chris vs. the arctic

chris: 72 // the arctic: 47

chris vs. vietnam

26.3.06
Amber and I arrived in Vietnam yesterday. Everything is perfect. The weather, the colours, the smells, the people, the chaos... Love it! We wondered around Saigon last night and had some really cheap beer (like thirty cents each). Now, we're off to visit all the sights, including the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum! Perfect.

SMASHHH!!!

24.3.06
That's the sound of my solid teaching team breaking into thousands of tiny pieces.

I just found out that all the female teachers (a.k.a. the good teachers) are leaving Daimon Junior High School next week! I'm so sad.

At the end of every school year (March), hundreds of teachers are redistributed among the schools in the prefecture. It's a little crazy to think about. They finally become settled, and then they have to uproot and plant themselves somewhere new. I guess it keeps things fresh. Also, teachers who aren't comfortable in their current situation can perhaps get a better deal. Oh well. Change is life, right?

One of the teachers leaving is my supervisor. She'll be teaching brand-spanking new teachers the ways of the Engrish world instead of teaching classes. Too bad. Daimon will get one of those green teachers. Damn. That means they'll have to learn how to work with me. It also means I may have to do... gulp... lesson plans!! Ugh, real work sucks...

A Bit of Bragging

23.3.06
My school, Daimon Junior High School, has won several national awards in the past couple of weeks.

#1 // The Silver Medal for Best Ensemble Band in Japan
My brass band kids seriously rock it. I played the clarinet in high school and that was a true embarrassment compared to these guys. Last culture festival, they pumped out a glitzed-up rendition of an eastern European pop hit that completely blew my socks off!

#2 // The Top English Program in Hokuriku Region (of 8 Regions in Japan) with Special Recognition (of 2)
That's awesome!! I was totally shocked by this award. Basically, the Ministry of Education in Tokyo decided that my little school in the back woods of Toyama-ken has the best English teachers and lesson plans in a four-prefecture area! On top of that, we received special recognition. The only other school to receive this distinction was in Hiroshima-ken. My kocho-sensei (principal) went down to Yokohama last week to receive the award for the school. This is a pretty sweet way to finish my time at Daimon Junior High School!

Nagano

Gillian, Melissa and I went to Nagano City this past holiday Tuesday to see The Pillows in concert. The Pillows are a Japanese rock band that have been around for a while. Before the show, we decided to check out Zenkoji -- Nagano's most famous Buddhist temple.

Incense Lion and the Temple
Walking Through the GroundsThe Steps of ZenkojiWooden Sunset
Spring Equinox
Wet Buddhist Deity
Shrine Charms Vending MachineDriving Back from the Concert

Hakuba

Riding Down the Slope

Hakuba, Nagano-ken is one of the best places in Japan for snowboarding. Kei invited a bunch of us to join him for a boarding weekend from March 18th to the 19th. Here are the highlights from the trip.

Most Memorable Moments
一 Waking up at 06:00 to get on the road.
二 Ai-chan showing up hammered from his enkai the night before.
三 Realising I'm a little better at snowboarding than I thought.
四 Snowboarding in the rain.
五 6 naked guys in an outdoor onsen pool.
六 Invading Jusco.
七 Nabe.
八 Crapping out on top of the mountain.
九 Walking down the mountain.
十 Pumping the tunes on the ride back.

Four Favourite Fotos
The VanCorn???Mountains and SlopesKei's Creepy Mask

Listmania

22.3.06
I have begun a series of Mega Lists for my final sayonara to Japan. One is a list of all the things I'll miss about Japan, and the other is a list of all the things I won't miss. They're going to be long, but I think it's a good way to wrap up my time here. I'm not sure when they'll be posted. Probably sometime in July.

I'm also compiling a playlist, and I'd like to share with you two of the songs so you can check them out for yourself.

Beck - Bad Cartridge
The Books - Tokyo


If you have been in Japan for any amount of time, they should instill a sense of nostalgia.

Hanami Birthday Party!

17.3.06
For those of you in Toyama on April 8th, check this out!

Invitation

Let's partying!

Graduation

Daimon Junior High School had its graduation ceremony on Wednesday for the 3-nenseis (Grade 9). The day was comprised of the following events, in chronological order:

1) Waiting forever for the ceremony to start
2) Almost falling asleep/almost tearing up at the lengthy ceremony
3) Standing outside in the freezing cold to watch the 3-nenseis leave the school grounds
4) Eating a family's worth of food at a 'fancy' lunch
5) Waiting forever to go home
6) Napping
7) Attending an enkai (staff party) at an Italian restaurant
8) Defying biology by eating more than a family's worth of dinner
9) Getting hammered with colleagues
10) Continuing the party at a 'snack bar' (hostess bar) with all my teachers, not just the males
11) Singing karaoke by myself
12) Eating and drinking more, to my body's protests
13) Somehow getting home
14) Waking up still drunk to teach 5 classes...

Ah, yes.

Graduation Day2-Nensei BoysParade of Students

Through the course of those past 24 hours, I had the following realizations:

» Some of the teachers at my school are true drunks. (I knew this before, but it really hit home yesterday.)
» Singing in English in front of a bunch of Japanese-speakers actually makes the karaoke experience more awkward, not less.
» Explaining why you want to be a lawyer is unexpectedly difficult when drunk and speaking Japanese.
» I have become more brazen with carrying around a lot of cash. (I have at least ¥100,000 in my wallet right now... For my trip!)
» I have gained too much weight this past winter. (I need to kick up my workout several hundred notches.)
» Scheduling someone to have 5 classes after an enkai night is cruel.
» I should stop complaining... >_<

KaraokeSelectionMe, Terashima-sensei, and Komori-sensei

Here is a funnier and more accurate portrayal of graduation in Japan: American Expat's Post

My Slave Is Preggers

14.3.06
As my slave (a.k.a. the lady who serves me coffee in the morning) drove me to work this morning, she revealed to me that she is pregnant. She also told me that the teacher that sits across from me is preggers too. I had no idea either of them were married! Most teachers keep their private lives truly secret.

The best example I can think of is when one of the male English teachers told me his wife was in the hospital. I asked why. He told me she was about to deliver a baby. I congratulated him and wished him luck. Later, I asked my supervisor if she knew about it, and she didn't! How could two people work together every day and not know anything about each other's lives?

Oh, here comes my slave with my coffee! Haha, she almost saw this. Like she could read it...

Hmmm... Is it moral to let a pregnant woman serve me? If it's coffee, yes. Coffee is always a 'yes.'

Appropriate Word of the Day

12.3.06
My Gmail account displays a 'Word of the Day', and today's word is wholly appropriate for this weekend:

crapulous \KRAP-yuh-lus\, adjective:
1. Suffering the effects of, or derived from, or suggestive of gross intemperance, especially in drinking; as, a crapulous stomach.
2. Marked by gross intemperance, especially in drinking; as, a crapulous old reprobate.

Oh man, that's a keeper.

Collisions with Japanese People

11.3.06
Last night, a bunch of us gathered at Up Tight in Takaoka for the second pub quiz night. My team, "Back of the Bus", rocked it. Rocked the last place... It's okay, Emily, Richard, and Lucy! We had a good showing. Damn that Art round! Oh, and damn those Sports, Literature, Japan, and Geography rounds!

Me and Lucy at Pub QuizRichard and Emily at Pub Quiz

It was one of my "not-going-to-drink" nights... So as I was buying my third beer at the bar, I had a little 'run-in.' I moseyed up to the bar, found a space between the people, ordered my beer, and sat back for the wait. I turned my head to scope the scene and quickly realised why there was a space at the bar... Three heavily drunken Japanese dudes were perched on their seats, barely conscious, and giving me wide, stupid grins. One of them opened his mouth and said something to the effect of "Per chance, kind sir, are you from the land of America?" Okay, it was more like, "Hey foreigner, you American?" I smiled my best fake smile and said, "No. I'm Canadian. Are you from Japan?" I love saying that, because it throws them off a little.

Instead of the usual laughter and general enjoyment of the language barrier, the guy decided to take a different course. He widened his grin, reached down to my crotch palm-up, and flicked my package twice! "Okii! (Big!)", he says to my face.

I'm so taken aback by these developments that I just stand there with my beer and stare at him.

Confusing my shock with amusement, the guy does it again!

This time, I say, "Nice, buddy. All right. Look at what you made me do." I then smashed my glass on the bar and jammed the shards in his thighs. As he bent over in pain, I kneed him in the face and buried my fist in his gut. The other dudes were so frightened that they threw their wallets at me and stumbled out of the bar as quick as they could. Everyone in the bar broke out in applause and I basked in my glory.

Aaaand, scene.

After he did it the second time, I turned and walked away. What was I suppose to do? The guy was so drunk that he was about to pass out, and he speaks a different language. Plus, I know that Japanese male culture is much different from Western male culture. Much, much different. I think it stems from the fact that nobody is scared of being called "gay" in Japan, because the concept doesn't officially exist. Could you imagine what would happen if that guy tried to pull a stunt like that in the States or the UK?? Oh well.

The title of the post is Collisions with Japanese People. Ah, lucky you! Another story...

This morning, I woke up much more hungover than I should have been. After three international phone calls (Canada x2 and New Zealand -- ooo, fancy), I finally got my lazy ass to the gym. My bicycling route there goes over the bridge between Imizu and Takaoka. Since I was feeling particularly reflective (or something) today, I gazed down at the river to the side as I crossed the bridge. I noticed the green flowing water, the snow-capped mountains in the distance, the birds gathering on the shore, the old Japanese woman in my path one second too late... Yes.

BAAAAM!! Both our bicycles tumbled to the ground, and her groceries flew into the air and scattered all over the bridge. Damn damn damn. I couldn't even react. After 5 minutes (or 5 seconds), I got off my bike, perfusely apologised in Japanese, and picked up her stuff. After I made sure everything was all right, I got back on my bike. The old lady turns to me, opens her toothless mouth, and starts going on a rant in Japanese. I could not understand one word of it, but I could guess what she was saying. I'd be pissed too. Really pissed.

For some odd reason, I decided that saying this before I took off again was a good idea: "Hey, when you get some teeth, give me a call."

Why would I say that??? Man, living in a non-English-speaking country makes you say the weirdest things, just because you know nobody knows what you're saying! I have the mouth of sailor at the moment; I swear way too much. Before I move back to Canada, I'm going to have to start practicing using sentences without expletives. F*ck, it's going to be hard.

Japanese Truth [第8]

After learning enough Japanese, you start to recognise it outside of Japanese situations and get excited by it!

Example 1:
I listened to and understood a Japanese conversation on the Star Ferry in Hong Kong.

Example 2:
During the movie "Hannibal", I understood what the Japanese tourists were screaming during a murder scene.

Example 3: I'm watching "The Matrix" right now and just discovered that the code (see below) is actual Japanese katakana (カタカナ) written backwards!!

The Matrix Code

Now if I could only get motivated to learn more...

High As A Kite

9.3.06
Okay okay okay. I drank a pot of Italian coffee this morning when I woke up. I included, for flavor, 2 or 3 shots of Bailey's liquer. When I got to work, my co-worker/slave served me more coffee. I just downed some herbal tea. Needless to say, I'm super high on caffeine and am extra jittery right now. The worst part: I've been listening to a super-pumping electronic remix album all afternoon. Literally, my heart is beating exactly in sync with the bass. I'm not even kidding here! Wow.

Alright, maybe I should lay off the 'Bucks for a bit... But all I want to do right now is go there and drink a bold Kenyan blend double and read my book! Yikes!

Caffeine

Interestingly, I had to memorize this structure in university while drinking it down by the bucketload.

By the way, would you like to hear what 4 years of education at a top university can produce? Off the top of my head:

Caffeine blocks the breakdown of the secondary messenger cyclic adenosine monophosphate, thus propagating glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose into energy the body can use). (i.e. It makes you genki!)

Snow: The Return

3.3.06
After a week of sunshine and ice-free roads, it is snowing again in Toyama. I think my anger can best be summed up in an analogy. (I think analogies are as fun as similes or metaphors.)

The new snowfall in Toyama is like being released from the hospital after six months of traction because of a broken pelvis from a car accident, only to be runover by a car in the parking lot.

More or less.

Chizneck out this off tha hook website!

1.3.06
You can translate any text or website into ebonics yaba daba dizzle. Politically correct? No. Funny? Yes. Go here.

Check out my site: Buck82

Or BBC news: Tha News

▲ List: Kit Kat Flavors I Have Eaten In Japan

Green Tea
Passionfruit
Apple
Cafe Latte
Maple Syrup
Wine
Melon
Strawberry
Sakura (Cherry Blossom)
Lemon Cheesecake
Grape
Yogurt
French Bretagne Milk
Banana
Fruits Parfait

Green and Reconnecting

I've been obsessed with green lately. Maybe it's because I want the trees to bloom finally. Maybe it's because St. Patty's Day is on the way. (I do want some green Guinness. Any Toyama people up for Pot Still on March 17th?) Either way, this blog is staying green through March.

So this weekend I finally did what I had been planning on doing for a long time. I wrote e-mails to almost everyone I know. Damn, it took a long time. Maybe you got one? The responses have been trickling in, and it's exciting! I've so far discovered the following:

» Carolyn is will likely stay in Mexico for another 9 months.
» Jessica is in law school! (This gives me a lot of hope because we have the same degree.)
» Nicole is engaged!
» Yoko is having fun teaching Japanese in Tonga.
» Kali is in medical school in the Caribbean! (This one was truly a surprise. Congrats Kali!)
» Gina is moving back to Yellowknife at the same time as me. (Gina: We're going to rock the town!)
» Jen is in Ottawa learning the joys of dealing with dairy farmers. (Memories!)
» Anita is being flip-floppy about coming back to Yellowknife. (Doooo it!)
» Jamie is hitting on best men at weddings in Chicago. ;)

As for the rest of you not mentioned, send me a message! Let me know what you're doing!


Here's a pic from the weekend:

Underwater Room