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Of Thursday being over

Location: Yoshitaka residence - kitchen 12/16/2004 8:39:35 AM
Right now I'm in the kitchen making a Christmas party pamphlet on Apsu for her. Fun stuff. Lots of kanji I've never seen before. *laughs*

Gave my presentation in Japanese class today; I didn't make any horrific mistakes, though I think my voice sounded like a wet rag through most of the presentation. Oh well... I think it was pretty good nonetheless. Aside from being super-boring. Blah. After everyone gave their speeches, half of the class went out walking around and the other half stuck around and watched My Neighbor Totoro for a little while, which has made me want to watch the whole thing. We had to cut it off early because at about 11:30 we went to a nearby noodle restaurant and had a class lunch there. Very good food... I got some katsudon because I like it and it's cheap, though I would have probably gotten something bigger had I known I didn't have to pay for the meal! *laughs* It was quite fun, though. Even though I've been in Japan for three months already, it's still oddly transporting when you walk into a traditional Japanese restaurant where you take off your shoes and sit in tatami rooms on little pillows while you eat. Good stuff.

Took my stats test afterwards... glad that's over with. Glad that class is over with until 2005. Glad the day is pretty much over.

Got home late as usual on Thursdays (around 7:15 or so), checked up on some Internet stuff for a while, and then ate dinner with Mama. When we have the kitchen/dining room to ourselves, we always talk about all sorts of groovy things. I'm certainly getting better at understanding her; it's not like I'm always in the dark but it's not like I can always follow everything she says, either. Right now she's burnin' it up on the phone... *laughs* She talks so quickly. ^__^

After dinner Mama let me have some "Royal Milk Tea" ice cream, during which I took a look at their computer which she said hadn't been working for the past two days. I hit the power switch and it turned on, much to Mama's surprise. *laughs* Looks like I still have "the touch" here in Japan... when there's a comptuer problem, simply bring me over and my mere PRESENCE will FIX YOUR PROBLEMS! MWAHAHAHAHAHHH! Ahem. Then I started working on the pamphlet which I just finished now... and, well, now it's nearly 11:00 and I still have yet to take a bath and study for the kanji quiz tomorrow. o_O Guess I had better do that.

After I get these pictures up for y'all. ;)
Photos: Japanese class lunch 0 replies

Of a jazz concert!

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/17/2004 11:13:32 AM
It finally happened: for the first time since landing in Japan, I was out past midnight and thus was unable to make an entry for Friday on Friday... technically, it's Saturday at 12:24 AM, but let's just pretend it's still Friday. And besides, I was with Papa, so it's all cool. But might as well start from the beginning. Or at least remotely close to it.

Started off the day with a kanji quiz and lots of reading in class. We went through some old children's stories, which was interesting, and talked about things our parents or grandparents would always tell us when we were kids. I used Dad's "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" maxim for that. It actually translates into Japanese relatively well. Then the teacher out of nowhere said, "I can eat chalk! Watch!" and proceeded to eat chalk. Then she passed some chalk out to people to eat. Apparently, she had two kinds: real chalk and candy chalk that was edible but also write-with-able. She had eaten the edible stuff and had passed out a piece of real chalk, but I ate it anyway (since I didn't know better and I've actually wanted to see what chalk tasted like for quite some time, no kidding). Very... chewy. Wasn't expecting that. Not really chewy but... er, weird. Don't try it, though. It left a little weird taste in my stomach until I ate lunch.

Which reminds me: immediately after lunch, some of my classmates (who I had eaten with) said, "Hey, let's go get some candy!" So I got a bar of chocolate and ate the whole thing. 400 calories fatter, just like that. BAM. And then I proceeded to spend the next four and a half hours in the Building 19 lounge, working on my website and all but completing a very important piece to Dragon Films (it's basically a pseudo-markup-enabled system that uses regular expressions to translate... yeah, never mind). Just goes to show me that if I am allowed to sit down for several hours on end and concentrate on nothing but websites, I can make some good progress.

Why did I spend all that time in the lounge working on Apsu, you ask? Because there was a concert at 7:00 that I was going to, and going back home just to come all the way back to the station and head to Shibuya would be quite a waste. At around 4:30 or so I headed out so I could catch a quick pre-dinner, which I decided would be Wendy's. Now I know somebody said, "Don't eat at Wendy's unless you're absolutely dying for American food," but really I wanted to see what Japanese Wendy's was like. Of course, I got my spicy chicken sandwich. The taste is about the same (a little less crispy, but that might have just been chance), but the proportions are all smaller. Fewer fries, smaller drink, smaller sandwich. But that's just how Japan is.

The performing arts center where the jazz concert was held was in Shibuya, a place I had never been before (but is where Papa works and where my parents will be staying when they come up in March for their Japan trip). And let me tell you: Takadanobaba is a GRAVEYARD compared to Shibuya. I walked out of the station and very well may have seen a thousand people crossing the street at once. CROSSING THE STREET. For crying out loud, I don't think I've ever seen so many people in one place before, except for on television and in sports stadiums. Shibuya is absolutely nutso... at least when I went there, anyway. The streets were totally packed with people and stores; it looked more like a big department store than a city where cars could drive through. Small wonder I didn't see too many cars: not only is there hardly any parking, but if you're in Japan, you're gonna be walking. I don't know how else to express my sheer shock of how many people there were there at once.

Papa had printed out a map for me with directions to get to the theater the concert was going to be held at from an English website, but it was a little weird and it took me a while to get there. But finally I did (with about 15 or 20 minutes to spare), and I walked in and found my seat. I had no idea it was in the FRONT ROW and close to the center. Holy cow. Papa scored some amazing tickets! The Kobayashis also came (they came to my welcome party, the male of which got really drunk), and we enjoyed an amazing jazz concert called "Traveling with L.A. Friends" by Sadao Watanabe. I had never heard of him in America before, but he's great. Plays the sax and the flute quite well, and he has an American entourage of supporting musicians to help him pump out some sweet tunes. One of the percussionists was an African-American who played this amazing African drum solo, which was really awesome. There was another time when he and Mr. Watanabe were kind of "facing off" with a drum and a sax, which really touched me: this band has all these different nationalities mixed together, yet it still produces some professional-class music. Awesome stuff.

After the concert we went to a restaurant called Pepper Lunch and had some food for a late-night dinner (it was nearing 10:00 by that time), and from there headed back home. On the train, we ran into the guy at the party last week who had worked for Dell and Microsoft and everything, so we chatted for a while. After arriving at Higashimurayama, though, we parted ways as Papa took me to Maru, a local bar and grille where he goes with his friends often. I finally was able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. In past entries, I've mentioned things about "Papa's boss" and stuff. But that's not Mr. Mishima, as I thought it was... Papa works in Shibuya, and Mr. Mishima owns Maru. I guess it makes more sense to me since I've actually met these people and been to these places, but it made me happy to finally get all that straight. Papa and I hung out there for a little while and talked about my Japanese studies, what I was going to do over winter break, the website jobs I had, my family, and, of course, Kristin (because everybody seems to ask about her!). Papa also let me try some hot sake, which I think has a very good taste. Music from the Phantom of the Opera and John Lenon songs were playing in the background as we chatted. Maru is a nice, small place; I'll be going there to talk to Munii-san in English eventually.

What a fun day today was. Busy to the brim, but very fun. I'm glad I could experience all of it. And speaking of experience, my parents are going to be in for quite an experience when they come up! And also speaking of experiences, the Kobayashis invited me to go with them to a New Year's festival near Narita airport that sounds quite fun. Awesome!

Well, I'd better get some sleep. Too late. o_O
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Of nothing in particular

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/18/2004 7:15:30 AM
Yay, Saturday. And better yet, only two more days of school after today. Whoo! As in, next week. Yeah.

Didn't really do much today. Talked to friends online, worked on my website, cleaned my room, ate meals. There was a little recital today where children came to play piano and their parents came to watch and videotape it. I helped to get the house set up for it (which consisted of moving plants and the Christmas tree, which fell over while someone was helping me move it... fortunately it's just a little artificial tree), but didn't stay down there because it was pretty packed. Dinner consisted of some very, very strange foods... the likes of which I will only describe to people who really want to know. For the first time I can recall, I didn't take a certain dish whatsoever and I wasn't able to finish everything on my plate. The food was just that... different. *laughs* Yeah, we'll leave it at that.

And, well, that was about it for today. I wish I would have gotten some more work done on my website since I had all day to work on it, though. Sometimes it seems like I spend so much time on it but fail to get anything useful done. Maybe it's because I was just working on small tweaky things whereas yesterday I completely developed a text-formatting system that the entire site will be using. I'm sure when I start working on websites for actual pay, though, my energies will be much more focused. Without any deadline or people breathing down my neck, it's easy to just relax and kind of take the progress as it comes as opposed to trying to force it out.

I've realized that I'm starting to miss American food more and more. Either that or I'm just not snacking as much as I used to, which wasn't all that much to begin with (except for cereal). Or maybe it's because I stick to such a strict OJ ration. Or something. I'll survive, though. ^__^
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Of lots of pianoage

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/19/2004 9:03:42 AM
Well well well, today was a very piano-filled day if you ask me! Yes.

The Christmas Party was today... I thought it was going to be a big get-together with drinking and snacks and all sorts of stuff, but it turned out to more or less be a continuation of yesterday's piano recital (and, in fact, there's more tomorrow, though I'm going to be gone for class by then). The twist this time was that I was there and announced the names of the people and the songs they were playing... in English! *laughs* Mama thought it would be かっこいい (kakko ii, "cool") if I could say everything in English, so we spent a little time with the help of one of the students playing piano that day (99% of them were in elementary school it seemed) to translate all the Japanese into English. I was able to make out the hiragana and katakana just fine (duh), but some of the kanji were real stumpers. And I had no idea how 鳥の人 ("tori no hito") could be translated into something other than "Bird Man." o_O Ah well.

Afterwards, we relaxed for a while and had cakes (of course), coffee (of course), sandwiches, and sushi rolls, while the kids got soda and candy and another kind of sushi roll that I really like (so I hobbled over to the "kids' table" and stole two). I didn't really talk much because there wasn't much for me to talk about, so I went outside (where the kids eventually went as well to play ball and stuff). It was a little brisk, but still nice weather.

Now this is odd. Since I've gotten here, Nana (I think she may have been named that because she was dog number 7 in a litter...) has always been a little sheddy. As in, when I pet her I usually get strands of hair on my hands... which is why I usually pet her after putting on my gloves so they get hairy and gunky instead of my fingers. Today, though, Nana looked like a cattail in bloom, if you know what I'm referring to. Her fur was just sort of... poofing off. Everywhere. Just like the furry cattail stuff poofs off when you pull/blow/shake it hard. Fur was EVERYWHERE, and in clumps that made it look like somebody had put a buzz cutter to her. But, oddly enough, there was a perfectly full coat of fur beneath that, just shorter. I suppose these Japanese dogs (or at least Nana) completely shed their entire coat of fur or something. Or maybe it's a disease. Or maybe it's because she's old. I don't know... but whatever the case is, she's shedding. ^__^

When everyone left, I got inspired by all the piano music and decided to research how to play chords... something I never really did much of back when I was taking piano lessons. I learned how to play written music; what I want to do now is learn how to play music WITHOUT sheets. Learn to pick out the chords I need to play, plink out a melody, and somehow stick them together nicely. I found a really cool site that did a good job at teaching me the basics of finding and playing chords. Now I can (with a little thinking, of course; it's not automatic QUITE yet, but I'm pretty quick) spit out major, minor, dominant seventh, major seventh, and minor seventh chords given the note to start with, and I know how to make inversions of all those. After dinner, I spent at least two hours sitting at the Electone with my headphones and Apsu, figuring all this stuff out and even extracting the chord sheet for the Mega Man 3 introduction theme, all by ear (and a lot of trial and error). Well, not ALL of it... there are still four measures that are inundated by melody that I haven't been able to figure out yet.

F#m A/E B/Eb Bm/D | F#m A/E Bm/D Bm/D | F#m A/E B C# | F#m A/E Bm/D C# | ? ? ? ?
[Loop point]
F#m F#m F#m F#m | F#m B/F# C#/Ab C#/Ab | F#m B/F# Dbm/Ab B/F# | F#m B/F# C#/Ab C#/Ab
[Goto loop point]

You have to move down one octave when you get to that F# minor chord in the second measure of the loop, and with the second-to-last C#-Ab inversion you need to hit F# instead of F (I don't know how to notate that quite yet). But other than that and the measure of four as of yet unknown chords, you too can now jam to the awesome intro song to Mega Man 3. At least, the chords for it, anyway. Hey, if you've got a guitar, you'll be all set! I'm hoping to be able to play all sorts of video game music this way some day.

Next challenge: learn melodies and then smoosh the chords and melodies together. And then improvise. ^__^

Two days of classes left. I feel like I should be studying for something, but there's nothing to study for. I think over the winter break, though, I'm going to try and hit my kanji and grammar and vocabulary at LEAST once a week (hopefully much more often than that), just because it would be a rather good idea.

Yay for vacations. And pianos. And cool people. ^__^
1 reply

playing chords
Posted by: badcheeso 12/19/2004 11:20:43 AM
This isn't badcheeso--it's Mom!
You know who plays chords & picks out songs by ear well, and traditionally has done this instead of reading music (altho he does more of that now)? Papa Kip! Yes, you two can sit down together someday and he'll teach you all his tricks...and you can teach him yours!
In the's cool that you can teach yourself via the internet. Have fun!
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Of being outgeeked

Location: Yoshitaka residence - piano room 12/20/2004 6:51:12 AM
Dang, I've been royally outgeeked. During dinner we watched a TV show that was featuring the man who holds the world record for memorizing the most digits of pi: 42,195 digits. Japanese, of course. They had all of those digits displayed on these huge poster boards, and they pointed to some random line and said, "Okay, recite from digit [something]." And he did. Faking muggle. My host parents were like, "Wow, Greg, looks right up your alley!" to which I shook my head and said, "That's it, I've gotta do some studying." Everyone laughed.

Prior to dinner, the day was a pretty usual, relaxing Monday. Saki-chan and her friend decided to have their way with me as I tried to work on my computer, though. They kept getting new ideas: first it was climbing all over me, then it was poking my butt repeatedly (they seem to have this strange fascination with sticking their fingers between my legs, both in front and in back... o_O), then it was stealing kleenex, then it was hitting me with badminton racquets. In fact, when I finally packed up and headed out the door, they were still hitting me. Mama had her usual group of friends over for lunch, and I said, "They do this allllll daaaaaaay loooong," and they laughed. *has to laugh too* Kids. When I get a house, I'm putting LOCKS on my doors.

Wasn't really hungry today, so I ate a sweet roll for lunch. Went shopping for some OJ and cereal afterwards, then got home and, well, go to the beginning of this entry. And then that brings us to now: me sitting in front of the Electone about to practice some more piano. Or chording, if you don't think playing chords is playing piano. I don't know what it is. But it's fun. ^__^

Last day of classes tomorrow. Sweeeeeeeeeeeet.
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Of classes being over

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/21/2004 6:50:55 AM
Yay! Last day of classes. Over. ^__^

I wasn't really looking forward to going to Japanese class, because I thought we'd probably have a quiz and I really had no idea what was happening. Well, I wasn't COMPLETELY clueless, since our teacher had said we were going to be watching "Kiki's Delivery Service" in class (which is a great movie, by the way, even if you watch it in Japanese). We did that, but not before learning about Japanese New Year cards. My teacher sends out about 200 of them ever year. YEEP. Talk about a boon to the postal service!

Also before the movie, we played a game where we had to pick up a plateful of small, dry beans with chopsticks and put them into a cup. When you got them all in, you emptied the cup back onto the plate and let the next person in your group go; there were three people in each group, and five groups. My group won. Whoo! What we won was basically our first pick at a pile of presents the teacher had gotten for us. Most of them were some kind of candy or another, though I made off with a nice red hand towel with a stitched-in Christmas-themed design... just the kind of thing I think Mom would buy. *laughs* But that's good, because towels are very nice over here. So nice, in fact, that I am seriously considering putting that in my bookbag just so I can have it, because 99% of all restrooms do not provide any way to dry your hands when you're done washing them. Nor do they provide warm water, either. o_O;

Some of my Japan Study friends are going to be leaving tomorrow, too. See y'all around, dudes. You'll be missed!

I had a hankering for some anpan on my way back home, but that made me kind of late for the express back home. I got to the station at 4:29, which is when the express leaves, but the sign had already changed so I thought the train had already left. So instead of darting up the stairs, I just stood on the escalator and let that drag me up. Only to find out that the train had NOT yet left, and if I would have taken the stairs I would have made it on time! BAH! But not all was lost, because I got to take a random route home: hop on a local train headed to Shin-Tokorozawa, hop off at Saginomia only to realize there was no express there back home, hop back on the same train (but about four cars down) before the doors closed, get off at Kamisakuji, hop on an express to Hajima, and then switch to a local train at Kodaira to get to good ol' HMY. The trip took over an hour, but it was kind of fun. Yay for being able to get WHEREVER THE HECK YOU WANT by HOWEVER THE HECK MEANS YOU WANT! *ahem* Japan's railway rocks. Hard.

Saki-chan demanded to watch that Simpsons clip of mine when I got home, so instead I made her sit through an entire 20-minute episode. Hah, that'll teach her. *laughs* Had another yummy dinner, and now I'm kind of mulling around, wondering if I should plink away at the piano before or after I go take a bath. I'm thinking after, this time.

Hopefully I'll be able to go DDRing with Kazuki and Kesuke sometime soon. That would be really fun. If not, I might just go myself. Spending money to DDR has ceased to faze me; now I want to do it more often! There's a game center near the supermarket, so I'll check that out. Maybe even tomorrow. Heck, why not tomorrow? No time like the present, eh?

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Of my very unlucky day

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/22/2004 7:32:58 AM
Today was NOT my day. Nope nope nope. *laughs* It was my first day of vacation, though. Yay!

So I start my first day of vacation with a little sleep-innage, and then head down for breakfast... to which Mama says, "Running a little late today?" "Oh, no... my break has started already." "It has? Oh!" *laughs* Last night she asked me a question which could mean "Do your classes end tomorrow?" or "Are your classes over tomorrow?", and thus could be interpreted as being "Is tomorrow your last day?" or "Was today your last day?" I interpreted it as the latter, so I said "Yes." Guess Mama had something else in mind. ;)

Gosh, I just realized I ate a LOT of food today... mostly rice and noodles. Yeep. I hope I don't blow up like a balloon. o_O;

But yeah, so after lunch I helped Mama dry off some dishes because she was in a rush and there was a cake-making party which was going to have over 30 people coming. While I was doing so, I mashed my head on the overhead cabinets. Dang being tall. The party started and I went up to my room (there wasn't much room for me downstairs, anyway), and soon in came Saki-chan and her friend. And then another little kid. And before I knew it, there were no fewer than five little rascals in my room, all jumping on my bed, hitting me with my mocassins, stealing all my stuff and tossing it around, and generally making for a non-workable environment.

So, I decided I'd try out a plan that I had been thinking of for some time but had, until now, refrained from resorting to. There's a loft in my room that is only accessible from a ladder. Normally, the ladder is hung up on the wall, perpendicular to the way it's supposed to be to get up to the loft. However, it's possible to get up the ladder and into the loft without deploying it (though it's a tad dangerous for an adult-sized body like mine). There's really no way to see up into the loft, so my reasoning was if I could move myself and Apsu up there, I'd be safe from the rapscallions. I did just that, and to my delight there was even a power outlet up there. Sweet. Now if the kids came in, all I needed to do was mute my volume and stay perfectly still... they'd look around, see nobody there, and then run out.

At least, I thought that's what would happen. Instead, they came in and IMMEDIATELY climbed up the non-deployed ladder, as if I had put up a sign that said, "Hey, I'm up here!" I told them to get off because it was dangerous (and I'm not kidding... that's NOT a safe ladder to be climbing when it's like that. That's why I went up there in the first place, because they shouldn't climbing that!), but no matter how many times I said "Get off!" and "That's dangerous!" in any language or tone of voice, they just kept coming. I even disengaged the ladder from the wall so they wouldn't climb it anymore, but even then they grabbed onto it and tried climbing it... while it wasn't being held by anything but my own arms. They had even ripped the rubber feet off the bottom, so their bouncing around on it caused some scars and nicks in the nice wooden floor around the base of the ladder (I later told Mama about them and she said not to worry about it and that it was just fine).

So finally I SOMEHOW get them to leave, and in a frustrated rage I climb down the ladder so I can... I forget what I wanted to do. All I know is that I was coming down the ladder, and I jumped off too soon and let go too late. The combination somehow or another made my face rush toward the ladder and the ladder rush toward my face, and they collided with a smack. I was kind of kneeling on the floor after that, somewhat dazed but glad my glasses hadn't shattered like I thought they would have given the force of the impact. Boy, I thought, that's going to leave a bruise. Well, I'm glad nothing got really damaged. And then a big drop of blood fell to the floor. I put my hand to my face and when I brought it away, my first two fingers were all but covered in blood. I ran to the sink (which fortunately is about a yard from my room) and looked in the mirror: I had a gash on my left eyebrow 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long and about an eigth of an inch thick and deep. Oh, and blood was dripping down the side of my face and into the sink. BLAH. I managed to stop the bleeding quickly with some tissues, but that huge gash just... wasn't cool.

Apparently the kids had come up and seen me cleaning off in the bathroom and had told Mama and some of the other parents, because they came up a minute or two later to see what had happened. I explained as best I could without trying to condemn the kids (since they drove me to climb up there, but it was me who decided to do that in the first place and hurt myself), and they gave me some stuff to put on the wound. I took it easy for a little while after that... Mama even brought up some cake and tea for me (that was SO amazingly sweet I wanted to give her a hug).

Around 4:00, though, they decided to bring me to a local 病院 ("byin", hospital/doctor's office) and get me checked out. The doctor was incredibly nice and awesome and stuck the wound back together and taped it up so it would heal correctly. I was actually expecting some stitches because the cut was so deep (I figured it was because my glasses frame had been driven straight through my eyebrow, by the way), but it doesn't look like I got any. Which is good. He gave me some pills to take after meals and I am to report back on Friday. Hopefully it'll heal up and I won't get TOO big of a scar. Actually, I won't mind if there's a little scar there as long as I can have a full left eyebrow and I don't look like Scar from The Lion King. *laughs* That's actually really strange, actually, because earlier in the morning I had done a voice sample of Scar for someone who needed it for a little animation clip she was making. Coincidence? Or just strangeness? ;)

But no, my bad luck didn't end there. On my way back in the car, I smashed my head on the rear-view mirror. Dang tallness again! *laughs* Mama was like, "Wow, today wasn't your day, was it?" and I said, "Naw... tonight there'll probably be a fire..." (Mama) "...and an earthquake..." (Me) "Yeah, not my day." *laughs again* Mama was really sweet and understanding... and even paid for everything despite my insistence to pay for it. Japanese or American, your Mama's there to look out for you. Made me happy. ^__^

So, obviously, I didn't get to go DDRing today like I wanted to. Maybe later this weekend I'll be able to... but until then, it would be best if I didn't. Perhaps tomorrow I'll just go walking and check out the Game Center to see if they have DDR at all... good way for me to get out of the house and burn some of these calories I'm ingesting. o_O;

At no point did the wound really hurt at all, and at no point did I go into shock or anything like that. It was pretty bad, but my body managed to stay together. And we got a pro doctor to fix it up, so I should be right as rain in a few days. Perhaps even good in time for Christmas. ^__^

So, yeah... that was my amusingly unlucky day. Just goes to show you that things happen when you least expect it, but you don't have to deal with such things on your own. Even if they don't speak your language, they're there to help you out.

And no, we haven't had a fire or earthquake. Yet. *laughs*
2 replies

Posted by: badcheeso 12/22/2004 8:04:21 AM
For crying out loud. I didn't send you to the other side of the world to hurt yourself and leave DNA all over the floor.

You've had earthquakes, typhoons and now a scar. What's next? A tatoo? Blizzard?

Check out your glasses frame and make sure all the little screws are there and the frame sits on your nose OK.

Next time bring the ladder up with you so they can't reach it or you.

You'll learn, adapt, improvise, and change.

Mom's are wonderful creatures.

1 reply

Posted by: Gerf 12/22/2004 5:48:41 PM
I actually tried bringing the ladder up with me, but the room is too small/the ladder is too big, and there is no real way to keep it up there without constantly sitting on it... which is even more dangerous! *laughs*
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Of my day home

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/23/2004 6:26:57 AM
Papa told me of a Japanese proverb: "That which happens twice happens thrice." Yesterday was a very good example: I hurt myself twice, and, sure enough, I ended up hurting myself a third time! I tried to think of a similar American/Western proverb, but all I could think of is "Third time's a charm," which is kind of the opposite of what this is saying. *laughs*

Today was a nice day. Nothing really changed with my eye... the patch is still there and nothing hurts. I had to peel away a little of the gauze tape because it was really irritating the outer corner of my left eye, but it's all good now. Mama and I are going to head out to see the doctor again tomorrow morning; we'll see how it has healed (or refused to heal o_O) then. Hopefully it'll be good enough to... I dunno... GO PLAY DDR! *laughs* Nah, I doubt it. Perhaps instead I'll just go and take a walk to the game center like I meant to do today but never did.

Instead, I helped Mama make a printout of a picture I took yesterday of all the cakes at the party. I did a little Photoshop work to slice out worthless parts of the picture and cram three high-quality prints onto one sheet of paper, which Mama will cut and send off to her friends. It looked quite nice! Whenever anyone here needs something done on the computer, I'm the one they ask to do it. *laughs* Except for when we got the wireless card for the modem... when that happened, we needed the neighbor to come over to read some of the instructions: I couldn't understand them because they were in Japanese, and Mama couldn't understand them because they were in computer jargon. *laughs*

Speaking of Photoshop, I made a new picture in the art gallery of my site. I guess you could call it DDR fanart... didn't turn out at all the way I wanted it to, but hey, practice is practice.

Around lunchtime Mama and Papa said I looked like a boxer with the patch on my eyebrow and everything. "Greg Strnad, Ohio boxing champion!" they said. I was wearing a robe at the time, so I tossed it off and started punching at imaginary hobos and said, "Greg Strnad, a guy who has never boxed before!" We have fun together. ^__^ We had a great conversation over dinner, too. Sometimes dinners are pretty silent, but other times we talk about lots of things. Today we talked about things from genetically modified strawberries to Christmas customs. Saturday there is going to be a jazz party at Maru that we'll be going to, so that should be fun. The actual Christmas party will be taking place that Sunday, since Saturday is still a work day for everyone. Only Saki-chan will be getting her presents then, the ones from Santa. Everyone else gets 'em on Sunday.

Got a big package from home, too. Presents for the family. ^__^ Sunday = giving date.

Well, I guess that's about it for today. Drive safely! 2 replies

Sake is BACK!
Posted by: RevengeofSake 12/24/2004 2:40:49 AM
Yes...I forgot my original screen now I am born again! REVENGE OF SAKE!!!!! you know what that means? I get everyone drunk on SAKE!!!! WATCH OUT SAKI SAN!!!! and all you other PEEPS! Cause ROS (aka revenge of Sake) will get you to do thing....only sake can do. :-D
1 reply

Posted by: Gerf 12/29/2004 7:20:58 AM
Yeah, which reminds me... I probably should do that password retreival system sometime, shouldn't I? *laughs* Well, I think I want to update large sections of the code at some point anyway, mostly by importing things from my new Dragon Films redesign. Though by that time, I'll probably be back home and there will be little reason to have the ability to log in and post stuff, anyway. Hmm... maybe I could make a Gerfish forum or something... dunno.
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Of Christmas eve

Location: Yoshitaka residence: dining room 12/24/2004 6:40:10 AM
How about a change of location: the kitchen table! Listening to Christmas music from a CD my parents back home gave to my parents here. ^_^ Right now "Silent Night" is playing. Brings back memories of how we always listen to music while decorating the tree at home. Pretty different this year... for me at least.

Saki-chan got a fever today, which I suppose explains why I never really saw her today very much. Mama and Papa put some sort of adhesive something on her forehead... probably a cold patch of some sort. Poor Saki-chan... it's always strange to see someone who normally is too 元気 ("genki", lively) for her own good suddenly be totally incapacitated. Hm.

And right now I'm watching this strange TV show with these animals doing, like, gym stuff. There was a walrus doing situps and a dog standing on its forelegs while keeping the rest of his body horizontal. No kidding. Japanese TV is awesome. Anyone who happens to come over and visit (Mom and Dad, this means you) be sure to bring a blank VHS tape or two so you can get some quality Japanese programming to take home. And then laugh at time and again.

Mama and I went to the doctor's office this morning. It started out with me being the only one there, but soon it filled up quite a bit. Mama went off to the city office to take care of some business, and I thought we were going to go in together so I just sat there and read my book, letting people who came in later go in front of me until Mama came back. However, when Mama came, she asked if I had gone in yet and I said I hadn't; apparently she had thought I'd go in on my own! Fortunately, she had other things to do (shopping), so she did that and I went into the office on my own. The doctor (a great, old guy) replaced my eyebrow patch and said to come back on Saturday (or Monday, which we're going to have to do because tomorrow will be busy). He also said I could take a bath again. Yay! I had only used the shower portion these past two days, and boy, when I got out I was COLD. Today will be nice. ^__^

During lunch, Natsuko was brushing her hair and... well, pulling some of it out. She had pulled out this lock of hair that was at least a foot long, and I was like, "Whoa, doesn't that hurt?" and she said, "No, not really." I guess when you have long hair, sometimes you've gotta do some pruning. Natsuko and Mama suggested I tack that onto my already rather long hair (well, rather long for me, anyway), and I suggested maybe I could make it into a mustache. Obviously, nothing of the sort actually happened, for better or for worse. *laughs*

I'm trying to build a mental list of foods I have here that I MUST learn to make back home. Onigiri is definitely one of them (and I already know how to make those), and another is GYZA. Like, seriously. Those little things are great. You may know them as "pot stickers." Grab a plate and mix some soy sauce, hot sauce, and vinegar together on it, and roll the gyza around on it and you've got yourself a scrumptious morsel of goodness. I can put so many of those things away... geez.

Christmas tomorrow! Sure doesn't seem like it... no snow, not too many lights, not very many carolers. Christmas isn't a national holiday here... in fact, it's still a workday for most people. Because of that, it just... doesn't really feel much like the Christmas I'm used to. But, you know, that doesn't mean it's any less special. Christmas is still my favorite time of year, even if I'm on the other side of the globe. This is just a new way of celebrating it.

Hope everyone who's getting clobbered by the snowstorms stays safe. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
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Of a great Christmas party

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/25/2004 11:07:58 AM
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope your Christmas is full of happiness and joy. ^__^

My Christmas was... well, understandably, quite different this year. *laughs* Because of the time difference, it was Christmas morning here while it was Christmas Eve evening back at home. So, I was able to call up my family (using Skype, of course... best IP solution I know of!) and talk with them on their Christmas eve and keep with some traditions we've done since who knows when. We also compromised a bit... I waited until then to open my presents they had sent me, and they opened mine a little early. I got a stocking with the "traditional" gifts... meaning beef jerky, a chocolate orange, and a Chapstick. Yes, Christmas would somehow not quite be the same without those in my stocking. *laughs* Oh, and a box of Legos. Can't forget the Legos. Nope nope. It's sitting on my desk now, all constructed.

My parents got my gifts to them, which included (among other things) a videotape that Papa had taken of me since arriving in Japan up to just a few weeks ago. Looks like they really enjoyed it! I watched it as Papa was recording it... very cool stuff. I also sent one to Kristin as well... hope she and her family likes it, too! :)

Afterwards, I didn't do a heck of a lot. Cleaned my room, straightened out my desk, worked on updating some of those picture descriptions on the Photos page, ate my chocolate orange. Later in the afternoon there was some sort of party or another and some kids came whose name I can't remember but are not only very well-behaved but also very fun to play with. We went up to my room and I showed them some 3DMM and video game stuff, and we even played some computer games together. Very fun! I also shared some of my chocolate orange with the adults who had come to visit... it was the first time many of them had tried something so odd. But then, this is Japan, where everything is odd! Sort of, anyway.

At 6:00 Mama, Papa, and I went to the Maru restaurant, where there was the "Thunder Road Christmas Party Volume 2," a joint party between the Maru and a nearby bar called the Juke Joint. Now, the Maru is a very small, local tavern-looking place. Because of this, I was quite surprised how many people could fit in there and still have space to move! We were kind of packed in like sardines at times, but somehow we all still had free reign to get anywhere we wanted. Aside from being able to talk to all sorts of people from around Higashimurayama (I'm beginning to come to know several good folks almost like extended family members), there was a constant stream of live entertainment to compliment the excellent (and non-Japanese) food. First Mr. Iwasaki came in and tickled the plastic ivories of his keyboard, and after him was a guitarist and a dude who played this instrument that looked like a clarinet but sounded like a sax. Everyone played jazzy Christmas music, and people really got into it. What great fun.

It was around that time I noticed non-Japanese people coming in. First there was an African man, then three guys (two from England and one from Canada), all of whom could speak English (two more English-speaking girls came in a while later). Apparently, the English dudes were all teaching English in local towns, though amusingly enough my Japanese was better than theirs put together. *laughs* There were many instances in which I acted as a translator for them and also for Japanese folks who couldn't understand the English they were saying! Which reminds me... lots of people in Japan will try to speak English to you given the opportunity. They study it in school for ten years but hardly ever get to actually speak it, so many will jump at the opportunity to speak English, whether they're any good or not. I spoke with a lot of people there in both English and Japanese; sometimes it takes parties like that to remind me that yes, I actually CAN function pretty well with the Japanese I know! There were only a few cases in which I got lost and was forced to resort to English, which made me happy. Even when explaining what happened to my eye, I was able to speak in relatively smooth Japanese. Neato!

As it turned out, the African guy was an African drum player, and for about an hour and a half he played some awesome beats that got the whole place dancing, clapping, chanting, and being merry in general. I have no idea how drummers who play with their hands can go for that long... you'd think their fingers would explode or something! But no, he kept going and going and going... and the people kept dancing and dancing and dancing.

And it was around that time I realized how special this all was. The population in the Maru had people my age all the way up to grandparent-age folks, and there were no fewer than six different nationalities in that tiny little tavern. And though we couldn't always communicate too well (either because of the language barrier or because it was too loud), we got along so very well and had an absolutely amazing time. In Japan where Christianity is not a very big thing, Christmas seems to be more of a celebration of community and happiness, a time when people can get together and be happy for who they are, who they are with, and where they live. While it's not the Christian meaning of Christmas, I honestly think it is (or at least should be) a piece of it. Us Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and pay respect to this world-changing event, and there's no way I could possibly forget "Jesus is the reason for the season." But at the same time, it's about family, friends, happiness, and life... things we receive through the grace of God and thus things we ought to embrace and celebrate just the same.

After the Maru, Papa and I went to the Juke Joint (Mama had already left at this point). Whereas the Maru is a pleasant family-run tavern, the JJ is a hoppin' pub with an area for bands and speakers all over the place. Loud, full of cigarette smoke, and twice as packed as the Maru. Fortunately, we didn't stay in there for too long... I was starting to have some problems breathing, anyway. Did get two glasses of OJ, though, so that was nice. ^__^

I don't have too many pictures of this event, since most of what I recorded was video. So... enjoy the pictures and pretend you can hear the music. *laughs*

One interesting thing I learned: Papa used to be a teacher at Waseda about twenty years ago, for we met a lot of people that said, "Ah, Yoshitaka-sensei!" Papa's pretty well-known it seems. Cool. ^__^

And now I'm tired. Tomorrow we'll be having ANOTHER party, this one in the evening with the purpose of giving out presents. Gotta rest up for that, 'cause now I'm totally drained. I'm certainly not a party animal, but going to family parties like these as a family... that's something different. It just feels so wonderful! I'm very glad I could experience it.
Photos: Christmas party in Higashimurayama 0 replies

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