Saturday, April 29, 2006

New photos up

I've posted new photos over at my flickr site. The new additions are photos taken when Molly & Aaron came to visit, plus a few hanami (cherry blossom-viewing) photos this month. I've labelled all but the Hakone and Kyoto folders, which is a daunting task. But I better get it done before I head into Golden Week and take another hundred or so photos at the festivals.

It's been rainy today, but I still got up early. I'm still sorting things out on this computer. I honestly can't see how people reformat and redo their computers every few months. It takes me that long to get everything I want loaded and set up. I'm headed off to the gym, and then maybe some ramen. Mmm, ramen.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Summer Vacation Thoughts

I'm thinking of places to go for summer break. I'll have all of August off, and potentially some of July. Thailand looks to have cheap flights then (~USD440), but I really want to go to Mongolia.

Otherwise, any suggestions?


I've noticed one thing about the kids at every school I've ever taught at. Certain ones seem to really, really want to talk to me. At that point I'm often reminded of my dog back home, Penny. She'd chase our cat around the house over, under, and to my mother's consternation, oftentimes through furniture and other obstacles. But once she caught the cat, she had absolutely no idea what to do with it. She'd just stand there and stare.

That's often the look I'll get as I'm cornered by 6 or 8 13-year olds. They all have the idea that chatting with the foreigner would be great fun, but when he's actually there, they've no clue what to say. They can't (or are too embarrassed to) say it in English, and they think I can't speak any Japanese, so all that's left for them is to stand there and stare at me, a half-dozen blank faces.

It's cute and all, so I put up with it. At least they're not trying to poke me in various uncomfortable places.

Last week I rode my old, crappy bike over to the city I work in. I took the train home and bought myself a spiffy, new bike with 6 speeds on it, which makes commuting easier. This way I can ride down to Hiratsuka station, catch the train to Fujisawa, and then bike down to my school on the old bike. I realized that instead of walking 20 minutes, I can zip down in about 5. Much nicer, though I don't seem to be able to get up any later.

Next week is Golden Week, kind of the mandatory holiday week for Japanese workers. We've only got 2 days of school, which leaves me with a 5 day weekend. Travelling is a hellish undertaking during that time, so the most I'll do is head down to a festival in Odawara, the Hojo Godai Festival.

Beyond that, maybe I'll get some biking in. Now that I have more than 1 speed, I may try to tackle some of the hills to the west. Previously, I've pretty much kept to the flat plains to the east.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


While my fingers haven't been broken, I haven't had the time (nor much inclination, for some reason) to post. The new school year started off rather anticlimactically. The first 3 days were spent doing ceremonies. The first day was a welcome for new teachers as well as the new 1st year class. This of course involved all the new teachers (yours truly included) getting up on the stage and being introduced in front of the entire school assembly. Day two was a farewell to teachers who'd gone, so everyone who'd had to (involuntarily, of course) switch schools went back to their old place of work to accept flowers and give about 3 speeches each. Talk about boring. Not to mention the constant bowing-from-the-chair to various teachers, students, or VIPs passing by.

I think I'll like the schools I'm at. The first school wasn't terribly exciting. The teachers are a bit older and not as outgoing. Not to mention they were incredibly busy the first week, so I didn't have much time to get to know them. Perhaps I will later. The 2nd school I went to I spent all last week there. It's one that I'd gone to before, the one that has as its sister school the Orchard School in Indy. Small world, eh? I loved the teachers and students there, and it felt very comfortable and familiar being back again. The 3rd school I came to yesterday. It's pretty small, only 300-odd students. The kids are really friendly, and the teachers are pleasant. There are only 3 English teachers, 2 of whom are younger than I, and the 3rd is a very much-young-at-heart lady. They're quite nice to talk to, but the teachers here have an unpleasant tendency to constantly insist I take part in the club activities. While it's good for the kids, they don't always want me around, nor do I always want to deal with their 13 year-old banter and jokes. While it can be fun, sometimes I just don't want to do that.

I'm starting to get back into a routine again, which is nice. The gym beckons, I've been going back, but sporadically. I enjoy seeing the people there, but my social calendar's been a bit full. Too much going out and spending money. I was doing ok, until last week. My friend Erin went to Thailand. She came back with a friend from home, and I took it upon myself to show her around. It was good, but I spent a bit too much, but I did get to attend the local soccer match.

Beyond that, the main reason I haven't written is that my computer's been in a slow death spiral the past week or so. It started out a couple months ago when something funny would happen and I'd have to reset what hard drive was used first in the BIOS menu. Last week I started getting "disk read errors," which is a very bad thing. But it would usually start up again the next day. Well, I took steps to remedy that, but just as I was about to try and salvage everything from it, it seems to have made its final whir and up and died. I'm trying to recover what data I can from the other hard drive, I had a windows backup on it I might be able to salvage, though not for sure. I've backed up the important things that were on it (mostly my photos, at least through the end of last year), and everything else important is either on my flickr site (photos taken in 2006 up til mid-March) or they're in the hands of friends (Aaron, don't throw away those photos of your trip quite yet). I hate having things like this happen. And now I've gotta try and return the stupid drive, in addition to dealing with a new setup of windows, particularly changing all the settings to suit me.

So while I'm waiting for the data recovery program to finish, I'm off to a shower.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Things that will make you sleep poorly

1. Eat a bag of avocado-flavored tortilla chips as well as an entire wedge of brie cheese.
2. Drink an enormous black & tan.
3. Follow that up with some wine.
4. Get really frustrated at your computer because you can't log in to some of your normal websites.
5. Stay up really late.

Doing all of these, as I found out, will cause you to suddenly wake up at 4am and not be able to go back to sleep. When you finally do drift off, you'll spend the rest of the night in a cold sweat, obsessing over the little things you have to do the next day.

So yeah, I'm feeling a bit drowsy. Today's the 2nd day of school, as well as the day Aaron and Molly fly back to Cali. They left my house yesterday for Narita city, to relax and do some sightseeing before flying out. Also to pick up Aaron's passport since he lost it before he even got out of the airport 2 weeks ago. I've got a ton to write about that, as well as my first day at school. Maybe this evening. I"m all out of tortilla chips and brie.