Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Week 31

Hrmph. Another late post this week. Nothing to blame but my own procrastination. Well here goes:

Monday the 23rd I woke up at my half-customary early hour of 7:00 and headed to the middle of nowhere to teach 30 kindergarten kids for 40 minutes. I came home and did the week's laundry and relaxed in the early afternoon. That night's web shift was a train-wreck of problems. It started off well enough with my participation in the shooting of a commercial for Web lessons. The rest of night, however, was filled with problem students exemplified by one naughty kid who broke his mic off of his headset during the lesson.

Tuesday (the 24th) I headed up to Kyoto for a little shopping in the Shijo area. To my pleasant surprise there was a long parade (part of the Gion festival) marching around. I panicked a bit after lunch when a freak storm dumped a hard rain. Fearing for my laundry still drying at home I beat a quick path back to my apartment only to find that the storm had completely missed Osaka. Some friends came over in the evening to play board games. 

Wednesday (the 25th) I patiently awaited the arrival of the repairman to come fix my internet. When he finally arrived it took him two minutes to wiggle a wire and fix things. Everything was groovy for thirty minutes after that. Then my connection dropped again. I immediately called the customer service line again where the person on the other end tried to walk me through all the normal steps. It took a couple minutes of convincing to convey that I really knew what the problem was and they just needed to send the repair guy out again. Sure enough when the serviceman came back he said the same thing had happened again and this time he'd replaced the faulty wire and that things should work fine. Wednesday afternoon was spent "catching up" on a week's worth of internet. 

Thursday morning was spent catching up on all the TV shows I missed the previous week. Work was pretty easy, even with two demo-lessons on my schedule. I stopped for groceries on the way home as I usually do on Thursday nights now.

My high-school is on summer break already so I had a "sub-shift" Friday afternoon which meant I got to sleep in a bit Friday morning which was nice.

In contrast to Thursday; my Saturday shift was made busier with more demo-lessons. As a reward for myself I went to the the new Batman movie in the evening. It was a nice wrap-up to the trilogy but at just over three hours, it was a touch on the long side.

Sunday I worked my way through work, thinking forward to the evening. After work I had a few friends over for yet another gaming secession.

Last Monday, after calling home in the morning, I went to the local "clinic center" and found an ENT clinic to look at my throat which had been bothering me for a few days. One look and the doctor sent me home with anti-biotics to fight an apparent case of tonsillitis. In addition, the doctor suggested rest and "not talking as much as possible". Unfortunately I had to work in the evening... and I make my money with my voice.

Yesterday (Tuesday the 31st) I took it easy and didn't move from my apartment for most of the day. I did go out for dinner at my favorite burrito place and had yet another friend come around in the evening to hang out.

This morning I continued to rest and relax. I went out for lunch and picked up cheap ('cause it's the first of the month) tickets for "The Amazing Spider-man" this evening.

I've got one more week of work before summer vacation. I'd better start thinking of what I want to do over the break before the break's over.

Oh, and in the awesome news department I fond out this week that there's a Mini-Legoland in Tokyo which I'll be visiting in September. Also a movie I've been waiting three years to see the third part of the quadrilogy of is finally being released at the end of the year (and the forth movie is slated for next year!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Week 30

This update penned the morning of July 23rd to be uploaded at a later date for reasons explained below.

I ended up spending last Monday's Ocean Day holiday afternoon plain video games at a friend's house. It's been a while since we've gotten together so it was a fun change of pace.Tuesday afternoon I had a different friend over to play board games. We re-played a game we haven't played in a while which was also fun.

After chilling out for two day I decided that I should get out and do something on the last day of my three day weekend. Since I needed to get my Foreigner Registration Card renewed anyways I spend Wednesday in Cosmo Square (out in the port area where the Immigration Bureau is located.) The Hard Rock Cafe happened to be on my way so I stopped in for a lunch of potato skins and caesar salad. My next stop was the Bureau where the process for getting a new card was remarkably streamlined and only took about an hour. In usual Immigration office fashion it was a trans-cultural experience. THis time I got chatted up about the Detroit Pistons by a Chilean guy who hated soccer but loved the NBA. MY next stop, after a ten minute walk under a hard Osaka summer sun was the Maritime Museum. As Japanese museums go it wan't too bad. Everything's in Japanese but there are sparse translations here and there. The exhibits were also a little sparse with only nine exhibit rooms and of those a lot of the information was written which made it a little challenging to understand. The central, and by far, the largest exhibit is the Naniwa-maru, a replica sailing vessel from the Edo era that you can board and walk around on. It's suspended in the center of the Maritime Museum's Bond-villian-like dome structure and it's three story mast and sail are quite impressive. After the museum closed at five I headed over to the Osaka World Trade Center's observation deck where I went around and around taking pictures until sunset. About eight I headed across the street to the ATC's (Asia Pacific Trade Center) food cooer and got a Subway sandwich to go and ate it down by the waterfront. Cosmo Square has a monorail line as well as the subway and I rode that most of the way home as a nice change of pace.

When I got home Wednesday evening I started up my computer only to find that my internet was out. I'm not new to working with computers so I tried everything in the book to get my service back up but to no avail. I searched through the literature I got when I signed up for service three years ago and found the customer support number but noted that they were only available from ten to six so I settled in for an evening without 'net access.

Thursday morning I woke up and re-tied everything I could to get my internet back on but, again to no avail. Come ten o'clock I called my service provider's customer service number. After being walk through the steps I had already done ump-teen time again (this time being guided in Japanese) I was transferred to another department which had me repeat the steps again before deciding that there was something wrong with the wiring in my building, not with my computer. In a disastrous turn of fate the hour when a representative could come fix my connection over the weekend lined up exactly with my working hours. I'd be stuck without internet at home for a full week. Feeling dejected I headed into work where I was, once again, greeted by a delightfully light work load. This lifted my spirits somewhat, as getting paid to do "nothing" often does.

Friday was the last high-school shift before their summer vacation. We had two surprise guests as two of my former students came back for a visit. I saw both of them at this past year's graduation but it's been a few month since then. They both seem to be doing well which was great to see. To cut by internet-free boredom in the evening i used my TV as a TV (as opposed to a monitor) for the first time in months and watched one of my favorite animated movies (Summer Wars) that was being broadcast.

Saturday was typically busy but not overtaxing. I came home in the evening and made myself a nice grilled chicken salad and watched last summer's Ghibli film, "Kokuriko-zaka Kara," on DVD.

Sunday's shift at web school dragged on a bit but in the evening I went back to my friend's house for another round of video games. We paused at one point to grab some burrito's from my favorite place for dinner.

This morning my 'net is still out and I was reminded of another problem my building's been facing recently. Just as I was about to turn the shower off this morning the water cut-out. This is, at least, the secede time this week the water's cut out for no reason. The first time it did I realized WHY toilets have a tank of water. For those times when you need "one last flush."

Looking to this weekend I've got to keep myself distracted tomorrow as my ISP is going to fix my 'net Wednesday morning. I also need to call my apartment's management company ant make sure they know the water's been cutting out (I think / hope other tenants have complained too.)

Talking to other teachers it seems everyone's grandmothers all used to say "things come in threes." Looks like no 'net, no water, and the looming prospect of rolling blackouts are my "three" for the month of July.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week 29

A short blog week this week as last week's update was so delayed.

Thursday I slept on and off all day trying to rid myself of what was left of my cold.

Friday I woke up feeling pretty refreshed and went into work as usual. In the evening I met up with some of the other teachers from the high-school and went out for dinner at an interesting 'vegetable restaurant'. There was a veggie bar and most of the menu items were vegetable based as well. I didn't feel too guilty for pigging out. It was also a nice chance to chat with some of my co-workers outside the normal work environment.

Saturday it's always battle to drag myself into work regardless of illness but I managed again this week. As a reward after work I headed into Kyoto to hear a few bands I like. Unfortunately the venue was in Shijo which is next to Gion and this week is the height of the Gion matsuri, Kyoto's biggest festival. It was a struggle to get from the station to the venue through the thralls of people. The concert itself was a lot of fun and some friends and I stuck around afterwords and had some drinks with the band members. We ended up running to make the last train back to Osaka and totally missed the last subway South. Fortunately one of the people I met through going to these concerts had a friend with a car who came to rescue us and take us home.

I did my usual web shift on Sunday followed by a little shopping in Nippon-bashi (a new figure that I pre-ordered was released yesterday.) I came home and crashed out in front of the TV in the evening.

Today (Monday the 16th) is Ocean Day here in Japan, so I get the day off. I plan on meeting up with some friends later on. Hurray for long weekends.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Week 28

Okay, so this took a bit longer than I had initially thought. Mostly due to an energy draining cold that managed to lay me low for a week and a half. A small tickle at the back of my throat turned into a cough and fever. I think I felt worse back when I had pneumonia a few years ago, but at least I had the forethought to have that over a vacation, not during a work week.

Last Tuesday it rained torrentially all day which made for a great excuse to stay inside and play video games all day. At this point my cold was just getting it's claws in me and I didn't think it'd be all that bad, especially with a day of absolute rest.

Wednesday I still felt a little under the weather but the actual weather was so nice that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go out to Kobe and wander around taking pictures. The fresh air and sun probably did me some good but the miles and miles of walking took a lot of energy out of me.

Thursday I managed to go into work with out much fuss and was rewarded with a super easy day with just a few kids classes (where I tried not to breath on the little ones) and no adult classes.

Friday I played yet another new board game with my high school students. This new one's a strategy/economy game that they all really liked a lot. I came home in the evening, ordered a pizza, watched TV, and crashed out.

Saturday I somehow made it through work on my reserve tank of energy, came home, and napped through a friend's birthday party.

Sunday I repeated Saturday's actions and used the power obtained from the pervious day's nap to drag myself into work yet again.

By Monday it was ridiculous. I had to get up early to do my kindergarten shift and stay up late to do my  web shift. I was more than a bit zombie-like at both.

The real hitch of the week is that of all the weeks to get sick, this was the week I was scheduled to do two kindergarten classes, including one on my day off. At this point my voice broke from the sore throat and cracked when I tried to talk. It was a trying 80 minutes of teaching followed by an afternoon spent in and out of naps.

Wednesday (yesterday) I finally started to feel on the up and up again (or at least not worse than the day before) I still took it extremely easy and rested as much as was possible in the last ditch hopes of getting  well before the next work week.

Today (Thursday) I woke up without a fever but still feeling pretty power-less so I literally made the call to not go into work today (clinging to the vague hope that I'll be back at 100% tomorrow.)

Aside from not using all my days off on a common cold I really want to get better before the weekend as one of may favorite bands is playing in Kyoto on Saturday. Also Monday is a national holiday so it'd be nice to be back amongst the health before the long weekend (as fate made me sick LAST weekend not THIS weekend when I could have truely rested.)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week 27

Another year older, and younger at heart.

Last "weekend" kicked off with my birthday party. Well, actually it kicked off with me thoroughly cleaning my apartment for no good reason while waiting for the evening to come when the festivities started. It began with four friends who joined me for burritos at my favorite burrito place. We then moved over a neighborhood for a couple rounds of bowling (I came in last but still had a good time.) It was still fairly early in the evening when we tired of bowling so we hit up a small liqueur store across the street and managed to find some Osaka micro-brews (kind-of rare) and drank "street beers" under the Ebisu-bashi bridge (next to the Glico-man sign, a famous Osaka landmark.) While we were waiting, one more friend joined us and we decided to head off for karaoke. Over the course of the rest of the evening we were joined by another three friends as well. Everyone sang a lot and I think we all had a good time. Some time around four a.m. we got tired of singing and all headed home. I left the karaoke place during the darkest part of the night and arrived home just at the sun was starting to think about kissing the horizon. I slept quite soundly that night.

Wednesday was spent recuperating from the previous evening, playing video games, and reading. I managed to finish one game and two books.

Thursday (my birthday, yay!) I woke up and opened presents from home. The irony that I asked for, received, and was grateful for clothes for my birthday did not escape me. Sadly I had to work in the afternoon but at least my shift wan't too busy.

Friday's high-school shift was pretty normal. Morning classes followed by my chronically absent student not showing in the afternoon leaving me ample time to play games with the other students.

Saturday I met a friend on the train into work which made the ride a lot more pleasant. At work it was a typical bustle-y Saturday. In the late evening I went ta friend's DJ/concert/show/event thing. He played some interesting music and I might go see him do it again. The fun part of this evening, however, is that he proposed to his long-time girlfriend at the end of the last song (and she said, "yes.")

Yesterday was particularly busy at web school but I could let off some steam in the evening as I had friends over for yet another game night.

It seems we'll get a break from the constant rain of the last week today. I should get my laundry done today as the forecast calls for rain the rest of the week too (gotta love a country with a rainy-season.) If (and that's a big if) the weather is passable tomorrow I'd really like to go hiking in Kobe and stop at Costco on the way home.