Monday, October 31, 2005

The kitties' other favorite hang-out is our camp chairs in the front patio area. Here Tabi-Tabi and Austin are in my chair along w/ what we suspect to be their kittens (T-T is certainly the mother, and we are pretty sure that Austin is the father). Rapha also frequents the chairs, especially in the morning, and they seem to prefer my chair to Aubrey's usually, but not all the time.
This is a picture.

Here are Austin and No-Name Kitty curled up on the cushion one evening.
This is a picture.

Here is Austin inside our house, stretching. Austin is our other favorite, since he's not as skittish as the others and he's really pretty. We can sometimes pet him (as long as he's eating something we gave him), and the day I took this pic, I had lured him inside w/ a trail of dried fish.
This is a picture.

Here are (from left) Tabi-Tabi, Rapha, and Austin at our backdoor drinking milk. Whenever they come to our door and meow, we usually give them either dried fish (which we have started keeping on-hand), dried seaweed (which they, surprisingly, seem to dig) or milk.
This is a picture.

2 more cats, Cyrano and Rapha. Neither of them like us very much, but the greyish one (Rapha) sometimes comes close enough that we can pet his back or tail before he moves out of range. This was taken at the backdoor of the next-door neighbor.
This is a picture.

We now move to our next feature presentation - kittypix!!!!! This is in our "back"yard and the washing machine is on the left. We have left that pale green cushion out there to attract the 5 wild kitties that live near our house and they take advantage of it, especially when it rains! Here our favorite cat Tabi-Tabi is taking a break from her usual difficult life of napping. The other cat is the only one of 5 that we haven't named yet. T-T lets us pet her almost anytime, but the No-Name kitty is quite skittish. You can see here that he's about to take off running, which he did about 2 seconds after I took this.
This is a picture.

Kikai/Japan Idiosyncraszcies, Part Sheven

I just tried to post this and it got deleted. So you know I'm really happy to see that happen. And it totally RUINED a good day!!!!!

OK..., I'm over it.
Moving on, it's really nice weather now in Kikai. It has rained for two days but now it's partly cloudy and quite windy. I don't like wind very much but the temperature is very very nice. It's like in the low 70s.
Today I accompanied Aubrey to one of her schools, which is in the town on the farthest point on the island from our town. It takes about 40 minutes to get there on bus and so is a bothersome distance, but it's not like driving from Norman to Edmond, either in stress of driving, speed of vehicle, or straightness of road. We enjoyed the teaching and the kids, and the teacher is very nice. I think she wants me to come back next time Aubrey goes to that school. I don't know when that will be - she goes to something like 14 different schools in the course of about a month. And today the last class ended at 3:00 and we had been prepared to wait for the 4:10 bus but decided to try to make the 3:10 bus at the last moment so ran out to meet it. I guess it came early. So we waited an hour in the cold cold wind, watching some seasoned citizens play GateBall, which is a cross between mini golf, croquet, and the French-seasoned-citizen game called petanque. The wind gets really strong here sometimes and we were really glad when the bus came!

In Kikai, there is no Halloween, which gladdens our hearts. Why? We think Halloween is creepy and annoying.

In Kikai, there is no football, which saddens our hearts (or, more specifically, my heart; I don't think Aubrey really cares).

But in Kikai, there do be idiosyncraszcies. Here's another one:

-When we're on the streets, lots of people look at us for a good long time. I'm OK w/ it and Aubrey is slowly getting accustomed to it. Whenever we encounter a Jr. High or High School student, they almost invariably say, "Herro." I like it and respond w/ "Hello" about half the time and the appropriate Japanese greeting of "Ohayo gozaimasu" or "Konnichi wa" the other half the time. When I go to the high school to play ping pong (twice a week at about 4:30 pm) I always see HS students hanging out. They are always delighted to see me and yell, "Herro. How ahr you?" And I say, "I'm fine. How are you?" And they say (often in unison), "I'm fine, thank you!" Lately we've been trying to ask them tougher questions so as to stretch them - questions like "How was your lunch?" or "What are you doing today after school?" It's pretty fun actually. And it's a whole lot better than them throwing things at me, ignoring me, or beating me up and stealing my cell phone and wallet.

On that note, I bid you all ja mata.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Video tour of our humble dwelling

All of you who have been requesting a tour of our house,
the time has finally arrived. Click there and you'll find a video (it's 56 MB, so be careful!) ready for downloading.

It's not a very big house, and you're probably wondering how I got 56 MB of video out of it. Thru mindless chatter, that's how!
As always, I hope you enjoy (that's a hope based more on wishful thinking than on fact, I know)!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thank goodness for Harriet Miers!

Thank goodness that she withdrew her nomination!

Man, I was getting really nervous that she might actually make it thru the Senate confirmation. So it's a good day in America.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here is Aubrey celebrating the arrival of two big boxes containing American food from friends in Okinawa.
This is a picture.

Here is a pic of our living room and part of me on the bottom left. The door there on the right is the door to our patio, and directly to the rear is our kitchen. On the right is our bedroom.
This is a picture.

Here is a pic of our kitchen. The sunscreen on the left is usually not there. That's our gas range on the right. It's pretty small but it works. To the right, unseen here, is a shelf containing food and another w/ dishes and our rice cooker, coffee grinder, and coffeemaker. To the left is the toaster oven, microwave, and refrigerator.
This is a picture.

These are two of my private English class students, Sakura and Minami. They are CUTE and this pic was taken at the town festival.
This is a picture.

Here is me, waiting for my chance to get humiliated on the sumo mound. I felt pretty conspicuous. But just keep smiling, man.
This is a picture.

Here one of the kids gets thrown. I was quite surprised to get such a good shot of a kid actually in the air, in the process of getting thrown.
This is a picture.

This is the town festival on Friday where I sumo'd. So there are a few hundred people here and these kids are preparing to wrestle.
This is a picture.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Our first video for downloading.

I'll tell you what. If you're looking for a sharp video of a white guy sumo wrestling and getting owned by a not very big Japanese guy, you've come to the right place!

Apart from that, I've been sick all this weekend and so am pretty bummed. I got Aubrey to ask one of our friends to meet her at the drugstore and she got me some medicine. It works pretty well, really - I feel quite a bit better. Just in time for Monday! Hope it lasts - I hate being sick.
Thanx to the newly employed Steve-O for his contribution to the up- and down-loading of this video.
Speaking of which, DANG did I have this bizarre desire to spend the evening at a trendy coffeehouse in Seattle or Chicago two nights ago. And it didn't help that Aubrey snuggled up next to me and said, "Let's go to France for our 5th anniversary!" She really knows how to comfort me! I don't know if there's a lot of danger of us actually fulfilling that, but we can always dream.

We also received two big boxes o' American food from our friends in Okinawa. Lots of Smore's preparations, BBQ sauce, the nectar of the gods (known in the US as Dr. Pepper), Ro-tel tomatoes, and chili beans. Sweet - keep the USA cuisine coming! This week we're cooking up another big pot o' chili at our American friend's house.
Finally, if you're in the mood for cool African animal-age, look no further than here.
We've seen no jungle denizens yet, but we are patient.

Friday, October 21, 2005

OK, remember how I said that I would sumo rassle? Well, I done it. I put on that lousy sumo thing OVER my shorts and got beat in the 1st round. It was fun, though the sumo suit was UNcomfortable. But I think the spectators got a kick out of it.
This is a picture.

Here is us on a lazy Friday evening. We've just finished taking pictures of our house, and this is probably one of the best pictures of us in a while. Notice the lack of facial hair. No, not on Aubrey! I shaved! Joy!
This is a picture.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Recommendations in Good Taste. By Me.

A few recommendations today:
If anyone likes marvelous puns w/ a kind of bitterly sarcastic twist, I command you to read.

Also, for all of you who are interested in following the continuing saga of the Da Vinci Code and The Theological Community's reaction to it, see these two pages:
Page One (from the horse's mouth).
Page Two (logical commentary).

Enjoy! Go Sooners! Beat those Baptist Bears!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Kikai/Japan Idiosyncraszies, Part Sicks

OK, back.
Today I had my first English classes - two of 30 minutes each w/ 4-6 year olds. A few of them were kinda scared of me but they dug the singing and the jumping that we were doing while singing. Not exactly TPR, but a cheap knock-off. That's my specialty anyway. If you read any of my political or theological musings, you'll know what I mean.

And I must say that I was kinda nervous and not looking forward to the classes. I kinda liked my life the way it was, you know? But I should do this. And I don't look forward to tomorrow's class of 1-hour w/ elem school kids, but I'm gonna do it. And hopefully I'll learn to like it. And if not, then I guess I'll be doing classes that I don't enjoy all that much.

NEWS FLASH: This Friday, the reports that Alan will very possibly be engaging in sumo wrestling at a town festival are absolutely true. Any and all attempts at forcing Alan to wear the sumo thong, however, will be soundly rebutted.

OK, here's an idiotsinkrasee:
-The fact that one drank a bunch last night, got pretty well sloshed, and has a hangover today is a normal conversation topic. Example, just a coupla Sundays ago we crossed paths on the street w/ Aubrey's boss. We were on bikes and he was headed the other direction, so we stopped just for a 30-second chat. He said it was nice weather, expressed surprise at seeing my bike (last he had heard, I was still looking for one), and then said, "Oof, drank beer last night. Head hurts. You know," and pointed to his head. We were like, "Oh, great. Um, see ya." Don't honestly know quite what to do w/ that yet.

I'll letcha know how the sumo stuff goes. Pray for the people of Japan.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Find the secret joke!

I simply must recommend this blog to you my loyal readers. This means you, Mom and Dad. Love you.

No, seriously, for the other 3 of you, check it out. See if you can find the joke.

Hamburgers devoured you only thought Japanese could devour.

So yeah, it rained a bit, but between that and the fact that I didn't build a big enough fire in our hibachi grill, we still were able to churn out 16 delicious virtuoso garlicburgers. Garlicburgers, you say? Yes indeed - while forming the patties outta ground beef I also inserted minced garlic. Great smells. During the grilling and on our breath afterwards. Dang right.

So like 14 people were there, in all, including Aub and me. That's a whole lot, and we had a good time, talking, watching Alan blow on the fire and try to get it hotter, playing mafia, eating garlicburgers. Cool beans. I had bought enough beef for 18 1/4-pounders, but one was in the fridge too near to the coolant vent so it got a bit frozen. So I chucked it (get it? chucked?) in the microwave and promptly forgot about it until about, oh, 22 hours later. Aubrey discovered it first. She was - how shall I put this? - surprised and dismayed. But at least no animals could get to it while it was firmly ensconced inside the microwave. No blood, no foul.

So we pray that God will help us follow up on the relationships we made last night and that it will be only the 1st of many gatherings at our house. In the New Testament, the Gospel was shared w/ people one-on-one and also in small and large groups. So we pray we will be open to the Spirit's opportunities.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hamburger cookout rained out

So here we are, 1h 40 min before our big hamburger cookout. We bought a new outdoor table and 5 stools and 2 camp chairs, it looks all nice out on our back patio area (thanks to a certain certainly lovely young lady). So what does the weather do? Rain. But we prayed that the rain would pass. Guess we'll see. Maybe we should just adjourn to the'll be interesting to grill the boigahz and then pass 'em on inside, but we can do it! Go team!

'Tis a nice relaxing Sat afternoon, actually; most of the day we've been preparing on and off for the thing tonight. We've gotten word from people that there could be as many as 15 people there. And our place ain't that big, trust me.

Thanks for the report, Alan. More news at the top of the hour and when it breaks.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Kikai/Japan Idiosyncrassies, Part Cinco

It's Saturday and we're almost ready for our big hamburger cookout tonight. We've borrowed a grill and got some charcoal and got a whole buttload of ground beef for burgers. I think I'll be inserting a bit of garlic into each burger patty to add a new taste sensation! Mmmm. One of our Japanese friends was like "Um, I'll be there, but what is a hamburger cookout?" Ah yes - "cookout" is not a common word (except in the South).

OK, another funny thing about this place:

-Cars have funny Engrish model names. Some of the best examples are:
--Emina. Hmm. Is that a standard or automatic?
--Landy. I'd say that's very fitting for such a small island.
--Acty. This is one of those big vans I mentioned. Google "acty" and you'll see some.
--Scrum. This just sounds funny. Scrum.
--Move. Kinda like the Chevy Nova in Mexico.
--Life. Needless to say, I don't think this would sell in America.
--Mira. Like the Vamos, it's Spanish. As in, "Mira! A small car!"

So, again, to all y'all I say, hasta Lou A. Go.

Here is me right before going a-swimming. I'm pretty chilly but determined to keep going.
This is a picture.

A little later in the day, around 12:30 pm. Aubrey is now in the full wetsuit.
This is a picture.

Us preparing to jump out and swim for about 80 minutes.
This is a picture.

Aubrey about to jump off and see some cool fishies and coral.
This is a picture.

Here is a cute Aubrey w/ her wetsuit top most of the way on. Notice the cloudcover, which contributed to the chilliness of the day. This wetsuit top would last only a couple of hours before Aubrey switched to a full-body suit.
This is a picture.

And the front of the boat, w/ our bags there in front.
This is a picture.

This is Sive and the back of Cormac's head (they are the two Irish friends that invited us) as we are busting thru waves on the way to snorkeling.
This is a picture.

Another cute Aubrey inside the fishing boat, w/ one of the Japanese friends. Here we are on our way to the first snorkeling site.
This is a picture.

Here is a cute Aubrey on the fishing boat at the Koniya pier. It is still sunny at 10 am, but that would soon change.
This is a picture.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Our 2nd vacation to Amamioshima, take 2

OK, so... at like 12:40 am Aub and I are trying to figger out what to do on Sunday (the next day). We're clueless. We had been planning to go to a festival that we heard was in a nearby island, but then we discovered that not only can you not easily get around the island w/o a car (which we don't have) but the festival is not really starting until Monday.
So we pray, "Dear God, what the heck do we do tomorrow?" 5 minutes later, Sive (the JET) pops her head in and says that, by the way, if we want to go on the boat w/ them tomorrow, it's no problem. Later, it occurred to me that this was a pathetic prayer, really. Is it very important that we "have a good time"? No, not really, but God is over-gracious sometimes.
So the next morning we get up and get on this fishing-type boat, about 35 feet long or so, w/ 2 Irish, 2 Japanese girls, 2 Japanese guys (one the pilot of the boat), and us 2. We were glad to see that it was sunny and getting warm since we were going to snorkel, but by the time we got to the snorkeling site it was not very warm at all - like in the low 70s, and cloudy, w/ a significant wind. But we snorkeled anyway, and it was really fun. Aubrey was wearing a wetsuit top to keep her warm. By the time we got out of the water and started the windy journey to the 2nd snorkeling site, both Aub and I were really cold. So she put on a full wetsuit and that helped, even though we were still cold. Snorkeled again at a really nice spot. We saw some really cool fishies and some great coral - it was a great spot! One of our friends had an underwater digital camera, but we just had our eyes. Afterwards came my favorite part - it was like 1:45 and we hadn't eaten lunch yet, so we took the boat over to this deserted small island and anchored the boat. Then we swam to shore and started a big fire since we were cold. We ate lunch and some of them went on a hike, while Aubrey and me and two others kicked back for a nap in the sun near the fire. Man, it was really cool! Nobody else around and on this white sandy beach. It really was like a paradise setting.

Not much else to tell - the rest of the time we ate some take out food and hung out w/ these new friends.
So there you go. 'Twas a very cool weekend indeed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The beach where we snorkeled the first day. Just beyond that bend in the distance is where the glass bottom boat tour began.
This is a picture.

Aubrey coming up for air. This is when we were pretty tired of snorkeling on Saturday.
This is a picture.

View of the harbor of Koniya, on the southern coast of Amami.
This is a picture.

Lovely young lady (I just KNOW I've seen her somewhere before!) on the deck of the glass bottom boat.
This is a picture.

Our 2nd vacation to Amamioshima, part 1

Back from the weekend. Sitting here, enjoying some downtime after a day of normal schedule.
My schedule is going to look more or less like this from now on:
Get up around 6:30 am. MWF, jog. Go on a prayer-walk for at least an hour. Eat at some point. Study Japanese for at least an hour in the morning. Eat lunch either at home or at this hole-in-the-wall down the road that offers a big ol' bowl of either yummy noodles or yummy rice, egg, and chicken for $5. Yummy. Study Japanese for at least 2 hours in the afternoon. Then do other schtuff for what remains of the afternoon. Today, it was visiting this retired gentleman who worked in the US Air Force on Okinawa for like 40+ years and who has only his wife and no kids. So he seems to be glad that I stop by. I'll be stopping by more as time goes on.

So, this weekend. It was quite cool. Quite. Wanna know how it went down? OK, I'll tell you.
Saturday morning - got up at 4 am and got down to the ferry, which left at 5:15 (25 minutes late, as usual), was delayed for an hour b/c we went out like 15 minutes and turned back, spent another 20 minutes in port, and then turned around. So we get to the port city on Amamioshima (Naze, where we stayed last time we were on this island) and took a bus down to Koniya. First off we went on a glass-bottom boat tour, which was quite cool really. It wasn't glass BOTTOM, but it there were quite a few windows and we could see alot of cool fishies and coral and stuff. It was a bit expensive, but what in Japan isn't? Ate lunch there and then were picked up by the temporarily-visiting Irish friend of the Irish JET who lives in Koniya at whose apartment we were planning to stay. Arrived there, talked a bit, went snorkeling w/ our new masks and snorkels. Had a good time. Got back, did a big ol' potluck dinner w/ 7 people total. Stayed up late playing cards w/ a buncha people, went to bed at 1 am.

1 am?!?!? Yeah, we're crazy like that. More info later, man. Don't push me.

Friday, October 07, 2005

This weekend

Hello all!
Going to Amami again this weekend, so we'll be back Monday afternoon in Japan.

Have a good one! saxeT stinks!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kikai/Japan Idiosyncrascies, Part Yon (4)

It's another pretty warm and humid day in Kikai. I jogged this morning at 6:30 am and it was nice - very pretty outside, fairly cool, pretty quiet. Except the cicadas here are LOUD. Sometimes in OK, they can be hurt-your-ears loud, yes. But it's rare. Here it's most places. I really don't like it and hope it will fade as the weather gets cooler - they get on my nerves. And I can never see them in the trees so as to chuck a rock at 'em. If I could...well, there'd be like 6 fewer cicadas on this island, lemme tell ya!
So we're pretty sore - we've been pretty active this week, including biking 1.5 hours on Tuesday and swimming at a hidden swimming cove (which was pretty cool, truly) and last night we played badminton w/ other teachers at the Kikai High School. That was fun, but today my right hand is complaining. Later today I'm going to this little-kid English time playtime w/ the other American on the island, so as to meet more people and maybe advertise my English classes. Funny that there was supposed to be a lot of demand for that, and I've heard like two people express interest to me and NOone has called me about it, even though I'm easily contacted. Truth be told, I'm not too broken up about it, though - it's less important to me than it was before. Extra yen are always nice, but I'm not too concerned about it.
Aubrey says the goatee has to go before her birthday, which is 09 Nov. Too bad - this'll be the longest I've ever had it. I trimmed it the day after she told me this, but it didn't change her mind. :-D Oh well. It will be strange for the people here, since they've only ever seen me w/ a big ol' dead animal on my chin; what will they think when I'm a clean-shaven man?

OK, latest in our idiosyncrascies log is this:
-I guess this happens everywhere, but this is the 1st place I've ever lived where I didn't speak the language well when I arrived. It has been and remains clear to anyone that I barely speak Japanese. If my red goatee and Western dress doesn't give it away, my blank expressions and apologetic shrugs and smiles should do the trick. Yet there are some people who just like to talk to me. Doesn't matter whether I get it or not - they just keep talking and then hesitating as if to invite me to respond. A perfect example is the wife of the pastor of the only Protestant church (it's a liberal one, at that; more's the pity!) on the island. Twice I was w/ her alone for at least 5 minutes (at the airport, while waiting for friends to fly in) and she talked my ear off, smiling and carrying on, apparently hoping against hope that I would hold up my end of the conversation. Um, sorry, "Wakanai." ("Wakanai" means "I don't understand.")

Last thing - my dad and I are gonna try setting up a video conference for the OU-saxeT game so that I can kinda catch the view of the TV. Don't know if it'll work, but I'm getting up at like 3 am (here) to try it out. I'll tell you how it goes. If nothing else, I'll just stream the radio commentary audio.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Just SAY it!

I was right and you were wrong (if you disagreed w/ me. Otherwise, you were right).


Seriously, if you didn't see this coming a mile away, that's OK. There's still time for you to get ready for the next step.

How long will it take in the Netherlands or San Francisco or France for the first woman-animal relationship to be legalised under the status of "civil union"? Could be a while, I admit. How about a three-man civil union? Not very far away at all. You think I'm wrong? You probably thought I was wrong when I said that a polygamous civil union would come and come soon in Europe too. And now look atcha. Egg on yo' face.

Reminds me of last year when the mayor of S.F. was marrying homosexuals in the courthouse. If I had lived in S.F. at that time, I woulda called two male friends of mine and we would have gone down there to get married. If they had refused, we could have made a HUGE stink right in front of all the cameras about "number-ism" and how bigoted Mayor Newsome was in refusing our three-man union. Woulda been great. Memories for a lifetime. We coulda gone out for some seafood afterwards.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This calls for an ex cathedra statement!

I knew it would come some time. And hath it now come? Yes, it hath.

This article is no complete shock to me, given what Roman Catholics, in person and on numerous webforums (webfora? webfori?) have told me about what they believe the Bible to be. This is nothing more than the next logical step.

Congratulations! You have followed in the well-worn, irrational, and faithless steps of the majority of American Methodists, Episcopals, Lutherans, and Presbyterians (not to mention a whole bunch o' Baptists!) and most everyone in your own country. I thought the Vatican and its representatives were supposed to stick to the ancient deposit of faith. Huh.

Kikai/Japan Idiosyncrazies, Part Trois

Once again, back on a toasty Wednesday morning. It's unseasonably hot here, they say, even though others have told us that it don't get cold 'till December. Dang it. Sounds like we may have even less of an autumn than Oklahoma typically does, but we'll see about that. People have told us so many different things about the weather that I'm starting to believe Hillary Clinton more than them.

This entry is actually quite relevant, since we're thinking about travelling to a different nearby island this weekend since Monday is a holiday.

-There are two ways to get to Kikai - the ferry and the airplane. The flight from nearby Amami island is 10 minutes (I think I mentioned that earlier). The ferry from Amami is 2.5 hours. No prob, really - 2.5 hours on a ferry ain't bad at all. But let's say you, being a travel-loving person like us, would like to take a trip over to Amami or even do the 11 hour ferry to Kagoshima on the main island, just for the weekend. You can leave on Friday, no problem - just take the ferry. But try to come back, that's the problem! There is NO ferry to Kikai on Sunday. OK, what about all-night on Sunday night/Monday morning, to get back in time for work? No dice. No ferry on Sunday OR Monday. The only ferry back from Amami is Tuesday. And that's in the EVENING. So if you want to come back from a weekend, you have to take two days off (Mon and Tues) so you can get back. It occurs to me now that this is probably a ploy to increase air traffic on Sunday and Monday. I guess it works. I asked someone about it and they explained that workers commute in on the ferry. My 1st thought was, "Dang, that's a ridiculous commute!" My 2nd thought was, "Um, don't most people work on Mondays?" So I don't know why. No really, I don't. Imagine that.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Kikai/Japan Idiosyncrasies, Part 2

OK. I'm back w/ more titillating info - all the things you never thought to ask about Kikai and/or Japan and never wanted to know. Maybe you shouldn't read this post.

-Don't ever let anyone tell you that America has a monopoly on big stuff, like food or vans. Some of the vans (just regular passenger vans, I mean) are beasts. For some reason, they seem more imposing than American conversion vans. I know they're not, but they look it. Maybe it's just the comparison w/ other cars that make them look that way. Also, there are no "regular" loaves of bread here - any loaf of bread is sliced up into these monster Texas-toast slices. Put two of 'em together and it's already hard to get them into your mouth, and that's BEFORE you put in any sandwich stuff.

-Don't ever let anyone tell you that America is the only place where everything is way too individually packaged. Here, many many things like crackers and cookies and sweets and seaweed (the well-known nori that encircles sushi rolls) are bought in regular-sized packages. But then, once you open that package, there are always smaller ones inside. Chocolate chip cookies and almost all of the popular coffee-break crackers/cookies are individually packaged. Candies are individually packaged in groups of 4-10 little candy bar things. It's strange. Convenient, but strange.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Kikai/Japan Idiosyncracies, Part One

First, I would like to say that OU won. Neato.

Second, I would like to say that I hope Alabama wins the national championship. I don't want USC to win (b/c USC has that annoying fight song). I don't want Texas to win, b/c Texas sucks. I don't want Va Tech to win, b/c that would mean two more years of hyping Marcus Vick. I want Bama to win b/c Bama might be able to, Mike Shula seems to be a very decent guy, and they've had a tough road.

OK, I am now beginning a series of posts on the idiosyncracies of life and related things here in Kikai. They could be about Japan in general or about Kikai (or, unbeknownst to me, both or one and not the other, since my knowledge is still quite limited) and are meant to be amusing/interesting/intriguing to the Western mind. So, if you don't like it, go to McDonald's and WalMart more often!

Here goes:

-Every day at 6:-something am, 10 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm, town-wide loudspeakers play these cheerful synthesiser songs. They are simple tunes, and they make Aubrey and me chuckle. When they come on, we sing, "Be happy, it's __ o'clock!" Incidentally, I was told that they are for the benefit of the farmers in the fields and (I am just assuming the latter) the construction workers that are constantly re-doing the streets around town. I have reason to believe that 10 am and 3 pm are coffee-break times (cold coffee, of course, w/o cream or sugar) and 5 and 6 pm are obvious. Still don't have any idea what the 6:-something am one is for. Occasionally, the happy music is followed by some announcements. We sometimes wonder what they're saying, but since almost nothing ever happens on this island, I doubt it's anything of earth-shattering importance.

-Speaking of construction workers, a Japanese man who may well be in the know told us that approximately 80% of the Board of Education's budget is spent on construction workers who tear up perfectly good streets whenever they feel like it and then leave them torn up, w/ only gravel and packed dirt, for weeks at a time. There are apparently about 22 of these companies (yes, on Kikai alone - I didn't think the island was big enough for 22 total companies when I first saw it on the map), and I would guess it's some political pork spending that keeps them "working" to "improve" the streets. There are a few things they COULD be doing, like fixing genuinely bad streets (of which I've seen several) or widening some others that are ridiculously narrow. Or they could work on fixing the big windmill that was trashed by the typhoon. Or they could repair the retaining wall near the high school that the typhoon tore apart. Or they could clean up the beaches that the typhoon trashed. But no, they're a reminder that politicians are the same the world over.

Be back later w/ more!