Monday, March 21, 2005

Still No Internet (ToT)

This sucks. For those of you following how stupid Japan's rules can be, you'll remember that I couldn't get a new phone back in January because my visa expired in less than 90 days....83 days to be exact when I tried. Now that I've moved into my new apartment, I find that I can't get internet because my visa expires too soon. So even though I have all the necessary paperwork, I have to wait until I can get my updated visa and then update my alien registration card and then I can get internet, when they'll probably take another month to send me the modem and everything else. It's full of absurdity.

Speaking of absurd, my daily patience quota dropped to zero really quickly today. It wasn't helped by the fact that I had to work early today on my day off for somebody in Fujisawa. Biking in my suit doesn't seem too appealing, so I tried to take the bus. Arriving at the bus stop, I find that there's a bus due in 2 or 3 minutes. Unfortunately, the little notation above the time evidently meant that no bus would come at that time, because no bus came, and I ended up wasting 10 minutes. 10 minutes isn't that much, but when you then have 10 more minutes to make the 15 minute bike ride to the station before the train leaves, it's rather frustrating.

Lunch was at Subway. We don't have one in Hiratsuka, so I figured I'd treat myself this one time. Everything in this chain is in English because that's the cool thing to do. The staff there try to speak English to all the foreigners, but their vocabulary is usually limited to "OK." All the toppings and sandwich types are in English. But it's in the funny Japanese pronunciation, which means that no matter how any foreigner tries to say it, they can't figure out what you're saying. So after watching a middle-aged Japanese woman order about 6 sandwiches using English, I thought, "No sweat." 10 minutes later the emloyee finally figures out that I want honey and oats style bread. Now I start to understand why one girl at the McDonald's literally shrieks and runs away whenever one of the teachers at my school goes there for lunch.

OK, how bout some substantial news. Last Monday I simultaneously signed a contract to work for a new company, renewed my visa using my old company (hah, take that NOVA!) and resigned from NOVA. So my last working day will be the 27th, although since I never took a vacation day they have to pay me through the middle of April. On the 28th I start a week of training for the new job, then a week off and on April 11th I start the new job. I'll be an Assistant Language Teacher at a junior high school in Fujisawa. I was hoping to get a position in Hiratsuka, but it didn't pan out. There are benefits, since I'll finally get a train pass so I can scam JR and ride home from Tokyo or Yokohama for about a 10th of the price. But I'll have to be at work at 8:30 am, which is a huge change considering that I don't even wake up until that time for my early days, and well past that on my normal days. So besides a slight sleep schedule change, it's mostly for the better: I get off work at 4:30 so I can actually see daylight when I finish and I'll have Saturday and Sunday off, which means a vaguely normal social life. Nobody wants to go out on Monday night ever. Maybe now I'll meet some Japanese people. The biggest thing is that I can practice my Japanese more.

Gotta run, we're doing print club soon. I'll write more about the new job, how much NOVA sucks, and Ana's new roommate and various other things later.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Chickens and Apartments

You know how they always tell you to wash your cutting board real well between cutting chicken and veggies, and how dangerous raw chicken can be? Well, last week we went to one of our favorite yakitori (like chicken shishkebabs) restaurants for dinner. On a whim, we decided to point to something on the menu we didn't know and try it. What came out was, of course, raw chicken. It'd been sliced and seemed to be slightly boiled or seared on the outside, but it was as raw as you can get on the inside. We must've looked pretty weirded out, because the waiter gave them to us free of charge. We ate it though, and nobody got sick or anything. I don't know if I'd have it again, but it wasn't that bad. That doesn't mean you can go to the store and start gnawing on raw chicken out of the meat counter. I think it's prepared similar the raw fish here, which is frozen to kill the bacteria and then thawed and served.

In other news, I'm moving house this week. The new place looks really homey, thanks to my roommate Tracey who has decorated everything. She spent all of yesterday organizing and unpacking her things. My room, however, is a total disaster, and half the stuff isn't even moved yet. I got a friend of mine with a car to give me a hand. He'll probably come over tonight also and help move stuff around. I'll be spending all my free time this week cleaning both rooms and organizing the mountain of knickknacks and random junk I've accumulated here.