Monday, January 21, 2008

Breaking news: January's cold

Bet you didn't know that, huh?

Most of the year, being outside may not be the most pleasant thing in the world, but it's bearable. The heat won't kill you, and you won't be a popscicle in the winter. Well, during most of it. This week's turning out to be a pretty frigid one, especially in the morning. Not too cold, it doesn't get much below freezing around here, but since people here are outside a lot more than Indiana, you feel it. This morning was the first day of real ice on the ground, remnants of the freezing rain that hit late last night. The sun had managed to warm up the roads enough that where the cars drive was totally dry, but it was still a bit damp, though not frozen, on the sides where I ride. The big problem is riding around the north side of the mountain just west of my town, where the low sun's blocked for a large part of a winter's day. It's not hard to just ride straight and hope you don't slip and fall under a tire, the dangerous part is once you've got up the hill and are heading down the other side, because you run the risk of hitting a patch and either falling - with or without a car riding your tail - or not being able to turn and running off the road into something: an onion field or a concrete pole.

While it's a cold ride to and from the schools, it's nice to be able to jump in a hot shower and thaw out. That is, if your hot water works, which ours hasn't. The way I've been showering for the past month and change is to fill up the tub with the not-even-lukewarm water, turn on the bath heater, wait for it to get reasonably warm then use a small bucket to pour water over your head and do the bathing thing. Afterwards, you jump in the bath and get nice and sleepy-warm. That's the only nice part about it. Obviously, this isn't all that conducive to rapid showering, so if I'm running behind, there's little-to-no chance of getting out the door on time.

All that changed yesterday. My friend Miwa, who'd been helping me deal with the landlord (he still hasn't replaced the stove that the gas company said was dangerous to use last JUNE), has been too busy to really help out, so Sayaka rode to the rescue. I don't know what she said, but the real estate agent who's been the mediator (maybe because the landlord lives in Yokohama, but no one I know has had this many degrees of separation), and a bit of a dick, came by last week, mucked about with it, and said he thought something was broken, and called the gas company to have them come out to check the water heater. The guy came by yesterday and after 15 minutes replaced one little part, and we're back in business.

I don't know if I should be happy or really frustrated. Happy because it's fixed, or frustrated because the real estate guy dragged his feet every step of the way. I told him back in July about the gas stove and the hot water not working right. Because I was gone in August, he didn't make it out til September to check things, but I wasn't there, so my roommate, whose interest in things that don't directly affect him at that moment rates about 0, didn't really tell them anything. The guy says they'll get a new gas stove, and did nothing about the water. Well, come winter, hot water doesn't work, and they're "still waiting" for the new stove to come. Still waiting on the gas stove, too.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year, Same Old Thing

I'm ready for a change. I don't know what it is, maybe something biological, but after doing the same-old same-old, I get all antsy in the pantsy and start yearning for something different. It's not that things are bad, just a sense of unease that I've been feeling as of late.

It's not that things aren't going well - I had a great winter holiday. Sayaka and I went skiing in Hokkaido for a few days, then spent the New Year first at the shrine by my house, then met friends and talked, drank, and danced. 2008 has started off really well for me: I got a solid score on my GREs, which is the first baby step towards grad school.

I'm back at work, though the first two weeks are short so I can sort of ease my way back into the mix.

I guess the biggest thing for me is trying for grad school. The hardest thing I think will be that the schools I'm looking at want you to have a paper published already. That's fine if you're a college student and can talk to your professor about doing something, but if you've already graduated, then it's a bit difficult to write a paper, especially the necessary access to other works and research so you can develop your hypothesis without trying to reinvent the wheel. Spending lots of time creating your own study and writing it, only to find out it's been done to death already, doesn't make it likely you'd get your paper published at all. Yay. I got a lot of work cut out for me.