Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Reflective Interlude

I really feel like posting something today, but I'm feeling decidedly uninspired (or was that "inspiredly undecided"?). I guess I'll do the traditional blog thing and just post my random thoughts for the day...what one might call "diary-a of the keyboard"...

Thursdays are weird this year. I have fewer classes per week than I usually do, so I have a bit more extra time. However, I also have a lot more things to do. The sister-school project probably eats up the most time followed by all these student compositions that I have to check every week. I'm also in charge of my grade's newletter (and I've been going a bit overboard on it...thanks to CorelDRAW). Add to that the newly revamped and reorganized district PTA and all the extra work that has created, and you have a pretty full list. That's why I'm thankful for Thursdays. I have a 7th grade class in the first period, a 12th grade composition seminar in the seventh period, and naught in between. It's kind of like a balloon sandwich, only more pleasant. I appreciate it because I tend to get bored during that big, open space in the middle. When I get bored I look for things to do, and I often settle for doing what I'm supposed to do. That's a good thing. On all the other days of the week I never get bored enough to do anything except either what's put in front of my face with an "urgent" label attached or what I happen to feel like doing at the time.

What do you know? Today is Thursday! I guess I should write up that page of "useful English expressions" to put in the students' handbook for the Australia trip. Naaaaah.....

Thursdays are also when the homeroom teacher I assist has her "training leave", so I have to take care of morning homeroom. I don't have much contact with my homeroom beyond this one morning every week, so it's a good thing. Today is the first time in a long time that all of the students are present. We just got over a bizarre, unseasonal flu epidemic. (Fortunately, I wasnt affected.) We also had a couple of kids that were skipping school for social or psychological reasons, an increasing trend in today's "kinder and gentler" education approach. I guess it has all passed, because all of the kids were there this morning. So was the little Tanabata tree they made.

After morning homeroom was over, one of the girls came and told me that her grandmother had died...on her birthday. What an unhappy way to turn fifteen! The poor girl will probably be away from school for the better part of the following week. I've said so before, but Japanese funerals are a long, complex process, particularly for the family. It will be a busy and somber time for the girl. How ironic that the weather has finally cleared up a bit.

It has been so miserable the past week or more. We've had day after day of hot weather with punishingly high humidity. Add to that the fact that it has been continually overcast if not raining. Warm rain. Hot fog. Bloody nasty. You spend most of the day covered with sweat that just won't go away until you either wash it off or inadvertently wipe it off on your chair or your bed. Not only your clothes, but everything in your pockets winds up soaked. Then, when you walk into an air conditioned room, you freeze. At my school, where the rooms are cooled but the hallways are not, you are constantly bouncing between hot and cold...unless you stay in one place all day. Wouldn't that be nice?

The upper floor of my house always gets really, really hot this time of year because there's little attic ventilation to speak of. When the weather is calm and humid opening the windows does absolutely nothing except let bugs in. I've been really tempted to get one of those newfangled portable coolers to keep up there, but for the most part I just deal with it. My bedroom is upstairs, so sleep quite often means my waking up in the morning in a small, salty lake. My home studio is also up there, and trying to practice my instruments or record anything is just a sweaty, unpleasant chore. Even so, I heard a new tune in my dreams night before last, so last night I stayed completely away from my computer, got busy, and recorded it. It's a relatively simple pop/rock tune, quite different from the complicated electronic extravaganza I concocted last time I braved the sauna. Everything is done except the vocals and perhaps something else I might decide to add later, like a keyboard or wind instrument part. Considering I hardly touch my studio much these days, let alone my guitars, it was amazing that I was able to pull off the rhythm guitar track flawlessly in one take. The bass and lead guitar tracks required a couple of punch-ins, and the drum part was a mess that took a whole bunch of takes to complete to my satisfaction. I had the windows open and a fan blowing in my face, but I was still a clammy, sticky mess as I went through the routine. Still, it felt really good to be doing it.

The clouds are actually breaking up today, and I can see the first patches of BLUE sky I've seen in days. It doesn't feel quite so muggy, either. That's good. That sauna weather just saps one's strength, and my students have all tended to be rather dead these days. Well, no, not dead dead, but, well, you know...just kind of...dead.

The morning news was still awash in talk about North Korea's recent fireworks display over the Sea of Japan. No one knows just what "Dear Leader" Kim Jong (mentally) Il is up to, and that bothers people. If the missile launches themselves seemed daft, the recent threats coming from North Korea are even more so. In effect, they're saying, "If you reduce the aid you're sending us, you're MEAT, bub!" Well, if they really want that aid so badly, why did they do something so blatantly provocative even despite the warnings? Now the U.N. is a (typically) chaotic and spineless mess, with Japan, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and France pushing for condemnation and possibly sanctions while Russia and China are saying a pat on the wrist and a "Now don't do that again, okay?" is more than sufficient. No, Japan isn't happy about it. In fact, some Japanese politicians are saying the country should prepare for possible pre-emptive strikes against North Korean missile facilities.

Say WHAT??!? And this is the country in which people went into a mad frenzy when Japan Self-Defense Force planes were deployed overseas to help with a relief effort? Then again, the deployment of actual troops to Iraq received a far more muted reaction. Strange.

For the record, just as much if not more of the morning news was wrapped up with French soccer star Zhidane's violent outburst at the World Cup final, the one that got him sent off with a red card. France wound up losing, and, everyone is saying that the Italian player he head-butted should be punished for having provoked him. It seems the Italian didn't like Zhidane's arrogant attitude, so he called his mother and sister "whores" and then apparently called him either a terrorist and/or an Islamist. (Zhidane was born Algerian.) Zhidane said in his press statement that he had no choice but to respond.

Well, Zhidane, that also holds true for the ref, and he did respond. You may have defended your pride, but you helped lose the game. In other words, shove it.

(Why do soccer players tend to be such whiners, anyway? Then again, I used to play soccer in junior high, so I guess I should shut up.)

Okay, it's almost lunch time. Time to try to figure out what I should or shouldn't have for lunch. I'd prefer a sandwich, but for some strange reason the Japanese can't seem to comprehend the idea of a sandwich without cholesterol. Here in the Land of the Rising Blood Pressure a sandwich always has to have either egg or ham in it. Our cafeteria is even worse; its sandwiches are either fried pork cutlets or egg salad with tons of mayonnaise. Ack. I can just see the cholesterol oozing out of those. I don't usually get the tray lunches (too big...and I don't usually eat big lunches), so if I have cafeteria food I often wind up eating a curry roll and an apple pie.

Gee...why isn't my gut getting any smaller?

Okay, time for lunch. Bye for now!


  • I like it hot and humid. Actually it has been more humid than Fiji the past week. Of course there on can take a dip in a fresh water pool or the ocean to cool off.

    I'd be happy to give you my Japan winter days in exchange for your Japan hot and humid days were such a thing possible.

    There won't be any attack on N Korea any time soon. The JASDF doesn't have the right weapons to do that.

    IMHO the LDP is just using this "crisis" to start some dialog about the military in order to inch forward toward their ultimate goal of changing the constitution. There is a very big difference between the opinions of the Japanese people (mostly pacifists) and the political ruling class (right wing militarists, even if they don't come right out and say so).

    As for food....What's up with Japan and mayonnaise anyway?

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 5:34 PM  

  • I wonder if nuclear power is driven by egos.

    Ah, the Australian trip. Looking forward to it, MM?

    Whining gets attention. Even celebs have learnt it well.

    The weather is hot here in KL too which sometimes drive people to shopping complexes to stay cool in the air-cond.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 6:19 PM  

  • We get hot weather here, but it sounds much worse in Japan! Do you guys have a/c's? We have a 2 story house and the whole place gets horribly hot. We have split units upstairs mainly and they help but I hate going downstairs because it's sooo hot and humid. I don't know how you guys sleep in that kind of weather. I find sleep difficult when I'm hot.

    When family members die here, they have 40 days of mourning. Most do nothing and wear black for the whole time. But, to be honest, the whole country seems to be in mourning all the time w/ the black abayas that all the women wear. It can be quite depressing.

    I don't think your vacation will come soon enough. I'm dying for a vacation but will have none this year. Already took mine in April. Now I know that mid year isn't a good time to take the holiday!

    By Blogger tooners, at 3:31 PM  

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