Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Blasted Koreans. On Thursday I sent a bunch of documents to the school that had offered me the job, and sent them an email letting them know the tracking number and letting them know my uncle would be sending stuff as soon as possible from Australia. So on Tuesday my uncle sends the stuff and emails me the details so I can let them know, which I do so. Then I get a reply back saying they were worried things were taking too long and that they'd given the position to someone already in Korea.

God damn it.

I do not believe that this was an unreasonable period of time. The documents needed to be collected from the university to ensure that they met the requirements for the visa (I checked with the university and that was the only way they'd guarantee it met the requirements). My uncle works so can't just go in on the spur of the moment. The documents were sent yesterday should arrive in Korea tomorrow, and given a processing time of one week for the visa in Korea, that still left one week for me to organise my flights and shipping stuff to Korea and home.

Now the recruitment company have organised another interview with a different school, this time in Seoul, but it's advertised for a mid December start. With what I've got now, I could probably have made it to the middle of December when I would of got my first paycheck. The middle of January is a lot further away. If I get my pay from NOVA in any form (actual pay or 80% from the government due to bankruptcy) I could make it.

But this is shit. I thought I was all set up and now I've had the rug pulled out from underneath me.


End Post
Writing time: 11 minutes
Time since last post: 5 days
Current media: iTunes shuffle, currently Beethoven's 5th as performed by Shenzo's Electric Stunt Orchestra

Friday, October 26, 2007


verb throw through or out of the window; "The rebels stormed the palace and defenestrated the President"

I don't know exactly what I thought this word meant, but I thought it was something a lot worse than that.

End Post
Writing time: 1 minute
Time since last post: 2 day
Current media: iTunes shuffle, currently Lovin' Ain't So Easy by Velvet Chain

postscript: related to my previous post script about iTunes not being a word, it appears that part of the improvements for the new version of OS X is the addition of Apple words to the dictionary. I'm not sure this is worth paying $129 for though.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

For Posterity

The following was found while doing the first stage of preparing to move. It is a song written during an honours solid state lecture. It is intended to be in the genre of heavy metal/punk. I'm putting here to preserve it for future generations and so I can get rid of one more bit of paper.

Semiconductor by the Conduction Band

I'm above the forbidden gap
Apply a potential and I'll move in a snap
Those in the valence band are caught in a trap
About them no one gives a crap

chorus: I'm an electron in a semiconductor
I don't drive a real big truck
Computers and such they all need me
But I don't give a flying duck

In an intrinsic semiconductor
Currents due to temperature
My motion is a complete blur
I'll put your head into a whirl


For everyone in the conduction band
A hole remains in the valence band
If we all went back to our home land
We'd all be colder than a bear in Iceland


Guitar solo, lots (I mean lots) of distortion

Some semiconductors are full of dope
Without them you don't have a hope
Around disruptions electrons have to grope
They're more impure than the pope

End Post
Typing time: 7 minutes
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: iTunes Shuffle, currently Drop the Hate by Fatboy Slim

Postscript: I found it rather amusing that iTunes is considered a misspelling of tunes by the apple spellchecker

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moving Again

It looks like I'm going to be moving again. The phone interview with the school in Korea went pretty good. About an hour after the interview, I got an email with a job offer and a contract, and instructions for applying for the visa. The job is in a city called Suwon, which is about 40k south of Seoul. The pay seems pretty good, and the job looks a bit easier than here in Japan, although there will probably be more preparation involved and the classes will be bigger.

End Post
Writing time: 5 minutes
Time since last post: a few hours
Current media: None

Stupid Expensive

The other day I was wandering around a bookshop and saw something quite shocking. Among a display of Harry Potter books was an audio book version of the final book. The first thing that shocked me was the size of the thing. It was 20 CDs long. A slight shock, but nothing too major. The thing that made me exclaim out loud and get some funny looks from one of the other customers was the price tag. 18000 yen. That's around A$180. This seems to be a stupidly high amount to pay for something like this. It makes me wonder just why the price is so high. The materials are obviously not that expensive. Blank CDs are a buck a piece retail if you want to pay a lot, so I'm sure they can get them for a lot cheaper than that. There's no extra time in writing it, so the author doesn't need to get a larger cut. That I guess leaves the reader and production costs. Harry Potter does have a big name reader, Stephen Fry, but surely he's not getting all of the extra cash. Production and studio time could add more, but surely not a huge amount. It's not like the producer has to do much, just edit out any coughing fits or hiccups.

Anyway, in conclusion, I believe that audio books are ridiculously overpriced.

End Post
Writing time: 53 minutes (I got distracted)
Time since last post: 1 day
Current media: None

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tokyo Round 2

Last week I went to Tokyo for the second time. This was a much briefer trip with a lot less done. The main reason for the trip was a job interview on the 15th, which I have previously discussed, so I'll talk about the rest of what I did in Tokyo here.

I caught the night bus on Saturday night, and arrived in Tokyo at about 6:30 am on Sunday. My first order of business was to get some breakfast, which ended up being MacDonalds (I like their breakfast menu). I stayed in MacDonalds reading until about 8, at which time I went across the corridor to Starbucks, which had comfier chairs. I ended up staying in Starbucks until 1, in which time I read, watched some Futurama, updated my Japanese dictionary, and practiced writing Japanese sentences.

After I left Starbucks I went to Tokyo Tower (東京タワー) via Zojoji temple. It's a nice place with some gardens around it. I actually went into the main temple and sat for a little while, because some sort of ceremony was going on and there were some monks chanting, so I watched and listened. Then onto Tokyo Tower itself. I only went up to the main viewing platform, about 150m or so up. The view was not bad, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building has a much better view. Also nice was the trick art gallery, a collection of works by a guy in which all the pictures are optical illusion types of things. They were pretty interesting.

After that I met up with Tyrone, who quite kindly allowed me to stay at his place for the night, thus saving me the expense of a hostel. I got to sleep on a real bed for the first time since I went to Okinawa, and had a very good night sleep. He also knows a shop that sells TimTams, so when I ate my first TimTam for I don't know how many months, I was in heaven.

Monday was the day of the interview. The interview was at 10 in Ginza, and I got there with plenty of time. The interview lasted about 25 minutes, so at half past I was free for the day. Nearby was a kabuki theater, at which a show was starting at 11. After finding out prices and deciding it was cheap enough (700 yen) I got a ticket for the first act. My seat was in the very back row, but what do you expect for 700 yen. I couldn't really pay attention because I couldn't understand what they were saying and may have nodded off during the show. After the show finished I wandered around Ginza looking for the Godzilla statue that apparently exists. Unfortunately I didn't find it. I spent an hour or so in another Starbucks, and then headed back to Tyrone's place to collect my stuff.

Then began the long wait for the bus back, which left at 10pm. This was filled with some time in an internet cafe, a bookshop (I picked up starship troopers, and managed to read most of it on the bus), dinner at MacDonalds (noticing a trend here), then about 20 minutes waiting at the bus stop. Then on the bus and heading home.

A quick tiring trip that didn't get me a new job, but the rest of what happens made it a worthwhile trip.

End Post
Writing time: 27 minutes
Time since last post: an hour or so
Current media: The Samurai Champloo soundtrack

Recent Events

Lately, life has not been so good. Or more specifically, work has not been so good. Even more specifically, the pay has been not so good. Well, not not so good, but absent, non-existent, late, yet to be paid, etc, etc.

The company is going down the tubes. Last month the teachers pay was 4 days late for most teachers. The Japanese staff are still waiting for their pay from last month. I don't really believe the promise that we'll be paid on the 25th, because that promise came after they failed to pay us on the 19th as they promised.

The actual work is not so bad. Most days have been pretty light of late. This is because the staff have been anticipating teachers not turning up and not filling the schedule, so when everyone does turn up, we all get free lessons.

Yesterday was a different story. There were meant to be five teachers working, but only two turned up. Guess who was one of those two. Yup. Me. My schedule for the day was almost completely full. The maximum size of a class is four students. My first class had three students, my last class was a man to man class where the student pays extra to be the only student, and the rest were four student classes. A few students didn't turn up, so that made it a little easier but it was a daunting schedule to look at. The staff have said they'll try and give me an easy schedule today if it's possible, so that's something to look forward to.

The Japanese staff are having a really rough time. Branches are closing all the time, teachers are not coming in and quitting at massive rates, and students are trying to get as many lessons as they can before it all comes crashing down. Combined with no real leadership from above, it seems that the branch level staff are all working together to try and keep things going. On Friday I ended up going to three different schools, as other schools were so desperate for teachers that they were willing to have someone come out to teach just one lesson, then travel to the next school for one lesson, then back to my regular branch for the rest of the day. I have to say they're doing a good job, but eventually they're going to run out of options.

Another issue is the rate at which branches are being closed. At first it was just some kids schools and small schools, but now more and more schools are closing, and it's more and more obvious that there is no planning going on. Last month some schools closed and the students were offered a transfer to another school. Then early this month they announced that school would close at the end of the month. So now the students have to transfer again, or more likely are going to quit. My school has yet to close, and word is the owner of the building is out of the country so doesn't know what's going on. We've been getting lots of transfer students, and hopefully we'll be getting some teachers from the schools that are closing, but there's no information so far. Apparently there's meant to be training for new teachers at my school today, but the head teacher hasn't got any information about the new guys, so it's pretty likely there not coming. I know I wouldn't come over now if I knew what was going on.

My reaction to all of this was at the beginning denial, but in the last month has gone to a fatalistic panic. After last months late pay, I initially thought they wouldn't be late twice, because they knew it would piss of the teachers, and with no teachers there's no business. But late the pay is, and now I'm looking for other work. I had an interview in Tokyo last week which was good and bad. Good in that they were willing to let me start training straight away, bad in that the training is unpaid, the pay is purely on a commission basis, and although the work is investment based, you have to get your own clients whose money you invest. This is not the sort of thing I can uproot and move to Tokyo for. I've also had a phone interview for teaching in China, but the pay is again good and bad. It's about what a manager in China receives, so you can live like a king over there, but it works out to about $1000 a month, so you can't really save any money. Tomorrow I have a phone interview for a job in South Korea, which is a lot better. I'd also much rather live in Korea than in China. No Great Firewall to start with, and the pay is a lot better (actually a bit better than what I get in Japan. It's about the same amount of money, but they also pay your rent and half your health insurance, plus pay for a return airfare, so that would be pretty good). We'll see how that goes.

This has also had a detrimental effect on my limited social life. The usual Monday night outing has been postponed indefinitely, pending getting some money. My diet is also suffering. For most of the last three weeks, dinner has been instant ramen. Breakfast is a pastry and some juice, or if I'm feeling luxurious, MacDonalds. The activities I've taken to fill the gap are online poker and watching the entirety of the original series of Star Trek.

End Post
Writing time: 41 minutes
Time since last post: 12 days
Current media: Newstopia

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A New Decoration

I just thought I'd put up a picture of the latest decoration in my room. Well actually, the only decoration in my room. I don't quite know exactly what it says, although two of the small kanji on the left are the name of the suburb I live in (岡町), but I like it and it will definitely make the trip back to Australia as a souvenir. Just don't ask where I got it until after I'm out of Japan.

End Post
Writing time: 5 minutes
Time since last post: a few hours
Current media: None

Let's have some sense of scale here

Yet again American conservatives dismay me with the overreaction to something trivial. Storm in teacup is putting it mildly. The issue? Google's habit of changing their logo to commemorate certain events. A little while ago was the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. Google produced this new logo to commemorate the event.And now conservatives are complaining that Google is not patriotic enough. They're saying because a bunch of geeks celebrated the launch of the first satellite, they are a bunch of dirty commies who hate America (I may be adding a little hyperbole here).

Really. I mean just what is their problem? Do conservatives have nothing better to do than bitch about the pictures a company puts up on their website for a day or so? Have they solved all the other problems facing society? They should get some perspective, some sense of scale. This is not a big deal, it shouldn't be a problem. And yet, they get worked up about it. I wish I knew why.

End Post
Writing time: 23 minutes (I haven't been focusing the whole time)
Time since last post: 9 days
Current media: Star Trek: The Original Series - Charlie X

Monday, October 01, 2007

Too Successful

For a while now I haven't been spending as much time on Wikipedia as I used to. Back when I was procrastinating on a PhD I would spend a lot of time just reading articles on Wikipedia. Now, not so much.

Sure, part of the reason is I have less free time. But another big contributor is that Wikipedia is almost too successful. Back in the day, I'd just click on the Random Article link, and most of the time something interesting came up. Now, I'm deluged with articles about soccer players from Iceland, census designated locations in America, obscure albums in genres I don't know by artists I don't know, and other things that make me click for the next article instead of reading the one I got.

This overabundance of uninteresting (to me) articles is a by product of Wikipedia's success. As Wikipedia get's more articles, the fraction that are interesting to a given person will tend to go down, and the Random Article link will bring up more and more stuff that's not of interest.

Ah well, nothing stays good forever.

End Post
Writing time: 9 minutes
Time since last post: 15 or so minutes
Current media: iTunes shuffle, currently Fatal by RZA

Some New Online Activities

Recently I've started doing two new things on the internet.

First, I've started playing internet poker. This started after a proposed poker night fell through due to lack of players, and a general increase in awareness of poker through playing in a few poker nights over here and watching the World Series of Poker. So far I'm only playing with play money, but after a little bit of getting used to things I'm doing OK. I've only got chips 5 or 6 times (you can get 1000 chips every 5 minutes if you need it, but if you have more than 1000 chips, you can't get more except by winning games), and currently have about 15k in chips, so I've been winning more than I've been losing. I'm thinking about starting to use real money if this trend continues, but right now I'm not sure that's a wise move to make with my money. Maybe if I get up to about 50000 chips of play money, I'll give it a go.

Secondly, I've caved and joined a social networking site. Not the infamous MySpace (lord have mercy on my soul if I ever do), instead I have joined Facebook. I joined mainly because a number of people I know over here have accounts, and as everything seems to be going to hell and the whole NOVA teacher community is being torn asunder, I thought it would be a good way to have at least one way of keeping in touch. So far though, I've had more communication with people from back in Australia than people in Japan through Facebook.

End Post
Writing time: 10 minutes
Time since last post: 10 hours
Current media: iTunes shuffle, currently Cry Baby by Janis Joplin

My Little Contribution to Burma

Today I was talking to my sister who lives in Thailand, and since it's related to her work the current Burma (Myanmar to be correct, but I'm still going to call it Burma) situation was discussed. My position is that I support the Burmese people in opposing the ruling junta, but am unwilling to make a contribution that either a) risks injury to myself, or b) costs money. The contribution I came up with follows

Received: by with HTTP; Sun, 30 Sep 2007 03:24:05 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 19:24:05 +0900
From: "EsonLinji"
Subject: You suck
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Disposition: inline

You Suck. Let the people be free.


I will point out that on the real email I used my real name. I probably won't be able to get another visa to visit Burma anytime soon.

So, I'm no Martin Luther King Jr or Gandhi, but some low grade official in the Burmese embassy in Tokyo knows how I feel. I encourage you all to do the same.

End Post
Writing time: 4 minutes
Time since last post: 10 minutes
Current media: iTunes shuffle, currently Thank You by Sly & the Family Stone

China's no fun

In addition to it's controversial censoring of the internet, China is paving the way in prohibiting more of the things that make life good. TV channels in China are no longer allowed to show ads for push-up bras or figure hugging underwear. If Chinese TV is anything like Australian TV, these are probably the only thing worth watching in China.

I think China is going to lose on this one. TV advertising is a bastion of human sexuality. It is foolish to think anyone, even the Communist Party of China, can beat that undeniable fact.

End Post
Writing time: 1 minute
Time since last post: 3 days
Current media: iTunes shuffle, currently Ten Days by Missy Higgins