess Aiko herself; I can imagine the ultrarightists trying to ram their cars through their parents' gates in revenge attacks. And as for the princess, having a mother who's been driven neurotic due to the pressures of her enforced Imperial status cannot be a great influence.

Anyways, I have to grab that seat at Starbucks.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tuesday March 9, 1:36 p.m.

The weekend was one of yakiniku, or Korean BBQ. On Saturday, I met up with The Bohemian in Takadanobaba since he invited me to meet his "friends" at this Asian friendship exchange club. In actual fact, he had only met the leader of the group just a week before and was also meeting the students for the first time. I had been wondering why those students looked somewhat nonplussed at his attempts to speak Korean. And so I kinda felt a little embarrassed afterwards about trying to strike up a conversation with them. This ain't Japan, you have to ease yourself into the group. And The Bohemian, despite his genteel ultra right wing stance on some things (such as the Taiji issue), is strangely unsubtle socially. However, the Korean BBQ was good. It was at a truly Korean place with zainichi Korean staff. The meat was very tasty and fatty, and since it was an all-you-can-eat, I took full advantage...something I haven't done in months.

Then, the next day, The Jyuppies took me to a Japanese yakiniku place near Futako-tamagawa Station. I emphasize a Japanese yakiniku restaurant since with the benefit of having had the Korean fare the day before, I could make some comparisons. The Korean place was cheaper, had somewhat more of a family atmosphere and the meat was fattier. This Japanese place was tons more expensive (blew away 7,000 yen easily...which is more than 3 days' food budget), looked far more fancier (we had our own room) and the meat was had that truly juicy flavor due to marbling. I'd say that the meat in the Japanese was more delicious but, again, I had to pay through the nose and perhaps a few more orifices. Not that I'm complaining; it was really good fare.

Monday was an unusual one in terms of schedule. I did have Cozy and SIL for their sessions but my session with Swank was only 90 minutes this time around, since the lass had a bake sale to deal with. And I had no evening lessons at Speedy's...which is rather rare. So I was able to enjoy a nice night at home watching the quiz shows such as "Nep League" and even reruns of the original "Hexagon" on a Fuji-TV cable channel. Most of Japanese TV is indeed brain-killing pap, but sometimes a little fatty food is fun.

I have started the annual White Day run for the chocolates. I've already played a March Santa Claus and given the stuff to The Beehive and SIL, and tonight, it'll be a triple with the juku boss, Sugar & Spice, and Mrs. Mild getting their chocolates. It sure is nice having The 100% Chocolate Cafe nearby for a bit of culinary whimsy.
Tuesday March 9, 1:05 p.m.

First off, I'm happy that "The Cove" was made. Second of all, I'm also happy that "The Cove" got an Oscar, thereby increasing its profile worldwide. The people of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture are certainly feeling the opposite. It never feels too good when you've been depicted as de facto baby seal killers. I've only seen a few scenes on TV of this film, but I have to admit that my blood ran cold when I saw those dolphins being literally beaten to death and the water running red.

I tend to look at both sides of an issue which has worked for and against me (there I go again). Must be the Libra in me. It is extremely easy for anyone to side with the producers of this project and environmentalists in general when watching this documentary. So, allow me to play Devil's Advocate (or Angel's...if you're a Taiji resident...then again, most likely you wouldn't be able to read this, would you?).

So, why is everyone raising a mighty hue and cry about dolphins being bashed into surimi paste once a year when cows and chickens are being executed for their meat on a daily basis in Europe, America and just about everywhere else? Simple...dolphins are cute creatures with a modicum of intelligence on perhaps the level of an average sheepdog. Dolphins are the go-to animals on all those sea aquarium pictures, and the marine creatures that everyone would love to take pictures with. Plus, they've got that perpetual smile people just get weak in the knees over. They're beautiful creatures, and most people couldn't ever see them being culled into sashimi....well, except the folks living around that cove. On the other hand, cows aren't exactly photogenic, and when most people look at them, they suddenly wonder about the terms: rare, medium or well done. Plus, the bovines and farm fowl probably just have the intelligence of a block of oak. Hard to imagine seeing Bessie doing the Moonwalk on its taile while juggling a ball on the end of its nose. So there may be a bit of hypocrisy here...or perhaps even a bit of discrimination? Are we being just a tad intellig-ist or cute-ist? Oh, we can't eat's jumping through a's nuzzling little Cathy's's just looking oh-so-adorable. Bessie? Ring that dinner bell....steak on the hoof. Chicken Little? Get the Colonel over here!

Still, what tipped me over to the side of the producers behind "The Cove" is just the way the so-called "fishermen" got their bounty. Yep, cows are given the bolt through the head and chickens are just simply given the axe behind closed factory doors, but to see what was going on so starkly...sorry, but no animal deserves to go through that fate. I just thought, fairly or unfairly, about how the Jews were treated by the Nazis. And the other telling difference....cows and chickens are livestock; they've been bred to be eaten (and yep, PETA will come up with a counterargument on that very point, but I digress). However, these dolphins are just dolphins straight and free from the sea, which have somehow been corralled into this cove and then slaughtered. It's kinda like watching hunters bringing in a whole herd of deer into one pen and then just firing away. No sport in that at all.

The Taiji residents have given their rebuttal with one fellow looking rather forlorn and just saying that he was "absolutely dismayed" at the awarding of the Oscar to these foreign interlopers. This is a years-long tradition, they say. Well, a tradition is an activity that occurs at regular intervals to commemmorate a certain phenomenon or day. It isn't automatically conferred a good or evil status. That is up to we humans. And as a human, I declare this tradition to be wrong. However, all the world's environmentalists and politicians will not change this tradition. I think it'll come when Japan's bankbook is affected in terms of lost revenue if people start boycotting products or tourism. Then, I can see Hatoyama and the boys coming down on this small town.