Friday, June 10, 2005


Now I like a good hunk of dead animal like any other good American. One day I want to try training to surpass the 2kg challenge at steak night someday (that's 4.4 pounds for you non-internationalists out there). So I worry a bit for my carnivorous friends and relatives back home who have to deal with this. I don't know how much of it is actually true, it'd be worthwhile for somebody to check up on. But I do know that, given our government's policies favoring American businesses at all costs, it probably is. And even if it's not, shouldn't people be checking up on this. I know from my experience here in Japan is that the Japanese government is under immense pressure to lift the ban on American beef, even though the Americans flat out refuse to perform the checks and practices that are listed in that article.

So all you red-blooded Republicans can go and get a good case of BSE. You've got no one to blame but yourselves for not doing something about this. Japan may have BSE problems, but they're at least following WHO regulations now (or should be, the Japanese seem to be even worse about not punishing misbehaving companies).

Monday, June 06, 2005

Rainy season, cousins, and summer break

Well, it's been a whilen (why do all my posts seem to start this way?). All the other ALTs that I know don't have much to do during the day, and few lessons to teach, and they all seem to leave early nearly every day. I guess my town's Board of Education wants to get the most out of its employees. The school I was at last week had its version of field day, and instead of letting me experience a distinctly Japanese event (no wussy events, a kid dies every few years somewhere in the country due to some of these), I was sent to work at my colleague Julian's school for the day. It's not like he was pressed for help, there were two lessons to do the whole day, so we each took one, and spent the rest of the day chatting and watching to students prepare for their field day. But I can't really complain, since I enjoy the teaching and the teachers are all super-helpful, for the most part. I guess it's just the absurdity of having me stay the whole day, even when the kids have gone home and it's just me and the vice-principal sitting around doing nothing. My Japanese is getting better, I've just passed the 80 kanji mark, which is how many kanji 6-year olds have to know. Soon, I'll be catching up with those 2nd-graders, they better watch out.

We've reached the humid part of the summer, and soon we'll be due for the rainy season. There's a defined date when it begins and ends, and no amount of rain before or after those dates will change a Japanese mind as to when the rainy season begins. It can rain the entire week leading up to rainy season, but the season doesn't come early, and if it doesn't rain at all during the rainy season, it's still the rainy season. Go figure. So I'm concerned about what to do, I spend a lot of time riding my bicycle around hiratsuka, which means going to work won't be a pleasant prospect. Even now, at 7 am I can only make it a couple blocks before I'm drenched in sweat. So maybe the rain won't be so bad.

For those of you who are in the know, namely my relatives, my cousin Amanda made it here safe and sound, and has taken up residence in a company apartment previously inhabited by my friend Linley from Oz. The nice thing about her place is that it's right around the corner from the steak night restaurant. On the 20th of every month the entire gaijin community in the area converges on a Mexican restaurant to gorge themselves on half-price steak. So I forsee a few nights sleeping off a couple pounds of steak on her couch. But don't tell her I said that.

Unfortunately, since she just arrived, she hasn't gotten a cell phone yet, and it's driven me insane because for some reason my phone won't ring when a payphone calls, so I've missed every one of her calls, and the only reason we were able to meet up was because I knew where she lived and just showed up one day. Bleh.

If I can actually save any money the next couple of months, I'll be heading to Vietnam for vacation. I'll have the last half of July and all of August off. If I just hang around here, in addition to going stir crazy, I'll probably spend all my money. So I might as well spend it somewhere new, like Vietnam. And comparing the cost of living, I'll probably end up saving money. Let's keep our fingers crossed for Jeremy and hope he can actually reign in his spending. So that means I should probably spend more time at home doing productive things like organizing photos and writing emails and posting.