Sunday, November 28, 1999: Conversions
I think that the reason that my computer sounds like a lawn mower when I turn it on (and the reason my CD ROM drive died) is because the voltage difference has messed up the fan a bit. I went searching for a voltage converter today, but it's really hard to find one which converts the voltage in that direction, they're all made for Japanese traveling abroad. I'll probably have to special order it. Of the three electronic stores I went to today, they all told me I wouldn't be able to find one in Japan, but at one of the stores the guy was downright rude. Japanese people aren't all polite.
Monday, November 29, 1999: The Quest Continues...
Today was the first of three test days. During test days there is nothing to do. Literally. Well, I surfed on the computer for a bit, then I slept, then I wrote an email. On days like this I'm glad I can just sit back and watch all the teachers scurrying about. It's kind of cool.
After school I went out with a couple of teachers from a different school for lunch. I like 'em, but it's just such a chore talking to them. The standard conversations like "Segoi! You use chopsticks very well!" One good thing came of it though. I asked them where I would be able to find a converter and they took me to this electronics store I had never seen before and this travel store. Both really good places, but they didn't have it. They're really nice though. One of them invited me to her house last year for a Japanese BBQ and to pick persimmons and watch a small-town Japanese parade.
I have to start doing Christmas cards soon. Ugh. I don't even have everyone's address and half of my best friends are scattered all over the world. Hope they answer their emails soon.
Tuesday, November 30, 1999
I lost so much money last night in stocks, you wouldn't believe it. About a month's salary. DAMN!! My eyes almost popped out of my head when I pressed the reload button on IE in the morning for the stock quotes. Hope to get it all back by the end of the week. I'll need a good helping of luck, though.
I scanned in more pictures of Koya-San. That section will be a monster... so many pictures. It's going to take up a lot of space on Tripod, too. BUT It'll be a good section! Layout will be the hardest to figure out, though. Maybe I'll put up a video clip too if I ever get the editing software to work.
Wednesday, December 1, 1999
Last test day. Bummer. I guess it can't last forever, and I was hired to do a job, which I'm not doing sleeping at my desk or surfing the internet while everyone else is busy. Still, it's nice. :)
Had an ALT meeting today with the ol' supervisor. Said we might be getting another ALT next year, maybe two! Our schools might get shuffled around a bit. I'm not too concerned about that anymore... last year I would have been upset but these days all my schools are about on the same level. Yeah, sure there are individual students I'd miss at each school, but unless I get one of the worse schools where they throw desks around or the school where they have the drug problem, it'd be pretty much the same as my present ones.
Our supervisor gave us a form we needed to fill out for permission to leave the country. Special permission because of Y2K. Can you believe that? They're worried that we might not be coming back on time. Like the airlines will allow their systems to get all screwed up because the date changes. Too much hype about Y2K.
I ordered a voltage converter for my computer. It'll take about a week to get here and it'll cost about $45. Not too bad to save a computer. I also reedited my Christmas lesson tape. I've been showing the tape my folks sent me of last Christmas to the kids in a lot of my classes. Just excerpts of it. I'm always amazed by the lack of interest and attention teenagers have. After 2 minutes 10% have tuned out, after 6 minutes about 15%, after 12 minutes about 20%, after 15 minutes about 40%, and after 20 minutes about 95%. I trimmed the length down. The teachers told me to make it as long as possible, but no way. They just can't handle it. I'm amazed that some are just not at all interested in so radically different cultures as ours is. I found out last week that, in Japan, people don't tear the wrapping paper, it's considered impolite or rude to do so. The teachers were so surprised when I told them that in the west it's considered good to rip it. And that we don't have Christmas cake in America. And that many married couples exchange gifts. It's so alien to them.
Thursday, December 2, 1999
Mr. Kawakami called me early today and asked me if I wanted him to drive me to school because it was raining a bit. For the most part, I don't like driving to school with one of the teachers because I have to make small talk with them, something which I'm generally not good at. And with Japanese people especially. Don't get me wrong, I like him and Mrs. Washiyama who drives me to school most days to Isao JHS, but silence sucks. I try to think of USA/Japan unrelated things to talk about because it gets so boring just being a representation of the outside world to them. I try but it's hard to think of things unrelated to cultural issues because 9 times out of 10 we have absolutely nothing in common. But today he was listening to some good music on a radio station I hadn't heard of before, it's hard to get radio stations in the apartments. I tried to get it in on my stereo when I got back, but it didn't come in. I'll mess around a bit with it tomorrow, but if I still can't get it in I'll build an antenna for my stereo. Haven't really made anything with my hands since the Rube Goldberg Device Engineering Competition (a contest to create a device to do an exceedingly simple task, but do it splendidly). It'll be fun!
I got really frustrated in a first grade class today. I repeatedly told a group of five boys to get to work on their worksheets instead of playing around with a fake, rubber, novelty cut-off thumb, but they refused. I wrote their names on the board and called them in after school. One of the kids didn't show up, a repeat offender. I made him write sentences last time I was at this school and he knew what I was going to ask him to do. The others took the assignment without too much grumbling and they apologized.
Today Dragon Magazine #265 finally came in the mail. My two articles were there. It's quite a strange feeling to see something you've written in print and know that it's being read all over the world. Wow. Just hope no one trashes it in a letter to Dragon in the next couple of months. I don't think they will, I really believe in those articles, but they might object to two articles being from the same author in the same issue, that very rarely happens. Very few things that I create are tangible. I need that kind of thing, people need that kind of thing. To create something and be able to see it in your hand and know it actually exists instead of as electrical impulses on a computer or out in cyberspace or as concepts in your head. I guess that's one of the reasons why I want to make this antenna thing next week. We need tangible things to reassure ourselves that what we do is worthwhile.
Friday, December 3, 1999
Today was quite a day. A 15 year old student called me "Honey", a student in my third period class asked if, in America, Santa Claus was real, and I got that written assignment back from the four boys from yesterday. In the Christmas video, my mother shows how "Santa Claus" ate his cookies and drank almost all his milk. One of the brighter students in the class who understood what was going on in the video came up to me and the JTE hesitantly after class and asked me if he was real in America!
Bright and early today I had all four handwritten assignments on my desk today. Maybe I was just too ticked off yesterday or maybe I'm on some kind of power trip... hmm. I'll let you decide. Take a look at the sentences I made them write and let me know what you think. I scolded the fifth student when he finally came at lunch. I hate scolding the kids. I made him write twice as many sentences for not showing up yesterday, they're due on Monday. I'll be at a different school on Monday but the head JTE will send the sentences to me by school mail and I told him that if I don't get them by Tuesday, I'd go back to his school and look for him on Wednesday.
Yesterday I started to make a tape for the folks back home (finally). But the heads of my VCR need cleaning. I bought the cleaner and started to make the hookups to my computer. Dang. It's so complicated.
Saturday, December 4, 1999: Down With Electronics
I cleaned up my apartment today and went mad because I can't get this editing software to work. Actually I think the problem is with the hardware, I just need to get everything connected right and get all the settings correct. You should see my computer room, now... a third of the floor is covered with cables wires and a VCR/Computer/Camcorder. It's a mess. I don't know what to do. It's so easy to get frustrated at things like this. I'm positive I have everything connected correctly but I just can't get the sound to record!! The good thing is that I think that even if I can't get it to tape to the VCR I can still tape clips for my web page.