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Of a nomikai

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 11/26/2004 9:50:41 AM
Whew... my second get-up-early-and-get-home-really-late day in a row is over. It was a LOT of fun, though. The synopsis is as follows.

NEWS FLASH: The bar that holds my upper watch band in place broke yesterday. I feel naked without my watch on. GAH! Must get a replacement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled mumble.

The day started out pretty well. Did a 19.5/20 job on my kanji test in Japanese class, which made me happy since I hadn't had much time at all to study those kanji. Near the end of our second class, we got these huge sheets of paper with a million fill-in-the-blank kanji and kanji reading questions. It's really cool how much random vocabulary I know! Especially since I think vocab is one of my weaker points (along with particle usage and reading aloud). Neat.

Tried to fix one of my groupmates' computer after class with no success. Her poor lappy would hardly turn on, and when it did, it came up with this crazy scandisk error and then, after failing to turn on (as in, TURN ON) for several more minutes, displayed some message like, "WiNdOwS cAnNoT lOaD bEcAuSe ThE fOlLoWiNg FiLeS aRe MiSsInG oR cOrRuPt:" and such... really feaky. Looks like a virus, but it also really looks like a hardware failure, because the screen was also going nuts. Rats. I hope she can get it fixed.

Before heading off to the final meeting with the engineering school students, I worked with Sarah to finish up the Power Point presentation. It turned out looking pretty neat, and so we headed off. We listened to the Japanese students give their English presentations, which was very interesting. It was very easy to tell which groups had prepared well and which hadn't... unfortunately, the group I had been sitting with seemed the least prepared out of all five in my room, and I had no choice but to give them a low grade (because the American students were grading them based on ten categories). When it was time for me to present our Power Point, I essentially did it twice: the first time talking slowly and using pretty simple language (or at least what I hoped was simple), and then once more talking at normal speed, using complex expressions and manners of speech, and so on. It was a great success: the students seemed to be interested, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

Afterwards, the Japan Study students who were there along with about three Japanese students (as well as the two supervising adults) went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We had several large plates of food served to us: salad, spicy tofu, fried chicken pieces, shrimp, and rice. We also had these massive pot stickers (they're called gyoza over here), and one of the Japanese students said something along the lines of, "This is omoi, okii, and abunai, but it's oishii." (This is heavy, huge, and dangerous, but it's delicious.) Absolutely hilarious. The food was really good, too.

Little did I know, though, the whole thing was meant to (and did) turn out as a nomikai, or drinking party. There was so much alcohol being served! A lot of my friends there got hammered harder than they had ever been hammered before. One guy even was crazy enough to suck butane from a lighter and then blow it out in a big flame from his mouth. Craziness. But in spite of the drunkenness that ensued, it was very fun to be able to talk with the Japanese students. I carried on some very long, good conversations in both English and Japanese, and I feel very confident with my speaking skills when I know the vocabulary.

Now, I guess it's not a big secret, but I have yet to mention that I have started drinking a little since coming to Japan. At first I said I didn't want to drink at all, but after finding out that my family had wanted a student with whom they could drink during dinner, my mindset changed to "I don't want to go out for the sole purpose of drinking." For the past two or three weeks, I've been having tiny glasses of wine and sake for dinner, which has been very delicious. Some people said sake has a very horrible taste, but I actually quite like it. And today at the dinner, I tried this strange brown sake that tasted almost like brown sugar, as well as some alcoholic beverage made from oolong tea. However, I always stick to my "just a little over dinner" policy: despite the massive amounts of alcohol going around, I limited myself to just a tiny bit of each kind, turning down offers several times and instead drinking some orange juice-ish drink. I'm happy to say that no, I have not yet gotten drunk, and nor do I intend to. It's perfectly legal for me to drink here (the age is 20 in Japan), but just because it's okay for me to drink doesn't mean I'm going to go crazy. While I must admit it's funny to see people get a little (or a lot) tipsy, I would never purposely do that to my body. If I drink, it's because I want a beverage with my meal, and that's it. Anything more is turned down in favor of something "safe." I don't know where my "limit" is quite yet, but it is obviously beyond the quantity of any non-OJ or -fruit juice drink that I would want to drink during a meal anyway, which is fine with me because that means I'll probably never get there.

It's kind of funny, though, because for many years I've thought that I would never drink beer but would probably drink wine or similar alcoholic beverages, and then only during meals. And so far, I've been completely correct. Makes me feel good.

So, yeah, that's my alcohol story. For those of you who bet I'd never, ever drink a lick of alcohol, you can now send your money to Japan and it'll find its way into my wallet. *laughs*

When we were almost ready to leave, the man who had directed this student thing with Michiyo-san called yet another kanpai (toast), and specifically congratulated me for my work with the Power Point and presenting it to the class. One of the students (drunk, of course) called for three cheers, so I got an honest-to-goodness, "Hip hip hooray! (x3)" in my favor. ^___^

Apparently, I've got a very good grasp on the Japanese sound system and can use it quite well. People still keep saying, "Your Japanese is very good," and today when I came home at a little after 10:00 Mama said that one of her friends wanted her to tell me that she thought my pronunciation was fantastic. I can tell I've improved, for sure... whether or not it's that great isn't for me to say. While I was drying off after taking a bath, I realized that I'm not even a third of the way done with my stay in Japan, and I've already learned so gosh dang much. And if what they say in the books is true, I'm going to be learning so much more in the upcoming months. That's something to look forward to.

Tomorrow, Papa is going to have a party at around noon, so I'm going to have to get ready for that. Saturday's shaping up to be pretty full, too; good thing I don't have THAT much I have to do to prepare for next week. o_O;

Pictures today: the restaurant and my kimono from Asakusa. Yeah, they're kind of cheap pose shots, but I just wanted some pictures of me wearing the thing, since it's very cool. ^__^
Photos: An unexpected nomikai 0 replies

Of three parties in a row!

Location: Yoshitaka residence: my room 11/27/2004 6:11:15 AM
Wah... some sort of party-like gathering three days in a row. I'm going to explode! Well, not really. But it's been tiring. It's not even 8:00 now and I'm about ready to fall asleep. I want to read this book for science fiction class, though, both because there's still a lot to go and because it's interesting. So I'll do that.

Today I woke up with a sore throat that persisted throughout the day. At first I thought it may have been something I ate yesterday at the Chinese restaurant (I did have this spicy sauce with unknown slices of some vegetable in them, likely some insanely hot pepper), but then I also figured it was because I had to talk really loud to be heard over the din of the drunkenness. In any case, it sort of made things a little miserable, but I sucked it up (and sucked on a cough drop at the same time) and pushed through the day. Papa had a party with people from his job; if I heard correctly, today was some anniversary of the company or something of that sort. In any case, there were about 15 or so middle-aged men and women (I'd say 40-50 years old, maybe a little older for some) all wearing good clothes; fortunately, before they came over I thought to put on some nice clothes and belt, too... if I would have stayed in my jeans and t-shirt, I would have REALLY been out of place. I wouldn't have worn my t-shirt, anyway, because Saki-chan marked it up with a glitter gel pen...

But anyway, the party was pretty good. I didn't get any pictures, but the family did. I sat with the men and talked with them now and then. It's tough to understand some people's Japanese, either because they don't enunciate or they just talk too fast. That and because when there are lots of people together, it gets loud. Throw (you called it) alcohol into the mix and it gets even louder. If there is a party where alcohol is NOT consumed, I'd like to see it. Well, okay... Saki-chan's birthday party. *laughs* We had sushi, sashimi, pork and beef, and more of Papa's Japanese-style chili. I seriously think Dad's Strnad chili will totally blow them away. ^__^

Close to the end of the party, I started getting really tired and blah, so I took a short nap. Got up to say goodbye to everyone and help clean up, then went right back to sleep. My throat is still sore and my body and mind are tired, tired, tired. Over dinner I asked what Japanese usually did for sore throats, and they said eat hard candy. I was planning on walking out to the supermarket tomorrow or Monday to pick up some more OJ (since I'm almost out, though one of Mama's friends gave her a nice big glass bottle of OJ that she said I could have), so if my throat is still mrah I'll pick up some hard candy.

And with that, the tiredness is overcoming me. Maybe a nice hot bath will make me feel better; just gotta be sure I don't fall asleep in it!
0 replies

Of being sick

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 11/28/2004 5:48:01 AM
Well, today was... blah. Woke up and my sore throat wasn't any better, so I pretty much spent the whole day doing homework, sleeping, and reading. More sleeping and reading than homework, though I did get a head start on my statistics work, which was good. But other than that, I really didn't do much at all.

I did learn one thing today, though: how Japanese take powdered medicine. Now, if you were given a packet of powdered medicine, you'd probably mix it in some water and drink it, right? Well, not in Japan. Here, you dump the powder in your mouth and THEN drink the water. Very interesting.

But, yeah... other than that, today was pretty much vacant. o_O Hopefully I'll be all better tomorrow.
2 replies

You okay dude?
Posted by: Videoman 11/28/2004 8:54:38 PM
Don't worry, your sore throat will probably be gone in a day or two.
1 reply

Posted by: Gerf 11/28/2004 9:49:25 PM
Yep, it's pretty much gone already. The medicine they gave me works wonders! Tastes pretty bitter, though. *laughs*
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Of a cold n' stuff

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 11/29/2004 8:13:31 AM
The Japanese way of saying you lost your voice is 出にくい (denikui). Literally, it is difficult to give (my voice). Actually, the verb 出る can mean so many things... but yeah. *laughs* You learn something new every day.

So if you haven't figured out by now, I woke up today without much of a voice, and it lasted all day long. My sore throat is pretty much gone now, but now I'm schnoffly and coughing a lot. Blah. But at least whatever I had is coming to an end. That wasn't fun and I hope it doesn't happen again anytime in the near future.

Mama and I talked quite a bit during dinner (despite my sounding like the dead) about showers, holiday meals, traditional clothing, non-Japanese milling about Roppongi, and all sorts of other stuff. I was really intimidated by Mama's fast speaking when I first arrived here, and sometimes I still can't understand all of it. However, I've gotten quite used to it and can extract most of what I need to know from her sentences most of the time; if there's something I don't know, I repeat it and she does her best to explain it. I really love talking to my host parents. I really do. I wish I could talk with my siblings more, but since that probably won't be happening much, my host parents and Saki-chan will do. Natsuko does seem a bit more talkative than Soichiro, who barely says anything during meals other than いただきます (itadakimasu, the traditional before-eating phrase) and ごちそうさま (gochisosama, the traditional after-eating phrase), but I haven't been able to really carry on any long conversations with them yet. Which is kind of a pity, but... yeah, not much I can really do about it.

I realized today just how important the Japanese bath is when the weather begins to get cold. Today I didn't get in the tub because the water was about half-gone and was this strange yellowish-green color... I don't know what happened to it before I got in there, but I sure as heck wasn't going to hop in. And subsequently I was cold drying off and getting my clothes back on. After sitting in 110 degree water for five or ten minutes, your entire body heats up quite a bit and you're warm for the rest of the night. But without the bath... well, you don't get that warmness. Granted it's not nearly as cold now as it was last week (like when Kevin was over), it's still chillier than it would have been otherwise. And that's important, because at night the temperature drops to whatever it is outside. I personally like it to be cold at night so I don't have any problem with it, but I'm also prepared for the cold with a thick down futon (that guards against coldness like a lead plate guards x-rays). I do have a space heater right above my bed, but using that sucks up a LOT of electricity and I don't want to run up the Yoshitaka's energy bill any more than I need to. I doubt I'll have to use it all winter... though we'll see just how cold it actually gets.

Well, dialogue tomorrow. Guess I'd better study some. But I want to sleep now. And work on other stuff. Gah, so many things to do, most not related to schoolwork whatsoever. *laughs* Silly Greg, ____ are for ____ (I'm too lazy to finish that sentence properly).

And by request, today's link brings you to a video (taken when Kevin was over) that has me describing how a Japanese bath works. And no, normally you're not supposed to run in and out of it like Saki-chan is doing. *laughs*
Video: A Japanese Bath 1 reply

wrinkled prune
Posted by: nickellj 11/29/2004 10:56:44 PM
Hi Gerf from Mr. Nickell......Thought I would catch up on some gerf facts and I learned about the japanese bath. Sounds like your doing quite well aside from the cold. You'll have to try this new remedy call AirBourne back in the states that is supposed to be a natural cold killer. Usally the cold last 7 days without something, and with Airbourne it only lasts a week.... Does your host family have basic dial-up? Did it take a while to upload the video. Tell Kevin hello as well. He had great skill in filming the bathing area with saki-chan running in and out of the shot. I showed the principals your version of the NRHS home page and they were drooling. No one has had the talent and artistic touch you had with the website.

Hope all continues to go well with you and your studies. I hear your mom is filling in for Mrs Miller the MS art teacher for a few weeks. My son was bummed out today when he had to leave early from art. They were doing clay figures.

Take care and hope you had a good Thanksgiving which I surmise they don't celebrate in the land of the rising sun.

0 replies

Of a very strange day

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 11/30/2004 6:46:07 AM
November came in with a... um... breeze, and goes out with a cough and nose-blow. Bah, this head cold has be congested to no end, and whenever I talk I sound like the dead. *laughs* Guess you can only go uphill after you've reached the bottom, though. Hopefully I'll hit the bottom soon.

Today posed a very interesting computer conundrum. Two, actually. One was that one of my Japan Study friends had bought a used computer with a Japanese version of Windows XP on it, but since he wanted to be able to actually READ it he installed the English version. However, his English partition doesn't recognize some of the drivers he needs, and the software he needs to connect to the Internet here doesn't work with the Japanese partition. Bah! I think he'll get it worked out, though, since he can connect with a line. Hopefully all goes well.

The real conundrum came with one of my Japanese classmates. He had a paper that was due today for another class, but he needed a way to print it out. He had left his thumb drive at home, and since his wireless is G only he can't connect to the Waseda wireless network to e-mail the file to himself. I told him I'd help him get the file printed out at 4:10, which is when my class ended; the class in which the paper was due was at 4:20. Should just be a simple matter of transfer to my camera, hook up to the computers in the lab, and print out, right? Hah. You wish.

So, the first thing we tried was connecting my camera to the computers in the lab via my USB link, since we had loaded his paper onto the Memory Stick. However, the security settings refused to accept my camera, even though thumb drives work just fine and that's essentially what my camera is when you plug it in! GRR. So then I said, "Well, I'll just upload it to my website and we can download it on one of the printer computers." Fat chance. The Waseda wireless network was deciding to be stupid (as usual), and even if I did manage to get a connection for more than six seconds it wasn't strong enough to let me complete a file transfer. By this time, his next class has already started and my battery power is starting to run low (since I had been using Apsu extensively earlier on). So suddenly I realize that there's a YBBUser network floating around here, and miraculously manage to hop onto it. Neither FTP program I have can complete a full upload for some reason, but the uploader I programmed a while back worked just fine. Good, but then he forgot that he needed a cover page. D'oh! While he was typing it out on his laptop, I realized I only had ten minutes left on Apsu's battery, so I had to grit my teeth and send him into standby, knowing that I'd lose my chance Internet connection and may not be able to get it back. So he finally finishes the cover page and gives me the file again (we both had Memory Stick slots on our laptops... I'm telling you, MS rocks), and I bring Apsu out of standby and try to connect to the YBBUser network but to no avail. After repositioning myself a few times, though, I manage to get connected. As fast as I can, I dash to my uploader and begin uploading the new version. As it's going, I say to myself out loud, "You know, I should disable power management so Apsu doesn't go into low-power hibernation," and as I was finishing the sentence what do you think happened? No, a meteorite didn't smash into the SILS building. Apsu went into hibernation. Gah! We were so close! My classmate was about to call it game over right then, but I went back downstairs to the computer lab to try a few more things with my camera, all to no avail. So, sadly, his paper never got printed out. He was glad I had tried to help him, though; said I was "awesome on, like, eleven different levels" or something. *laughs* He's a good guy. Unfortunately he's also a self-proclaimed Walking Murphy's Law, because everything that could have possibly gone wrong did just then.

After he left for his class and I started out of the building, I suddenly remembered that the old version of his paper had successfully been uploaded, and he could at least print that out! Since the paper was twelve-some pages and they don't supply you with paper, I couldn't just print it out myself (I don't carry paper around with me). I ran up seven flights of stairs to his classroom, hoping I could intercept him on his way up, but he was already there, and I wasn't about to burst in and tell him he needed to skip more of it. *sighs* I was pretty dejected after that, especially since everything would have been cool had I either remembered about that older version that had successfully uploaded or had I used a little less of Apsu's battery power... and there were plenty of opportunities for me to do just that. I could list them here, but I see no need to make myself even more frustrated.

Such is the life of a computer tech: when you fail at fixing somebody's computer problem, even if it wasn't your fault and they thank you anyway, you still feel like you've failed yourself, your client, and your profession. Add to that a nasty head cold that is making breathing and speaking quite a chore, plus two spoonfulls of sleepiness and you've got yourself one beat up Gerf.

I'm seriously considering carrying the power supply to Apsu around with me at all times. It would only make sense, and if I would have brought it today all of the problems would have been solved. In fact, there have been several instances in which things would have been nicer for everyone had I brought it. So, as often as I can remember, into my bookbag it goes.

Come to think of it, it seems like just about everyone I met today made some sort of strange mistake or had something misfortunate happen to them. One of my classmates in Japanese couldn't understand the directions of the quiz, the other classmate had his whole paper snafoozle, my Japan Study friend couldn't get his English OS to work, the guy at the Seven-Eleven gave me 115 yen in change when he was only supposed to give me 16 (he mistook a 1 yen coin for a 100 yen coin, which means I would have gotten my anpan for free plus an additional 31 yen had I not returned to the store to correct the mistake), and Mama forgot my bowl of dinner rice on the sink counter and didn't notice it until I was almost done eating. *has to laugh* What a really weird day.

I should really get to sleep early tonight. I'm too sick to stay up late again.

Also, since I feel like sharing videos all of a sudden, today's link contains clips from the November 14 city festival. Awesome stuff.
Video: The Higashimurayama Festival 0 replies

Of sickness and packages from home

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/1/2004 8:22:30 AM
December already. Goodness. Just kind of creeps up on you like that. Oh yeah... RABBITSRABBITSRABBIS!

Anyway, today I brought Apsu into sci fi class so we could watch Ghost in the Shell. Pretty good movie; fits with the sci fi class quite well. I had seen a 3DMM version of it a while back, and this was kind of similar. Actually, pretty different. And, actually, I should be saying things the other way around, since the real anime came out first. But anyway.

Discovered that I got an A on my horrible The Box Man essay. Holy cow, that surprised me. I thought I totally flubbed that one, and was expecting at MOST a B. Maybe I still have it in me.

Today's train rides were rather difficult for me, especially the one in the morning. I was crammed in with all those people, and my head could still hadn't let up. I literally stopped playing Tetris on my cell phone so I could concentrate harder on hot sneezing and coughing, but no matter how hard I tried I had to spit 'em out several times. I felt sorry for the poor guy standing in front of me reading a book; I hope he knows I wasn't purposely trying to get him sick. In fact, I wore my black leather gloves to keep my hands off the railings and kept my mouth covered as much as I could. But I sneeze with great force, and when you have a leather glove (or at least something that's like leather, anyway) over your mouth, you emit a strange sound that is like a quack and a fart. Kind of embarrassing, but... you know, it's hard to prevent your body from involunary reflexes.

Got home and slept for at least two hours. Felt pretty good, especially since I haven't been able to nap for one reason or another pretty much all week. When I came down for dinner, Mama told me that a package had come from home... and sure enough, a rather large box from my family was sitting in the genkan! I opened it up after dinner... lots of food, some magazines (including the MaximumPC one that showcased the early Longhorn alpha build, though I already knew all the stuff it had mentioned more or less, heh), and some presents for the family. That and some clothes, boots, and my nice black leather parka, which, the more I think about it, may or may not actually be needed. *laughs* I guess we'll have to see how cold it ends up getting! It's always nice to get stuff from home. Or anyone, for that matter. Even e-mail. Anything. ^__^

Things to learn how to cook so I can make them back home:
- Kake soba
- Curry rice
- Onigiri (already know how... just need to find black paper...)
- Um, guess that's it. But, yeah... gotta make Japanese stuff for teh_folks back at teh_home.

And for today's link: me playing with Saki-chan in my room when Kevin came over. "This is why I don't have kids yet." *laughs*
Video: Gerf and Saki-chan 1 reply

Quaking Farts?
Posted by: badcheeso 12/1/2004 7:33:07 PM
Sounds like a duck in distress. Quackkkkkkphuttttttt!!!!! Don't move! I'll get you a kleenex.

You don't know how much mom and I agonized over that box. I wonder when greg will get the package? Should we start a postal search for it? We hope it makes it there without breaking open. Thank goodness that's over. AND you better wear that jacket at least once for all the worry we had.

You can cook for us anytime you want. Teach Nick too so we don't have to cook.

Are we going to experience those lovely train rides? I remember when I was in Taiwan and on the packed bus rides. Those little Taiwanese ladies use to lean against me all the time. You have to remember that most of them would come up to my shoulder. The women that is. The men were taller but not like me. I think the ladies enjoyed the ride with me.


you better not have any kids yet!!!!

Just kidding


Yeah really .
0 replies

Of not too much

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/2/2004 7:27:50 AM
Still got that dang cold. Now it's more coughing and an occasional super-clogged nose; sore throat is more or less gone. I don't like spontaneously breaking out into a couging fit, though... especially while I'm presenting a dialogue in class (I did fine, though). Blah. Statistics wasn't much fun today, either; I think I'm going to be glad when that's over. If it doesn't transfer for my required statistics credit like the math department dude at Case said it would, I'm going to go postal. o_O;;

Good news though: I think I figured out how to do my assignment in that class that's due next week. Now I'm a happy Gerf that may actually have a semi-free weekend. For the first time in ages! *laughs*

Ummm... most likely gonna break my old Tetris record. Again. I've already gotten over six million points in the short span of just over an hour of gameplay, which I think breaks my time record, too. I've literally spent well over a day playing that game. Which means I've spent many, many days standing on the train. Like, full days. Sometimes I wish I could scoop up free time like that and plant it somewhere else. Or give it away. Or something.

That's probably the first and only time I have/will ever say that I would "give away free time." *gathers up spare seconds and minutes and hoards them like a dragon on a treasure mound* Minemineminemineimeneimeieneinmmmmemmmmrrrrr.

Yeah, I should take a bath, study my kanji, shave, return to studying, and get back to bed.
0 replies

Of a pretty good day!

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/3/2004 9:54:40 AM
You know what? Today was a pretty good day. I had to jog to the station again, but that's okay... I like jogging in the morning (though it's kind of awkward with my full backpack). It's finally started to get quite nippy in the morning; when I was putting my shoes on before heading out, billows of visible breath spewed from my mouth every time I exhaled, even when it was just a little bit. Kind of strange, but pretty cool. On the way to class, I watched the millions of motorcycles, motorscooters, and other bike-like vehicles zooming by and remembered how Nathalie had said that motor[whatever]ers in Japan don't really have to obey traffic laws, other than stopping at signs and red lights. They zoom by as fast as they want, they swerve in and out as they please... they'll even tear through traffic jams like water flowing through a bed of pebbles (ooo, interesting analogy). Rather dangerous, but hey, it's economical.

Made two and a half dumb mistakes on my kanji test today, but that's okay. The class went quite well; people keep saying how they don't like Akane-sensei, but I actually like her more than our grammar teacher. She tells all sorts of funny stories and she has a great sense of humor. If you do your homework as assigned, study for your tests, and shut up when she tells you to, she's just fine. *shrugs* Got our compositions back, too, which need to be rewritten. I only had a few little blips on mine, though she did say it would be great if I described Higashimurayama a little more (the topic is commuting to school... yay). So I did that... but since my composition is rather long-ish, I couldn't finish it in the time she gave us. However, she said I could turn it in on Tuesday with no problem at all, and actually told me to take my time and do a good job. See? She's nice after all. You just have to be nice to her.

Talked with some classmates at the Food Shop over a bowl of kitsune soba. It was mostly general chatting about other classmates and stuff, but eventually the conversation switched over to my relationship with Kristin because they brought it up and wanted to hear about it (since girls often seem to like to know what's going on in relationships, it seems). So I told them the story of how we met and everything, and they thought it was really sweet. *laughs* Made me happy to be able to relate the story to someone again. ^__^

From there I went to the GLC/ACM office for work, though I didn't really expect there to be any. Rob was there dressed in a suit; he had an orchestra concert today, which I hope went well. Michiyo-san and Sarah were there eating lunch, and Michiyo-san said she was glad I came because she had interesting news for me. First of all, the program director is coming over next week, and at that time she is going to talk to him about the possibility of creating the Japan Study alumni database website thingamabob (she knows what she wants a lot better than I do at this point, so it's a good thing she's handling the proposal!). So, I could be doing some website development over winter break and such for bling bling! Whoo... working on vacation. Hey, telecommuting = da bomb, what can I say?

The other interesting thing she told me was that she recently got in contact with someone she had mentioned a while ago who works for a Japanese technology consultant company. It's called InterStructure, and while I haven't taken the time to translate all the Japanese on their website yet to find out what exactly they do, Michiyo-san said it was basically right up my alley: they set up websites for companies, among other things. Cool beans. What's more, the contact person (a certain Mr. Matsushita) said he was very, very interested in meeting me very soon; apparently, Michiyo-san put in a very good word for me when she met with him a few weeks ago. Second helping of cool beans. But wait, here comes the third helping: the InterStructure office is only about a three minute walk from the main entrance to Waseda University! Whoa... talk about convenient. So, there's a good chance I'll be working for a Japanese website/technology firm in the near future. Talk about resume-building. Booyah.

Well, shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch. But, I mean... there are thirteen eggs there, so I should get thirteen chickens, right? Or maybe ten chickens and three elephants. I dunno. *laughs*

Anyway, on my way home I decided to do something weird and stop in at one of the two arcades on the way to Waseda. There was this cool-looking Mega Man game I had heard about a year or so ago, and a few weeks ago I wandered into this arcade and said, "Whoa, I know that game!" So I played it (50 yen for one life, and I needed two lives to get sort of far)... pretty fun. Maybe I'll hit it up every now and then, learn its secrets, and get good at it. Just because it's fun. *laughs* Then after getting back to Higashimurayama, I ran into someone that had come to visit a while ago. He's a translator, so he knows some English. He told me to come join him and Papa next Saturday at the Maru restaurant/pub, which I was planning on doing anyway.

Which brings me to the schedule up until winter break, more or less:
- This weekend: FREE.
- Next weekend: Saturday - Maru with Papa and friends. Sunday - Japan Study farewell dinner (host families invited)
- Next next Friday: Jazz concert with Papa. Jazz concert! Totally out of the blue! Score.

Came home and wanted to take a nap, but as soon as I put my head down the door opened and Saki-chan and her friend came in and immediately started climbing all over me. Saki-chan is dead-set on climbing over every square inch of my body. Daily. Even during dinner. *laughs*

Well, finally it's the weekend. Finally I should be able to relax. Whew. Maybe I'll take a walk tomorrow just for the sake of walking. Because sake is good. I mean, walking is good. o_O; 1 reply

Life Lesson
Posted by: badcheeso 12/4/2004 6:26:16 PM

Listen up!!

It's not only WHAT you know that's important, IT'S WHO you know AND how you use it.

(famous DADAism)

It goes along with Adapt , Improvise, Change

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Of a free day!

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/4/2004 7:49:50 AM
Ah, finally, a chance to kick back and relax, more or less. Today was pretty slow... got some Japanese homework done, and after I take a bath I think I'm going to work on my statistics that's due on Thursday. After that, though, there's really nothing I need to do, which is cool. Perhaps Sunday I can get going with some other stuff that I've had on hold for a while.

I spent way too long today looking at random desktop customization tools and utilities, as well as other little widgets and cleaners that supposedly were supposed to make Apsu faster. But, as I suspected from the beginning, they didn't really do what I wanted them to. And as far as the customization tools go... well, maybe I'll bust them out again during winter break when I can take the time to make my own thingies, but until then they're going to have to just stay as setup files. I keep on thinking I need to SUPERCHARGE MY DESKTOP or whatever, but really I don't need anything of the sort. Not yet, anyway. I dunno... I'm confusing myself now.

I cooked up the macaroni and cheese and chicken noodle soup I got from home for lunch today to share with the family (they seemed to really like the macaroni), and also introduced them to the Triscuits and American peanut butter. It's interesting to note that Japanese peanut butter tastes like the peanut butter you find on the inside of chocolate candies: it's sweet, super-creamy, but not all too spreadable. At least, not after it's been in the fridge. *laughs* I had a fun time experimenting with the two types of peanut butter tastes at once... yumyumyum.

We celebrated grandfather's birthday today, complete with a huge sashimi dinner and birthday cake. Pretty cool. His birthday wasn't actually today; we were just celebrating it today. Quite yummy. My host parents put the rest of the macaroni and cheese on top of some lettuce and tomatoes, so it was like a macaroni salad. Just... it wasn't. Not how we think of macaroni salads, anyway! Saki-chan also played with this school bus that has all these letters and numbers on it. Basically, it's an English learning toy. Kind of cool. I took a look at it and found there was a spelling quiz mode, and Mama was like, "Ooh, Soichiro could use that!" I laughed. And so did Saki-chan... but that was because she was climbing through my legs.

Speaking of Saki-chan doing random things, yesterday at dinner, totally out of the blue, she said, "Greg's cool!" Amusingly random. ;)

And speaking of belated birthdays, happy birthday to Dad! His birthday was yesterday. I was a dunce and got so caught up in stuff that I forgot to mention it yesterday. Gomennasai!

My current game of Tetris is shattering all my old records. I currently have over 11.5 million points and over 2300 lines, which is, like, a lot in that game. For reference, one Tetris (four lines at once) on level 15 (the highest level) is worth just 18000 points (27000 for each subsequent one in a row), and non-Tetris point values are something like 100, 800, and 1500 in comparison... practically nothing. So, yeah... I'm totally pwning this. *laughs*

It started raining today... I wonder if we'll have snow tomorrow morning? It was really cold this morning, so there's a chance. I guess we'll find out...
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The Birthday Boy
Posted by: badcheeso 12/4/2004 6:17:50 PM
Your father is getting older even as we read this drivel.

Today was a craft fair day for him and as usual he just barely made his table cost. After deducting for the table and a doughnut and a bbq sandwich mom and i cleared a grand total of............are you ready for this ................$1.50. So if we deduct gas money....we're in the hole. AHHHHH so what. I did get a good lead for another fair. It's the fancy one in Brecksville but I have to wait until next year and hope they will take me. The good news is if I had a quarter for every "beautiful work" I heard today I would have cleared at least a bazzillllion dollars which is probably a goodtrillzillion in yen.

OOPS, I just got even older as I typed this.

Apology accepted.

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Of a buffet dinner

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/5/2004 8:19:14 AM
Sooooo close to getting this dang statistics assignment done. Would you believe I spent practically all day on just one question? *laughs* I did other stuff, too, but... as far as homework goes, that's all I got done. However, it took a lot of thought, and I hope my answer is right.

But anyway.

Today was HOT. Not unusually warm, but HOT. I was literally sweating while eating lunch... it didn't really help that I was having hot udon soup, but still, it was hot. If I heard Papa correctly, today's heat has set a new record that hasn't been broken in about 100 years, and today was the warmest day since sometime in September. And that's quite odd, since yesterday it was really, really cold and tomorrow it's supposed to be cold, too. Fluke, anyone?

I meant to save some of the goodies my parents had sent in that box to share with other people, but I couldn't hold myself back; there is only one York left and half a box of Peanut Butter Toast Crunch. o_O I did share some candy corn, but what wasn't shared has gone down the hatch. I swear... I'm totally helpless when it comes to candy... especially when I haven't had any in a while!

At about 4:30 (after the wonderful tonal music), I decided to go take a walk outside. Saki-chan wanted to come with me, so we walked, hand-in-hand, through Higashimurayama. She said there was a park nearby, so I followed her to... well, exactly that: a park. It was actually more of a small recreation spot with big rocks to climb, benches to sit at, a little pond to... um, look at, bushes to hide in, and a water fountain to drink at. That and a big black block with writing on it that apparently describes the park; I could only read the first half of the first line before I started hitting kanji I didn't know. *laughs* It was pretty fun (though we were the only ones there and it was getting dark quickly). I helped Saki-chan climb some pretty formidable rocks (for her size, anyway), and afterward I carried her home on my shoulders, running and jumping when she shouted "Run!" and "Jump!" Tiring, but amusing. Took a bit to get her to STOP climbing on me afterwards, but, hey, what can you expect.

The real highlight of the day came at 5:30 when we all packed into the car and headed to a buffet restaurant (driving over, but not harming, a stray cat along the way). Each table had its own circular grill where you cooked up all the meat and veggies you could eat; there was also unlimited sushi, rice, soup, curry, you name it. Even pineapples, cakes, drinks, and ice cream. Mmmmm. Very, very tasty. Note to self: eating too many pineapples paralyzes the tip of your tongue. This is the second time you've done it since coming to Japan. ;)

The Japanese word for buffet is バイキング, "baikingu." It's in katakana, meaning it's a foreign loan-word, likely English. However, the only word I could think of that is even remotely similar is "biking," which is certainly not the same. I asked Papa about it, and he explained it was after the Vikings... and then it all made sense! V and B are pronounced the same over here (like R and L), and thus the mystery of the biking buffet was solved. *laughs*

One thing that is interesting about Japanese buffets, like I mentioned before, is that you get a set time limit; after time is up, they come out with the Ginsu knives and chase you out (not really, but you know what I mean). Therefore, the name of the game is EAT EAT EAT EATEATEATEATEATEATEATEAT. And then drink, and eat eat eat more. I had gone back for more food at least four or five times, and my parents kept saying to get more and more. *laughs* I didn't want to totally overdo it, though I did make sure to load up on as much yumminess as I could, because it was very tasty. Everyone was bulging their stomachs out by the end, even Mama. Of course, I did my stomach thing, too... which they all find ceaselessly hilarious. Mama especially dies of laughter when I do that!

Natsuko drove us home, which I was hoping because both Mama and Papa had had several drinks, and I certainly wouldn't feel as safe if they drove us home. I sat up front (as usual) and chatted with Natsuko a little; found out she likes the Backstreet Boys (since she popped their CD in) and that she isn't too thrilled with driving. For whatever reason, Saki-chan started talking about who she was going to marry when she grew up. She was like, "Yeah, I'll probably marry my brother." Then Mama pointed out, "You know, Saki-chan, a few days ago you did say that Greg was cool," to which Saki-chan replied, "Nah, I changed my mind. I'll marry my sister." *laughs* Yeah, you go do that, Saki-chan. ;) Then she popped her head up front, looked at me and Natsuko, and said, "Ooh, I know, why don't Greg and Natsuko get married?" Everyone laughed again; not that I have anything against Natsuko, but I've already got a sweetheart back home waiting for me to come back. Besides, I don't think Kristin would be very happy if I sent her an e-mail saying, "奈津子と結婚することにした。ごめんね。" ("Sorry, but I decided to marry Natsuko.") *laughs again* Nah, I wouldn't do that to my favorite Kristin. *sends hugs and Pocky her way*

I've got a great host family, and I love it here. What an awesome experience this is. ^__^
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No title
Posted by: gtdavis 12/5/2004 1:44:02 PM
I'm glad to see that your tongue was not so paralyzed as to prevent you from coming up with the correct response to the marriage suggestion. I would hate to have to come over there and adjust your attitude! Glad that you are enjoying your stay; we had a wonderful time there as well. Happy Holidays!
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Send some of that warm weather back here...
Posted by: UNFDAardvark 12/5/2004 1:46:10 PM
...Case's weather seems to have finally settled into its "You want to see the sun? HA!" pattern ;)

Out of curiousity, what kind of statistics course are you taking? I took the Basic Statistics for Engineers/Scientists course this semester, and it was basically an abridged, faster version of AP Stats that used calculus. (I got a 5 on the AP Stats test, but of course Case doesn't count it as anything useful.)

Speaking of Vikings...the names of my computer's three hard drives--Urd, Skuld, and Verthandy--are the names of the Norse goddesses for the past, future, and present, respectively. The creators of the anime/manga "ああっ!女神さまっ!" used them as characters, and Verthandy's name got katakana-ed into "ベルダンディー", which really sounds more like "Belldandy" when you say it. Just some random trivia :)
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Posted by: Gerf 12/5/2004 6:44:46 PM
Ah, the days without the sun. Those were good days. *laughs*

The stats class here is all non-calculus and is actually a continuation of some stats course offered last semester (which, obviously, I never took). I doubt we'll have learned everything you will have, but I'm supposed to get credit for it anyway so that's cool.

The B/V syndrome strikes again. ;)
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Posted by: Videoman 12/5/2004 10:16:17 PM
"Natsuko drove us home, which I was hoping because both Mama and Papa had had several drinks, and I certainly wouldn't feel as safe if they drove us home. I sat up front (as usual) and chatted with Natsuko a little; found out she likes the Backstreet Boys (since she popped their CD in) and that she isn't too thrilled with driving. For whatever reason, Saki-chan started talking about who she was going to marry when she grew up. She was like, "Yeah, I'll probably marry my brother." Then Mama pointed out, "You know, Saki-chan, a few days ago you did say that Greg was cool," to which Saki-chan replied, "Nah, I changed my mind. I'll marry my sister." *laughs* Yeah, you go do that, Saki-chan. ;) Then she popped her head up front, looked at me and Natsuko, and said, "Ooh, I know, why don't Greg and Natsuko get married?" Everyone laughed again; not that I have anything against Natsuko, but I've already got a sweetheart back home waiting for me to come back. Besides, I don't think Kristin would be very happy if I sent her an e-mail saying, "奈津子と結婚することにした。ごめんね。" ("Sorry, but I decided to marry Natsuko.") *laughs again* Nah, I wouldn't do that to my favorite Kristin. *sends hugs and Pocky her way*"

Cute little story.

Haha, dude, wish I could've been there and heard the actual conversation.... But then again, I only know a few Japanese words.
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