Thursday, January 29, 2004

Wowee! I've never done anything quite so mundane before in my life. I have to check through a third grade students mock test papers for her university entrance examination. The subject matter is quite simply mind-ruiningly boring. But anyway, I only have one more paper left to check.

The first line goes like this:

"The gradual change and development, or evolution, of the modern knife and fork....."

See what I mean?

Anyway, I'm going snowboarding again tonight and it's snowing pretty heavily outside so I'm happy enough. The snow over the weekend was pretty wet compared to last years standard. This is undoubtedly a result of higher average temperatures this year, but todays snow is lighter and should be good by the time I get to the mountain. It's been a mixture really, depending on the temperature of the clouds themselves. Good dry snow usually creates at anything below -15 c at cloud level, and it will remain good so long as the sun doesn't get a good look at it and the ground temperature stays somewhere below -4 c. There is a lot of science about the dynamics of snow, and it's a bit confusing sometimes because I learn most of it from amateur sites on the internet. Interesting stuff though.

I saw Aki last night. She came around for a fresh batch of sweet potatoe curry, or satsumaimo kare- as its known (probably unknown actually) in Japanese. Her cocktail of innocence and playfulness set me up for the night, and after dinner we went to collect some oil for the stove so not to freeze to the tatami floor together.
Well, I have some curry left over from last night which I'm going to scoff for dinner right now.

Take care folks, and eat more sweet potatoe!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Wow, another really boring day, and I'm glad that it's nearly over. Saying that, I have had one class to teach, and I did spend some time outdoors when I fetched the DVD for English club. Oh yeah, and I had a quick kip in the tatami room in the afternoon.

It's funny, because when I return to England the first thing I'm going to ask at Job interviews is whether I get a ciesta or not. And I'll be pissed off if I don't, that's for sure!! The film that I've decided to show at tonight's English club is a rip off of the original "Italian Job". It's such a rip off that they even decided to use the same name - "The Italian Job". I've seen it already though, and I thought it was pretty funny so the students should like it.

There has been a lot of heavy breathing in the office today. If I haven't already mentioned it, this is one of the things I've noticed most about the Japanese. It's mainly the men, but women are also guilty of it from time to time. Men like to do it after taking a sip of coffee or some other drink - the exaggerated sound of the act of drinking something, supposedly being hard work. Therefore Japanese men feel the need to make a kind of *dirty old man* noise after every sip of something.

If you ever get to see any Japanese dramas you might notice the same habits from the actors in them. Both the men and the women tend to speak in very much like a whisper all the time (this is largely because the theme of most Japanese dramas is hardship, similar to the soap operas in England actually) as matters discussed are always of a serious nature. The end of every line is turned into a whisper and the throat is used to produce the sound. This, as you can imagine, makes for some pretty bad breath among the Japanese. Along with the food that the teachers eat, which I have to say is loads nicer than English cuisine, there be some real stinkers in this office. And that is why I have had to open the window today on several occasions.

The temperature in this office doesn't really change that much ffrom season to season. In the summer, when temperatures reach well over thirty degrees naturally, the office is as hot as hell. And during the winter, when the temperature plummets below freezing, the office is artificially heated to what feels like well over thirty degrees. The only thing is that the artificial heat is so stuffy it makes me feel a little bit sick sometimes. I have had to leave the office twice already today because it has been intolerable.

Anyway, I've got to go now because school has finished and English club beckons. I'll probably continue with my thoughts on the Japanese at a later date.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Howdy, and a merry Monday morning to folks reading this weblog. I spoke to my dad last night and he told me that England is going to get some weather from the North Pole soon. I looked at the BBC weather page and it said 'Heavy Snow' for most northern areas - rockin!! I'm still very unknowledgeable when it comes to meteorology, but I've heard that in Japan mild summers are followed by mild winters, and hot summers are followed by unforgiving coldy winters. Maybe it's the same for England, and this weather system coming from the North is a natural follow on from last summer's scorcher? Who knows?

All I know is that my legs, my bum, my arms and my neck are failing me today after yesterdays snowboarding hajimete (first time experience). I reeeeeally enjoyed myself up at Ajigasawa and my feet didn't hurt at all. When we called it a day, we went to the car and I didn't feel that desperation to get my boots off as quick as possible, which was a first for me. I managed to pick it up quite easily. After four hours I could nearly pull off a nice front side turn and rear side turns weren't a problem. It's the same principle as using skis as far as I can make out. You just have to imagine yourself standing on one big fat ski, and then imagine how you would transfer your weight in that situation. I think it's going to be a good while before I can do the same kinds of terrain on a snowboard that I can do on skis, but in the meantime I'm enjoying the learning process. Right now, the snow is literally plummeting from the sky, and is predicted to do so for another couple of days.

I went out on Saturday night because it was a friend's birthday, and his wife had arranged a surprise dinner party for him at a swank hotel in Hirosaki. It was good, as it always is at this particular hotel restaurant, and afterwards we went to a place called Shirokiya (white tree place) for great amounts of beer and karaoke.
I have two classes today; one this morning and another this afternoon. Apart from that, nothing.
Until the next time...

Friday, January 23, 2004

Well, it's been a good couple of days since I last updated, and I can't say anything exciting has happened. I went to Owani high school yesterday on my usual Thursday outing. I go there every week for a couple of classes in the morning and then I get to knock off early because there's nothing for me to do after lunch. I got home and did a thorough job of shovelling the snow from my parking spot. There wasn't much, but it had turned to ice and thus it was difficult to raise off the ground. I bought myself some new glasses yesterday as well, after losing my old ones during a drinking binge in Hokkaido. And if you don't mind my saying so, they're pretty snazzy. I'll send you a link to a piccy later, I don't have one right now.

I also bought a book by a guy called Osamu Dazai , who was born in Tsugaru (the province in which I live). The book itself is simply called 'Tsugaru' and I don't know too much about it yet because I haven't started it.

Wednesday was a really boring day, apart from those two minutes when I collected my pay packet. THEY WERE THE BOMB BABY!! I'm now back on the champagne - instead of drinking Lipton tea every night. And I'm going out for nine course meals every night in swanky hotels and restaurants - instead of eating those boring instant noodles. Too bad it'll only last until next Tuesday when my wages will probably run out. No, honestly, this month I'm going to try to be prudent with my cash.

Saying that, I've already spent 200 quid on a new snowboard!! I'm looking forward to a bit of snow-action on Sunday, mind you, when Hugh has kindly offered to give me a bit of guidance. I'm bound to have a sore arse on Monday though. *Looking back, that last sentence sounds a bit homo don't you think? But it's a fact that when you start snowboarding, you'll spend most of your time falling onto your backside. It shouldn't be too difficult though, because I already have skiing experience.

I went to English club on Wednesday night, which is a conversation club for adults in Hirosaki who want to practise speaking English. It was a little bit boring because I was the only foreigner who showed up. But I got to eat a lot of the food that they had prepared. I go there every week, and have done for the last eighteen months, but other ALTs are dropping out because of personal differences and other commitments. Soon it's just gonna be me all on my own, and I'm going to have all that food that they bring every week to myself. OOOOOOOOiiishiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!

As you've probably noticed, I'm running desperately out of things to talk about so I'll get this wrapped up pretty quickly. One more thing I should tell you is that tonight we're going to Tamenobu, where Hugh's going to try it on with some more Japanese girls who want to practise their Engrish. Me and Akiko are going as well so we can giggle at him trying his hardest to pull.

Anyway, Jaa ne (see you later)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Today is Tuesday and I've just had two classes in a row, occupying the first and second periods. They went OK, even though I'm still in a perpetual state of fatigue due to not having my glasses. As soon as I lost them, I knew there would be trouble further down the line because of the amount of time I spend in front of computers and books. That's all I need them for really. I knew I wouldn't have the money for a new pair before January's pay packet so there has been little that I could do about it. As I write, I have to lurch across my keyboard keeping my eyes just two inches away from the screen. It's insane!!

There's been bloody rain this week so far. In the city that is; just snow in the mountains of course. I haven't heard anybody mention the possibility of this being an effect of global warming. Just lots of people saying how strange it is for temperatures to be so high this time of year. It would take the Japanese a long time before they admitted that the change in temperature was something that they themselves had been affecting. I've come to the conclusion that Japan's approach to modernisation (or at least the government's approach) is to let other countries make the first radical steps in terms of policy, then they will follow the suit of whoever is the most powerful. On the other hand though, the Japanese do appear to be making more progress on environmental matters than countries like the US.

Most of the news is absorbed, these days, with coverage of the Japanese army's first active deployment in god knows how many years. As a result of Japan's 'peace' constitution it hasn't been able to deploy its troops into combat situations, I think, since the second world war. In order to kiss some American arse, Koizumi has overruled the constitution and sent two thousand out there to help with the occupation/reconstruction. The troops have been told that they are not to engage in combat even if they are targeted by insurgents. If they are targeted, they should disband until further notice. It sounds a bit strange, sticking two thousand soldiers into Iraq right now, under the order: "Do not defend yourselves", but these are Japanese troops. I must say that if I was an Iraqi, I'd prefer to work alongside a Japanese soldier rather than a British or an American one. They are likely to be more tolerant and polite. The language barrier is bound to be a problem though, as it is for Americans and Brits who don't speak Arabic.

Well, it's payday tomorrow, so I'll be too busy banking/wiring/spending/drinking my new pay packet to write up a post. If I get the time I'll update a bit, but looking back at the lack of interesting stuff that I've had to say today, it's probably best if I leave it for a day or two.
Bye, bye....

Monday, January 19, 2004

My god, I'm having a boring one today. I had one class earlier with Kudou sensei, my supervisor, and later I've got one more with Yamada sensei. I studied a bit of Japanese earlier today, but I have nothing left on my old course to study, and really I need to put all the stuff I have learnt so far into practice. When I get paid I'm going to the book store to get myself a new study book. I know which one I want as well: "Japanese For Busy People", ironically enough. I've been told it's a good one though, and I know I can get a copy as soon as I get paid.

I said it earlier, and I will say it again now. Being broke and having to struggle a bit from time to time is good for you. I've had a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomache for the last 10 days now, filled with all those thoughts about how I can spend my next pay check. I shalln't squander this one, I keep thinking to myself. I'm simply going to enjoy the freedom of having enough money to do things if I want to do them. Less drinking, more cooking my own meals, more nights in reading, more studying Japanese, I'm going to stop buying cigarettes, but I'll gladly smoke those of other people's. Spending less at the school canteen, a maximum limit of 500 yen (2 pounds 60 pence) a day on lunch, play poker more thoughtfully and not rush in to any silly bets, only one hooker per week from now on, instead of three, and I will cut my cocaine habit in half. (Those last two budget resolutions were made up, but I do play poker from time to time).

So there you are, I'm going to be far more careful next month.

I'm trying to get a poker game together for the 31st of Jan. We did have a game last December between six of us and it was a lot of fun. Nobody really lost any serious money, though Jacob, who was the biggest casualty, was probably about 4000 yen down (20 pounds) by the end of the night. Most of it was in my pot though, so I was smiling!!

I've got a class to prepare for, so bye for now....

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Well, I've just come back from a day's skiing at Ajigasawa ski resort. It was a good day, even though my boots had crippled my feet by midday. I still carried on though, in true hardcore style! I was working on my short turns, trying to knead a bit of rhythm into my technique. I spent quite a bit of time amongst the trees again, which is quite good fun at Ajigasawa because the trees are more wider apart from each other, and not many people bother to ski them so the snow is untouched.
Me and Aki are going to an onsen tonight, which is going to be nice after a hard day on the piste. Not really looking forward to going back to school tomorrow, but that's just life I suppose. I managed to get in enough shopping to last me until Wednesday when I get payed. I can't do anything until then though because I've only got 47 yen in my bank account (25 pence). I can't remember whether I told you this already, but I lost my glasses in Niseko over xmas and I'm really looking forward to getting a new pair. Staring at a computer screen for most of the day without glasses is drawing my eyes back into their sockets and making me feel tired all the time. I'm looking forward to doing a bit of reading as well. I wanted to get my current book finished over xmas, but without glasses I couldn't manage it. (100 years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez). It has taken me ages to get through it, though I have read another book since I started that one.
I'm going to read some more Japanese stuff next. I haven't read any Murakami yet, even though he's regarded as one of the greatest contemporary authors in the world these days.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Alrighty! It's Saturday night right now, and I've just got off the phone with Jenny, an American JET also living in Hirosaki city. It sounds like everybody's going to chill at Hugh's place tonight, so I'll pop round there in a bit. There are four small apartment blocks in our part of town, and four of Hirosaki's eight JET's live here. We call it the 'Ghetto', because it looks dodgey, but it's actually a lot safer than most upmarket areas in your average English town ( less crime etc. I often forget to lock my car overnight, but I don't think the locals even bother).
I went skiing again today. I didn't bother getting up too early, because I can only manage about three runs these days before my boots start to cripple me. It was what skiiers call a 'bluebird' day today. There were hardly any clouds in the sky and the sun shone down even at the top of the mountain. I did the waizawa course again because of the favourable conditions. Lord knows how anyone can ski that course on a heavy snow day without falling over every fifty yards? The snow collects into big wave-like formations all the way down from the top, creating lots of 1 to 3 metre drops. I fell over time and time again, but still enjoyed myself loads. It's just great to get out into the wilderness and listen to the silence.
As planned, a load of us are going to Ajigasawa ski resort tomorrow for the day, and because Ajigasawa is groomed regularly my feet shouldn't take too much stick. Grooming is the process of dragging a giant comb up and down the ski slopes and it usually takes place all night long. The comb is fixed to the back of a caterpillar truck.
Anyway, I've got to go now. I'll update tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2004

He he he, I was so bored last night I started downloading "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars". Earlier I downloaded "Screamadelica" by the Primal Scream, a favourite of mine when I was about 18 yrs old. I'm going to burn it onto disk and listen to it in the car. Akiko came around earlier on last night, but left after a short stint of moderate nooky because she had been invited to eat 'Yakitori' (chicken kebabs) with her colleagues. She came back after an hour or two though for some top rate nooky before lights out!!!
Hopefully, if finances hold out, we're both going to Ajigasawa on Sunday and I'm going to give Aki some skiing guidance. She's skiied before, but I don't think she's a pro or anything. I don't know though, she might surprise me.
Something else that I've been spending time on lately is a bit of research into my post-Japan travels. At some point this year I need to get a new passport from the embassy in Tokyo, but that shouldn't be too much hassle. I'm looking into maximum visa allowments for China, Mongolia and Russia, the three main countries on my return trip home. I'm gonna be heading back by land and sea, you see. I can get a ferry from Osaka to Shanghai, and from there I will go West into the Chinese interior. I have no time limits apart from visa restrictions, so I may stay for up to six weeks in China if it's possible. I think I can stay for one month in Mongolia, which should give me enough time to get the feel of things there, but Russia is the stickler, with a maximum of three weeks if my understanding is correct. This may all be false, and I'm going to organise things in Beijing if I can. Perhaps even in Ulaan Baatar. I will be riding the trans-Siberian express from Beijing to Moscow, then catching a train to St. Petersburg. From there I will probably spend short periods of time in the Nordic countries, just passing through and catching ferries etc. There is a train between St. Petersburg and Helsinki, which looks like the best option, and from there I can choose the cheapest and most convenient ways to get to the West Norwegian coastline. I'd like to spend a bit of time in Scotland as well, before heading back down to blighty. Just in time for xmas I think.

Phew! Just about managed to consolidate all of that into twenty or so lines, but I think before I leave I'll need to write up an extremely extensive guide, related to what I want to do, taken from sources on the internet and elsewhere. I don't think that there is one single travel book that would cover my aspirations, so independent research is a must. I've still got another year and a half before I leave this place anyway, so maybe I'm just getting hyped about it all too soon. I do have a lot of time on my hands though.

It's Friday today, which means that it's Friday night tonight, but as I mentioned in my last post I have no money for booze and such like so I'll be taking it easy tonight. Unless, that is, Akiko brings round a surprise bottle of something at some point. She's not a real big drinker so I doubt she will.
Anyway, look after yourselves and look after the others around you. If everybody in the world did this, we wouldn't have the arms trade, fighting, poverty, famine, epidemic disease or anything!!
Long live the revolution!!!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I know it's only been twelve hours since my last post, but I've such a large void of time to fill today I thought I'd write some more. I ended my last post on the note of me being broke for the next few days. It's tough because I have the weekend to drag myself through as well. I've never been absolutely brassic over the weekend before, so this will be a test to see how much there is to do in Hirosaki without money. I could go for a walk in the park, or I could sit at home and read, if only I had a pair of glasses to wear. (I lost my last pair on a xmas eve drinking binge in Hokkaido). One thing is for sure though, that I won't be drinking this weekend. I don't think I'll be eating much either. I still have a tenner left in the bank though, so I could go to an onsen or do some basic shopping. All in all, I like the prospect of suffering for a few days. It's easy for me to endure because it's definite, it's bound to end at some point. Unlike the suffering of lots of people around the world, whose lack of food and wealth is indefinite. Also, there are people around me who wouldn't just watch me starve to death, they would offer me some money before that happened so I could feed myself. I suppose for me then, that I won't really be suffering at all, and that it's more of a positive thing like a test of my spirit.
Enough about my lack of food and money.
The snow continued to fall throughout the night and there is a good thick layer on the ground right now. It's good stuff as well because the wind dropped last night and some lighter flakes started to fall. I bet the ski resorts are looking sweet right now. I have two things to do today: make a short listening test (which basically means taking a passage from a website on the internet and printing out forty sheets), and then conducting that very same listening test in class. After that, I'll probably crack on with a bit more of the art work that I'm doing with English club. I started a poster project quite a while ago and it's dragging on a bit now because none of the students ever seem to turn up to the club anymore. The poster is about 6' by 3', so it's a big one, and we're making it by glueing tiny pieces of coloured paper together. The final image will be 'Iwaki mountain through the seasons'. It is beginning to take quite a crude appearance so I'm starting to worry about what exactly we're going to be presenting to the school principal in a few weeks' time. He'll accept it though, no matter how childish it looks, and, through honour, he'll have it hanging in his office for the remaining period of my contract, and swiftly taken down after I leave.
The yogurt man has just been round so I'm going to tuck into my morning snack now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Today was spent skiing again. I took the day off because there were exams all day, and that would have meant me sitting at my desk doing absolutely ziltch. The weather was atrocious again. On the road to Ajigasawa ski resort (I didn't go to Hakkouda today because the ropeway was bound to have been closed) very, very strong winds were throwing thick clouds of snow into the road and visibility at times was zero. I had to put on the brakes quickly two or three times when random blizzard clouds covered everything in front of me. It was pretty cool though because I like extreme weather conditions and todays blizzard was something I've never really seen before. Last year, the snow fell without too much wind behind it. But this year there have been two or three days when blizzards have hit hard.
Of course, when there's wind, there's wind-chill, so the temperature today felt like - 15c. In the city it sat at around -5c all day. I arrived at the bottom of the mountain looking like a snow monster each run, and I couln't feel my face for about two hours. I've also noticed that the wind effects the snow quality as well. Today's snow was windswept, falling as small round balls that look just like hail, but soft like snow.
Enough about the snow.
Last night I went out with my old buddy Chiba Kenji, the student who I tutored before he went to America to study. He's been back for three weeks, so we went out to do some drinking together. It was a bit dodgey because he's still under the legal age of twenty, but we had a good night and he proved that he can drink me under the table. He arrived dressed like a super star rapper, and he now has a weird American accent (and he wonders why he can't get an American girlfriend!)
I've been cooking more sweet potatoe curry tonight, basically because I'm skint and I can't afford to go shopping for fancy stuff. I get paid next week though, so it's back to caviar and champagne soon!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Hello again. It's Tuesday morning here in Japan and I'm at work right now. Again, I'm sat in the office doing very little, and I'm probably going to be doing this for the rest of the day.
I went skiing again yesterday, but apart from that there's not much else to say. The visibility was really good, so I did a couple of runs down one of the courses that I usually avoid (waizawa). It was really good because nobody had been down there since the most recent snowfall, so there were no tracks in the snow. It wasn't a 'classic Hakkouda powder' day, (that is, with chest high powder snow), but it was knee high in places. It was really quiet as well and my boots didn't start hurting until the third run. I did this one jump off a snow bank on Waizawa that had been formed by strong wind. It looked like a wave in the sea from behind, and I couldn't see what was on the other side. I thought it would be fine so I jumped it and dropped fifteen feet into a tree well (wells form around trees where the snow can't get to, about 1 metre wide usually). I was very lucky not to break anything, and when I looked around to see how far I had fallen, I really had to tilt my neck because it was so high. I laughed about it though, and about the fact that I had gotten off scott free from another encounter with difficult terrain.
Wednesday is up on the weather forecast with a 90% chance of precipitation, and on Thursday it's 80%. This means more heavy snow before the weekend!!
Last night, Akiko came around and we watched this programme about the bottom of the sea. Did you know that there are columns on the sea bed that blow out black smoke? Amazing stuff. I also did a load of laundry and had a shower and other mundane stuff like that.

P.S. Sorry to be talkin' bout snow all the time folks. It's jus' there's a lot of it here right now...

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Spoke to my Mum on the phone about three hours ago and said I would update tonight, so here it is. I went skiing today, a bit later than planned, but I got there, which is the main thing. When I got there though, the cable car (gondola) was closed due to strong wind. Bummer. It was horrendous on the road today, with blizzard winds rolling across the fields into the road. I got there at twelve noon. I waited a bit, but some other lads who were there suggested getting some shovels and building a ramp at the bottom. It took about thirty minutes to pack a good ramp together, and I had about four or five runs before coming back home. (We had to hike about 60 yards to get a bit of speed up first). The good thing is that my boots weren't all that painful.
Enough about skiing.
I've just been out to an onsen (Japanese public baths) with Akiko and I'm now feeling extremely clean and tired. We went in one of the family onsens, which is a private public bath that families can use together. Young couples can also use them for hanky-panky, but I wouldn't know anything about that.
I've got to go now, but I'll post again soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

It's six thirty now, and I haven't been out of the house yet. I said I was going skiing today (Saturday), but decided against it since there's going to be a lot more snow tomorrow. I don't think I can manage two days in a row with my boots as they are. I have Monday off as well, so if it goes OK tomorrow I can go back for a second dose. It's funny, you know, because for about three months before the snow came I couldn't wait to get out there, mucking about. But now, probably due to my boots, and the effect they've had on my form, I'm not quite that eager. I still love being outside in the middle of nowhere though.
I'm actually going to buy a snowboard in a few days time, and I'm hoping that I don't have the same boot hassle with that sport. Enough about skiing.
I'm going out tonight with Aki and one or two of her friends. I think Hugh (Canadian guy in the other block of flats) is going to come as well because it'll give him the chance to chat up some available Japanese girls. I don't think he's had much luck in Japan so far, so we should wish him all the best. Monday is yet another National holiday, so no work for another two days.
We watched a zombie movie last night at Hugh's. Redneck Zombies. It was a classic mega low budget job with an inane amount of gore and stupidity. A lot of fun, to say the least.
I've got to go and pick Aki up now, cos she's been drinking already and we've got to go out and drink even more.
Take care folks...

Friday, January 09, 2004

Ohayou gozaimasu. I woke up feeling very much asleep this morning. I drank a cup of tea before I left my house and then a cup of coffee upon arrival at school. In fact, I just finished the coffee about ten seconds ago. I've dished out all of the omiyage (souvenirs) that I bought in Hokkaido for my teachers. I think they might hold me in higher regard now that I've given them some sweets. The sweets were called wakaimo, whatever that means. (It doesn't have any meaning at all, I just checked on my dictionary). The snow continued to fall pretty hard yesterday, but it didn't settle too deep because of the type of snow that fell. It was a small hard snowflake that fell like frozen rain, but settled without melting. I'm not surprised it doesn't melt because the temperature is about 0c out there. At this temperature you would expect a nice kind of snowflake to fall, but that's the way this winter is shaping up - weird. More heavy snow projected for the weekend though, with 80 percent chance of precipitation on both Sat and Sun.
Enough about the snow, and more about what I have planned for the coming months.
I spent quite a bit of my time looking at online tefl courses yesterday. I have had my eye on one course: - but I don't know if this is extensive enough for me. I mean, if I am going to get a qualification to Teach English as a Foreign Language, and if I have the time to do a lot of studying here in Japan (which I do have), then why not go for something with more balls? Anyway, after looking around at my options, and being unable to find some idea of how much I would have to pay, I decided that maybe I should just stick with the basic course, the one above, just in case I never get to actually use the qualification. Just finished my second cup of coffee and am about to continue with my personal diary, which isn't available on the net. I've been writing it for some time now and it basically consists of ramblings and thoughts about stuff. Joss, don't go clambering onto my hard drive to fetch this stuff (that is, if you can). It's something that I'm still working on, and so it is off limits.
Peace out brothers and sisters

Thursday, January 08, 2004

It has been a while now. I'm sat in the office at the moment, desparate for stuff to do, and the snow is quite literally 'puking' from the sky outside. I should go skiing on Saturday, but I'm not looking forward to it because I know my boots will bring me much pain. I can't believe I paid over 100 quid on those bloody things for them to cause me so much misery. The problem is that when I try to make a turn (whilst skiing) the tongue of the boot digs into the bit just below my downhill shin and weakens my ability to control the turn. This is dangerous stuff considering all those trees at Hakkouda. I can make long turns OK in them, but at Hakkouda, my favourite ski park, the runs are either back-country (off-piste) or ungroomed and narrow, which means I have to make much shorter turns and put more pressure on my legs. I'm capable of doing this in good equipment, but every turn I make in those new boots of mine are absolute killers. The last time I went up to the mountain was Monday, so maybe my feet have hardened since then. Poor quality design though, to say the least.

The office is alright, much the same as it always is. I forgot to go to the New Years enkai (party) the other day, so I think some of the teachers have issues with me right now. They wouldn't say anything to my face though. I have one class today with the lovely Yamada sensei. Apart from that, it's just a matter of sitting at my desk feeling my back slowly cripple itself and my eyesight go even fuzzier from constantly staring into a computer screen.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Presently preparing one of my fine sweet potato curries. I remember that when my brother, Joss, came to Japan for three years he returned to England with sharpened curry-making skills. And it looks like I may be a pro by the time I leave too. Apart from curry, all I can cook is yaki-soba (fried noodles), yaki-udon (fried fat noodles), miso soup and the old 'fish with rice' number. It's actually very cheap to eat good healthy and reasonably priced food at restaurants in Japan. My favourites are 'sukiya', which is a gyuudon (specially cooked rice with meat on top) chain, kaiten sushi (restaurants with sushi dishes on a conveyor-belt) and the occasional bowl of rahmen (chinese noodles). It's often cheaper to eat out anyway. At school I eat either o bento (varied meat, vegetables and rice, lunch-box style), or higawari don (bowl of the day).
The curry is done and I've just taken a couple of pieces on my palette. Damn good, damn good!!
Akiko has gone to her family gathering in a local village tonight, and of course, I'm not invited. I'm going skiing tomorrow so an early night is on the cards.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

I'm just winding down from last night's New Year's celebrations. Akiko is in bed purring away like one of those chinese kittens. This is my first post, so I'm just tooling around at the moment.
Happy New Year!!