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Of a day with the Onishis

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 3/27/2005 5:57:13 AM
Yikes... are my weekends always going to be crowded? *laughs*

Today Osaku didn't show up, so Mr. Hayashiya and I talked about the computer he was going to get for the hour. I showed him Apsu and a bunch of the stuff you can do with a laptop, and he was quite impressed and intrigued. He's planning on getting a computer and an Internet hookup this week, so chances are I'll be teaching him how to do stuff online quite soon.

Around 1:30 or so I went over to the Onishi's house and met up with Mrs. Onishi and Keisuke, and then went with them to a restuarant that served Chanpan noodles (I think that's what they were called). Quite yummy... we had some gyoza, too, which really made my day. Afterwards we went driving for a while and listened to Keisuke talk about earthquake clouds and fire tornadoes and stuff... he's worried about an earthquake hitting their house and is buying all sorts of earthquake survival stuff. We stopped at a place called Don Quixote, a huge (but incredibly cramped) supermarket that sold everything from computers to OJ to giant afro wigs to Spam to digital cameras to toilet bowl cleaner to garage tools. This place has everything... it almost seems illegal for some reason. *laughs* We returned to the Onishi's house and spent a while talking about stuff, correcting my Japanese grammar on the Japanese journal I had to write for homework, and eating and drinking quite a bit. Mrs. Onishi is so incredibly nice: everything she does is far too little and everything I do is far too much it seems. *has to laugh* She's right up there with the lady from the Tsumura housing on my list of the sweetest Japanese women on Earth. ^__^

Got home at maybe 6:30 or so and ate dinner with some family friends, though I wasn't really hungry and it was hard to get everything down. I'm up in my room now, tired as heck, and wishing I hadn't ate so much today. But at least I have one more week of vacation, so that's good.

Speaking of good, I think I have my entire schedule for next semester worked out. As in, I'm about ready to head back to Case. And you know what? I'm finally looking forward to it. I do think it's going to take an additional semester to graduate (since I still need a bunch of tech electives), but heck, it was more than worth it.

Mmm, after dinner mints.
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Of a day of work

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 3/28/2005 6:49:47 AM
Today was a work-all-day kind of day. It was rainy all day, so I didn't really want to go anywhere, so I just stayed in my room and did various things across the spectrum (nearly all involving computer work, of course). Also napped and cleaned up my room a bit and stuff, as well as wrote up half of my homework for Japanese (I want to finish it tomorrow and print out the pictures for it, too). I'll probably want to organize my journals and images into that assignment about my cultural practicum, too, since that's due in two weeks. Well, I've got a week of essentially nothing set aside for that!

Saki-chan wanted me to play one of her badminton rackets like a guitar and sing while she danced, so I did just that. She had a ball, and kept wanting me to sing more songs, but Papa told her she needed to go off next door. *laughs* It was fun while it lasted, though.

Got some Observer newspapers in the mail from Case. I didn't read through many of them last time, but I think this time around I might take a little more time to browse through them. After all, I'm going to be going home in under three months, and I'm getting quite interested about going back to Case and getting back into computer classes. That and living in an apartment with my friends and cooking/buying meals for ourselves. Not going to the Fribley or Leutner and instead making food ourselves is going to translate into a lot more time used for food preparation, but you know, I think we'll be just fine. Not only will we save money (or we SHOULD, anyway), but we can always pretty much eat what we want, and we can make food as healthy as we want, too. I may very well be content with getting a rice cooker and whipping up an onigiri or two for lunch, eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast, and make something nice for dinner... not in that order, of course. Plus, the new apartments will be... well, new. I really can't wait to get a shot at living there.

I'm really, really looking forward to going back to Case. This year abroad in Japan has not only allowed me to dabble in areas other than computers (not to mention experience a completely different way of living), but it has also given me a LOT of free time to roam around the information superhighway (who uses that term anymore?!) and learn a bunch of new things on my own. Back home, I probably would have never had the time to explore open source software, expand my ideas of website construction, learn how different computer and database systems work. I've learned a lot without taking any classes at all... and now going back and taking classes will be all the more meaningful, because I'll know the things they're talking about in more detail than I would have otherwise.

If I were already home, I'd be halfway done with the semester. In real life, though, the next semester hasn't even started. *laughs* I've still got a while to go yet... can't start packing up quite now. Plus at some time or another I've got to hop on the Shinkansen and head to Kyoto. I don't know when, but at some point I want to.

Random info: when I return from Japan, I want to really, really overhaul my website. It was slapped together quickly before I left Japan with half-finished features that were never fully implemented, and it's... so incomplete. When my Japan experience is finished, I'm thinking I might wrap everything up into a cool-looking "tour" of sorts that you can browse through at your leisure, but then completely scrap pretty much everything else about the site (not that there's much there in the first place). Then I'll start from the ground up, likely using PHP instead of ASP as my scripting language, and redesign everything so it's more of a "finalized" site as opposed to one that there only because I rushed it. This implies that I'll also be redoing Dragon Films, which I entirely plan to do.

I don't know what it is about me: I like to purge everything I've done in the past and start completely from scratch, no matter what it is. Cleaning my room, reorganizing my hard drive, building a website... whenever I do it, I often punch through to a very deep level and redo everything from the beginning. I don't like reusing old things, even if they worked just fine... I always want to make them better. I usually end up with something that I like (at least until I decide to start again), yet at the same time I don't completely eradicate the past... I keep it packratted up somewhere. I want to hold onto what I've done (for example, I still have almost every single old drawing I've ever made in my room still), yet I want to go Phoenix on all my old ways and start fresh. Playing both sides of the fence, are we, Gerf?

Why yes, yes we are. I mean, yes I is. Er, am were. Gah! *explodes*
1 reply

Dragon Films redoingness
Posted by: jmexico 3/29/2005 12:02:40 AM
You're planning on redoing Dragon Films? That's cool! I'll have a movie ready for ya when you get back...:D

By the way, sorry if I haven't replied to anything on this site for a while...I've been rather busy with my bulletin board (and about 6 others...o_O;;).
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Of another day of work

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 3/29/2005 6:48:03 AM
Not much today, again. Finished up my Japanese homework, which leaves me with the project for Japan Study (which isn't due for another week and a half... I think I'll start on it tomorrow or thereabouts). Did a lot of official business contacting people, and, um, was tired. I'm tired now, actually. One of the kids who takes piano lessons came up into my room and played Super Mario Brothers on Apsu while I hit F7 to continually reload his state since he kept messing up. Rather funny. Saki-chan's "house" is currently sitting in my room: the big box Papa got his congratulation flowers in. I wonder if/when she's going to get it back.

My parents gave me way too many sweets at once when they came. *laughs* When sweets are not present, I may gripe about it a little, but I'll survive just fine. However, when they're around, they quickly vanish into my stomach. After not having American sweets for six months, I'm going to explode or something. o_O;

I have been making good use of the peanut butter and Jolly Ranchers my relatives sent, and this morning I cracked open one of the packets of powdered lemonade my grandparents found for me. We don't have a jug of sugar here to mix with the lemon powder, so I used some sugar packets Dad had yoinked from the hotel. Whoo, that's some lemony-sour lemonade! When the weather starts heating up (as I know it's going to), that stuff will come in quite handy.

Once again, I'm getting all excited about doing all these different projects, but not only do I know I can't do them all at once, I'm failing to start on any of them at all. They're all relevant to my future plans and goals, so I can't pop any of them in the front of the priority queue. So what ends up happening is nothing at all. Someone needs to tell me to get working on something... I work much better and more thoroughly when someone is expecting me to do something.

I know, I'll work on the website I need to work on for my job, and then study more PHP so I can write something with that, since I'm considering pushing future web projects to the PHP side of things.

Grrr, I don't like not having deadlines. As dumb as that sounds, I like to know exactly when something needs to be done. Otherwise I just can't get started. *punches face*
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about those deadlines
Posted by: badcheeso 3/29/2005 9:18:58 PM
Hi--It's Mom. I know just what you mean about needing deadlines! I can't get going either, unless I have a definite deadline. However, the heaviest weight on my shoulders is when someone else is expecting something from me and I don't have it done....OK. I'll tell you then. Get working on the N.R. website and/or any other ones you're getting paid for and save your own website updates and restructuring til much later!!! (How's that?)
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There we go
Posted by: Gerf 3/30/2005 7:26:44 AM
Sounds like a plan. ^__^
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Of... a haircut!

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 3/30/2005 7:45:28 AM
Today was another stay-at-home day, one in which I managed to get a really, really good jump on my report for Japan Study about my trip to Ibaraki. The family wasn't home all day long, so I was really on my own... like, literally. It may have been a kind of slow day all day had Mrs. Onishi not given me a(nother) call and say "Let's go get you a haircut!" DUN DUN DUNNNN, THE IMPOSSIBLE HAS HAPPENED.

Well, maybe not really "impossible." I mean, I've been wanting one on and off for quite a while, and it's about time I went and got one. Be aware: the pictures today are nothing but mug shots of me with my old and new hairstyles. If you don't want to see four pictures of Gerf's hair, don't click the link. ;)

I went to Mrs. Onishi's house at 3:10, and from there she drove me to a hair salon close to Itoyokado, the owner of which she is friends with. The total bill came out to be 3150 yen, which is pretty expensive for a haircut by my standards, but then, this haircut went above and beyond my standards about ten times over. They washed my hair, cut it all by hand, washed it again, put some lavender-scented treatment on it, gave me scalp and shoulder massage, spent maybe ten minutes styling it with clips and combs and hair dryers, gave me some hot tea when it was all done, and throughout it all talked with me quite a bit. Holy muggle, THAT's what I call getting your hair done. I was almost sad to leave the place, since I had gotten to talk to all four stylists there, and they were all interested in hearing what I had to say. Naturally, they were very interested in hearing about Kristin, too, and they thought we both looked very much like adults (and, in fact, were very surprised when I told them I'm only 20 years old). You hear that Kristin, they think we're old. *laughs*

Very awesome experience, though... gotta give props to Mrs. Onishi once again for knowing exactly what hits the spot for me. Getting your hair done in Japan is different than in America, though; here they give you fashion magazines before they cut your hair and expect you to pick one out and try a new hairstyle. They wanted me to go with something crazy at first, but after talking with them a bit I got them to just trim what I already had. And let me tell you, they sure had fun with my non-Japanese hair. *laughs* They kept on saying how Japanese people always tried to artificially get to the color my hair is naturally, and they were falling over themselves when they finished up and showed me (as well as everyone else there) the do they did. *laughs again* Maybe they were just trying to make me feel welcome and ease any nervousness... or maybe they were really that proud about doing an American's hair. The world may never know. ;)

And, you know, I think they did a good job. I went to eat dinner with the family and grandfather next door in their second-story house, and Saki-chan pointed at me and said, "Your head is different!" *laughs* She also said I looked like Niche, but I don't really think so.

But yeah... if I can get this same kind of thing done to me in America for thirty bucks, I actually just might consider it. If you're going to take care of my rumdrum hair for over an hour, then you deserve every bit of that. ^__^
Photos: A Japanese haircut 2 replies

haircut $$$
Posted by: badcheeso 3/30/2005 5:43:35 PM
Well, if you think $31 isn't bad for a haircut then you have money to burn. Actually you got a lot done for the money. But it is a little expensive when you think about having to get a cut every 3 months or so.

I don't think the pictures do it justice though. You just liked having the women fawn all over you. I know I would.

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Posted by: Gerf 3/30/2005 7:18:33 PM
Haha... well, if I were to pay $30 for a haircut, I'd only get it once every six months, like I did here. So when you average everything out, it comes to maybe just $5-10 more expensive than if I were to get my normal $10 cuts once every two or three months. ;)
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Of more homework

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 3/31/2005 6:51:48 AM
Today was another day of parties and stuff for Mama. Gosh, she's always so busy. I feel like I should help out somehow... though I've been here long enough to know there's probably not a whole lot I could do. One aspect of living with a host family that I sometimes find hard to grasp is that I'm being treated as part of the family, not necessarily some special guest. I was at first, but this is half a year later. It's a very interesting feeling, one I'm sure not too many people get to experience. Hmm.

Homework today... that was about it. A guy who had been over before came and asked me a question about some English, but other than that the day was pretty empty. Watched some very funny TV, though. Japanese TV is great.

I should probably start reviewing my kanji tomorrow. I need to get those things back in my brain before I go back to class. I also want to start looking at my book for next semester. Which reminds me... I also need to go and pick up my schedule for next semester, whenever I can do that. I have no idea when they're supposed to be available. Maybe tomorrow I'll head out and see if it's in my mailbox. If it is, then I don't need to worry about it anymore. If it's not, well, I got to walk for over an hour and nap on the train. ;)
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Of some tricks

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/1/2005 8:02:05 AM

And April Fools! *laughs* Had fun with that one. A little rushed, but it was good practice. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to to see what I mean (as long as it's still April 1, that is!). ;)

Today I went to Waseda to pick up my course schedule, and lo and behold, Monday is completely free. Sweet. But when I looked at it again, I noticed there were some open time slots that weren't supposed to be there. In particular, the "Ethics in Science" class wasn't there. Then I noticed the paper attached to the schedule: "Since Ethics in Science is cancelled, please deal with this problem during the add-drop period (Aptil 7 & 8). Sorry for the inconvenience."

BLAH. Looks like I've been had.

So, yeah, not only do I have to find out another class to take (which I'm not looking forward to, really), but now I won't be able to get the credit that could possibly have been transferred over for a similar class at Case, since it's required for my major. *sighs* The start of the semester is never without its problems here in Japan, huh? *laughs* Oh well. It just looks like I'll have to take another summer/semester of classes at Case... like I was planning to do all along, anyway. Actually, there was a window of a few days that I thought I might be able to make it in four years, but I had forgotten to account for all the tech electives that I needed to take in addition to my core classes.

We'll just play that by ear, I suppose. No use fretting over it too much now, because there's not a heck of a lot I can do. And besides, that's more time I get to spend at Case, and, you know, I like it at Case. It's really, really cool.

The normal 4:30 chime didn't go off today... instead it went off at 5:30, and it was a different chime! Maybe it's different for springtime? I thought maybe it was an April Fools' Day joke, but Papa said they don't really do April Fools' Day in Japan anymore (though apparently they did a long time ago). Ah well.

Got some good kanji studying done. Tomorrow I want to get a bunch more done, take a "pre-test" that came with my new Japanese textbook, and maybe start looking over some vocabulary. The new semester is coming up soon... gotta prepare. Gotta get another class in there, too. *shakes fist*

And I gotta get Saki-chan's "house" out of my room again. It's as pretty busted-up house now, though. It's a shame, too, 'cause that's a sweet box.
1 reply

you got me!
Posted by: badcheeso 4/1/2005 11:18:10 AM
Greg...I was starting to compose an e-mail to AT&T about the faulty connnection to your site, when I decided to check the e-mail. Dad had forwarded some correspondence with you about your trick. And even then, I didn't realize you had made the entire page! Clever boy!
Sorry that class didn't work out.
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Of running and steak

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/2/2005 5:44:48 AM
More work, more tiredness for some reason. Meep. At least I managed to find a class that seems like it would fit in well. It's in the same exact time slot as the class that got cancelled, and it deals with computers and statistics and economics all at once... so it sounds like it could transfer as SOMETHING useful. *laughs* That would be quite nice if it did.

Today at 4:00 I went with the Onishis (minus Kazuki, since he was at school) to a nearby park to do some running. Man, what a beautiful park it was! There were a million and a half cherry trees there, meaning when the sakura bloom it's going to look drop-dead beautiful. They said they'd bring me there again when the flowers bloom; hopefully the batteries in my camera will stop being stupid by then! Keisuke and I ran around the park on a running track for a little while, then we all went to the Volks Family Steakhouse for dinner. And there I realized something: I'm going to die when I return to America with its American sized portions. That's why America is so fat... it's because they serve you so dang much at restaurants! We paid twice as much here as you'd pay in America and we got half as much food... but, you know, that filled me up to the max. Not only will I not be able to eat American portions again, but I won't be able to eat with a fork and knife. I seriously feel awkward using them now. Yikes.

Reverse culture shock is going to be a problem. I know it. But hey, that was a very, very tasty dinner!

The Onishis are great folks. Really great folks.

In two days at this time, I'll be packing up for my first day of classes. Joy.

Oh, and for those of you who didn't visit yesterday, check out the April Fools' Day joke I pulled. It got a few people pretty good. *laughs*
Photos: Running with the Onishis 2 replies

All your Chipotlé are belong to us!
Posted by: UNFDAardvark 4/2/2005 7:39:51 PM
I still can't even handle a full burrito, and it sounds like neither will you when you come back :)
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Posted by: Gerf 4/2/2005 9:30:28 PM
Yeah, seriously. I'm going to have to order a tortilla-less one to go, eat half there, and then eat the other half for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the following day. o_O;

But hey: eat less, save more money. Sounds like a good formula to me!
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Of spring and walking

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/3/2005 6:16:20 AM
Whoo... today was walking day. And what a day for it... it was beautiful!

At 10:00 I headed over to Hayashiya-san's house as usual, but instead of English today we spent an hour talking about his new computer. It's a decent-looking laptop, and he got a broadband Internet connection for it and everything. Man, I wish it were that easy in the States. "Oh, I'm going to get my first computer ever. Internet connection? Ah, broadband. I guess that works." *facepalm* Gah, we've been needing broadband for YEARS at our place and it's still not in our area in Ohio. Well, except for cable, but... yeah. *sighs* I guess one of these days they'll hook us up. *shakes fist* They'd better.

After talking about the computer, we took a walk around the base of the nearby mountain. Boy, what a perfect day for a walk like that. It's really, really springtime here. I even opened my windows up for the first time in a long, long time... it's finally a little chilly now (not to mention pitch black), but during the day it was so wonderful. My room even SMELLED like spring. Great. ^__^

Talked online for a while, then went outside to study kanji. As I finished up, Saki-chan came back from wherever she was and we played around for a good while, then took a walk out to a little playground by her kindergarten. There were a bunch of teenage guys playing some rough soccer there, though, and I didn't want Saki-chan to mess with that at all. She was obviously torn between wanting to play but also wanting to stay away from the guys; that was the first time I really thought about what a little kid like Saki-chan might think of the situation. She wants to play, but something's telling her she shouldn't... but she doesn't know what this "something" is yet, and the childhood innocence is trying to figure it out. It really makes me wonder how my mind worked when I was a little kid (or didn't work, for that matter), and how I'll deal with kids of my own going through this same kind of mental development. Hopefully it won't drive me nuts. ;) Returning home was very, very slow, but we got back eventually. I was trying to get her to move along because it was getting dark quickly and dinner was going to be soon, but she just lollygagged like no other. Mama and someone else were talking outside somewhere when we returned, and she was like, "Oh, there you guys are! Hehe, your hair looks cute" (because Saki-chan had ruffled it all up when I put her on my shoulders). *laughs*

Tomorrow is technically the first day of classes at Waseda. Spring break is technically over. I scheduled my classes such that Mondays are always vacations, which is cool... but that means other days are going to be really full. *laughs* There are going to be a lot of stay-at-school-late days, but compared to last semester there'll be one less get-up-early day, and I'd much rather stay late than get up early. As long as I have a little time to use Apsu, I'll be set. Internet would also be preferred.

Pro-rated refund = a good thing to know when considering cancelling some sort of service. Just a newfound bit of knowledge for the ol' brainbone.
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Of my last day of break

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/4/2005 8:25:49 AM
Last day of vacation. Yup. Well, I guess yesterday was more of my last day, but since I scheduled all my classes so that I always have Monday off it just feels like vacation still. I realized the vocabulary for the quiz tomorrow (yes, a quiz on the first day of class) is over 100 words, and almost flipped out. *laughs* Fortunately I took it in bite-size chunks and it's all good now. The vocab for this lesson is the biggest out of all of them, though, so hopefully future weeks won't involve a day dedicated just to studying vocabulary.

I also slept for another two hours or so just because I could and I was tired. Funny how I can be so tired yet not be doing much. *laughs* I think I'll be ready for classes, though. There's always that feeling of "Gah, I don't want to get back into the swing of things," but as soon as you do it's just normal again. I have a feeling that's exactly how it's going to feel very, very soon. And you know, it's not that bad, either. I mean, being on vacation for, like, two months is pretty good, and I don't want to be on vacation all the time! Yeah, I know that sounds strange, but I like having things to do... and if I don't have something to for an extended period of time, I start giving myself more projects than I can handle and then get frustrated because I can't possibly do them all. So, if I have something to force me to prioritize and manage, then things are easier for me. If that "something" takes up too much of my time and prevents me from getting my own projects done, however, then I get mad and frustrated all over again. There's a very specific middle ground that I'm always aiming for. Usually I can find it, but sometimes it flies away.

Mama and I ate dinner together in front of a TV show that had amazing stuff that was caught on tape. In one clip from Korea, some little girl dropped herself out of the sixth-story window of some building for no real reason. Her parents had tried to get into the room she was in to save her, but the girl had closed and locked the door. The father, somehow knowing he should, ran down the stairs and got to the base of the building just as her daughter was falling... and managed to catch her. That is amazing and awesome. In another segment from China, 1000 people helped to dig out a 6-meter well that was only 30cm wide to rescue a little boy who had fallen in. In both scenarios, the children lived. Gosh. People can do some amazing things. They can also do some very stupid things... but they can also do some amazing things.

Anyway, I should get back to studying here. Gotta go to school tomorrow, after all.
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Of not my day

Location: Yoshitaka residence - dining room 4/5/2005 8:30:37 AM
Blah, today wasn't really the best way to start out the new semester. Didn't get much sleep, the trains were delayed a half hour (while I was riding, meaning I had to stand for a LONG time), Japanese class got moved to some other classroom in another building, and all the classes I had interest in got cancelled. More blah things happened today, but I don't want to bore you by whining about them. Let's just say today would have been better spent sleeping. Seriously.

Japanese class looks like it'll be Japanese, and my kanji workshop looks like it'll be... well, sparse. There were only three people there today: me, the teacher, and a girl who wasn't registered but was thinking of taking the class. I would have gone to another class today to shadow it and see if I wanted to take it, but CANCEL'D!!! *sighs* Things just suddenly aren't going well. It's like today was the day some sort of luck time bomb went off and everything went wrong at once.

At least I had some fun with some kids who take lessons from Mama and really like studying English (I see them a lot, actually, and they love trying to talk English with me), and Mama made gyoza for dinner. Those are pretty much the only two good things that happened today. *has to laugh*

Yeah, I'm ready for the semester to be over soon.
1 reply

Posted by: badcheeso 4/6/2005 6:47:38 AM
Welcome to LIFE!

All you can do is say "OH, crap!" to YOURSELF and then move on. Think about what you need to do next. If you don't know exactly, you go to someone at school who you think can help you.

This is the IMPROVISE stage I've been talking about.

You'll be fine and things will be fine. And you know that.

When life gives you lemons ...... go to Freshness Burger!

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