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Of quite a social day

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 5/27/2005 12:51:21 PM
Heh, just a LITTLE past midnight, huh? ;)

Today was a ridiculously social day for me. In Japanese class I gave a mini-presentation about those pictures of kanji we took last week, and afterwards I spent several hours talking with friends in the lounge and in the Japan Study office about everything from computers to cultural differences and similarities. One of the students that came for this semester scored a bunch of free food and drink from a meeting, so I downed half a liter of cafe au lait during that time, which complemented the Bosspresso I had decided to try out for the heck of it. If I would have known I'd be having that much caffiene today, I would have totally had OJ instead. *laughs*

At 6:15 I met the other Case students at Big Box and we went off to the Sakura restuarant in Kyoubashi to have a dinner with a group of Case alumni from the Japan chapter. They were all wonderful Japanese folks who had gone to Case throughout the years (from as early as the 70s to as recent as 2003), they spoke excellent English, and they were absolutely great people to spend three or four hours with over a meal! We talked a lot about stuff at Case as well as technology and business (since just about everyone there was somehow related to the engineering campus), and we all had a really, really great time. I'd write more about what happened, but it's so late and I really want to get to bed. o_O;

Today was an odd day on the trains, though... or at least, on the Seibu-sen. Someone either came close to fainting or actually did on my way to school, and on my way back (at about midnight) someone else dropped to the ground. The latter was especially odd because the woman was right next to me, and the train was absolutely packed. Fortunately a woman helped her up and commanded the masses to step aside when the train stopped at the next station; if she wouldn't have helped, I would have. But as it was, the best I could do was move my bookbag out of the way and make sure she had room to exit. I hope she's okay.

I really wish I could write more about the dinner, because the guys there were so great to talk to. But... yeah, I guess you can't always write down everything, even the really cool stuff. That's just the way things go.

And speaking of going, I'm going to bed.
Photos: Dinner with the Case alumni 0 replies

Of a new host

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 5/28/2005 7:51:40 AM
Today was homework. Sitting in my room all day doing homework. Yup.

Although, technically that's not ALL that happened. I had been eyeballing this new web hosting service called Lunarpages for quite some time, since they offered quite a bit of options and features that my current host doesn't have. But then recently I found another service, PowWeb, which offers even more than Lunarpages for even less. So what did I do? I bought a subscription, of course. This move not only saves me money, but it takes the headache out of trying to set up mirrors and all sorts of nonsense for Dragon Films and things like that. Now I have 5 gigabytes of space and all sorts of other goodies, so I think I'll be set for quite a while. I can no longer use ASP, but that's okay since I wasn't planning on using that much longer anyway. PHP ownz. I'll dabble in ASP.NET later... but for now, it's PHP and MySQL all the way.

I'm going to keep my subscription with my old host until I get back home, and then close that up and get my nice pro-rated refund. 1PlanHost is a great service if you need Windows servers. I've grown larger than their servers would accomodate, so I had to move. If you need Windows 2003 hosting, I'd highly recommend 1PlanHost. If you'd like more features using a Unix system, I'd say PowWeb is likely your best choice (I'm counting on it being my best choice). And if you're thinking of switching to another host, let me know and I'll refer you... I get a really nice chunk of change from that, and I'll split it with ya. ;)

I think I'm going to do some more reading and then close it up for the night, at least as far as homework goes. I'll probably do some website programming and other stuff, but yeah. Gotta take it easy. I've been pushing myself too hard lately, and it's gotten me nowhere in particular. *laughs*
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Of another haircut!

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 5/29/2005 7:09:47 AM
What happened today? I got another haircut. ^__^ This one was a little shorter than last time's, but I requested they leave some good length on top and they did, so it's all cool. I feel lighter now. *laughs* I went with Kazuki, and afterward we talked with the stylists there about English and Japanese and all sorts of stuff. It was really nice going there again because everyone recognized me, and everyone there is so very, very nice. I'm going to miss them.

Other than that, though, nothing really happened today. I wanted to get some homework done, but I kind of decided against it in favor of doing other things on the computer that I'd need to get around to at some point or another anyway. I'm just... kind of over-passive about things now, I guess. I'm ready to come home, and that's that. I told that to Kazuki, but then promptly followed it up with, "Though when it comes time to leave, I'm going to want to stay." And it's probably quite true, too. But hey, it's gotta happen.

Speaking of which, Kazuki is totally planning on coming to the USA sometime. If he does, I vote he stays at my house. ^__^
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Of rain

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 5/30/2005 8:26:25 AM
Rain today. Like, pretty much all day. It's still raining now. Rainy days are nice. :)

Except I left the windows open and my microeconomics book got wet. D'oh! Well, at least I don't have microeconomics class tomorrow. It's not a holiday, but the teacher just isn't going to be around. Sweet. Gives me more time to work on... well, actually, not TOO much. I kept on thinking I had a ton of homework, but really it was because I have this dang Japanese project to do. But I'm going to type it up tonight and be done with it. Yes.

I think before the week is done, I'm going to send home another package of stuff. Maybe I can get things together and send it Friday or something. Yeah, I'll make that a priority. Heck, maybe I can send it out tomorrow, since I'm planning on getting some money exchanged anyway.

*waits for June 27th*
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Of getting the interview done

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 5/31/2005 9:20:27 AM
Whoo! Done with that dang Japanese presentation! *dances* I was really getting bugged with waiting for that and everything. Grah and a half. Since I was working in a group with two other people, the plan was to use today as a planning day so we could get everything sorted out. However, due to a bunch of people skipping class today (*glares at 'em*) we kind of got time-crunched, so some people who weren't fully prepared went today: including me and Becca. Fortunately, we were given a good chunk of time beforehand to prepare, so we got everything set up. I even whipped together a PowerPoint slideshow to go with the Excel spreadsheet, so everything, like, actually worked out pretty well. I think Becca did a pretty good job, too. ^__^

Random: on the way to class today, I saw a Japanese guy on a bike wearing a Cleveland Cavs hoodie. *laughs*

Microeconomics class was cancelled today, so I was able to go home really early. I wanted to try out another bank to see if they'd cash my yen traveler's cheque, but unfortunately that one was a だめ too. Looks like I've got 50,000 yen I simply can't spend. *laughs* We went through a good bit of trouble to get those, too. Oh well... I guess we'll just have to return them and eat the surcharge.

On my way back, I thought I'd stop and eat at that noodle shop I used to go to all the time... the one under the bridge. The last time I had been there was when my family was over, and I felt like celebrating getting that gosh-dang project done. So I walk up to where it normally is and... whoa, it's gone. Like, gone gone. The ticket machines were gone, the windows and doors were covered up, and the sign was taken down. Not the first time I've seen something like this happen, though. If you live in Tokyo, don't expect even the tallest of buildings to be there the next day. There used to be a gigantic building at the corner of a street that intersects Waseda Dori, which I walk down every day. And then suddenly it was completely gone. They're putting something new up now, but... yeah, I was surprised when it just disappeared. Same with a building nearby in Higashimurayama. Poof, gone. That's just how Tokyo is.

And speaking of that intersection, I was standing there today waiting for the light to change when suddenly someone behind me asks, "グレッグ?" (my name in Japanese). I turn around and it's Sho! He was one of the guys who helped show all of us around when we were n00bs in Japan oh-so long ago in September. My, how things have changed since then... namely, my skill with Japanese. *laughs* He commented on how I had improved significantly since coming to Japan, and I thought for a moment and realized he was absolutely right. There I was, conversing with this Japanese guy in rather fluid, unbroken, comprehensible, natural-sounding Japanese like I had known him for ages, when the last time we had talked I could barely speak two sentences without wondering whether what I was saying made sense or not. Suddenly I wish I would have made some more Japanese college friends, because gosh dang it, I can talk to them so easily. *laughs again* It was really great to chat with him. I suppose I'll be seeing him again in two weeks when we go back to Karuizawa for another weekend retreat. Should be fun. ^_^

Talking with Sho reminded me of where I had come from: two years of Japanese instruction at Case. That's all. And here I am, eight months later, and I can't remember how I used to speak back then. I can't remember what my Japanese life was like before I got to experience real Japanese life. I can remember the NWEC and the good and bad memories attached to it, but I can't remember what my Japanese was like. I've come a dang long way... and if you think otherwise, please get on a plane and come to my house so I can kick your butt for you. Sorry for the ego there, but geez... I've spent almost an entire year IN JAPAN.

And, you know, doing this has made my respect for certain people skyrocket. Mom, I never thanked you enough for making food for me and Dad and Niche all these years. Gosh dang it, cooking takes a lot of time and effort and sometimes I was rotten enough to actually refuse to eat what you made for me. Dad, I've thanked you even less for getting up at horribly early hours of the morning, working all day, and getting home late in the afternoon. I'm part of the reason you're doing this every day, and I feel like I've just been taking that for granted. Niche, you've had to put up with a horribly geeky and dooftastic brother for nineteen years, and somehow you've managed to not, uh, de-brotherify me or something. And Kristin, you've had to put up with me being away and sometimes being out of contact, and I feel so terrible for having to put you through that. You mean so much to me, and I'm so glad you've held onto me despite my being on the other end of the globe. I love all of you so much. *sends lots of hugs*

Okay, I need to grab the bath before it runs away.
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Of an American coming over

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/1/2005 8:05:06 AM

Awesome fun fact: today there was a news flash on the TV that ran across the top of the screen that said there was a magnitude 4.2 earthquake today at 8:44 pm and that nobody was hurt or alarmed by it. And I figured it all out by myself. *laughs* I know saying that puts me into the "Group III" category of foreign students (where you're consciously aware of your competence) and not Group IV (where you're unconsciously aware of your competence), but... hey, it made me happy to be able to read it. *laughs*

Another fun fact: Mama made katsudon and I ate way too much. Rice fills you up like... fast.

And another fun fact: a 17-year-old American high schooler is going to be coming to Higashimurayama this weekend and staying for three weeks! It's all part of this exchange Higashimurayama has set up with Independence, Missouri: for three weeks, a couple Americans come to Higashimurayama, and a couple of Japanese go to Independence. The Japanese don't really know English and the Americans don't really know Japanese, so it's a homestay not to become part of the family but more to have fun in Japan. One of Mama's friends is hosting this 17-year-old, and she asked me to mention a few places of interest that might be cool to go to and to come over and help out with translating sometime. I'd be glad to do that. ^__^

Dang. It's my last month here and suddenly I've got so many things to do. *laughs*

I've got some Microeconomics homework to finish up and then I need to go to bed, so I can't stay too long this time. Busy busy. ^_^
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diminishing return
Posted by: badcheeso 6/2/2005 6:49:25 AM
Old chinese secret.

The amount of work increases as the amount of time decreases.

Funny how that is true.

Don't put off today what you can put off tomorrow.

A bird in the hand
will probably poop on you.

The grass is greener on the other side of the fence because you probably killed yours.

I'm having a spatial moment, please leave a message at the OHMMMMMMM.....

Watch out for those rabbits and enjoy your fleeting moments there in Japan. I kinda miss not being there too.

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Of seeing people on fliers and tutoring

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/2/2005 9:26:04 AM
This is interesting: ever since I got to Higashimurayama, I've seen pictures of this woman up all over the place... looks like she's running for office somewhere. And not just in HMY... even in Takadanobaba and probably other places, too.

With that said, guess who I saw standing outside the Higashimurayama train station this morning, saying things into a microphone while guys passed out fliers? ;) Surprised me quite a bit.

Today was okay... I was just really tired. Had trouble staying awake in Micro class again... gah, it doesn't help that it's tough subject material in the first place. Bleh. Anyway, after my Economic Development class I went to the Campbell's house to tutor their youngest son in pre-algebra, which was great fun. Mrs. Campbell made some fantastic beef stroganoff, and boy did I eat a lot of it. *laughs* I'll be doing tutoring there a few more times before I leave, and that's okay because it's fun and everyone gets something out of it. It means I'm going to be getting home really late, but... hey, you've gotta do what you've gotta do sometimes!

I probably shouldn't linger here too long today, since I have a kanji test tomorrow for which I really, really need to study. I think I'll ship this box off tomorrow, and maybe it'll arrive sometime when Kristin is over. Hehe, that would be fun to get an international package from myself. ;)

Right. Studying.
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Of a good Friday

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/3/2005 9:47:08 AM
Today was a good day. ^_^ Well, minus the bad stomachache I got after eating some curry today at the Food Shop. Dunno what was wrong with it/me, but my stomach was stinging for a while after that. Came home and slept for an hour and a half to try to make it go away. Fortunately it worked. *laughs*

Interesting: I came home and Saki-chan was super-bouncy. I take a nap and wake up to her crying, and the crying persists for, like, the rest of the day. o_O;

Also after I woke up, I taped up a box of stuff to ship home and brought it to the post office. This time, though, I tried something new: I rode a bike! Natsuko let me use hers, so I guess you could technically say the first bike I rode in Japan was a girl's. But then, almost all of the bikes here look just the same, and it's not like I care anyway. *laughs* She has this neat handlebar "addition" that you can twist to rev up just like you would a motorcycle, and when you do it makes noise like a revving motor. Amusing. ^__^

Riding a Japanese bike with a somewhat heavy box in the basket in front after not having been on a bike in nine months was kind of odd at first, but eventually I got used to it. The seat was unusually comfortable (it was actually squishy and not fake-squishy) and even though there was only one gear speed, it was a very nice speed. As in, it's the perfect speed for getting where you need to go in a decent amount of time. Navigating the narrow streets and sidewalks while cars and pedestrians and other bikes and trains and motorcycles zoomed everywhere isn't necessarily something I want to do every day, but I'm glad I was able to give it a try. It was really neat. My left knee kept on snapping every time I made a revolution with my feet for some reason, but after a few minutes of riding that went away too.

The package cost me 4000 yen, which means if it weren't for tutoring last night I would be down to less than 500 yen on hand. *laughs* I wasn't expecting it to cost that much for one thing, and for another thing I wasn't expecting to have such a small amount of money with me. I have plenty to get me through the weekend (and actually probably through next week), but as soon as I get back to Takadanobaba on Tuesday I'm going to make a big withdrawal at the international ATM at the post office. Unfortunately, none of the ATMs here in Higashimurayama seem to take my Visa card, be it at a post office or a supermarket or even a bank. When they say Japan is a CASH society, they're not kidding. *laughs*

The rest of the day was pretty much website work, which actually is what I'm doing right now as well. This summer is going to involve lots of website work, both for business and for obligation and for pleasure. Back in high school I doubt I would have ever thought I'd be doing this kind of work. Heck, back when I was at Case I didn't really think I'd be doing all this! But here I am. And, you know, it's fulfilling what I wanted, and more importantly it's fulfilling what other people want. And that makes me a happy Gerf. :)
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Of storms and English

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/4/2005 9:42:45 AM
Note to self: don't try opening a 800 megabyte text file and expect to be able to edit it. It's... hard to do. It's interesting to see Windows reallocate all the RAM and push things into virtual memory and stuff, but when it takes 10 minutes just to redraw the window... yeah, you know it's time to switch to plan B. *laughs*

Around 3:00 today the sky turned grey and yellow, and everything outside turned this odd shade of goldenrod. Then it started raining really, really, really hard. Big thunderstorm... one of the rare ones I've experienced in Japan.

It's a good thing I don't have a lot of homework this weekend, because it's going to be a full 'un. Today I went to Mrs. Onishi's friend's house and did an English lesson with their kids, which took about five hours. They fed me two huge bowls of curry and a plate of tonkatsu, followed by watermelon, melon, and grapes, and then cookies and coffee. That makes it two times this week I've eaten way, way too much. *laughs* Dang, in these last three weeks here I'm going to gain back all the weight I lost since coming to Japan! >_<

The family had two little baby cats that they wanted to give away, too, and after dinner someone came to adopt them. They were so cute, and had they not been taken away I would have taken some pictures of them. That must be strange to be a cat and see your children be taken away like that. The mom looked... I dunno. Huh.

Too tired to think about things like that now. And tomorrow... geez, tomorrow's going to be crazy. I'll tell you about it later, though. It's a secret. ;)
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No title
Posted by: Ksmith9505 6/4/2005 4:07:43 PM
Sure am glad I'm not a mother cat...
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Of baseball and royalty and humble living

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/5/2005 9:32:07 AM
Okay, let's start from the beginning. Today I went to Hayashiya-san's house for about an hour, where we shared some bread and homemade mulberry jam (with lemon and sugar in it so it was really really good) and talked in English about stuff. At the end, we hopped on his computer and I showed him maps of my home in America from Google Maps. Very cool software that is. ^_^

After that, I hopped on over to the Onishi's house where we went off to Tokyo Dome to see the Giants play against the Hawks. It was a pretty long car ride, but it was rather fun because Kazuki had me give him "r" and "l" quizzes so he could try to distinguish the difference in the sounds (since in Japanese "r" and "l" are part of the same phenome, meaning there is no natural distinctions between the sounds). Let's see if I can remember some of the things I came up with: "The right-hand list is wrong," "I'm going to rant if you don't light the lantern right," "It's hard to play the flute while you eat fruit," and "If you lope with that rope you're going to return late." Stuff like that. It was fun.

Now, going to a baseball game is one thing. Going with some friends and their friend's family is another. And doing it all in Japan is quite another. But going where we did was yet another thing: a VIP suite that costs $500,000 a year to rent out. Yes, 五千万円, which comes to about half a million dollars. We got our own suite with infinite waiters and waitresses, our own private super-padded seats out in the stadium, a huge plasma television (I wasn't sure if it was LCD or plasma, but I did some investigation and it most definitely was plasma), and all the food and drink we wanted. It was extremely good food, and it darn-tootin' better have been. Take a look at the picture of the menu and you'll see what I mean. The most expensive dish on there was about $200. And one bottle of wine? 150 bucks. That's the one we got, too, and it was delicious. ^_^ Everything was free to us, so we went ahead and ordered and ordered and ordered. We didn't totally overdo it, of course, but we got ourselves quite full. I actually had to turn down several offers for more food and drink because not only was I already rather full but I had already eaten two meals this week that were way too big for me, and this made it three. I seriously think this week alone might add a pound or three to me. Gah. o_O;

The Giants lost 4-1, but hey, it was fun. Being treated like royalty is nice... not something I'd like to have done every day, but every once in a while it's very interesting to experience. One very cool thing about the waiters/waitresses here, as well as stewardesses and security guards and all sorts of workers in general: before entering a private room where you are, they knock on the door. And when leaving, they turn and bow before closing it, even if nobody is paying attention. If a Japanese person's job is to help you or make you feel comfortable, they're going to do a dang fine job at it. I have yet to see anything even remotely close to this kind of hospitality in America.

Which reminds me of something. Recently I called up United to reconfirm my flight, and I ran headlong into American culture for the first time in a very long time. The guy I talked to spoke to me very casually, using words that bordered on slang, and treated me as if I were either some guy on the street or someone he talks to every day after work or something. I mean, it wasn't HORRIBLE or anything like that, and maybe it was actually pretty normal fare... but after being in Japan for a year and always being elevated to godlike status even just by walking into a convenience store, dare I say I'm kind of used to people respecting me in their way of speaking, and I'm quite used to respecting them back. The social hierarchy of the Japanese language is a part of my own way of speaking now, be it in English or Japanese, and I don't know how I could ever possibly leave it. I've always been a rather apologetic person even before coming to Japan, and now having been in a place where you can go back and forth apologizing to someone quite a few times even over something as little as made a person wait for three minutes while you were stuck in traffic... I have a feeling I'm going to drive my friends and family nuts with the way I speak now. *has to laugh*

But then, is it really that bad to humble yourself in daily conversation instead of trying to always have the upper hand? Is it really that bad to apologize to people when they bump into you instead of telling them to "watch it, buster"? Is it really that bad to bow and let someone who just cut you off continue on their merry way instead of flip them the bird and honk your horn? For crying out loud, compared to Japan, America is a very angry country. I'm quite sure I want to continue living in America, but at the same time I'm quite sure that the Japanese mentality of putting others before yourself even when they are wrong and you are right is a significantly better way of doing things.

I'm thinking too much again and not doing enough homework. I guess I should, like, read or something.

But, yeah. Three weeks.
Photos: Tokyo Dome 4 replies

Watch it, buster...
Posted by: UNFDAardvark 6/5/2005 10:53:12 AM
...not all of America is like that; take Case for example ;)

I have occasionally thought about the differences in the way Japanese and English allow for conveying politeness, and my current theory is that they're not really that dissimilar; Japanese just codifies politeness in its grammatical construction, whereas English relies on word choice and quantity. From what I've gathered, though, while speaking politely is still meant to elevate the listener here in America, it also sometimes conveys a sense of distance between the speaker and the listener. On the other hand, casual speech is an admission to the listener that the speaker considers him or her worthy of friendship, bringing the speaker and listener closer. Current American culture seems to place an emphasis more on good personal relationships, regardless of an individual's status, and so casual speech is becoming/has become more acceptable in various situations. Or something like that. I may just be insane and imagining things.

I really like that picture with the pencil-statue thing. Looks almost surreal.
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Posted by: Gerf 6/5/2005 7:30:23 PM
And boy can those grammatical constructions get crazy. o_O;;

And no, you're not really imagining things... that's how things really seem to be over here. It was just so odd to suddenly be thrown back to a place where more casual speech is considered rather "normal." Even if I were still in America, though, I'd still say the guy was kind of rude... saying things like "Yeah, yeah," or "You goin' wid a group or somethin'?" is just... unprofessional.

The physical actions of our culture (our = American) are going to take a lot of getting used to, too. Namely, no more bowing. That's, like, the end-all form of respect. *laughs* I went rather overboard bashing America and I'm aware that not all Americans are like that (just like all Japanese aren't perfectly polite people)... especially at Case where most people tend to think on the same geeky wavelength. ;)

I do still think that Americans on the whole would do well to learn a thing or two about the Japanese honor system, though, because with lawsuits over such silly things as SPILLING HOT COFFEE ON YOURSELF... yeah, I don't need to continue.

Regardless, I'm still really looking forward to coming back home. That's where I belong.
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*stuffs entire orange into mouth* ITS COLD
Posted by: UNFDAardvark 6/5/2005 11:05:48 PM
That is rather sloppy of them, although the image of you saying "You goin' wid a group or somethin'" complete with appropriate accent amuses me to no end ;)

By the way, Microsoft has just patented the ideas of the Internet, text, the use of capital letters in text, the use of periods, the forward progression of time, and the United States of America. You may be receiving several hundred lawsuits from the newly-renamed United States of Microsoft in the near future. Failure to comply will result in your name being placed in ACT_Scores.txt, along with all the other ideas I've creatively borrowed from various people over the years.
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*spits orange into paper*
Posted by: Gerf 6/6/2005 8:09:39 AM
When I move to my new server, I very well just might make a cron job that goes through the upload directory and deletes anything with a filename resembling "ACT Scores." That would be fun. Either that, or e-mail the file to VanV every time one gets uploaded there. *laughs*
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