Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Picnic with Queen

Time for an update, Robert Stack style:

- My new computer is en route to Kofu as I write this, and will be here later this week. I got a good deal on a Toshiba laptop off of New Egg, with a warranty and free shipping to boot (sadly this offer was only good within the continental US, so my ever-gracious parents are forwarding it to me). It seemed to have decent enough specifications; though honestly I`m so far out of the loop technologically that the numbers all seemed egregiously high to me. My internet is being installed on the 8th, so in less than two weeks I`ll say goodbye to free internet cafe soft cream and return to the world of easy communication.

- After fifteen months at Kriasho Kofu, my coworker Eileen is going back to America amid a flood of tearful goodbyes from students. She`s given me a lot of good advice, especially during those first few weeks when I didn`t know a hanko from a drill card, and I am eternally grateful for that. I wish her the best of luck in her travels and future career goals, and freely acknowledge that I have some big shoes to fill.

- After six weeks of listening to the same eleven CDs over and over, I finally got my packet of Mixes from the CD Swap! There's a treasure trove of new music inside, and seeing the individual effort that friends and strangers had put into each design was a welcome breath of creativity amidst the stagnant Japanese business environment in which I work. Good God I can`t wait to listen to them all.

- I saw a yakuza on the train heading out of Shinjuku! He was dressed in all black, with long hair and an elaborate tatto running up his neck on to the right half of his face. He spent most of the ride sending text messages on his iPhone.

- After a half-hour late-night struggle to work the ticket machine at Lawson`s alongside an equally clueless clerk, I now possess two tickets to the Tokyo leg of the Rent tour! Since I am unable to accurately express my excitement in mere words, I shall leave it to the reader to imagine my frantic anticipation.

- One last anecdote: on Thursdays I teach a middle-school class of two girls who spent time in America and speak better English than most adults. Since there is no place for them in the Kriasho curriculum, we use a third-party textbook and do lots of other activities. During a particularly intense game of Picnic (˝I am going on a picnic and I am bringing apples, bananas, a cat...˝) one of the students hesitated when she was unlucky enough to get stuck with Q. She thought for a while, and, still a little unsure as to the game`s flexibility, asked: ˝Is it okay to go on a picnic with Queen?˝ (Japanese speakers often struggle with articles.) Aside from this phrase`s obvious awesomeness as a cover-band name, I would have to say that a picnic with Queen would probably be the greatest thing ever. Period.

Monday, May 11, 2009


After five and a half years of mostly-loyal service, two hard-drive replacement surgeries, one crippling CD-Drive disaster, a Root Beer/keyboard mishap, and countless software malfunctions, my Dell Inspiron 5150 has been officially declared comatose by the one English-speaking member of Dell`s Japanese tech support center. The diagnosis is either a bad graphics card or a motherboard problem; and either way it`s not worth fixing.

Funny, it feels like I`m betraying an old friend by saying that. That computer outlasted every car I`ve ever owned, got me through a half-dozen all-nighters, carried my senior thesis, and was the center of many groundbreaking ideas (or at least ones that seemed groundbreaking at the time). But we live in a consumer throw-away society, and computers (like our cars, cell phones, VCRs, DVD players, sneakers, glasses, stereo systems, and MP3 players) are designed to last until the newer models come out, then get thrown away in favor of a more expensive purchase. Affordable repairmen are a relic of the past...God help me, I`m waxing sentimental drivel again. Can`t have that, now, can we?

There`s been a lot of loss surrounding so many of our lives lately, and the thing to do is forge on bravely against the darkness, for perhaps it is our destiny for everything we ever cared about to grow old, break down, outlive its usefulness, and get left behind.

Or maybe just everything I ever cared about.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Internet Cafe

I am writing this from an Internet Cafe in Yokohama where Tom and I are crashing for the night for the low price of 1480 yen (about fifteen dollars), plus 100 yen for a shower. The cubicle (for it can only be considered as such) measures about five feet by two and a half feet, and has an open ceiling. The floor is a hard cushion-type substance made for sitting or sleeping (there is no chair); and our purchase includes two small bean-bag pillows; access to the coffee and soda bar (the soft-serve ice cream bar is sadly closed); and free range of the manga library downstairs, which prominantly features schoolgirls displaying ample cleavage. It is peaceful here with soft jazz playing the background, and is an altogether pleasant place to crash for the night.

My computer recently decided it would be fun to only display verticle lines of color when I start it up, and this combined with the lack of internet at my new apartment (which has three windows, two stovetop burners, and nice hardwood floors) has not ben conducive to my updating this blog, or staying in contact with friends, all of whom I miss terribly. This could be the quite timely end of my long-suffering Dell laptop, but I am doing everything in my power to fix the problem if I can. Until then, the best way to contact me is via my cell phone e-mail. I find sending text messages to be unbearably araduous, but I can usually manage something that bears resemblance to a dignified reply.

That`s all for now; I need sleep. More adventures will hopefully follow later; not all of them good.