Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Just a Quick News Flash
Monday, January 19, 2009
The Domino Effect
As it turned out, it was even easier, and I got to go home even earlier, than I'd expected. My son woke up in the morning looking languid and flushed and complaining of chills. We checked his temperature and found it to be 38.8 degrees Centigrade (101.8 Fahrenheit). A flu has been going around recently, and a couple of my son's classmates had already been down with it, so we feared the worst. I went ahead and called the school, explained the situation, and told them I'd be coming late. I then rushed to the Namegata General Hospital (the only "real" hospital in our area), made an appointment, and came back home to relax a bit while waiting.
My son and I wound up arriving a few minutes late for his appointment, found out that we'd been skipped, and were then made to wait for about two and a half hours before we could see a doctor. The doctor said it was too early to tell whether it was the flu or not, especially since my son wasn't showing any symptoms besides a fever and runny nose. We were given a one-day prescription, told to come back the next day if he got any worse, and sent on our way. I brought my son home and sent him straight to bed. It was already too late for my morning classes, so I just grabbed a kip, waited for others to come home, and then headed off to the school to take my turn at "day duty" (which actually meant taking a quick patrol of the campus and then locking up when everyone was gone).
On Saturday my son's fever was already pretty much gone, and he was raring to go. That was a good thing, because not only was I on duty at the school all day because of the entrance exams, but my daughter was also there taking the exam. (Yes, she's that age now.) My wife was also there so she could cart my daughter to and from the school. That just left my son with my father-in-law, who was out of the house doing whatever most of the day. He was fine, though, and by evening his fever was completely gone.
So naturally my daughter got sick on Sunday. Her bug seemed milder than my son's, since her temperature was hovering just a little over 37.3 degrees C (99 degrees F) all day. However, at night it shot up to 38.6 degrees C (101.5 degrees F). This morning (Monday) it got up to 39.4 C (102.9 F). My wife took her to the hospital, where the doctor prescribed her a whole pile of medicine. I was able to come home in the afternoon since there was a staff meeting to discuss the exam results; since my daughter was an examinee, rules forbade my being there. The problem is that her fever is still in the high 38s even now, meaning she'll be home sick tomorrow too. Since my wife took the day off today, I guess it's my turn. I'm sure my daughter isn't very happy right now, but at least I'm getting a couple of extra days off...with nothing to do!
Maybe it's just what the doctor ordered, a little off-time windfall...except for the fact that my schedule is now totally screwed up. I could also do without the flu right now, thank you!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Face the Music
Monday, January 05, 2009
What I Didn't Do This Winter Vacation
I didn't do nothing.
I don't mean that in the rough, vernacular sense of, "I didn't do nuthin'." It's a literal double negative. I didn't do nothing. And nothing was precisely what I'd needed and wanted to do most. There were actually a number of things I'd hoped to do during my oh-so-short break, and I wound up not being able to do most of them. Nothing topped that list.
Part of the problem is the fact that we are still a family in mourning. The death of my mother-in-law last summer means all celebrations are out for a full year. That especially means the New Year (though Western observances like Christmas are strangely immune, as I've mentioned before). As in most Asian countries, the New Year is the most significant event of the year here in the Land of the Rising Yen. There are all kinds of special activities, seasonal dishes, traditional practices, seasonal decoration, etc., just as there are for Christmas in Western countries. This year they were particularly conspicuous by their absence. We had our annual Christmas celebration, though it was a bit muted, and after that it was virtually business as usual except for the fact that we were off from work. Heck, we didn't even have the usual mountain of New Year cards. Logically, you'd think the lack of all those New Year preparations would make things easier. Quite the opposite.
The week leading up to New Year's Day is cleaning week. Just as there is Spring Cleaning in the West, there is New Year Cleaning here. Usually we have to weave it in with the extensive New Year preparations, which puts limits on how much can be done (especially when my MIL's health started taking a turn for the worse, because it meant we had even more to do). Not so this year. Except for the two days I spent in Tokyo for the All Japan Selected High School Orchestra Fest (well-meant fanfare with some squawks in the back), I was totally free and open, so my wife and I really socked it to our house. I mean we seriously socked it to it. As in we replaced several items of cheap, old, barely-usable furniture which was just in the way (which I then had an absolute blast dismantling and burning), sorted out the entire family's wardrobe, and threw out a ton of stuff. My wife scrubbed down the kitchen and everything in it while I waxed and polished every inch of the house and repaired (or replaced) a whole bunch of things that were loose, dangling, in danger of landing on hapless heads, etc.. Meanwhile, my son was busy (not) doing his winter homework, and my daughter was obsessively (not) studying up for the entrance exam of Ye Olde Academy. In other words, they were no help at all. It was just my wife and I, and we spent five full days, as in early morning till late at night, at it before we finally said, "Fuggit," and moved on...to my father-in-law's house!
We took a bit of a break on January 2nd, but there was still plenty to do. There were still odds and ends of repairwork that needed doing, not to mention a bit of shopping. I also did some much-needed maintenance work on my computers and studio.
Fortunately, on the 3rd we only spent a little over half a day cleaning FIL's house, mainly because we got fed up with listening to his complaining. You see, he doesn't believe in house cleaning. He thinks it's a waste of time. All the time he and my MIL were living together in that house she never did more than a cursory vacuuming two or three times a month, which was why the place always looked terrible and smelled worse inside. However, when my MIL's health started leaving her bedridden last year, my family started doing housecleaning over there, and what we found was like a nightmare. There were massive accumulations of dust-bunnies, many of them clearly decades old. There were framed wall hangings whose glass plates were so covered with hardened dust and oil-stove grime as to be completely opaque. Then there was all that useless junk piled in every available space. Even with last summer's massive cleaning effort with the help of several relatives, we're still finding accumulations of dust and mold that look like they could shoot out tentacles and devour passers-by at any moment. We did our best to prevent such things. For all our effort, however, there was no gratitude whatsoever from FIL; on the contrary, he spent the whole time yelling at us to stop "wasting time" and do something more useful, like weed his garden. (The man simply can't handle people around him doing anything unless it's by his orders. He's that sort.)
That left just one more day, Sunday the 4th. And since it was a Sunday, that meant it was our regular housecleaning day. Never mind that we'd spent all day on the 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st, and 1st cleaning. It was Sunday, so my wife insisted we clean house. At least we abbreviated the procedure to keep the afternoon free, but a good chunk of that afternoon wound up getting taken out when some well-meaning
And on the 5th, today, we were back to work.
No, I didn't manage to do nothing. I didn't get new glasses, either. Nor did I get the cat "fixed". Nor did I wash my BLUE RAV4. Nor did I make those music sheets for the Flying Eggheads' bassist. Nor did I finish the three (now four) songs I'm currently working on. Nor did I finish weeding the front flowerbeds. Nor did I venture out to Tokyo, Yokohama, Makuhari Messe, or any of the other places I was hoping to visit. In other words, my checklist is sadly devoid of checks.
But at least the house is clean.
And now...a quick retrospective of the year 2008:
Best Moment: Having caricatures drawn of my whole family, including the in-laws, by a nationally reknowned caricature artist on the observation deck of Yokohama Landmark Tower. It was my mother-in-law's last trip anywhere, and the caricature of the two in-laws together is now a valuable treasure. I remember I opposed their joining us at first. I'm really glad I gave in.
(Runners up: Having a kid who never participates in any classes at all actually participate in my class. Performing at the Kashima Soccer Stadium and then watching my first pro soccer game there.)
Worst Moment: Witnessing the death of my mother-in-law.
Most Worthwhile Outing: The family trip to Yokohama mentioned above.
(Runners up: Climbing Mt. Tsukuba.)
Most Worthwhile Purchase: My Roland Sonic Cell together with Edirol/Cakewalk SONAR 7. It has completely changed my whole approach to composing, let alone recording.
(Runner up: The 14.4V power drill/driver I bought on impulse last summer. It was definitely a MVP during our New Year cleaning!)
Most Pointless Purchase: My wife's birthday present, yet another expensive handbag she'd requested...which turned out to be just a different-colored version of one she already had.
(Runner up: The handbag I gave her for our wedding anniversary...which was the "wrong size", so she rarely touches it.)
Most Amazing Present Received: The Roland/Edirol R-09HR wave/mp3 recorder my wife gave me for Christmas after misunderstanding my request. (I'd wanted something much simpler and cheaper, but no complaints from me!) This thing is awesome!
(Runner up: The box of cake mixes sent to me by Snabulus and Ladybug. Thanks again!)
Best News Moment for Japan: Knocking off the U.S.A. for the first time EVAR to win the Olympic gold in softball. The silver won in fencing, Japan's first medal ever in that sport, was nice, too.
(Runners up: A JSDF team from Japan being allowed into China to help with rescue efforts after the monstrous earthquake. (China has always fussed and spit every time anyone even suggests Japan's military participating in any kind of overseas activity. For them to allow it in their own country is a huge step forward in terms of relations between the two countries.) Gas prices dropping to lower than they were last year even though they virtually doubled during the summer.)
Worst News Moment for Japan: A state-of-the-art Aegis destroyer ramming a fishing boat in Tokyo Bay, killing its crew.
(Runners up: Electing a notorious right-winger prone to gaffes to the post of Prime Minister. Having almost all of Japan's top judo competitors wiped out in the preliminaries in the Olympics. All those tainted and/or mislabeled product scandals. (No, not all of those were from China! Not by a long shot!))
Biggest Hope for 2009: That our leaders will use their heads.
Biggest Worry for 2009: That our leaders won't use their heads.
But at least I have all of you to remind me that there are still lots of very good things in the world!
UPDATE: Here's a new track I just wrote and recorded, an on-the-spot, largely improvised acoustic number called "Live With You". I made it partly to test my new Roland/Edirol R-09HR digital recorder and partly because my blog friend Angele has been in poor spirits recently and seems to need some encouragement. More info on my Minstrel's Muse site.