Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mid-May Updates

I don't have any single, monumental event or subject to talk about, so I'll cover a bunch of little stuff.

Pt. I Talk About the Weather
May, known as "Satsuki" (皐月) in classical Japanese, has long been seen as a lazy sort of month, famous for warm, muggy days. As I mentioned before, it was that way for a while, but then a wee typhoon skipping just off the shore made things really nasty. After a few days of that it went back to being May again for a while. However...

Last Thursday (May 14) I made an important decision. I have long relied on Firefox on my desktop computer back home, but on my work laptop I'd been using Safari for Windows for at least a year. I rather liked Safari; its elegant, streamlined (BLUE!) design appealed to some aspects of my personality, its quick loading speed was nice, and I thought it looked clearer and easier to read. There was one nagging issue that bothered me, however: plug-in compatibility. Ironically, the plug-in that had the most problems was Quicktime, like Safari an Apple product. That wasn't so bad, though; what really got me was the fact that, after one update, it started crashing frequently when I entered text. After the last update the problem got even worse. It got to the point where I was having to exit Safari (using Task Manager) and restart it two or three times whenever I wrote an e-mail or blog entry. I had a couple of theories as to the source of the problem and tried uninstalling some things and reinstalling others, but nothing helped. I finally gave up, opened Control Panel, went to Install/Delete Applications, called up Safari, and hit the "nuke" button.

At the exact moment that I clicked the button, there was a loud BOOM outside. It sounded like thunder, but when I looked out the window I saw only blue sky. As I installed Firefox, the booming began to increase in frequency and intensity. Next thing I knew, there was a monstrous-looking, black thunderhead blotting out the sky, and lightning bolts were going all over the place, many of them hitting the ground with less than a second till the (rather unnervingly blaster-like) thunderclap. The school's LAN then shut down completely, every hub and every server tripping. After that came the rain, gushing down in sheets for several minutes. Then, as soon as it had come, the big, evil cumulonimbus from hell vanished into the distance. But it wasn't over yet.

I went to the junior high staff room after that. As the sky cleared up again outside, the teachers set about the task of resetting the hubs and restarting the computers. As soon as I sat down at my desk, there was a simultaneous BANG from all the windows, and the building shook under the assault of a sudden, intense gust of wind. This kept up for between five and ten minutes. Then the trees stopped their slam-dance, things calmed down, and it went back to being May again.

Weird. Maybe I need to find out if Apple has its own Shinto shrine here somewhere so I can go and humble myself...

Pt. II Extra Totally Cool
My ETC card finally arrived yesterday (May 15), so I celebrated by making a totally pointless and wasteful trip out to Makuhari and back. There was a discount on the tolls, but it wasn't one of the extra-cheap times, so it wasn't much. Still...what a concept! It's nice to roll right on through the toll gate without having to stop and fish around for money!

The only problem is that now I won't have a very good idea of my expressway driving expenses until they show up on my credit card bill.

Pt. III Girl Politics
We hoped my daughter's friends would grow up just a bit more once they got into junior high. Apparently not. On the brighter side, however, her junior high school seems to be doing a much better job of student guidance.

For the past two years, my daughter has had one extremely problematical "friend". Her habit was to be my daughter's friend only until she started hanging out with someone else. Then she would start sending my daughter anonymous hate messages (of obvious origin), saying bad things about her behind her back, playing vicious pranks like throwing my daughter's gym shoes outside, and following my daughter around with her new friend like a gang, demanding my daughter apologize for some obscure slight and give compensation. Then, when the girl invariably wound up pissing off her new friend, she'd come running back to my daughter and tearfully beg to be her friend again. We went through this cycle several times.

My wife and I brought the matter to the attention of her 5th and 6th grade teachers repeatedly. Her 5th grade teacher's response was first just to dismiss it, saying it was my daughter's own problem to solve by herself (i.e. no action). When the bad cycle wound up coming again two more times (causing thousand yen figure damages) and we confronted the teacher again, he changed tack and said that the girl writing the messages claimed she hadn't done it, so she was obviously innocent (i.e. no action). He then refused to discuss the matter any further. The 6th grade teacher actually called in the troublemaking friend for a conference, but the latter promptly burst into tears and said she only did it to show how badly she wanted to be my daughter's friend. (She later told my daughter that she always cries to get her way, and it always works.) The teacher then advised us just to leave the "poor girl" alone. The problem escalated, and we contacted the teacher about it again. This time the teacher asked the problem friend and a couple of her sidekicks about the pranks, which they naturally denied, so the teacher tried to claim that my daughter was making the whole thing up. The girl then begged her way into my daughter's friendship again.

Cut to junior high, and the same thing happened. The problem girl got one of her sidekicks both to stick a nasty hate letter in my daughter's desk for her and to write a similar message of her own. This time, however, the story turned out very different. Some of my daughter's new classmates caught the courier in the act and immediately showed the letter to the homeroom teacher. They also caught the problem girl trying to carry out a prank against my daughter and stopped her. The 7th grade homeroom teachers examined the letter, confirmed it as having been written by the problem girl, notified me, and summoned the problem girl and her friends in front of a whole panel of teachers. Crying got her nowhere. Her parents were summoned for a conference with the principal. I don't know what disciplinary action they decided on, but we got a pretty lavish apology from both (very shocked) girls (but not a peep from their parents).

I hope (but don't quite expect) that it'll be the end of it. At the very least, the problem girl and her sidekicks have learned the hard way that their junior high school isn't putty in their hands. On the other hand, my biggest worry is the fact that the problem girl and her sidekicks not only live in my neighborhood, but are all members of the same extended family with the same last name. I would hate for this to wind up turning into a family feud.


  • MMMM, Family Feud. Trying to remember who the host used to be. I remember he then played a gameshow host in the movie The Running Man. I realize I am rambling, but that really takes me back to the time that...anyway I hope things cool down for your daughter. I still remember some of the Ijiwaru/Ijime stories and the worst ones always started out relatively small and then grew into extremely serious newsworthy types of crap. Hopefully this has nipped it a bit and will not grow any further. Bravo on the classmates that caught the girls, that surprised me a bit that they did not just turn the other way and ignore it.

    Richard Dawson, I think that was it.

    By Anonymous The Intrepid Adventurer, at 10:09 PM  

  • T.I.A.-
    Richard Dawson...yes, I believe you're right.

    We were a bit surprised at all the positive support my daughter got from her new classmates, too. The ones who were the most helpful, i.e. the ones that reported the incident to the teacher and stuck with my daughter to make sure she didn't get upset, were graduates of the school where my wife teaches. She says they were always very positive, active girls, but she didn't have such a good opinion of them till now. Now my daughter is in an athletic club ([British-style] handball, aka netball), and they seem to be supporting her, too. I have to say my wife and I already feel better about her school than we feared at first.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:01 AM  

  • My younger sister had a problem friend who was always trying to get in a fight. I carelessly offered this bit of advice. "Next time she does that just hit her."

    She did. Gave the girl a bloody nose. Got the respect of just about every student in the school, and went on to be a successful track athelete. Go figure. You could never get away with hitting a student these days.

    So, as far as your browser goes, its just hit and miss with me. I tried google chrome for a while. But genereally I use IE. We are now up to version 8. Yesterday I crashed my computer to the point that I couldn't even get a BIOS prestart screen. Don't touch the default memory settings:)

    As for the storm it is reassuring to know that God is so close!

    By Anonymous Dave, at 8:52 AM  

  • Dave-
    I know what you mean. Nowadays you can be dragged into litigation for looking at somebody the wrong way.

    I generally use IE for most of my work-related stuff (when I'm not on my own machine), and my wife uses IE. I'm not sure why, but IE seems to load and run a bit clunkily on my work laptop. Safari ran much smoother...till it started crashing on me. I'm now using Firefox, and it runs just fine. I haven't tried Google Chrome or Opera yet. I might try checking them out just for the sake of doing so.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:02 AM  

  • We had a somewhat similar situation but the girl bit our daughter and she had a parent on the school board of directors. We got the same BS you went through in grade school. Luckily, that person is our of our lives.

    Firefox with the NoScript plugin is currently my drug of choice. Chrome is buggy, Opera is either pay or get ads in the browser. I wasn't real fond of my IE8 upgrade, but the jury is still out. I avoid Safari simply because Apple makes it a negative option for iTunes and that pisses me off.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 1:27 PM  

  • Snabudon-
    The monster's parent was on the school board? Wow...that's even worse. Community politics at its best.

    I just installed NoScript. Looks like a good idea...once I figure it out.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 2:40 PM  

  • Having been through my own unexpected family feud with me in the middle of it this week, I have no idea what to say. I avoid drama and arguments like the plague.


    Have you ever tried Google Chrome? I love Firefox for years until I found this, although FF is still tops for its add-ons.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 12:44 AM  

  • Olivia-
    Uh, oh...what happened???

    Trying to take the path of least resistance is usually a good plan, but I know well how circumstances don't always cooperate. I hope matters improve with a minimum of bad feelings.

    I haven't even seen Google Chrome yet, but now my curiosity is piqued. Snabulus says it's buggy, but I'm still tempted to give it a try. I do like Firefox for all those funky options, though!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:04 PM  

  • It's not nice to fool Mother Nature. (Or Apple).

    I hope the little snot who harassed your daughter gets what she deserves.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 9:06 PM  

  • Well, the brat's family just made the school's day. They scheduled a conference with the parents...and the brat's mother sent her brother instead, saying she was "too busy". The school sent the brother right back home with a note saying more or less, "Get a life!"

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 4:03 PM  

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