Thursday, March 30, 2006

Not Much to Report

I have been busy with work lately and that has led to a drastic reduction in the time I have had to post...or do anything else for that matter. Day before yesterday, I was sent to a city called Fukui to substitute for a class. I was put up in easily the nicest hotel I have stayed in since coming here and yesterday I returned back to the sticks and taught here. When I returned to Fukuchiyama, I found that winter was making yet another attempt to counter the effects of spring and there was snow on the ground.

In theory, I will be getting internet hooked up in the pad in a week or two so that will be good. I have a lot of stuff I want to post on here but it would be a ton easier if I could do that from my laptop. Soon.

I got a flat tire a few days ago and took it to get fixed today. They patched it up and its as good as new, best of all, they only charged me $10.00 to do it and had it fixed in ten minutes.

I have been getting excited because I will be taking another trip almost exactly a month from now. I will be going to Tokyo. Several of the people I trained with and I have decided to have a reunion of sorts and so we are all going to Tokyo for a few days. While there, we will be seeing the imperial palace, Akihabara, and Ginza along with a ton of other stuff. It should be fun. Reid and Karie from Canada are renting a car and then they are coming to Fukuchiyama to pick me up. From my place we will drive about five or six hours to Tokyo where we will meet Ben and Monique. We are renting an apartment for the time we are there and that should save us some money on food and whatnot. The car was the biggest savings of all due to the fact that for a round trip train ticket from here to Tokyo would have cost me almost $350.00. The car rental is costing that much and there are three of us taking it. A ton of money will be saved and it will be a freaking cool road trip. I am looking forward to it.

Other than that, not a lot has been going on. Yesterday, a cop stopped me in the train station and asked to see my passport and asked me what I was doing there. I gave him my Alien Registration Card and told him I was a teacher and he seemed to be cool with all of my information. I think he told me that he had seen me several times before and just want to make sure I was kosher. He was not a jerk or anything during the entire meeting and before he left he tried to pronounce my last name, bowed to me, and said thank you and that was it. It was just kind of odd, cops make me a tad nervous and Japanese cops are no exception. Actually, while on the topic, I will say a word or two about Japanese police.

Japan is renoun for having an extremely low crime rate. Violent crime is almost non-existant here and if a crime is committed with a gun, it makes national news. When I tell people that a town close to where I lived in the US had drive-bys on occasion, they just stare in awe at me. It doesn`t happen in Japan. If and when a gun crime occurs here, it is usually the Japanese mafia that instigated the situation. Like England, Japanese police did not start carrying firearms until recently and even now, not all of them do. If a report of a gun crime comes in, the equivalent of the SWAT team gets called to handle the problem. Japan as a country has a very low gun ownership rate and most crimes are committed with knives here.

Japanese police have a lot more power than American police do. Things that would for sure get a criminal trial in the US thrown out on a technicality are somewhat commonplace here. For example, in the US if you are arrested, you get your phone call and have the right to an attorney. American law enforcement can only hold a person for twenty four hours and after that point, must file charges against you in order to hold you any longer. In Japan, cops can detain you for pretty much anything and can hold you for up to twenty hours. Upon hitting the twenty hour mark, they can then decide whether or not to hold you for another three days before they file charges. Basically, when confronted by a Japanese cop, cooperate with them or they can make your life hell pretty much on a whim. If you get taken in for questioning in Japan and do not speak Japanese, they must provide you with an interpretter but the person being questioned has to ask for one before they will give one to you sometimes. If your in this situation in Japan, you have to tell them you will not cooperate until an interpretter is present. As for the phone call, that is a judgement call on the cops` part. You are not entitled to one here.

Now that I have made Japanese cops look mean, I must say the ones that I have watched or dealt with, conduct themselves in a very friendly, cordial manner. Japanese cops are trained to act somewhat more like friendly helpers than law enforcement officers. In major cities, you will find a small police station called a koban every couple of blocks. The cops that work in these kobans are taught to make friends with the people in their area and it is not uncommon for them to know most of the residents in their section. I am pretty certain the cop that stopped me yesterday was stationed in the koban outside my train station and had noticed me and had used his brilliant investigative powers to come to the conclusion, I was not from around there. Basically, he racial profiled me and followed up by making sure I was supposed to be there, something I think more cops in America should do. Even if he didn`t stop me based on race, I think it is cool that he noticed that I didn`t belong in his area and wanted to see why I was there. The cops in Japan are very unobtrusive but they are indeed watching whats going on. Its not that I horribly care what the cops are doing, its just kind of cool to know that they pay attention to their surroundings and are familiar with the people enough to know when something is out of place.

Anywho, thats my tangent for the day. I like Japanese cops.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Earthquakes and Tacos

Well, I just read Dustin's comment on my previous post and learned that there was an earthquake of the coast of Kyushu. That was the first I have heard of it. Which I guess means, yes, I am safe. Kyushu is the biggest island south of the mainland of Japan, Honshu. I didn't feel the quake or anything so I guess thats good. Japn gets a ton of little quakes each year but this has got to be the most earthquake prepared country I have ever seen. It would take a big quake in a metropolitan area to get the country's attention. So Dustin, thanks for your concern, I am safe and sound....and eating tacos.

I have not had a taco in four months and I must say, I have missed them. In the package my family sent me a few weeks ago, they included taco seasoning and tonight, I opened one of the precious bags. I realized after buying the cheese, I do not have a cheese shredder but a knife made a passable substitute. And the cheese I found tonight was an awesome, flavorful, red cheddar from England. Cheese is hard to find here but when you find it, its tasty stuff. This was aged a little longer than a lot of cheddars I ahve tried but it was nice and sharp and crumbled easily. Good cheese.

Anywho, I downloaded the latest eps of the shows Prison Break, Lost, and 60 Minutes and so I havea pretty good night of taco eating and tv watching ahead of me.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Past 36 Hours

The past 36 hours have been about some of the most random but fun hours I have had while in Japan.

Yesterday, I woke up, happy to be rid of the headache I had acquired the night before and faced what looked to be an extremely sunny and nice day. I got out of bed, took a bath and then did some laundry. For the first time since coming to Japan, I am totally caught up on laundry duty. The cool part about living in the States people is the ability to find a dryer in even the most humble of living spaces. If you are really behind on laundry, you devote a half a day or so and get caught up. In Japan, the goal is to not get behind because the act of drying clothes takes a tad of forethought and time. If I get really behind on laundry, every surface or place to hang stuff in my apartment has damp clothes on them. It makes the apartment humid and kind of smelly and I lose precious space that can be used for other stuff. In general, drying a lot of clothes at once sucks.

Anywho, while doing laundry I also cleaned my apartment. This was also something that needed to get done because while I had my cold, I really wasn't into cleaning and for three or four days, I let garbage stack up. The cleaning being completed, I was pretty much caught up on any administrative duties that come with my apartment. I still need to do dishes but lets not talk about that. :)

After doing my tasks, I went to teach class and that was okay, nothing special to report other than the bike ride there was very nice.

I finished teaching a little before 5pm and came home to a clean place but had nothing to really do. I got bored. So I did what any reasonable adult in Japan would do, I went to the arcade to play some Tekken 5 and hopefully, show off my skills to some Japanese guys, thus representing for gamers from the United States. This did not happen. I played one game against a guy who beat me, although I put up a good fight. While not humiliated, I still did not beat the guy but I have an excuse for that, he was pretty good. In Japan, it goes without saying that video games are more advanced than anything the US has to offer. Take Tekken 5 for example, it is your standard fighting game but there is one twist. Players can get cards that chart their win/loss ratio, keep track of character statistics, and let the player change the appearance and name of the character after they reach a certain level. The really cool part is that when these players put their cards in, their customized fighter is uploaded to the arcade machine and stored in its memory. So when I play a single player game, after a while I start fighting player generated characters that play like that player does. The game learns and remembers peoples' fighting styles and aggressiveness. It makes the game a ton harder but a lot more fun. I have never seen this in the States before. Then again, each game cost $1.00 to play so they may generate more revenue in Japan and are able to afford these options on the Japanese games.

After the arcade, I looked around the adjoining bookstore and then took off. I figured I would ride b my favorite bar and if there were a few people in there I might stop by and try to be sociable for a bit. It has come to the point now where I go to bars in hopes of talking to people, the drinking is not that big of a deal to me anymore, I just want someone to talk to. I rode past the bar and there were a ton of people in there, mostly women, so I figured maybe this was my lucky day and went into the bar. The only seat in the house, as luck would have it was sandwiched between two guys and two ladies. Almost immediately, the guys start talking to me. One of them was named Soichi and I forgot the other dude's name but they were really cool. After a bit, the two guys start talking to the two ladies and it turns out they knew the same people or something. About half an hour into the conversation, I mentioned I had never sang karaoke while in Japan. Soichi and his buddy then made it their personal mission to make sure I got that chance, that night, at 1am.

They talked the two girls next to me into joining us and then gave me a ride with them to easily the biggest karaoke bar in Fukuchiyama. I think one of the reasons they wanted me to sing especially was because being a fluent English speaker, I could at least say the words to, if not sing their favorite American songs correctly. This thrilled them to no end. Before I go on, a word on karaoke in Japan.

Most karaoke bars are actually set up like apartment buildings or hotels. You go in and approach the front counter, letting them know you want a room. A host takes your group to your room and makes sure everything is satisfactory. In the room, there is a good sized television, a massive speaker system, two microphones, a air conditioning remote control, a karaoke remote, and volumes of catalogs from which to choose your songs. They take this stuff seriously. There is also a telephone on the wall so you can call for the staff to bring drinks and whatnot. Karaoke in Japan is cool because of a few reasons. First, it is very personal, you are not in a huge room with strangers like at karaoke night at a bar, it is just you and your friends and a room. Everyone cheers for each other and everyone is supportive, no matter how sucky your singing. Second, there are more song choices than you can shake a stick at. There were several thousand songs just in the English section, as for the Japanese selection, there was a book thicker than a bible and bigger in size. Also, when choosing songs, you do not what to sing a song performed by a female artist if you are a male. They seemed very touchy about that for some reason and with each song I picked, they made sure that I had no need for female vocals.

Anywho, I start with Loser by Beck and that was ok. Over the course of the night, I went through some Green Day, Rancid, Frank Sinatra, Blue Oyster Cult, one Beatles song, 50 Cent, Eminem, and ended with Nine Inch Nails. Reasons for my selections were this, they wanted to hear me do a couple of rap songs because no one they knew could speak English fast enough to keep up with them. One of the girls and Soichi's friend were big on Green Day and apparently, my rendition of "Basket Case" didn't suck so I did two more of their songs. What really got them excited was when I did "My Way" by Frank Sinatra. I usually sing The Chairman's stuff while in the shower so I know "My Way" by heart and if I do not say so myself, can sing it pretty well. These guys thought so too and toward the end of the song, I had a chorus of Japanese backup singers. Listening to Japanese people sing American songs has got to be one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed. It is truly comedic gold.

Anywho, the night ended at 3:30 this morning and I got back to my place around 4am. After sleeping for about six hours I was awakened twice by people at my door. First time was a Takumin guy delivering my train tickets and hotel coupons for my business trip to Kyoto on Tuesday. They are paying for me to ride the nice trains, YES!
The second time, it was the mailman delivering my GP2X. If you don't know what it is, I will explain in a post soon but just know, its my new toy.

After getting up and around, I went to a shrine to take some pics I have been meaning to take for a while and then went to the electronics store to buy a new memory card for my GP2X and some rechargeable batteries. I then went to Jusco to look around and while I was there I had a bacon, egg, and cheese pizza that was very tasty. When I go exploring I like to try something new to eat and was surprised by how good that pizza was.

Now I am back at home, I am going to play The Sims and watch a movie. Its been a good few dozen hours. :)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Introspection, Retrospection, and Anything Else That Can Cause Me to Lose Sleep


As it stands, I really should be asleep right now. I have to be up and lively in almost six hours and the problem is that I am up and lively now. Thats seems to be a trend in my life.

As the title suggests, I have been thinking again and whenever I do that, I start losing sleep. Whether I am dwelling on what I deem positive or negative aspects of my life, the first thing that jumps ship is my sleep. It sucks. Sometimes I just think I am wired to function at night, plain and simple.

Either way, remarks that have been said over the past while have caused me to think and dwell and here I am. A week or two ago, TPLConjecture and I were chatting and he mentioned that the one good thing about my living a relatively secluded lifestyle is that I would become more self-sufficient. After devoting many hours to this thought, I have come to agreement with him. In a few hours, I have to give a small presentation on traditions in my family, my family tree, and games I played when I was little. This is to help both the Japanese teachers and the foreign teachers get a glimpse of where the other is coming from. I do not like thinking about traditions.

There are namely two reasons for this: A) My family does not have an abundance of tradition. It is just the way we are or the way we came to be. I remember traditions we had when I was little but very few of them continue to this day. Its not a big deal really and its not a bad thing but it gets me thinking about other stuff.
B) The other stuff is Mushi and her family. They had a ton of traditions that they did with each other and that I liked and have fond memories of.

This last reason comes back to what TPLConjecture said to me. If I were in Japan this time last year, I could not have done it. I would have come back to the States crying and angry. Stuff that has happened since this time last year has made me a stronger person than I have ever been. In turn, Japan is teaching me things about myself that I could have never learned otherwise. Even after a few months of being here on my own, I am pretty confident I can go anywhere in the world and survive. One of my strengths and at the same time, a weakness of mine, is that I am a people person to the core of my being. This is great when I need to interact with people and find means of surviving in a foreign land. Not that survival is that difficult in a modern country such as Japan, but try making hotel reservations over the phone with someone who doesn"t speak English worth a damned and then you will get my drift. The flipside of that is that being a people person absolutely sucks when there are no people to have interactions with. I think this is changing though.

Things that have happened to me over the past year have made me stronger and allowed me to go to the next level, or if not the next level, at least a different one in life. This level is teaching me stuff that never would have occurred to me in my old life. Stuff that as a whole, I think is making me a more rounded out person. I have never thought of myself as being shallow but I feel like I have more depth to me. Does this make sense?

I have also been debating as to whether or not I am going through a mean bout of depression as of late and I have come to this conclusion. I don't think I am depressed so much as I am laying facts about myself and my past on the table for me to deal with and it has been hard. I have also been questioning my future (again) and that has been somewhat troubling too. I am not so much worried about my future as I just want to know what is waiting for me in the future. Does that make sense?

I have also come to accept the fact that I am not over Mushi (is a year enough to be truly over someone you did everything with for almost five years...dunno)or maybe a better way of putting it is that I have found a shelf on which to sit that whole topic and have come to terms with the realities of it. I think a better way to put that even is that I understand why things happened and I am somewhat okay with the way things are now, but I miss certain aspects of the person that I remember Mushi being and sometimes I am harshly reminded of those memories. Try coming to a country that both you and your significant other shared a liking of and thinking "Hey, so and so would really dig this" or "Damn, I wish so and so could be here to see this and talk about it with me." Japan has done that to me a lot. She and I have changed a lot but I still remember old Mushi and I do miss old Mushi at times.

One of my mottoes before leaving to come here was "Go to Japan and your problems go away." That hasn't really happened to the extent that I thought it would. The motto would now be "Go to Japan and deal with the problems that you came here to escape." All in all the new motto is probably healthier and more mature than the old one. :)
I think I came here because I thought that the act of moving to Japan alone would show me or act as a catalyst for what I should do for the next bit of my life. I am now realizing that it is more like I am learning how to show myself what that next bit of my life is and making it my own thing instead of having it handed to me and/or doing it because I am expected to or because it was the easiest most logical solution at the time. Does this make sense?

About this time last year, I made a post in which I proclaimed that I was for the first time, doing my own laundry and that I was maturing. The post was indeed marking a turning point for me but it was also an odd attempt to show Mushi that I was more of the grown up person I knew she had been looking for in me. Her basic response to that post was that it was too little too late. That amongst other things pissed me off to no end. I was an angry, jerk of a person a year ago. I suppose I had a right to be, just like Mushi had the right to find someone that was more stable and ready to handle the responsibility that I was in some aspects, floundering in. I tried my hardest to be a good husband to her, that is one thing that I still take pride in. I tried so hard to make her feel loved and special. The word "try" and the word "do" are totally different. Trying works in kindergarten and art class. Doing works at all other times. Is there a part of me that is still upset by being rejected, sure. Is there a part of me that tingles with jealousy when I think she meets and hangs out with other guys, sure. I think these are natural feelings when had in moderation. But a big chunk of me is glad she made the decision that she did. She wasn't happy with who I was then and quite honestly I am still not sure whether I was either, I don't think so. If we had stayed married, I would have never grown like I am now. And perhaps more importantly, she would still be unhappy. The difference between the two of us then was that I couldn't or refused to see a lot of this and she could. And the thing I respect her for the most was that she had the balls to instigate the change that would benefit both of us for our own good. I took the divorce a lot harder than she did I think and at times I was so angry that she never felt or seemed to indicate to me that she was remorseful of the whole thing. I used to get so angry because I knew she was enjoying being alone while I was absolutely miserable. I know now, least I think now, that she seemed that way because that course of action and the whole divorce and everything associated with it, seemed right to her and true to her heart. She knew it was for the better and found solace in that notion. Maybe I am wrong, maybe not, either way, I think in the end it all worked out for the better. I said that a year ago, I know that now.

This whole post has gotten wordy but I have a tendancy to do that. It just seems like so much stuff as of late has happened in a way that has made me feel like it is happening for a reason. I don't want this post to come off as preachy but I can feel myself changing. I am thinking differently than I ever have before and I think I am acting differently too. Do I still get lonely here sometimes, yes, is that usually when I start to think of the past, yes, but I feel like I am different somehow. This whole living in seclusion, no one to talk to for the most part thing sucks when I am looking at it at that very moment. But when I step out of the situation, I can see how it has been extremely beneficial to me. If such a thing as Enlightenment exists, I think this is the closest I have ever been to it. At the same time, I feel like I am nowhere close to it. I guess what I am saying is that I think I still have room to grow but it used to be that I didn't even or wasn't able to even see that. I feel a tad like I should wake up at any moment, come out of the Matrix, and say "I know Kung-fu."


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Odds and Ends

I am making this post to kind of clarify how I pay my bills here because it is very different from the way things are done in the United States. I saw a comment in my last post and realized that I had not really touched on the topic too much and the way it is done is very cool.

The way bill paying works for me is this:

I will get a bill in the mail, I don't get many though. I actually only get my phone and electic bill. When a bill comes, it looks more like a postcard than a bill. On one corner of the card there will be a tab and I peel it back from the corner and that opens the bill. They do this to make it easy to see if other people are looking through your mail.

Once the bill is opened, you will see the stuff you would expect to find but you will also see something else, four barcodes. These barcodes make my life so much easier. Instead of mailing bills to addresses that I have absolutely no clue how to write, I take my bills to Lawson. Lawson is a convenience store in Japan and they are everywhere. If I go either direction on the main road from my place, I will run into a Lawson within five minutes. Either way, I take my bills to Lawson and they scan the barcodes and ring up my bill just like I were buying a snack or drink and charge me for them right there. Its simple, easy, fast, and if I wanted to, I could indeed buy a snack at the same time.

My rent, water, and gas bills are all sent to my company and they deduct the amounts from my paycheck. I get an itemized paystub to see that I am not getting ripped off and that is that. My internet will be hooked to my rent bill and that in turn will be sent to my company. It rocks. The other cool thing about finances in Japan is since its an economy based almost solely on cash, it makes budgeting very easy. I have one bank account to worry about and the only time money comes out is when I take money out. I was just gettng the hang of the American way of doing things and then all of this happened and it was all dumbed down for me. I have never been very good with financial stuff but this is a cake walk. And since I only really get two bills, it is easy to save moneey and allocate funds to different things. It also helps not having a car and all of the expenses that come with that, just me and Butterfly Battle.

In other news, a funny thing happened last night. When I was at the train station to come home, there was a huge crowd gathered there and everyone was armed with cameras. This is another well-deserved stereotype for Japanese people; they take their cameras everywhere with them and it seems that they all have a taste for very spendy ones. Anywho, I am trying to figure out what all of the fuss is about and by the time my train arrived I had decided that it was possibly the Japanese baseball team coming back from the World Baseball Classic and taking like a victory ride to a whole bunch of towns via train. This seemed feasible to me and I was satisfied.

My train left the station and the throngs of camera toting Japanese people waiting along the tracks. I began reading a book. Aside from one unusual stop on the way home, nothing big happened until I reached my train station and there were three times as many people there, all with cameras. What the hell was going on?! Was it the baseball team like I thought, was it the Prime Minister of Japan, was it a celebrity on board the incoming train? No.

The Japanese people love their trainsystem and rightly so, the network of trains does indeed rock. But sometimes I think they may be too into their trains. I can go into a store and get toys, video games, models, books, even stationary of some of the more popular trains and I thought that was odd. This took the cake.

Last night was the first time that the Fukuchiyama line recieved a night train (queue Guns and Roses here) bound for Tokyo. From now on, at almost midnight in Fukuchiyama, if I want to, I could get on a night train and go to Tokyo. That is what the fuss was about, that is why several hundred people were at my train station with their kids and cameras at almost 12am last night. And when that train finally got to the station the crowd went absolutely nuts. People were clapping and cheering, the conductors in the station all lined up along the tracks to salute the train, the masses swept up to the train to take pictures of the placard on the train that read that it wa the Izumi Express bound for Tokyo. It was like the baseball team was there only minus the baseball team. All of this hubbub was for a train, not even a cool Nozumi high speed, just a train bound for Tokyo.

What was also funny about the event, is that they were giving away little commemorative packages of tissue, stationary, and credit card brochures for all that attended, I got one too. The people that were on the train were taking pictures of the people taking pictures of them, they felt like rockstars each time they entered a station in my area last night. On the way out of the station, I even caught a glimpse of a lady taking pictures of the new schedule signs that include the new train's stopping time on them. Yup, Japanese people dig trains.

Other than that, not a ton to report, I have to go to Kyoto to sub for a class on the 29th and I will put money that that is the day they will want to come out and hook up my internet knowing my luck with these things. I am also coming down with a tad of a cold, thanks to one of the countless munchkins that I hang out with everyday. I hate colds but the one thing I will give to them is that they help me sleep really well. I like sleeping well...just not waking up with dried snot caked around my nostrils or my throat feeling like it was on fire. So today, I have been maxxing out my Vitamin C intake and it has helped. I don't think this cold will last long, it is just troublesome. Well, time to catch a train....hopefully this time with less fanfare.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Pad

Ok, here are some long awaited pics of my swinging bachelor pad. The motto for this apartment is "Think Small".

Here is the entry way:

This is the kitchen, notice how Batman and some of his foes maintain silent vigilance over the kitchen from atop my microwave and fridge:

Here is the "living room" with my comfy chair and my keitai, charging on it. Keitai is Japanese for cell phone and most cell phones here have little toys that dangle off of them like mine does:

This is the bathroom:

And finally, an area that I have dubbed the "love nest", my bed:

Here are my dryer and washer:

The closet, I use one half for clothes and the other is for storage. There is a television in there but I never use it. If anything, Japanese public television is more pointless than its American counterpart and therefore, the tv is relegated to the closet:

I am sorry it took so darned long to get this post done. I was meaning to have it done several days ago and then spring time went away and Fukuchiyama got hit by a small blizzard making it hard to type from the roof. After that, it turned into freaking monsoon season here so again, the roof was out. Life in my apartment is pretty good, in a week and a half, internet will finally get installed. It should have been at the end of this next week but as fate would have it, I have a meeting the day the installer was to hook it all up and therefore, I had to change dates. But anywho, you can now say that you have seen the internals of a Japanese apartment. Oh, and just so you know, my apartment is considered a "company man's apartment" they are small because they are designed to be occupied by basically single, working-class, guys. There are bigger and better apartments in Japan, but I know my rent is less in the one I am in now. :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Random Pics

I have taken a few other cool pics recently that I will post now. These really don't have much to do with anything, I just dig them.

Anywho, next post will be on my apartment, the entire two rooms of it and that is counting the bathroom.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

All Sorts of Stuff to Talk About

Ok, first off, sorry I haven't posted in almost a week. I have been on the busy end of things lately. But, lots of spiffy things have happened over the past couple of days.

First, when I was off on Sunday and Monday, I found this badass junk shop that is about three blocks away from my house. I went nuts there. I bought a bike, comfy reclining chair, and more shelves for only $80.

The bike is friggin' cool. Part of the reason I bought the bike was the name of it, Butterfly Battle. With a name like that, this bike could with the Toure D' France and make Lance Armstrong blush with envy, its jsut that cool of a bike. Here is a couple of pics of it:

As you can see, this bike is top of the line...that is it was top of the line in 1961. But it has everything I need, it came with a lock, that is the circular thing toward the upper part of the rear wheel. And it has a basket and I can put stuff on the back of the bike too. It is just a single gear but I wanted that because if it ever breaks, it will be much easier to fix. It may not look like much, but its a pretty good bike and its called Butterfly Battle. Yeah, it may be a girl's bike but they don't seem to care about that too much around here.

Secondly, my apartment is about as close to being "done" as it can be. I want to get a rug in there but that will probably have to wait a bit due to money stuff that I will talk about in a second. Now that the apartment is pretty much the way I want it sans rug or art, I will post pics of it tomorrow or the next day. But for today, I will show you pics of my apartment building, Coop Bonule or something like that....I like to call simply, The Coop.

This is the exterior of the building:

Here is the parking lot:

Here is my mailbox, #300. As you can see, some of my neighbors have issues with checking their mail despite the fact they have to pass their mailbox as they come in the building. I don't get it:

Here is the first floor:

Second Floor:

And the Third Floor, my place is the first door on the right:

What mystery and magic await behind this door? Stay tuned, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Blog.

To sum it all up, my apartment is in the ghetto of a Japanese town in the sticks. I do live in a ghetto, you should see the rest of the neighborhood. It is not that where I live is unsafe, its just not much to look at. Oh, I forgot to take a pic of the roof but I do like to chill on the rook of the apartment quite often. Its quiet up there and there is a wireless connection. Whoever did the interior decorating for my building, was blind or in a hurry or thought the place would be torn down very quickly. Either way, as you can see, the decor inside the building is less than extraordinary. I like to imagine I am in a big nuclear fallout bunker and the people in this building are some of the chosen few to survive the nuclear holocaust and will go on to repopulate the earth. Yeah.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Nice Relaxing Week

My week in the Miyazu classroom has been a nice one. The kids are for the most part good and the train ride there is very relaxing. I like to kick off my shoes and drink my coffee, while listening to my iPod and enjoying the scenery on the way up there.

Miyazu is supposed to be one of the more beautiful places in Japan but I think that only applies to the summer months because right now if looks like just another little town you would find along the Oregon coast. It has lots of touristy places though so I think business does pick up once it gets warm. My apartment is almost presentable now, I know I have been saying that for days but it is really starting to get there. I am looking around for art I like to put on the walls but so far, there has been a lack of it. I hate putting posters up and would like to get actual framed art but so far not much has presented itself.

I have been on a series of weird musical tangents as of late. The Cure has been frequently scrolling across my iPod, escpecially the song Cut Here. Its basically about how you should not take people for granted and how they may not always be around. I like the lyrics but I really like the music in that song itself.The song, Just Like Heaven has been playing a lot lately too. I have also been listening to a group called Royskopp. Jake, you may like these guys, they are kind of a bastard child of Daft Punk and Bjork. There is a song on their album, The Understanding that I dig called, What Else Is There. The girl is definitely from Iceland and here accent is just cool. It fits into the song very well. The group is more like Daft Punk than Bjork, I just threw here in there cause of that one song. :)I was also on a Scissor Sisters kick for a bit too. Demonator and Phyrry, if you haven't heard these guys give them a listen, especially the songs Mary and Comfortably Numb. These guys are what the Beegees would have been had the Beegees come in the late Nineties or now. Very disco-ey and poppy. And then there is Johnny Cash, I love that guy and I am not 100% sure why, maybe it is the tiny kernel of a hick coming out in me. And then there is the always present on my playlist, Nine Inch Nails and some Marilyn Manson. The psuedo-goth industrial part of me never went away like I thought it had. Anywho, there is a taste of what I have been listening to, yeah, its all over the musical spectrum, I know. What can I say, I am ecclectic in my musical tastes.

Anyways, doing well now and waiting for the weather to warm up a tad more and the cherry blossoms to set in. I can't wait for that. My parents should be shipping me a package in a day or two and with it comes my MP3s(thanks Phyrry) and the Sims 2: Open For Business expansion. Why I like that game, I don't know but I do and I am looking forward to trying the expansion out. Now the question is, how long will the big box of joy take to reach me?

I think I got the internet setup to be installed later this month. That is the one thing that drives me bonkers here is the fact that when I have a conversation with a Japanese person, I always feel like I am coming out of the encounter with a basic gist of what just occurred but never feeling 100% certain. I think the dude is coming to hook up my ADSL on the least I hope. The cool part is that I think I get two months free and the connection I am paying for is 50mbit but will actually only come down at 24mbit. I think the guy told me that soon it would go up to 50mbit so I may as well get it and pay the $1.00 defference in price between the 24mbit and the 50mbit. Hopefully, it all pans out. I am going through YahooBB and the guy that was in the apartment before me said that they orginally told him it would be available in the apartment and then backed out, leaving him to go with someone else. That was over a year ago so hopefully, stuff has changed. If I go with anyone else, I have to buy a phone line and I don't want to do that.

Anywho, it is time I come off the roof and get stuff done before I go to class. Later!