Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week 13

A bit of a short "blog week" this week due to my last update being written later than usual. I now think the "sinus infection" I had last week was actually "cedar fever" (think hey fever, but with cedar pollen.) Allergies, while being a pain in the... nose... didn't keep me from the farewell party I went to on Friday. It turned out to be a fairly run-of-the-mill event at one of the area's British pubs. A lot of the other (Japanese) high school teachers were there and we all ate, drank, and had a good time.

Where my sinuses draining down my throat did effect me this week was when I ended up missing the big fare-well karaoke event last Saturday, instead staying in and having dinner with my girlfriend. (There's nothing more tortuous than singing karaoke with a sore throat.)

Today is the last day of kid's classes for me (for this contract year, aka until mid-April.) In part to celebrate, after work tonight the plan is to meet up with some of the guys and play some poker.

Looking foreword (and baring another major allergic attack) I'm scheduled to do some wedding photography for some friends tomorrow, which should be fun. Also, on Wednesday, I've got tickets to the Hanshin Tigers' home opener at the Kyocera-Dome here in Osaka (down the street, promises to be a good time.) And then, Friday starts the new school year here with new classes, new students, new staff, new teachers, and new schools. It's looking to be a pretty exciting week.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week 12

Sorry for the delay this week but it's been a busy few days. Monday (my usual update day), I was busy shopping for and going to a friends's daughter's first birthday party. I'm pretty sure the kid had no idea what was going on (and, in fact, slept through most of it) but everyone who went had a good time. (Oh, and Monday was a national holiday to celebrate the spring equinox!)

Yesterday I went hiking in Takedao (on an old-abandoned-railway-turned-hiking-trail I've been to before) with another friend. The weather was about perfect and we had a good hike.

I was slated to join some more friends, rent a car, and drive to Shikoku today but I bowed out to nurse a sinus cold that's been lingering for the past few days. (And I just now remembered that I've been putting off this update, oh no!)

There actually wasn't too much to write home about last week. Except, I suppose, LAST Wednesday I did go on a different hike (with a different friend in a different prefecture.) We hiked from a town called Tenri to a town called Sakurai in Nara. The weather was more-or-less nice with periods of warm sun woven with snow flurries. (We were hiking in some foot-hills.) There were some nice temples, a few rice fields, and a lot of orchards along the trail.

Looking ahead to this weekend: I've got a farewell party for one of the high-school teachers from last year and an all-night send-off karaoke-party for some of the other teachers who are leaving at the end of this contract (which ends March 31st.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week 11

To start this week's post let me state that I'm fine and Osaka was largely un-effected by last Friday's 9.0 quake in Northern Japan. (THank you all for your concern!) We only really felt the main quake and the first aftershock a half an hour later (each registering about a 3 on the richter scale by the time they got to Osaka.) My heart goes out to those actually in the North of Japan who had to deal with the largest quake in Japanese history followed by tsunami waves up to 30 feet high, and now the threat of a nuclear meltdown.

But before we get all dark here, let's back up and look at last week. As I said last Monday I had a bit of a "situation", with my girlfriend being pissed at me. Fortunately it turns out it was all a big misunderstanding and things were rectified by Monday night.

Tuesday I took my first long distance bike ride down to the Yamatogawa (a large river in South Osaka.) The weather wasn't all that bad but there was a wicked wind blowing along the river banks.

Wednesday I got up early and got all dressed up for my high-school class's graduation ceremony. I went to last year's ceremony as well and this year wasn't much different. It started in one banquet hall were the principal some of the senior staff made speeches, handed out diplomas, and awards, and had a few students make speeches. After that we all went to another banquet hall one floor up for a buffet-style lunch, pictures, and some more speeches (as well as an impromptu "rock concert" put on by some of the staff, which was a bit funny.) After the festivities were over the other "native" teacher and I waited around and wend out for a celebratory dinner with the other staff members.

Thursday a was pretty standard work day. Though, as usual, it was a late shift. I ended up sleeping in a bit Friday morning as, instead of my usual high-school shift I had a "substitute-day" where I went and taught someone else's classes while they're on vacation. My shift started at 2:50 and, as I like to do, I showed up 15 minutes early. I was just preparing to teach my first class when the building began to shake. The "Hankyu Office Tower" was completed last year and in the modern design style is designed to sway with an earthquake instead of being rigid. The nasty side effect being that the building ends up swaying like a boat for several minutes after the actual quake subsides. After things settled down I began to teach and was interrupted partway through class by the first, big, aftershock. The rest of the day went on without much concern as we had no TV access at the office. When I got home at 9:00 I turned on the TV and was glues to the screen long past my usual bed-time.

Saturday's kid's classes went normally and quickly and soon I was out for Chinese food with my girlfriend (who is also perfectly fine.)

Yesterday's (Sunday's) "Web" classes were a bit odd in that I only ended up teaching five out of twelve classes (and my schedule's been full lately.) I'm not sure if people were watching the news instead of what (most of my Sunday student's like in Kanagawa, south of Tokyo.) Whatever the case, I do home they're all okay.

It seem's that this-morning the 24-hour news cycle is giving way to more standard morning-talk-show programing, but the topics are still very much last Friday's disasters.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week 10

I left off last week about to go shopping Tuesday morning. Turns out that shopping expedition was a huge failure due to a broken credit card machine, a sold out item, and an item not yet in stock. The redeeming feature of the day being that when I went out for dinner I stumbled across a hat shop which had the hat I've been searching fo for the last month (a bowler hat in a size 58) at a great price ($30 on sale!) I also randomly met one of my co-workers on the way back from the hat shop which gave me an excuse to go out for Korean BBQ.

Had an early-ish start on Wednesday as the crew was headed off to South Kyoto to tour the Suntory Beer Brewery. This will probably be the last brewery tour for a while as I think we've been to all the major one's in Kansai (the area of Japan where I live) already. The tour was pretty much the same deal as with the Asahi plant but if you're only going to do one, do the Asahi plant. The Asahi tour was more in-depth and the guide was a more knowledgeable (partly because out Suntory guide had only been on the job a month.)

After the tour I broke off from the group (everyone else was headed to a soccer game) and went into downtown Kyoto. I was searching for a stuffed animal my girlfriend pointed out last time we were there but the place we saw it had changed hands, so I'll have to search elsewhere.) I snapped some pictures of Kyoto Station in the daylight (I'm usually there at sunset) and headed back to Osaka.

The work week progressed at it's usual quick pace with nothing of particular interest happening. (Though later in the week I managed to buy some of the things I was looking for on Tuesday which included a camera lens-adapter and Nintendo's newest portable gaming device.)

There was some drama with my girlfriend and a forgotten umbrella last night so I'm off to buy flowers this afternoon.

This week's "weekend" activities are shaping up to include the first big bike ride of the year and my high school class's graduation ceremony (a swank event last year.)