Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Got my baby back!

Natsumi finally arrived back in Japan last week, and the reunion was a happy one. The stories and pictures from her 'Silk Road' trip through China are amazing. She had ridden camels, climbed mountains, travelled on amazingly old and crowded busses to some extremely remote places, and saw some of the most beautiful temples in the world. Because she is fluent in Mandarin, and because she had lived in Shanghai previously, she wanted to take a trip through more remote and out-of-the-way places. She went to the north-west of China, close to Pakistan, and travelled back through the country that way.

Her stories are incredible; from standing on top of enormous sand dunes near Tibet, to witnessing a gang-style beatdown of a man in a local restaurant in Shanghai. Craziness. I do hope that I get to experience China like that soume day. We are tossing around the idea of a trip at Xmas. So far, the top contenders are: the Philippines, Shanghai, or maybe Cambodia.

And as I write this (Wed, Sept 27/06) we are just finishing packing and are about to head to Haneda Airport to catch our flight to Okinawa! We're only going for 4 days, but for me this is going to be my 'summer vacation'. It will be so nice to just relax after the stress of moving to a new city, starting a new job, meeting new staff, and worrying about Natsumi in China. I can't wait just to chill out on the beach, do some scuba diving and snorkeling, and basically just unwind. Wait...why am I sitting here typing this? I should be going NOW! Yes! I'm gone. Details of the trip to come.

p.s. the pic above is Natsumi at Shinjuku Park in central Tokyo, taken on Sept 24/06.

To see a great photo album of Natsumi pics, click here.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Hi all.

The last couple of weeks have gone by rather quickly, and much has happened. I've jumped in head-first into my new school life here in Kasukabe. The school that I am currently teaching at is called Midori Junior High. It is a school of about 450 kids. The first thing that I noticed when I arrived was how friendly the students and staff are. The kids walk up to me all the time and try to start conversations with me in English, which was a rarety in Yashio. I've been doing self-introduction classes and the like for the last 2 weeks, so I think I have had a chance to meet all 450 of the kids. Now if only I could remember their names! I have also started teaching at the Elementary schools, which are always a blast. I am to do a demonstration class for about 30 teachers next week with some 5th graders, so that should be fun.

This past weekend I was also a judge at the Yashio English Speech competition. It was nice to go back to my old city and see some of my former teachers and students. I was hoping that some kids from my last school (Hachijo JHS) would make it wasy for me to vote for them to win, but they were upstaged by some other kids from another school who did some fairly complex and well done speeches. Fun times were had.

Natsumi arrives home on Friday and I couldn't be more excited. We will have a couple of days to relax together and then its off to Okinawa for some R 'n R. Can't wait! I will definetely put up some pictures and video links here. Wait and see.

The picture above is a view of central Kasukabe from the blacony of my apartment. It's not a terribly big city, but its comfortable. More to come soon!

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I just added a link to my YouTube site. Just click the link on the right-hand column that says 'Videos' and you're there. I will be adding various clips and videos to that page every now and then, so check it out!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hilarious cops in Japan (and elsewhere)

This morning on my way to work, I was reminded of the hilarity/stupidity/wonder of police here in Japan. I drive a little 50cc scooter around, and was stopped at a red light. I was still in my early morning fog, and not really doing anything but zone out until the light changed.

Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder, and there was this old cop looking at me. He had to be at least 60 years old, and he was on a bicycle. He proceeds to tell me (in lightning-fast Japanese), that I am waiting incorrectly at the light. When I asked why he said that, he tells me that I have the wrong foot on the ground. Apparently it is illegal, (or at best not advisable) to have you right foot on the ground at a light. "You should use your left foot here in Japan," he says. Yawn. Granted, in Japan you do drive on the left hand side of the road, but really, the wrong foot??? Come on.

Who`s heard of a more useless thing? The guy was obviously trying to feel important and think he had a bit of power left. I nodded to him, but didn`t change feet, and then sped away. What was he going to do? Chase me? Write me a ticket? I actually hope I do get a ticket for that. I`d even pay the fine. It would be worth it to have a framed traffic ticket for standing incorrectly at a traffic light. It would match the warning I got back in Canada for leaving my truck running during a -40C day. Man, cops are weird...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I'm back baby!


It's been a loooong, agonizing month, and I can't be happier to see September. As previously mentioned, I have just moved to Kasukabe, Japan. The move itself went fairly smoothly. My girlfriend Natsumi and I rented a moving truck, loaded it with stuff, and I drove 'er straight into the heart of Saitama. Once I got moved in, things were cool... for a while.

Natsumi and I spent our days exploring my new city, swimming, eating out and doing some drinking (like everyone does in summer). But on August 14th, I said a sad goodbye and saw her off (she left that day for a 6-week trip through China along the 'Silk Road'). At that point, I still had no Internet connection, and my computer had decided to pick that week to melt down. Needless to say, I became a bit stresed.

But after many trips to the local tech shop to bitch about my internet delay, and a pretty penny spent in the meantime at the local internet cafe, I was finally back online.

Step one: complete.

Next, I had to deal with my useless, annoying computer. A few hours of reasearch and a new hard drive actually did the trick, and I managed to install it and get everything up and running again by myself (Yay for me!). As I write this, I've only had the machine up and running for an hour or so.

Step two: complete.

This is my 3rd and final (I think) year in Japan, as I began a new contract on August 1st. Natsumi arrives back in Japan on September 22nd, so once she is back I will be able to say that all is back to normal and that this year can actually be started.

Step three: in progress...