Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas at the Winns'.

Me, having fun with my Christmas presents on the 25th. I treated this shot for red-eye, but it seems to have gone a bit wierd.

Uncle Dave, very pleased with the Kamikaze headband I'd brought back for him. He's a big fan of Japanese motorbikes so he says he's going to wrap it round his helmet or something.

My old man, and my mum. Doesn't he look nice in his new Christmas shirt that Mum bought him.

Me and me nan, kicking off with sherry.

Our family's new pink room. It'd go rather well with my old summer shirt.

Me and me can of wife-beater. A perfect Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2005

70cm of fresh

Well, I'd say my ideal snowfall is around 40cm. On top of what's up there already that's enough to keep things smooth underfoot. Today was another one of those ridiculous days when you could barely move unless you had a good bit of steep and a freshly waxed board. It was good though, so long as you didn't run off the main drag and end up in quick-snow. I had to do some swimming on my first run just to get back on the tracks. It took me a while as well. And what's more, the snow quality today was absurdly lovely. I'd give any man my life savings if he could show me powder as light and dry as that outside of the big so-called world class ski areas in Europe and North America. For anybody who's been to Ajigasawa on a deep snow day and thought they were skiing powder, wake up and smell Hakkoda.

I found a mouse on the run today and made friends with it. It was stuck and couldn't get back to where it had come from so I picked it up and it started crawling all over my arms and gloves. This old man skiied up and saw what I had so I asked him what he'd do if he were me. He seemed confident that the best thing to do was to throw it into the powder snow so it could 'burrow' somewhere warm. I threw it, and it disappeared into oblivion.

Monkey-boy Chris fingering his way up the Captain wall on Sunday.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The season begins

Going through the motions of Marubatsu on Sunday. For some absurd reason, amidst all the random Christmas kissing that was going on at Angie's annual Christmas rave-up on Saturday night, I remember actually kissing a guy on the lips wearing a rasta wig. Being upside-down was a good way to rid it from my mind. Sweat and grind; it's the only way to overcome such traumatic flashbacks.

This is the bit just before I fall off. It's my new target for the rest of this year: Marubatsu by Christmas.

Iwaki from Jogakura bridge.

Hakkoda was better than expected today. Little did I realise that the ropeway has already been running for the last two or three weeks now, even though a quick check on snowjapan shows that it's only part open. I found out that this means only the direct course is open, and that other courses are out of bounds. Yeah, whatever, you could see from the gondola that the whole mountain was being used as there were tracks leading in all directions. I bumbed into a couple of guys I know and we skiied out of the course and into the good parts.

The bridge itself.

The quad on my back leg was burnt out by the end of the day and I'd only done five runs. Peak season last year I was doing eight a day. I'll get used to it.

Hakkoda Sansou.

The edge of Hakkoda 'Quasi' National Park, on my way back home.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Interesting view

Ah, the Hakkoda mountains. They always look so wonderful from my apartment window.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bit of 'ard work never 'urt nobody

So far this week I've had four classes observed by parents' (predominantly mothers) as part of 参観日 sankanbi, and each one has been a relative success. I still have six more to go, including the dreaded Friday Let's Go 2 class, for which I would ideally like to call in sick on the day. Once this week is over I'm in cruise mode until I fly back home for Christmas, whereupon auto-pilot will take over. Jossy, I want the finest wines known to humanity. I want them there, and I want them on the 24th.

Ozzy Chris getting some action on the 来い恋 koikoi wall.

I haven't been up the wall this week for two reasons. One being the need for focus on this parents' week malarky, and the second being the state of my hands. Climbing is tough on the hands, there's no second opinion about that. Beginner climbers have a process to complete before they can do anything worth writing home about. Your skin has to harden and your muscles need to grow.

My hands bled on Sunday, but I still kept going.

They're much stronger now than when I started, but they've a ways to go before I can start climbing the sharp overhangs and other such demanding routes. My whole upper body is in much better shape than just a few months ago, and I reckon if I keep it up for another ten years I might see the back of my beer belly.

Also, I strapped my board on my back for the first time this season on Monday, and headed up the Akakura line. For three hours I managed to get up to around 800m. And in ten minutes I was back down again. Was it worth the grind? ****ing right it was!! The snow wasn't champagne quality, of course, but it was a darn sweet run through the forest. Now, for the third week running I'm walking round telling people that "next Monday I'm off up Hakkoda!!". That's if I can get out of bed on time.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Chevy Chase comes to town

I haven't seen him yet, but I've a good feeling he's living close to me, just down the road.

It started snowing proper yesterday, and still the roads here are coated with a thick layer. Last night was really pretty. I attended a singing session with local JETs at Santa Monica, the best karaoke in town. Outside, on the way to fetch more alcohol, the streets were covered with about 8-10 inches, and the bright neon lights from the karaoke plaza made the whole scene worthy of a few shots. I didn't have my camera though.

I think the basic line in the sand for a good photo, on a personal level at least, is whether you make an aesthetic improvement on the real. If your shot looks as pretty, or prettier than when you were looking at that space, object, or whatever in real life then you've not wasted your time. It might not be a fantastic shot, but you've not wasted your time.

I've wasted my time with photography this week so I've only words to give you. And I'm not feeling too handy with them either. I have parents week next week, when the parents of the kids who I teach come to watch the little blighters run around and take the piss out of me in Japanese. I'm not looking forward to it, but I'll stick by my golden rule of not giving a shit. If I actually give a shit I'll fold under the pressure. I'll stroll in there with a million dollar grin on my face and give them what I can.

That reminds me, yesterday one of the managers told me I have a million dollar smile. And if I use it enough next week there'll be nothing to worry about. I'd rather deliver an educational lesson with a grin on my face though.

I'm getting a kick out of life these days. I think it's something to do with being busy. I used to get a kick out of life on JET, but not in the office. I hated that office, but loved life outside it. These days the office I work in is pretty funny. I work with a couple of funny guys, I teach lots of really funny kids and my view of Japan isn't so jaded as it used to be. I've got this one five year old kid who comes into class every week and starts running around in a circle. He wouldn't stop if I didn't clinch him and sit him down. He doesn't really learn jack, but he makes me laugh all the time. He's in a class with three other girls and they don't like him. His colouring book is a complete mess because he never obeys the lines of what he's supposed to be colouring, and that completely splits me up. And he's always the first one to start crying when he loses at games. The girls just sit there staring at him like he's nuts. In a complete world of his own, and I suppose I'm a bit jealous. I taught him the difference between a cheetah and a tiger, and now whenever I show him a picture of a cheetah he shouts "Cheetahspots". Personally, I think it's hilarious.

Three weeks in a row, when the class was over he ran out of the door too quick and tripped over the door frame and started roaring all the way down the hallway. Three weeks in a row. His favourite part of the class is the warm up where I throw a big bunch of little picture cards all over the floor and shout the words. The kids have to pick up the right one and shout it back. He just runs around in a circle.

I'll be up at the wall today, and I'll be packing my camera so I might have something for folks to look at later.

Waiting for assistance at JTB.