Saturday, June 30, 2007


Today I was exceptionally genki at work today, especially the kids lessons. This is rather surprising since I got about 3 hours sleep last night. Today I was working at Mukonoso, one station away from Nishinomiya Kitaguchi, but means I couldn't catch the express from Juso, which wasn't really that big a deal.

The first kids lesson was a chibiko lesson, which is for kids between 2 and 4 years old. This was to be my first chibiko lesson. I thought it was going good 20 minutes into the lesson when the kid had not turned up. The kid turned up with 15 minutes to go so I did an expedited version of a lesson. It was really good. Mainly because the kid's mum really got into it. In fact for the first section, the Hello song, the mother knew it better than I did. The kid liked the music time (dancing around with fruit shaped shaker things to make noise). The other highlight was card time (where a few words get introduced to the kids). One of the words was swim, which ended up with us all lying face down on the floor imitating free style swimming. I think it would have been a lot different with a different parent taking part. I think next week I'll probably have the class again and I doubt they'll be 25 minutes late again. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up that level of energy for a whole 40 minutes.

The kinder class I had suggests maybe I can. I was much more boisterous and active than I normally am. Afterwards some of the parents commented that it was a really good lesson and the kids were smiling all the time. I was quite grateful that the next lesson was an empty voice. I played some Tetris and read some of Foundation.

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Writing time: 16 minutes
Time since last post: 20 minutes
Current media: Black Adder Goes Forth - Major Star


On Tuesday night I went to a friends birthday party. At one point the conversation got round to a topic that got me rather depressed. So rather than being sociable and jovial, for a while I was bitter and moody and lurked on the sidelines. At several points I thought about making some statements which might have expressed a more than a little cynicism and bitterness, but my typical reluctance to speak kept them bottled up, which is probably for the best.

A later conversation on a related topic with someone else, while during the conversation I was very much stiff upper lippish, afterwards left me rather enraged and desiring of some cheap piece of furniture that could be destroyed without repercussions or a loss of something useful.

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Writing time: 15 minutes
Time since last post: half an hourish
Current media: Black Adder Goes Forth - Major Star

Quintessentially Fungible

For the last few days I got to catch up with a good friend who came to the land of the rising sun for a few days. JP came for a few days on his way back to Australia from China. On the few cases where it has happened it has been really good to get together with someone I've known for longer than the time I've been in Japan.

I had to work on the days JP was here, so things were a bit more rushed, but seems to have been compensated by later than usual nights.

It is significantly easier to talk about things with someone I've known for quite a while. It was quite helpful to talk about some things with another human being, rather than keeping them bottled in inside.

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Writing time: 15 minutes
Time since last post: 9 days (hypothetically)
Current media: Black Adder Goes Forth - Corporal Punishment

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tokyo Day 4

The final day in Tokyo. The plan for today was to visit Harajuku, Meiji Jingu, Tokyo Tower and Ginza. This plan did not quite get fulfilled. I first headed over to Meiji Jingu, a shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken. The shrine is in another of Tokyo's huge parks. The walk from the entrance to the shrine is nice, with old fashioned fences, creeks, forest, wine barrels, torii, the barrel things they have at shrines and more. The shrine itself was nice. I also went to the museum there where there was a display of ceremonial clothing that belonged to the emperor and empress.

After this I walked around Harajuku, a shopping district for a bit. I had lunch at a Coco Ichiban (a curry house) and then decided I'd had enough of walking around and all that so decided to head home. I went back to the JR Tokyo station, got my bag from the locker and caught a shinkansen back to Osaka.

Thus ends my Tokyo trip.

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Writing time: a bit of time
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: The Chaser

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tokyo Day 3

Another day of walking around. Today, Shinjuku. The city part of Shinjuku wasn't that amazing or different to anywhere else, but there was a very nice park there, Shinjuku Gyoen. In the park was a tree wrapped in a blanket, and a traditional tea house with the traditional ticket vending machine.

After the park I headed over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, and up to the observation deck on level 45. The view from the top is pretty impressive. I think I may have just seen Mt Fuji. At the least, I saw to angled lines that kind of came together at a point which was in the direction of Mt Fuji, which is good enough for me.

After that I went back to the hostel for a bit of rest, and that evening went into Shibuya to catch up with Tyrone. We wandered around for a bit just catching up.

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Writing time: A while
Time since last post: 1 day (hypothetically, since I'm posting retroactively)
Current media: Hellboy

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tokyo Day 2

Slept in a bit. Got breakfast from a nearby Lawsons (cheese karage, a banana and an orange juice) which I ate while planning the day. Thanks to a map on the table at the hostel, I learnt that Asakusa shrine was quite close, and so decided that would be my first destination.

After I ate breakfast and read my emails, I walked down to Asakusa shrine. On the way, I passed a weird toy shop and a restaurant that advertised Okinawan cuisine. After about 15 minutes I reached the front of Asakusa shrine. Between the entrance and the shrine proper is a street of shops, a bit like that at Kiyomizu, but not as long. I looked at some of the shops there, mainly those selling yukatas, but they only had yukatas with patterns on them, and I'd prefer a plain one. I also saw this shirt at one of the shops. The shrine itself was pretty good, with a large main shrine and then a number of smaller shrines surrounding it.

After Asakusa, I headed over to Ueno to visit Ueno Park (うえのこえん). This park is full of statues, shrines, fountains, homeless guys, galleries, more fountains, giant heads (although not the Face of Bo), a zoo I didn't go to, cats, and more.

I then headed over to Akihabara, the Den Den town of Tokyo. Lots of computer and electronics stores, as well as comic book type shops. I saw one shop with a famicon (the Japanese version of a NES) and some old school LCD Nintendo games. The problem with the comic shops was that there was no clear separation between the ordinary comics and games which I'm interested in and the hentai which I'm not. In fact, a lot of the time they were mixed together. I didn't take many pictures here, as it's much the same as computer and comics shops all over the place.

I headed back to the hostel after that, and went to dinner at the Okinawan restaurant, which was dissapointing as the food was small (on a large plate) and expensive. It was good, but for that much money, you should get more. I went to Bar JD's Style for a few drinks, then called it a night.

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Writing time: 45 minutes
Time since last post: a few days
Current media: None

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tokyo Day 1

I arrived in at JR Tokyo at about 7 o'clock. My first act after getting my stuff was to go and buy a shinkansen ticket for the return trip. Then, I dumped my big backpack in a locker near a curry house, and got breakfast at a cafe. When I actually walked out of the station, the first thing I saw was a giant NOVA flower, and then a giant Usagi at the top of the building. I wandered around the station for a while (an area called Nihonbashi). I found a currency museum that was part of the Japanese mint which I thought I would go to, but it turns out that it was closed on Mondays. So a bit more wandering, then I decided to head to the Imperial Palace and visit the gardens there, where I intended to sit around for a while and not do much, to try and gain a bit of energy. Well, guess what else was closed on Mondays? So instead I sat down on a small garden on the street outside the palace. I read for about ten minutes, then laid back and used the book as a cushion. I lay with my eyes closed for maybe half an hour when this guy in a suit came over and told me the emperor would be driving by soon. So I sat up and got my camera ready, and waited for about 20 minutes until the motorcade went past. It was about 4 cars and I didn't see the emperor, but I did see an old lady wave from one of the cars, so I assume this was the empress.

After that bit of excitement, I walked around the imperial palace, at one time being overtaken by an old man (I blame the lack of sleep). After making the round of the palace I walked to Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine was interesting with a few statues and other bits and pieces, but the good bit was the museum. It started out with a documentary in Japanese, which I went into with the intention of trying to pick up as much as possible, but after about 10 minutes nodded off. I hope I didn't snore. Anyway, the rest of the museum had information in English and Japanese (although more in Japanese. Can't really blame them for that though.) and was quite interesting. It made me somewhat more interested in the history of Japan from about 1900-1940 (My knowledge sort of goes "samurai, samurai, something, something, Pearl Harbour").

After that it was late enough in the day for me to check into my guest house, so I headed out to Asakusa. I got my room key, and checked out the room. It had it's own toilet and sink, and four bunk beds. For Tokyo, pretty good value at 2800 yen per night. I had a bit of a nap, and then headed out for dinner. I had a curry at a surf themed restaurant, that was nice, if a bit pricey (that seems a common theme in Tokyo, nice but a little pricey). Then I tried out a bar called Bar JD's Style. It was nice and the barkeeper was friendly. The decor was mainly Jack Daniels paraphenalia. After a few drinks there, I went back to the hostel to get some sleep.

Pictures are here.

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Writing time: A while
Time since last post: doesn't really count since I'm posting retroactively
Current media: Dr Who 2007 season episode 11

Tokyo Day 0

Currently en route to Tokyo. I'm waiting at a service station, a sort of get out and stretch your legs place, with a huge dose of commerce. The place is next to the highway, and there is a footbridge going across which I can not see the other end of.
Have not got much rest so far. The aircon, while not hot, is not cool enough. I bought an inflatable pillow which should help, and some coke. which won't

Sunday, June 17, 2007

NOVA In Hot Water

This week NOVA got caught up in a little strife. They got punished by the Japanese trade ministry (METI - Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry) for a number of dishonest business practices, like playing tricks with calculating refunds and deceptive advertising and sales information.

The penalty is that NOVA can't sign up customers to long term contracts (contracts longer than one year or 105 lessons) for 6 months. This will be another hit to sales, but the signs I see at my school show that already they're promoting shorter term plans. As far as punishments go, it's more creative than what would usually happen in Australia, where they'd just be slapped with a hefty fine.

Such news was bound to make teachers and students a little nervous about the future of the company. Teachers were freaked out a bit more when some teacher's pay was deposited late on Friday (mine was paid before I checked at noon, I didn't find out about this bit until talking to other teachers).

So NOVA is having a rough patch, but like all behemoths, it has plenty of momentum which should see it through this difficult patch. Honestly though, I think they should tighten ship a bit. Some of the things NOVA does seem designed to waste money.

Edit: Other sources are not so optimistic.

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Writing time: 12 minutes
Time since last post: about 9 hours
Current media: None

Saturday, June 16, 2007

To Tokyo

Tomorrow night I head off to Tokyo. I'm catching the nightbus (ニトーブス) which leaves at 10pm tomorrow night, which should get into Tokyo around 6am on Monday. I'll spend the day wandering around somewhat in a haze due to likely sleep deprivation (I've heard the nightbus is not very comfortable), before checking into my hostel around 3 pm. I'll probably have a nap before heading out to try and sample the nightlife. I'll also try and buy a shinkansen ticket for the return trip on Thursday.

I have no definite plans for what I'll do while there, but have a lonely planet with a big list of things to do. Plus, yesterday was payday, so I have plenty of cash at the moment to make sure I enjoy myself.

I'm not going to take my laptop, but I will be gadgeted up. I'm taking my phone, iPod and DS (mainly to check email, not to play games, although maybe while traveling to a from places). Plus the chargers for each of these items. I'm going to pack my big backpack tomorrow morning before leaving for work early (I left my keys at a different school today, so have to head out there first. Luckily it's just the next station, so I only need to head in 15 minutes or so earlier than normal.). After work, I'll come back home, have a shower, grab my stuff and head into Umeda to catch the bus. I'm going to make sure I get in early, to make sure the place I think is the bus departure point is actually the bus departure point.

Selected photos and stories will be posted upon my return, and perhaps earlier if I get so motivated.

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Writing time: 9 minutes
Time since last post: a little more than 9 minutes
Current media: iTunes shuffle - currrently Starbuck Takes On All Eight from the Battlestar Galactica season one soundtrack

Under the Umbrella

Last Sunday it rained. A lot. Suddenly. While I was on the train I noticed nothing (although I was listening to my iPod and playing on my DS so that doesn't say a lot). As I got up the escalators at the station I heard a great rumbling noise and looked up through the clear retractable (though not at that time) roof to see a great downpour. So great that I decided I could not just run through it and be acceptably dry for work. And so I bought an umbrella. Of course by the time I got into the open, I perhaps could have run quick enough, but I had the umbrella so I used it.

Sidetrack: I don't really like using umbrellas. I'll only use them when I'll get drenched no matter what. I'd much rather trust to a jacket and hat to keep me dry than an umbrella. Only when the rain is beyond that level of protection will I consider an umbrella.

Anyway, back on track. At the start of my lunch break, the rain seemed to have cleared up so I went out without my newly purchased umbrella. While I was eating lunch in a restaurant (I think it was Mos Burger) it picked up again. So while I was walking back to the office (school, I'm never sure which one to use. Maybe I should stick to work.) a student with an umbrella came over and let me walk under the umbrella with them. I thought this was very nice and was quite grateful, although I'm not quite sure how to act with students outside of work (NOVA's no fraternisation policy seems somewhat harsh). Usually I'll just say hi in passing, but would not stop and chat.

Not sure where else to go with this post, so here it shall end.

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Writing time: 10 minutes
Time since last post: a little more than 10 minutes
Current media: iTunes shuffle - currently La Dolce Vita by Nina Rota

What's Cooking

Or more to the point, who's cooking? The answer is me. This week, for the first time since in Japan (and probably a week or two before I left Australia) I cooked my dinner.

On Tuesday night I cooked chicken alfredo a la me, for which a vital ingredient is a continental pasta and sauce packet mix. I got one of these and a packet of macaroni from a guy at work who picked them up for me on a recent return trip to Australia.

Lesson from cooking: while beef is ridiculously expensive. chicken seems to be dirt cheap (two breast fillets for 260 yen, although tonight that much only bought me one fillet. In any case 520 yen for three fillets is pretty good). I think I shall have to explore the possibilities of chicken, and cook more often. Perhaps it is time to read the cookbook my uncle got me for Christmas (I'd been planning on saving that for when I moved somewhere I had plans to cook).

Anyway, I foresee more cooking in my future, and unfortunately but consequently, more washing up.

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Writing time: 6 minutes
Time since last post: 1 week
Current media: iTunes shuffle - currently Fix You by Coldplay

Saturday, June 09, 2007


The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

I think I'd rather be sent to Level 6. I'd much rather be a heretic than a perve. Although Limbo sounds good too.

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Writing time: 1 minute
Time since last post: 3 days
Current media: Geeknights

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Situation Resolved

It turns out the right answer was past tense.

Ah well.

It was a good 4 and a half months.

Casualties of the night: My iPod headphones, ripped into half a dozen pieces and thrown onto someone's hedge, and three Smirnoff Ices.

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Writing time: 1 minute
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: The Daily Show for June 4th

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tense Situation

There is a situation. I'm not quite sure how to think about said situation.

Past tense has a set of implications I don't really like.

Present tense has a set of assumptions I'm not sure are justifiable.

And so, yet again, I do nothing.

Life would be much easier if I could just know what other people are thinking (in a controlled directed manner, no Earshot bullshit type stuff).

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Writing time: 12 minutes
Time since last post: 2 days
Current media: Cowboy Bebop - The Real Folk Blues Pt 1

Monday, June 04, 2007

A New Hope

At times I see things that make me despair of humanity. Other times I see things that give me hope.

It turns out that someone started a petition to Pardon Paris Hilton. It got 30005 votes, which is still 30004 too many (Paris signed. I can't really complain about that.). The opposing Jail Paris Hilton petition got 87715 votes. (Looking at the petition site, there are many petitions on the topic, but the great majority are on the go to jail side).

Anyway, I have now sullied my blog by mentioning someone I don't like and think deserves no attention.

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Writing time: 9 minutes
Time since last post: 2 days
Current media: Arrested Development

Friday, June 01, 2007

Dual Systems Not So Good

I read in the newspaper a few days ago a report on a court case in Malaysia (links here, here and here). The case was about a woman who had converted from Islam to Christianity wanting to change the religion on her national ID from Islam to Christianity, and had her request denied by the National Registration Department. The Federal Court upheld the decision the National Registration Department made and it's reasoning. I think this is a bad ruling.

To understand why, first you need to look at why the woman wanted to change her religious status. Malaysia operates under essentially a dual legal system. Muslims are subject to Sharia law, and are subject to a separate Sharia court. Non-Muslims are only subject to civil courts. One example is that Muslims are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol, but non-Muslims may. Also, Muslims may only marry other Muslims (if a Muslim wants to marry a non-Muslim, the non-Muslim must convert to Islam).

The problem for the woman who converted starts with the part of Sharia law which deals with those who turn away from the faith of Islam, the apostates. In some states of Malaysia, apostasy is a criminal offense, and at best to get labeled an apostate requires at least a year of counseling with a Muslim cleric, who must be convinced that you no longer truly believe. And this leads to the National Registration Department's reason for not allowing the woman to change her religious status. She had not been labeled an apostate, and since she was a Muslim subject to the Sharia courts, only the Sharia courts had the power to declare her no longer a Muslim. Without the say so of the Sharia court, they would not change her religious status. This is the decision that was upheld by the Federal court.

I see two big problems with this situation. The first is the existence of two different legal systems in the one country. If the woman had wanted to convert from Hinduism to Christianity this wouldn't have been a problem, but since she was a Muslim subject to Islamic law, she cannot do so. All people should be treated equally by the law, and to maintain separate systems for whatever reason undermines that principle. The second is that this goes against the freedom of religion clauses in the Malaysian constitution. Under this ruling, a large percentage of Malay are unable to choose their religion, but are assigned one based on their circumstances of birth, and cannot change it.

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Writing time: 30 minutes
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: Cowboy Bebop

Killing Time

So it's been a while since I wrote anything on my blog (Japanese text excepted, but that's not that much good to my readers. It was more of an exercise for myself, but may be repeated later on.) so I should probably do so.

So what has been happening in the world of EsonLinji? Some stuff, but not a lot.

Work continues much as it has. This month I get a second kids school, and am doing help shifts at another school on Saturdays (This has the advantage I get to sleep in a little on Saturday mornings). The extra kids school and help shift is due to another school having half the teachers quit in a period of about a month with no new teachers arriving. Sometimes it seems NOVA is a sinking ship with the rats jumping ship (although since I'm a teacher I don't really like referirng to teachers as rats).

Recent sightseeing. Last week on Tuesday I went to a Mummy (ミイラ) exhibition in Kobe. It was pretty good. They had a 3d video looking inside the mummy based on CAT scans of the intact mummy. Rather interesting. Then there was a number of Egyptian artifacts (jewelry, statues, etc). There were three human mumies as part of the exhibit (the one from the video, and two others), plus a sampling of other mummified creatures (cat, crocodile, bird, and others I don't remember).

Then on Wednesday I went to Mino-o with my new housemate Carl and a guy he met on the flight to Japan, Chris. It was a pretty good walk, but we messed up finding the place at the start. We initially went up this giant elevator, which we thought would help us get to the top of the hills. Unfortunately, the lift only lead to a health spa type place. We followed a rather steep road up from the spa for a little bit, but it only lead to the tennis courts. So we went back down and found the actual entrance of the park, and followed the walk. At the other end of the walk was a nice waterfall. Also, as promised there was a monkey getting into mischief. The monkey tried to steal a tray of food from one of the shops , and was then chased off by the shopkeeper. I managed to get two photos of the monkey from a distance.

On Sunday was a work party, which was OK. Nothing too amazing or dreadful occurred. The novelty of the night was everyone wrote a haiku and recited it. I managed to write three, which I will now reproduce in order of composition.

The weather is fine
I am in my box teaching
Why oh why oh why?


(translation (not in haiku)
I eat it a lot
do you like it?)

first five syllables
then there's seven syllables
last line there's five more

So, I'll never make poet laureate.

This Tuesday I went hunting down the Ice Cream Festival that was allegedly happening in Osaka. I saw an article about it in the paper a few days before, and thought it was going to be something big and exciting. I was greatly disappointed. It turned out to be four small booths in a food court. However I did try the stretchy Turkish ice cream which was a bit bland, but the serving of it was done with a modicum of style and panache.

Wednesday was spent trying to remember how to use Blender. With the recent update to 2.44, I've downloaded the mac version and started playing with it again. I've started up the second project I'd thought of back in Oz to practise with. It's a scene of a spaceship traveling through space. This is going to be expanded into a large battle scene as I get better and can manage more objects. The source material I'm basing it on requires 386 ships (385 will look remarkably similar). Anyway, it will be a challenge bringing the ROU Killing Time to life.

In a few weeks I'm heading up to Tokyo as I've sorted out a 4 day weekend. This will be my first time to Tokyo, so I'll spend most of the time sightseeing. I still have to sort out where I'll stay (hostel or capsule hotel) and how I'll get there (shinkansen or night bus). I do want to find the Godzilla statue. I think I'll have a look through the lonely planet and see what else looks interesting.

Anyway, it's about time I start getting ready for work, so I'll finish up here.

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Writing time: 46 minutes
Time since last post: 6 days
Current media: Cowboy Bebop