My Mother is a Tractor - The Rant

Suck it and see!

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SPOILER: This is/was not a humorous blog, an insightful blog, or even a hard-hitting blog. This is pretty much life and English teaching as it happens in rural Japan. Maybe I should join the Dull Men's Club. The blog is in temporary recess until I get a little more motivated to write.

14th April

Ho hum ...

I really can't be much bothered writing here to be quite honest. Just updated the video log witha couple of classic clips. That would be much more fun to check out.

I'll tell the world about Nagano later...

6th April

On another busy train to Naoetsu ...

I’m heading up to Nagano and will post this online later. I'm tired and just need to get out for awhile.

I received a letter and disk from my mate Alasdair in Germany. I haven’t looked at the disk yet but there was other big news. He’s not only getting married, he’s also going to be a dad. He wants me to come to the wedding but that will prove a bit difficult. I’d just love to go though. After what has transpired over the last week or so I do admit to a twinge of, "Yeah, WTF, just go!". However I have already tentatively booked some fares for California in the summer. One is to SJ on AA, and is quite cheap at Y88,000. The other is more expensive at Y118,000 (on UA), BUT I get stopovers in Seattle, SF and LA, plus one other if I want. It will be good to see all my old UC friends again, and maybe even see some stuff that I have not yet seen.

I'll fill in the Nagano details next entry.

28th March

I feel civilised for once, plus have new posters to decorate with (and a clean desk)...

Note: This entry was done offline in two (nay, three!) parts. First time was at school. Then I edited it while sitting on a very crowded train to Naoetsu. I added a further postscript on the train home. One of the great things about being a gaijin is that nobody ever wants to sit next to you on the train or bus.

*[Earlier] I’m sitting at my desk which looks like a bomb as hit it. The other teachers must think I’m a grub. I’m also writing this without the benefit of looking at previous entries because I'm offline. I’ve ben pretty busy this week so far - as usual. Monday I collected my BS Tuner for WOW WOW satellite but I can’t get it to work so my supervisor is coming around sometime to fix it.

I decided to send off letters to friends and families (yeah, so old school) and finally finished all of them last Monday. They cost over $50 to post! Last time I do that. I’m just glad to finally get them all out of the way. I spent a lot of Monday night on the phone, but the bills are so insane I am trying to cut down. I sound like a smoker!. Last night I showed a video at my adult class, then had a short lesson - pretty easy. I’ve picked up more new students which now officially number 43. If they all turn up at once I’m in the poo.

The kindy was fun this morning. I didn’t go to the shogakko because they had an excursion. I thought that kind of strange, but who knows the mind of these people. I rushed back to my base school to do a listening test (even though I technically could've just gone home) and I also have some marking to do. Tonight I’m going bowling in Takada with my fun Canadian mate Joanne. Should be fun. Must remember to post this sometime.

*[Later] Now I can add a postscript. I decided to clean my desk which completely transformed my working space. I checked out my new DVD's, including one football game. I know at least that one is okay. I photocopied a lot of stuff then headed home. Most teachers were working late, but not me.

Japanese School Staff Room

*[Later still] I’m now back waiting on the train in Naoetsu station. I met Joanne at Naoetsu station at 6.45 then we caught the train up to Takada. Our first stop was a local grocery store where I shopped up big on spices, peanut butter, avocado, sour cream, and lots of other stuff that I would never ever find in my little inaka wayaside. Then we had donuts and coffee for tea at Mr. Donut. It was so nice to be civilised again. We went for a walk down the main nightlife street, which I think is called Nakadamachi (actually Nakamachi - I just checked). It was too late for bowling or movies, but we found the bowling alley and cinema for future reference then walked back down the main shopping street.

I saw a poster in the window of a record shop that I really liked so I went in to ask for it. In the doorway we found a whole bin of free posters. Joanne took a lot but I just nabbed a David Bowie one. The guy was talking on the phone the whole time so in the end I just took the one out of the window too. When we got to the station we wanted to take some of those too - but too many people! Joanne got her train from Naoetsu almost straight away but I had to wait an extra 1/2 hour. So now the train has just left, should be home by 11...

17th March

Boring notes from the week...

It was graduation so I got up early on the day to make sure I got to school on time. I wore my blue suit but once I got into the staffroom thought it more appropriate to change into my black pants and navy blazer. The graduation was pretty boring with lots of speeches. We had lunch afterwards where I had to make a speech as well. One teacher who NEVER speaks English interpreted it for the others!

The ichi-nensei plays were generally quite fantastic. A lot of the kids had put in a big effort and some really made me laugh, especially the boys. I ran into some ichi-nensei girls outside school yesterday who seemed keen to talk. I really like them as a year group and hope they will carry their genki attitudes into ni-nensei next term.

I spontaneously decided to let Bob Marry butcher my hair again, but it was getting a bit straggly. I can't believe I pay $40 for a haircut. The girl had problems drying my hair Japanese style.

I was so tired last night I couldn't do anything except veg out in front of the TV. I finally got around to watching Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles. Great flick but I understand what some people say about some excesses of schmaltz. I really wanted to go for a run or a long bike ride so I felt as if I wasted the precious daylight. At least I got my 3 days worth of dishes done, and some washing as well. I was in bed by 10.30 but bloody James rang at 12.30am to ask what state Canberra was in. Even if there wasn't such a beast as Google or Yahoo couldn't it just wait till the morning?!

Today it's after 12 and I'm still wearing my PJ's and uggies, maybe I'll keep them on all day. No, I may even go out for a run. The rain here is soft today, just like an Adelaide winter. Running on a day like today, followed by a nice hot shower, can be very invigorating. The sky is a pale grey, the sea a placid green. I am feeling a little reflective and very pleased to be alive. I sat for some time listening to music, drinking coffee, and just watching the sea. I sometimes forget how wonderful life has been to me.

Postscript: By 3 I finally took off my PJ's and went for a run which helped me to realise how unfit I am (again). Then again the wind had started blowing so hard the waves were heading north instead of east. I ran up to the temple above the yochien then walked/slow jogged back.

7th March

Long time - I know, I know...

Been way busy with school and other things. Good news is that there's a been a big jump in book orders since before Christmas, including a rather nice sized bulk bookseller order. Smiles all round.

Have updated the news blog recently and will also get around to the video blog when I have time to peruse for quality clips. Please keep sending links/suggestions.

At first I thought yesterday must have been national haircut day because half the staff came in with haircuts. Then I thought it must have been in preparation for Graduation. However, I was told to come outside, and it's...staff photo time. Thanks for the notice guys! I saw the proofs for the first time today, with me as the last lonely rebel - smiling and sans jacket.

25th February

I never thought skiing could be a chore until the staff ski trip ...

What a stupid, wasted weekend. I guess that I didn't really want to be there anyway. The weather was really lousy on Saturday but quite nice today. Once again the group mentality of the Japanese meant we had to all ski together and do the same things, including ski lessons which I hadn’t had for fifteen years. But it was all meant to be part of wa and the bonding exercise. I spent most of the weekend waiting around for others and God forbid that we may do anything individually. If anyone got separated they had walkie-talkies so that they could find the main group. It went something like this;

11.05am: You’d be skiing along nicely, trying not to get too far ahead or too far behind. Suddenly they realise, someone’s missing! A teacher reaches into his pocket and produces a walkie-talkie.
“SCHHH. Matsuba-sensei, where are you?”
“SCHHH. I’m skiing the bottom run with Kiyomura-sensei. SCHHH Where are you?”
“SCHHH. We are up the top run near the restaurant. SCHHH We will all wait three hours here for you to come.”
“SCHHH Okay – see you soon!”
11.30pm: “SCHHH. Matsuba-sensei, where are you?”
“SCHHH. We are in the gondola. SCHHH We saw Wada-sensei at the back of the queue as we were leaving. SCHHH Please wait for him too.”
11.55pm: “SCHHH. Wada-sensei, where are you?”
“SCHHH. I am nearly to the front of the line. I will be there in twenty five minutes.”
12.30pm: Finally we are all together, after freezing our asses off for ninety minutes, but then we have to have lunch.

I was not that bad really, but you kind of get the feel. Fortunately they decided to be culturally sensitive in the afternoon and allow me to go off and ski at my own pace. Or maybe it was just because I’m such a grumpy bastard. I only got to ski two runs as well, there wasn't much snow really, and I got a bit lost.

The enkai was boring too. For most of it I either watched television or read the paper.

11th February

It must be a scam...

I get sick of reporters and publications taking books for review - then never hearing from them again. I don't mind if I get a bad review or if they contact me and say they didn't like it. What I really hate is, 1) the silence - emails/calls are never returned, and 2) the fact that 'new' copies of my book keep popping up on Amazon. If someone gets twenty books a month, reviews two or three and offloads the rest, that's a handy profit me thinks. Reviewers can probably earn a lot more than the average writer.

Email me if you think I should list all of the non-reviewing, non-repliers. This is one for a start - who works here. Another one will be entered soon if he doesn't return emails.

Have slowly been catching up on my stash of China-bought and EBay-ordered DVD's. Was finally able to get a copy of "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" starring the legendary Takakura Ken. Hopefully will get to see that next weekend when school is a little less crazy.

It's been snowing a bit today, but still think o hanami can't be that far away. Some places already have plum blossoms.

New story on the newsblog about a controversial book on Princess Masako by Ben Hills and a new sushi video on the VLog.

8th February

I lied, I was wrong, 私は間違っていた, Ich war falsch...

The snow lasted all of about 3 days - quicker than an Aleksey Vayner job interview. We're just about ready for a bbq now.

I woke up a couple of mornings ago feeling like crap which continued through the day. I finally asked my supervisor to book me in for a doctors appointment. The doctor spoke a bit of Engrish and sent me on my way with some ointment for my rash and packets of 'stuff' to swallow for my cold - all for the princely sum of Y280. At least I got some value out of my health insurance. I didn't have to go back to school so I got home about an hour early. Sweet! By yesterday the stuff the doctor gave me seemed to start working, and everybody in town knows I have a cold.

I was a little reluctant about going to yochien/shogakko today but it was one of the best days I've had. At the yochien I had to wait while the class photos were taken and I was included in the 5 y.o. class shot. Once again nobody told me that photos were to be taken and while the others were attired in their finery with spiffing haircuts I was a complete dag. Naturally the photographer kept shooting until I stopped smiling. The kids were all very genki and happy to see me and the lessons went well. By lunchtime the sun had come out. The kids at shogakko were also very glad to see me and I spent the end of lunchtime hooning around with them in the snow. I just showed the Australian video for the lesson and answered questions. It was a snap.

Posted a couple of interesting new stories in the news blog for those interested...

japan seaview

4th February

Snow, bloody snow...

And so another month has come as well as more snow. There has been HUGE yuki falling for a couple of days now. Outside it is at least 40 cm deep. Of course that is by my regularly impaired judgement and may not allow for the effects of snow plows.

On Tuesday night only seven people turned up for my adult class. It would be nice if only that many people turned up each time. The co-ordinator drove me home so I wouldn't have to walk.

On Wednesday it was my visit school day to Ichiburi, a small village down the coast. It was a pain having to walk to/from the eki. By lunchtime it had cleared up a bit so I went for a walk around the village. In the afternoon I only had to teach songs for half an hour at the elementary school, then we went out and built snowmen. Sweet! I was pretty proud of mine and maybe I have a future as a sculptor - but I doubt it.

Thursday morning I got up early so I could walk to school but still ran late (of course). I was so tired that night that I crashed early, woke up at 5am and couldn't get back to sleep. So I finished re-reading another volume of 'Hitchikers', had a casual breakfast, and actually got to school 5 minutes early on Friday. My supervisor was carted off to hospital due to shock.

I think there may be more snow in store. How can people live in this? Well, I guess I live in it too, but for me it's not forever. Then again, according to the latest UN Report on Global Warming they may be growing bananas locally in a few years....

Read my yuki story here

31st January

At last!

The blog is making a comeback - finally. I gave up last year after constant spam comments and hacker attacks. So now hopefully it will be a little more secure.


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Tags: Japan News, Blog, Video, Oddities, Humour