Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spare Change

For the past two years I have hoarded coins like they were going out of style and today I cashed in.

If there is anything more useless than pennies and nickels, it is one and five yen coins. I am also not a fan of the ten yen coins either, so whenever I get any of them they are all go into a jar. Over the months, one small jar became eight small jars and then eight small jars became one huge two liter jar and eight small ones. I hadn't cashed in before now because I have always been told Japanese banks don't like to accept large amounts of change and that I may have to cash in only several hundred coins at a time. The other day, I learned that this was simply not true so this morning, since I had to go to the bank anyways, I decided today would be the day.

The look on the bank teller's face when she saw the red duffel bag I was carrying was priceless. I told her that I needed to deposit some coins and she got me this cute little orange tray to put them in. Then I told her that I had a lot of coins and she asked how many. I unzipped the duffel bag and her jaw dropped. Evidently, Japanese people don't amass change on the scale that Westerners do. I rule.

The teller then told me to start dumping money into the tray and that she would get a couple more of them. I started pouring out the copper and aluminum bits and she soon realized that three trays were not going to be enough. I then pulled out the big two liter jar and that took up two trays by itself. Then an assistant started coming over to collect the stack of filled trays and she needed three or four trips to get them all. I was cracking up because I just kept pouring out money and it got to the point where some of the bank employees were giving me the, "you're a nut" look. This is what they get when they call me, wake me up, and tell me that I have to come in and fill something out at 10:40am.

After several minutes of the coin counter whirling away, the teller told me they had my grand total. I had a whopping $305.00 in change! Yay!!! d(^_^)b

The reason I had to go to the bank in the first place is kind of amusing. I had to make a bank transfer the other day to cover the cost of my plane tickets home. While at the bank, my ATM card broke. So with two months left on the island, I have to get a new ATM card. While I was filling out the paper work for the new card, I forgot to fill in what I wanted the pin number to be and so I got a call this morning telling me I needed to come in by the end of the day to fill in the blank. That was a fun phone call because the bank lady woke me up. First, I don't speak Japanese well over the phone. Second, I don't speak Japanese well when I a still half asleep and groggy. Third, this lady talked really fast or my brain was going really slow, probably the latter. Anywho, I figured out that she needed my pin and I told her the number I wanted and then she said something that sounded like a chipmunk talking and I assumed it couldn't be the same number as my old card so I told her a new set of four digits. More chipmunk talk and then my brain started to come online and I figured out that she needed me to come in and personally fill out the paperwork. Now it is going to be a week or so before I have my new card. Not having an ATM card sucks.

But hey, I now have $300 more than I had before.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Whoever Says Girls Aren't Inherently Evil Is Nuts

Today I went to my favorite school and expected a peaceful week. It most likely will be a pretty good week but I found out something that will probably make at least tomorrow more interesting.

At this school, I teach mostly girls. I would say that 3/4 of my students here are female. This is one of the reasons I expect peace and quiet when I come here, girls and I get along tons better than the boys and I. The girls are also more willing and wanting to learn English than their externally equipped counterparts. The dark side to teaching girls is that they are about 362 times more devious and conniving than boys. The boys I teach are like dogs, you pay attention to them and give them a reward on occasion and they will behave for the most part. Girls' thoughts tend to run deeper and this creates new and fun challenges for me as a teacher.

Today I learned that I have two sisters that are basically running an extortion ring while in English class. It isn't really extortion, it is actually more like they are charging late fees on a particular item. Japanese girls are very streamlined when it comes to being girly and learning about other girls. Instead of passing a series of notes and carrying on heart to heart conversations while doing each others' nails, Japanese girls carry with them papers called "profiles".

Profiles are professionally printed sheets of notebook paper that contain sections like: My favorite color or My favorite food or My favorite movies, My blood type is, etc. When girls meet each other and decide that they might actually like each other, they exchange profile sheets. It is then up to the girl to take the sheet home and fill in all of the blanks so that when they meet up again, the to would-be friends can share all of their important information with each other and the completed sheets are then filed away in a binder that each girl has that is built for such profile sheets. It is essentially, a rolodex/Facebook for the age 9-13 crowd.

Anywho, these two sisters are giving out their profiles to other girls in the class only on the condition that the profiles will be filled out and returned by a specific time and if the person fails to return the aforementioned profile, they have to pay these two sisters money. Evidently, last week the Japanese teacher caught one girl paying them and forbade the transaction and told the parents. Now the sisters won't talk to her and one other girl has been absent from class for two weeks because we think she hasn't returned her profile and doesn't want to pay. If she comes to my class tomorrow, I have to make sure no money changes hands.

Part of me says, "Hmm...I wonder how big my cut could be if I keep quiet and let the sisters run their operation?" The other part of me says that I need to lay off the Sopranos. Whoever said organized crime was on the way out has not met some of my students. I love kids.

UPDATE: I just got back from the class and the two victims of this sibling run extortion ring didn't come to class today. Hmm.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

And I Find Out The One Way The New Guy Can Drive Me Nuts

I was in a drinking mood tonight. This doesn't happen very much anymore but when it does, usually I like to start out with a beer or two and then it leads to something more. Tonight was no different. I started out with a few shots of whiskey and a beer and then it turned into a trip to the bar.

As it turns out, Toby LOVES the one bar that our town has. He likes it so much that he is willing to get stupid drunk there and become the annoyingly loud Westerner that I have grown to loathe. Jeez, Toby is annoying when he is drunk. And, he can't ride a bike in a less-than-sober state either. He crashed into the bushes on the way home and hit his head on a telephone pole. I laughed but unfortunately, he got up too fast and it was to dark to take a good cell phone pic of him splayed out in the bushes.

I could tolerate and even enjoy his drunken state while we were outside but when we came to our apartment building, I had had enough. He tripped on the first floor landing and in his drunken sauntering around the hall, he took up the mud mat that was laid out for everyone to use. When I told him to put it back he then had the nerve to say no to me. Then I told him in a less-than-friendly manner to put the mat back or there would be issues and then he did. It is good to know that in an animalistic and slightly drunken state, I am the alpha male of the two of us. After some struggling and some help, Toby managed to get the mat back into place but then decided to sing me a 1:30am in the hall of an apartment filling with sleeping occupants other than us. After a couple of lines of "If I Were The King Of The Forest" from Wizard of Oz, Toby realized that I was no longer there and yelled at me to wake him up tomorrow morning for our supposed trip to Osaka. Did I mention that there are other people sleeping in our vicinity and it was 1:30am? Beh.

So the plan for, is that we are going to Osaka to get him a Northface coat from Costco. I told him that if he was going to make me go to Osaka so he could use my Costco card, that I was going to have a nerd day looking for manga in Den Den Town first and he could do whatever he wanted in the mean time. The bottom line is that I have some gaps in my manga collection that require me to go to Osaka to fill in so I may as well do it now and help Toby out at the same time.

I like Toby but damn, I have now found out he is just like every other Westerner and I have to say that I am a tad disappointed. Man, I am going to be in for a shock when I come back to the US.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

Lately, it has been non-stop. I forgot all of the fuss that surrounded coming here but preparing to leave is drudging up all sorts of memories.

Today has been a perfect example. I woke up around 10:30am(yes, I am spoiled) and from the get go I was immediately busy. I went to the convenience store ATM to make sure I go paid today and from there I went to my actual bank to send a chunk of cash back to the US. After that I headed to the city hall to get an adjustment made to my ID card to make sure that nothing would gum up the visa stuff that I have to do this next week. After that, it was back home to call the travel agency and book my ticket to come back home. As soon as I finish typing this, I need to finalize the travel details because they were just emailed to me as I was typing and then I am off to teach class.

Yep, just a tad busy. Anywho, I am still alive, just not to the point where I can make a lot of blog entries at the moment. I expect that by next week things will have calmed down a bit so I will probably be able to post more then.

Oh yeah, today is Thanksgiving for me too. I had spaghetti for lunch. All of you that get to eat turkey tomorrow suck.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kids Gone Wild

Last night I was awed twice while on a trip to the grocery store.

I had just walked into my super market, Super Fresh Sato, to buy something for dinner when I saw the strangest thing. I had just made it through the automatic doors and I noticed a door close on the little van parked nearest to the door. Out of the van comes this little kid that was no more than three years old. He had on the super colorful pajamas and little sneakers and no parents. I repeat, no parents. Where were his parents? Who knows. Did the Rapture magically happen and leave this child orphaned with no parental guidance? Maybe.

So this little kid decides he wants to come into the store and happily walks right past me. Now, if you were a munchkin, roaming free in your pajamas in a grocery store on a cold November night, where is the first place you would head? Yes, the ice cream section. But the little guy is too short to actually see the ice cream so he proceeds to climb almost all the way into the freezer bin to get a better look at all of the frozen confections Super Fresh Sato had to offer. Still no parents. It should also be mentioned that this kid had a sister who was also spared from the Rapture but was still sleeping in the van. Like a good brother, he left his female sibling to fend for herself...or just sleep.

By this point the kid has climbed out of the freezer bin and I am standing in the same place I have been for the past couple of minutes, just waiting to see what this kid does next. I also noticed people staring at me so I decide to move around a little bit so people don't think I am getting ready to kidnap this kid or worse, think that I am his father. So I leave the tyke to his own devices. A minute or two later I noticed him wandering some aisles but still without a mom or dad. The rest of the people in the store seem to be oblivious to the free range toddler but I figure that his newfound liberty isn't really my problem so I proceed to checkout and go home. As I left the store, his sister was still asleep and unattended in the family vehicle.

A few minutes later, I am walking though a neighborhood to get to my apartment and I hear screaming. These are not playful screams or screams obtained through various pleasureful acts, these are blood curdling "I am wading through the blood of my dead family members" kind of screams. Then I hear some furious kicking and hitting at the door sounds. I am just going to speculate here but if I were to guess, I would say a little girl or perhaps a sissy sounding boy was being punished and locked in their room. The punishment sparked a hissy fit so loud I could hear it from the middle of the street outside the house. Also, by the sounds of it, the door did not make it through the ordeal unscathed. Or the entirety of a family, minus an aforementioned girl or sissy sounding boy, had just been slaughtered, leaving the little kid to wail amidst splatterings of familial blood and gore. Either way, that was some really loud screaming and punching and kicking at the door.

Parenting in Japan is pretty much non-existent. I wish I could say that kids roaming free in department and grocery stores was uncommon but it isn't. Parents pretty much just let their little goblins do whatever they please when in public places. They figure that the kid will eventually come back to them and that all will be well. This leads to kids being kids and generally annoying me while I shop. If I were these kids' parents I would have them all duct taped to my shopping cart and most likely gagged. The one thing that parents do in an effort to keep track of the kids is to give the smallest of them squeaky shoes. You know, the ones that we see as toys in the United States? In Japan, the squeaking that is made by the shoes is employed as a way to always know where your kid is. What is really fun is when you have a handful of two and three year old kids running through a store. I hate squeaky shoes despite their being adorable for about ten seconds.

I have a feeling kids are left to run wild because this is how the parents kind of get them ready for going to school and riding trains and buses by themselves. I have been in cities like Tokyo and Osaka and have seen two or three six or seven year olds riding the train together sans parents. Japanese people look out for kids and there is very little in the way of kidnapping or violence against children but to me, it is still ludicrous to think that I would let my seven or eight year old go to and from school alone in a city with 14 million people.

I was talking to the mother of one of my private lesson kids and she was asking if there are kids in the US that are very well behaved when playing outside and then go crazy when they play indoors. I told her that usually if I was being crazy indoors, my mom told me to go play outside. For Japanese people it is the opposite, being crazy and hyper outside is not good because then the neighbors can see how nutty your kids are and how bad of a parent you are. The downside to this is when your kids are nuts, you have to put up with them being around you inside the house. I would take my sanity over what the neighbors thought of me any day of the week.

The other funny thing about Japanese families is how discipline is metered out when it actually is...which isn't very often. Every family has one parent who is the disciplinarian. In Japan, 99 times out of 100 it will be the mom that is the bad cop while the dad plays good cop. The reason for this is that fathers in Japan work all of the time and mothers generally are around home a lot more. When dad comes home from work, it is his time to see his kids and hang out with them. Kids here are brought up to see bonding time with dad as much more of a valuable commodity over quality time with mom. Moms on the other hand, are almost solely in charge of making sure that the kids do well in school and do not fall behind their peers. This is the reason why many of my kids are taking English whether they want to or not. Japanese mothers are super competitive when it comes to their kids' educations.

Some new classes just started in one of my schools and there are three boys who get along great together in one of them. Evidently, in their real school, two of the boys are troublemakers and one is the good student. The mother of the good student is asking the Japanese teacher of my classes to take out the other two kids and put them in a class separate from her son. When the Japanese teacher said that the three boys played very well together, the mother threw a fit and said her son was not like the other two boys. I guess the mother was actually crying by the end because the Japanese teacher would not move the two other boys just because one mother had a problem with them in school outside of my English class. The next night the grandmother came in to try to get the two other boys moved. Japanese mothers make American soccer moms look like deadbeats.

Having said that, when dads do get into the chewing out of a kid, usually it is something to watch. I was teaching a lesson that the parents were allowed to come and observe and one little boy tried to kick me in a not happy place. He missed but the fact that he tried at all, Set.The.Dad.Off. The guy who had been quiet all night, gets up, grabs his kid by the collar of his shirt and drags him into a corner. What followed were the hushed shouts of a father educating his son about why you never, ever, for any reason kick a guy in the Southern Hemisphere of his body, especially in the magical island in between his legs. After this speech, he smacked the kid upside the head and then pushed him back into the group of students. It was almost awe-inspiring. Never before or since have I seen a Japanese parent lay into their kid like that guy did to his son. Amazing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Since Toby (the new guy) has arrived in my town, my life has been changing and it is very strange.

For the past two years, I have basically been left to my own devices as far as my day to day life is concerned. I have Japanese lessons on Monday, teach class Tuesday through Saturday, and relax on Sundays. I go to look at manga and nerdy things usually once a week and if it is nice day, I will go take pictures around town or in Kyoto or Osaka. No one bothers me, I have no unscheduled visitors, I do what I want to do when I want to do it. And while it may bother me at times, I am usually quite comfortable with living in my own little world, alone. At least this is how everything was until Toby moved in.

With the arrival of the new guy, my life is now prone to random calls at strange times in the morning or at night, sporadic knocking at my door, and someone wanting to talk or watch a movie whenever the moment strikes them. It is like people are being reintroduced into my day to day life and while I like it, for the lack of better phrasing, it makes me very tired. It has been nice to have someone to talk to but at the same time, I miss having the consistency of my pattern.

I have found that it takes effort for me to want to talk to him and hang out with him and it isn't because he is a bad guy, it is because I am just not used to being sociable. When he comes over and hangs out, I find myself wishing he would leave and when he does leave, I feel drained from the whole experience. Since he has come, I feel very strange because I have always been a rather extroverted person but now that I have someone to talk to, I just want to be alone. I find myself even liking going to class because I know he won't interfere with my rhythm while I am in another town.

When my friends and family have come to visit me, I have never had this feeling and I think it is because I was so happy to see them. I view Toby as a regular guy and so he is just another factor that has been added into the ecosystem of me. I enjoy hanging out with him and I am glad he is here because I have a feeling that having him here will kind of ease me out of my isolation and prepare me for going back to and living in the real world again. I just wish it wasn't such a tiring and draining process.

I view the new guy as kind of my test pet to see if I can handle dealing with a dog or a kitten on a daily basis. He is kind of my social hamster or gold fish.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Feeling Campy

Well, after trip number three to the doctor's this morning I have found out the source of my issues. I have contracted an infection called, Campylobacteriosis. The name makes it sound much cooler than it actually is and the bacteria is somewhat common. Usually, when you get it, it goes away on its own after a little while. In extreme cases (me), you need antibiotics to flush it out of your system.

So now I am on new medication and within three days I should be back to normal. It looks like I have to go back to the doctor's one more time but it will just be for a follow-up and nothing major.

If you want to actually read more about Campy go here.

One good thing that has come from all of this is I don't think I am bothered all that much by doctors anymore. If I have to go to one in the US, at least he will be fluent in English.

And Back To The Doctor Again

Ok, this is starting to get boring.

Today, I went to the doctor for my follow-up visit since I am getting better but still not 110% well. My lab test was supposed to be back today but it was late for some reason and so the doctor just gave me more of the stuff I have been taking after every meal for the past four days. He told me that when the test came back, if it was something other than what he thought it was, I would need to come back to get different medication that could better treat whatever bug is happily kicking around in my digestive tract.

Well, I just got a call from Maya and they called her and told her I need to come in tomorrow. They couldn't tell her the exact results because she wasn't related or married to me but they did tell her I didn't need to worry. So tomorrow morning, for the third time in less than a week, I get to see the cheerful old man that has become my doctor. I am seeing way too much of this guy. Lucky for him, he gets to freshen up his English skills. I just get to take more meds and wonder when everything will get totally back to normal. The thing is, the stuff he had me on has been working but evidently there is something more effective.

I vote that we start a pool to wager on what I have.

My bet is that I got E-coli. Either way, I find out in about 11 hours. Third time is a charm.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Anitbiotics and Nara

That pretty much sums up the past few days. After going to the doctor on Thursday, I started to get cabin fever and decided that the next day, I would go to Nara.

Nara is a strange place to visit. It is one of the oldest cities in Japan and therefore, contains some of the oldest buildings in Japan. When you go there and see some of the temples and the deer that roam around the town, you get a sense of just how small our time on this Earth is. Many of the buildings I went into were built before 800AD. Do you realize how old that makes them? I was walking around an area that existed 700 years before Christopher Columbus was even born. The first Crusade was still a couple of hundred years away and the Byzantine Empire still ruled over a chunk of Eastern Europe. It would be one thousand years before the United States was even founded. That is a really really old place.

One example of this is Todai-ji Temple. It was built in 752AD and is to this day, the largest wooden building in the world. This is despite the fact it has burned to the ground twice and the current building that was built in 1692 is two-thirds the size of the original.

This is Todai-ji:

Now, you must ask yourself, "Why in the world do you need a building that size?" The answer is simple, you need to make a shelter for this to sit under:

The picture doesn't give you a good gauge of how big the statue is but the head is almost 18ft. tall and the body is almost 50ft. tall if that helps. This is the Vairocana Buddha and it was also made in 752AD. It is bronze with gold leaf and like the temple, has had to be repaired several times. Todai-ji Temple is the heart of the Kegon Sect of Buddhism and was constructed to be the head temple to all of the provincial temples in Japan. Basically, this temple is very old, very big, and pretty important.

The other fun part about Nara is the deer that call the city home. Many temples have families of cats that have inhabited them for generations, Nara has herds of deer that make most of our family trees look pretty pathetic. The Nara deer are funny because they are the most domesticated I have ever seen. Visitors will give the deer cookies that are made especially for them and the deer are quite accustomed to walking up to people and begging for handouts. As you walk by them, they stroll up to you and start nodding their head and making noises. Once you give in and give them a snack, they let other deer know and pretty soon you end up getting stalked by three or four woodland creatures in search of yum yums. When you run out of treats for them and if they feel like you haven't given enough, they will start nipping at your pockets and bags in search of more food. They can actually be quite indignant creatures. Here are some deer related pics:

This is a sign warning people to stay away from the baby deer during the spring so that the parents don't become angry and try to kick or ram you.

These are the deer snacks you can buy all around the area.

This is what happens when you either run out of or are unwilling to give them cookies.

Various pics of deer hanging out around the park.

Some of the deer obviously have no fear of cars or crowds of people and lounge wherever they feel like.

Likewise, some kids have no fear of the deer. Unfortunately for this little girl, a few minutes after I took this pic, her mom and grandma urged her to get closer to one of the deer and try to pet it. The deer was getting agitated after all of the constant attention and after a few seconds, he either butted or kicked the little girl to the ground pretty hard. She cried for a while but was okay.

Speaking of little kids, here is one of the many flocks of school children that take field trips here everyday.

So that was my trip to Nara. While I enjoyed the excursion, my stomach did not. I think all of the activity and walking started to bother it. It could have also been the antibiotics kicking in as well. Either way, my tummy was not happy the rest of the day.

On that note, the antibiotics I am on are helping...I think. Yesterday, I felt pretty good but today I feel even better and my plumbing issues are showing signs of clearing up. I have to take meds after every meal and they are strange. I have one pill and then a packet that contains two more pills and this weird white powder that tastes like I would imagine very fine sawdust to taste. So far, I think they have worked. Going to the doctor also calmed my nerves somewhat so that my have played into it all too. Who knows, I am just glad to be getting better.

Tomorrow, I think I have one more trip to the doctor and I think I get to find out the results of the lab work they did on me. I am hoping he gives me a new supply of pills because while I think they are working, I think I need a few more days to get everything back to normal. I guess I will find all of that out tomorrow.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Doctor Day

So today was the big day, Maya picked me up this morning and took me to a clinic nearby to see what in the world was wrong with me. If you know me, you probably know I am not a fan of doctors. I respect their profession I just don't like visiting them. Today was different though.

I haven't been to the doctor in a long time. It has been years. I went to the hospital four or five years ago when I almost cut off the tip of my finger while making turkey curry but other than that, no accidents or illnesses that have warranted a doctors visit since the last time I was very sick which was January of 2001 or 2002. I don't get sick very often and so when I stay ill for long periods it starts to worry me which is why I went in today. I was past the fear of doctors part and just wanted a resolution. And I got one.

Before I go into that, I need to say something about the difference between Japanese and American doctors' offices. In the US, you go to a doctor's office and most of them are the same. White walls, white high traffic carpet, a couple of magazines that are three months old on the coffee table, and almost no noise. The doctor's actual office is very sterile, more white, and very tidy and clean. Japan is the exact opposite of everything I have just described.

In a Japanese clinic, it is like senior social hour minus the bingo. You have old people coming and going and it is something to watch. When a new old person arrives, they spot someone they know in the waiting room and rush over to chat with them. I honestly wonder how many of these people have actual issues or just come to meet friends. Maya, one other guy, and myself were the only people that were there that were under sixty. Naturally, this morning's social hour was somewhat enhanced by the presence of a big white guy hanging out with a younger Japanese woman. I am not sure what got more looks, the fact that I was white or the fact that I spoke Japanese and Maya spoke English. Either way, the room was humming with murmurs and whispers about "gaijin" this and "gaijin" that. It's good to know I haven't lost my edge in the shock and awe department.

The visit to the actual doctor was amusing. Maya was a sweetheart and even came in there with me to translate. I did not expect this and probably could have managed but it was nice to have her there just to make sure the communication was crystal clear...or at least hazily clear. The doctor himself was as old as most of the people in the waiting room and kind of funny. His desk was cluttered with papers and rubber stamps. Since Japanese uses Chinese characters, using a rubber stamp for common terms saves a lot of time over having to write out each character. Therefore, his desk had about fifty stamps scattered in piles around it.

I think my doctor knew at least some English but since Maya was there he preferred to talk to her over me. Once he realized I was understanding most of what was being said he talked to me a bit more but still mostly relied on Maya, as did I, I was constantly verifying what I had heard just to be sure I heard it right. The only time the little doctor spoke English directly to me was right before he was preparing to do something particularly evil to me and he was leering above me, silhouetted by the office light. It was in that moment that I envisioned this guy in his 20s using the exact same cheery tone to speak to an American POW right before he strapped the GI to a metal bed frame and clamped a car battery to it. Fortunately, he was in a better mood when dealing with me and the ordeal was over with quickly.

In the end, I probably have a bacterial infection brought on by a bout with bad chicken. Last Monday, Toby and my boss and I went to eat at a yakitori place to celebrate Toby's arrival in Fukuchiyama. Yakitori restaurants are awesome, pretty much all they serve is random chicken parts prepared in various ways. If you want chicken heart, there is heart, tongues are good too. I like chicken thigh, wrapped in a leaf, and dipped in a plum sauce. Over the course of the night, we ate just about all there was to try, including chicken sashimi. Chicken sashimi is raw chicken and before you all tell me I am an idiot for eating uncooked chicken, just know that it is prepared very thoroughly here and is quite tasty and I have had it before that night as well. Though on Monday night, I would guess that that is the dish that let a rather nasty microbe jump aboard my body and wreak havoc on my digestive system. The doctor took some samples to send to a lab and I will find out for sure on Monday but he seemed pretty confident that the yakitori was the source of my problems. Why could something so tasty want to hurt me? Then again, they said the same thing about the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

Anywho, I feel pretty good now and I have been given a regimen of pills and powders to take after every meal. While the trip was not planned and wasn't all that fun, it was very interesting to see how a doctors' office functions here.