Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is Halloween

Since I live in the future, today is Halloween for me. I am underwhelmed to say the least. No pumpkins, no trick-or-treaters, no scary shows on TV, nada. This kind of sucks so later on, I may have a slasher movie marathon...alone...lame.

This is so I can say I at least carved a pumpkin in spirit:

The Halloween party the other night was fun. It was in a very private bar and there were only 15 of us. Myself and one other guy were the token white guys of the party. There was a guy dressed up like a Cosplay Maid and I have to say, he maid the best female that was not a female I have ever seen. I am sad to say, he was actually kind of cute. I feel bad for him though because he is in the Japanese Navy and trapped on a boat with a couple hundred guys and is probably the most feminine looking man I have ever seen. For some reason the Village People come to mind...

Maya had a nurse costume that she looked hot in and they found me a goofy samurai outfit to where. Actually, it was the only costume they had that could fit me. I tried on one other costume and everyone decided the moment I flexed, the costume would be ripped. So for the night, I became Super Gaijin Samurai. I was also called Python by a couple of guys all night because of my arms. The upside to being a bigger guy here is that people assume its at least partly muscle. I can play along with that. There are times where having a big frame comes in handy.

We played some games throughout the evening and one of them was trivia. Even a language barrier cannot stop a trivia god like me. What vitamin do you get from the sun? D. What is the only Asian country never to have been a colony of a European empire? Thailand. I rule...so long as I have a translator.

Anywho, the party ended and Maya gave me a ride home. We talked again about relationship stuff and I have pretty much found out where I stand now, which is to say I am still not sure. She is now not looking for a boyfriend but not planning on getting one in Italy either. I told her is she ever decides she wants one, she has my number. So we will probably stay in the "hang out whenever" boat and it probably won't go anywhere, which makes me feel like its basically a waste of my time. But she is at least someone to do something with and there is something to be said for that.

Tomorrow I go to my two day meeting so I probably won't have another post for a little bit. The meetings will be fun and I am looking forward to seeing everyone. It will give me a chance to get out of town for a bit and I need that. I have been trying to save money but that means not taking any day trips to Kyoto or Osaka. And since there isn't anything to do here, it means I stay in my house and do nothing for the most part. Boring.

I am sorry this post is kind of a drag, especially on Halloween but I am not that peppy at the moment. I miss Halloween in the United States and that sucks because its my second most favorite holiday of the year behind Christmas and just barely ahead of Thanksgiving. I don't so much miss the holiday itself, more what I used to do with people around this holiday, carving pumpkins, watching movies, etc. Oh well, the next couple of days will be nice.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Been Busy


Sorry I haven't posted in a few days, I am still alive but I have been a tad busy and when I have gotten home at night, I just haven't felt like posting. My weeks in Toyooka really put a drain on me and when I am not teaching, I just don't have much ambition to do anything else.

Now, comes the easy stretch. This week I have to attend two days of meetings in Kakogawa and while there, give a presentation on the history and contemporary state of the Japanese educational system. That should be pretty straight-forward and I already know what I am going to talk about. After the first day of the meeting, we are all going out and I am getting put up in a hotel so thats cool. After the second day, I have a five day weekend. I rock.

Tonight, I am going to a Halloween party in another town and meeting a guy named, Simon that I have only ever text messaged. He is a Peppy teacher that works at Maya's school and she introduced us. He sounds like he has a lot in common with a lot of my friends in the States so I am sure we will get along alright. Maya is hopefully going to show up at the party at some point and honestly, thats the only reason I am even going. My costume is "Obnoxious White Guy". Its cool because I don't require any special props and can just go as myself.

The second weekend in November, Simon is coming with me to Osaka for Nintendo World 2006. We get to play the Wii for free and see all of Nintendo's cool stuff that they aren't releasing here until December. It will also be a good time to venture to Den Den Town seeing that I haven't been there in a while. Come to think of it, I may go there before then, I am going to have a lot of free time and I may as well use it.

I will post more later as to the Halloween party went. Unless Maya shows up, I won't be staying very long because the party starts at 8pm and my last train home leaves just before 10pm. Anywho, I just figured I should check in because I haven't in a few days.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Bike War Escalates

After a couple of uneventful days, I returned to my train station last night to find one of my break cables broken and both tires flattened. Neither of them should be too hard to fix but what gets me is that they took the air valves out of my tires so I can't re-inflate them. At least when I flattened his tires, I was gentleman enough to leave his valves, what he did was just cold.

Today, I am walking to the station because I can't find any old valves that fit my bike. The dude better not have ridden his bike today or else I know some that will fit just fine. {grins menacingly}

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Predictions Come True


My first class has seven kids in it and four of them cried most of the class.

Second, class was okay, no criers but very needy of help and whatnot. After that class, I downed a couple of pain relievers and then held on for one more hour of some of the worst behavior I have seen in a class.

I came back into town, grabbed dinner, and then downed a couple more pills and now my headache is just a dull sensation in the front of my skull.

Lets hear it for four more days of joy and learning. Pass the Tylenol.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Not Looking Forward To This Week

This week will hopefully not, but probably end up sucking...a lot.

A while ago I posted about how I was having a bunch of new kids and new classes coming in and they weren't a bad batch of munchkins. This month, they will be with me, alone, for the first time. This means that a lot of crying is most likely in my future.

I have a decent amount of patience. I can take kids punching me, kicking me, trying to jab me in the nuts, whatever, but I cannot stand teaching a class that features an hour of non-stop crying for me to listen to. It drives me up a wall. First, my neck muscles get really tense. The tension in my neck causes my shoulder to go a little out of whack. When my shoulder goes haywire, it get these great throbbing pains that shoot down my arm and back into my back and neck everytime I have to get up or use that shoulder, which in my line of work is a lot. The day is finally capped off with a nice headache that doesn't leave until I go to sleep, if at all. All because some little kid is a tad too attached to his parents.

Japanese kids also have a bad habit of puking whenever they get really stressed. Two weeks ago, you will remember that a girl blew chunks all over my foot because her mom left her. I really hope that doesn't happen this week.

In the end there is nothing that I am going to be able to do about it. It all comes down to how much Advil I am going to have to carry with me and this week, I am going to have a couple stashed away everyday I teach.

In other news, private lessons went well tonight and the kids learned about Halloween. These poor, poor children do not know the sugary goodness they are missing out on. So, I have been giving all of the kids candy at the end of the lesson if they can say "Trick-or-Treat" to me. I will also make in known I am not the crappy Halloween candy giver that shafts all of the good boys and girls with lame bulk candy treats; each of my kids tonight got a 14 pack of Kit-Kat Minis. I figure if I am the one to teach them about the true meaning of Halloween, I am going to set the bar high for what should be expected when grown-ups start dishing out candy. Accept no Winco bulk sugar candies that taste like ass and look like solidified battery acid. If grown-ups don't put out the good stuff, like whole packs of M&M's or Regular to King-sized Snickers or Milky Ways, egg their house and make sure they know what to do next year. Kids need to put the threat back into "Trick-or-Treat".

I had something else to say but forgot what it was so have a good night and please, for the sake of your house and front yard, buy good candy for kids at Halloween.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

And the Award For Worst Book To Film Adaptation Goes To....

Everything Is Illuminated!

I am so ticked off right now, I could scream.

Yesterday, I finished reading "Everything Is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer. It was an extremely well written novel and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was funny, thought-provoking, and extremely depressing. It was a very rich reading experience and I would recommend the book to anyone wanting to read a complete and original story. The book was very fulfilling to me and its probably the best book I have read in a long time.

Having said that, the movie was a complete waste. It was a good enough movie had you never read the book but it was an extremely poor adaptation of the novel. Poor as in pathetic. I am not sure what they were thinking when they were making the film because honestly, they added and subtracted the most needless things and ended up making the end of the movie have absolutely no point whatsoever. Lots of movies are pointless but this one was needlessly so; the book had such a good ending and there was a reason things ended the way they did. The movie tries to end the same way but they forget to tell a story before finishing the film and the reasoning and meaning behind the entire book is lost. The only thing the movie did very well was the casting. All of the characters in the movie are spot on with how the book described them and I was glad to see that. But at the same time, many of the people from the book are nowhere to be seen in the movie and I am not talking about obscure characters, I am speaking about main, pivotal characters that had a huge role to play in the story.

Then again, two-thirds of the story are missing from the film; the best parts I might add. I guess my big gripe was that the book was an epic tradgedy with a comedic narration. It was a sad tale that kept you reading because the humor was so well timed and proportioned in just the right amounts that it truly rounded out the story. The movie on the other hand was a comedy with a little bit of sad at the end and not even for the right reasons or events in keeping with the book. I am very aggravated that the character that I really expected and wanted to see portrayed in the film was non-existant, never even mentioned. And she was a main character, dammit!

Overall, the creators of the movie were not very creative or else the story could have been told correctly. I was visualizing how I was expecting the movie to be while I was reading it, why couldn't they? I am actually surprised the author let them get away with producing the film, then again, Stephen King had no say in the original "The Shining" film either.

Anywho, if you are looking for an excellent book, read "Everything is Illuminated". And no, this is not one of my "Mogwai-has-weird-taste-in-books" suggestions either, this book was actually a break from my usual reading habits and I am glad I chose to read it. Just be warned, it is depressing, very good but very depressing. I was almost crying on the train toward the end of it. If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it and the movie. This is one of those novels where you really want to talk about it with someone when you are done and I am minus anyone who has read it, let alone heard of it before I mentioned it to them.

On that note, I expect that once the "I Am Legend" movie gets done being made, I will have the same gripes with it. They have already said the film will have more in common with the movie "Omega Man" than with the actual book, "I Am Legend". Too bad.

In other news, as I type this, I am reading it on a crisp 19" Princeton LCD monitor. I have gotten tired of watching and making other people watch movies on a 13" laptop screen and decided it was time for a change. That and the monitor was on sale at a store that accepts American credit cards. Yay, for me!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dear Jerk Off,

If you wanted to piss me off, you have done it, congratulations!

A few days ago, you tried to steal my bike but damn, my chain stopped you. So you vented a bit by twisting my handlebar and messing up my breaks. Thanks.

Tonight, you tried yet again to steal my bike but that friggin' chain stopped you again so you stole my bike seat instead and then loosened my handlebars and twisted them again. Thanks again.

You have now unleashed wrathful and angry Mogwai. If your bike is the one that has coincidentally been next to my bike both nights you have messed with it, you will now find both of your tires have been flattened and I may have accidentally busted the air valve on the rear one, my bad, you pissed me off. I did find it funny that you took the trouble to lock your seat to your bike's frame when there is no other bicycle in the lot that does that. Don't try to single yourself out or anything, that wouldn't make this little game any fun. I am rather angry that you forced me to steal someone else's bike seat so that I could still use mine. I did not want to do this but you left me no choice because I am sure that had I left it there, something else would have happened to it. You have now set into motion a chain reaction of bike seat thefts, way to go.

Let it be known that if you left the little piece of plastic bag that I tied to the underside of the seat intact and I am able to identify my seat(Oh yes, I will look though all of the bikes for it) I will take actions against that bike that will make it pretty much useless to it's rider. You have been warned.



PS: If you are the owner of the bike whose tires I flattened and you did not mess with my bike but have placed yours next to mine both times by sheer coincidence, I am sorry for any inconvenience I may have caused you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My Short Rant on North Korea

To sum up my feelings on this situation, I will say this: If I were President, I would agree to one on one talks with Kim Jong Il just so when he came into the room I could punch him in the face a couple of times and then leave.

Yes, I know that sounds childish but North Korea bothers me. I couldn't care less about their flopped nuclear test or all of their lame drum beating. What irks me is that in principal, they are trying to blackmail everyone in Asia and the United States. Here you have this "third world" country and their nutty leader testing nukes and then saying that they are still for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Then they make statements like its the United States' fault that they have nukes and they would stop producing them if we agreed to bi-lateral talks. That sounds a lot like blackmail to me. Kim Jong Il and his advisors are acting like a little kid that isn't getting enough attention so he goes and does something stupid to piss all of the grown-ups off.

On top of it all is the fact that your average North Korean is more concerned about where his next meal is coming from rather than what his nutcase dictator is doing. Anything that happens to North Korea because of all of their posturing isn't going to affect Kim Jong Il and his buddies, its going to screw over the already mistreated average North Korean citizen.

The UN and all of its "sanctions" against the North Korean government is pretty much pointless as well. About the only country that is doing anything productive is Japan and that is just because they are one of North Korea's biggest export partners so by forbidding North Korean vessels to enter Japanese ports, they are cutting a lot of money out of North Korea's legitimate income.

Which leads into where the problem is going to arise. If North Korea can't make money legally, they can always ramp up their arms dealing and money laundering practices. I worry more about the arms dealing than anything just because it is one more thing the US government can use as an excuse to execute air strikes against the country. Next thing we will see in the news is more evidence that ties North Korea to Iran as far as supplying weapons and nuclear know-how to the country. Once Bush has ammunition like that, it will be a matter of months before stuff is blowing up. That is if China doesn't beat him to the punch.

China has dominance issues and doesn't like it when one of its vassal states doesn't follow orders. The fact that North Korea has been alienating China for several months now and making it look like China has a reduced diplomatic influence in the region can only serve to anger the already militaristic giant. If there were to be a border mishap or another nuclear test that sent radioactive debris into China, I can see the country dispensing its own justice on its reclusive neighbor.

The bottom line is that none of this bodes well for North Korea. They are pissing off their only allies in China and Russia. They are tempting Japan to go nuclear and ramp up its military and South Korea is already warning its troops that attacks over the border could again become a possibility. Just a tidbit for those of you who don't follow Asian history or politics, the two Koreas are still technically at war and have been for the better part of five decades now. The only reason that the US has troops on the South/North Korean border is to act as a tripwire to pull the US into the fight if North Korea were to ever invade South Korea. The fact that the US wants to pull troops off of that border ticks off and worries the South Koreans that live near it. Not only are they afraid of being attacked but US troops are also a great source of income for them and when US troops leave the area, the money goes with them.

On top of all of it is the fact that the United States is getting involved. Honestly, the US really shouldn't butt into this ordeal because its one that needs to be resolved by the Asian countries themselves. The problem stems from the fact that we have treaties with South Korea and Japan that say that we will do our best to protect them should the need arise. That and there is a lot of money to be had in those two countries. Oh yeah, we also like having places in Asia to park our bombers and fighters when they aren't blowing something up. What the United States doesn't understand is the Asian mindset. Asian countries hold mean and long lasting grudges. Western countries get into an arguement and then settle it over a couple of beers, Asian countries might resolve their differences but they NEVER forget them. China still thinks its the center of Asia and believes that the other Asian countries still care about what it thinks. Japan is just pissed off because all of the other Asian countries are still mad at it for stuff it did in World War II. Japan is trying to forget the past because, quite honestly, its ashamed of it and if the other countries were to also forget about it, then politics could get back to normal from a Japanese perspective. The Koreas are just kind of there, which is part of the problem. North Korea is sick of being forgotten and not getting its way. South Korea is tired of worrying about it but not powerful enough to act on its own and all of its dealings with the US have made it kind of the bastard child that none of the Asian countries want because the US carries too much sway within it and that makes the other countries nervous. Australia should have a little bit of a say in the goings on but they won't because their white. That sounds really bad but its true, geographically speaking they are about the only other big country that should have a say but they won't because they are too different of a culture to truly grasp what Asian people are thinking in regards to North Korea. Russia is the same way but they have a bit more power because of the past political similarities it shared with North Korea. The problem with Russia is that it has too many of its own problems to really be bothered with all of this.

It all boils down to the fact that in the end, something will need to be done about North Korea. All of their button pushing is ticking off way too many people for it to go unnoticed. The question is, how long will it go on for before steps are taken to put the country back in it's place and who will take those steps? I for one hope its not the United States. We have never had much luck in dealing with Asian affairs and I do not believe the US can militarily sustain three major conflicts at the same time, we are having enough problems dealing with two as it is. Asian countries need to handle this and the rest of the world needs to observe and give advice from the sidelines. The Asian countries need to learn how to settle their issues without US intervention because whenever we get into it, we mess it up. Will it turn out this way, I doubt it.

I just hope that when its all said and done, the North Korean people aren't heavily hurt by it. They have to worry about enough as it is and most of them cannot control or don't even fully understand what their government is doing. I just am unsure as to how the world can deal with the North Korean problem without hurting the North Korean people. Time will tell, I suppose.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dinner Redux

After teaching last night, I get a phone call from Maya. The gist of the conversation went something like this, "Are you busy tomorrow night?"

"No, whats up?"

"Can my friend and I come over again and can you make dinner for us?"

"Uhh...okay. What do you want to eat?"


"Okay, sounds good."

So now, I am trying to figure out what to fix. I do not want to make Italian food again because they had it last time they were here and I had it last night. I am thinking I am going to make plain and simple patty melts with ham and some fries. Its not extravagant but its still tasty and their burgers here are not like the ones in the US so this will be kind of new for them. If I had taco shells I would make tacos, but no go. If I had a friggin' oven I could do all sorts of stuff but again, no go. So, patty melts it is, I think. Unless I get to the store and they have other stuff that sounds better.

I like having Maya over, I just wish I had more cooking options open to me. At some point I may have to break down and get a bigger toaster oven. At least then, I could bake some stuff, including brownies....ahhh....brownies.

Friday, October 13, 2006

On More Solid Ground

Maya came over again today! It wasn't for very long because she had to teach class but she did stop by. After her visit, I think I am definitely on a less flimsy plane of existance relationship-wise.

As I was making her a music cd, I asked her if it would be okay I if actually took her on a real date at some point, to which, she said okay. I am going to take her to her favorite restaurant and then maybe bowling. I am not a horrible fan of bowling but I haven't done it in a while so we will see. Either way, I at least know now that she likes me.

Also on the agenda, there is now a Halloween party that she is taking me to. YAY!

I am happier with where this is all heading and I am less nervous today. She seems very at ease around me and thats cool. I told her she was cute and she hid her head under her jacket for a minute. She is a tad shy but to me, that makes her more attractive for some reason. All in all, Maya has filled out the "Mogwai's What To Look For In A Woman" checklist quite well and I feel more at ease with things now than I have in a while. It would be so cool to be happy with all of the aspects in my life for once.

I will chill out tonight a contented man.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Past Three Days

So a few nights ago, I had Maya and her friend over for dinner and that was a blast.

The following day, Maya and I went out for coffee and then she took me to a park and we watched monkeys for a little while. Monkeys are cute little buggers when they are small.

Yesterday, Maya and I went to Fukuchiyama Castle and hung out for a little while. We were the only ones there and so we went to the top of the castle and just sat on the floor and looked out over the entire city for a bit. When she was little she used to come to the castle and play in it. We both decided that we need houses that have master bedrooms with the view that the top of the castle offers.

I told her yesterday that I would leave her alone today and let her do her own thing but man, its hard not to text her. She even suggested maybe watching a movie today but I told her that was her call and if she got bored, she could call me. So far, no call but thats okay, we have hung out together for the past three days and I needed to do dishes and take out the garbage anyways.

So anywho, thats that. I am not sure what else to say because I am not sure where I stand with her. I think she may like me and if thats the case thats sweet because I haven't had a crush on someone in a long time the way that I have on her. She is funny and smart and really cute. To top it off, she speaks really good English, has nice teeth, and doesn't smoke. YAY!

Yeah, its been a good week. I am trying not to get too far ahead of myself and I am trying not to over anaylze every little detail of all of the times we have hung out. I am trying hard not to think at all, I think I think too much when it comes to relationships and I just want to have fun but its kind of hard for me to do. After she dropped me off at my class after we visited the park, I almost started crying once I got into my classroom. I didn't know whether to be happy or afraid or what. I ended up just being mad at myself for not being able to take the day for what it was and have fun. I am still kind of afraid and for a few different reasons. First, I am not good at picking up on signs and hints. I am trying really hard to be more observant but man, trying hard takes the fun out of it and stresses me out hardcore. I am being more overt in letting her know that I like her but at the same time, trying not to scare her off because to be quite honest, I am lonely as hell and wouldn't mind horribly if she were to move into my apartment tomorrow. No, we haven't talked about anything like that, I am just saying. I am afraid that I act too needy sometimes. I am afraid that maybe I don't really like her that much and that I am just really really lonely but the more I think about it, the more I think that isn't the case. And in the end, I am afraid of getting into a relationship with her and having it turn out like the others. But I am also afraid to pass the possibility of something more meaningful up because I am only thinking about the past. The biggy though is that I am afraid of what will happen when she goes to Italy for six months next year. But again, I am trying not to think to far ahead of myself.

Its funny because I am remembering all of the reasons I can't stand dating and the beginnings of relationships but at the same time, why I really love the beginnings of relationships, if that is indeed what this is. Bottom line: Being single and living alone in a small town and a dingy apartment building is simpler but hanging out with Maya is a lot more fun. I think I complicate life way too much for myself sometimes.

Alphabetical Music Meme

I usually don't do these internet games but when Singe put this on her site, I had to play along. Basically, the rules of the game are you talk to the person who owns the blog and they assign you a letter. It then becomes your job to generate a Top 10 list of songs that start with that letter. I was given "L". Here it goes in no particular order:

1) Nirvana – Lithium
2) NOFX – Linoleum
3) Guns N’ Roses – Live and Let Die
4) Greenday – Longview
5) Frank Sinatra – Luck Be A Lady
6) Smashing Pumpkins – Love
7) Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
8) Marvin Gaye – Lets Get It On
9) Frou Frou – Let Go
10) Joe Walsh – Life’s Been Good

Honorable Mentions that could have made this list had my mood been different are:

The Beatles - Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Marilyn Manson - Long Hard Road Out of Hell
Beck - Loser

There you have it! If you want to play, leave a comment and I will give you a letter.

Steph, speaking of music, you need to find Marilyn Manson's cover of "This is Halloween" from Nightmare Before Christmas. It is freakin' cool. Also released was a cover of "Sally's Song" done by Fiona Apple that is pretty good too. I guess they were leaked onto the net and the CD won't come out until the 24th but it would almost be worth it to buy for those two songs alone.

The Three Tangibles That Make Up My World

And why only two of them really matter.

In the world, you have people, places, and objects. Out of everything you can physically interact with, 99.99% of it can be lumped into these three categories. For a while now, I have been trying to pin down what it is that makes me like traveling so much. At this same time I have been trying to figure out why I am so intrigued by people, not just some people but all people. I have been trying to figure how I can be a people person but at the same time, have no problem up and leaving most of the ones that I care about and go away for a long time. I think I have finally come up with a solution for myself.

People and places are essentially the same things. One is a tad more mobile than the other but on a personal level both fulfill the same essential requirements. Why do you have one place that you go to over and over again? Why does one place feel like home while no other place in the world feels quite like it? How can some people eat lunch on the same park bench everyday for years on end and be totally happy?

How is it that two people regardless of age, sex, whatever, can make each other feel something so moving as to compel them to stay with each other for fifty years or more? Why is it when you are cuddling on the couch with someone you have only known for a few months or weeks, you feel like you are home?

I like to travel because I like exploring and seeing new things. I like the fact that some places can make me feel good, while others put me in a bad mood. I like the beautiful views that I get from some of the most random locales, city streets for example. I can jog to my favorite shrine in my town over and over again. I can do this because I always find new things there that I never noticed before. I like the solitude and intimacy that I feel there. Like when I am there, it’s just me in the world. The same holds true with people. My favorite people in life are the ones that I can hang out with for hours, days, months, name it, and still find things out about them that I never noticed or knew before. They can still surprise me.

Sometimes in life, you will go somewhere and you may only be there for a couple of seconds but for some reason, of all the places you have ever been in the world, that one will stay with you for the rest of your life. Maybe it was a smell, something you saw, something you thought, but for one reason or another, you will always remember that place and in a small way it has changed your life. Sometimes people come into your life from the most random of places and say or do the most random of things and as quick as they came into your life, they left it. But you will always remember that person. Maybe an old guy behind the counter at 7-11 said something while you were paying for gas and for some reason that utterance will never leave your being. There are some places you like right off the bat, the same holds true with people. Some people grow on you over time, the same holds true with places. The key to love for me isn't finding the most beautiful or richest person alive. I want to find the one that continually surprises me and keeps me on my toes. I want to wake up next to a person I have been with for forty years and notice something about her that I had never noticed up until that point. I want that person to be the place that I can go to when I need comfort or entertainment. I want a person I can always learn something new about, from minute observances to major discoveries. This is why I travel and this is why I am constantly excited to meet new people. Everyone and everywhere can hold a new surprise, good or bad. The way you know you are still alive is that you are still able to be surprised. The way you know you have learned from your life is evident in the way you handle those surprises. Life is also about flexibility, the more of it you have, the more you make out of life.

Objects are those things that harbor inflexibility. A place should not feel like home because that is where you stash your collection of shot glasses from around the world. A person should not feel compelled to stay in one place because his butterfly collection is there. Objects should not tie a person down but in many cases do. I will admit here and now, there are some objects that I can not live without. But the key is that those objects can travel with me wherever I go. Objects are okay when they do not inhibit personal freedom. The second you stay home because you need to watch the Golden Girls is the second you need to prioritize your life. The second that you stay in a place because the objects in it make you feel comfortable is the second you should contemplate how many of those objects you really need. Objects should not provide you with sustainable comfort, only people and places can give you the comfort that will truly further your life. Objects detract from it. As I type this, I am surrounded by stuff, most of which, I don't really need but I have because they provide me with a distraction from the fact that the comfort I receive from people is sorely lacking. The one truth however, is that I could leave 99% of it behind and never think twice. The absence of those objects will not detract from my happiness or world as a whole. I keep them around because I know that when I leave this place, most of them will stay here. Wherever I go, I can start new again. Objects do not tie me down. People and places should do that instead.

People and places build your bank of intangibles that make you happy. Memories, ideas, glimpses, all of these are cherished most when they come from people or places. Think about the intangibles that objects give you and weigh their importance in your life. Some people buy souvenirs when they go on trips; if the trip was that good or bad, do you really need a souvenir? The same applies with objects that remind people of other people. I am not saying objects are bad because some of them are quite nice, I am just saying one should weigh how objects factor into their life when compared to people and places. One should also not underestimate the power of memory when tempted to buy a trinket from a tourist trap. Some trinkets trigger memories but if you need an object to trigger a memory, was the place, person, or event really that important? If you buy an object, do so in remembrance of a significant event, not to remember an event.

No one is always going to stick to what I have just said, including me. But for me, at least by remembering this, maybe I will decrease clutter in my apartment while increasing memories of people and places. Every person decides for themselves what is important in their life, for me, I know the two things that are and the one thing for sure that isn't.

This has been my deep thought for the day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Something's Brewing

Well, a lot of stuff has happened in the last little bit that I want to post on but I am going to wait a while before doing so; North Korea is on that list of topics and I want to see how the immediate response to their announcement pans out before I talk about it. Let me just say that people in my neck of the woods are not very happy with them at the moment.

I have a couple of other things to say but I want to at least wait until tomorrow to say them. Its good stuff so no worries.

Oh yeah, as you have all noticed, I have been getting my share of comment spam lately. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that it is only just starting to happen now but it drives me crazy. Within the next couple of days, I will probably enable comment authentication to curb the problem. Please, I still want people to post comments on here and I am sorry I have to do this but I am starting to have to delete two or three of them a day and that is two or three too many. After a while I will turn off comment authentication and see if it helped.

Also, I am not sure why but I have been having a ton of typos lately. That also drives me crazy.

Anywho, more posts to come soon.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dinner and Everything After

So dinner with Maya and her friend, Aikiko(I think was her name) has come and gone and it was a good time to be had by all.

Both of them liked my cooking and thought it was funny that that was something that I enjoy doing. Aikiko asked me if I liked doing other housework as well, I have never thought of cooking food in that way. Evidentely, cooking can be a burdensome task that people can grow to loathe. Weird, I have always found it strangely relaxing. I made marinated steak strips over fetuccini alfredo with broccoli and seared red peppers. It was pretty tasty though I think I overcooked the meat and it was harder than it should have been. Neither of them minded though and it was a good meal.

Maya brought popcorn and little tiramisu cups for dessert and her friend brought a whole cake from the bakery she works at. That was a tasty cake, think giant Hostess Ho-Ho with strawberries and raspberries on top. Life was good.

After dinner, the plan was to watch a movie. We never got to that. Instead, both of them were dying to see pictures of my family and the United States. So I took them through tons of pics. Brody, if you ever find yourself single, you have lots of friends in Japan. Upon seeing pictures of me, all they could say was that I have definitely lost weight. Sweet.

I showed them pictures of Nevada and Area 51, that was kind of funny. They had never heard of the place before and found it strange that the US government would go to such length to hide something. Ahh, to live in a country with a transparent government that hides very little from its citizens, except for the country's past, the Japanese government likes to let some things in that area go unmentioned.

They saw pictures of Chicago, Boston, and California. They really liked pictures of Idaho and had never really seen a place that looks like it. The Japanese have a hard time wrapping their minds around the concept of a desert and people living in one. They were amazed by my pics of Nevada for that reason. When I see those pics now, I realize just how sparse greenery is around that region. Here, EVERYTHING is green, its an odd comparison.

Anywho, I think both of them had fun despite all they really did was look at pictures of my family, friends, and travels. Oh, I also showed them the pumpkins I carved last Halloween. I need to find a pumpkin here, the Japanese don't carve pumpkins but they do put up Halloween lights to celebrate the occasion. Hearing Japanese kids say "Trick or Treat" is entertaining as well.

Overall, as usual, I got myself worked up over the occassion. Everything went well and we all had fun. Both of them want to come back and have a movie night at some point. They also wanted to spend more time looking at my music, having decided that I need to make both of them cds. Which brings me to my next topic.

Jake, I am sending a package to my parents in the next few days. I have stuff in there that will be going to Heather to get to you. I already know some stuff you are getting but is there anything specifically that you can think of that you want sent to you? Is there any music, movies, or comics that you want me to put on a couple of dvds for you? If you would like some comics, are there any requests or do you just want me to pick some. I will also include the program needed to view the files. I could also send TV shows like "Heroes" if you would like. Let me know and as soon as I hear back, I will burn the dvds and get everything sent, either leave a comment or email me and tell me what you want.

Thats about it for now, I will post more later!

Friday, October 06, 2006


This is really weird but I woke up this morning and it really feels like Christmas. No, I didn't buy any cool toys and I really am not looking forward to anything today but for some weird reason, if I didn't know the date, I would swear it was Christmas.

There are some factors that could attribute to my weirdness.

First, there are two kind of big tropical storms chilling off the coast of Japan right now. This has pretty much put all of Japan under a series of warnings and advisories. Fukuchiyama has gale force wind, heavy rain, and flood advisories. These are advisories, not warnings so my town isn't as bad off as a lot of others. Either way, the storms have been really messing with the air pressure.

Since the air pressure has been nutty, my sinuses are going through the roof. When I got done teaching last night, I felt kind of weird. By the time I got home and finished eating dinner, I was having full on sinus issues with the core of my head feeling like it should be much bigger than it actually is. I went from clear with a mild headache at the start of dinner to big headache, big headedness, and not tasting anything at the very end. It happened that quick. I took some stuff for it and went to sleep but the stuff I took didn't do the job as well as I would have liked. I had weird dreams last night and was waking myself up due to snoring because of the sinuses. I can't tell you how often I woke up.

So around 8:30am I got up and took some different stuff and it worked. Like, really worked. My head feels full but I don't feel pain from it and I'm slightly loopy.

Its also really quite around here save for the weather outside. The wind is blowing like mad and its making stuff bump into other stuff outside. Something also was blown over last night and made a huge crash but I don't know what it was. I am saying "stuff" a lot in this post, sorry. I am blaming the drugs.

Anywho, all of these factors culminate into the single feeling of Christmas for some odd reason. I feel really perky, maybe I am a tad higher than I thought.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Getting Ready For Dinner

This post will go down as an example of how much free time I have and how obsessive I can be about certain things.

This coming Monday, Maya and her friend are coming over for dinner. This is good, three people hanging out, watching movies, and eating what I hope will be good food. But here is the catch and it could be that I am pumping the event up way too much in my head and its causing me to freak out. That catch is I have never really had people in my apartment that I was looking to impress. My place isn't exactly built for entertaining or cooking impressive meals.

So I have scurried about this week trying to figure out what to cook and trying to make my place look cooler than it actually is. Both are proving to be difficult, especially the food part.

The problem with the food is that my kitchen consists of one single, solitary, gas burner and my microwave and rice cooker. I refuse to microwave my guests something to eat. If I had an oven, the choice would be easy, lasagna or my take on chicken parmesan. Since I fly sans oven these days, the choice gets more difficult. Spaghetti is an option but you can get spaghetti anywhere. Grilled cheese sandwiches are just out. What I think will end of happening is I will go to the store and grab a few steaks, cut them into strips and marinate them for a day. Pan grill the strips and serve them over a bed of rice with some broccoli and grilled red peppers on the side. It should look good and the steak will be something they haven't tried before, at least not marinated Mogwai style. It just seems very simple and not very elegant. It also has the potential to be somewhat dry so I have been trying to decided whether I will make a this glaze/sauce to put over the steak strips and that may help to blend the veggies in a little better. As stated, I think I overthink things sometimes.

Its hard though because I really do like Maya and want to make a good impression on her, I just wish I was able to be back in the States to do it. At least then, I would have an operational kitchen. I would also have a television bigger than my small laptop screen to watch movies on.

So yeah, that is my dilemma of sorts. As I said, I think its probably less of a dilemma and more like a product of my overactive mind. If you have any meal suggestions, shoot them over to me because at this point I am still open to suggestions.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Just A Friendly Reminder That You Don't Belong But We Are Okay With It

Today, something mildly interesting happened to me.

I rode the train to my classroom in Miyazu about 45mins. away from my house. Its the nicest train ride that I take all month and I look forward to it. The classes in Miyazu are another story. This week, I have another handful of classes added to my schedule and one of the new classes was this evening so the Japanese teacher was there to make sure the kids were okay with me.

Upon entering the classroom, Akane-sensei tells me that a police officer will probably come to the classroom to talk to me today, alarm bells start going off in my head. I am a relatively law abiding citizen but the hairs on the back of my neck tend to stand up when I have to talk to cops. I respect them for the job that they do, but I like to respect them from a distance. I think it is the mafia hitman in me from a past life; cops make me uneasy.

Anywho, she tells me a cop is going to come by and examine my identification and ask me some questions. I ask her if I am in trouble or if this is just a routine thing and her answer was somewhat vague. Evidently, the police department has contacted my company and requested to see me and my company told them when I would be in the classroom. Alarm bells continue blaring in my skull.

After about twenty minutes, two men in dress clothes show up at the classroom door. These were not beat cops, these were detectives. There was an old detective and a young detective, as if summoned to excorsise a foreign demon from their land. Alarm bells getting louder.

As with my past experience with cops in Japan, these two guys were very straight forward and very polite. I immediately knew that the sole purpose the younger detective was being dragged along was to act as a translator. Older cops in my area very seldom speak much English and the younger ones learned it in school. Right off the bat, I was asked for my passport and I obligingly gave them my Alien Resident Card, the identification card required of all foreigners who stay in Japan for an extended length of time. The older cop immediately starts copying all of the information down. The younger one tells me that I am not in any trouble but the police department was conducting face to face investigations of all foreign peoples in Miyazu. When I asked him how many interviews they had to conduct he said about 100. I was surprised the number was that high because Miyazu is kind of in the boonies but he reminded me that it was also one of the bigger ports in that area of Japan. Miyazu is nestled between the mountains and the Sea of Japan or the Yellow Sea depending on which side of it you reside. Koreans despise the fact that the Japanese claim ownership of the body of water and its a sore topic.

As the older officer was talking to the Japanese teacher about me, the younger officer was also asking me questions, how much Japanese do a speak, how long have I been here for, how long am I going to stay, where am I from in the United States, remarks about potatoes, what school did I go to, impressed that my degree is in Japanese history and education, where else do I teach, what town do I live in, what is my phone number, happy that I tell him in Japanese that I can never remember the number, happy that I could say my number to him in Japanese, and so on and so forth. After a few more minutes, the older officer was satisfied that I am not a terrorist and that I was being friendly and cooperative. He was happy that when he told me thank you that I responded with a very polite Japanese response that I memorized because it always impresses women and older Japanese people. With several bows to and from the older officer and the younger officer offering me a handshake, and then more bows to and from everyone, they were off. Like my first encounter with a Japanese police officer, they simply wanted to make sure I belonged there.

After they left, I remarked to Akane-sensei that most police officers in the United States would never attempt to do what those officers had just done. She seemed somewhat dumbfounded that police in the United States do not normally, racially profile people for fear of being sued and that in general, doing so was generally frowned upon despite in some cases, its a good idea. I have no problem with the Japanese authorities taking interest in me because it at least shows that they care about their borders and who is crossing them. More than that, it shows their willingness to enforce their border policy, something that the United States struggles with. Albeit, its probably a little easier to do when your country is only a tad bigger than California and is surrounded on all sides by water. The bottom line is that most Japanese people see it as their right to know what non-Japanese people are doing in their country. I do not say this with negativity, but I have found that when most people ask where I am from they usually follow up with why am I here. They become interested when people take interest in their country and all that entails.

Another reason for the interviews may be to make a political statement. The Japanese recently "elected" and I use that term rather loosely, a new Prime Minister. His name is Shinzo Abe. I like Abe because he is a tad more traditional than Koizumi was although I really like Koizumi, largely because of the guy's awesome hair and also because of his stance on dealing with Japan's past. Abe was basically appointed to be the new Prime Minister by Koizumi and the Japanese government fell in behind him, though most Japanese do not think Abe has great leadership capabilities and don't see many drastic changes occurring during his tenure. One thing Abe is strongly for is a more militaristic and more secure Japan.

It would come as little surprise to me if Japan began to reform its constitution to allow for a standing military under his leadership. An actual military is something Japan has been without since WWII, its technically illegal for Japan to have a standing army other than a small self-defense force under the current constitution. This will probably start to change soon. While Koizumi was in office, the Japanese government found loopholes in the document to send troops to Iraq and broaden its defense capabilities to include more offensive strategies. Abe will probably continue this movement, especially in light of how North Korea has been acting lately and talkng about testing a nuke. This is something that scares and at the same time, pisses the Japanese off to no end. If there could only be one thing that pushes Japan toward militarism again, it will be North Korea.

Japan is also interested in forming their own version of the CIA. Japan doesn't have much of an intelligence branch to their government and most foreign intelligence that the Japanese government receives is either from the United States or big corporations with businesses overseas that have intelligence gathering personnel. There are rumblings though that Japan could be a potential target for terrorists because it has such a small security and intelligence community. The closest thing that Japan has to a spy agency is a small group of people that investigate the goings on within the Japanese government itself but has little to do with overseas affairs. Its kind of like the American version of a Senate Investigation Committee that looks into corrupt politicians. The odds of Japan forming their own CIA are pretty small however, they don't have the money or the intelligence resources to do so. The amount of money the US spends on intelligence alone is more than Japan spends on its entire military budget. The other issue is the fact that intelligence agents from the US, Britain, and possibly, Israel, would need to come in and train the first class of Japanese spies. This means that all of the other big intelligence agencies in the world would already know all of the inner workings of the Japanese one because they built it. This is something that makes government officials in Japan uncomfortable.

So for now, they put on a stern face and try to posture like they are tough on security. I suspect, this is partly why I was interviewed today. But from where I stand, what they are doing is better than nothing and a country can't be too careful in the world we currently find ourselves in. All in all, my interview wasn't that big of a deal, I just found it and its timing kind of funny.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Easy Money

I have to say, tutoring is very very easy money. I had my first lessons tonight and they went very well.

I had two three year olds, a boy and a girl, two six year old girls, and two eight year old boys. All of them seemed to like my lesson though one was scared of me and didn't say a word the entire lesson. I had one mother sit in and I think she was also impressed by it, so as far as I am concerned, I rock.

The funny part about tonight was when Maya was driving me to the house the sessions were being held at, I discovered yet another section of Fukuchiyama I never knew existed. Speaking of Maya, her and a friend are coming over a week from today for dinner and a movie or two. Now, I have to decide what to make for them.

On that note, I am making chicken curry right now and its starting to smell tasty. I found some chicken breasts in the deli of one of my grocery stores that had been battered and fried differently than I have seen before so I bought two of them for the curry. The chicken is very tasty and it has been pounded out to make it more of a patty, I think later I will buy one and make a chicken cordon bleu sandwich out of it or a chicken parmesan sandwich. Mmmm....so many chickeny choices.

In other news, there is an electronics store here that is taking Wii preorders. Excellent. I will probably head over tomorrow and put my name down for one. I am Wiiwy excited for that system. Sorry, bad joke.

Anywho, I need to tend to my dinner. Have a nice night!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Rainy Music Sorting Kind of Day

As the title states, not a lot going on in MogwaiLand at the moment. Its been raining and I have only left the place once to go grocery shopping for dinner. I had tacos and they were tasty.

Right now, I am listening to and sorting through my music. Its funny because I will have iTunes on and songs just randomly start playing. Its like my music has a mind of its own; in a span of minutes I went from songs by Imogen Heap, Johnny Cash, Insane Clown Posse, J-Lo, Iron Butterfly, and now Sarah McLachlan. My music library has a mind of its own and its very eclectic it seems.

Its also very messy. I really need to hire someone to sort my music for me, I just don't have the time to do it anymore and it seems that just when I make a dent in it, I get a ton more that requires changes to get it up to organizational snuff. I have a stringent method for sorting music and organizing it and though it works very well, it also takes a lot of time to do. Time I don't have.

Anywho, I have also been skipping around from game to game today. I tried out a game called Defcon and it was alright and I also started a character in Second Life and I think I like that game, if you can call it that. Oh, now Toto's "Africa" is playing, I do a mean air drum solo to this song.

Tomorrow, I have my first private lessons and that shoud be interesting. Its more money anyways but it should also be fun. Speaking of teaching, to update day before yesterday's post, I had one little boy cower in a corner next to the door to the classroom for almost the entire lesson. My aura of greatness overtook him. :)

Well, I just figured I would post something because I have every October 1st for the past two years, no reason to stop now. Maybe, tomorrow will be a more interesting day to talk about.